Sunday, September 26, 2010


The new No Age, Everything In Between, is 75% of a great, grotty record, but your hip friends will tell you all about that. Let's instead talk about a band who, ooh, quote us alongside Lowe, Lamacq and Ravenscroft (W) in their press release. Ice, Sea, Dead People are three gentlemen of Bedford and London who over Teeth Union's 24 minutes take post-hardcore apart rivet by rivet and slam it back into something they think might resemble an order. It's tauter than anything you've heard, arrythmically, epileptically undanceable while still driven by big old basslines and hi-hat, detuned art-punk that splinters as you handle it, and that very much includes the vocals. It's a big mess of noise that occasionally stumbles across a sliver of melody and reacts by beating it to a pulp. And it's ace.

Whether the sudden downturn in temperatures has made something click with people preferring the warmth of being huddled together in the back of a loaned Transit or whether we simply ran out of festivals, there's a lot of exciting tours starting and one-offs happening this week which we'll have to cover in chronological order and paragraphs.

SUNDAY: London! Standard Fare acoustic at the Hangover Lounge! Go!

MONDAY: In the glory days of the rolling label tour revue, Stiff Records used to stick all its current hopes in a bus (or a train once) together and hope for the best. Brainlove Records, that estimable home of all that is off-kilter with everyone else's expectations of what a solo singer-songwriter is, or just everyone else, is doing much the same, albeit with fewer pub soiled Gretschs and more monomes. The tour starts at Cardiff 10 Feet Tall, moves on to London CAMP on Tuesday, then Norwich Knowhere Bar Wednesday, Leeds The Well Thursday (a venue we'll come back to), our own stopover at Leicester Firebug on Friday, over to Dublin Twisted Pepper on Saturday, then next week York on the 5th October and Manchester on the 8th. Meanwhile Shrag take their twisty, shouty, spiky post-indiepoppunk on the road, chiefly notable for some of the supports they're picking up along the way - Love Ends Disaster! at London Social on Monday, LookiMakeMusic at Birmingham Victoria on Tuesday, Horowitz on Saturday at Bristol Croft and, remarkably, Standard Fare on Friday at Manchester Kraak. Sheffield and Leeds fill in the gaps. In more elevated company, your only chance of seeing Rose Elinor Dougall in the wake of her album release would seem to be her support slots on the Mark Ronson tour that starts here in Bristol.

TUESDAY: Darren Hayman is playing an observatory. An Astronomical Evening with Darren Hayman is at Godlee Observatory in Manchester, part of the university building and home to the Manchester Astronomical Society. The gig includes an opportunity to tour the observatory, and Hayman will be playing two sets featuring a themed set of older songs (Alan Bean, then) alongside tracks from new album Essex Arms.

WEDNESDAY: Two bands who we think we'd not be far off beam in calling Official Friends Of STN (so obviously the tour is scheduled such that we don't think we're going to get to any of the dates) go on a joint tour, and haven't they grown between them. Frankie & The Heartstrings' indie dancefloor almost-anthems (and it's a dancefloor Frankie will cover most of during the set) and Summer Camp's synth fuelled Hugheswave make for odd bedfellows but there's a certain romanticism at their varying hearts, not to mention a suspicion they've slaved away at this to a degree they'd be loathe to publicly admit. F&TH start on their own at York Fibbers, then Warmsley'n'Sankey join in from Thursday at Brighton Jam before hitting London Lexington on Friday and Leeds Brudenell on Saturday, continuing on to the following eekend via Cardiff, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle and Nottingham.

FRIDAY: Music Like A Vitamin is an event under the banner of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, curated by Emma Pollock and Idlewild's Rod Jones. This year's tie-in is a collaborative album featuring the pair plus The Twilight Sad's James Graham, Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchison, Sparrow and the Workshop's Jill O’Sullivan, James Yorkston, Alasdair Roberts, Karine Polwart and Jenny Reeve. The launch gig is on the 1st at Edinburgh's HMV Picturehouse, with everyone on the album plus Broken Records. Two tracks from the album can be downloaded for free. Meanwhile beautiful/doomed instrumentalists Maybeshewill basically get on the road from the same day and don't come off until a time when only they see fit, a tour that carries through to the 24th beginning at the Newcastle Cluny 2. Tour dates here, support from the three members of Blakfish who now trade as &U&I.

They "wish desperately to be cowboy folk", it says here, but for now The Swansea Recreation Centre - guess where they're not from - come on like an evil twin to the Cocteaus referencing that's starting to come into vogue. Beat Happening are their top friend but they're the sort of band who try to sound ragged in the same vainglorious way but are too onto something to completely give in. Across the available tracks there's nods to Magnetic Fields, Broadcast, Phil Elverum, Danielson, Jad Fair and plain just-inside-outsider oddness, mostly in the bits where the (male) singer tends to sound like Kermit being throttled. It also reminded us of Brighton's falling apart indiepop dramatists Foxes!, then it turned out the band were formed by one of their founder members so fair enough. They have plenty of ideas, and also know what not to do with them to keep on a straight line.

No two ways about it, Play Patterns looks extraordinary. Taking place Friday to Sunday at The Well in Leeds, it's a two room extravaganza with a properly impressive line-up. Friday brings Calories, Copy Haho, Gallops and Wonderswan; Saturday Hot Club de Paris, Ice Sea Dead People, Dutch Uncles, Cats And Cats And Cats, The ABC Club, The Neat and the long dormant That Fucking Tank; Sunday pulls it right off with Johnny Foreigner closing proceedings after Talons, Lone Wolf, Honour Before Glory, I Concur, Bear Driver and a solo set by now ex-Grammatic Owen Brinley have had a shot. Advance tickets are £15. Almost cheap at twice the price.

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