Thursday, August 31, 2006

If we took a holiday, took some time to celebrate

So, shaken by the news that very recent Myspace pick Yossarian have already changed their name to Shake My Hand, we're off for a week and a bit to, um, recharge, we suppose, so no weekend gubbins for the next couple of weeks. You'll just have to manage.


Oh, alright. For the week beginning 4th September we recommend 7" singles from Sparklehorse (Don't Take My Sunshine Away) and Tapes N Tapes (Cowbell) and the Mystery Jets' Diamonds In The Dark EP and in the long players Missy Elliott reinventing hip-hop over time on Respect ME: Best Of, the cherrypicking of Serene Velocity: A Stereolab Anthology and Seafood's Paper Crown King, while on the 11th there's the superb, much Sweeped singles from Camera Obscura, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly and Guillemots plus the Walkmen's Louisina, Larrikin Love's Happy As Annie and a Tilly And The Wall 7", while the albums of note on that date are Battle's Break The Banks, Eric Matthews' Foundation Sounds, Junior Boys' So This Is Goodbye, Liam Frost & The Slowdown Family's Show Me How The Spectres Dance, Walkmen's A Hundred Miles Off (that can't be right) and Yo La Tengo's mightily titled I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass plus best ofs from the ever great Adam And The Ants and a second run through REM's superior IRS years. Stipe was on BBC Breakfast this morning in an interview that seemed more than slightly awkward for all concerned.

So you know what we do when we're away for a bit to tide you all over - the third Weekly Sweep Visual Representation Playlist, some say Sweeping The Nation Video Playlist 3. Eight this time, because we don't think many of you have noticed the down arrow on the bottom of the right hand set of screens. There's loose themes here, so on the first set of four we have a set of live TV appearances starting with perhaps British television's most chaotic performance since, and possibly including, Hendrix v Lulu, At The Drive-In tearing up Later With Jools Holland with One Armed Scissor and earning a right stare off fellow guest Robbie Williams; McLusky ripping through To Hell With Good Intentions on HTV's Pop Factory in 2001; Guillemots providing one of the few highlights of BBC3's Guerilla Gig Live with Fyfe and Aristazabal stripping back Trains To Brazil; and Pan's People perhaps too literally interpreting Jonathan Richman's Egyptian Reggae.

The second set of four are related to dancing of all ability levels, which means some bloody extraordinary James Brown and the Famous Flames music and movement at the TAMI Show in 1965; glorious garage one-hit wonders ? And The Mysterians go to a go-go with 96 Tears a year later; Stephen Fry demonstrates the art of 'dancercizing' (oh alright, we've been watching the DVD a lot lately); and an American girl demonstrates the sentiment at the heart of Los Campesinos!'s You! Me! Dancing!, in a way.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Words and pictures

To be honest, we know next to nothing about the world of comics. We do, however, know plenty about Kieron Gillen, currently of Plan B and assorted gaming magazines, which is why we're particularly interested in Phonogram, his debut offering, alongside illustrator Jamie McKelvie (official credits: 'lyrics' and 'music' respectively), which is currently gaining a ton of exultant reviews on the international comics front. It centres on the ideology 'music is magic', doing this through David Kohl, a phonomancer (we'll get back to that) loosely investigating the death of his Britpop-themed music god Britannia. There's a plot point based on Scout Niblett. The first issue is out now, so gently reminding him about how he let us contribute some rank stupidity to a website of his about eight years ago, we had some questions.

Hello, I'm a layman who doesn't really follow the comics market. What's Phonogram about, then?
Hello, layman. Phonogram is a dark urban-fantasy comic which is based around the concept of music being magic. In more familiar media terms, think Constantine (except not rubbishy) meets High Fidelity.
To put a bit more meat on it - well, you know music is magic. It's the only explanation for why a series of notes could make you feel better, worse, happier, sadder, more productive. Science has tried. As of yet, science really doesn't really have a clue. Phonogram takes that completely literally and posits if music is magic, then there'll be people who are actively aware of this fact and manipulate their knowledge to change the world. These people are collectively referred to as Phonomancers, and the stories we tell are based around various phonomancers have onflicting desires. As - y'know - all drama is conflict.

Britpop acts as a focal point - for its cultural relevance or as a handy pointer given how much (or little) water has flowed under the UK pop culture bridge since?
The former, really, though the story we're telling in this six-issue mini-series is as much about critiquing it as celebrating it. More critiquing, really. The main theme of the story is about the conflicting desires of actual history, nostalgia and personal memories. What's a memory
worth? And when your founding cultural moment was - to use the lead character's phrase from the second issue - "a cultural Chernobyl" what's that worth? It's very much an anti-nostalgia book, despite all its trappings.

Is there a music fandom related moral consciously underpinning the story?
Well, I don't really know about "moral", but Phonogram's grown from all my years of experience in clubs, listening to bands, obsessing, writing fanzines and generally getting shoulder-deep in pop culture. I've got things to say about it, but I wouldn't really call them morals. I eventually argue a position, but it's very clearly a position rather than a definitive verdict.
Christ, I'm making this sound terribly sombre. There's a load of gags too.

Did your music writing background feed into its development much?
A lot. When you're doing a book which generally circles around the question "What's pop music for?" then you can't help but that. In fact, Phonogram's really meant as music journalism by other means. All the bands included are real. Ditto the events, the settings, the theories, the feelings. Basically, Phonogram's the end result of me not deciding to going into music writing full time and all those thoughts sitting inside the vat of my head and fermenting.

Kenickie feature prominently in the first issue, to the great surprise of nobody who knows your backstory. What to you was their importance?
They were excellent for dancing.
Well, their cultural importance was the narrow-yet-deep sort of obsessive pop band. Pretty much anyone who wrote a zine circa then loved Kenickie, as you're fully aware. When the whole cultural climate was going one way, Kenickie's insistence that seriousness wasn't actually antagonistic to intelligence was an absolute touchstone. They were and remain inspirational. Also, doomed, which I always liked. In terms of Phonogram, we use Kenickie for very specific plot-related reasons, to illustrate passion, how passion can be manipulated and how even the purest love for something can be twisted around. And a few other things.
Seriously, I know I'm sounding really serious, but there are jokes. A lot of jokes. No, really.

Thanks to Kieron - go and read his innermost thoughts. And picking up on that last bit...

Kenickie - Come Out 2Nite
Kenickie - People We Want
Kenickie - 60s Bitch (acoustic Evening Session version)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Weekender : if there's one thing that we could never confess, it's that we can't dance a single step

CHART OF DARKNESS: Captain Sensible rests easy in his bed, but Beyonce's 20 place climb to number one is the biggest of the download era. It's a duff effort by her standards, as can be seen by the way Jay-Z's been roped back in, given a promotional filip when a group of fans started an online campaign to get the video changed as it was apparently too risque. Presumably these fans had somehow never seen any of her other videos. A quiet week allows for climbers, most notably Snow Patrol up five to 7. What is going on with this? We don't recall a lot of promotion, yet it keeps building its part up. Matt Willis, who is rock and don't forget it, is at 11, outpointing Justin Timberlake's freezedried robot electro curio in on downloads at 13. Three years since his last proper single. Kasabian also climb again at 15, Morrissey hits 17 with a song we've not heard publicised as a single at all, Keane find publicity outweighed by completely unmemorability at 20 and Stacie Orrico continues her quest to become the biggest pop star you can't bring to mind at 22, one ahead of Thom Yorke in an odd juxtaposition. Scarily, The Feeling are at 24 on downloads, with Pink's latest dredging up from the pits doing similarly at 28. Victoria Newton's "surefire number one" Lazy-B is at 30, surely because even if they'd enjoyed it on the radio nobody would be able to make the connection when they saw that title emblazoned on the CD sleeve. Pharrell only makes 31 even with Kanye's help, which shows how much people are going for his solo material, while Missy Elliott seems to have been forgotten about by record buyers with her latest single in at 38. Double scarily, the Fratellis at at 35 on downloads. Duncan James' decline continues with an entry at 59. There's a new series of I'm A Celebrity coming up, isn't there?
Snow Patrol's Eyes Open returns to number one after a hell of a gestation period, the first album to return there this year. It's also slowly emerging for them in America, which is presumably where they are nowadays. Keep those copies of When It's All Over We Still Have To Clear Up close to your hearts, kids. A slightly odd top 20, with Pink making unexpected headway again, 40 Licks back in the twenty for obvious reasons and Outkast only at 16 as the film's still some way off, but an actually remarkable result for all concerned sees the Young Knives' Voices Of Animals And Men at 21, a position you couldn't have seen coming from their single sales and fairly outsider profile. Incidentally, do snap up the DVD special edition of this if there's still some about, as the visual extras are actually worth it for once. Chamillionaire's up to 22, one ahead of - ahoy! - Christ Illusion by Slayer, which itself is one up on yet another Prince retrospective. Paris Hilton by, um, Paris can't fool all of the people all of the time and so enters at 29. Seth Lakeman does well from his new paymasters at 32, Cerys Matthews impressively makes 43, Obie Trice sneaks in at 46 and Thea Gilmore finally makes a breakthrough at 69. Thom Yorke's back in the top 50. Is it on sale?

FREE MUSIC: We covered new-to-us discovery +/- (doesn't look any better) a few weeks ago, but now they've readied a new album for release and have stuck the first single online, Steal The Blueprints sounding like a Death Cab For Cutie less weighed down by genre and investing in fuzzy electronics.

HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: We seem to have been featuring a lot of bands recently who the cynical might suggest are riding on the post-punk revival coattails but we maintain have far more to them than mere genre catchup. Case in point. Popular Workshop, recent tour partners of STN-quoting-on-their-own-Myspace Love Ends Disaster. So while there's jitteriness and economic drumming, there's also hints of Fugazi during their brief melodic moments, The Fall's bugeyed intensity and Sonic Youth's way with shredded dynamics. Apparently they've been heard in Oxford Street Top Shop. We dread to think what sales figures were achieved during those three minutes.

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: Let's dig into the Beach Boys back catalogue with the reformatted Pet Sounds out this week and pull out a, shall we say, game go at Wouldn't It Be Nice from 1971, the original matching shirted lineup doing Hawaii live in 1964, Brian rehearsing Surf's Up alone at the piano in 1966, a video for Good Vibrations, God Only Knows live at Knebworth in 1980 and just to remind us why certain things have to happen, nearly the full quota singing backup on Status Quo's version of Fun Fun Fun, the very record the prevention of which from Radio 1's playlist led to the latter's fabled court action.

FALLING OFF A BLOG: A couple of posts that have attracted our attention this week rather than full blogs - musicisart compiles Radiohead covers and ryspace archives the final Sleater-Kinney show. We've been meaning to do An Illustrated Guide To Sleater-Kinney - any takers?

EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: As one of those invenerate types who needs to dig deeper into a band's personal psyches, we're enjoying Found In The Margins, a magazine which talks to musicians about their favourite reading. So far they've had words about words with representatives of Camera Obscura, the Constantines, Ron Sexsmith Psapp, Tegan & Sara and Arctic associates Reverend And The Makers.

IN OTHER NEWS: Not big or clever but always worth the debate - the 50 worst bandnames ever. Hoist that Union Jack high, there's Brits at number one!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

In shops tomorrow: 28/8 (unless they're shut for bank holiday)


So first you're going to pick up the Boy Least Likely To and Final Fantasy singles listed last week that got moved forward, and then what? I'm From Barcelona, for a start, the Swedish 29-piece outfit who, yes, are named after Manuel's catchphrase. Best not to wonder. The issue we often have with heavily overstaffed bands is that after the idea's been played out for one single it can pall afterwards, but that one single is usually monumental. Just as Soldier Girl was, though, We're From Barcelona is a spectacular effort. Liam Frost and the Slowdown Family were among our main outdoor stage highlights of Summer Sundae, but we don't recall him doing the more upbeat than Badly Drawn Boy comparisons suggest The City Is At A Standstill in his set, oddly. Finally please welcome back Helen Love, DIY bubblegum dancepunkette who once made it onto Radio 1's playlist, whose Junk Shop Discotheque is her/their first single in four years, we think.


Come on, where else are we starting? We've been watching The Victorian English Gentlemens Club's progress since the very start of the year, and we're more than glad that their debut album has comprehensively failed to let us down. As jagged rhythm brushes up against spiky guitar flavoured with offbeat visualisations and many a chorus, it suddenly strikes you - well, us - that this might be the British whatever-post-punk-is-being-called-this-week album of the year, or at least certainly up there in live contention with the more publicised bands. See if you agree, as we've just stumbled across the video for forthcoming single Impossible Sightings Over Shelton when it had had one play on YouTube. Oh, then just buy it. And don't download it illegally, as Fantastic Plastic are a constant joy of a label who need the money. Elsewhere we've not been totally won over by the stripped down nature of the Dears' Gang Of Losers but we can see it scoring high on a lot of people's end of year lists, Warren Defever's long running experiments in ADD pop as His Name Is Alive reaches critical levels on the finally issued in Britain Detrola and the Easy Star All Stars follow Dub Side Of The Moon with Radiodread: Tribute To OK Computer. Chicago psychedelic popsters The 1900s' mini-album Plume Delivery opens with longtime STN earworm Bring The Good Boys Home, which if it's cheap enough is reason enough to take a punt. Bestival: The Album is an appropriately eclectic mix of bands playing in the Isle Of Wight in two weeks' time where Guillemots sit between the Super Furries and Kitty Daisy & Lewis while Kid Creole snuggles up to the Dub Pistols and Love Is All. Finally, Pet Sounds is an album that not only does everybody have but has been reissued so many times you wonder whether someone isn't trying to win an ambitious bet. We've got the one with the stereo and mono mixes on one CD, if you must know. This latest repackaging for the 40th anniversary takes that same disc and adds a DVD of rarities and Making Of footage plus alternate versions and the like. Sandbox not necessary.


Had enough Beach Boys yet? Well, tough, as here comes a Collector's Edition box set of Live At Knebworth 1980, the 1976 Good Vibrations Tour and Endless Harmony, the 2000 authorised two hour documentary interviewing nearly anyone who was anyone in their story. We thought The Tube Series 1 had been released on DVD a while back, but maybe it just got pointlessly delayed. Very much of its time, of course, but still more relevant than Transmission With T-Mobile.


Rough Trade is the second in the Labels Unlimited series, after Warp, telling its history and analysing its stylistic quirks with rare photos and interviews. We're concerned that the synopsis refers to 'Scritty Politty', but the story of the label's rise, brief fall and rise again is difficult to mess up. Meanwhile We Could Have Been The Wombles: The Weird and Wonderful World of One-Hit Wonders is an eye catching title, and certainly more so than The One And Only, the title this light but likeable tribute to one-off hitmakers was released under in 2004.

The Weekly Sweep

Actually, before we start all that, any interested parties should while the mp3 is still up go and download Squeeze's superb 1981 take on the Stars on 45 disco beat medley genre Squabs On Forty Fab while it's still on Fluxblog.

  • Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country (mp3)
    The Jimmy Webb Northern Soul expansiveness is still getting us through many a day, which means we're finally getting to appreciate the emotional flux of the lyrics as much as the sweep of everything else. Have you really not bought this album yet?
  • The Decemberists - Yankee Bayonet
    Like STN favourites Anathallo's Floating World, The Crane Wife is loosely based on a Japanese folk tale, and like that album it takes some listening to fully appreciate, being that bit poppier and more folky than before. This Laura Veirs duet's the standout at the momnet
  • Doloroso - Godless
    An immensely brooding, oddly hypnotic shot at the Interpol-flavoured end of the post-post-punk spectrum, knife edge tensions meeting sludge dynamics, from a highly promising collective including one of Simian
  • Emmy The Great - Edward Is Dedward (Myspace)
    We trust you get the picture about her by now.
  • Field Music - In Context (Myspace)
    How do they keep doing this? In lesser hands than Brewis, Brewis and Moore this would err too close to the barrier marked 'too indebted to what's gone before', but the hooks are beefier, the strings lift the melodies and those harmonies still work out
  • Future Of The Left - Small Bones Small Bodies (Myspace)
    We knew we'd been forgetting someone over the last few weeks! It's the surely soon ennobled Andy Falkous, as well as McLusky latter drummer Jack Egglestone plus Kelson off Jarcrew, and it features, well, jackknifing loud guitars, earth shaking fuzz bass and Falco going for it, as per
  • Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. - The Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager Part 1
    A title deserving of a slap, but Sam Duckworth puts so much effort into balancing out lyrics packed with meaning with laptop acoustics that don't cloy that it'd seem churlish. Never quite get the Dashboard Confessional comparisons that occasionally arise, because they're shit
  • Goodbooks - Turn It Back (mp3)
    Hmm, perhaps they are incapable of putting a foot wrong after all. Of course it's the mode of the day, but as usual there's something completely irresistable about what they put into it, as much emotionally as onto tape
  • The Gossip - Standing In The Way Of Control (YouTube)
    Far superior live, everyone says, but it's hard to disagree with music so designed towards getting the hips a-shakin', like a more anthemic ESG or, more pertinently, a more post-punk Le Tigre
  • Guillemots - Trains To Brazil (mp3 from Green Pea-ness)
    Danceable fun-loving of a different stripe now, Fyfe having described this as a paen to appreciating life. As great as the album is, this is the one moment above all others where their ambition and result properly meet
  • Jeremy Warmsley - I Believe In The Way You Move (Myspace)
    Wider attention's still shying away from Warmsley's door, which as you'll appreciate we consider something of a shame, but at least it means he has the space necessary to create this kind of offbeat wonderousness
  • Kish Mauve - Modern Love (Myspace)
    Quality Blondie/New Order disco electropop from Rob Da Bank-affiliated label to watch Sunday Best. Suspiciously, the band's press release and Myspace disagree on the names of the rhythm section
  • Ladytron - He Took Her To A Movie (live YouTube)
    We know the electro diva demon modern incarnation is hugely popular around such places as ours, but secretly we've always preferred the early version of analogue synths and literally Cold War vocals
  • Los Campesinos! - Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks (Myspace)
    Ah, they've restored the downloads. Anyway, the secret's out - supporting Broken Social Scene in Cardiff on Tuesday, London gig upgraded... Just before it really goes code red, Keep Hope Inside interview them
  • The Monochrome Set - Jacob's Ladder (remarkably, YouTube)
    Wasn't it so much more fun when genres were so elastic? Oddball 1984 art school Proper Indie meets sardonic contemporary pop from notoriously fey, darkly glamorous never-quite-weres
  • The Pipettes - Judy (live YouTube)
    As we've said before, we're sure it wasn't anybody's intention to polarise opinion so much when these settled on a style to excavate, but blogs and review sites seem to either adore or hate them with no middle ground. As ex-Kenickie fans, we appreciate this all the more readily
  • Tapes N Tapes - Cowbell (mp3)
    It's not really happening for T'n'T, as nobody calls them, in Britain, gathering not so much as the very shortlived attention afforded to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah despite having all the right credentials (American, Internet, forceful vocalist)
  • The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - The Tales Of Hermit Mark
    In truth, we're pretty sure we could have worded that question about lyrics better
  • The Walkmen - Louisiana (mp3 from Each Note Secure)
    They've recorded a Harry Nilsson covers album in their downtime, which kind of fits in in a way. The breezy melody and Mariachi horns don't really fit in with the Bows And Arrows atmosphere, but that's probably what they want to read
  • The Young Knives - Coastguard
    As we were saying, it's really over time that the manifold goodness of Voices Of Animals And Men really reveals itself. Note this track's restrained dynamic, the dark cloud intrigue and the heartstopping pause before House Of Lords takes the story on
  • Friday, August 25, 2006

    A Friendly Chat With...The Victorian English Gentlemens Club

    We've been going on long enough about The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, but a quick primer: they're a trio, Adam Taylor (vocals/guitar), Louise Mason (vocals/bass) and Emma Daman (vocals/drums) by name, they're based in Cardiff where they met at art school, they've been compared to the Fall, Wire, Pixies, Breeders, Cramps and B-52s, Mark Lamarr has played them on his late night Radio 2 show, they claim all their songs are about "death, sailing and alcohol" and their debut album is imminent. Now, read on...

