Friday, 21 December 2007

2007 ... The Year of the Comebacks?

With Christmas and New Year drawing ever closer I found myself sitting on a bus in rush hour traffic, surrounded by bulging shopping bags preparing for the inevitable endless wrapping to come. As I spotted an old recycled Fopp bag I began to drift off into my own little world and started to wonder which bands I had fallen head over-heels for this year. The list of tracks and bands that came to mind was not what irritated me, for it was an ample list. What began to horrify me as my mind ticked over this years sound track was that it sounded so familiar ... it sounded like the 90s.

2007 seems to have become a regular Now Album from 1996/7, with the likes of Boyzone, Take That, East 17, Backstreet Boys, The Spice Girls and All Saints reforming for some sell-out tour. Although a sell-out tour isn't always the case, (bless you Aqua for trying a comeback but the world is just not ready for Bratz Girl), I think the words 'sell-out' are rather appropriate. The Spice Girls first London date sold out within 38 seconds. The Spice Girls had a good thing going for them in their day, but now 'girl-power' has become the tacky and cliché worst nightmare of women everywhere. And even though Take That split up ten years ago there are many new reasons to dislike them, not only for foisting Gary Barlow on us all once more but for doing so well that they encouraged every other broken-up nineties pop act to grab a slice of comeback pie. And I mean that somewhat literally when referring to East 17 who let themselves go during their time out of the lime light. Take That have also dragged up with them Five, yes Five are back shamelessly riding on the coattails of others success, yet rather amusingly only four of them wanted to return.

It is unfortunate to admit that to some people these bands are the defining voice of our generation, and with less than 10 years separating some of them from split to hit you have to wonder why? Why choose now to return? It does seem like all these bands are just having some fun, and that perhaps we should all just let go of our cynicism and remember why they were great. But that is the point: they were great. It seems to me as if they are capitalising on the nostalgia of 20-25 years olds, who remember oh so well that day their favourite boy-band or girl-band split up. As if it wasn’t enough that Boyzone let leash Westlife upon us, but they’re back too. You would be as amused as me at this if you could see their first performance....

However, it is not always the case that a comeback is just a way for bands to earn money because they have seen that others can do it. There is a difference in bands such as The Police and Led Zeppelin who have returned to the stage once more. It has taken The Police just over 20 years to reform, and it seems that they have a right to do so, for in their absence they have risen to legendary status, which I can hardly say for the likes of All Saints. The comeback tour or reunion gig is not a new thing for Led Zeppelin, who have been doing one-off gigs since that tragic day in September 1980. The sudden end to Led Zeppelin seemed to be before its time. It is this tragically cut short career that leads me to believe they are not just feeding off the nostalgia of once screaming teenagers but are doing it for the love of music. I can hardly say that East 17’s career was tragically cut short, they just weren’t selling records any more.

While Led Zeppelin and The Police re-capture the glory of their golden days pop bands from nineties seem to be desperately grabbing at straws: performing gigs on what has become known as the ‘nostalgia circuit,’ in places like Butlins because they have realised that poor dancing is not a skill that can cut it in the real world.

And then it suddenly dawned on me, it hasn’t just been music, the entire entertainment industry is looking backwards. With Harrison Ford about to don his Indiana hat for the first time since 1989 and Rocky returning to our screens it seems that 2007 has been the year of comebacks, no matter how successful or tragic they were. They say that history moves in cycles, like fashion, so I suppose the comeback is nothing new, but it has me wondering if in ten years time people will be on the phone for hours just so they can see Rhianna one last time. I just wish that the 90s would stay in the 90s and give the youth of today a chance to listen to great modern music that is springing up everywhere, as well as discovering true classics.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

smokin' pistols: jay jay pistolet

Jay Jay Pistolet is one of those artists to follow the age-old parable of the wide-eyed, small-town boy who moves to the big city to follow his hopes and dreams. In this tale, the small-town boy hails from the New Forest, an area better known for its feral ponies than singer/songwriters,. Though since arriving in London over a year ago, Jay Jay (real name Justin Hayward-Young) seems to have fallen rather splendidly on his feet.

My friend Constance, an old school friend of Justin, asked me along to the We Are Free single launch show at London’s Borderline (released on Chess Club - a offshoot of the clubnight set up by a member of recently deceased London band Fear of Flying). I’d neither seen nor heard Justin’s music before but by 9pm the venue was heaving, with barely enough room to raise a pint glass to my lips; Justin’s fan-base seemed long established. This is likely due to various shows at Nambucca and the fact that his manager is fellow London troubadour (if we can call him that…) Beans on Toast. At around 10pm Justin took to the stage with a support band, which included a banjo player and a Dad figure à la Mystery Jets accompanying on guitar. As the first song commenced the audience’s captivated silence was palpable, the girls devouring Justin with their eyes, the guys most likely admiring the ease at which his honeyed voice slipped from his mouth. Justin’s demo as Jay Jay Pistolet, Hooked Up On Us, stood out immediately, with lyrics suggestive of past teenage trysts. Constance whispered how he looked much more nervous than his show the previous week at Brixton’s Windmill. Any anxieties on his part seemed to quickly evaporate as Justin relaxed, maintaining an air of professionalism, mystery and appreciation in front of such an admiring crowd. His ability to tell stories through his uncomplicated, unadorned songs seems to come with great ease, something the audience clearly understood, reacting to each song with raucous applause, whistling and whoops which reverberated off the walls of the cramped cellar room. The final song of the evening was This Place Was Like A Maze, a tender account of a day (well, night) in the life of two young lovers in west London, whose foregone fate is riddled with alcohol and drugs. I especially like the final verse and the lines, ‘So I went without my sleep until your car showed up at 3 / I kind of said goodbye and then you hopped across the sea’. Being a south-Londoner myself at the moment, I like the idea that crossing the Thames is akin to crossing the sea (and God, it can feel like it if you’ve ever walked over Waterloo Bridge on a windy day) but you never know, perhaps this lover in question did have a little further to go…

If I’m honest, it’s rare that I hear an artist for the first time and think they’re faultless. So the following Wednesday, Constance and I headed to PureGroove records to see him play an in-store, this time acoustic and to no more than fifteen people. The acoustic versions of Hooked Up On Us and We Are Free are in this video from PureGroove’s YouTube channel.

Only time will tell what will come of Jay Jay Pistolet. Hopefully Justin won’t suffer the same fate as Kate Nash and Jack Peñate with serious NME-induced hype and then sudden anti-climax when someone newer, rawer and more ‘London’ comes along. Hopefully his ability to make pure, modern folk-music and genuinely seem like he’s enjoying every second will remain. And hopefully more artists of the same calibre will come our way too.

Jay Jay Pistolet - This Place Was Like A Maze
Jay Jay Pistolet - Holly (b-side to the single)

visit myspace///buy 'We are Free' from pure groove

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

it's NME's party, and i'll cry if i want to...

