Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Standard Fare - Rumours

And so one of the finest power trios indiepop ever offered sail into the distance (or in Emma's case into Without Feathers, a trio with Nat Johnson and Rory McVicar, who played their debut gig on Saturday, are at Norwich Birdcage on Friday and have Indietracks ahead) with a limited edition release on a Vancouver label of an out-take from Out Of Sight, Out Of Time that's just as it always was, a propulsively jangly shuffle of stories told amid the wreckage of a breakup wherein our narrator attempts to cope by listening to the titular album. A neat apparent full stop on a never less than smartly enjoyable band.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekends away: May Day bank holiday weekend

A new weekly post for this summer where we guide you through the sets you should be seeing at British festivals the following weekend. Please note that a) we cannot be held responsible for clashes and b) we haven't heard and judged every band here, most of the locals will have been judged on their stated influences and whether their blurb didn't make us feel physically sick. We accept no responsibility if the unknowns turn out to be rotten.

Liverpool Sound City
"The largest city centre music and arts festival in the UK". Tickets available on the day for one (£35), two (£55) or three (£70) days, or a £200 delegate pass allowing access to parties and conferences featuring speakers and conveners such as Andrew Loog Oldham, Tracey Thorn, Steve Levine, Dave Haslam, Ken Nelson, Chris Hawkins, Dan Smith off Bastille and the traditional John Robb and Peter Hooton.


19:00 - 19:30 Blank Maps (Mello Mello)
19:30 - 20:00 Loved Ones (Cathedral)
20:00 - 20:30 The Wild Eyes (Shipping Forecast)
20:00 - 20:30 Waylayers (Sound Food and Drink)
20:30 - 21:00 Ofeliadorme (The Attic)
21:00 - 21:30 Natasha Haws (Mello Mello)
21:00 - 21:30 Secret Rendezvous (Brooklyn Mixer)
21:00 - 21:30 Wonderlust (Bold Street Coffee)
22:00 - 22:45 PINS (Shipping Forecast)
22:15 - 23:15 Oneohtrix Point Never (Kazimier)
22:15 - 22:45 Spring Offensive (Epstein Theatre)
23:15 - 00:00 Drenge (Shipping Forecast)
00:20 - 01:00 Alessi's Ark (Leaf Cafe)


18:00 - 18:30 Vasco Da Gama (Art Academy)
20:00 - 20:30 Alpha Male Tea Party (Screenadelica)
20:15 - 21:00 Toy (Cathedral)
21:00 - 21:30 Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs (Art Academy)
21:15 - 21:45 Witch Hunt (Leaf Cafe)
21:30 - 22:45 The Walkmen (Cathedral)
22:00 - 23:00 Savages (Art Academy)
22:15 - 22:45 The Chapman Family (Leaf Cafe)
23:00 - 23:30 Dingus Khan (Sound Food and Drink)
23:15 - 00:00 Still Corners (Leaf Cafe)
23:30 - 00:45 Everything Everything (Art Academy)
00:15 - 01:30 Thee Oh Sees (Kazimier)
01:15 - 01:45 Police Squad (Krazyhouse)
01:45 - 02:30 Future Of The Left (Screenadelica)


15:30 - 16:00 Laura J Martin (Liverpool ONE Dome)
18:00 - 18:30 16 Hole Boots (The Brink)
19:05 - 19:35 Death Masks (Art Academy)
20:00 - 20:30 Last Days of 1984 (Garage)
20:30 - 22:45 Dexys (Cathedral)
22:00 - 22:30 Golden Fable (Garage)
22:30 - 23:00 Mercury 13 (Black-E)
23:30 - 00:00 Amateur Best (Kazimier)
00:30 - 01:30 Big Deal (Shipping Forecast)
01:45 - 02:30 Bo Ningen (Screenadelica)

Live At Leeds
The venerable Leodensian takeover on bank holiday Saturday for the seventh time, plus some seperately ticketed gigs and the Unconference on Friday, the Vaccines in Millenium Square on Sunday and the Live At Leeds 5-a-side Football Tournament on Monday. £22.50 tickets are still available online.

