Friday, February 29, 2008

Pointless things people moan about in music #1 in a short series

Complaining that all young indie* bands have names that start with 'The' and end on a plural.

Yes. How very different to the days of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Small Faces, The Beach Boys, The Monkees, The Hollies...

* Not to be confused with actual indie, obviously.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bear with us

There's going to be loads of interesting new stuff coming up in the next few weeks. We know we always say this, but we do mean it this time. All our materials are right here on the table, look, there, and in that folder.

We would like to ask about one thing arising from tonight's NME awards, though. Namely, this:

Arctic Monkeys have won the Best Video award supported by NME TV at the Shockwaves NME Awards 2008 for the promo for their single ‘Teddy Picker’.

Righto. Because that's a fairly straight performance video, albeit one in a studio and a park with Roman Coppola's team, isn't it? Snazzy, but not what you'd call award worthy.

The video features a gangland war between criminals and clowns in full costume, along with childhood snaps of the band themselves.

Yeah. That's the video to Flourescent Adolescent you've described there. NME, you've given the award to the wrong video. And in front of all those people.

Oh, and well done to The Modern Age for picking up Best Blog, even if before we had no idea who you were and now we find you're not even a specialist music blog. Again, well done, everyone.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's Field Music week all week on STN! (until today)

We certainly didn't intend a Brewis/Brewis/Moore special, but the video to School Of Language's mighty Rockist had landed and there they all are backing David up.

But really, it's here because it's set our special and rarely used Marie Du Santiago-ometer off.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Side Project Corner

Following last week's discovery of Tom White's very fine solo work, more of which has since been uploaded, we turn from a south east continuing diaspora to a north east continuing diaspora. The Week That Was count among their number Field Music's Peter Brewis, Field Music's David Brewis and Field Music's Andrew Moore, make a lush pop sound much like Field Music and are already signed to Field Music's label Memphis Industries. But remember, Field Music are on an indefinite hiatus. Yes. (Technically it's Peter's solo project to go alongside David's first out of the traps School Of Language and Andrew's alter ego John Monroe, but the other two are both down as contributors and besides we like being pernickety)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Peaches Geldof thinks Kate Nash's Caroline's A Victim is "like The Fall covering The Birthday Party"

Sleep well.

Weekender : send us stationery to make us horny

- We can't avoid this thorny issue any longer. It's been the one constant throughout the last year and three quarters of our little dog and pony show of a music blog, the one thing that has been namechecked, analysed and wept over more often than anything else, a band by the name of Los Campesinos! Do a Google site search for STN plus LC! and you get 99 hits. We were there virtually at the start, noted down from the speculative post on Drowned In Sound's message boards with which Tom Campesinos! hesitantly brought the band to a wider audience. "They're a band many will grow to adore", we accurately predicted. We also wrote they reminded us a little of Les Incompetents and the largely obscure Khaya, which was less accurate. We got Tom and Gareth to provide some cultural backstory, we mentioned them on The Weekly Sweep far more than anyone else and we greeted each passing single with levels of assumed infallibility that would make the Catholic church give up on the spot. Along the way we learned Gareth Campesinos!' favourite album of all time is At The Club, he owns more Xiu Xiu T-shirts than Jamie Stewart has ever brainstormed and his views on the potency or otherwise of commercial indie rock is, shall we say, somewhat trenchant. Clearly, this is not the sort of band who are going to hand themselves over without a struggle to T4. Indeed, as unpopular writer Kieron Gillen, who **SPOILER** gives the band a reference in the launching in the second half of the year if all goes well Phonogram II **SPOILER OVER** once put it to us, "did we dream up Los Campesinos! when we were drunk or something?" And now, an album, Hold On Now, Youngster... by name, and it was never likely to be anything less than an unapologetically wonderous purest sucrose rush of American lo-fi guitars, rushing glockenspiels, male-female interchanges, pop culture lyrical references, sarcasm, heartache and secret irony. Lest it be overlooked this, what with the Fieldingfication of "four sweaty boys with guitars" elsewhere, is not a record aimed at the mainstream in any way - never mind Whiley, Zane Lowe doesn't play them, and of the broadsheet Friday sections only the Guardian reviewed it. And they, like Pitchfork, tellingly thought the clearly Conor McNicholas-baiting first lines in And We Exhale And Roll Our Eyes In Unison ("It's bad enough you ever used the word as an adjective/But to suggest we do it in heels is really quite crass") are about sex. And the Guardian reviewer thinks International Tweexcore Underground is on the album, so sod him. No, Los Campesinos! are so cherishable because they are the anti-Joe Lean, no frontloaded commercial potential and plenty of 'you could do this too' vim that, while aware of popism, swerves the mainstream and catches the unwary (an indie record gets 9/10 off Dom Passantino? Are these the end times?) If you're of a similar mindset to us, and we're a broader church than it seems so we can accept such, LC! are our band, much like, well, Kenickie were eleven years ago. And who's to say that the album of 2019 won't be helmed by someone who feels no shame in declaring they were initially inspired by Hold On Now, Youngster...?

- While we're on an indie snobbishness tip, it may be explicable with their only recently gained NME profile but in these days of Wikipedia you can't get away with handing Les Savy Fav records to people who have no knowledge of their backstory. Comparing a record made by Americans in 2004 to the Young Knives and Ned's Atomic Dustbin is the very definition of wilful hubris. A seven inch ekes out in the wake of their NME-sponsored London Astoria gig with both LC! and Future Of The Left - when did we become big London venue bookers? - matching Let's Stay Friends' Patty Lee to the soon reissued Inches' The Sweat Descends. Unlike Tim Harrington, there's not an ounce of fat about it. Also in the singles pile, Vampire Weekend's A-Punk and XX Teens' Fox News-quoting How To Reduce Chances Of Being A Terror Victim.

- Imagine a singer-songwriter who specialises in jazzy piano-led heartfelt ballads, latterly souped up with orchestral arrangements. Moving into his mid-thirties, he moves to a major label, takes a side job as a film scorer and gets married. What would you imagine his next album would sound like? Well, obtusely wildly experimental gutter blues featuring surreal vignettes sung in an ultragravelly voice, with little in the way of categorisability or even roots beyond nods to Beefheart and Dr John, obviously. That's if the singer in question is Tom Waits, whose Swordfishtrombones joins the 33 1/3 ranks.

- We think we've seen off the Will Young fans by now, so let's move even further into cult realms. Dean Wareham will never receive the same level of critical acclaim as Waits, but through the atmospheric haze of Galaxie 500, the gauze dreampop of Luna and the kittenish Lee'n'Nancy of Dean & Britta he's attracted a substantial following. Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance offers his history in both personal and cultural terms.

COMING SOON: Tapes 'N Tapes kind of got left behind fairly quickly, an example as to what can befall a band picked up early and pushed too far for that period by the bloggers seeking out the next big thing regardless of how good the actual record is. They've gone the Dave Fridmann route for second album Walk It Off, released 7th April and preceded by a single they've thoughtfully already stuck up for free download. Despite an audible Fridmann influence Hang Them All doesn't sound that different in structure, essentially sounding like a more post-punk version of The Loon's high points. Still, if that's what you like.

MYSPACE INVADERS: There's a bit of a thing for vocal post-rock going about at the moment - Grammatics, Kyte, Shady Bard, I Concur - and making a blindside run through the pack are Leeds' Vessels. In fact their year zero seems to be more Kid A and () in the way they mix up the noise and distortion structures with piano, beats, slow burn and assorted yearning and desolation. They're playing the Notting Hill Arts Club free afternoon RoTa event on 5th April supporting the mighty Broken Records, and you won't be able to move for A&Rs.