So, after their recent skirmish with Morrissey, the New Musical Express is facing legal action. What is perhaps the more pressing question is does anybody actually care anymore? Personally, I couldn't care less whether it sinks or floats. I don't count myself as a regular reader anymore. I used to, a few years ago, when I didn't have an internet connection at home, so consequently it felt like the only way to find out about things.

Once in possession of internet access though, it's possible to find such a variety of perspectives on different types of music at such an astonishing speed that it renders a weekly magazine somewhat impotent. I like reading magazines, purely from the nice feeling you actually get from holding something in your hands and reading it on the bus or on the sofa or whatever, but the level of interaction you can gain from internet forums,, myspace, virb etc etc is just on a different plane.

The NME now resembles a kind of indie Heat magazine, and whilst it occasionally offers reasonable insight, the way it seems completely devoted to making and then breaking (brutally sometimes) bands leaves a somewhat bitter taste in the mouth. I think it serves a purpose as an entry point for younger people, maybe those who don't really know where to start perhaps, and struggle to get into gigs. It's clinging to that though really, as organisations like All Age Concerts are making inroads into eradicating these boundaries, and creating communities in the process.

Publications like Dazed and Confused, FACT, The Stool Pigeon offer a point of view that is far less sensationalised, which I prefer really. I mean the whole idea of a Cool List is just fucking dumb.

And without further ado, I introduce the latest addition to the team, Kat, who recalls a recent night out....



Thursday 6th December saw the launch party announcing the nominees of February’s NME awards and to get people into the voting spirit… actually, why is it that voting, whether it’s for ‘best album’, ‘coolest male’ or even, God forbid, to do with politics, is something that no-one can be bothered to do?

Sorry… Back to what I was saying, so there was a launch party for the voting, with recent issues of NME plugging the chance to win one of 175 pairs of tickets to the do at Indigo, a smaller venue inside the O2 arena. Here, winners could see a few bands and have a few drinks. For many readers I’m sure they saw this as a chance to go, stand about nonchalantly, generally think they’re cool because everyone else there is kinda’ cool, because they too were arsed to try and win tickets so they could tell everyone who cared that they were going to an NME party (making them, yep, kinda’ cool).

Apologies for my negative attitude, I was in fact grateful for the ticket that I was offered by a friend from back home, because I got to see a few bands who I wouldn’t normally go out of my way to see. So off to Greenwich we went and one free pint of Carling later (so generous!) we found ourselves stood in a brand-new-swish-toilets-and-wooden-floors venue with not an ounce of character, which funnily enough set the tone for the majority of the evening. Playing the party (yes, there were NME balloons) were Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong and The Wombats and ‘secret guests’, who I’ll tell you more about later. Anyhow, first on were Joe and his whatsits and well, I stood wondering who or what Joe thought he was, standing centre-stage arms flailing like he some kind of sea creature. The band only actually played about 4 songs, most of which merged together whilst I gazed into my pint. So they were on and off stage within the space of ten minutes leaving me with very little to write about.

Queens of Noize played between the bands, mixing up their usual Smash and Grab playlist with a bit of Jack’n’Kate and what’s this? Justice, Vampire Weekend and Beirut too, which sad enough, was the first highlight of the evening. Next up were The Wombats, three Liverpudlian lads who play, according to their MySpace, ‘indie/pop punk’. These boys, who have an almost sold-out UK tour coming up, were better than Joe and his wibbly arms, with some catchy tunes (Moving to New York) and a song everyone else but me seemed to know (Let’s Dance to Joy Division), plus a waltzy number. They even had to play an encore because of trouble with the ‘secret guest’ which, if you’ve read the NME website of late, turned out to be Babyshambles. Pete’s (oh, who would have guessed it) absence, gave way to the second highlight of the evening, with Drew and the drummer Adam playing alone and, to everyone’s delight, pulling a member of the audience on stage to join them. This young man of probably 18 years, who, I remember was called Jamie, thoroughly impressed the crowd by sounding just like Pete. There was a brief appearance of Mick (oh, who am I kidding, I’m not a Babyshambles fan) and a cover of The Vaseline’s, later, Nirvana’s ‘Molly’s Lips’ and well, not a single whiff of Pete, who was probably elsewhere still helping Amy Winehouse move to Bow.

So, all the bands dealt with and a couple of £4 pints later the final highlight of the evening occurred in the shape of two black hoodie-wearing gents from Brighton who are better known as South Central, creators of a sell-out Klaxons bootleg last summer. Their recent release, a remix of Late of The Pier’s ‘Space in The Woods’ is super-duper and something I’m partial to playing first thing in the morning (the way it speeds up towards the end is absolute genius! - J). Anyhow, they got about their business, showing up the Queens of Noize a little as they hunched over glowing Apple laptops, launching straight into the Chemical Brother’s ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ and setting the tone for a jolly good bit of remixing from there on. I didn’t stay long enough to hear their entire set, but their mix from the party is free to download from their MySpace

All in all, the night had a somewhat hurried feel to it, over and done with very quickly, a party for publicity’s sake and not a lot else… But at least everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves and yes, I admit, it was worthwhile to catch South Central and get out the house for an evening! But I can’t help feeling like it’s contributed to my ever-growing view that NME is steadily losing its footing as a half-decent music publication, is it just me, or are they trying to please too many record execs in suits and losing quality as they go?

The Wombats - Moving to New York

Late of the Pier - Space and the Woods (South Central Bootleg)

Friday, 14 December 2007

gig: turzi + girl talk 07/12/07

Okay, so last Friday was my last night in Paris for a while, I ventured out to a few gigs. Here’s a brief recap.

First up was Turzi at La Mecanique Ondulatoire. The venue had a very British feel to it, the bar upstairs made me think of Camden. The stage itself was to be found at the bottom of a series of windy stairs in a very narrow, cramped cellar. They just don't make them like this anymore, at least not in England.

Bathed in UV light, I made my way to the bar as the support act got things going. Aqua Nebula Oscillator were an intense four piece with the beefiest bassist I've ever seen. The singer, dressed in a striking black catsuit, yelped and prowled around the stage whilst her bandmates created a wall of pulsating psychedelic noise that was an assault on the senses.

Turzi, from Paris (made up of Romain Turzi and his band Reich IV) took to the stage around an hour later, and despite technical difficulties that rendered lead singer Romain’s vocals practically inaudible, I still came away from the gig very impressed.

If you were to demand of me a quick-fire description of the Turzi live show, I’d say they sounded like a reckless Battles. On record, the impact of their psychedelic synth heavy sound is not as immediate as the live show, which is completely unrelenting in the authority it wields over the audience through slow building repetition that is strangely hypnotic. There is a certain air of nihilism about their performance also, judging by the way the singer ripped his guitar strings off one by one mid-song towards the end. If you catch them live, you’ll find it hard not to be drawn in even if you can’t work out quite why. When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

Turzi are on tour with Simian Mobile Disco around the United Kingdom in the early part of 2008. I think in venues with decent sound they will turn a few heads.