    How would you describe your sound?
    Emma: Prickly pop. That's what someone else once said, who knows, could've been you? I thought it was apt anyway so decided to lift it.
    Louise: It's a bit frantic, a bit aggressive, quite empty, but with hooks and tune. A mildly paranoid three legged jackal.

    What's the band's story so far?
    Emma: Once upon a time three good for nothings left various bits of provincial England for Cardiff. Even worse they went to 'art' school and so met through a common desire to seek attention through noise. We wrote our songs too short and played them too fast when we gigged too quickly. Excellent.
    Louise: We've been together for two years, by together I mean intensively - every day, to the point where people get genuine panic when they see us individually.
    Emma: Yeah, we're not exactly a band who just meet up for tours. We're all taking it in turns to type one letter each right now.

    How do you write?
    Emma: Usually Adam comes up with a rough guitar line and melody, then we take it to the practice room to make things up and shout at each other. Unless at least one person boils with rage then it's unlikely to be a good song.
    Louise: Quickly, I'd say - we make short, fast songs so we can make more of them. No time for solos.

    Are we meant to read much into the odd structure of the lyrics?
    Adam: All the lyrics make sense, they're not cool phrases. I'm not trying to be mystical, they're stories and observations. Hermit Mark was about an alcoholic I used to deliver to when I worked in an off-licence. He wee-d in a bucket, he's probably dead now. Impossible Sightings Over Shelton is about a mental home, and Under the Yews is about dead babies.
    Emma: Are they odd? They seem perfectly normal to me, we're not into automatic poetry or anything. Some songs are perfectly simple to understand, like Ban the Gin, which is about banning gin, in the 18th century. The lyrics aren't a code that you have to crack.
    Louise: I don't know how some bands have the cheek to release such terrible lyrics, yes, bed does rhyme with head, but don't use in a song.

    Where do you see yourself in terms of the continuous post-punk 'revival'?
    Louise: I'd far rather be associated with post-punk than artrock - post punk was massively exciting, all the bands I love - The Fall, Wire, XTC. I think lyrically we relate to post-punk goings on - that detached, spectatorism - 3rd party observations, rather than personal relationship relating.
    Adam: I'm not really into post-punk, I love Chairs Missing by Wire, but overall I prefer the Beatles, to be honest. I think we sound more like the Beatles played badly.
    Emma: Our influences come from loads of different times, but we might get lumped in with Gang of Fourists just because of the current musical climate. I think if you listen to our music you can hear the influence of a lot of bands, particularly early 90's bands. And everyone knows genre labels suck ass.

    We seem to be getting tipoffs about really good new Cardiff bands every week at the moment. Is there much of a consciously growing scene?
    Louise: Who are they? Tell me? I like Gindrinker and Future of the Left, any more? *
    Adam: The good Cardiff bands at the moment are ones who will probably not be known outside of Cardiff. There are some making a stir like the Automatic, a power ballad band for teenagers. The Glasgow scene seems a lot better, bands who have a real interest with their competition.
    Emma: Yeah, the Welsh scene isn't so independent from England as the Scottish scene I think, probably due to money! In Cardiff there is probably is some kind of a scene where everyone's bonking and snorting but if there is we're not part of it.

    * For what it's worth, we've featured Los Campesinos!, Yossarian, People In Planes, Swipe and Leave The Capital as well as Future Of The Left in the last couple of months

    What did you grow up listening to, and what have you been liking recently?
    Adam: I grew up the standard way will a healthy dose of Nirvana. I then discovered bands like the Pixies, Jesus Lizard and Sonic Youth. I'm not loving any current bands - which is a good thing as if they'd thought of something good, there is always the temptation to want to copy.

    What are your future plans?
    Louise: Another cup of tea.
    Emma: We're touring the UK in September and October, then hopefully abroad by the end of the year. But we're still writing - this album won't be the last you've heard of us.

    Many thanks to Adam, Louise and Emma. Their superb self titled debut album, produced by former Chatter Gareth Parton, is out on Monday 28th July on the ever great Fantastic Plastic label. For tour dates and so forth visit their website and/or their Myspace, from where we stole the photo.

    Thursday, August 24, 2006

    Lyric theatres

    It's been a long time since poetry and music were considered natural live stage bedfellows. Where John Cooper Clarke and Seething Wells were leading at the end of the 70s, opening for any punks or post-punks that would have them, nobody really followed and now even the most cauterised of poets seem marginalised to cabaret tents and the idea of a crossover seemed to have been buried when Raphaelite haired Murray Lachlan Young was being touted as the Poetry Is The New Rock'n'Roll leader for as long as he didn't read any of his work.

    Which is why we were intrigued to find out about Phrased & Confused, a project designed to get people thinking about words in both contexts, and in particular their October tour bringing together uncompromisingly dark Irish poet Brendan Cleary, beats aided duo Sore Throat, left-leaning Bragg-compared storyteller Chris T-T and, most excitingly, the Delgados' Emma Pollock on her first solo tour. The tour starts at the London Luminaire and continues into Colchester, Norwich, Leicester, Brighton and Kendal.

    Monday, August 21, 2006

    Weekender : hold the newsreader's nose squarely, waiter, or friendly milk will countermand my trousers

    CHART OF DARKNESS: All in all, this is Shakira's fourth week at number one. Gnarls Barkley aside, nobody's managed more than that since James Blunt nearly a year ago, yet do you remember how it goes yet? It must be a slow sales week as there's some unlikely records behind her, the bog standard Chamillionaire at 2 holding off clubland 'classic' David Guetta vs The Egg and, most unlikely of all, the Arctic Monkeys, who have a chart eligible single not go to number one for the first time. Conor McNicholas was doing some press the other day in support of The Horrors (who are shit, but you knew that) and gallingly had a go at the Arctics for "not playing the game". Older readers may recall the days when the NME loved bands purely for not playing the game. Cassie and Micky Modelle, which we couldn't identify if our life depended on it, also enter the top ten, Alesha fails to make the impact everyone expected at 14, Ronan Keating makes the Goo Goo Dolls' already terrible Iris even worse at 15, Maria Lawson - she was in X Factor, apparently - is at 20, the arse drops out of the Chico market at 24, the Young Knives have the weather turn on them at precisely the wrong moment at 35, the Sunshine Underground's lack of visible fanbase doesn't preclude them from 39, the Futureheads don't deserve 52, the Spinto Band would ideally be better than 54 and Pharrell's bad solo word of mouth ensures a download entry no higher than 57.
    Christina Aguilera's curate's egg, wherein being more grown up apparently only stretches so far after all, still sees her with a number one album in a week so slow that The Feeling are allowed back into the top ten. There's another Mamas And The Papas compilation at 21, Captain at 23, another low-key Lambchop album at 43 and another X Factorite, Andy Abraham, calls his album The Impossible Dream and has it proved correct at 67, while Shayne Ward bizarrely goes back in up at 36. Well, they said his success would last after all. Are they giving them away at the door somewhere?

    FREE MUSIC: When we were having our highfalutin ideas about a Summer Of Spector which revolved around, as we recall, four bands - it's more than comes under New Rave, to be fair - one was Memphis Industries picking up the second album by Gothenburg's El Perro Del Mar, a one-woman lo-fi Brill Building invoker. The dreamy God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get) shows her off perfectly.

    HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Bloody hell, another Cardiff outfit. That's, off the top of our heads, five we've featured in this section in the last couple of months (don't count them for us, we know we're wrong). Yossarian deserve to be near the top of the surely forthcoming A&R feeding frenzy, taking the Smiths/Shins influences that everyone seems to quote now and adding the US lo-fi traditions of Pavement and Modest Mouse, Broken Social Scene guitars and the normality-tinted lyrics of the Rakes. Plus Invincible has a lyric about horse racing on Grandstand.

    VISUAL REPRESENTATION: In a skanking mood? Good. Let's do rocksteady with Prince Buster and the Skatalites doing Al Capone in 1984, the Skatalites alone with Guns Of Navarone recorded in March, Toots & The Maytals running through Monkey Man and from closer to home and date the Specials' Too Much Too Young in what we don't think is the celebrated live version and more recently still their Neville Staple performing Do Nothing on his own.

