Sunday, July 11, 2010


Dark Night Of The Soul? MAYA, or however she wants us to spell it out? Let others cover them. Tender Trap we thought long and hard about, given background and such, but STN has got a little hairslide-like of late. Let's talk about manaical Glaswegians instead. The depth of our influence was spelt out broader than perhaps ever about a month ago when we saw the long supported here Mitchell Museum play to eight people in our own home conurbation. No matter, at least we have the music. The Peters Port Memorial Service is getting some major league lovin' in Scotland but very little attention south of the border, which is everyone in England's fault. A million ideas are shoehorned into pop length rollercoaster avant-indie that nods to Flaming Lips, Unicorns, Modest Mouse and Why? but could only really be British for its charge towards offhandedness and lyrical idiosyncracies.

Oh, loads to go round this week. Where shall we start? Tonight, that'd be best, at Cardiff's esteemed Clwb Ifor Bach for an alldayer for brain injury support service charity Headway Cardiff. The School headline, Gindrinker add their particular special sauce, Pagan Wanderer Lu is midway down the bill, some others are playing and it's all £6. Gil Scott-Heron plays Somerset House on Wednesday, the same night The Lovely Eggs and Hotpants Romance's joint tour arrives at Sheffield Penelope's and takes this section regulars Standard Fare as bait. They'll play for any old promoter, them. (More on this next week.) The thematic highlight, though, is Wichiten, Wichita Recordings' week of tenth anniversary gigs at the Highbury Garage. Each night will also feature special guest DJs and an indie raffle, whatever one of those is - is it like a meat raffle? - and the first 200 people through the door each night will receive a goody bag, like on kids' telly shows in the late 80s. Lissy Trullie headlines on Monday with support from the surely overdue some new material Those Dancing Days; Tuesday sees First Aid Kit spread their quiet magic with Peggy Sue supporting; the label's breakout stars (apart from Bloc Party) The Cribs bring Sky Larkin and Lovvers south with them on Wednesday; while in a true did-we-somehow-book-this-one-ourselves? fashion Thursday is opened by a band whose frontman was recently spotted doing the merch table for Pavement, Johnny Foreigner, followed by Frankie & The Heartstrings (so that's Huw Stephens down to DJ, then) before Los Campesinos! top the night as only Los Campesinos! ever can. Why can't we go, mum?

The world perhaps doesn't necessarily need another overly fuzzed out no-fi band, but it's got a good one anyway. Slowcoaches are from Leeds and have the whole post-Jesus & Mary Chain loud pop thing going on with heavily distorted bass and a hint of something stewing beneath the dissonance in a Vivian Girls sense, exacerbated by Heather's offhand vocal style. Given more than two tracks on a Myspace they could easily show northern England has an equally strong hand to play in the noise-pop scene-ette.

Our first festival of the year is next weekend, as we head east to experience the shady woods, crowded poetry tents and water-resistant ground of Latitude. Some controversy this year as Melvin Benn and Festival Republic have junked the Sunday midday slot without officially announcing it, but there's still plenty we'll end up missing to go round, from Belle & Sebastian's first UK gig in nearly four years with orchestra in tow to The Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra. You forget that Lovebox started off as Groove Armada's charabanc, so curious and relatively well financed eclectic is its range now if still with a solid foothold in the dance world. Roxy Music headlining. Wonder what they're like now. If Bryan calls Otis a freedom fighter or somesuch we vote they bulldoze the whole park at once. Down the pecking order... 2000 Trees is somewhere we always mean to go, both for its Friday/Saturday nature and its amiably jagged booking policy. We can't this year anyway, as it's sold out. Frank Turner and the Subways headline, as they do every small-to-mid-sized festival, but below them you've got the likes of Future Of The Left, Pulled Apart By Horses, Johnny Flynn, Kill It Kid, Maybeshewill, And So I Watch You From Afar, 65daysofstatic, Tubelord, Shoes And Socks Off, Three Trapped Tigers, Errors, Sparrow & The Workshop, A Genuine Freakshow and Cats And Cats And Cats. Guilfest boasts what new addition Thomas White calls "the most utterly bonkers line-up that I think I've ever seen", and once you've seen the likelihood of a stage time clash between the Wonder Stuff and Fucked Up, who appear seemingly at random in the midst of the band list, you can't help but concur. Rare is the festival that prides itself on booking 65daysofstatic, N-Dubz, Hawkwind, Alvin Stardust, Orbital, Mungo Jerry, Level 42, The Soldiers, The Twang, Delays and Young Knives and expecting families to go along with everything. Larmer Tree Festival, running Wednesday to Sunday, is on the End Of The Road site and acts as a kind of all round entertainment palette cleanser, boasting a lineup that thinks nothing of switching from Martha Wainwright, The Unthanks and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble to Cornershop, Frank Turner, The Bookhouse Boys, Voluntary Butler Scheme, The Heavy, Toumani Diabaté and Kill It Kid, who seem to be playing every festival this summer except any we're going to.

- I Like Trains, as they now unexcitingly are, have finished recording their third album, He Who Saw the Deep. They say it's "a progression from what has gone before it... light and shade, hope and devastation, and we are taking a look at where we are heading instead of where we have been", but all bands say something like that. This being the modern world, they're having to get the fans to finance the thing through a series of pledges, including a number of gifts that range from signed copies and thank you notes to 'Play Alistair at Scrabble' and 'Partly broken distortion pedal.' They were four fifths of the way there when we last looked, so get in while you still can and make a band as happy as their world outlook will ever permit.

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