Turzi - Afghanistan (right click and save as)

buy stuff here // visit myspace // get tickets for SMD tour

After that, I hopped on the Metro at Bastille and whizzed all the way over to Le Showcase for Girl Talk. For those of you not familiar with Girl Talk, imagine pretty much every good song you’ve heard on the radio in the last decade or so, chopped up into a million different samples then regurgitated and reinterpreted into a brilliant live set, which just begs everybody in earshot to hurry to the dancefloor and cut loose. All this is orchestrated by Gregg Gillis who bounces up and down on stage behind a laptop, steadily losing clothes and inciting havoc along the way. It’s what all those horrible Chemical Brothers vs Nirvana vs The Killers vs Underworld vs Fatman Scoop mashups you hear at places like Walkabout would sound like if they were actually any good.

There is a live bootleg available over here at good weather for airstrikes.

Back to England tomorrow for the first time in 14 weeks. Excited. Not back in London in time for Kotki Dwa single launch though, which is shit. Lots of interesting things coming up on here.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

lightspeed champion: falling off the lavender bridge

Dev Hynes, discussing his recording amongst the Saddle Creek family in Nebraska in his interview with me, said “Tim (Kasher, of Cursive) was my freak-out. Conor was just the guy next door!” But it’s Bright Eyes’ outfit he’s borrowed for his first solo Lightspeed Champion LP, out 21st January 2008. Those familiar with Mike Mogis’ steel-guitar tendencies and Nate Walcott’s epic instrumentation, all dramatic strings and whirring organs, on ‘Cassadaga’ will discover a similar treatment of the ten very big songs on ‘Falling Off The Lavender Bridge’. But Hynes hasn’t been making contact with the dead; instead of postmodern authors that don’t exist, we are introduced to Dev’s nerves, nightmares and passions and the sketchy motherfuckers, crunk-addicted best friends and objects of affection that make up his London life. Lyrics like “Come over, I just got the new OC”, “Delivery reports have ruined my life” and “We kiss and I’m sick in your mouth” are within the Alex Turner/Lily Allen ‘real-life’ canon but his own brand of homemade angst enjoys infusing everyday intimacies with the grotesque. The result is proper emo that’s blatant without a whiff of pretentiousness yet also evades being excruciatingly wet. Through ballets of little vocal hooks alongside a small orchestra these elegant, comforting songs tell un-romanticised stories of bed-sheets, jealousy and alienation, making ‘Falling Off The Lavender Bridge’ a modern-day ‘Beggar’s Opera’. ‘No Surprise’s gorgeous final sentiment subverted, “The more I hear, then the more I hate”, wraps the lonely ones up against a shitty world.

The Kills played a sexy, stomping, if agonisingly short, set at White Heat the other night (4th Dec), including three new songs off their third album due in February 2008. Hotel says the LP will be called 'Midnight Boom'. Its lead single, 'URA Fever', is typically vampy and crotch-stirring but loses interest with repetition. Luckily it wasn't the best of the new material on offer at White Heat, which overall promised, after the bitty 'No Wow', a dancier 'Keep On Your Mean Side', which I for one can't wait for.

'URA Fever' - The Kills

interview: pete and the pirates

Pete and the Pirates have been biding their time for a while. Formed five years ago by a bunch of friends in Reading, things seem to be coming together for them. I first caught sight of the band at the Brixton Windmill nearly a year ago, and as mentioned previously, they have progressed tremendously since then - releasing two brilliant singles, Come on Feet and Knots.

I caught up with Tommy (vocals - pictured above on the left with the other Pete) and Jonny Sanders (drums) and Pete Cattermoul (bass / vocals) before their gig at Fleche D’Or on 17th November. The venue is incredible - set inside what was previously a train station in the east of Paris. As well being pleasing on the eye, it’s always free. So to set the scene, we’re sitting at a table in the outside bar area. It’s quite chilly and I’ve already put my coat in the cloakroom. They have theirs on and look really warm. At that point I was regretting not borrowing my flatmate’s dictaphone, but I didn’t really trust myself. Last time I went out with a dictaphone, I woke up at a house party with a blinding hangover, my bag sans dictaphone and some really funny video footage of me drunkenly singing Prefab Sprout’s The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll


How has the tour with The Young Knives been?

Tom: Really good. It’s been very much an intensive, learning experience. We’ve been playing gigs for years but this was the first properly organised tour we’ve been on. It’s definitely toughened us up, not only in terms of how tight we sound now but also in terms of our relationships with each other. It’s hard to get on with the same people, day in, day out.

Jonny: You have to learn when to stop, and just avoid being cunts to each other.

Tom: The Young Knives were really nice guys as well. They shared their alcohol with us and were just very generous, basically. Sometimes, you end up playing with people who are just really obnoxious. We had a one-off date recently with Joe Lean and The Jing Jang Jong and he wouldn’t make eye contact in the corridor, which is just a bit sad really. There’s no hard feelings between us though, we blew them away musically anyway! (this would seem to be backed up by this review – J).

J: What’s been the highlight for you guys so far, as a band?

Tom: Coming to Paris, doing stuff like this. I love travelling, it’s a real bonus for me. SXSW in Texas this year was great fun too.

J: I heard you had to leave the other Pete (Heffernan, guitars/vocals) behind though for SXSW?? Was that due to work commitments?

Tom: It wasn’t about our jobs - Pete couldn’t get a visa because his passport was so tatty from carrying it around in his back pocket the whole time. He always had it on him for ID.

Balancing a job and being in a band is really strenuous though. It’s alright at first, but it’s when you start having meetings with industry people that it gets tricky, because they say “Let’s meet on Monday afternoon” and you have to take a half day off work for that.

When you’ve only got 25 days a year holiday or something like that, it gets used up really fast. David (Thorpe – guitar) actually got fired for having too much time off.

It reaches a point where you have to face poverty, where you just don’t have the money to leave the house to go for a pint or a cup of tea. You have to be prepared to put everything into it, it’s definitely brought us closer together.

Pete: Some bands get it easy, they don’t have to cram themselves into a little Fiesta going round doing gigs. Some of them get to start in Lagunas.

J:What song are you most proud of?

T: Tough question.

Jonny: I’d say the quieter ones. I’m really proud of them.

J: I’ve often noticed at your gigs that you (Tom) seem a bit on edge, a bit anxious, smoking mid song. Do you struggle with nerves at gigs?

T: It’s just a sense of adrenaline really, more than anything else. I sometimes get anxious if the crowd doesn’t really get it, but these days I feel a lot more confident because you know that the audience is there for you, and they’ve spent their money

J: Do you prefer playing live or spending time in the studio?

T: We’ve spent a lot more time playing gigs than we have in studios! It’s hard to say really because of that.

Jonny: When we play live, everything’s a bit chaotic. We’ve tried to retain this with the album, it’s certainly not overproduced. There is a certain dynamic to our sound, but we really don’t want to pin ourselves down.