    FALLING OFF A BLOG: While looking up Emmy The Great details to round off that Chat we noticed the label that jointly put out her single, Fear And Records, have started their own blog featuring the Thermals, Klaxons, Sky Larkin and their own next release from I Was A Cub Scout.

    EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Let's round off Summer Sundae (and hello to Lee from, er, Misterlee - comments are appreciated) with some linkage. There's a few blog reviews knocking about, The Daily Growl's being particularly recommended if only because he was first to post of the people we knew were going. (CLUMSY EDIT: Ben Silent Words Speak Loudest has now posted his thoughts, which we mention because we did actually meet him) Meanwhile YouTube houses clips of Guillemots, Vashti Bunyan, Psapp, the Long Blondes, The Boy Least Likely To's corpsing-aided cover of Faith, and Belle & Sebastian both from backstage and the front, with the girl plucked out by Stuart Murdoch to dance with during Jonathan David.

    IN OTHER NEWS: Not a lot of Truck to counterbalance that out, although there is the end of Jetplane Landing's set, featuring comment from Andrew Ferris himself. Ferris' Smalltown America label is putting on the third of its ever ace All Dayers on September 16th at 93 Feet East in London, and alongside Andrew acoustic will be the likes of glitch powerhouses 65daysofstatic, disco punks Blood Red Shoes, dance hardcoreites Dartz!, former Million Dead wordsmith Frank Turner, Postal Service-meets-happy hardcore duo I Was A Cub Scout, playful power poppers the Young Playthings, barely reconstructed punks Vatican DC and hordes of others.

    Sunday, August 20, 2006

    In shops tomorrow: 21/8


    As previously mentioned we've had a yen for The Boy Least Likely To for a while now, or at least since the same time as everyone else i.e. the Pitchfork review. It seems very odd that they've become a proper buzz band in America, albeit with a lot of touring, and here haven't made any impact whatsoever despite being supported by Simon Fuller's evil empire, about five reissues of The Best Party Ever and landing some decent festival slots. One day there'll be a proper tweepop revival, but in the meantime Hugging My Grudge attempts to presage it. Apart from Lazy B, AKA former Aqua member (yes, but not the bald shouty bloke, although he's married to Lene Nystrom) Soren Rasted, and the odd Greg Giraldo-sampling spoken word triphop of Underwear Goes Inside The Pants (Victoria Newton reckons it'll be number one, but we know how wrong Victoria Newton is about all music), it's all slightly downbeat this week, perhaps to fit in with that ludicrous Times piece on Friday about how V is the most depressive festival in the land. By coincidence Thom Yorke's glitchy Harrowdown Hill is issued as a single, as is the debut by French former Bjork associate Olivier Alary under the name Ensemble, who ropes the ever magnificent Cat Power into the electro drones of Disown Delete, while The Crimea, still not repaying the effort put into them at the start of the year, go for the slow one off the album in Baby Boom. Did you know there was a Final Fantasy single out? So Owen Pallett bows to commercialism, if not in his choice of the dynamic playing and background shouting of Many Lives -> 49 MP. And did you know pop-classicist Eric Matthews, whose enormous 1995 single Fanfare still gets irregular plays round here, was back? There's an album next month, with an advance part in the shape of the cunningly titled Limited Edition (EP).


    So what are we up to now, the fourth wave of New Wave/post-punk revivalism? Luckily this is where things start getting interesting again as bands start plundering the bits of the reissues bins that nobody's really investigated to a full extent. Now, the Young Knives were mining their particular wired seam as far back as their debut EP in 2002, but amongst the morass Voices Of Animals And Men deserves to stand out, marrying Modern Life Is Rubbish to an odder version of Ray Davies' hymns to small town and dead-end job humdrum twinned with Andy Partridge's (someone else fully aware of little England's foibles on his day, of course) mid-period awareness of the midway point between post-punk and melodic pastoral classicism. It's not about frenetic momentum building, and for that we should be glad. And yes, this is the only write-up of the album you'll see which doesn't mention their clothes. Can you hear them on the record? The spirit of the style, maybe, but not otherwise. Also standing out in their chosen crowded field is Thea Gilmore, folk influenced but planting herself in the middle of the female singer-songwriter market with more than just an acoustic guitar to balance her barbed poetry on, as Harpo's Ghost demonstrates. Cerys Matthews ducked out of that limelight as much as possible when she went solo, but second release Never Said Goodbye sees her mature from the countrification of Cockahoop to grown up pop. We note with some shudders, however, that she's signed up for a Sky One reality show. Oh lord, don't let all that happen again. She'd have sounded at home on the one thing we can finally thank Pirates Of The Caribbean for - during lulls in filming Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp formulated the idea of an album of cover versions of seafaring songs of the ages. Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs And Chanteys is being sold on Depp and the appearances of Bono, Sting, Lou Reed and Bryan Ferry, but lurking underneath are Nick Cave, Loudon and Rufus Wainwright, Jarvis Cocker, Ed Harcourt, Van Dyke Parks, Joseph Arthur, Pere Ubu's David Thomas, Akron/Family, Eliza Carthy, Kate McGarrigle, Lucinda Williams, Teddy Thompson and Martin Carthy. And Andrea Corr, but come on. Reissues: as the Camera Obscura bandwagon picks up speed there's a timely reissue for Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi, the one with Eighties Fan on and Stuart Murdoch lurking in the background; prime Art Of Noise is a a fascinating, groundbreaking project, although whether that justifies a 4 CD box set, The Art Of Noise - And What Have You Done With My Body, God?, is quite another thing (plus, Paul Morley sleevenotes); and Cherry Red have picked up the classically 1989 indie The Darling Buds' Pop Said for reissue. Bloody hell, the 'blonde' movement!

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country (live YouTube)
    Even if they didn't play this last Sunday, a band worth half-suffocating in a damply warm tent for
  • CSS - Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above (YouTube)
    Yes, we've become a fashion magazine. Not really, as while Cansei De Ser Sexy may yet turn out to merely be the Brazilian pop Chicks On Speed (formed as a conceptual joke, it says here) such LCD Soundsystem-esque knowing electroindie is eventually irresistable
  • Cursive - Dorothy At Forty (mp3 from Saddle Creek Records)
    Like Death Cab For Cutie impaled on a barbed wire fence, the veteran college emos finally make a British impact savaging the American dream - and just listen to those horns
  • Emmy The Great - My Party Is Better Than Yours (Myspace)
    According to the subject of our last posting both Emmy and her mum were well pleased with our Truck write-up, which makes us feel oddly proud
  • Forget Cassettes - Nicholas (mp3 from Jamie's Runout Groove)
    So that's minimal guitar and vocals recalling Polly Harvey at her creepiest for nearly three minutes, then explodes in massive drums and Trail Of Dead dissonance for two more minutes, then winds its spooked way to a finish. This could be yet another US band to believe in
  • Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. - The Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager Part 1
    There's a clip on YouTube of Sam Duckworth attempting to stage invade during The Automatic's set at the Electric Gardens festival. Seriously, first Katie ¡FR! hurts her foot crowdsurfing to them and now this - what the hell is going on with the best people aligning themselves with *them*? Yeah, this is really good, this
  • Goodbooks - Turn It Back (Myspace)
    Having got soaked to the skin at Truck on their behalf they'd have had to come out with something good next as some sort of reward, and while it's not the greatest thing they've ever put out it's a free download of no small quality
  • Guillemots - Trains To Brazil (mp3 on Swoon)
    Forgot to mention in our Summer Sundae stuff that we caught up with Fyfe Dangerfield and he remembers us from our Friendly Chat, which given all the publications that must have required his thoughts since is heartening. Unless he was just being kind
  • Gwenno - Quiet Whispers (Myspace)
    Speaking of which, Gwenno told us these are "just songs that I've had lying around for a very long time...without it being about releasing records or putting too much thought to it". This Annie-meets-Postal Service affair is just something she knocked off in her spare time? Blimey
  • I'm From Barcelona - We're From Barcelona (YouTube)
    Scandinavian joyfulness we've been unable to look at in quite the same way since a confidant pointed out the similarity between leader Emanuel Lundgren and Kevin Eldon as The Fake Rod Hull in Lee & Herring's Fist Of Fun
  • Jeremy Warmsley - I Believe In The Way You Move (Myspace)
    "It has a brass section now and is much more sombre but also more joyous. Just better, really. It's about love, lust, loss and the end of a relationship, but not in a boring whingy way." When short of inspiration, Ctrl+C from the artist's Myspace, we say
  • Joan As Policewoman - Real Life (mp3 from The Rich Girls Are Weeping)
    As with Patrick Wolf last year, Joan As Policewoman was probably our real convincing discovery of Summer Sundae, and her evocative solo performance of this set the seal on it
  • Junior Boys - The Equaliser ()
    We've always been put off this Canadian technopop duo before by the sheer weight of hype that was concentrated on a small number of sites and existed nowhere else. Domino Recordings have now seen something in their wistful electro. Supporting Hot Chip soon, which seems fair enough
  • Los Campesinos! - You! Me! Dancing! (Myspace)
    This has been our Myspace page auto-playing song for a couple of weeks now, and if you pop over and read the comments you'll see we've almost accidentally managed to gain them an ally for when that big record deal finally comes off, which is nice
  • Ooberman - Shorley Wall (Myspace)
    Back with a new album recently, but this will never age badly. Everyone loved it at the time, yet chartwise it did bugger all, inevitably
  • Peter, Bjorn & John - Young Folks (mp3 on Fluxblog)
    Good god, not that sped up radio remix that Zane Lowe's playing, though
  • Tapes N Tapes - Cowbell (mp3 on You Ain't No Picasso)
    Probably the only sustainable single other than Insistor on The Loon, welcome two-step acoustic hoedown, if there is such a thing, while Josh Grier flirts almost too much with Black Francisisms
  • The Boy Least Likely To - Hugging My Grudge (YouTube)
    More Summer Sundae stars, as a lot of people seem to be agreeing. In fact we suspect they might have made a lot more fans had they actually gained the promotion their Simon Fuller/James Blunt associations might suggest was coming. Maybe they're just too reticent
  • Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Impossible Sightings Over Shelton (mp3 on myselfmyself)
    Next single, apparently, and while the wider audience for menacing rhythm sections, highly strung guitars, broken lyricism adn Kim Dealesque backing shouting remains sluggish it means at least we have them for ourselves for a bit longer
  • The Young Knives - Loughborough Suicide (mp3 on Neiles Life)
    Not that our first impressions were bad but Voices Of Animals And Men is a real grower of an album, it's just that this is still the all-out highlight
  • Thursday, August 17, 2006