VISUAL AID: More for nostalgia's sake than anything, this week we alight on a three part debate on Central's old shouting shop Central Weekend Live about the dangers of rave culture and what became the Criminal Justice Bill 1994, which we highlight to the day-glo kids as this is how people on both sides of the argument used to talk.

* Quick stuff this week. Adam Gnade suggests music to write books to;

* DJ Food expansion mixes his celebrated history of cut-ups Raiding The 20th Century with Paul Morley reading from Words & Music;

* For those disappointed by BBC4's Caledonia Dreaming documentary, particularly how it spent a long time chasing the pointless cause of 'blue eyed soul', doesn't this look promising?

* And who could go wrong with some Barron Knights in their lives? Indeed, the ability for the worldwide community to watch Merry Gentle Pops must have been what Steve Chen and Chad Hurley had in mind when they legged it down the patent office.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Weekly Sweep

  • Anathallo - Hanasakajijii (Four: A Great Wind More Ash) [live YouTube]
  • The Boy Least Likely To - The Boy Least Likely To Is A Machine [Myspace]
  • Bricolage - Footsteps [demo - demo! - on Myspace]
  • British Sea Power - No Lucifer [YouTube]
  • Does It Offend You, Yeah? - We Are Rockstars [YouTube]
  • Elbow - Grounds For Divorce [YouTube]
  • Foals - Cassius [YouTube]
  • ¡Forward, Russia! - Breaking Standing [Myspace]
  • Friends Of The Bride - You Can't Take Him Anywhere [YouTube]
  • The Futureheads - The Beginning Of The Twist [YouTube]
  • Gindrinker - Work It Out [Myspace]
  • Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit - Leftovers [YouTube]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Our Bipolar Friends [Myspace, or here, on YouTube, piecemeal, being talked over by a cunt]
  • Les Savy Fav - Patty Lee [YouTube]
  • Los Campesinos! - This Is How You Spell "Hahaha, We Destroyed The Hopes And Dreams Of A Generation Of Faux-Romantics"
  • M.I.A. - Paper Planes [YouTube]
  • The Mystery Jets - Young Love [YouTube]
  • Nat Johnson - Judy's First Beat [Myspace (In case you haven't been concentrating, this is the not dissimilar solo project of the singer from the now defunct Monkey Swallows The Universe)
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! [YouTube]
  • Youthmovies - The Naughtiest Girl Is A Monitor [YouTube]
  • Friday, February 22, 2008

    Bloody hell, he must be mad if he's bringing Songs To Learn And Sing back

    Well, yes, we are. Bringing Songs To Learn And Sing back, not necessarily mad for doing so. We did suggest at the start of the year that this was the plan, but now instead of being highlighted in for a specific period or regular slot, it's going to be an occasional post, an irregular running feature, and even if you've contributed before there's nothing to stop you doing so again - we're certainly going to try and do a few ourselves, starting next week. Before we solicit, if you want to pen a good number of words on a song you think should be added to our theoretical library of music far superior to that one that's just been sold on eBay, let us know by email/comment/Myspace message/Facebook message/note tied to brick through window/whatever.

    (And yes, the other running features are still running, with an Illustrated Guide and a Primer under construction)

    Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    Brits in pieces

    We don't think you can deny that tonight the ambitions of the UK music scene and its televised output got on like a house on fire.

    All its possessions were destroyed and it was forced to escape by jumping out of a top floor window.

    There's something very Whileyfied about a ceremony that gives the Foo Fighters two awards when even the Eagles seemed a more cutting edge bet. Even besides that, as a basic television spectacle it suffered engine failure on takeoff. The Osbournes, even for a booking made on the basis of a reality TV show of six years ago which was a success due to its extreme dysfunctionality and involving someone who has had live chat shows on both sides of the Atlantic cancelled, flatlined from the off, and nowhere was it stated in the pre-publicity that Kelly (reusing the short, dark haired look Madonna had for about three weeks in 1993) and Jack (just after finding work as a professional Jack Penate lookalike) would be co-presenting. ITV gracefully helped with the lamest swear filter in television history, slowing the video down for a couple of seconds just in case the edit necessity wasn't obvious. Will Young set new standards for bad autocue reading, while Jonathan Rhys Meyers looked like not so much just out of rehab as still in the centre as withdrawl kicks in. David Tennant presenting an award to Kylie? Who'd have thought. Performance wise, the much anticipated Rihanna vs Klaxons turned out to be a mashup straight outta 2002 where neither seemed to know what the other was really doing. Amy was if not all over the shop then certainly indecisive given a choice of aisles, but you expect that at this stage.

    The Arctic Monkeys were the great domestic achievers, come in comedy gear which didn't sit well when they were subject to unironic champagne spraying, and Alex hadn't thought his props through. They did however take a full role in the five minutes when the whole edifice crumbled and slowly collapsed, beginning with Vic Reeves wandering on to finish his TV career by being in a public place many, many sheets to the wind with only a vague idea of what he was doing there. When cut back to from the nomination tape, he was embroiled in a spectacularly undignified commotion with an openly abusive Sharon. On pretty much live TV to the nation of millions. What the situation needed was a calming influence: what it got was an even more pissed Alex Turner extemporising, seemingly to himself, about the Brit School and Blazin' Squad until the emergency DAT cut him off. We'd hate to have been the floor manager reading the script that said Ozzy had the next announcement, and sure enough there he was to, Look Around You style, introduce "Mr Sir Paul McCartney" about three minutes early. Macca did Dance Tonight, like anyone cares, and a participatory Hey Jude, but you knew he would.

    So what have we learned? The Brits school is now everything, the summit of British music in 2007 is a band that split up in 1996 and you'll never be able to watch Big Night Out in the same way again. All of which leaves one question: who was the bloke behind Kate Nash as she rose from her table, preparing to attempt to introduce the unappreciative Brit School crowd (and her alumni) to Riot Grrl concepts, wearing a crombie hat with some sort of pipe in his mouth, then?

    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    Due South

    It's South By South West time again, or at least it will be time for the entire UK music media to decamp to a street in Austin, Texas come March 12th-16th. There's the usual enormous list of bands from around the world playing up now on their site, and while we investigate some of those new to us we thought we'd stick up links to taster mp3s which those bands we like have provided, along with a line or two from their issued biography, in case there's anything you feel you need to catch up on. Have fun!

    Aberfeldy - Come On Claire
    "Aberfeldy won over the critics with their melodically concise folk tinged 2004 debut LP “Young Forever”, followed by 2006’s poppier “Do Whatever Turns You On”."

    Akron/Family - Phenomena
    "Akron/Family is writing a 21st century non-denominational hymnal, free of any New Age stink or hippie laziness. What they did in San Francisco was tap into the great currents of the universe and share that energy and unfiltered beauty with us. Their constant desire to obliterate the line between audience/consumer and performer/musician shares something with the Dead, Phish and others who've introduced participatory elements into the mix. However, those bands rarely gave so freely or vigorously to those who stood before them."

    Alabama 3 - Woke Up This Morning
    "Rock Freebase has consistently earned his position as a top Mississippi delta blues guitarist and, coupled with Larry’s poisonous vocals, Devlin Love’s sweet soul singing and Harpo Strangelove’s harmonica, it is no wonder they have been hailed as the best live band in the UK."

    Bearsuit - Steven Fucking Spielberg
    "Stop-start boy-girl cutie-killer six-piece with everything from cinematic waltzes to catchy electro disco and hard punk screaming riot grrl noise. A mix of Belle and Sebastian, Huggy Bear, and Sonic Youth with electronic twists and turns, and screamy art punk."