J: If you could be a character from any film, which character would you be?

Tom: Steve Martin in The Jerk.
Jonny: I’d be Jim Carrey’s character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Pete: I’d be Darth Vader. In the 3rd one when you find out he’s Luke’s dad.
Jonny: Maybe I’d be R2-D2.
Pete: We don’t want everybody to think we’re Star Wars geeks. I think I’d be Marlon Brando…in that really good film, can’t remember the name…
The others: One Eyed Jack?
Pete: Yep. That’s it.

So there you have it. Quite an intense interview really, partly due to me not really writing enough questions. They are playing at Club Showcase in Paris on 4th January, so I might have a few more questions for the guys then. Little tour of the UK next February also.

The thing I like about blogging is that I can do pretty much whatever I want. So I got a bit of backstage footage of the boys designing their t–shirts to go on stage in with added banter. Enjoy.

Their debut album, entitled Little Death, will be released on February 8th through the excellent Stolen Recordings. It was produced by Gareth Parton (did Hummer and Mathletics for Foals) and on first listen, it sounds fucking great. I understand Mr. Understanding will be the accompanying single (Shoot me. Terrible pun. I know!).

FACT Magazine describe Little Death as ‘an unashamedly sugary guitar pop album, heavy on harmonies and smart, choppy songwriting’, which I think is pretty accurate. My in-depth verdict on the album will surface in about a month, once I’ve listened to the album more than once.

Below is a little taster for you though, the excellent She Doesn’t Belong, a dreamy ode desperately trying to be about everything but a girl who is seemingly out of reach. It fails this objective beautifully and really makes me think of cold, crisp winter days and hangovers. Have also streamed Come on Feet to remind you of the summer. There is also a free song, Not a Friend, for download if you sign up to their mailing list here.

Pete and the Pirates – She Doesn’t Belong (exclusive)

Pete and the Pirates – Come on Feet

visit their myspace///buy from stolen///buy from hmv


Also, check out Zarcorp - it's Faley from Late of the Pier's blog. It has a retro picture of my hometown, which I'm really starting to miss in a weird way. Check it out. Hot tunes also including a sweet version of their next single, Broken, taken from a gig at The Social in Nottingham. I hope it was either the Good Shoes or Mystery Jets support because I was there but I have absolutely no idea. Gigs can be hazy sometimes.

I'm off on holiday to the mountains for a bit. Might have internet, I dunno if I will but if I do then there'll be updates. If I don't, then I won't. Then I'm back in England. Last night out in Paris was pretty good, Turzi followed by Girl Talk. More on that another time.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

kotki dwa: robin's clogs

Kotki Dwa are a band that have impressed me a lot over the last couple of months. I wrote about their Tate Tracks winning song, Le Beau Charcutier, a few months back and since then their self- released album, onlyyouaresleeping, has been on regular circulation.

Their debut single for Mily Records, Robin's Clogs, arrived in my mailbox last week and it is brilliant. Not only did I receive a wonderfully packaged 7 inch, I also got a big poster with the artwork for the single on one side and the lyrics on the other, a CD with the two tracks on and a lovely green badge. Not bad for 4 pounds.

I think this single demonstrates quite well what Kotki Dwa are about, whilst not really giving too much away either. The A-side, Robin's Clogs, shows off their more upbeat side - a 4 minute pop frolic with some beautifully dreamy electronics that sound delightfully cheap. Imagine a bottle of Lucozade poured over a stack of MIDI keyboards and you’re just about there. It has a lovely breakdown towards the end too, with a refrain of ‘étoile-étoile-étoile-étoile-étoile-cœur’ (star x 5 + heart).

I’m not really sure what the lyrics are about - you definitely get the impression that the singer, Alex, is influenced by his life as a graphic-design student but it’s by no means an attempt at social commentary or anything like that.

The video is visually breathtaking also, painstakingly created in stopmotion in the aforementioned Alex’s bedroom over the past summer. It depicts a crazy village with a little guy with an ice cream cart, presumably Robin, driving round. The film is made up of thousands of stills, which must have taken an age to photograph before you even take into account the time taken to build all the gingerbread men, flowers, birds, houses and characters involved. It brings to mind the work of Michel Gondry or Panique au village. I only wish there was a DVD so I could watch it on my TV. I have posted it below, it’s certainly worth a watch.

The B-Side, Halogen, is the track I prefer more out of the release. The mellower side of Kotki Dwa is revealed with a wonderful, yearning ditty about a nightclub encounter with a pixie-faced girl called Vanessa that the singer appears to be completely infatuated with. She doesn’t appear to be that interested.

Kotki Dwa - Halogen (streaming)

I think it’s a really encouraging sign that Kotki Dwa seem to have the knack of creating slower, more affecting songs at the same time as more upbeat oddball electro-pop numbers. I can’t see them causing havoc on the dancefloor, but I really don’t think that’s their intention with their produced output and it is in no way a flaw - to judge from their radio session for 6Music, live they certainly possess more vigour.

So, Robin’s Clogs is a very promising debut, the artwork and the whole package is DIY done to perfection. I get the feeling though that their best is most certainly yet to come - the single doesn't really reveal the true range of the singer's voice.

Little Flags
is available to download below, a song off their album which merges all of the qualities I’ve mentioned above brilliantly. I defy you not to like it.

Kotki Dwa - Little Flags

visit their myspace / website / buy their stuff from pure groove

Most of their stuff is available direct, go to the myspace for more info. They have a single launch party on 15th December in London that I'd love to go to. But I can't.///ticketweb

Monday, 3 December 2007

small-boy jokes and loaded guns: nme wrong morrissey

NME printed a garish misrepresentation of Morrissey as a racist in their 1st December issue. From comments such as the reminiscent “you have to say goodbye to the Britain you once knew” and, on the inflamed topic of immigration, “the gates are flooded”, NME mounted a comparison between the compassionate singer and the “crypto-fascist BNP”. They did this despite him specifying that the reason he chooses not to live in Britain is not immigration but the looming police state (“in my view the face of modern Britain is Jean Charles De Menezes… everybody associated with the murder was exonerated or promoted, which is shocking”) and stating his view that “racism is ludicrous”.

Morrissey is allowed to mourn the loss of England's national identity, a result of American influence more than any other integrating immigrant culture. To take issue with relentless immigration is not inherently racist. Morrissey's lyrics have always been brazenly against avoiding taboo and giving the standard line, and while this has led him into controversy, it is clear from his entire career's work and his multi-ethnic devoted world following that he is not a racist. Rather, he is someone who unapologetically portrays the world as he sees it: if he settles on a Bengali in platforms in the late '80s as a representation of not belonging, that does not mean he thinks ethnic minorities cannot integrate into British society. Songs such as 'I Will See You In Far-Off Places' and 'Ganglord' express Morrissey's feeling of a universality regardless of racial or cultural diversity in the face of ignorant controlling authorities. NME’s condemning reaction to his serious contemplation of the immigration issue is narrow-minded and, contrary to their apparent assertion “we’re not in the mood to play in grey areas”, actually condemns any free debate over issues where certain buzz-words trigger fears of saying something offensive.