    A Friendly Chat With... Emmy The Great

    Emmy The Great describes herself as a "roller-waitress, shopgirl and singer songwanker". The first bit's true, as we'll see. The second part works out - there's a link to her place of work from her website. The third? Well, the wording you can decide for yourself, but as we've enthused in our Truck review and since there's a lyrical acumen and confidence that marks her well ahead of the current set of female acoustic guitar toters. And the vast majority of the men, come to think of it. With all that in mind...

    So, how did you get this far?
    Is this a philosophical question or is it just for people who want to start out playing gigs? I'm gonna go for the second just because it's easier. I made a demo on GarageBand of just me playing guitar and singing at the same time. Then I sent loads and loads of 4-track demos to promoters (not labels or magazines) and then I played a mad amount of gigs and then people started offering me better gigs and then along came Colin and Sean from Drowned In Sound, and they started telling some fibs about how everyone was talking about me, and soon enough people did start talking about me. The other thing that happened was Jeremy told someone that there was a buzz about me, and it spread. It's pretty funny. I also wrote an review about there being buzz about him around the same time. It's all very cynical.

    Hackeneyed question alert - words or music first?
    When listening, it's words first. I think it's because my interest in songs came from an interest in literature, rather than the musical side. Since being involved in music I've come to appreciate things like structure and melody a lot more though, and now that i've had a hand in production I can't listen to anything uncritically. It's a nightmare! It's like instead of turning off the radio when Paris Hilton comes on, I'm sat there with my ear against the speaker going "ooh it's really clever how they're masking her voice.." With writing though it's usually a combination of the two, the first line of the song along with an idea for a melody, and then I sit down and the rest follows. It's not that easy though. There's a lot of agonising in between the two stages.

    What's the advantage to a solo acoustic-based singer of having some backing over going it alone?
    It beats sitting by yourself in soundcheck while the other bands bask in witty camaraderie. And it also fills out the parts in the set where the song alone isn't enough to sustain. I don't have a band at the moment though. I could really do with one. Do you know any male singing violinists? Or just male vocalists?

    You've been lumped in with anti-folk in the past - is/was there anything actually to that scene?
    I really admire the American anti-folk artists, how they existed as a genuine reaction to the stuffy New York folk clubs. And I think they really opened up ideas about song-writing and did something new in a time when its really difficult to do something new. However the UK antifolk seems to me the exact opposite of this, they seem to be just looking back at what the Americans did and trying to copy it. Which isn't to say there aren't some great artists in the UK anti-folk scene, like the Bobby McGees, but I don't see why they need to call themselves that. They're just a good band. Talking of anti-folk, if you haven't heard Diane Cluck then you have to sort that out!

    Viva Cake - what's that, then?
    Viva Cake is a night my friends put on, which I rollerwaitress at. We bake for weeks and then on the day serve unlimited free tea and cake to anyone who comes. There's also dance lessons and a nail bar, raffles, rock and roll DJ's and bands like Vincent Vincent and the Villains. It's like a haven to us. I always feel safe with my apron on. Actually we're extending the night to a magazine now. I'm in charge of the gardening and music section. Next week I'm making sock puppets with the Mules! I don't know what to do about gardening though, most of my plants die.

    What did you grow up listening to, and what have you been liking recently?
    I went to a Chinese school, so if I wanted English music there was some Elton John or Michael Bolton and that was it. When I got to about 12 though I discovered Weezer. I was so in love with Rivers Cuomo, I couldn't believe how badly Pinkerton was trashed. It's one of the best albums of all time, but apparently all the criticism broke his spirit and he never wrote the same again. I liked the Green Album though. The last one made me cry, it was so rubbish. I can't believe we're not getting married. I also liked Blur when I was young. I see Graham Coxon in Camden so often that I dream about him sometimes. Ii'm worried one day I'll walk up to him and start talking. Yesterday I hugged someone thinking I knew them and it turned out she had served me coffee once at Fresh And Wild. Recently I've been listening to Diane Cluck. Just Diane Cluck. There needs be no other.

    What are your future plans?
    I don't know. I'm coming out of a freaky writer's block at the moment so until that is over there are no plans. I am working on the magazine though, and I've applied to Goldsmiths to do English. I know there'll be an album in the future, but I won't even be recording that until next year. I'm putting out a single with Moshi Moshi soon, probably a double A-side of Edward Is Dedward and Atoms.

    Many thanks to Emmy, who has asked us to emphasise that she's serious about looking for band members (to quote from her Myspace blog, "Still looking for a male vocalist, living in London or thereabouts, available for at least three gigs a month, if possible able to play an instrument, ideally a stringed instrument") - contact her, or just enjoy her output, via her website and Myspace. Debut 7" Secret Circus on Fear And Records/Drowned In Sound might still be available somewhere and it should be downloadable from your local indie label-friendly service. Photo 'borrowed' from Andrew Kendall.

    Tuesday, August 15, 2006

    A Sunday wasting: Summer Sundae 2006 Sunday review

    See all the useable pictures we took before our battery ran out two songs into Belle & Sebastian

    So how should a Sunday of live music start? Norwegian William Hut is our first port of call, and while his torch song balladry with cellist, like a solo Kings Of Convenience, goes some way towards easing us in something louder and more abrasive would do a better job. Hence we pop indoors for New Cassettes, who seem to be locating the exact mid-point between the new wave revival and New Rock Revolution but have promise that may come to fruition on record, before we get to scratch an itch from last year, when we kicked ourselves upon only catching the last song of Redcarsgofaster's Rising set. It impressed so many, it seems, that they are the recipients of this year's local band promotion to the main stage and got a recommendation from Whiskas the previous day, having previously stuck them on a Dance To The Radio compilation. The comparison to ¡Forward Russia!'s post-everything assault isn't that far wide of the mark, throwing in elements of Bloc Party's wired indie disco and Sonic Youth's controlled noisemaking plus several crates of Red Bull's worth of energy. But for the drizzle, the resultant sparse turnout and the inevitable huge stage/newish band issue they would have stormed it, but we're definitely going to have to try and see them properly in a smaller venue as there's something going on there.

    How good they are at this sort of thing is demonstrated by Token Of My Affection's use of much the same audible influences but with much less conviction elsewhere, while on the Musician stage Ego Armalade's Britpop revivalism wasn't washing. Thank goodness, then, for the sheer off-beam madness/genius of Misterlee. It's impossible to describe them without reaching for the Waits/Beefheart textbook, to which we'll add the offbeam moments of Dawn Of The Replicants, and the engaging between songs Lee Allatson does sound a lot like Paul Vickers at times, albeit Vickers was never playing drums with a heavily treated mike with one hand while operating an effects box with the other at the time. The steady stream of people leaving, many with what-the-fuck-is-that? writ large across their faces, suggest that this isn't something that'll take off immediately, but those willing to make the effort are rewarded in eclectic spades.

    All of a sudden, every second person you see on the site is a girl who looks not far past school leaving age with a low-cut fringe, kohl-rimmed eyes, a neckerchief or scarf and high fashion top. It can only mean the Long Blondes are in town, even if it occurs to us that bassist Reenie carries that look off much better than Kate Jackson. Yeah, referring to a female-fronted alternative band in terms of style rather than music, very original of us. Trouble is, we're finding it hard to go any further than 'OK' when describing their set - they did what they do, it came across well, there were plenty there for them, that's about it.

    So we went offsite for lunch at this point, deciding that if we were back ten minutes before we'd beat the rush for Camera Obscura. So we pitch up at about that time, and there's eight people between us and the entrance to the packed Rising tent. Ah. In fact we do somehow make it almost up to the interior when they take to the stage and the natural flow means we get in for their third song, which we hear is better than Stuart Murdoch or Stevie Jackson ever managed, but such is the crush even at the egress that we can't actually move our limbs for five songs, pressed up against some girl's back with someone else somehow managing to stand on both sets of somehow now untied shoelaces. We suspect the secret's got out about them. In fact they hadn't had the most comfortable of rides either, existing on two hours' sleep with their gear stuck in Copenhagen and everything borrowed from a local music shop. Tracyanne Campbell felt the need to apologise in advance of pretty much every song but she shouldn't have, such is the confidence they're evidently running on and of course the sheer greatness of their songs and of Campbell's voice. We really need to see them again in comfortable surroundings, but they must have charmed many and convinced others of their wonderfulness.