    Be Your Own Pet - Bicycle Bicycle You Are My Bicycle
    (Lady and chaps supply no details)

    British Sea Power - Waving Flags
    "British Sea Power, of course, admire Black Francis. While recording by the forests of the Krivoklatsko Biosphere Reserve, they were lucky enough to see a Black Woodpecker. This album takes in all points between."

    Emmy The Great - Easter Parade
    "The recordings are imperfect and the production simple. But that was always the intention - the intimacy of the recording combined with the simplicity of the songs, produces something more powerful than any studio recording ever could."

    HEALTH - Crimewave
    "HEALTH was six months old the first time they played for real people. Before that, there was more talk than music, mostly about art, food, sex, animals, records, drugs, politics and sleeping."

    The Indelicates - Julia, We Don't Live In The 60s
    "Influences and sound comparisons include Black Box Recorder, The Auteurs, Bruce Springsteen, The Dresden Dolls, The Divine Comedy, The Jam, Art Brut, Kate Bush in a Weimar era nightclub, Queen fronted by two Morrisseys or, as Eddie Argos put it after their recent stint as main support for Art Brut's recent German tour: Luke Haines and the E Street Band"

    I Was A Cub Scout - Pink Squares
    (Evidently late with their homework)

    Johnny Foreigner - Champagne Girls I Have Known
    "Johnny Foreigner burst out of the second city (Birmingham UK) in a feedback hurricane of thrilling new-wave fight pop. The three-piece, formed little over 12 months ago, come armed with a blistering array of melodious, discordant rackets that leave an immediate, indelible gunshot on the brain."

    Kitty Daisy & Lewis - Mean Son Of A Gun
    "Kitty, Daisy & Lewis are a throughbred sensation, playing 40’s/50’s rockabilly and swing, country and western, Hawaiian and rock ‘n’ roll with a verve, skill and energy that connects them back to the far past and the super-shiny future. Through steely Marconi BBC mics, of course."

    Land Of Talk - Speak To Me Bones
    "Montreal-based musical innovator Elizabeth Powell has been banging out "Anti Folk Basement Rock" since the ripe old age of fourteen."

    Jens Lekman - The Opposite Of Hallelujah
    "Jens Lekman is a musician writing that rare kind of song that maintains a fine balance between bliss and sorrow. His songs are about life's heavy stuff, packaged with a bowtie and a smile."

    Le Loup - We Are Gods! We Are Wolves!
    "Created during a time of personal crisis, The Throne is a cataclysm, an escape, and a journey. Inspired largely by Dante's Inferno (also a journey conceived by a man in a time of crisis), here an emotional catacomb is traversed circle by circle."

    Chris Mills - Chris Mills Is Living The Dream
    "Chris Mills is a roving troubadour, wandering the countryside kicking ass and taking names. He is also a Leo and enjoys holding hands and going to the movies."

    Noah And The Whale - 2 Bodies 1 Heart
    "Ever since Charlie Fink pressed record and whispered quiet lyrics onto cassette in his teenage attic bedroom, there has only been one ambition. In the last 18 months this ambition has found a voice in almost constant composition, imagining and playing. ‘Noah and the Whale’s’ debut album represents a unified world view of some abstract and some concrete reasoning, a developing philosophy framed by self-referential imagery and symbolism. Written with a self contained vocabulary, themes and metaphors for Charlie’s introspective fixations recur and repeat, answering questions and posing new ones. Time is consistently presented as a process of erosion, love is portrayed as a heart, central, vital, core, and death is darkness, faceless and thankless. The unthinkable can be judged in solid form and somehow made more manageable. Ultimately it is a practical vision, an exercise in self-doubt and self-knowledge."

    Ola Podrida - Cindy
    "While many of the songs recall the hushed, folk-derived sounds of artists such as Nick Drake and Iron and Wine, he also mixed it up enough with the occasional slow-burning rocker, piano ballad, and pure pop rave-up to make it impossible to just pigeonhole him as another singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar."

    Chuck Prophet - Freckle Song
    "His jagged guitar lines, gritty baritone and stellar songwriting soon made him a cult figure in Europe, while stateside he won fans like Lucinda Williams, Stephen King, Ryan Adams, songwriting legend Dan Penn (a song they co-wrote, "I Need A Holiday" was covered by the mighty Solomon Burke) and Kim Richey with whom he co-wrote Cyndi Thompson's Top 40 hit "I'm Gone.""

    Restlesslist - Butlin Breaks
    "The band’s unique sound involves chat show theme tune muzak, with twisting horror fun fair structures sequencing into hand clapping sound track instrumentals. They are the sort of band that seem to have the perseverance to elevate such a practice of arsing about to artistic levels and create blurry yet crunchy dance-scopes that round up a world full of genres."

    The Von Bondies - Pale Bride
    "The Von Bondies formed in the suburbs of Detroit Michigan at a party house where no one wanted to be the opening act."

    The Young Republic - Paper Ships
    "The Young Republic walk the line between country soaked power pop and classical soaring strings. They layer their sounds, instruments and melodies to make harmony led songs of beauty."

    Monday, February 18, 2008

    Some would call this laziness

    We call it extending the brand profile. If you haven't already read it on The Art Of Noise, our NME tour review (in association with Shockwaves) is on our Myspace blog, as well as other live reviews and 'bits'.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008

    Weekender : the music news, links and releases digest that's nearly met Kate Nash twice in the last six months

    WHAT CD?
    - John Darnielle doesn't believe in the Great American Novel, according to an interview, but he's spent seventeen years writing vignettes from a larger state so might as well be able to were he not choosing as his method of execution the indiepop song. After three albums of autobiography it's back to the fictional for Mountain Goats album fifteen Heretic Pride, as laid out in the Darnielle/Jeffrey Lewis comic book press kit. It's more band-based folk-rocky than much of what has gone before, and while that's by no means bad by itself whether that's a good thing depends on your existing knowledge of Darnielle's lo-fi approach of yore. Go on, get digging.

    - Single missive number four in the career of the Brecon Social Scene that is Los Campesinos! is Death To Los Campesinos!, raiding those initial four demos that created such a meteorite-like impact a good year and three quarters ago for the track that may have received the least attention then but is in its 'proper' form validated as a rollercoaster of the usual unabashed indiepop kaleidoscope. Gareth says it's about awareness of taking direct influence from your musical idols, which is both a very LC! thing to write a song about and something we can't ascertain from the lyrics.

    - A good three decades or so older but also prone to the big idea around the basic structure, Nick Cave is about to release the 24th studio album of his career, through The Boys Next Door, the Birthday Party, the Bad Seeds, Grinderman, solo and soundtracks. The title track from it, the Bad Seeds-aided Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, isn't that far removed from the raw bludgeon garage of Grinderman via the Velvet Underground. That big idea, according to Cave, is charting Lazarus' feelings about his resurrection through the prism of Houdini and his battles against spiritualist dogma, which is presumably that's what this is in aid of.

    - We haven't had a chance for a while to hamfistedly try to convince you that someone whose name you're vaguely aware of is actually the most influential musician who ever lived, and our chance comes with the thirtieth anniversary reissue of Nick Lowe's debut Jesus Of Cool. Lowe was Stiff's first single release artist and inhouse producer in their early days, and would continue for several years as Elvis Costello's man behind the desk, and by himself precision crafted his earlier band Brinsley Schwarz's country-tinged pub rock into somewhere towards the sharp wry sneer of new wave on the likes of I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass and So It Goes.

