Thursday, 25 December 2008
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
For me, this is the sound of winter and freezing whilst sitting in the park drinking tea. More comprehensive posts to come, I have a lot of shit brewing.
White Winter Hymnal from Grandchildren on Vimeo.
Thursday, 27 November 2008
King Khan & The Shrines - Welfare Bread
KK&TS, famed for some incredible stage presence, will be playing three nights in London in December. I may well attempt to go to all three without sleep or respite.
Saturday, 22 November 2008
Jay Jay Pistolet is the sound of Christmas coming early. He wraps his tender, heartfelt numbers up with his guitar-strings and coats them in layers of reverb, akin to sprinklings of cocoa powder on a cappucino. Chocolat chaud is his winter beverage of choice in Hooked Up On Us - an insistent song which refuses to give up on a relationship which has been and gone. His attention to detail, lyrically speaking, and feel for a good rhyme shine like lights twinkling out from November shopping displays. Rushing through chirpy descriptions of bygone days and future plans before choruses that rise through the daydreaming and lodge themselves inside your head and your clothes. These moments of clarity won't be gone until the decorations come down.
Jay Jay Pistolet - Happy Birthday You
Jay Jay Pistolet - Hooked Up On Us
///buy the EP from Pure Groove
Produced by Charlie Fink, he of Noah and the Whale, it features others members of that folkish troupe alongside the boy Warmsley. He played live last night. Kingston next week.
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
The band from Nantes play White Heat tonight with similar sounding synth-pop sounds coming from the likes of Minitel Rose and Futurecop! This post is a preview, listen to the remixes below and then find some 80's clobber and get on down to Madame Jojo's for a boogie (they are playing some other dates if you are otherwise engaged). I imagine some kind of writeup will follow, but time is of the essence for me currently so it's on hold, the weekend took it out of me. As well as Nevereverland, I also squeezed in Plugs and Boy Crisis at Proud and the night before at Barfly with Violens. A low-fat preview is better than no preview at all. The remixes are full-fat anyway.
Metronomy - Heartbreaker (Anoraak Remix)
Of Montreal - Gallery Piece (Minitel Rose Remix)
Monday, 17 November 2008
The Whitest Boy Alive - Golden Cage (Fred Falke remix)
///visit their webshop and buy Dreams
Lykke Li - I'm Good I'm Gone (Fred Falke remix)
Sunday, 2 November 2008
Elle Milano split up. Gutted. Read various testimonies of mine to their brilliance - interview, album review and feature. They left with a parting gift, four more songs to add to their magnificent oeuvre. Enjoy. I'll probably talk more about this in the future, it is a fucking travesty.
Elle Milano - (Our Lives Are A Constant) In-Joke
Elle Milano - HappyCopper
Elle Milano - Cut Up The Middle Man
Elle Milano - Schwanengesang
Acres of Dead Space Cadets is one of the albums of the year. Another was the debut effort from Pete and the Pirates - Little Death. Their live shows for the past year or so have featured songs that were written too late to make the cut, and they certainly whet the appetite for the sophomore release, which should surface early 2009. I cannot wait to hear the following track after it's been put through a studio. The chorus = harmonies to die for, another one of those under the duvet moments they slide into their dark, but chirpy guitar pop.
Pete and the Pirates - Cold Black Kitty (live at Paradiso)
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Loverman seethe. Theirs is the sound of a demon dancing on your roof about to swing through the window and burn the place to the ground. Over a misunderstanding, I'm sure. Tension winds itself tighter and tighter around guitar licks that can't contain it any longer, they explode. Anger slowly filling up the singer's jaw, oozing out in a series of couplets laced with vicious oxymorons. Calm checks in, but it doesn't stay the night.
Loverman - My Trick Is I Don't Die
///visit their myspace///website
Loverman have a single out on Young and Lost on November 17th. It's called Crucifiction. If my record player isn't working by then, I'm going to throw it out the window. The track above would make a fine B-side, but you can find it also on the Strummerville compilation, which contains some of the best tracks I've heard all year.
Monday, 27 October 2008
I'm sure most of you are well acquainted with Focker. If not, then get acquainted. The video is below, you can have a few moments to compose yourself. Bipartite would be one way to describe the song, the second part being the component Boys Noize has decided to play with. I say play with because it isn't really a remix. I don't feel as if the song has been ripped apart and put back together in any way. It's just the bit at the end, sprinkled with the Boys Noize scuzzy, bass-heavy, robot magic. Turning it into what you almost wish the whole thing was in the first place - an all out banger. The fact that it isn't makes you more aware of Late of the Pier's charms though.