    Damp and drizzly is not ideal weather for Jose Gonzalez, especially on his own on a large stage for most of the set and even when not only accompanied by a bongo player. In the end it works through simplicity and knowing what to do when alone on a big stage - keep going with barely a break between songs, play with nimble subtlety to draw the crowds in nevertheless, save the covers for last, this time Smalltown Boy, Hand On Your Heart and Teardrop. It would probably have worked better indoors but it works. Certainly his sound mix is better than Dan Michaelson of Absentee gets in Rising, his distinctive baritone virtually inaudible for the first few songs of their set which could spell disaster for a band so focused on both his horizontally laidback delivery and the sharpness of their lyrics. Luckily they have the lo-fi pop melodicism on spec and when the mix is sorted out they emerge as a band of ease and individuality.

    When the singer's monitor breaks down during the first song of a festival set, most bands would apologetically get as many people on stage as possible to fiddle with it for what seems like far too long. Fyfe Dangerfield and Guillemots, who are not most bands, choose the moment to improvise a furiously paced song about his equipment not working that nobody quite realises is improvised until it's finished. What transpires is one of those festival sets that, while aware that not everyone's going to get it, if you're up to speed on what to expect it'll blow you away, as indeed is pretty much what happens as in their singular style they switch effortlessly between wide angle near-AOR, avant-jazz, Dexys mod-pop, guitar experimentation, rock improvisation and Talk Talk-esque orchestral scale magnificence, often in the spell of one song. So MC Lord Magrao makes his guitar sound like seagulls in peril when not taking to the typewriter, Aristazabal Hawkes plays with a winning smile and an elegance somehow borne of trying to pin this whole mess down, Greig Stewart tries to drive it on while making very odd faces and wearing a kaftan, two blokes in suits play an array of brass instruments, and in the middle is the now clean shaven Fyfe in his big wooden chair behind a bank of keyboards from which all sorts of melodies and noises emerge. Highlights, understandably, are many, but Trains To Brazil and "our wedding song" Made Up Love Song #43 get huge singalongs while Who Left The Lights Off Baby enables Magrao to get his drill out early and features a superb random honking solo from a saxophonist who's made a flying leap onto the pallet Dangerfield's equipment is on. Sao Paolo is as footloose and sprawling as ever, and those who are willing to go with it are handsomely rewarded.

    We wanted to see Jamie T after that, but took one look at the queue snaking out of the Rising tent and decided that our pop barometer needed levelling back out with a revisit to the world of The Boy Least Likely To. Back in March we saw them at the Leicester Charlotte in front of about 100 people. Now they've drawn a three quarter full audience to a 2,200 venue. We'd be inclined to turn all protective and indie at this stage were we not of the opinion that their country-twee-disco needs to be experienced by this many people. Jof, as playful and self-deprecating as ever, seems genuinely surprised by the turnout, which spurs him and the band on to one of the most gleeful performances of this or any other Summer Sundae as the audience really get into it. Endless touring has made them even tighter, although Jof still gets the giggles mid-song, with the cover of George Michael's Faith working particularly well. As Be Gentle With Me sets the dancefloor going we wonder just what more they can do to get more people to notice.

    Stephen Fretwell is the curious choice for second on the bill, a few songs taken in underlining his position as a meaningful if not particularly inspiring acoustic singer-songwriter, but we have bigger fish to fry. Or we would if the Buzzcocks wasn't so packed out we later learn extra security had to be put on the doors. As a consequence we miss the first fifteen minutes and still don't immediately get in, finding eventually that they've taken route one to winning a big audience over - play the crowd favourites, or songs that sound like the crowd favourites and are fast enough that hopefully few will notice - at blistering volume without a break. Interestingly many are reticent to get involved until Ever Fallen In Love, the last song before the encore, and while the flat out pace was impressive from a band who've been doing this on and off, if mostly off, for thirty years there was a heart missing to the set that meant it didn't quite ascend the heights it could have done. Between them and the Sunday headliners we managed to sneak in to another jampacked Rising stage occasion for the top band on their bill Larrikin Love, who to us have always been the good side of, groo, 'urchin rock' but in the three songs we saw did steer a bit too close to the ska-punk evil from their Thamesbeat Pogues roots. You can at least see why so many people get so worked up about them live, but we'll hang on for the album before making a final decision.

    "You call this the Leicester Bowl, right? Well, this is a song for all you Leicester bowlers." No idea what Stuart Murdoch was on about, but as Belle & Sebastian have recently played the 17,000+ capacity Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic behind them a 6,000 capacity festival with a four piece string section should be a piece of piss. It was. Indeed, it might well have been the highlight of the festival right at the end. It helps that Murdoch has blossomed from the retiring frontman of legend into as effervescent a singer as they come in the same way his band have emerged from their own reputation of audience testing quietness to, if not a seven piece rock machine, then certainly a band with no trouble filling this sort of space. Starting with Expectations from Tigermilk they cherry pick from across their career, if not anything from If You're Feeling Sinister for some reason, picking out some genuine surprises, not least Electronic Renaissance, which turns into a dance-off between Murdoch and a melodica-touting Stevie Jackson, who seems at times to be trying to upstage his bandmate. It's Murdoch's presence that drives them on, picking a girl out of the front to dance with during Jonathan David before making worryingly lecherous remarks about her after she'd been packed off and declaring that Lord Anthony "should not be attempted without the application of mascara" and getting another girl to apply it for him while singing before stealing a cigarette from someone else and critiquing a third person's scarf ("you're a bit old for the scouts, aren't you? Does your skip know you're drinking Carlsberg?") More than anything else, it turns a packed out field into a dance party as The Blues Are Still Blue follows She's Losing It followed by The Wrong Girl and so on. Seemingly not having properly planned an encore, Stuart challenges a surprised looking Stevie to render the songs from the shows to fill time, which Jackson matches with a full supper club effort at Luck Be A Lady Tonight before a corking finale of Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie, a Boy With The Arab Strap that gets nearly everyone moving and Sleep The Clock Around to finish. So yet again, despite our early misgivings about the bill, the weather the space available and just about everything else, Summer Sundae, its setting and its organisers triumph again.

    Never did find the cabaret tent, mind.

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Not a waste: Summer Sundae 2006 Saturday review

    Another 16 pictures from the Saturday added to our Flickr folder

    The thing about living relatively close to a festival site is, apart from getting all the nasty camping details out of the way, you can just swan in any time you want, so we decided that on this day half twelve would be a decent time for meeting people and generally soaking in the atmosphere.

    Two hours later...

    In fact, it seems Joan As Policewoman is running late too, as an apologetic Joan Wasser and rhythm section are still doing final soundchecking up to their stage time. It's worth the extra effort. Coming out of the tent our thoughts turned back to Patrick Wolf here last year, not for both their violin prowess - Wasser is Antony & The Johnsons' string arranger but here switches between guitar and organ - but for how that set saw us go in as someone vaguely aware of and intrigued by the set-up of their work and come out converted. Astute, melodically charged and topped off by a dramatic swooping voice that's played up best on Real Life, which she plays without the other two, Joan has an endearing line in banter, comparing playing at 2.30pm to showing off at a family reunion, and a personality that far outstrips most of what we'll see this weekend, transfixing pretty much everyone in the immediate radius. Better, minutes later she seemingly gets the signing tent opened off-schedule - we can report she's very nice and signs herself 'Joan JAPW' - and we see her hanging around outside much later.

    Despite dire weather warnings the rain holds off until after nightfall, which means Tunng get a very decent audience for their folktronica, which is amiable enough with some nice touches but would probably work better inside. Meanwhile, a band who'd work really well outdoors are, yes, indoors. We've just realised that of the bands we really wanted to see today three we've already seen full sets by at Truck three weeks ago. At least it means easy comparisons can be drawn, although in the case of Brakes the question "what were they like?" can be answered "they're Brakes, how can they be anything other than tremendous?" A blistering opening of Ring A Ding Ding, Hi How Are You, Heard About Your Band and Pick Up The Phone - four songs in about five minutes - ensures the hall is packed out for a set that understandably leans heavier on the album than that at Truck but is completely unstinting in every other way, from Tom White's power leaps to the traditional casual attendee-confuser of Cheney, which they play twice, after the bloke behind us had asked "was that everything? Was that it?" after the first one.

    Straight back out for another rendezvous with the Young Knives, although something's not quite clicking with them today. The famed banter between Henry and House Of Lords isn't showing up today, although House is giving it the occasional barely received go revealing before Loughborough Suicide that he'd had to explain the title to the Loughborough Echo in the week, and there's an odd number of B-sides for a band who are about to release an album. The energy remains, though, and Weekends And Bleak Days gets the weekend's first really big singalong. With a full Rising tent being treated to Gravenhurst's fairly uninspired live attempt to meld alt-rock shapes with their previous folk-Tortoise sound, we make for Isobel Campbell coaxing the country-noir influences out of her Mercury-nominated album. Dormouse-quiet and with the obvious handicap of no Mark Lanegan, she filled the hall but it sounded like her songs' nuances could have done with something more intimate.

