Sunday, November 14, 2010


Couple of albums to mention this week. The more prevalent in 'our' circles is Forget by Twin Shadow, one George Lewis Jr., produced by Grizzly Bear's sonic honcho Chris Taylor and buffed to an 80s shine. Or something like that, anyway - if the initial impression is Summer Camp had it been formed by him out of the Dears, the subtle touches, lyrical love and loss, and warmth of those cascading synth sounds take it out of mere show and tell nostalgia and into the direct hit of the heart. On the other hand, you may have had enough of glistening Rolands and want something with a very British, bedraggled, shouting against the wind mode. In which case say hello to St Thomas by The Scottish Enlightenment. If the often slow moving, chiming guitar cathedrals and thin end of the brooding late night wedge vocals couldn't be more north of the border, the hope and despair, the brutal noise and delicate majesty of the alternating lead guitars are universal, hinting at all sorts while remaining within what the label calls "ecclesiastical rock". The National and Low fans should certainly look this way.

How on earth did Constellations Festival, across three rooms at Leeds University, garner such a remarkable bill? Here, we can even guide you through it as we've got the stage times here. Start at 2.30 with Honour Before Glory, then wander over for Dog Is Dead, try to catch some of I Like Trains, then check out Dam Mantle before Sky Larkin come on. Pretend you aren't missing Gold Panda - it's just a bloke in a hoodie with some wires - while watching Esben & The Witch, then cower at the feet of Liars. If you want to see some of Local Natives be careful as you might miss the start of Les Savy Fav, except you'll miss it all if you see Los Campesinos! Hang on, whose idea of scheduling was that? Spectrals in the third room haven't got a chance. Anyway, you then finish with Broken Social Scene. Or perhaps Four Tet. Or maybe Sleigh Bells. Most festivals don't manage three days of that quality.

Back in one room at a time sensibleness, Johnny Foreigner embark on the longest tour in the world, leaving a trail of blood, gin and weed in their wake stretching from Reading Play on Thursday through to Edinburgh on December 11th. All the dates are somewhere here, Stagecoach support on the lot, and no you can't play the second guitar part on Salt Peppa & Spinderella. Holy Fuck fill stages with wires from tomorrow at London Electric Ballroom, with Bristol Thekla, Manchester Academy 3, Belfast Speakeasy, Dublin Whelans, Glasgow King Tuts and Birmingham Academy 2 chalked off before we meet here again. If you thought callow youths JoFo had a lengthy tour, the, let's be honest, ageing David Gedge and the latest incarnation of the Wedding Present would take issue, given their tour starts also on Thursday at Sheffield Leadmill and lasts until December 15th. They'll be chiefly playing the piledriving 1989 album Bizarro in full, dates here. Chad Valley/Trophy Wife/Sold Gold Dragons supergroup (or so you'd be inclined to think these days) Jonquil are finally emerging with new material, the Afrobeat emotional wreck of One Hundred Suns EP, also out tomorrow. The tour likewise starts tomorrow at Leeds Nation of Shopkeepers, followed by Liverpool Shipping Forecast (what?), Sheffield Harley, Cardiff Arts Institute, Oxford Jericho and Nottingham Spanky Van Dyke's (WHAT?) The Oxford date, and one at London CAMP on the 24th, has support from ethereal strings-bothering Blessing Force scenemates Rhosyn. Los Campesinos! play their last gig of 2010 at Liverpool Mojo tomorrow for free, Napoleon IIIrd launches Christiania at Koko on Friday, and Audioscope at Oxford Jericho Tavern winds up next Saturday with SJ Esau headlining a bill including Ice Sea Dead People, Felix and Sennen, the same night that Allo Darlin' and Standard Fare form a supreme team at Wakefield Hop/Guerilla Rooms.

Here's a band whose featuring here comes with an innate sense of social timing, Manflu. Out on the jerkiest wing of art-post-punk they're like a straightened out Deerhoof, or the Pop Group with Kate Jackson channelling Ari Up (RIP), or the Raincoats to the power of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, or the great lost female-fronted, keys-inclusive No Wave band. Yeah, that sort of thing.

Unaware of Groupee before this week, but it's a venture that puts bands... in a studio. Yeah, we know, not in any sort of small scale area or anything. What it means is clear sound and fine, largely unfussy visual production work, and some really good stuff ensues. Among their collection Standard Fare play the hits, The Lovely Eggs team up with Jad Fair and Rose Elinor Dougall plays a new song. Plus, at time of posting, 107 others that we don't like as much or have never heard of.

Flying blind intrigue meanwhile about Lost Souvenirs, whose self-titled album is seemingly only available through Rough Trade on tape with download code for non-luddites. As is the modern way, they're advertised as a mysterious anonymous entity, "a band who don't exist. They'll never tour, or do interviews, or pose for photographs. Instead, their album is a message in a bottle - a greatest hits of their own lo-fi folk-pop archives that they're putting out into the world to see who finds it." We're tipped off that there are a handful of people you may have heard of involved in this; we're reliably informed that it's really rather good.

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