Progress is not about just saying the right thing and avoiding grappling with issues, but NME's reaction is more than just safe. Most disgusting about their misrepresentation of Morrissey is how they contrast themselves against the supposedly '"dangerously" BNP-esque' singer as some forward-thinking cultural tyrannosaurus because of their affiliation with the Love Music Hate Racism campaign. As Merck Mercuriadis of the respected ‘True To You’ (a Morrissey magazine) puts it, “Mr. McNicholas thought the "new" NME could gain some credibility at Morrissey's expense”. Frankly, to learn that a magazine that champions The Pigeon Detectives and The Kooks is anti-racist (as if that were a brave, revolutionary thing!) is laughable; members of these bands were the jocks at school who trod and spat on kids who were a bit different and Morrissey will continue to comfort those kids who are different, regardless of their colour, class or religion, long after the corporate-minded, sensationalist drivel Conor McNicholas’ NME has become is dead.

Morrissey - 'Ganglord' (a song against pig-ignorant policemen, hardly the rantings of a fascist!)

Monday, 26 November 2007

artist: plugs

"That number looks familiar. It's mine."

Remember that chorus, because it's sure to sear its way into your mind over the next six months.

Plugs are three guys from St. Albans armed with drum machines, keyboards and guitars and some beautifully catchy choruses. I think it's fair to say that they blur the boundaries somewhat. They share a manager with Friendly Fires as well as being on People In The Sky, a relatively new label who put out FF's first releases.

That Number is set to be the first release by Plugs, and it's a pretty damn good way to get the ball rolling. A slow repeating keyboard riff and a hypnotic drum beat bring the song in, before the verse kicks in underpinned by some electronics that sound delightfully skewed. As with Friendly Fires, there is a certain warmth to their sound at times which I really like, if only because when it isn't there you really notice it. The aforementioned chorus builds up slowly, being traded with the verse to good effect before an awesome acapella / rap style breakdown surfaces around the 90 second mark. The song isn't just about the chorus though, the verses are just as catchy but it's the combination of these two components to some seriously eccentric, but still poppy electronics that really makes it work. The vocals are good too - the image that pops into my head is Thom Yorke circa Kid A minus the paranoia and whininess.

I think these guys would do well to avoid being pretty damn big in 2008. My friends in London tell me the live show is pretty immense. Few other songs on the myspace that are really worth a listen.

Plugs - That Number

Yuksek has also done a remix of the song, which beefs it up considerably, making it perfect for the dancefloor. You can find it over here on redthreat.

I downed one of these on Saturday. I wouldn't really advise it.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

artist: friendly fires

I have spent a lot of time this week out. The grèves have meant that walking is the only way to get around Paris, which is draining. There is a service where you can rent bicycles, but they don't really agree with me.

Have quite a few things in the pipeline with this blog, but they aren't quite ready, so see this as a bit of a stop-gap.

I first encountered Friendly Fires in Brighton at Concorde 2 as part of The Great Escape. My recollections of the night are somewhat blurred but I remember them being quite fun, crammed with all manner of electronic pop ideas.

They've had a few EPs out on People in the Sky and now they are back with a single for the Moshi Moshi Singles Club, entitled Paris. If previous MMSC singles are anything to go by, Friendly Fires could well be on the brink of the big time - Late of the Pier and Kate Nash have gone on to sign major label deals after MMSC Singles Club releases.

Paris is certainly the tune to launch Friendly Fires. It has a vibe that just evokes a cold, winter night walking down by the banks of the Seine looking up at the stars. A slow, shimmering synth line leads the song in over some sampled film speech, before the cowbell-heavy beat and vocals arrive simultaneously. A verse about wistful dreams of moving to Paris and living it up at Le Showcase follows before a soaring chorus comes in and takes you away. It fits this time of year perfectly, in the way that Digitalism’s Pogo will always make me think of this summer. Also posted a remix by Nic Nell, which is dynamite.

Friendly Fires – Paris
Friendly Fires – On Board (Nic Nell remix)
///order Paris here

Monday, 19 November 2007

incredible day of releases

Today has been weird. I seem to just keep finding out about more and more amazing releases. All on one day.

I'll jump right in with Daft Punk's ALIVE album. As soon as I was out of bed today, I pretty much ran to Virgin Megastore down the road to get my hands on my copy. There was a guy in front of me in the queue that took forever. Seeing them at 02 Wireless in Hyde Park this summer was possibly the best live music experience of my life. I don't think I've ever seen people have so much fun dancing at a gig. I was lucky enough to catch them at Global Gathering last year as well, but Wireless was much, much better. Not entirely sure why, but I think that it being outside at Wireless as opposed to inside a tent at Global helped. Also, being with a lot more of my friends helped, because it was outside and they came on at that magic time when the sun is just setting really helped to create an amazing atmosphere.

The album, if you can get the double CD version, is wonderfully packaged in a little hardback CD case that contains some amazing photographs from their world tour, which don't really do justice to the wonderful light show that accompanied their set, but is still worth a look. The audio is taken from their gig this July at Bercy, which is on the outskirts of Paris. If you aren't familiar with Daft Punk, you really really should be. The first two albums, Homework and Discovery received a better critical reception than their more recent offering, Human After All, but the 85 minutes on this CD is just flawless.

They manage to seamlessly piece almost their entire back catalogue into an incredible live experience. I remember at the time never really knowing what was going to happen next, so when Aerodynamic or Around the World came in suddenly, it really hit the spot. It was almost as if this was how they intended all the songs to be played all along. Digital Love is a notable omission, but I'm sure they had their reasons. It was the first thing to go on at the afterhouse party.

Below is the opening track to give you a taster, and the track which they sample heavily from for it. Go see Daft Punk if you can, it was incredible. Rumours abound that they might be playing a secret show for NYE but that's all it is. One half of the duo, Guy Manuel de Homem Christo just produced the new Sebastien Tellier album too, which will be worth watching out for.

Daft Punk - Robot Rock / Oh Yeah (ALIVE 2007)
Breakwater - Release The Beast (cheers to palms out sounds for this)

Buy Alive 2007 here.
Please stop reading this and run to Tesco and pick it up.


The next two artists are from London and could be bracketed into the whole anti-folk scene that seems to be going on in the capital at the moment. I don't really like when artists get pigeon-holed into scenes because a lot of the time it's really stupid, as a load of artists get included when really the musical similarities between them aren't always present. I think the main reason these artists have been grouped together is probably because they are all mates.