They are playing a gig in their fair, hometown city of Nottingham in the most unorthodox and small of venues, the Chameleon Arts Café on November 30th. Support from Phantasy Sound's Fan Death, it promises to be wild. There are about 10 tickets left, I doubt the place will hold more than 120 - 150. I'm heading back on the East Midlands Train, so should you.
Late of the Pier - Focker (Boys Noize Terror Re-Did)
///buy tickets for the Nottingham gig here
In other remix news, check out this choice cut from Aeroplane featuring Au Revoir Simone on vocals. They have a stab at Friendly Fires' Paris which takes on the wintery, pop classic incorporating Aeroplane's choppy disco sound with lush vocals that seem a better fit for certain parts of the song, chorus especially. It evokes a blissful, honeyed night-out that you would never find at Le Showcase ironically, but certainly walking home past Place de la Concorde and dancing around by the operahouse. Watch out for Aeroplane's remix of Sebastien Tellier's Kilometer (coming soon!), it's fair to say they are on a bit of a roll.
Friendly Fires - Paris (Aeroplane Remix feat. Au Revoir Simone)
Sunday, 26 October 2008
It's easy to forget sometimes that Mystery Jets have the ability to leave you awestruck with their softer, less danceable numbers. As a treat for the London crowd, a string quartet appeared mid-set and Blaine serenaded the crowd with Umbrellahead, inspiring a joyous singalong despite the morbid, lyrical undertones. The band are heading out now on tour to show up The Kooks around Europe and the UK, before going down under over Christmas. Catch them if you can.
Mystery Jets - Umbrellahead (iTunes Session)
///watch the gig on YouTube///visit their website
Friday, 24 October 2008
So in my life before entering the blogosphere, I fronted a band called Dirty Hands. We released a single, did an XFM session then split up as two of us were moving to Paris as part of our French degrees. XFM never told us when the session was going out and then took an age to send me the session. I never thought I was going to hear it really. But thanks to Jim at XFM, it popped into my letterbox this week to whoops of joy.
Returning to something you left over a year ago, without really thinking about it in the meantime is strange. As if it had just been stuffed in a drawer, a safe place but then completely forgotten about. As a band, we didn't write many songs (I think maybe 12 or 13 over two years) but they were all damn good. If you play lots of gigs, you get tight and it just ends up being really reflexive.
Here's a little insight into the writing of the four songs on the session, which looking back certainly provides a lyrical insight into the rollercoaster bedlam that was my second year at university, spent playing the long game, chasing the dream and trying to prevent the inevitable hangover:
What About The Frames?
By the end this had become our intro song. We liked to start with a bang. Lyrically, it recounts a friend’s 21st party with a free bar. To this day, I still don’t think I’ve ever seen that many people that fucked in one room. Upon falling out of a taxi on the Strand to get our connecting nightbus eastside, we encountered some youths who accused one of our lot to be looking at his bird. They weren’t looking to reason, however, requiring no reason to unleash punches left / right / centre. Our good friend, Tom, got a stiletto to the head for his troubles, Robin (guitars / vocals) lost his phone and I got my glasses smashed into wiry little pieces. My dismay at the damage to my specs forms the angry, but humourous backbone of the song.
All of My Respect
Built around a sterling Korg riff from Douglas, this badboy fuses a nice turn of phrase from Craig Clevenger’s Dermaphobia with that feeling of being half-awake, drooling on lecture notes whilst you long for the night before at some dark, dirty warehouse carpark supermarket supercool venue obviously getting down to a guitar solo from heaven.
Desire. Desire. Desire
Borne out of beatsmith JK’s desire to write a song like that Larrikin Love one (I think he meant Edwould) it then went off a slightly fairground gypsy tangent. Lyrically, I put myself in the shoes of Xavier Rousseau (Romain Duris in Les Poupées Russes) who carelessly tosses aside his girlfriend by chasing a beautiful, but shallow, model who ultimately doesn’t fulfil him anyway. Managed to squeeze in a vocal breakdown and a London Calling esque yelp in there too.
Get On Yer Bike (Charlie)
First proper song I ever wrote about 3 years ago now. A simple tale fusing characters from George Orwell’s Down And Out In Paris and London and a tour diary tale from the most prominent ‘rockstar’ of the last decade. Go figure, I’m not going to make it too obvious, but the song was a valiant attempt to capture the feeling of being beaten to a girl by your best mate, and not being able to say anything. You then settle for much worse.
So there you have it, a single came out on Happy Release just before I went off to Paris to form anew. You can still buy it here. Will set up some kind of savefile for all the songs that we did and edit this post later. I think these recordings, weighing in at ten minutes, demonstrate how tight we were as a band and how we progressed musically and probably would have continued our ascent. It's angry as hell, which was definitely how I felt, I can't really speak for the others.