12:00 - 12:30 Lone Wolf (Milos Upstairs)
13:00 - 13:30 Menace Beach (Nation Of Shopkeepers)
14:00 - 14:30 Backyards (Wardrobe)
15:00 - 15:30 Blackeye (Leeds Uni Mine)
15:45 - 16:15 Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs (Leeds Uni Refectory)
16:30 - 17:00 Post War Glamour Girls (Leeds Uni Stylus)
16:45 - 17:15 Dinosaur Pile-Up (Leeds Uni Refectory)
17:00 - 17:30 Witch Hunt (Leeds Met 2)
17:30 - 18:00 Pete Roe (Cockpit 3)
18:00 - 18:30 Sweet Baboo (Wardrobe)
19:00 - 19:30 Marika Hackman (Brudenell Social Club)
19:30 - 20:00 Kleine Schweine (Milos Downstairs)
19:30 - 20:15 Savages (Leeds Uni Stylus)
20:00 - 20:30 Maybeshewill (Leeds Uni Mine)
21:00 - 21:30 These Monsters (Leeds Uni Mine)
21:15 - 22:00 PINS (Leeds Met 2)
22:15 - 23:30 The Walkmen (Leeds Uni Stylus)
22:30 - 00:00 Everything Everything (Leeds Uni Refectory)
23:00 - 23:45 Sky Larkin (Leeds Uni Mine)

Sounds From The Other City
Salford's celebration of new music, taking over Chapel Street's bars and crannies on the bank holiday Monday. Advance tickets £18. No stage times yet, so here's some names to ring in red Bic:

BC Camplight (Islington Mill)
Daedelus (Islington Mill)
Die Hexen (Angel Centre)
DIVORCE (Angel Centre)
GREATWAVES (St Phillips Church)
Haiku Salut (The Crescent)
Parenthetical Girls (The Crescent)
Post War Glamour Girls (The Crescent)
Rozi Plain (Islington Mill)
September Girls (The Crescent)
Still Corners (St Phillips Church)
Treetop Flyers (Islington Mill)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Graphite Set - These Streets

Lily Buchanan, the East Lothian-bred art student turned singer-songwriter who is The Graphite Set and releases her debut EP on 2nd June, makes no bones about the Nico influence on her plangent vocal style and probably not too many about the Patti-to-PJ lineage of her awkward folk-influenced art-psych anxiety. Pushed along by teetering guitar lines from the Smoke Fairies' Katherine Blamire, with a few names who've turned up on the periphery of previous STN favourites also involved, Buchanan sounds wracked by circumstance as guitars stop, start and turn strident around her.

Last Days Of 1984 - Lost Hearts

Already something new from the duo, this time heading in the kind of dark electronic shoegaze direction M83 pioneered and the likes of Factory Floor approach latterly. This being Last Days Of 1984 there's an oppressiveness to how they arrange it as waves of distorted guitar noises crash around and over the synth stabs and queasy swamp of what's lurking in the darkness underneath, a quasi-hypnotic squall overtaking the polyrhythms and casually downbeat vocals above.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Summer Of Blood - Mainstream Rituals/Summer Ritual I

For the Wicker Man associations and, well, that bandname Sheffield-based trio Summer Of Blood are if anything on the swoonsome side of things. Featuring Reenie and Dafydd from the late Nature Set, who were on last year's STN album, they're equal parts girl group sway and synthpop iciness, here striking an eerie gentleness amid Kate Bush quoting and synth coda.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Crimea - Last Plane Out Of Saigon