Johnny Flynn is one of those people who you might describe as annoyingly multi-talented. Not only is he a talented musician, lyricist and singer - he's also a trained Shakespearean actor, last seen starring in productions at The Old Vic. One would assume he feels comfortable on stage; I haven't had the pleasure yet, but I'm sure it won't be long. With his band The Sussex Wit, Johnny Flynn has released two 7" records on Young and Lost Records. The Box is his first for Y&L's parent label, Vertigo Records, and it's certainly the most catchy. The chorus is to die for and makes me feel like I should be in a field on a sunny day, sitting on a bale of hay whilst drinking home-made lemonade. They are playing in London on December 10th at Bush Hall for the Noah and the Whale Christmas party.

Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit - The Box
Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit - Eyeless in Holloway
///buy The Box here

Emmy The Great deserves to be massive, but probably won't be just yet. Out of all the female artists that have emerged from London and the surrounding area recently, (Lily Allen, Adele, Kate Nash, Laura Marling, Florence Welsh etc.) I think I prefer Emmy. Mainly because she has a turn of phrase that straddles a boundary between vulnerable and sarcastic. Her choice of subject matter is wide and thought provoking, ranging from car crashes to abortions. On her latest self-released single, Gabriel , she puts herself in the position of a woman in Victorian times marrying for money. She has a clear ability to evoke an emotional response, whilst still having reference points in modern culture. This interview from The Times with her reveals a lot more about her than I could hope to at this point. City Song is from her previous release - the amazing but appalingly titled My Bad EP. There are also a few tracks available from the Singles Club of Kruger Magazine, which is free to join.

Emmy The Great - Gabriel
Emmy The Great - City Song (XFM session)
///buy Gabriel here on Close Harbour


Remixes galore now as the reworkings of Bolt Action Five's Knightmare inspired Tree Friend Tree Foe, the debut release on new Pure Groove imprint, Lost In Paris reaches shelves today. I've mentioned this before so I won't go into too much detail, but the song certainly has awesome remix potential. Kissy Sell Out certainly earns his dough, it's worth buying just for his track. The Hadouken remix reminds me of Klaxons quite a lot.

Bolt Action Five - Tree Friend Tree Foe (Jamdouken remix)
buy Tree Friend Tree Foe remixes here

GoodBooks are an indie band that get remixed a lot - almost as much as Bloc Party. So I'm quite excited to see that they've released a remix album, entitled Control Freaks - The Remixes. Their songs seem to lend themselves beautifully to remixes, perhaps due to the vague electronics that pervade their ultimately guitar-based indie. In some cases, the remixes sound a lot better than the original versions - The Teenagers reworking of The Illness especially so. Again, Kissy Sell out rears his crazy fashion-core mullethead to wonderful effect on Leni. I was hoping that the Marvin The Martian take on Walk With Me would be on there, but sadly it isn't. I've put it below for you to check out. Is it a bad thing that the remixes seem to be better, in my opinion at least, than the actual album? They must be doing something right, that's for sure.

GoodBooks - The Illness (Teenagers remix)
GoodBooks - Leni (Kissy Sell Out remix)
Marvin The Martian - I Don't Go 'Alone'

buy off Control Freaks - The Remixes off I-tunes. Listen to the whole thing here


Last, but certainly not least, is a lovely bit of French electro from Danger. Heard about him off Good Weather and whilst I think it's certainly a bit early to be comparing him to Justice and the track to Waters of Nazareth, it's definitely deserving of your attention and possibly a place on party mixtapes. It's got a dirty 8-bit gamegear feel to it, with a vocal to match. There's another track over at Discobelle too, so check those out.

Danger - 11h30
buy 09/14/2007 Ep (Elkler'o'ShocK) here

I'm not going to do a release review like this every week, I just thought it odd that so many really good releases happened to fall on the same day. I definitely want to talk about releases, that's why I put the upcoming ones that interest me over in the box on the right. If there are any other good ones that I've missed today, please let me know. Should have RSS feed sorted by the end of the week also.

I'm incredibly excited about the album version of the following track, Red Sox Pugie.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

artist: jens lekman

I stumbled across Jens Lekman's latest album, Night Falls Over Kortedala, last week. I'm not really sure why I ordered it, but I did anyway. I think it's important to sometimes make random stabs in the dark because you might come across something really fucking good.

Jens Lekman, a 26-year old from Sweden, sings in a style that is reminiscent of 1960's crooners. The music which supports his voice has a similar sheen, in a more overblown 80’s pop sense, which is almost sickly. However, this proves to be the perfect accompaniment to his concise and witty lyrics, which demonstrate a strong understanding of melancholy and in particular its relation to memory. I definitely agree with the idea that melancholy is something that is terribly saccharine; something that you can lose yourself in almost to the point of uneasy delirium, which when bound to the unreliable faculty of memory can yield interesting results.

Every detail that Lekman reveals through his words is drenched in this lovely joyfulness, even if the subject matter isn’t always so cheerful. Lekman sets out his stall with the first two tracks which push the theme of memory to the forefront, before filling the rest of the album with a series of anecdotal songs about life in Kortedala (an area of Gothenburg), all rendered in this dreamy clarity.

One such tale is A Postcard to Nina, a message to a girl that Lekman was in love with, but who was in love with a woman. Lekman recalls the delightfully awkward meal with her father, which he agreed to attend, posing as her boyfriend, in order to save face.

Other highlights include I’m Leaving You Because I Don’t Love You and Shirin. The former offers up some useful alternatives to “It’s not you...its me” and other reasons that are often mumbled out in situations when only brutal honesty will suffice. The latter is a beautiful account of receiving a haircut from Shirin, the proprietor of an illegal beauty salon. Lekman promises not to tell anyone.

Samples feature heavily on the record amidst a wide variety of instrumentation including trumpets, accordions, harps, violins and various bits of percussion. This diversity lends a rich quality to the record that is perfectly matched by Lekman’s use of language. Not a single word is wasted.

Jens Lekman – A Postcard to Nina

Jens Lekman – I’m Leaving You Because I Don’t Love You

visit his website /// buy Night Falls Over Kortedala


In other news, I'm getting quite excited about the new Erol Alkan produced Mystery Jets LP, which will surface early next year. Here are a few videos to whet the appetite and a demo of a song called 'Half in Love With Elizabeth', which when properly recorded could be sensational.

Mystery Jets - Half In Love With Elizabeth (demo)
visit their website for tour dates.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

remembrance sunday

I think it's important. Admittedly, I was fast asleep at 11.11am this morning. I haven't bought a poppy either cos they don't really have them here like they do in Britain, but I think it's important to not forget about these things.

Today I want to mention a few artists that I feel have used the subject of the wars of the early 20th century to good effect - Jeremy Warmsley and GoodBooks.

Jeremy Warmsley
is a 24 year old singer / songwriter / producer from West London. His debut album, The Art of Fiction, was released last year on Transgressive Records. Since then, it's probably been the album that has received the most play on my mp3 player. It's starts off like a speeding train with Dirty Blue Jeans and doesn't relent in its intensity. Warmsley's music embodies the new and the old, belonging somewhere in the gap between electronica and acoustic folky pop with a strong emphasis on lyrics, sometimes about different characters and stories, sometimes more personal.