Lots of new content coming up, be excited.
Thursday, 16 October 2008
The other day I expressed a view misgivings as to whether the Eugene McGuinness album would cut the mustard so effortlessly and thrillingly splattered by the preceding mini-album, The Early Learnings...
The self-titled affair has been knocking around my shitty MP3 player for a week or so and I'm warming to its subtleties a lot. I was worried that there would be no moments of joyous exuberance to match the likes of Bold Street, Monsters Under The Bed & A Girl Whom My Eyes Shine For.
Nightshift weighs in at 1:38 and still packs one hell of a punch whilst including all the trademark McGuinnessisms like three bags full nursery rhyme lines allied to cooing falsetto breaks and jangly guitars. Surefire second single. It also maintains the weird atmosphere that surrounds his music that leaves me unsure what decade it is. At times, his voice and his delivery just belong to a bygone era.
Eugene McGuinness - Nightshift
visit his myspace////buy the album///get an acoustic version from keep hope inside
Now to some other views, this guy over at DrownedinSound seems to love the line about synchronising watches and meeting of crotches in Fonz. I don't like it, but maybe it's just that I don't like the fact my attention was brought to it before I'd actually heard it's delivery. Whoops, sorry, I didn't mean to bring it your attention. Great tune otherwise.
Something I would like to bring your attention to also is my new band. I'm not usually one for shameless self-promotion but this involves a party that's free, so I figured it would be good to share. The gig takes place this Saturday 18th October at Kensington Roof Gardens. Entry is free before 10pm and there is a drinks reception. You have to look sharp. It's because of the flamingoes they have there, they get upset if you aren't smart. My talents have now expanded from being able to sing well to also being able to play a Micro Korg synthesizer slung low around my hips. The name of this soulful jazz-punk sextet is Al Cool and the Stranger Wines. I'm fucking excited. Recordings to follow in a week or two and the Dirty Hands XFM session for John Kennedy should be rearing its head soon also. Enough about me, here is the flyer. You can ask questions but I may not answer them. Tunes speak for themselves.
email me here to go on the guestlist or invite your bad self on facebook.
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
The plethora of opportunities available to people in London never really ceases to amaze me. There is always so much to do, and so much to see. Perhaps, too much. Tomorrow night in Central London, I am torn as to where I should direct my feet and my ears in search of music. My genre of choice is slightly off-kilter wonky pop music, and still there is choice.
At White Heat, housed in the salubrious Madame Jojo's, I could go see The Chap. The below track, passed on to me absent-mindedly by my graphic design whizz-kid friend, Lucas, leaves me in mild disarray whilst wondering if this really is a song about Wendy Carlos (née Walter) and Stanley Kubrick. It could also be about Walter Stanley, a NFL player but it's most likely about nothing at all. Shivering synths, guitars jarring around nonchalent vocals yet ridiculous lyrics. Barringtone were meant to be supporting but I hear the singer, Barry, has broken a finger.
The Chap - Carlos Walter Wendy Stanley
Down the road at the ICA is the electro pop troubadour that is Esser. It's fair to call him a troubadour since he writes almost incessantly about the bitter suffering he endures at the hands of the fairer sex. Executed with panache, Satisfied laments the male condition whilst going on to illuminate the futility of trying to please a woman, as buying all the shoes just won't do. Whilst I Love You felt like a reinterpetation of White Town, this latest single from the ex-Ladyfuzz drummer demonstrates his knack for oddball pop, this time set against a 1920's vaudeville piano line. One of the singles of the year.
Friday, 10 October 2008
I like it when music matches the mood. Even better when it seems to fit the season, if at times it is a little eerie. Anoraak is the soundtrack to those dreamy earl grey mornings spent shivering on the way to the bus stop, before being enveloped in warm scatters of sunshine. Except the French don't drink earl grey, and in Paris they sure as fuck don't take the bus.
This is Nantes synth pop that recalls the best underwater filter moments of the 1990's à la Modjo et les Dafts, whilst being imbued with a lightness signified by a general lack of distorted, earsplitting electro-banger moments - note the word general. The vocals and lyrics are filled with that insouciant nonchalance that used to be the domain of all French synth-bands. Arpeggiated teenage vibes run all over this album like indecisively skewed hormones at a school-disco.
Check out the title track from the mini-album below in streaming and download Waiting For Your Phone Call, my personal favourite. The mini-album, out on Endless Summer Recordings and limited to a 1000 copies, is available exclusively in Rough Trade in the UK at the moment*. They are playing White Heat in Soho on 18th November with Minitel Rose.