Quick primer for Crimea newcomers: emerged out of the Crocketts (two cracking albums, lots of live madness), picked up by Peel, flirted with the mainstream (including a top 40 single and Top Of The Pops appearance), toured as arena support, became reportedly the first band to put out an album for free online, then went on a hiatus that's just ended by their signing to Alcopop! (and Lazy Acre) to release a double album, Square Moon, on 29th July. And in all that time Davey McManus doesn't seem to have aged. The first track starts out seeming set for the ballroom before developing into a piano-led, subtly soulful summer strings-swoon built around maturing wistfulness. Also, it's another one for that list of songs where the title only features as the final words (Up The Junction, Virginia Plain, Just Like Heaven

Seazoo - No Wrenching of Guts This Time

Seazoo describe themselves as "a three-piece Post Teddycore explosion happening now", which surely negates any more need for information. More digging reveals they're from Wrexham and only went public about six weeks ago with an EP, Ken, that benefits from the peculiarly Welsh habit of stylistic abandon along Gorky's lines, here resembling early Los Campesinos! stripped of their Arts & Crafts back catalogues or Joanna Gruesome without the fuzz pedals.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Archie Bronson Outfit - I Was A Dead Duck

Yeah, we heard they'd split up as well. In fact they've lost bassist Dorian Hobday and promoted to fulltime status longtime live electronic noisemaker Capitol K (Kristian Robinson to some) and this was recorded in a day and mixed and mastered the same week for a limited edition 7" on producer to the stars Dan Carey's Speedy Wunderground label out May 6th. It's slightly more linear than the bulk of Cuckoo and a slight step sideways too, a motorik beat and bolshy Peter Hook-indebted electronic bassline backing Sam Windett's shouting into a tunnel. Then it withdraws into itself for a bit and re-emerges in Neu!/Stereolab lineage freakout mode. No further details are public yet, bar a slot at Green Man, but it bodes very well for whatever comes next.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cosines - Hey Sailor Boy!

Not sounding like you'd imagine a band called Cosines might, the debut single out 20th May by a north London duo with a history in the likes of The Loves, Pocketbooks, the Duloks and Arthur & Martha is, it says here, "a love song from one girl pirate to her sailor boy originally written for fictional band The Girl Pirates whose extended membership included unwittingly David Cross and Colin Meloy". Right. What that boils down to here is some Northern Soul piano pounding, the A Little Orchestra string section and general low budget Camera Obscura/Concretes indiepop-soul swooning. Apparently some of their other material takes a motorik/Stereolab bent, which melded to this side of their sound seems intriguing. They play Brighton on the 27th with Joanna Gruesome, a Fortuna Pop! night at the Bull & Gate with the Understudies on the 30th, then support Allo Darlin' at the Buffalo Bar on May 11th.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Man Or Astro-Man? - Disintegrate

There's a name a few readers wouldn't have thought they'd hear again. MOAM? did prolific business in the mid to late 90s with their sci-fi themed surf-rock (primarily) instrumentals, extraterrestrial backstory and onstage tesla coils. Star Crunch, Birdstuff and Coco reformed in 2010 and the single from their first album in twelve years Defcon 5...4...3...2...1, out May 21st in America, finds them not quite in Dick Dale-goes-Def Con 1 mode but instead exploring the range around spaced out, pulsatingly fuzzy almost new wave pushing on in a way that'd shame many younger, hungrier bands.

Sacred Animals vs Last Days Of 1984/Darren Hayman And The Long Parliament/Benin City

Sacred Animals vs Last Days Of 1984 - Aaja

Dublin duo Last Days Of 1984 have been featured here before (and are playing Liverpool Sound City on May 4th, sharing a bill with Golden Fable, Mount Kimbie and Darkstar); Sacred Animals is experimental folkie compatriot Darragh Nolan. Together they've produced a track that brings emotive longing to a digitised elongated landscape decorated with 8-bit sparkles, pitchshifting vocal effects, synthesised wind rushes and attractively blissed out patchwork soundscapes. The combination works a treat.