    "We're not really a sitting down band, so if all of you at the back want to stand up while we're on you'll enjoy it more...No?" Summer Sundae is often categorised as a laidback, almost city-gentrified festival. Well, here's where all that comes to a sudden stop, as ¡Forward Russia! appear on the main stage. As far as we can remember we've never seen a proper mosh pit in front of the main stage before, and we've certainly never been informed of Leicester City's final score by anyone on stage either, although why Whiskas should care about Leicester-Ipswich we're not sure, Tom ending the badinage with "we're going to play another song, because football is shit", which gets him a telling off from Katie of all people. They're clearly enjoying it in any case, Whiskas spotting someone wearing a one-off bootleg T-shirt at the front and being alone among the acts in enquiring what the bizarre human torso-esque structure at the top of the stage. The music? As full-on as ever, as befits a band who know completely what they're doing, and that is to shatter your preconceptions about post-hardcore and then try and rebuild it with a flimsy but workable glue. Or something. Anyway, during Nine a big cheer goes up as Steve Lamacq himself gets hoisted up and over everyone's heads, which about sums it up, and Tom ends up in the front row, returning to the stage with blood streaming from his nose. Rob later told us he reckoned the response at the front made it a better set than at Truck. We'd agree.

    Nouvelle Vague, it's fair to say, have some stylistic ground to make up. This new range of bands straight out of something akin to cabaret who do covers in other styles - we're looking at you here, Hayseed Dixie - have always struck us as being better to watch live at a festival than actually sit down and listen to at home. There's no doubt Nouvelle Vague do indeed put on a show, what with plenty of percussion at hand and both singers indulging in dancing and exotic shape throwing both interpretative and otherwise. All the favourites get an airing - Blue Monday, Killing Moon, Bela Lugosi's Dead, Love Will Tear Us Apart, a call and response version of Too Drunk To Fuck - plus a surprisingly moody version of Madness' Grey Day. A bit warmer and they'd have been putty in everyone's hands.

    Are brooding skies going to help or hinder Calexico? It doesn't particularly matter, as despite their reputation being forged under the Tex-Mex sun Joey Burns and John Convertino have always proved adept at stylistic shifting under a wide range of influences. It does seem, though, that while both we and they like the countrified/Latin folk-pop songs like Will Oldham with greater ambition, the ones where they stick a groove under their alt-Americana, with mariachi trumpets if possible, are better. Their cover of Alone Again Or is dedicated to both Arthur Lee and early champion John Peel and is played with a swing that wouldn't shame the original, while we're glad they end with the great Crystal Frontier which gets everyone going.

    Somehow Loughborough's Voom Blooms have ended up headlining the Rising stage for the evening after having released one single, the admittedly spectacular Politics And Cigarettes. Time will tell whether they can match it, three songs here introduced as having just been written while on tour, but they've got plenty of near-local support already and there's a spark and room for studio development from the impression at the moment of a more lively Editors facing off The Rakes via Carl Barat. With nothing better to do we get in for the Blockheads, playing again inside after X-Press 2 pulled out through illness. Mickey Gallagher has disappeared due to prior commitments so Chas Jankel has to multitask which invariably affects the band's sound and tightness, and frankly once you've seen them in a cramped marquee it's not going to be the same sitting in a vast concert hall, but just in case we get Wake Up And Make Love With Me as an opener and Billericay Dickie is added to the setlist too. Whatever set they put out, however, it was going to be superior to Gomez playing extended middle eights of tracks not off the first album. And there goes day two...

    Saturday, August 12, 2006

    Cast Of 6,000: Summer Sundae 2006 Friday review

    EDIT: First set of Summer Sundae photos have been uploaded

    Back again, then, to De Montfort Hall And Gardens, three stages housed in surely the smallest area of any festival worth its salt plus the handiness of somewhere to go if it starts raining. Oh, and to watch a few bands in a nearly palatial setting, of course. We arrive on site just as James Morrison is onto his last song, and from our not yet trained ears he appears to be attempting to shake off the Blunt comparisons by edging towards sub-Kravitz funk-rock. It's not a good image, but a lot of people seem impressed. While we're all still warming up Zil inside are providing what the programme claims is "a raw mix of Roxy Music meeting the Clash". A very raw mix, as we can't detect either. Post-Franz/Killers there must be a band like this in every town with guitar stabs, well pressed shirts and a keyboard at the side of the stage, and none of them are amounting to much. For easy comparison, the Infadels played inside last year on the Friday and showed how to do post-punk-disco without sounding like the Bravery.

    Liam Frost and the Slowdown Family has/have often been touted as a natural successor to Badly Drawn Boy in the Greater Manchester singer-songwriter stakes but throughout his set we're reminded more of Johnny Bramwell of long time acoustic contenders I Am Kloot, adding a cynical dash to lyrically adept melancholy and a surprising live power. Buoyed on by a strong contingent of fans if the cheers on every title announcement are anything to go by Frost is a hugely engaging frontman, thrashing at his acoustic guitar during songs and bantering with the front row and his mandolin player (mandolin player? Well, he plays violin as well, but still) between them, throwing his broken harmonica into the crowd at one stage before admitting later that that might have been a bad idea all told. An early highlight, and we got given a three-track CD of his songs later, which was nice.

    We didn't get to see as much of Baxter Dury as we'd intended due to our breaking the habit of a lifetime and actually meeting the people we'd agreed to meet up with (chiefly Ben, Kenny, Jim, Jen and a couple of people whose names we've forgotten - sorry), but from the song and a half we did catch we get the impression that while he has the Cockney wideboy/seedy lyrical underbelly gene alright it probably comes across better on record. From what we largely only hear across the Gardens Richard Hawley, who for reasons that we've never quite been able to pin down has never totally appealed to us, is in fine sweeping form, his laconic stage presence contrasting neatly with the sometimes overpowering soar of his Lee Hazlewood post-nostalgia. If there is such a categorisation.

    Jeremy Barnes of A Hawk And A Hacksaw reveals that he used to work in Leicester post office. He also used to drum for Neutral Milk Hotel and now plays gothic circus music on an accordion with a violinist accompanying while wearing a hat with bells on. You may wish to speculate that this is what working alongside Jeff Mangum does to someone. Meanwhile indoors we meet up for the third time in five months with Seth Lakeman. Just because we're approaching off by heart status with the songs doesn't mean the pastoral folk hoedowns are any less powerful or prone to getting people to dance, and Kitty Jay is more spectacular than ever.

    Again, we've never quite got the Delays but a punchy sounding performance marred by the first sustained rain of the weekend - not the last by all accounts - draws plenty of interest. Not as much directly, we'd wager, as up at the Musician tent, where for the first time in our years of Summer Sundae attending there's security on the entrances to keep it to one in one out. The reason, as we'd guessed from the moment we saw who was playing where, is the Blockheads with Phill Jupitus guesting on vocals and - is this a post-Dury tradition, does anyone know? - decked out in the Barney Bubbles 'face' logo band T-shirt as the rest of the band are. Now, many bands with their sort of catalogue might ease the punters into a set before leaving the big guns until last. Or you could start with Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll followed by Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick followed by Clever Trever. That'd work. And it does in spades, although for most of the set we're restricted to being outside looking in, and it's twelve deep at times behind us. This is no Four Tops-style rebranding, luckily, Chaz Jankel, Norman Watt-Roy and Mickey Gallagher still playing with much of the tightness, vitality and indeed outright funkiness of thirty years ago while Jupitus, who just about steers clear of outright tribute to Dury, shares vocals with Ian's minder Derek The Draw, who presumably can't help taking his former associate's cadences on. Strangely there's plenty of room in the tent once Derek announces a song he's co-written with Chaz about how politicians live fulsome lives while other people have dirty one-room homes, and that's before the two minute drum solo, but that means everyone who really wants in gets in for a pulsating closer of Reasons To Be Cheerful. They're playing again on Saturday after X-Press 2 pulled out. Wonder how busy that will be.

    For all the cheap comparisons, anyone who really knows them knows Elbow could never be Coldplay. Guy Garvey deals in sublime lyrical evocations and pinpoints rather than universal feelings and his band are far more intricate and dynamic. That sort of thing doesn't sell in Wal-Mart. Added to which is that Garvey is the genial mine host of legend, introducing Leaders Of The Free World as a song about the people who "cause bad things in the world...and I don't mean Cud reforming". So there's no Powder Blue, no big closing Grace Under Pressure and the big showpieces Garvey promised in an interview about this headline slot are not much in evidence, but with a band this up for the event it barely registers. There's what sounds like new songs too, including one (unless it's an existing song we've forgotten about) that channels Tom Waits and involves Garvey on kettle drums. It's not quite the spectacular triumph we'd hoped for, but still when those at the top of the field spot a shooting star over the stage as Fallen Angel begins it ties in nicely. It's the last song in the set, "but it isn't really, you know it isn't" Garvey admits before encouraging those watching to not chant for an encore but get going a unison chorus of "lasting peace in the Middle East!" ("and maybe some fucker will listen"). Brilliantly the plan works and we're treated to a spectacular climax consisting of a hypnotic Any Day Now, a heartbreaking The Stops and a Newborn that finally matches their overpowering ambitions. They may not be the household name predicted of them yet, but it's moments like that that prove they're a headline act all the same.

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    Sundae Sundae here again

    As previously advertised, we're off to Summer Sundae from tomorrow, which could yet end up as the most ramshackle we've been to as Martha Wainwright and David Kitt have both pulled out leaving, as we type, great big holes in the Saturday early evening schedules, and what with the airports being as they are we suspect there's going to be a lot of furrowed brows amongst the organisers, especially with Belle & Sebastian playing a festival in Paris the day before they're down to close the festival on Sunday. Anyway, we'll try and do an up to date review service as last year (see sidebar) and we'll have the camera with us for when it's not pissing down, plus we're hopefully holding a grand summit at some stage with various Friends Of STN. Holla if you hear us.