Anoraak - Nightdrive With You
Anoraak - Waiting For Your Phone Call
///buy Nightdrive With You
I'm off to check out the rest of the Valerie Collective.
The retro aspect is pushed further to the fore by some beautiful artwork that makes me think of a Tron style video game set on a beach with some kind of summer-prom subplot. Best electro artwork since Kavinsky in my mind. He's not dead in case you wondered when he might put out some new material (obvious lie, Kavinsky is dead, he's a zombie). According to my boys chez Record Makers, Vinco has been working on his album and has done a remix of label-mate Sebastien Tellier's Roche, which is supposedly better than the original. The Sexuality remixes (SebastiAN, Boys Noize, Danger, Midnight Juggernauts, A-Trak, Moulinex, Donovan, Kavinsky to name but a few) are looking formidable don't you think? Roche is the French release, Kilometer's out in the UK and internationally. I prefer the original, just can't beat it.
Sebastien Tellier - Roche (Kavinsky Remix)
Saturday, 4 October 2008
Sometimes the lyrics and melody of a song just speak for themselves. The hairs on the back of your neck were made to stand up for this one. Taken from Don't Be Scared, released way back in 1982, strap yourself into the most comfy of armchairs and be taken on a five minute trip through the half-rendered beauty pouring out of the fractured genius that is Daniel Johnston. You won't want to get up.
"Listen up and I'll tell a story
About an artist growing old
Some would try for fame and glory
Others aren't so bold
Everyone, and friends and family
Saying, "Hey! Get a job!"
"Why do you only do that only?
Why are you so odd?
We don't really like what you do.
We don't think anyone ever will.
It's a problem that you have,
And this problem's made you ill."
excerpt from The Story of An Artist
Daniel Johnston - The Story of an Artist
If you aren't familiar with Daniel Johnston, go watch the brilliant, brilliant, moving documentary - The Devil and Daniel Johnston and you will see the song in its wider context.
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Both of these gigs were marked by pre-performance encounters with singers in toilets, which was a first. One gig was sober and one was not. The beauty of not having to shell out around 10 euros in a gig venue for a pint was not lost on me. One had a support act that did exactly what a support act should do (that is to show enough promise for everybody to be gushing with excitement, but then be withdrawn quick enough for the excitement to be directed towards the top of the bill), the other was utterly forgettable. Both gigs had headline acts that have released mini-albums on the Domino off-shoot, Double Six Records.
The first one was Eugene McGuinness at 229 in Central London. The venue, formerly known as the International Student House, is not really anything to write home about. It's a student union as student unions used to be, in the days before my union bar at KCL began to resemble a swanky, riverside cocktail bar. I think perhaps he would be better suited to a sumptuous riverside location, as at times his music soars in a manner that would be perfect for some kind of epic camera work taken from afar. In a cramped union bar, it just doesn't work.
A brief exchange of words with Eugene in the toilets before revealed that he would be performing with a live band, which comprised his brother amongst other companions. I don't really think they enhanced the experience that much, but perhaps we can blame the surroundings. Additonally, I think Eugene's songs shimmer ever so brightly when its possible to hear his sterling wordplay and lush, lush, layered vocals. If you can't hear what the words are, it's hard to tell what's funny and just how deft this guy is.
Anyway, the below press blurb should make you laugh.
Moscow State Circus is an upbeat, fast tempoed and infectious song full of joyous verve and unpredictability. The track builds and builds throughout its fabulous four minutes, with vocals and instruments added along the way to create an intense musical climax.
Moscow State Circus is a perfect introduction to the 22 year olds forthcoming genre hopping album, which is gloriously out of time yet thoroughly modern, with one foot in reality and the other somewhere else entirely, where every silver lining has a cloud and one unexpected turn of phrase can lead you down a new musical rabbit hole.
After, you have reached the end of the video as well as your intense musical climax, download the song below from the mini-album.
Eugene McGuinness - A Girl Whom My Eyes Shine For But My Shoes Run From
I don't really know what Moscow State Circus means for the album. I'm looking forward to the self-titled badboy cautiously. The single doesn't burst out of the traps like some of the tracks on his mini-album, which could lead to worry if you're that way inclined. I can't see him straying from being gloriously out of time, yet modern though.
Fast forward to Thursday. Stoke Newington is a long, long way from 229. The capital's strength musically lies in the sheer diversity and number of venues that are constantly battling with each other to put on the best nights. Esser was meant to be one of the supports on Thursday for Laurel Collective's launch of their digital single, International Love Affair. He was spirited away, however, by Channel 4 to play at The Macbeth, exposure which I guess anybody would be foolish to turn down. Slight pity, but not a major disappointment as we still had Lawrence Arabia opening things up. I was still waiting on the bench (what other venue has a bench outside...answers on a postcard) outside for my friend Doug to turn up.