The song which is relevant to today's discussion is the second track on the LP, I Promise, which was also Jeremy's debut single.

Quite simply, it's a wartime love song supported by army-style marchine beats and gentle guitar strumming which mix well with the multi-layered vocals. It makes me think of Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks in that there's a sense of longing of there allied to the idea I guess that an occupied country isn't that safe a place to be.

The military theme is also something I believe Jeremy will continue to use occasionally, judging by the following song, 15 Broken Swords, taken from an XFM gig at Camden Barfly earlier this year, which concerns a military wedding. It should figure on his second LP, due to surface next year - early reports suggest it will be immense.

He also took the time out to produce a remix of Passchendaele by ex-Transgressive label buddies, GoodBooks (who seem to get an incredible amount of remixes!). Passchendaele is a blissfully catchy tale of a father and son who both give the ultimate sacrifice for their country, fighting for the cause in the First and Second World Wars. Warmsley's version strips back the guitars and the electronics leaving just the vocal, which he then surrounds with a series of strings. This adds a more sombre tone to the song, perhaps more in fitting with its subject matter, without subduing the great melodies within it. It doesn't really showcase the depth of Jeremy's producing abilities as demonstrated on his LP, but that clearly is not the point. The original still has the edge, but the Warmsley version is a nice alternative.

Jeremy Warmsley - 15 Broken Swords (live at Barfly)
GoodBooks - Passchendaele (Jeremy Warmsley remix)
GoodBooks - Passchendaele (demo)

Saturday, 10 November 2007

gig: foals + lightspeed champion @ la boule noire 9/11

I really hate getting to gigs late. Pushing your way past the bouncer, trying to rip the ticket in half for the stupid woman with the clipboard and then depositing your coat in the cloakroom, all whilst craning your head manically to where the sound is coming from and trying to run at the same time. All because Foals are on first. Before Lightspeed Champion. Followed by The Twang.

Do not adjust your screen.

You did read that correctly.

In an ideal world the line up would have been different, because then I wouldn’t have been late for Foals. I wouldn’t also have to feel like I’m somehow subsidising the Twang’s Stella and Burberry habits.

Foals are Yannis, Jack, Jimmy, Edwin and Walter. Live, they make me want to bounce. They eschew the conventional idea of playing facing the audience, instead positioning themselves so they face each other. This has the effect of destabilising things somewhat, as it makes me feel like they are playing ultimately for themselves. I don’t mind this at all, in fact I quite like it because it just makes you want to get involved. And bounce.

Their set of danceable, technically astute pop was chaotic, as is the norm for their shows, with the band regularly crowdsurfing and jittering all over the place, but still utterly flawless. They played some songs that I hadn't heard before, including the wonderful Red Socks Pugie, which the singer, Yannis, informed us was about love and his one, shit experience of it. There is a certain sense of a paranoia which pervades their music, I can't quite put my finger on it. Their debut album, produced by TV on the Radio's David Sitek, is going to be one of the records of 2008. I wouldn't be surprised either if they show up Bloc Party on their upcoming UK Arena tour.

The three songs below are all amazing in their own way. Their next single, Balloons, is out through Transgressive Records on December 10th. You can get it on a variety of formats here. I'm a huge admirer of their artwork too, Tinhead is talented.

Foals – Red Socks Pugie (XFM Session)
Foals - Mathletics ///buy it here
Foals - Hummer (Surkin remix)

Lightspeed Champion has impressed me of late. I must admit I wasn’t the biggest Test Icicles fan aside from the odd single, and his subsequent reinvention as an alt-country / folk artist surprised me. I really tried not to like Galaxy of the Lost, but somehow it just got under my skin which resulted in a lot of play on my bedroom turntable. Sometimes it takes me a while to flip the record over and check out the B-side and upon doing that a similar process occurred. Waiting Game is superbly written in the way it builds up deftly, revealing its authors feeling’s of complete isolation and disorientation which leaves you in no doubt that the closing lines eagerly awaiting the end of the song are sincere.

Lightspeed Champion – Waiting Game

It turns out that Dev doesn’t know how to play the song anymore, which is a pity but hardly surprising due to his prolific songwriting nature (rumoured to be at least a song a day). With a band behind him (but no Emmy the Great or Florence Welch sadly) the songs certainly have a lot more weight behind them as one would expect and I enjoyed the performance immensely, even if it wasn’t as good as Foals. I think that after the release of his debut LP next year, and the bigger gigs that will surely follow its success, Lightspeed Champion’s live show will surely be slightly more grandiose. The prospect of more instruments, more songs, more backing singers is certainly an interesting one. He is certainly capable of captivating an audience by himself, but the idea of a show with more depth excites me.

Finally, it wouldn’t be fair to ignore The Twang completely would it? I mean, just because I really despise them doesn’t mean I shouldn’t write about them if I happen to be in a venue where they are ‘performing’. I thought about staying, but I just couldn’t. The venue was emptying slowly anyway, and I don’t like empty venues. I managed to catch the opinions of this young Twang fan, Dudley, who eloquently describes his feelings towards them.

Friday, 9 November 2007

gig : shychild @ point FMR 8/11

Have been laptopless for the past month. Borrowed other people’s but it makes me feel a bit rude and uneasy at times. It has made blogging very difficult, mainly just because I haven’t had access to the music on my computer. I haven’t been able to charge up my mp3 player either, so it’s pretty much been a vinyl month.

Anyway…I first saw Shy Child at Knife the Wife at Corsica Studios back in May with Kap Bambino.

For those of you who don’t know – Shy Child are a two piece from New York. Nate Smith plays the drums like an absolute demon, whilst Pete Cafarella sings and plays the keytar with such vitality he shatters any conception you might have that his instrument is just a toy.

Admittedly, on the various albums and the smattering of seven-inches released to date, this energy is not as evident; I only say this due to the sheer impact of their live show. Point Emphémère was sparsely populated last night, I think due to Les Inrocks Festival starting with gigs galore for the next few days (New Young Pony Club and Bondo de Role were in town last night). Support came from Holy Hail, who were not good. They lacked skills and enthusiasm, which is all I’m going to say.

Shy Child weren’t that happy at the lack of crowd, as a brief conversation outside with Pete testified. After ordering every crowd member to take five steps forward, the two boys commenced proceedings. They make a lot of noise, and they get you dancing and it’s just completely unrelenting in its objective of drawing you in. I often wonder how a lot of two-pieces make such a tremendous amount of noise, and other more populated groups often struggle to create anything with quite as much dynamism. If you can catch them on tour, I would highly recommend it due to the sheer exuberance of the Shy Child live show.

Shy Child – Noise Won’t Stop
Shy Child – Drop The Phone

Also, why is it that people never talk, or even look at each other on the underground. I don't see why the commute has to be that mind-numbing. I enjoyed the following video from La Blogotheque, showing Malajube playing some songs on the Parisien Metro. Really check out La Blogotheque / concerts a emporter. They are incredible.