    COMING SOON: Go on then, let's bite the bullet. Quite excited by the coming on the 25th of Los Campesinos!' Hold On Now, Youngster..., yes, since you were about to ask. To celebrate, Gareth and Tom turned on a tape recorder in the latter's bedroom and hesitantly recorded a track by track podcast, wherein Gareth claims the end of We Are All Accelerated Readers sounds like Hundred Reasons. Once that's done go and watch Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats, Knee Deep At ATP and And We Exhale And Roll Our Eyes In Unison, plus a very much not filmed on Steadicam clip of Gareth letting loose his inner Tim Harrington. We're happy. And possibly stupid.

    MYSPACE INVADERS: Surrey's Cats And Cats And Cats - not to be confused with Cats On Fire, Cat On Form or the Stray Cats, to rework the 'joke' we came up with when featuring the former last year - are UK labelmates on the estimable Big Scary Monsters with our old friends Anathallo and have a little of their airy shapeshifting about them, as that label seem to specialise in. They're rooted in the post-hardcore influenced danceable mathrock thing that's coming into fashion at the moment where guitars and rhythms collide wildly with each other and tempos change every minute or so but it all coalesces into something overpowering. There's elements which should appeal to those who follow Mew, Youthmovies or Explosions In The Sky, but really they're already forging their own path while barely out of their teens.

    VISUAL AID: There was a time when mainstream television could manage an alternative music magazine show without making the music secondary to advertising for mobile phones and interviews with modish actors or claiming their booking policy will not be that of other shows before resorting three weeks in to booking the same bands as everyone else has after the first overnights come in. Certainly, it could do without idiot presenters. Snub TV was broadcast over three years on BBC2, ending up at 6pm on Mondays, which coincided with Madchester and the uprising of indie but refused to kowtow to received opinion of music broadcast, letting the bands speak and broadcasting live footage and specially shot videos, all well before evil scientists with a sideline in inflicting misery upon the discerning thousands had even thought of creating Nick Grimshaw. For example: Pixies (twice, and the Breeders circa Pod), Fugazi, Motown Junk Manics at full righteousness, the Stone Roses in the Hacienda, a two parter with Sonic Youth, the Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes' curious philosophy and Creation records including MBV and Alan McGee in full shades and Art Garfunkel hair mode topped off with Ride's Drive Blind, apparently teeming with "feedback, melody and youth".

    * In this of all romantic weeks, let's start this bit with the poet laureate of the emotionally challenged, Darren Hayman, and to be exact Hayman Watkins Trout & Lee, his bluegrass outfit comprising a Hayman, a Watkins and, in something of a curveball, a Mayfield and a Tattersall, the second and third also in Hayman's Secondary Modern backing band and the latter the Hayman-indebted Wave Pictures' leader. You may recall we enjoyed their semi-secret set at End Of The Road last year, and they have a self-titled album out on 6th May, from which comes the two minute hoedown Dirty Tube Train. Meanwhile Hayman's Hefner restoration project continues with second album The Fidelity Wars in June, gaining a CD and 19 extra tracks, and to tie in he and steel guitarist Jack Hayter reunite for two shows, the first of which at the London Luminaire sold out in the blink of an eye, the second on 14th June at the 100 Club going fast.

    * Part two of the Jeremy Warmsley and Fay Buzzard curated Welcome To Our TV Show! is now up, in its two parts welcoming round Lightspeed Champion, Emmy The Great and Laura Groves, all playing new and unreleased songs, the latter's dulcet set available seperately in full. While the music remains top drawer, neither Jeremy nor Fay have become much more comfortable as hosts.

    * So there's this band called Foals. You must have seen them. Kind of jerky and tessellated and arty. The kids like it. Their singer Yannis Phillipakis was in the Skins special Myspace show looking like a cock. You'd know them if you saw them. Yeah? Anyway, before Foals Phillipakis and drummer Jack Bevan were in an abstract math-rock outfit called The Edmund Fitzgerald (and before that they were Elizabeth, but we're just getting bogged down now). There's supposedly a compilation out soon, but while that's in development hell tracks by the band Phillipakis now refers to as being for "men with beards who enjoy reading Kafka" are archived by this Foals fan site. Start with Two Broke Kids Bikes, we'd suggest.

    * Part the third in our search for bands with personal blogs, and now we find they're getting into new music blogging too. This is a worrying development, we hope you appreciate. The party behind Nyevsky Prospect is Whiskas from ¡Forward, Russia! (new album April) and Dance To The Radio, and he's as switched on as that suggests. Meanwhile the venerable Billy Bragg keeps up a more linear diary for back catalogue based podcasts, stories of hurdy-gurdy couriering and relaying table tennis matches between Zack de la Rocha and Win Butler. And a reference which nobody has picked up on to "LCD Soundsystem's last ever gig".

    * It's not too much of a leap from personal blog to personal side project. Isn't it? Whatever, we've been listening recently to a lot of the output of the really rather fine Stroud-via-Brighton folk-and-environs label Drift, where we came across the solo project of Thomas White, who you'll know from from Electric Soft Parade, Brakes, Restlesslist (and where's their album got to?) and several thousand other bands in various incarnations, guest spots and fill-ins. He's got a solo eight-tracker of "psychedelia, fantasy-surf and lo-fi trip-hop", I Dream Of Black EP, out May/June on Drift, and the song up at the time of writing does indeed sound like DIY psych-groove of the type we love - think Robyn Hitchcock joining the Flaming Lips. Meanwhile, the ESP blog has reposted the sarky glossary from Marine Research's website. We put the Heavenly successor's sole album Sounds From The Gulf Stream on not long ago and it sounds as great today as it always has.

    Saturday, February 16, 2008

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Anathallo - Hanasakajijii (Four: A Great Wind More Ash) [live YouTube]
  • Art Brut - Pump Up The Volume [Myspace]
  • Billy Bragg - I Keep Faith [Myspace]
  • British Sea Power - No Lucifer [YouTube]
  • Feist - My Moon My Man [YouTube]
  • Foals - Cassius [live YouTube]
  • Friends Of The Bride - You Can't Take Him Anywhere [YouTube]
  • The Futureheads - The Beginning Of The Twist [YouTube]
  • Gindrinker - Work It Out [Myspace]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Our Bipolar Friends [Myspace]
  • Les Savy Fav - Patty Lee [YouTube]
  • Let's Wrestle - I Won't Lie To You [YouTube]
  • The Long Blondes - Century
  • Los Campesinos! - Death To Los Campesinos! [YouTube]
  • The Manhattan Love Suicides - Heat And Panic [Myspace]
  • The Mystery Jets - Young Love [YouTube]
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! [YouTube]
  • Those Dancing Days - Hitten [YouTube]
  • The Wave Pictures - I Love You Like A Madman [YouTube]
  • XX Teens - How To Reduce The Chances Of Being A Terror Victim [YouTube]
  • Thursday, February 14, 2008

    The pop cultural world has officially turned inside out and wrapped itself into a Mobius strip

    "Victoria reportedly marvelled at Sonic Youth's live performance, saying: "I didn't listen to them before but now I might start.""

    Best thing about that? The Mail (sorry) doesn't stop to explain to its celeb couture-obsessed readership who Sonic Youth are.

    Elsewhere in zeitgeist land, plenty of hackle-raising here:

    YouTube star try to make it in the real world

    "Singer Sia Furler who came to prominence after posting footage on YouTube..."

    Actually, no. Singer Sia Furler came to prominence with her three major label albums. Or her regular gig with prime Zero 7. Or her Grammy nomination. Or her UK top ten single Taken For Granted. Singer Sia Furler is, essentially, not the Leave Britney Alone bloke.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    Nickel owing

    A consideration of the video for the UK's current number two single, the allegedly self-parodic Rockstar by Nickelback. No way are we putting a sell-through link up for that.