Lawrence Arabia - The Beautiful Young Crew
Transparent, as usual, were on to this a billion, million years ago. I saw the singer, Lawrence, outside and noted a remarkable similarity in appearance to fellow Kiwi, Connan (of Mockasin fame) - anybody else get that? This is lovely stuff though, harmonies that you want to cast aside as being overblown and ridiculous, but you just can't. The Beautiful Young Crew sounds like a t-shirt waiting to happen.
They had a gruff edge when they wanted to also. I'll get back to you on these guys. They seemed to have a lot of depth.
The main act, Laurel Collective, are shit hot live. Simply no other way of putting it. Built around a watertight base of guitarist (who had a beautiful ), drummer, synth and bass player, it's left to the two frontmen, Bob Tallast (wearing a FILA t-shirt in a vague attempt to display an abbreviation of their single) and Martin Sakatu (who was brilliant despite spending the pre-gig half hour in the toilets with a burrito related problem), to trade lines and stage moves in a manner reminiscent of 80's kids TV show hosts trying to outdo each other, whilst sharing knowing smiles.
Live, it was a lot more rough around the edges, to the extent where the band really created their own atmosphere really. Admittedly, it seemed like there were more than a fair share of friends smattered throughout the venue, but the way they got down to dancing and just losing their heads to the songs spoke volumes really. Emanating from the stage was the same kind of joyous warmth urging you to dance that I found at early gigs from Arctic Monkeys and Pete and the Pirates. None moreso than Vuitton Blues, it went down an absolute, fucking storm. The new single and other choice cuts from Feel Good Hits of a Nuclear Winter, which true to to the press-release is a bit of a genre-trasher. The balance between fey, somewhat fragile skinny white boy indie vocals from Tallast and more soulful, vocals recalling the best bits of 90's r'n'b from Sakatu is possibly the best combination since peanut butter and chilli sauce. Check out the Micachu and the Shapes cover below also - sweet rapping which epitomises the genre trashing perfectly.
Laurel Collective - International Love Affair
Laurel Collective - Golden Phone (Micachu cover)
click here to go back to my Vuitton Blues post. - v.v.v.v.v.v.v.highly advised
Sunday, 28 September 2008
I first became aware of Erlend Øye through the Kitsune Maison 3 compilation, which uses Done With You by The Whitest Boy Alive to round off proceedings beautifully. The first that will strike you about their debut album, Dreams, is the utter simplicity of it all. Øye has a way of singing that is so simple, almost entirely free from self-doubt, that feels so wonderfully reassuring. This is matched with a lyrical poise that allows him to delve into standard songwriting subject matter of love, loss and lust with a grace and lightness that is unrivalled.
Whilst his work with Kings of Convenience was marked predominantly by acoustic guitars and soft vocals that surrounded warm, fuzzy lullabies, The Whitest Boy Alive pack more of a punch whilst retaining the warmth from before. This is partly due to their being, as opposed to a duo. The evolution of the project is worth mentioning, as it started as an electronic dance project but Øye and his Berlin-based companions slowly grew frustrated with the lack of spontaneity forced upon them through the sole use of electronics and established a more traditional lineup. I get the feeling the whole album was probably recorded in one room with lots of analogue equipment.
This original intention still shines through when you examine the structure of the songs that rise and fall in a dance orientated way - this is not your average guitar album. When stripped of all instrumentation, the vocals sound magnificent when sprinkled with with the filter-house wizardry that is Fred Falke.
Check out the interview below by Tim Noakes (Dazed and Confused's main music man) and listen to the tracks below.
The Whitest Boy Alive - Fireworks
The Whitest Boy Alive - Golden Cage (Fred Falke remix)
///visit their webshop and buy Dreams
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
EDIT: This post just disappeared in very, very weird circumstances. Never happened before. odd.
I have now left Paris. It was probably the best year of my life. So here are a couple of songs all about Paris that sum up my feeling towards to the city. Like a morning, afternoon, evening track thing. It's self-explanatory I think, but if I were to elaborate I would say it captures the dreamy, romantic side that is a big cliché but at the same time it really isn't.
chanson pour le matin :
Patrick Wolf - Paris
chanson pour l'apres-midi / apero :
Ladyhawke - Paris is Burning
chanson pour le soir:
Friendly Fires - Paris
note: everybody knows it's all about fleche d'or not club showcase. note to any future dreamy synth songwriters out there.