Friday, 19 October 2007

it's so cold this morning, my breath comes out like steam

It's been a while. My laptop is still broken and whilst borrowing Mademoiselle Gaston's is fine, it makes blogging quite hard, since I have no access to my music -which resides on my now broken- hopefully soon to be fixed, machine.

So apologies for the delays, and again for the lack of files, and stuff and here goes...

If I had to pick a band that epitomized the sound of autumn, it would be Pete and the Pirates. They play guitar-based pop music that at times is quite folky, at other times intensely frenetic – quite reminiscent of most other bands described as “angular” that have emerged from the United Kingdom over the last couple of years.

I definitely think these guys have the potential to be pretty massive in 2008, I had the pleasure to play with them a few times over the last year and constant touring (including SXSW) has seen them accumulate considerable tightness, which culminated in a performance on the Carling Stage at this year’s Reading Festival. I like the way the three voices in the band dovetail often to beautiful effect, their songs not always being led by the frontman, Tom Sanders (who has a sideproject called Tap Tap, that are also worth a listen), but occasionally by the bassist or the rhythm guitarist.

The songs touch on typical themes of love, longing, sex etc. as well as dancing in discos and cooking – they make me want to dance and just feel happy really. They leave you with that warm, fuzzy, feeling inside when you’ve just had some soup and a cup of tea on a chilly day. They are embarking on lots of dates of their own, followed by even more supporting The Young Knives. Album to be released next year. Single “Knots” was out last week, and I imagine if you look hard enough, you can still grab a copy of the wonderfully catchy, ‘Come on Feet’.

Pete and the Pirates - Knots

Annoyingly, the song which perhaps evokes autumn the most (She Doesn’t Belong), I can’t access right now. But I’m determined to post this today. So it’ll have to wait. I will post them when everything is back to normal.


And so now, to recap the last few weeks in terms of gigs dans Paris.

I went to see Menomena at Nouveau Casino upon hearing my flatmate, Census Johnston, rave about them for days. And he doesn’t usually do that unless a band is good.

They were incredible. I mention above how I liked the way Pete and the Pirates used three voices to good effect. Menomena outdo them quite possibly. A three-piece from Portland, Oregon

they consist of

Brett Knopf, who plays keyboards, guitars, glockenspiels and laptop,

Justin Harris, who plays electric guitar, bass guitar, saxophone and foot synthesier

And Danny Seim, who plays the drums.

They all share lead and backing vocals, which I think is pretty impressive given the complex structural nature of the music they play. Their voices all complement each other quite well especially in terms of pitch, I liked the drummer’s voice especially, I’ve heard he has a solo project so expect more writings once I’ve had time to check that out.

Live, it was incredible, partially due to Craig Thompson, a graphic artist. During the performance, he would be drawing animals and people and all sorts on a big, white screen behind the stage. At the end of the performance, this was pulled down and distributed amongst the crowd - I missed out sadly.

Thompson also created the artwork for recent album, Friend and Foe, which is incredibly intricate – it reminds me of one of those password finders they used to distribute with 80s video games to combat piracy.

Here is the recent single, Wet and Rusting, taken from the aforementioned album.

Menomena – Wet and Rusting

Last weekend was an electro double header. Friday night saw us venturing to Rex Club, for the Parisian album launch Berlin based Boys Noize. He definitely deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Justice, Digitalism and similar electro artists. ‘Oi Oi Oi’ is definitely worth a listen, and in a club, Boys Noize certainly knows how to work it, building things up brilliantly before unleashing what is arguably his best song to date, ‘Feel Good (TV Off).

His remix work also deserves a mention, having remixed the likes of Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs, Depeche Mode and Feist. A release including remixes of Justice’s ‘Phantom’ is slated for the near future.


Saturday night, after avoiding injury celebrating the England rugby victory under the Eiffel Tower, we headed to Elysee Montmartre for the Institubes Party featuring sets from the likes of Para One, Surkin, Jean Nipon and Teki Latex. Here’s some electro goodness.

Para One - Dudun Dun Du dun dun dun dun dun

Surkin – And You Too

Teki Latex - Les Matins Dans Paris

On Tuesday, I went to see Malajube at La Maroquinerie (translates as the tannery), which is an awesome venue. Malajube are from Montreal, a city which has produced many great bands over the last couple of years – Arcade Fire, Stars, The Dears to name but a few.

Malajube actually sing in Quebecoise French, which is interesting to say the least. In France, most people cannot stand the Quebecoise accent, it’s probably the equivalent of a Brummie accent in the UK. (I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with accents , I just would rather not listen to Brummies sing, or talk ever)

My French isn’t quite at the level where I can understand all the lyrics perfectly, but it really doesn’t matter when the music is of such a quality. They flit from glorious indie pop with a hint of the epic (Montreal -40c), to slightly more saccharine numbers (Pâte à Filo, Le Crabe), the occasional ballad and the odd moment where they rock out completely (Fille à Plumes). I would simplistically describe them as a mixture between Death From Above 1979 and The Thrills. The album, Trompe L’Oeil, is exceptional – currently my favourite album of this year. Easily.

Live, it’s interesting especially as I had no idea really how everything was set up – I caught the tail end of their Los Campesinos! support slot back in June, but they had sound issues, which was frustrating. I would say, on reflection, that they are better on record than live, only in terms of how it sounds though, which isn’t really always what you go to see a band for. You want a performance with a bit of character, a bit of humour perhaps, and passion. And they definitely had that, the lead singer is a character. I think if you saw these guys on home territory in Montreal, it would be insane. Get the album. All the songs on the album also have a corresponding name relating to a disease too, which is nice.

Malajube - Montreal -40c
Malajube - La Crabe
Malajube - Fille à Plumes

On Wednesday, I went to Fleche d’or for a Brille records showcase. We got there too late for Hatcham Social, but caught most of Operator Please and all of Good Shoes. I wasn’t especially taken by Operator Please, they weren’t poor in any way, I’m just not that familiar with any of their songs aside from ‘…Ping Pong’. Anybody who can write a song that catchy, whilst so young deserves a bit of time to grow though.

How Good Shoes aren’t absolutely massive, in a year when bands such as The Pigeon Detectives, The Twang and The Enemy have sold shedloads is beyond me. ‘Think Before You Speak’ is absolutely crammed with songs that all just scream ‘top 10 or 20 single’ at least, but they haven’t really made it past slowburning, underground success.

Perhaps that will change with the re-release of ‘Small Town Girl’ (originally their debut limited only release on Young and Lost Records), which sounded massive on Wednesday night. Quite why the insanely catchy ‘Blue Eyes’ wasn’t released as a single, I don’t know. I think it’s possibly their best song. It was a bit worrying that they only had one new song to play on Wednesday night, but I’m guessing after the upcoming single release and tour dates, they might hide away and work on new songs. I want more new Good Shoes songs!

Good Shoes – Small Town Girl

Right. I’m done for now, might be the last post for a few weeks until my laptop is back up.