Darren Hayman And The Long Parliament - Henrietta Maria

As a coda to last year's marvellous Essex witch trials concept album The Violence, Hayman and co release the Four Queens 10" EP on Record Store Day, songs about - yes - four queens: Lady Jane Grey, Eleanor Of Aquitaine, Elizabeth I (sung by Elizabeth Morris) and this lovelorn ballad from King Charles I to his future queen. This is ahead of a July album of civil war songs and that same month's start of a year-long thematic monthly residency at London's Vortex Jazz Club. Usual workload slacking, then.

Benin City - My Love

From forthcoming album Fires In The Park, produced by Micachu's Shape Marc Pell, and available free from their website, it's another stylistic shift just for this post, flirting with post-dubstep and dark electro through a jittering bassline, determinedly dextrous performance poet meter from Joshua Idehen and almost heroic marching band, string and brass intrusion in the final third.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

His Clancyness - Machines

Our old friend of various guises Jonathan Clancy's loops-and-wires solo project has become a full band and been snapped up by Fat Cat Records, the first release through them being the Charade EP only available on live dates, which over here means the Bristol, Liverpool, Dublin and London dates on next month's Widowspeak tour, although this track will be on the album set for autumn release. If previously his work in this guise had been in danger of slipping into the chillwave ghetto this finds its own way of harnessing that bleached-out wooziness to a sharpness - ironic for a song about personal apathy - a big fuzzy guitar solo or two and a vaguely motorik beat.

Hookworms - Radio Tokyo

After the lysergic drone of their acclaimed album Pearl Mystic, for a standalone Too Pure Singles Club offering Hookworms have diverted on a psych-garage bent, the ultrareverbed vocals accompanied by an organ that's comfortably as much in hock to Nuggets as Spacemen 3 and a churning Krauty rhythm section, malice aforethought but partying from hell underneath. You can almost dance to it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Plastic Animals - Pizarnik

It's a thorny issue in the digital age - do people actually prefer the songs-first transience of the download code or the tangible connection of physical stock? Song, By Toad are finding out this Record Store Day by releasing a four way split EP in two limited edition formats, 250 red vinyl and as download codes on four-packs of beer brewed by independent local microbrewery Barney's Beer. (This does sound a little more like "do people prefer to spend money on records or on getting pissed?", which is often no question at all, and especially so given Song, By Toad is based in Edinburgh, but we digress) Whichever way the RSD crowd go they're getting their money's worth from the music, featuring as both forms do the delicate Cocteausesque washes of Magic Eye, post-MBV stillness in shoegaze movement from Le Thug and the dazed but determined march of Zed Penguin. Our pick is the hypotic dreampop of Plastic Animals, who've been around for a few years and call themselves "atmospheric punk sludge rock" but have more in common with the Still Corners/I Break Horses/Bradford Cox generally school of picking melodic lucidness out of electronic/tremelo'd lo-fi atmospherics.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Nadine Shah/A Little Orchestra/Landshapes/The Pastels

Nadine Shah - Dreary Town

You know those soul and jazz-influenced female singers that are all over the style magazines at the moment? Shah's a bit like them but better. A part-Norwegian and Pakistani former gospel singer from the village of Whitburn (near Sunderland) her circling, wracked piano-pounding dramatics found a sympathetic production ear in Ben Hillier to complement her richly descriptive vocal tone and have emerged a little bit Harvey, a little Holiday and a little Walker. Plenty of goodness lies ahead if this recent single is any early yardstick.

A Little Orchestra - Josefina

Just as it says on the tin, A Little Orchestra are a chamber dectet formed by Pipettes ubergrupenfuehrer Monster Bobby who have collaborated with Shirley Lee and Haiku Salut and whose debut Josefina EP out on the 29th includes collaborations with Darren Hayman, Gordon McIntyre of Ballboy and Simon Love. The title track is a collaboration with folkie-poppers Model Village, lending flute-aided lush pastoral textures to an emotive pondering of the nature of living life.