Et aussi, peut-etre certains de vous se souviennent le post sur Mirwais. donc, voici un chanson de son projet super ancien.
chanson pour le grec a 3h du mat a la rue faubourg montmartre:
Taxi Girl - Paris
une chanson derniere pour toutes les gars et les filles on va jamais voir encore. This sums up the whole year abroad in a way for me.
Lykke Li - Breaking It Up
p.s. thanks for the all the people that have been reading this over the last year. if my laptop doesn't break as much, expect it to get even better. i still don't know what I really want this to be like, so expect changes.
to celebrate, I've decided to have a competition. the prize is a signed seven inch single of Late of the Pier's Bathroom Gurgle (uber-rare kids...even though the re-release is imminent). The mystery is though, it's only signed by one of the members as I couldn't find the others and I wanted to go back to the pub. You have to guess which one it is
b) Samuel Dust
to find out the answer, you'll have to look at the following image upside down. send an email with the subject title 'lotp comp' to email@example.com. I shall pick a winner at random.
Then tell you all about the Pure Groove instore and my verdict on the album. Then I will try to never talk about them again as I think I've over done it.
p.p.s. if you have any other tracks about Paris, let me know. I'd like to know. I think it'd be good to know. I think we should all know. Back in London on the weekend. Bring on the onslaught of gigs and good times. and pubs. I have missed the pub.
Friday, 12 September 2008
This is how my life and head feels after the carnage that was Bestival. I have a billion million trillion things to do before returning to the big smoke so yeah, I'm a mess. Here's a song about going to bed and slow, slow recovery. I found myself humming it during the weekend subconsciously when sleep was never ever on the agenda. Not even gonna bother with a festival report. It was marvellous. Hercules & Love Affair were the best.
Pete and the Pirates - Dry Wing
Monday, 1 September 2008
As the night got going in the Gemini tent, Friendly Fires tried admirably to outdo the boys from Castle Donnington. It was never going to happen though, despite the best efforts of their frontman, Ed, who has stage presence. Dollops of cowbell gave them an edge that is sadly undone by the difficulty they face in ever outdoing the shimmering beauty of Paris. Perhaps I'm being harsh as On Board is a beast of a tune to pogo to.
Friendly Fires - On Board
Disaster then struck in the form of very poor organisation. Partly on my part through not getting to the Melt! Klub well in advance for an artist that I have been wanting to see since Kitsune Maison 3 assaulted my ears - The Whitest Boy Alive.
Schizophrenic weather conditions had beset the site all weekend as the rains would come and go, leaving nobody with any certainty as to whether a dry point would actually last. This uncertainty allied to the tremendously epic lightning storm which had battered the Ferropolis earlier in the evening could have had people running for the cover of Melt Klub. There were still far too many people trying to get in, and I was v. pissed at Melt! organisers. The band themselves highlighted the problem in a myspace blog. I underestimated the popularity of Erlend Oye on the continent and I certainly won't be making that mistake again if he ever travels anywhere near a town where I happen to be.
After this heartbreak, my hopes cruelly dashed, I wanted nothing more but crisp, hard electro to banish the disappointment. Edu "here's another one of my vocal tracks" K was not what anybody needed. Seriously.
At the earliest opportunity, I made my escape for Mr.Oizo who raised the bar for the rest of the night immeasurably. After the uninspiring dross of Edu K, the sound of my favourite Justice remix blaring out of the Gemini tent speakers had me running inside. In my eyes, their rework of Blood On Your Hands by Death From Above 1979 hits the spot so perfectly because both artists share a love of being dirty and distorted but at the same time in possession of great pop sensibilities. I'd go as far to say that Justice owe DFA79 a debt in a way, this remix more than amply repays it though.
DFA1979 - Blood on Your Hands (Justice Remix)
Oizo continued to sprinkle his set with electro-house classics, Daft Punk and SebastiAn being prominent as the party really got started. For sheer fun, top marks, up there with Erol Alkan.
SebastiAN - Motor
It was then back to the mud for Italians Crookers. I had intended to report on these guys after seeing them at Social Club a while back but I was incomparably paralytic that night and remember nothing.
Their bass-heavy jams just got bodies shaking and juddering. Complete lack of ego also, which was nice to see, as the stage became crammed with their admirers. They echoed Oizo in dropping Motor again, which blew my head off yet again.