    Coming up after Summer Sundae's out of the way on Sweeping The Nation: at least one very decent Friendly Chat, a new direction for the Illustrated Guide and all the bacchinalia you've come to expect

    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Weekender : we fear change

    CHART OF DARKNESS: An odd singles chart this week as Shakira hangs on in the face of large scale indifference outside the pop and chart message boards, odd because there's a lot of upward motion (Paolo Nutini's back in the top ten), not many new entries and the curious decision by Universal to delete Nelly Furtado's still huge playing Maneater four weeks ahead of her next single. As if it were 1998 again the highest new entry is by an English-speaking diva collaborating with a German trance producer. Cascada by name, a former Billboard Hot 100 top ten hit that makes you wonder if dance music ever intended to get anywhere. Paris, as she now appears to be called - come out, we know who you are - is at 5, but then she'd barely be able to come over and promote it. The Similou seem to have come from nowhere to 20 having reached the top 50 last week on downloads, the Raconteurs run out of energy already at 29, Captain continue to fail to live up to expectations at 30 and the Holloways leap above the post-Pete ragamuffin bandwagon at 33. And now, a memo to Polydor/Universal, Initial Productions/Endemol, Malcolm Gerrie, Channel 4, Xenomania and all other interested parties. It reads thus: What the hell happened there, then? After two heavily trailed and repeated series on T4, essentially adding up to nearly ten months of promotion, I'm Not Shy by Frank debuts at number 40. Admittedly "did you see Totally Frank last night?" was hardly the major topic of conversation across the nation, but this sort of result even beats the 21st Century Girls for advance hubris crashing down around a major label's 'sure thing' ears. While we're on the hubris scale, note Boy Kill Boy's re-release of Civil Sin cashing in on their newfound glory at, um, 44.
    James Morrison makes a rather quicker top spot entry than James Blunt did in the album chart. He's opening Summer Sundae on Friday. We'll get there a bit later, if it's all the same to you. In a slow week DMX and Stone Sour sell to their people alone and still get top 30 entries but let's look instead at 17 and the Puppini Sisters, only one of whom is using the surname Puppini. These are the 1940s wartime jazz club doo-wop harmony revivalists who've had acres of coverage, none of which mentions that the whole album is cover versions, and not all post-ironic pop hits reworked which might actually have worked in their favour. What audience is this for, wanting to hear Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy in a slightly inferior version? Oh, we know really, that pesky MOR/pop classical crowd who'll take anything on if it's sold to them correctly. The one on the left on the cover seems to be wearing false lips.

    FREE MUSIC: We've talked up the Playwrights before on here, but the Bristolians' art-pop locating of a point between Bloc Party and C86 is always worth your while and we've only just noticed the wordy, irked 21st Century Kaspar Hauser is downloadable from their label site.

    HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: One of the great joys of that post-punk scene is there's just so much of it to mine, and Parisians 10lec6 (pronounced dislecsix, apparently - yes, we see) have spotted another gap in the revivalist but good market, that of the sheer rhythmic punk-funk-dub-X Ray Spex female fronted attack of the Slits or Raincoats. You can picture the shifting rhythm section attempting to stare each other out throughout.

    VISUAL REPRESENTATION: With one solo Manics project out already and the other, not that anyone's looking forward to it particularly, on the way it's a good time to remind ourselves of the way that the young MSP foisted their high arching views on the pop kids in the early 90s. Or, in this case, as much of it as Philippa Forrester would let them have.

    FALLING OFF A BLOG: Obscure Sound is clearly aiming high for an mp3 blog and seems to be aiming for a collaborative approach, which is all to the good if it means as eclectic an approach as the one that has recently brought its readers the Jam, Bonnie Prince Billy, Max Richter, the Smiths and the very much having to be investigated further Vitaminsforyou.

    IN OTHER NEWS: None of this next week, we're off festivalling again for Sweeping The Nation's Second Annual Summer Sundae Mass Observation, and now we've observed the stages and tents going up in De Montfort Gardens today the excitement is palpable. Gomez are still headlining the Saturday, yes.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    In shops tomorrow: 7/8


    As there doesn't appear to be such a thing as a post-holiday disco novelty hit tendency any more, these are the last few weeks for everyone to get their songs of the summer candidates in. Many, not least ourselves, have tipped Peter Bjorn & John's Young Folks for big things, ignoring the fact that nobody on the radio's played it and nobody in the media's talked it up, its support coming entirely through word of mouth and a little MTV2 play. What a song, though, uber-infectious and with every second filled with percussion, synths or just off-kilter harmonies. For those dark stormy nights surely ahead, we reach for the PJ Harvey stranded in mid-90s US alt-rock strut of Metric's Monster Hospital. What did happen to the Futureheads? News And Tributes seems to have suffered appalling word of mouth and the spiky Worry About It Later is almost apologetically crawling out, which will never do for so cocksure a band. Meanwhile there's something suspicious going on around Mercury-poisoned impassioned folk teller of local Dartmoor legends Seth Lakeman now he's on a major label subsidiary - the cover of the single Lady Of The Sea (Hear Her Calling) features him looking wistful in negative, the video has him playing under a waterfall, and TV advertising for this release started about three weeks ago, with the video already on The Box. Final confirmation came this week when the new Q describes him as "the James Blunt of folk" three times. Just because you keep saying it doesn't mean it's automatically true. On the 7" racks keep an eye out for Clearlake's return to form It's Getting Light Outside.


    The album slowdown ahead of the big autumn pushes continues - of this week's recommended releases only one contains all new material, and even then it's a fluke of a kind that we've got it as Ooberman only got back together to agree a Best Of tracklisting. That cohortery led to an entire new album, Carried Away, picking up where they left off three years ago on a more orchestral pop bent and with Sophia Churney now sole lead singer. Darren Hayman finally closes the book on Hefner with demos, out-takes and early versions double CD compilation Catfight, Chris Difford revisits Squeeze's back catalogue in stripped down acoustic form on South East Side Story and the still nascent but just you watch Joe Meek reappreciation gathers pace with the reissue of I Hear A New World, his still extraordinary exotica experiment of 1960 credited to Joe Meek And The Blue Men.

    The Weekly Sweep

  • The Beloved - Hello (YouTube)
    Is this on a new compilation? We heard it randomly in Virgin in the week and we've always been suckers for a good list song
  • Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country (live YouTube)
    Still fantastic slab of Jimmy Webb Northern Soul. Did Victoria Bergsman really direct the Lloyd I'm Ready... video?
  • Clearlake - It's Getting Light Outside (mp3 on KissAtlanta)
    Never knowingly minimal, the Brighton dreamers borrow sped up Teenage Fanclub melodies, Bernard Hermann strings and a horn section
  • Cursive - Dorothy At Forty (mp3 on All Things Go)
    A week too late for Tim Kasher Top Of The Pops confusion 'jokes', old style emo finds skronk sax, chopped up guitar and something in parts not a million miles from Neutral Milk Hotel's Holland 1945
  • Dillinger - Cocaine In My Brain (mp3 on CubikMusik)
    He'd be no good in a spelling bee
  • Emmy The Great - Secret Circus (Myspace)
    Still a distinct inability round here to get past the Hong Kong-born chanteuse-with-cyanide. There may be more on this in the near future
  • Guillemots - Trains To Brazil (mp3 on Neiles Life)
    Yes, of course it's coming back out. Being put back on duty, as we might topically have it
  • Jeremy Warmsley - I Believe In The Way You Move (Myspace)
    Piano! Brass! Squeaking! Emmy! That rarity, a re-recording that outstrips the original
  • Los Campesinos! - You! Me! Dancing! (Myspace)
    Now appearing, we notice, on Huw Stephens' Myspace as his featured track as well as on ours. And they've been called up to support Broken Social Scene!
  • Luke Haines - Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop (Myspace)
    Produced by Richard X, which means his Oliver Twist Manifesto/wanting The Facts Of Life to sound like Billie phase isn't quite done yet
  • Metric - Monster Hospital (YouTube)
    Although obviously the better version was essayed on legendary Washington public access kids' show Pancake Mountain
  • Peter, Bjorn & John - Young Folks (mp3 on Red Blondehead)
    Just while summer's still hanging on in there
  • Redcarsgofaster - Micro (Myspace)
    Razorblade guitars, impassioned vocals and subtle melancholy. Americans have made a mess of these ingredients. Luckily, Redcarsgofaster are from Leicester.
  • Rihanna - SOS (Rescue Me) (YouTube)
    You know how sometimes big hit pop songs take some time to creep up on you?
  • Scritti Politti - The Boom Boom Bap (streaming on whatever this site is actually called)
    Something to do with hip-hop rhythms, it seems
  • Spinto Band - Oh Mandy (mp3 on The BM Rant)
    Oh, stop making corking summer singles, everyone! Mandolin-led wistfulness a go go as the Delaware loads-piece finally fulfil their promise, and that of a number of other bands while they're about it
  • The Boy Least Likely To - Hugging My Grudge (YouTube)
    Doesn't look like it's going to happen for them now, more fool everyone, but then songs this knowingly winsome and yet completely unashamed of it barely deserve The Automatic's audience
  • TV On The Radio - Wolf Like Me (mp3 on inkiostro)
    Still sounds like nothing else, at times least of all itself
  • Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Under The Yews
    The album's leaked! And it's wonderful, as longtime readers will have guessed of our longtime appreciation for the Cardiff-based (another one!) art school discordant oddball post-post-punk. August 28th. Make a note
  • The Young Knives - Loughborough Suicide
    This one leaked ages ago, and this stands out a mile on another really strong release. Henry doesn't shout it, for a start. Small town ennui never sounded so elegant