    (You'd be surprised how difficult this is to find on YouTube, probably at Roadrunner Records' behest. Presumably its big plan of last year to get every music video ever online went west somewhere.)

    0:00 Big old breath by Kroeger to start, and already his malign influence is corrupting the kids.
    0:05 People must walk into that thing all the time.
    0:09 Lauren, nee James, Harries gets a jolt as she finds out what she will look like in old age.
    0:12 Billy Gibbons, a man who seems unsure what his actual legacy is with every passing offer, does voiceovers on the track. He has some skulls. This posits him as some sort of antibody figure, we'd guess.
    0:14 Wayne Gretzky can't quite believe how much Roadrunner are paying for this either.
    0:18 A second afterwards she realised her hula-hoop had been half-inched.
    0:23 Gene Simmons. He might have been successful in his life.
    0:31 The news that this seems to be a patrolled demilitarised zone they're filming in is disheartening.
    0:36 It's unsurprising, but proof at last that Playboy Bunnies are less allurring the harder they try.
    0:39 Woman works out she has the gift cheek. And cheeks.
    0:41 Busking going successfully in that outfit with a sax? Didn't think so.
    0:43 Lime green trousers as well!
    0:57 Exactly what style of music has this woman been told she's recording a video for?
    1:00 Noodles. In a Chinese restaurant. Yes. Well done.
    1:02 What is the girl on the left counting up? Syllables?
    1:08 Ah, the North Americans who've been asked to cast a man in London sight unseen.
    1:13 God, is he still going?
    1:21 We hear Josh Homme can do this,
    1:23 You'll catch your death etc. Not knowing whether to accentuate the cleavage or twirl the necklace, here she wisely does both.
    1:27 The woman on the left is not the first or last person to equate arena rock with vigorous pointing in stages, but she might well be the most forceful.
    1:30 What is Nelly Furtado trying to exude here? It's not sex appeal, we can see that.
    1:43 Not even Vernon Kay would have picked him.
    1:48 Autographs, see. It all works together eventually.
    1:53 Yeah. Hilarious.
    1:59 The Playboy Mansion. Mecca for a large swathe of American major label musicians of all genres. Hence, the place we least want to go in the world, Peterborough included.
    2:01 Bloke on the right can have no idea what that on his T-shirt represents.
    2:09 To the Reichstag and an amateur beatdown. Right at the end, the bloke's clearly looking for the quick escape route.
    2:12 When all else fails, go Titanic.
    2:16 Lupe Fiasco believes the way to rock posing is through the mounting of kitchenware.
    2:17 They saw her coming in the boutique.
    2:26 Rather late in the day, and surely against the director's wishes, an Australian woman attempts to invent a dance routine for the chorus.
    2:28 Others have other ideas, just not one they all agree on.
    2:39 How are they going to explain this to their parents?
    2:55 Hi ho, indeed, hi ho. Judging by his unease, all his workmates must have scarpered when they saw the crew coming.
    3:05 The gut-enhancing bodypop is never a good look.
    3:11 Miss All-California Gwenno Pipette Lookalike 2007 overemotes to a mighty degree. Fists and everything.
    3:12 As a pleasing juxtaposition, he's just not trying.
    3:19 Yeah, alright, laying it on a bit thick now. Wherever these people come from, it's unlikely Hooters' CEO sleeps any worse at night for knowing of their existence.
    3:43 This kid's not doing us any favours.
    3:47 What every good singing star needs on their tourbus - a wall mounted trumpet and a nightmarish caricature of themselves.
    3:56 Looking rather too pleased with the idea of drug dealing there, Mr Nugent and your stupid beard.
    4:00 Still got it. Admittedly with more than a puck's width to aim for.
    4:04 At least they avoided the temptation of an ultra-quick edit of everyone who's appeared.
    4:05 They all paid.
    4:11 Formed a band, they formed a band. Look at them, they formed a band. And, given they must know which band it is - one of them seems to be walking off already - they're overtly smug about it too.

    NB. We may well have missed many identities and references in that writeup. Frankly, we don't care.

    Sunday, February 10, 2008

    Weekender : wondering whether anyone could save us a copy of the Los Campesinos! tour fanzine

    WHAT CD?
    - Not a great deal to write home about this week, shown up mostly by how the big single of the week we covered two weeks ago having only then found out it'd been helpfully moved back. It's not like Hitten has got any worse in the last fortnigt, fortunately. Otherwise it's off to your friendly local download store for Feist's reissuing of My Moon My Man and, on the somewhat inevitable Valentine's Day digital release, the Hot Sex EP from perhaps the only band you'd trust with something called the Hot Sex EP, the Young Playthings. And for a curveball, seek out Tennessean singer-songwriter-arranger Nitasha Jackson, who's done a piano and vocal alone close-miked Tori Amos-ish cover of the Maccabees' First Love. And it works too, as the increasingly busy Weekender Records have found it amenable enough to put out on 7".

    - Despite what you're told, there is no real hard and fast way of getting up to speed with the whole of the sprawling alternative scene. But there are ways of trying, few better than Rough Trade's annual Counter Culture series, now up to Counter Culture 07. The mighty Atlas is on it, and also featuring this year: Vampire Weekend, Julian Cope, Jeffrey Lewis, Holy Fuck, Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, Von Sudenfed, Panda Bear, Of Montreal, the Fire Engines, Dirty Projectors, the Manhattan Love Suicides, Glasvegas, Soulsavers, Peggy Sue & The Pirates, Justice and Let's Wrestle.

    - Let's Wrestle? Who they? Well, they a scrappy London trio, associates of the bafflingly overrated Pete & The Pirates, who claim audible influence from Vic Godard and the Subway Sect, Felt, Art Brut, Pavement, The Clean, Swell Maps and Television Personalities and inaudible influence from quite a few others, which is never a bad thing. Scuzzy post-C86 ahoy, then, on mini-album In Loving Memory Of... They have a song, not on this, called I Wish I Was In Husker Du, for the love of the usual non-specific deities!

    COMING SOON: Husker Du, you say? (This is all working out terrifyingly well. We're almost approaching semi-professional writing standards) Bob Mould - a former pro wrestling writer, to stretch the chain well beyond snapping point, and for extra pointless trivia marks the writer of the Daily Show theme - has a new album out tomorrow, District Line by name. Mould has just about reached the point where every single new album of his is widely referred to as his return to form collection, when the truth is he's never really had a dip in ability. Yes, we're standing up for Modulate. How d'you like them apples? Anyway, the album is a cross-section of his post-Husker Du career styles while the single is a Sugar-gone-FM big old slab of heavy riffing called The Silence Between Us.

    MYSPACE INVADERS: It's a wonder there's not already pockets of cult camps across the country to Southampton's Thomas Tantrum. They wear their unpretty poppy influences on their sleeves - Shake It Shake It is a facsimile of Life Without Buildings if Sue Tompkins had got round to singing in proper phrases occasionally - they come across as unpretentious proper indie goodness, a bit like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs doing Heavenly.

    VISUAL AID: You! You like Arcade Fire, the Decemberists, the Mountain Goats, Of Montreal, Okkervil River, Broken Social Scene and/or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, do you? In that case you're experiencing the children of a cast-iron touchstone that in America hits ten years old today. Neutral Milk Hotel's In The Aeroplane Over The Sea - 18 out of 21 UK Amazon reviews five star - is an extended rewrite as an outsider of the Anne Frank story and the work of a spectacularly singular writing and arrangement talent in Jeff Magnum. The band broke up after the tour to support the album and Magnum has rarely been seen since (although he guests on In The Aeroplane... producer Robert Schneider's band Apples In Stereo's last album) so clips aren't that commonplace, but even so variously with the band and Magnum solo we have versions of The King of Carrot Flowers Pts. Two & Three, In the Aeroplane Over The Sea, Two-Headed Boy, Holland 1945, Oh Comely and Ghost.