Crookers - Love to Edit
///head to new mixes for a quality mix of theirs
It was then time for the homecoming kid. I hadn't been totally convinced by Boys Noize before this festival. Feel Good (TV:Off) way back when on Kitsune Maison 3 rocked my socks. I obviously hadn't been paying attention as he brought the party. Alex Ridha was always gonna get a great reception at one of the biggest festivals Germany has to offer, but he had that Gemini tent in the palm of his hand for 2 hours straight from 5am and would have continued well past lunchtime if the powers that be had let him be. We were starting to flag at 6.30 am, but Ridha kept feet moving and hearts a flutter with this classic. The night will live long in my memory.
Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)
The highlights for me were &Down, which pummels the listener into dancing, and his masterful re-edit of Late of the Pier's Focker. Admittedly, it isn't a great deal more than the outro of the song repeated and ampified in classic Boys Noize style. When the outro packs such a punch, it's hard not to love though. Preview over on myspace, this needs releasing soon so I can play it at parties and laugh at how easily the dancefloor turns to a gleeful heap of people.
Boys Noize - &Down
///buy Boys Noize stuff via his myspace
His remix work deserves a mention as he almost always manages to impart his trademark motifs (robot voices, sqwarks, fuzzy tech-house vibes) to every track. His remix of Feist's My Moon My Man is extremely well known for its beautiful mix of styles - the lightness of Feist's vocals merging perfectly with Ridha's lush electro stylings. His Phantom Pt. II remix is top-notch as well, transferring the track into his realm.
Feist - My Moon My Man (Boys Noize remix)
Justice - Phantom Pt. II (Boys Noize remix)
I spent the last 6 months in Paris working at Record Makers (Sebastien Tellier, Kavinsky, Turzi) and Alex was very keen to remix a track off Sexuality. No doubt the Daft Punk connection played a part (Daft Punk songs featured in his Melt! set quite heavily) and it's interesting that the song he wanted to remix, L'Amour et La Violence, was one of Homem-Christo's favourites off the record.
The Main Version has already seen the light of day - it featured on the Japanese release alongside the SebastiAn and Danger remixes and as a free download for anybody who buys the record from American Apparel stores stateside. It demonstrates remarkable restraint when the track could have been mashed up and distressed considerably. It retains the piano and adds some melancholy robots (and they really are melancholy, which is a feat in itself - I have a vision of some little depressed robots that inhabit Ridha's studio). The shimmering synths are emphasised more as you would expect, and whilst the original is one of the best songs on the album and I don't really think you can fuck with it too much, this version is impressive because I think Ridha has tried to reinterpret the sentiment in the song as best he can.
Sebastien Tellier - L'Amour et la Violence (Boys Noize Main Version)
Eagle eyed viewers of the Boys Noize myspace page will have noticed another remix is due in the future. The Euro Version packs a punch in a way the other doesn't even try to. Heading straight into a simple drum beat, the vocals come in way earlier and it builds up and drops in all the right places. I prefer it to the Main Version because it is a bit more euphoric, and for melancholy I don't think you can really touch the album song anyway. If you're a fan of the other remix, expect to get your head blown off by this one. As soon as I get the green light to post it I will, but until then you'll have to be patient, these remixes reward the patient listener anyway. Expect an in-depth Sebastien Tellier feature v soon.
So that brings my Melt! feature to an end. I don't have any more energy, live reviews are draining, I don't think you'll see too many festival ones ever from me as I like to be thorough and it's tough. The rest of Melt! including Battles, Hot Chip and Bjork on Sunday was amazing, but it didn't top Saturday's electronic music so I won't talk about it. wordpress move, lotp competition this week I think.
Sunday, 10 August 2008
Formed in Jacksonville in 2006, Black Kids debut EP Wizard of Ahhhs was released last August to an excited fanfare and clambering record labels. With this they had set the hype-machine in full motion and as a result had a lot of expectations to live up to. Luckily for Black Kids their debut album does not disappoint.
Partie Traumatic is an uncompromisingly good pop record. Black Kids seems to have created an album jam packed with singles; from ‘Hurricane Jane’ and infectiously catchy ‘I’m Not Going to Teach Your Boyfriend to Dance’ to potential hits such as ‘Love Me Already’. Not to forget sex-obsessed ‘Listen to Your Body,’ in which vocalist Dawn Watley has a conversation with her body mid-song (voiced by frontman Reggie Youngblood), who wants to “feel somebody on me.”
From opening track ‘Hit the Heartbreaks’ with its bizarre knock-knock joke, Partie Traumatic flourishes into an unstoppable and unforgettable mix of Youngblood’s taste for wit, catchy guitar hooks, edgy drum beats and disco synths – producing 10 irresistible melodies.
So what is the presence of a mere six new songs suggest Black Kids aren’t exactly prolific? And whilst 80s revivalist indie is hardly anything new, with Brit-pop veteran Bernard Butler behind the wheel, these Floridians have still created an absolutely fantastic pop record.Black Kids - Hurricane Jane
Black Kids - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You (Twelves Remix) - editors note - this is a very very good remix.
