Wednesday, 22 August 2007

sugar free sugar cube

Operahouse are a bunch of young lads from Camden who make danceable guitar pop.

Had heard bits and bobs about this band after one of my friends at university, Alice, was raving about them, as she went to school with the drummer or something. I noticed they were supporting Tokyo Police Club in Nottingham at the Social so I thought I’d check it out. You can read what I thought of Tokyo here…

Operahouse produced a set of melodic, poppy numbers, at times reminiscent of the softer moments of the Maccabees with a dash of similar urgency. Forthcoming single, Diane, is really nice stuff, with the vocals of the two guitarists combining beautifully on lots of lines (I found myself wandering about the house, singing ‘little miss piggy’ to myself on random occasions). It really sticks in your brain with a great little chorus too. It’s certainly a step up from previous single, Man Next Door, which isn’t at all bad by any means. What I am trying to get across is that their skills as songwriters seem to be progressing nicely and after a few more months of support tours like the one they are currently doing, they should be set up to make a splash in 2008. They did look like they could do with a little more confidence on stage, but I think this will come naturally. They aren’t gonna change the world or anything, but it should be remembered that not everybody has to.

Operahouse - Diane (buy their last single here)

The Mercury Music Prize is on the horizon, and we’ve decided to make things interesting. I’d like Bat for Lashes to win, she is joint favourite with Amy Winehouse. It seems unlikely that either Dizzee Rascal or Arctic Monkeys, being previous winners, will be fortunate enough to win again. To pick either Klaxons or Jamie T seem way too easy a decision for the notoriously unpredictable decision making panel. It seems like the bookies know this too. So I’m gonna have a flutter on Bat for Lashes, and another on Winehouse, as no doubt she could do with the prize money to pay for rehab. I might also see what odds I can get on Foals for next year.

The new single from Foals, Mathletics, is out this week on vinyl. It’s not math-rock, I dunno what it is. Just go buy it because it won’t be on the album along with previous single, Hummer, which might be considered a bold move but it really isn't. I think in the music industry currently there is too much emphasis placed on milking a band’s best songs for all they are worth, and I don’t think it should be like this. Bands should be more forward-thinking, but it’s not always down to them I guess. Expect a feature on these lines soon. Myself and my fellow contributor, Mike, are on the case. Foals are on the Guardian’s podcast this week. Yannis is in an argumentative mood and it’s worth a listen just to hear him unleash vitriol on the music industry and Western society. This doesn't seem to have been blown out of proportion stupidly by the music press yet either (correct me if I'm wrong, please do), which is unusual in the current climate given that the band has something to promote. Or perhaps because he didn't name names, which would make it harder to write.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

under the table in monte carlo

Modernaire describe themselves as a pop duo in Manchester. This doesn’t really scratch the surface. Layers and layers of electro beats and samples, crafted by Oscar Wildstyle, are blended perfectly with the vocals of Cruella de Mill and the 101 Damnations - if you want a vague, completely throwaway, over the top description using other artists as reference points, I'd say it sounds like two Laura Marlings fronting CSS a hundred years ago. Make your own mind up though.

I love it when bands use names other than their own, I think it’s fair to say that with the way the internet is with everybody having a myspace / facebook profile, illusions like this can easily be shattered. I’ll leave the mystique in place for the time being.

Live, and I would assume on record, they have two vocalists who weave beautiful harmonies together about subject matter that I’d describe as occasionally a little bit gothic and a little bit Gallic (fitting given the electro aspect to their sound), tales of vagabonds soaked in gin and losing lovers under the table in the casinos of Monte Carlo (Faites Tes Jeux). I think this contrasts brilliantly with the futuristic sounds (live, a mixture of laptop, Microkorg and keytar) supporting the vocals, which makes for something intensely danceable. Even though the vocals are very easy on the ear, the combined effect still has quite a bite to it. They also manage to find the space for occasional string sections and mouth trumpets. I repeat, mouth trumpets.

According to their facebook group, ‘Bloodshed in the Woodshed’ is to be released later in the year on vinyl, along with a new EP. It is brilliant, has an incredible bridge or prechorus or whatever which can only be described as ridiculously tongue-twisting. I’m excited about the future for these guys. Go have a listen to it on their myspace. They have quite a few gigs coming up, mostly in Manchester, which include a gig at the Fighting Cocks in Kingston on 29th August, which I shall be attending. And they have a gig in Paris in October, which will be very interesting.

One more thing to add about these guys is that they do remixes…or rather Oscar Wildstyle does the all the electro wizardry with occasional vocals. They have done remixes for the likes of The Holloways, The KBC and the Hot Puppies. They also did one for the band I happen to front, Dirty Hands, and it sounds just wonderful. We had the pleasure of playing with them in Manchester at a gig put on by Bizarre Prostitution and it was mint - there was a stage invasion during Bloodshed. Respect to Jamila for putting that gig on, or I doubt I would be writing this. Anyway, I don’t really want to talk about my band right now; I’ll let other people do that if they want but figure I’ll post this remix here anyway.

