31/05 1 comment
Back from a long weekend in Paris, here’s my weekly platter of five songs recently improving my ears’ mood…
The School – Let It Slip
Welsh eightpiece The School mix 50s/60s pop stylings with some very modern Mark Ronson-esque effects – dainty keys, electro jingles and a general smoothness. With anyone else it would be like too many After Eights on Christmas Day, but singer Liz’s classy drawl and the sheer bouncy goodness of the songs keeps the puke well at bay. This particular number also boasts some great rock gusto.
Twin Sister – The Other Side Of Your Face
You’re slow-mo robot-walking through Hyde Park at dawn, the last of the speed still wearing off as the sun floods up and birds sing good morning, passing strollers’ voices like drones in your head, and then Andrea starts singing, slowing you down, promising it’ll all end happily. Twin Sister have some great songs, but this spectral seven-minute odyssey of gently throbbing techno-indie is the fairest of them all.
Rafter – Fruit (Baths Remix)
Ooh Rafter – love his funky soul-pop numbers! Ohhhh Baths - heart his digital wackiness! What’s that? Baths has remixed one of Rafter’s best tunes and made it trippily fucked-up (read: ephemeral, echoey, hazy) and yet still bum-shaking? Oh, and this is Fruit, a song with the most gorgeous lyrics anyone’s ever heard, about a love affair frustratingly out of reach? Man… is this heaven?
Sunvisor – Sky Dive
This is the exact musical representation of those unfocused spots you see when you’ve stared at the sun for a few seconds, then looked away. Instead of wondering if you’ll ever be able to watch Mulholland Drive again, listen to NY duo Sunvisor‘s ice-cream dream of a song, a melodic spine-tingler that also features some Gregorian-style chants, and a constant drum stroke in the distance.
Underworld – Scribble
Mention Underworld and all I do is think of Ewan McGregor doing breast stroke in a toilet, and lines about lager, lager, lager. This return threatens to thankfully change that: it’s a glorious, euphoric tumult of synthy boosts and reach-for-the-laser keys, destined to thrill the pants off a dance tent near you this summer.
MP3s available via song titles
26/05 0 comments
Blimey. Such was the amazingness of the weekend’s heatwave that Stag & Dagger, Friday’s festival in Shoreditch, quickly seemed like a distant memory. However, having finally sweated out all the night’s alcohol, I can still just about remember enough details to deliver the following recount, and ultimately, verdict.
Having met up with Adrian, who irritatingly works in the heart of Brick Lane, at 6pm, we exchanged tickets for wristbands at the efficient exchange, and quizzed the lady there about why Summer Camp, announced by NME as playing, weren’t on the timetable. She told us to ask the good folk at Hearn St Car Park – “they know everything”. Pleased at our snooping, we then repaired to Rough Trade East for Timber Timbre, who played the shoegaziest alt-folk you’ve ever heard, and rather militarily told a lady not to photograph them. Harsh. The singer seemed very pleased with himself, and did a lot of Michael Stipisms, ie strange facial expressions when singing. Each tune sounded a bit similar and it was pretty hot, so we left five songs in.
After holding up the entire 30-person queue in Sainsbury’s on Commercial St (you can’t buy single beers, fyi), we weaved our way to Hearn St HQ while Adrian revealed details of his latest love conquest. He’s such a slut. At Hearn St we spoke to a blonde lady who told us Summer Camp had cancelled. “What about Egytian Hip H-..” “They’ve cancelled”. I felt like I could say any band and she’d say “They cancelled”. But I didn’t, and we moped out. Off we went to CAMP, via a Jack Penate and someone from Foals double-spot, to see John & Jehn, but there was no John and no Jehn. They must also have cancelled. We were about to leave in search of some, any, music, until Adrian asked the singer of Class Actress what time they were on, and she bribed him to stay with a drink token.
Finally at 9 we saw our second act. Class Actress were pretty good, although the two songs I know and have blogged about (Careful What You Say and Journal of Ardency) were streets ahead of the rest, and they really didn’t have much attention from the room. But we were drinking rum out of old jam jars by then, so had a great time, relishing the synthy, La Roux-with-disdain effect of it all. Then we left, with no plan at all, and ended up at the MacBeth, where Gyratory System spent ages sound-checking and we got bored and re-skedaddled. One of the big problems of the night was the huge gaps between bands; it’s quicker at Glasto for gad’s sake.
Next we rocked across to Jaguar Shoes, and squeezed in downstairs. Fuck. Microwaves on full blast have been cooler than that place. Undeterred, we caught the end of Still Flyin‘s set, and kinda loved it – they were a large maverick band with saxophones, all sorts of keys and I think a violin, and they had a good old jam, a little Fools’ Gold esque. Back in the cool climes of outdoors, we went to Ziegfried’s next, after gasping at the queue for We Have Band at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, with like an hour until their set. Madness. At Zieg’s we saw The Molotovs, who played us some passable indie-rock. The singer had both nice hair and a nice voice.