    * More YouTube! "Post-Punk Junk is a new weekly half-hour of music videos and live performances from the bands in the late 1970s and early 1980s who dedicated themselves to fulfilling punk's unfinished musical revolution (The Stranglers, Gang of Four, Joy Division, PiL, The Fall, Cabaret Voltaire, The Slits et al)" And there's eighteen clips' worth of it on their videos page, featuring videos and rare live clips and television performances.

    * We dunno, you can't keep Miki Berenyi down now. Lush, yes, then, as everyone's mate knew in the late 90s, subediting for TV Times, followed by years of silence and suddenly you can't keep her away from the spotlight. Actually, that's a complete overstatement, but after all that period away tending to life, and just as former bandmate Emma Anderson's Sing Sing break up, she's just given her second interview in about four months. This time, not only has she opened her heart to The Von Pip Musical Express, she's opened her photo album too. She's also making her first appearance on record in eight years (she contributed to a record by Cocteau Twins associate Mitsuo Tate in 2000) with Seinking Ships, a collaboration between one Christopher Seink and Eric Matthews, once of Cardinal and later of Mark Radcliffe-adored Fanfare fame.

    * After last week, more people with the inclination to put every thought to monitor. That man Mould has long run Boblog, a mix of news updates and a catalogue of his weekends out ("Been slumming in Soho, tonkering in Vauxhall, big clubbing at the Arches, and a quick trip to Paris as well"). While we're not overly keen on the music he makes with Mick Jones as Carbon/Silicon Tony James' blog is an involving and entertaining read, while at the opposite end of the career scale Dananananaykroyd bring much the same distilled noise and confusion to their writing as they do their music. Let us know about any non-Myspace musician blogs we've not covered before, because it fills the space. Oh, Hadouken! as well, yeah.

    * In 1981 one Robert Mackie briefly became pen pals with a young author of a book about the New York Dolls. A year later the other end of the correspondence met a bloke calling himself Johnny Marr and formed a band and songwriting partnership with him. The letters survive, were published in a fanzine and were recently typed up by Torr - curt, sarcastic, funny, in lover's turmoil and music fan's abeyance.

    Saturday, February 09, 2008

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Anathallo - Hanasakajijii (Four: A Great Wind More Ash) [live YouTube]
  • British Sea Power - No Lucifer [YouTube]
  • Broken Records - Slow Parade [Myspace]
  • Caz Mechanic - Cold Black Eyes [Myspace]
  • Dananananaykroyd - The Greater Than Symbol And The Hash [Myspace]
  • Foals - Cassius [live YouTube]
  • The Futureheads - The Beginning Of The Twist [YouTube]
  • Gindrinker - Work It Out [Myspace]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Our Bipolar Friends [Myspace]
  • Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit - Leftovers [YouTube]
  • Laura Marling - Cross Your Fingers
  • Los Campesinos! - Death To Los Campesinos! [YouTube] (We've now heard the album and... well, what did you think we'd think of it after all this time?)
  • M.I.A. - Paper Planes [YouTube]
  • The Moldy Peaches - Anyone Else But You [live on mainstream US television - who'd have thought? - YouTube]
  • The Mountain Goats - Sax Rohmer #1 [YouTube]
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! [YouTube]
  • Those Dancing Days - Hitten [YouTube]
  • The Wave Pictures - I Love You Like A Madman [YouTube]
  • XX Teens - How To Reduce The Chances Of Being A Terror Victim [YouTube]
  • The Young Knives - Up All Night [YouTube]
  • Friday, February 08, 2008

    Big hard excellent list

    Yes, another. This one's for the Fifty Greatest UK Indie Records Of All Time, in Mojo's opinion:

    50 Huggy Bear - Her Jazz
    49 The Delgados - The Great Eastern (American Trilogy)
    48 James - Village Fire
    47 Swell Maps - Read About Seymour
    46 Camera Obscura - Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken
    45 Half Man Half Biscuit - Trumpton Riots EP
    44 The Wild Swans - The Revolutionary Spirit
    43 The Pooh Sticks - On Tape
    42 Fire Engines - Candyskin
    41 McCarthy - Keep An Open Mind Or Else
    40 Jane And Barton - It's A Fine Day
    39 Josef K - The Missionary
    38 Ride - Ride EP (Chelsea Girl)
    37 The Bodines - Therese
    36 Shop Assistants - Safety Net
    35 The Primitives - Really Stupid
    34 Saint Etienne - So Tough (You're In A Bad Way)
    33 The Sea Urchins - Pristine Christine
    32 Elastica - Line-Up
    31 Stereolab - Peng! (Stomach Worm)
    30 The Wedding Present - George Best (Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft)
    29 Young Marble Giants - Colossal Youth (N.I.T.A.)
    28 New Order - Temptation
    27 Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
    26 The Libertines - What A Waster
    25 The Loft - Up The Hill And Down The Slope
    24 The Vaselines - Son Of A Gun
    23 Aztec Camera - High Land Hard Rain (Oblivious)
    22 Happy Mondays - Lazyitis (One Armed Boxer remix)
    21 The Pastels - Up For A Bit With The Pastels
    20 Spacemen 3 - Revolution
    19 This Mortal Coil - Song To The Siren
    18 Lloyd Cole And The Commotions - Rattlesnakes
    17 Teenage Fanclub - Everything Flows
    16 Wire - Outdoor Miner
    15 Echo & The Bunnymen - Crocodiles (Rescue)
    14 Belle & Sebastian - Tigermilk (The State I Am In)
    13 The House Of Love - Destroy The Heart
    12 Subway Sect - Ambition
    11 Felt - Forever Breathes The Lonely Word
    10 Primal Scream - Crystal Crescent/Velocity Girl
    9 The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses (I Wanna Be Adored)
    8 The La's - There She Goes
    7 Arctic Monkeys - I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
    6 Joy Division - Transmission
    5 My Bloody Valentine - You Made Me Realise
    4 The Fall - How I Wrote 'Elastic Man' *
    3 Orange Juice - You Can't Hide Your Love Forever (Falling And Laughing)
    2 The Jesus & Mary Chain - Psychocandy (Just Like Honey)
    1 The Smiths - This Charming Man

    So clearly they're taking 'records' literally, with a confusing mix of singles and LPs. And we're not sure they're all independently released either - Rough Trade was when revived a subsidiary of Universal-backed Sanctuary, then was bought out by BMG and only became independent again when sold to the Beggars Group last year.

    Oh, the list. Obviously, being Mojo, it has to stay within the commercial parameters so the jumpoff is a big Smiths feature. It's far better than it could have been, even if by its nature it's going to be of quixotic abeyance - an odd Stereolab choice, no Mogwai, Cocteau Twins, Heavenly/Talulah Gosh or a billion others you're currently thinking of. And a few don't fit what we know as The Indie Style, which the magazine (which comes with a fine covermounted CD) is big on. Still, there it is.

    (* Yeah, alright. This is actually our upload, and we've just noticed a commenter seems to be blaming us for the wording of the show's title)

    Thursday, February 07, 2008

    It's a Girl Power by Shampoo for the 21st century

    So let's leave aside the little details in Girls Aloud being convinced to record a song laying into showbiz column-attracting perma-clubbing fameseekers - yes, it's about indie. That's why it specifically mentions bands not selling any records, because as we know the one thing the charts have repelled over the last couple of years is identikit guitar bands, most of whom would if ever asked gladly claim to be Girls Aloud fans. (What do you suppose those, at the time of writing, 25 comments on read like? We think we can guess.)