And if you like the softer side of Modernaire, check out the aforementioned Cruella and another project they’re involved with called The Moulettes (moulette means something filthy in French, I can tell you that for free).

Dirty HandsVivid Imagination (Modernaire remix)

Modernaire – Faites Tes Jeux (myspace / buy / free downloads/mix)

p.s. I also have an awesome cover of Manu Chao's 'Je Ne T'Aime Plus'/'Bongo Bongo' by Modernaire lying around somewhere. If I can find it, I'll post it sometime.

the epitome of style. is that for you to decide?

Not entirely sure what I think of blogging. I mean there’s a lot out there (respect to fuckingdance and good weather for airstrikes in particular for inspiring me). Some things already will have been said. I’m obsessed with music. So that’s what this is going to be about. It could be profiles of artists, new bands, old bands, reviews of gigs I’ve been to, general issues relating to music and what the future holds or just how a song just relates to a night out or a night in or a day in the park and features and all sorts really. And mixtapes. I've no intention of talking about myself, unless it somehow has a music related point. I just want to try and shed new light on things. I won’t be the only contributor, but will be for now.

I haven't quite figured out how I want it all to look yet either, but I can't be bothered to wait until I've figured it out. I have lots of big ideas though so expect to see this gradually develop in the coming weeks and months.

I’m currently living in Nottingham, my hometown. I have been at university the last two years in London, and I’m moving to Paris in a fortnight or so for a year. Anyway, so Nottingham. I don’t know what to make of it really. I love my hometown, but in that way that you love members of your family. There isn’t really a choice in the matter, even though it is good.

Going out round here is strange. I blame adolescent shyness and the fact none of my school friends liked the same music as me and I never had the balls to go out on my own at 16, and get involved in the burgeoning scene that arose out of Ricky Haley’s Liars Club, cited as an inspiration for the brilliant Late of the Pier.

Anyway, so last night. Meet up with old friends. Had a few beers and the general consensus is to head to Oceana. I figure, why not, would be good to see some old friends. We get there and the queue is already snaking around the corner. An hour or so later, I’m handing over 6 pounds for the pleasure of entering this fine establishment. The place is absolutely packed to the rafters with kids celebrating their A-level results by losing their mind to thudding mid-90s dance tracks and such like - take a online 360° tour of the place here.

I grabbed a couple of beers and instantly get lost, as is usually the way with big clubs (Koko anybody?). I notice there is an ‘indie rock n roll room’, which I venture towards tentatively whilst passing the Ski Lodge room (Ski Lodge!). I feel a bit let down, there are about 12 people dancing to Babyshambles and I’m not allowed on the ‘dancefloor’ (which seems to resemble the pavement in the video to Billie Jean without the lights) with a bottle in my hand. I’m also told by a nice security man that it is against club policy for me to wear a jacket. I’m wearing a leather jacket (recently acquired from a vintage shop after a lifelong quest for that perfect leather jacket) and a CSS t-shirt. Apparently this isn’t allowed. I ignore this cretin of a bouncer and venture back upstairs.

More aimless wandering, chit chat and such like before another bouncer comes up to me and informs me that I have to put my leather jacket in the cloakroom, as it’s not allowed. I attempt to reason with him. He says that I have to put it in the cloakroom immediately. Rules are rules but apparently suit jackets are fine, because they are seen as smart. It was at this point, being in a mood for an argument, that I demand to see the manager. Big mistake.

The manager, a beefy guy, wearing a waistcoat, suit and some trendy-looking glasses was not in the mood for reasoned debate. I failed to understand how a suit jacket could really be considered much smarter than my leather jacket, especially when the majority of people in there wearing suit jackets in there probably purchased them from ASDA. I should have said the jacket was part of a leather suit, but I always find that I think of these amazing responses well and truly after the moment has passed. I was just trying to make the guy see a bit of sense. I probably pushed it too far in questioning why I should have to pay to place my jacket in the cloakroom when I didn’t want to take it off, wasn’t causing any offence through wearing it and I wasn’t even drunk! Apparently, people aren’t allowed to wear coats, in case they decide to then take them off and then people spill drinks on them.

What a load of bull. It's not like I was wearing a hoodie.The kind of person that works there get quite giddy on power I feel. It’s why they wear yellow armbands on their arms that reminded me of pictures of the SS.

I would write a letter complaining...but it just isn't really worth it.

It’s why you should never go to Oceana because it just isn’t very good.

I’m glad they threw me out. Bouncers will always be dickheads with zero common sense.

The following two artists demonstrate views on these subjects.

Some Body – Oceana demo (myspace)

Arctic Monkeys – From The Ritz to the Rubble (single version)