The plan was then to salivate over The Radio Dept., but we had an hour to spare so jiggled our way to Old Blue Last instead, happy to see whoever was playing. Until that turned out to be Sky Larkin; a cruel trick on me by the guys in the clouds. Adrian quite liked it, but to me this is racket rock, songs at a zillion miles an hour and as loud as possible, with little to no artistry or flair. It just left me exhausted.
The Radio Dept then didn’t happen – again they seemed to take an age soundchecking, and it was stupid hot. The Legion is not very cleverly designed; the stage is next to the toilet, so you have a constant stream of people knocking your shoulders. Eventually we lost patience ((judging from Amelia’s Magazine’s festival review, we didn’t miss much); Adrian left for his bed, it now being midnight, and I scarpered down Curtain Road to The Queen of Hoxton for the last of Django Django. That turned out to be pretty fun; there was a real buzz in the crowd, and the alt-rock songs had a lot of imagination.
The last stop was the old Hearn St car park. I hoped to see Simian Mobile Disco, but they weren’t on until 2.30, a full hour and some change, and with the DJs currently playing nothing more than progressive blandery. Hardly anyone was dancing. Alcohol suddenly became that much more expensive. It was time to scarper.
So, overall thoughts: I didn’t think it was great this year. The gaps between bands was a problem as I’ve said; also the fact that so many bars in the Shoreditch Triangle aren’t part of Stag & Dagger really negates the festival atmosphere – walking around is no longer a great experience. Bar Music Hall was a big miss this year – that place was really the hub in 2009. Instead there’s a far greater sprawl of bars, making it mightily hard to see two acts on at the same time. The crowd is a puzzle: beery lads who don’t seem to give a hoot about the bands, and older folks getting increasingly frustrated at all the shoving. On the plus side, the stuff I saw was mostly good, and it was cheap cheap cheap.
If anyone reading this went along, I’d love their thoughts? Festivals are very subjective, personal things, so the more feedback the better.
24/05 1 comment
Here’s my weekly collection of five songs that I’m currently loving - a one-off postponement of SOIWT’s avid London focus:
Moonlight Bride – Young Guns
I tipped Moonlight Bride for greatness at the start of the year, and while little has happened to that effect I stand by my assertion that they’re brilliant. This is melodramatic, aching pop-rock at its most cabriolet: singalong summery songs that must be played at top volume for full uplifting benefit. The thrilling Young Guns remains my favourite: it burns and yearns with a nostalgic love based on times when life was easy. A mix of soaring peaks, hurt-speckled vocals, sudden quietude and careering guitars, it’s just a little irresistible in these balmy times. Whoa-ho-ho along – you know you want to.
NB: the below version isn’t brilliant – best to get the MP3.
Beach Fossils – Youth
A forbidding duo of male voices sings. A country-esque guitar is plucked with same simple, soulful chord. The male voices return. The guitar is plucked a little more, a little faster. And so it goes on this, track two of Beach Fossils‘ eponymous debut LP, released tomorrow via Captured Tracks. Judging by its gorgeous simplicity and chilled-out broodiness, Dustin Payseur and band are a talent worth watching: this one won’t change your world but it will sure make it a little sweeter, a little gentler. In the end, I can’t improve on One Track Mind‘s summary: “it’s a grower of a tune, with each successive listen making it a little more beloved”. Too right.
I’m Not A Band – I’m Not A Band
I’m not a fan of I’m Not A Band. At least, I wasn’t. In truth, I didn’t listen to them a whole lot, but the bits I did hear were melody-less noisefucks that made little impression on my charmometer. But what with first March 23rd, and now this new eponymous (word of the day) track, I’m stumbling towards the confessional though, suddenly enthused by this electronica. Amid the bounciest and synthiest keys imaginable, violin sounds and swaggering feedback, a pyschopathic man occasionally screams “I’m Not A Band!!!”, as if unable to contain himself any longer. And why should he? I take it all back I’m Not A Band – I had you all wrong.
Korallreven – The Truest Faith
No Pain in Pop makes an excellent point about Koralleven‘s seductress of a song: that for its summeryness and surf-sun-sea-sand sensibility, it’s been (probably) recorded by a geek in a (probably) windowless studio. In Stockholm, too – hardly a tropical paradise. Whatever, though – his loss, our gain. Get your fake Oakleys out, shave your legs (real men only), roll up those jeans into shorts, dig out your favourite clipper lighter and go float across a park looking soulful and enigmatic as this tropical storm washes over your ears, the musical equivalent of sex in a Jacuzzi on your own Caribbean island with no postcards to write.
Lana Del Rey – Diet Mtn. Dew
We fabulously fickle Brits must almost be at the stage where we, having spent months bemoaning the arctic winter, complain about the overbearing heatwave and pray for cooler climes. If you’re one of those already sick of all this warmth stuff, here’s a suitably smouldering, smoky, cloaky tune for ya: a purring ballad from young singer Lana Del Rey (aka Lizzy Grant), an American now based in the intolerable sunbelt that is London. Bet she regrets that now. An old demo, this is a song that reeks of film noir, dusty copies of Shakespeare plays, velvet blazers, jazz clubs, yellowed photographs and words lost in the wind. Brr… is it cold in here?