    Instead, look at that title, Hoxton Heroes. Not the geography - after all, if anyone wants to truck bomb Shoreditch we'll gladly supply the tools - or indeed the timing of going after style mag followers well after Nathan Barley, Modern Toss and all points west.

    No. It's that Hadouken! coined it a year ago.

    Wednesday, February 06, 2008

    Hey nonny no?

    [APPENDIX 7/2/08: It's a bit rubbish, this post. I assure you it started with great intentions about folk music and its place in the wider scheme of 'cool' music and its selling points within and without the indie scene, but somewhere between mind and laptop the fully reasoned argument went missing, and I might as well have brought Norwegian black metal in to bolster the argument as anti-folk. Sorry. I'm on antibiotics, you understand. - Simon STN]

    Folk music. That's a barrier for the bloggingly minded, isn't it?

    We don't mean the modern acoustic wielders in this, by the way, only tangentially. See, we can get along perfectly well with internal histories of most genres - seconds into the post-punk revival everyone was all over the Gang Of Four, XTC, Josef K, Orange Juice and so forth, while when anything with four to the floor attitude emerges from New York the populace reaches for its well-thumbed Little Book Of Television, Stooges And Richard Hell.

    But folk isn't the same, is it? For one thing folk for most people in Britain, where we don't have the coffee shop buffers of the Greenwich Village legend beyond Phoebe from Friends, is still your laugh into your sleeve Morris dancing/finger in ear/beards/real ale pictorial stereotype. Fairport Convention and Pentangle's names are more often than not in these blog circles circulated to make the writer seem as if they have an enormous musical knowledge - hell, we've doubtless done it - but these are not bands commemorated on the whole in the same way as their electrified bretheren. What's regarded as the most significant moment of Bob Dylan's career? When he picked up an amp and The Band.

    We've mentioned a lot of new young folk-influenced singer-songwriters on here and will do so long into the future - that Jonquil album is still tremendous and on its own in its subgenre, by the way - but we suspect for a lot of people trying to explain them is throwing straws into the wind. It's a regular occurrence to praise Laura Marling for her echoes of Joni Mitchell without being really aware of what Mitchell really does. Same with Johnny Flynn and Richard Thompson. Anything beyond that in terms of profile - Adele/Laura Nyro is workable in much the same way - and it's best left to people who know a thing or two, and for anyone to join the pantheon requires a sort of leap of faith on someone else's behalf, such as when Bert Jansch briefly became folksman du jour when Pete Doherty started dropping his name every which way.

    Anti-folk is different, as we'll gladly wrap their arms around the Moldy Peaches, Jeffrey Lewis and to a lesser extent Diane Cluck (whose star we're going to have to watch in this company, by the way, now Marling has followed Emmy The Great into dropping her name on a regular basis), but to quote Lewis "I think it’s a cool title. The fact that no one knows what it means, including me, makes it kind of mysterious and more interesting". Who is anti-folk and who isn't? Last we looked it was anyone Everett True saw in the 12 Bar Club, a span ranging from The Bobby McGees' sweary twee Ivor Cutlerisms via shouting post-punk post-poet Spinmaster Plantpot to Paul Hawkins' wandering Waitsian discord. Also, it's not actually folk music apart from wanting to go against that whole ingrained ethos (we may have discussed this before), so it's kind of safer territory for writers looking for the offbeat, although it does have as many potential borderline cases as 'proper' folk? Are Herman Dune anti-folk? Is Robert Wyatt really a folkie? Are Half Man Half Biscuit really, as Andy Kershaw once put it, Britain's greatest folk tale writers?

    The Radio 2 Folk Awards were on the other night and didn't clear the distinctions up much. John Martyn won the lifetime achievement award - OK, fair enough. After that it's fairly traditional English songsmithery all the way, the type only the specialist and Folk Roots brigand would run with any further, apart from a Horizon Award to Rachel Unthank & the Winterset. As much Will Oldham and Sufjan Stevens influenced as Waterson/Carthy, there's both plainsong and nu-folk at play, as well as the thickest Northumbrian female accent ever committed to mastertape (and a Wyatt cover), but 'we', by which we mean us in the young people's music game, aren't going to be guided this way by crossover press attention. In the end, it's the same reason why Adele is being sold to the indie masses - there's no reason why we should follow Marling's rise or recall Beth Orton while ignoring the less publicised but equally so Cara Dillon, Thea Gilmore or the East Village likes of Rachael Sage.

    To round off this festival off unjoined thinking, Kate Rusby's cover of the Kinks' Village Green Preservation Society. We doubt this is the actual video, but we'd like to think it is.

    Tuesday, February 05, 2008


    ...what have you been listening to lately?

    (No, really, do tell us)

    Sunday, February 03, 2008

    Weekender : taking more water with it

    WHAT CD?
    - Feeling ideologically compromised, creatively stifled and financially bereft, Field Music went on hiatus last April. Not in the Sleater-Kinney sense of the term, as they played two local gigs just before Christmas and have said they may well produce more work under that name eventually, but for the time being it's an organisational umbrella in name only. While we wait for Peter and Andrew to get moving - former in the summer, we hear - David Brewis is first off the blocks with School Of Language's Sea From Shore. If the updated 70s AOR pop radio arrangements and general air is still prevalent from both Field Music albums, this time it's been sliced up and given an experimentally playful edge, given help by Barry and Jaff from the Futureheads and Kenickie's divine Marie du Santiago (apparently so, we can't make any female vocals out). It's essentially a continuation from Tones Of Town, but in such a way that you couldn't imagine it coming out of that band's framework, which was surely the point all along.

    - The thing with that piece about female singer-songwriters we did a couple of weeks ago is that the vast majority of those around at the moment cannot by any means be dismissed as a New Lily/Kate/Amy on terms of having ovaries and melodic sense. And while lissom girls in the 18-21 bracket bred on their parents' Joni Mitchell albums are a good subset in themselves it will always be so, especially if they're like Laura Marling. Talked up early on as a female Jamie T, mostly by people thinking promoting someone as a female Jamie T might be a profitable thing, collaborating with the Rakes and featured somewhere on that Babyshambles fronted Janie Jones cover, she's evolved into quite the delicate post-Skins Laura Nyro via Kristen Hersh on Alas I Cannot Swim. Now concentrate: out this wee is the Song Box, a limited run of 5,000 boxes which contains the album, mementoes to tie in with each song on the album and a free ticket, cashed in online at, to one of her dates in March (Glasgow, Birmingham, London, Bristol and Manchester - so if you get one and you're in Wales, Yorkshire or East Anglia, you're fucked). The proper version is released next Monday. Clear?

    - The power of Sweeping The Nation: just a year and a half after we fell unconditionally for the chamber choral avant-garde post-Sufjan/BSS outfit Anathallo they release a single in the UK. It's a 7" of Hanasakajijii (Four: A Great Wind More Ash) from Floating World, their 2006 album which isn't being concurrently released. New one on the way, see, and they're doing debut UK dates supporting Manchester Orchestra starting on the 9th - damn those too early last trains! - as well as a headliner of their own at London Water Rats on the 19th. Big Scary Monsters, building a certain reputation with Meet Me In St Louis, House of Brothers, Yndi Halda, This Town Needs Guns (supporting on that London date) and Cats And Cats And Cats, is the label, tremendous is the record. But you knew that two years ago, right?

