Tuesday, 4 September 2007

couldn't sleep last night...couldn't calm down...

Right, so I’m all set up in central Paris. Been here just three days now, slowly settling in to the city and so far it’s pretty sweet. The hi-fi system is always the first thing to set up when moving somewhere new. I know where the supermarché is and my French doesn’t actually appear to be as crap as I thought. Even though I did have a moment the other day, where the chimney sweep rang up wanting to arrange something and I did not have a fucking clue what he was banging on about. Apparently, if you live in a building in France with a chimney, it must be swept every year by law. Should be fun to watch. Anyway, the first gig is gonna be tonight - Justice vs Erol Alkan at Rex Club, which is just down the road. Not bad a way to start I think.

Anyway, before I immerse myself completely in these new surroundings, I feel like I should cast a glance back at the past week spent mostly in London, which I’m going to miss.

Tuesday nights in Soho at White Heat, which is pretty good. Not the cheapest night in town to get drunk, but still pretty good. It can be a bit hit and miss, but it’s more because the promoters put on whoever the fuck they want and obviously from time to time, there’s going to be music that doesn’t suit everybody.

Last Tuesday was absolute quality though. I was rather wasted though, so I apologise if my view of events isn’t crystal clear. Picking the bands for the evening was XL imprint, WayOutWest Records. Opening proceedings was supposed to be Some Body, who I was looking forward to experiencing live, just to see how he performs his poignant little pop songs. But, he pulled out with a sore throat and I didn’t hear who’d replaced him, so I stayed drinking elsewhere for a bit longer and eventually arriving just in time for Video Nasties to get on stage.

I was quite taken with the I Wanna / 3 New Ideas single, the debut release from Way Out West Records, but I don’t think that Video Nasties have evolved much since then. Their set seemed to blur into one, although they look great on stage and are very tight, there was nothing there to clamour for, with the exception of I Wanna. I think they only have to look at how Late of the Pier have progressed over the last year, to see what they should be aiming to achieve.

Video Nasties - I Wanna (myspace)

I first saw Late of the Pier almost exactly a year ago at a Young and Lost night at the Spread Eagle supporting Jeremy Warmsley. The thing that struck me most about that performance was the manic dancing of keyboard / sampler player, Sam Potter – just hilarious, making particular use of the pole on stage at the Spread Eagle (former strip club) whilst stabbing his instruments which lay before him on an ironing board. Fuck keyboard stands. I thought they sounded pretty good, even though I didn’t really know how to describe it at all. Spasmodic synth-punk perhaps. There really is a huge mish-mash of influences at work here.

Looked on the internet the day after to find that this band were from Nottingham – Castle Donnington to be precise. Near enough to my hometown for me to get excited. As there have never really been any bands from Nottingham to grab my imagination, not that there aren’t any, they just never grabbed me and, yeah, I wasn’t such a music obsessive back in the day.

The myspace revealed an interesting band-bio, depicting a factory where pop groups are mass-produced to line the pockets of the big, bad record companies. One day, a bear broke into the factory and messed things up. Late of the Pier happened. Read more about that here

So they’ve been around since about the start of 2005, and I just don’t think they sound like anything else around currently. They use a lot of synthesisers and keyboards which provide them with a huge array of instruments / noises to wrap their songs in. It would be churlish to describe them as nu-rave, that genre is a big misnomer anyway. If you took away the majority of the synths, you’d still be left with a very solid rhythm section, which tends to form the basis of a good band.

I guess what really draws me in to Late of the Pier is just listening to their music, you just have no idea what’s going to happen next. They manage to give off the impression that it’s teetering close to the point of collapse, due to the eccentric structures of their songs. In reality, they know exactly what they are doing and they most definitely enjoy themselves on stage.

Their live show has come on tremendously in the eight times I’ve seen them since The Spread Eagle. Quite a few of these occasions have been support slots for the likes of Good Shoes, Mystery Jets, Cajun Dance Party and Jeremy Warmsley and never once have they seemed to be an ill-fitting choice for support, which really demonstrates their versatility. My personal favourite shows were Camden Barfly on a messy Saturday night in January (see the stage invasion below) followed by Kissy Sell Out on the decks and Dot-to-Dot Festival, where relatively sober, I could tell that they had stepped up a gear.

White Heat was no exception to this. A fitting end to a summer when they’ve played various festivals around Europe (Jackalope, Carling Weekend, Berlin Festival). Tearing into the set with ‘Broken’ followed by ‘Space and the Woods’, the pace is unrelenting for the next three-quarters of an hour. Pretty much every song is made for the dancefloor. Their next single is to be ‘Bathroom Gurgle’, a gloriously eccentric pop song. I defy you to listen to it and not want to jump around the room singing along to the beautifully crude chorus. It was produced by Erol Alkan, who appears to have taken them under his wing and the flipside ‘VW’ is also an absolute corker. It’s out on September 10th as part of the Moshi Moshi Singles Clubs. Get it here, it’s sure to be gold dust as I reckon it will be their last before they sign to someone properly. Single launch at Durr, this coming Monday too.

They seem to be an incredibly busy bunch, the singer, Sam Eastfield, has a electronic side-project, LA Priest, which seems to be going from strength to strength – debut 12” called Engine out soon with an Erol Alkan remix. As well as producing previous single, Space and The Woods and the original Zarcorp demo, he also recorded the last round of demos for Video Nasties. Another thing worth mentioning about this lot is that they have uploaded all the tracking for their songs so far, so that anyone can remix them. I think it’s an awesome gesture, I might try my hand at a remix and if not, I might just use some of the crazy noises as ringtones on my mobile.

LA Priest - Swing Youth (myspace/buy Engine here)

Late of the Pier - Zarcorp Demo Album (myspace/remix page)

Late of the Pier - Space and the Woods

A few hours after LOTP’s performance, Dan Deacon took to the stage. I was a bit too smashed by this point, but all I can remember was just being somewhat blown away not only by the extreme loudness of the Deacon live show, but also the music had a slight euphoric aspect to it. Deacon, part of the Wham City collective from Baltimore, brings his live show to the dancefloor, quite literally. Deacon hovered over his equipment and twiddled various knobs and keyboards and all manner of electronic kit, whilst singing through vocoders and such like. I had had a few too many double vodkas by this stage to really say much more on this, but on his myspace there’s a few tracks that definitely merit your attention. You can get the EP here also (first pressing of the vinyl has sold out, also available on CD)

Dan Deacon - The Crystal Cat (download off myspace)

The day after, I nursed my hangover and ended up going to see Jeremy Warmsley supporting King Creosote at Hoxton Bar Grill. More about them another time. ON the Thursday, I went into XFM to record a session with my band for John Kennedy’s Xposure. More about that when I know more I guess. We played our last gig that night, which was fun.

Been a bit of a monster effort today. The layout of this is gonna change soon. I’d like to welcome Mike to the fold also, who got the ball rolling with a nice little piece about how Interpol have gone completely crap, but the media is lauding them more than ever. Nice.

Bat for Lashes got robbed in the mercurys!!!!

p.s. yes. In the photo above. I am holding a hobby horse. I have no idea why. blame late of the pier.


kat said...

haha oh the hobby horse. and that girl's face. such a perfect snapshot of that night. x x

ps. do you remember dan deacon's green strobe-light skull? and the dance-off? exceptional!

jehan said...

course i remember the skull. thats about it though. as it was white heat i was pretty smashed. who was the dance off between?

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