MP3s via the song titles
21/05 0 comments
Tonight brings London’s instalment of the annual Stag & Dagger festival, with over 50 upcoming bands from rock/dance ouevres delighting sozzled scenesters in various Shoreditch sweatpits - or rather De Beauvoir, Clerkenwell, Shoreditch and Bethnal Green sweatpits, such is S&D’s scale these days. Like the Camden Crawl but good, this bruiser involves lots of walking, torturous decisions, hosts of new friends, a surprisingly efficient wristband exchange (well, it was last year), and regular shouts of “OH MY GOD, that’s like.. thingy from that band !! lol !!”.
Below I’ve listed some bands I think you should catch, but first some general tips:
1. Watch out for that Shoreditch Triangle – it gets more like the Bermuda Triangle when you’re trolleyed, and trying to cross it can take days.
2. Wear something light. It’s far better to be cold outside than hotly lugging a coat or heavy bag inside. That’s just not cool.
3. Bring moolah – this is Shoreditch we’re talking about, that infuriating anti-land where ATMs haven’t yet caught on. If you do get stuck. Old Street has a few cash machines around the tube station, and there’s a free one about ten mins down Bethnal Green Road.
4. The bigger names – These New Puritans, Ex-Lovers, We Have Band – will of course attract bigger crowds. If you want to see these guys, you’ll likely need to get to the relevant venue with at least an hour to spare, or it’ll be tears before bedtime.
5. Don’t see Sky Larkin – they’re pants.
Okay, so I veered into band territory there, sorry. Anyway, continuing that theme, here are five acts I really rate, and who are well worth a half-mile slog with grumbling friends in check:
Timber Timbre (Rough Trade East, 6.30pm)
The earliest show of the festival sees Montreal’s Timber Timbre freak the hell out of Rough Trade with their peculiar, pallid woodsmoke-blues-rock, tragic tales told by terrified strings, earnest singing and church-quiet riffs. These are simple and yet very accomplished songs, ones that entrap as much as they entrance.
MP3: Timber Timbre – There Is A Cure
Class Actress (CAMP, 9.00pm)
I blathered on about Elizabeth Harper in a recent post, but something tells me she’ll be so good live it’s worth doing so again. Offering elegant, fizzing electro dance numbers with an air of sophistication and serenity, Class Actress is good for a groove, or merely a gentle n0dding of the head as you sip your pint at the side of stage.
MP3: Class Actress – Careful What You Say
Trailer Trash Tracys (93 Feet East, 9.00pm)
Obviously you can’t do Class Actress and Trailer Trash Tracys, but plump for the latter and you’ll be richly rewarded. The London quartet play a wistful, echoey lo-fi rock, with chanting female vocals buried amid a forest fire of throbbing guitars, fierce feedback and murderous drums. There’s something deeply ambient about it: I want to call it post-disco, but that would just be ridiculous.
MP3: Trailer Trash Tracys – Candy Girl
Mount Kimbie (Scrutton Street Studios, 11.30pm)
Because every now and again you need a little dance epicry in your life. Their anthems building like air-raids from an emotionless enemy, Mount Kimbie will provide ambience, moments of pause and providence, and some hip-shaking garage breaks. The work of Kai and Dom, this is a fluid, very-cheerful dubstep with many a sudden sample.
MP3: Mount Kimbie – Maybes
The Radio Dept. (The Legion, 11.45pm)
This one could require an early arrival but it’ll be worth it. Sweden’s The Radio Dept. play a melodic electro-rock tinged with lush beats, sometimes like to a permanent dance remix of The Streets, sometimes a downbeat UNKLE. You’ll close your eyes, briefly revisiting a cherished memory, before returning to the almost-as-good present.
MP3: The Radio Dept. – David
Also worth catching are Othello Woolf, John & Jehn, White Hinterland, My Tiger My Timing, Spectrals, Sian Alice Group and many more. If you don’t trust me at all (recommended), then Stag and Dagger’s staff have also made their own, very decent, picks on the website.
Frankly, though, you could do a lot worse than have no plan at all. Plans will inevitably get fucked up, dropped down a drain somewhere on Curtain Road, forgotten amid a jive in Jaguar Shoes. Just go, live, and see a lot of great new stuff. Or, as my friend and regular SOIWT inspiration Adrian just said, with brutally perfect simplicity: “I see tonight as an opportunity to see bands I’ve never seen before.”
Have fun - lots and lots of it. Tickets are still available here if you haven’t got on, at an impossibly reasonable £17.
20/05 0 comments
Screw genres. That seems to be the mindset of The Laurel Collective, a London sixpiece who veer from blues to soul to electronica to rock with all the consistency of a drunken high-heeled pre-teen waltzing around Leicester Square. A bohemian spirit and experimental enthusiasm are probably to blame thank. The only constant is a general good-time-ness - visible amid the down-tempo murkiness of Cruel Thing, the screechy hooks of Jelly Bird and definitely the chanty rock-funk of Vuitton Blues. Somehow, you just know that they’d be a scream live – especially at their monthly residency at Dalston’s Stag’s Head.
Posts tagged as "“may 2010 new songs”"