    - The 33 1/3 series, the little books of anything but calm, have reached volume 52, with Carl Wilson (not the drowned one, a writer for Canada's Globe And Mail) writing about Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love. Now, says the reflex reaction, stop right there. The previous two books in the series were on If You're Feeling Sinister and Pink Moon, so obviously adding to the canon with a 31 million worldwide selling album that features My Heart Will Go On is some flavour of arch hipster post-modern irony, yes? No. Subtitled A Journey To The End of Taste, Wilson instead holds court on why Celine has never made it to anything like positive reappropriation and how it reflects the notion of musical taste and natural bias. Oh, just read his own words on the matter.

    COMING SOON: Tindersticks, Nottingham through-a-glass-darkly lush realists, are back after a five year break. Stripped back to the original three members and largely relocated to the Limousin region of France for The Hungry Saw, released 28th April. Their new official Myspace has a downloadable track, The Flicker Of A Little Girl, which suggests business as unusual.

    MYSPACE INVADERS: Dýrðin - there's a name made for copying and posting - may be from Reykjavik and sing a lot in their native language but they're hotwired into a very British and latterly Swedish twee indiepop mentality. They formed in 1994, when Heavenly were at their uncommercial peak, and that's the name you're most likely to reach for in comparison as well as Bearsuit's costumed exuberance and the light/dark balance of the best of Sarah Records. This stuff's coming back into fashion, y'know. Or maybe we're just hoping it will. Whatever.

    VISUAL AID: Writing regarding Pop Britannia the week before last, we were intrigued by how television got to grips with this new world of rock'n'roll and how it balanced precariously between light entertainment and the stuff that made the girls scream. Oh Boy! was the ITV show Jack Good set up to showcase the best of the day's talent, and the entire last show from May 1959 is online. As well as the snappy editing from performance to performance, also enjoy:
    Part One: The TV Hop, Lord Rockingham's XI with the far superior to Hoots Man (and previously featured, yes) Ra Ra Rockingham, a song called Let's Rock While The Rockin's Good and a mad piece of role playing in song from the good Lord's organist Cherry Wainer;
    Part Two: the oil-haired Dickie Pride, When the Saints Go Marching In of all youth touchstones, Dirty Old Town and the none more 1950s Vernons Girls, one of whom later went on to Joe Meek's mad idea of a girl group The Sharades;
    Part Three: Cliff demonstrating the Advanced Elvis lessons he got from Good, he, Marty Wilde and Pride singing Three Cool Cats while looking anything but and a shout-out to the lighting director. Wonder what happened between then and September 12th?

    * Clinic release their sixth album proper, Do It!, on April 7th, and we're already fairly confident we know what it'll sound like. Or are we? Their website is giving away a free track, inevitably the one called Free Not Free, as a download along with fresh song Thor. The former is a fine slice of distorted lounge psychedelia, and although Ade Blackburn plus surgical mask still produces unintelligible words it actually doesn't sound a lot like their previous work.

    * Blog of the week, or at least it would be had we not stopped doing that, is Fun And Heartbreak, in which a phalanx of bloggers, some of whom we've covered here before, post on the topic of, well, "fun and heartbreak, the essentials of life". Mostly the latter, if we're honest.

    * Bands get into this whole blogging business too, and we enjoy this as well. How Many Burritos Can Jeff Eat? collects the innermost thoughts of the Spinto Band, while any attempt at lingering mystique about the maintainers of Camera Obscura is instantly rendered non-existent. Recent STN favourites Gossamer Albatross have fired up a Blogspot account as well, bringing news of recording sessions with Hugo Manuel of Jonquil, which makes complete sense.

    * How would you like to name a song? Monster Bobby, Cassette head and near-impenetrable sample-driven singer-songwriter behind our 28th favourite album of 2007, has written this track but can't think of a decent title for it. If you can, message his Myspace, the winner receiving some sort of prize. As a guide, his forthcoming second album is called Forty Winks. It's forty songs, all a minute long (even though that one's 1:50), about sleeping. As we said, near-impenetrable.

    Saturday, February 02, 2008

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Alphabeat - Fascination [YouTube]
  • Anathallo - Hanasakajijii (Four: A Great Wind More Ash) [live YouTube]
  • Blood Red Shoes - You Bring Me Down [YouTube]
  • British Sea Power - No Lucifer [live YouTube]
  • Does It Offend You, Yeah? - We Are Rockstars [YouTube]
  • Foals - Cassius [live YouTube]
  • The Futureheads - The Beginning Of The Twist [Myspace video]
  • Gindrinker - Work It Out [Myspace]
  • I Was A Cub Scout - Pink Squares [YouTube]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Our Bipolar Friends [Myspace]
  • Kid Harpoon - Riverside [YouTube]
  • Let's Wrestle - I Won't Lie To You [Myspace]
  • Los Campesinos! - Death To Los Campesinos! [YouTube]
  • M.I.A. - Paper Planes [YouTube]
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! [YouTube]
  • Noah And The Whale - 2 Bodies 1 Heart [YouTube]
  • Picture Books In Winter - Reykjavik [Myspace]
  • Those Dancing Days - Hitten [YouTube]
  • Vampire Weekend - A-Punk [YouTube]
  • The Wave Pictures - I Love You Like A Madman [YouTube]
  • Friday, February 01, 2008

    Under canvas under wraps

    And so to the annual filler post previewing entertaining looking festivals to come. One of our favourite days out last summer was at Butterley in Derbyshire's Midland Railway Museum, the unlikely but hospitable setting for the first proper Indietracks festival, a coming together of the post-twee and mainstream disenfranchised. Indeed, we've just found no less than three photos taken by one person of ourselves among the throng on the train with Pocketbooks, looking like a twat. (Not as a result of Pocketbooks, we hasten to add, as a result of always looking like a twat in photos) It's back this year on the weekend of 26th-27th July, the organisers currently dripfeeding the bill one a day on Myspace. Those already confirmed include Darren Hayman, in the church second stage with special guests, and Brummie cutesies Kate Goes, plus there's a special onsite fringe event on the Friday for the first hundred people to order tickets wherein the glorious MJ Hibbett will premiere his Edinburgh-bound musical My Exciting Life In ROCK, followed by a disco on a steam train. We don't see you doing that, Eavis. Tickets for the weekend £45 a throw plus £2 booking via 01773 747674, with online ordering coming shortly.

    While we're about festivals, there's going to be a field dwelling three line whip for the weekend of 19th-20th July, with Latitude moved back a week starting on the 17th, Truck back for an eleventh go and Rob da Bank and friends setting up a second base at Camp Bestival from the 18th on. Based at Lulworth Castle in Dorset (been there), acts so far announced include Chuck Berry, the Flaming Lips, Suzanne Vega, Billy Bragg, Kid Creole & the Coconuts, The Cuban Brothers, Florence and The Machine, King Creosote, Scroobius Pip and The Wurzels. Something for everyone, then. And our stamping ground Summer Sundae is just after that (8th-10th August), this year's countdown kicked off by a launch gig at Leicester Firebug on 1st March. Mobile Act Unsigned winners Envy & Other Sins headline, and/but below them is much goodness in the shape of Johnny Foreigner, Tired Irie and Kyte. The same De Montfort Hall And Gardens venue also puts on The Big Session (13th-15th June), a folk and roots gathering which this year features the Handsome Family, Seth Lakeman, Bellowhead, Cara Dillon and the not noticeably trad folkie Vincent Vincent & The Villains. Up north something called Forgotten Valley is launching on May 23rd-25th at Westmorland County Show Ground near enough in the Lake District, suggesting all manner of "mystical, surreal world" goings on in its blurb but levering that with a very Electric Gardens-esque bill (to date: Happy Mondays, Wombats, NYPC, Joe Lean And That, Teenagers, Crystal Castles). Only time will tell.