Landshapes - In Limbo

Newly signed to Bella Union, Landshapes used to be Lulu & The Lampshades, most celebrated for their viral utensil-based twee-folk. With the change of name comes a sharpening of focus, chiming guitars and an arresting harmonic vocal sounding both grandiose in reach and stripped to the pulsating core. Tremendous video too, shot in La Paz amid cultures both indigenous and, in the shape of Cholita wrestlers, peculiar.

The Pastels - Check My Heart

The first single from Slow Summits, the Glaswegian indie heroes' first proper album in, sir, sixteen years pretty much picks up where they left off, at least on the airier, Katrina-led side of their sound where a delicious melody and 60s pop-influenced hooks circle each other and dance in the sunlight

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Stagecoach - Action

Alcopop!'s contribution to that whole Record Store Day farrago is another track from Stagecoach's Rory Attwell-produced debut album proper Say Hi To The Band, out May 13th, and is it says here their attempt at fusing Motown and Seattle influences, though the latter was clearly allowed to win as it's a sharp, natty power-pop cut coming on like a frat party Evan Dando. The cassette release is pressed on genuine vintage USA late 70’s reel-to-reel style 'Eagle' tape stock, which is important apparently.

The Chapman Family - This One's For Love

The best Chapmans moments, such as this single out June 3rd pivot around a rhythm that feels a bit like a spiky post-punk weeble, wobbling around the equilibrium without ever falling over despite the pressure placed on it by guitars swathed in feedback and nervous energy. While still brooding and lacquer-free goth(ic) it's just about as commercial as they'll ever sound. Why, with its sentiment it's almost tender.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Electric Soft Parade – Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone

In the six years since the last ESP LP there's been a couple of Brakes albums (though that seems to have come to a halt now), three Thomas White solo records, European dates with Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and several quadrillion side projects, guest appearances, fill-ins and touring band slots for the White brothers. Back together with a new album, IDIOTS, due in June, the first single does betray some of that much dreaded term, 'maturity', but really insomuch as it's a grown-up, vaguely countrified take on the dynamic guitar pop of yore, a galloping blissfully summery melody under a thoughtfully philosophical song about coming to terms with loss.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Olympians - Filling My Heart With Weird Dreams

Olympians have been around for a bit but you could here point to them being the first properly notable post-Tall Ships band, the point where math ideas shotgun marries electronic intricacy while having an affair with anthemic structures, building gradually from a pitter-patter rhythm through lovingly vocalled sentiments against a patchwork that suggests a pastoralised Maps & Atlases or Youthmovies left to simmer. There's no breakthrough into something bigger here, which makes it all the better, more backing pulses and harmonies suggesting, in the way Wild Beasts sometimes do, that they could make things far more obvious but choose not to. Adventure Gun EP is out 29th April.

Fire Island Pines - 1915

The Cornwall sextet, one of our favourite little discoveries of the past year, have a way with a languid melody and detailed lushness which on this new single (out 29th April on the Minnesota label Manic Pop! or their Bandcamp) in its trumpet part and lightly jangling unsureties recalls more than before the expansive expressionism of mid-90s contenders Jack refracted through the mid-80s budget sophistication of the Cherry Red roster.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Darren Hayman and the Long Parliament - Old Man Don't Waste Your Time

For this first non-thematic recording with his current band, released in May as part of WIAIWYA's 7777777 series for this year, Hayman claims this takes "the best bits of Prince, Dr Feelgood, the Laughing Clowns and Hefner". It's certainly the closest he's got to the rockier circa-Fidelity Wars end of the latter's bedroom Richman since their dissolution, if positioned more towards a pub rock rhythm and Wilko-indebted scratchy rhythm guitar overlaid with a big fuzzbox solo. There's an extra element at the end that adds James Chance to the mood board.

Hayman also contributes and co-writes a song for the debut EP out next week by A Little Orchestra, a indiepop-slanted chamber dectet formed by sometime power behind the Pipettes throne Monster Bobby, as do Ballboy's Gordon McIntyre, Simon Love and Model Village.