Saturday, 9 August 2008
This year, the honour belongs to Laurel Collective, recent signings to Domino imprint Double Six Records (also home to Eugene McGuinness). The song in question is their current single, Vuitton Blues. In comparison, just for comparison's sake, with the aforementioned singles, it has the catchy, warm ambience of all the others, but I find it more subtle. Also with Los Campesinos, the female vocalist just cannot sing, which has somewhat soured my liking for them I'm afraid,
Back to the point, Laurel Collective are a 6 piece, whittled down from a lot more before. They used to be two different bands, but then decided it would be a better idea to join forces and form some kind of super-group. Bob Tallast is one of 2 vocalists, who offers the kind of vocals that you'd expect to hear from indie-pop (think GoodBooks meets O Fracas meets The Smiths if you want a lazy reference point) but imbuing them with a tenderness that I find original. Martin Sakatu brings a lot of soul and more power to proceedings and the combination is just thrilling. Behind them, you have your standard bass / guitar / drum / tasty analogue synth combo.
Vuitton Blues opens with gently throbbing synths, then a riff that sounds familiar but remains hard to place. Handclaps and vocalist number one, Bob, enter with more synthesizer washing around them. Backing vocals from Martin start to creep in. Around the minute mark, a beautiful moment occurs : Bob is cooing that everything in his life is in bloom and then it falls to pieces. The vocal combination at this point is just great, I can't think of any two vocalists that dovetail so well, it's not call and response, it's more emotive than that and doesn't take itself seriously at all.
It's the kind of thing Les Incompetents were aiming for but just couldn't achieve. So, I'm being blown away just by this combination and in comes the chorus. It's a bouncy sing-a-long chorus to die for whilst also marking the point in the song where everything comes together. Before it's dashing off in all kinds of tangents, but this is a brief moment of unity amongst this buoyant mess of a pop song. Cue neat guitar solo, soulful vocals from the other singer and then repeat of the chorus. I think that is the genius of dual vocalists, the second verse never seems like a lazy repetition if the voice changes.
At this point, you know, I'd be happy if the song ended. It's pretty good, I don't ask for much more from my pop songs than this. But, this one weighs in at over 4 minutes, slightly above average and there is a reason for this. After the second chorus, the guitar breaks down before Martin returns with the chorus but this time in badabap form as opposed to the Louis Vuitton bag referencing former version. The falling to pieces comes back after its fleeting appearance earlier and breaks my heart into a lot of little pieces before picking everything back up together into a rousing finale. A little touch like this is what sets Laurel Collective out as a very promising proposition, whilst ensuring the song will remain much more than just a sparkling short-lived summer fling.
Laurel Collective - Vuitton Blues
buy the single here///visit their myspace
Their mini album, Feel Good Hits of A Nuclear War, is out as well and it's great and you will hear about it later. For now though, just savour this song. I will be at their gig at Bardens Boudoir on 25th September for the launch of the next single, International Love Affair, which will be a digital affair as well. I can't wait, if the video below for Vuitton Blues is any hint as to the joys their live show might hold.
Friday, 8 August 2008
Saturday at Primavera was all about the drummers and then the beats. First waking up on a random sofa of our new Catalunyan buddy after going to bed at like 7am, Marc and miserably gathering some energy together before heading back to the forum.
First up was Scout Niblett who just blew me away in the sleepy surroundings of the auditorium. Basically, a plush theatre totally at odds with the Spanish car park chic of the rest of the festival. Sam fucked off to the VIP area as is his wont, and I settled down with my friend Adam, who hadn't slept since about three days previous and was in a bit of a state. He slept all the way through, the seats were far too comfy. Her voice = emotion.
Scout Niblett - Kiss
Next up was Lightspeed Champion, who is an interesting prospect live. I hate it say it, but the guy seems intimidated by the audience every time I have seen him perform. It's a pity because some of his songs are of a very high quality. Midnight Surprise is awesome, all ten minutes of it. He needs a proper female backing vocalist live though, as Emmy The Great's underpinning role in his songs should not be overlooked. MP3 to follow in Melt! review.
Dirty Projectors had sound problems, which is always gonna be annoying when you have vocals that straddle a fine line between tender and painful. Thankfully my ears stopped hurting and the sound sorted itself out. Smiles all round.
Dirty Projectors - Police Story
Next up were Menomena, who never cease to amaze me live. A mix of three talented individuals that could have and do have other projects going on. Each of their vocals covers a different range and it always leaves me wondering which one of them I'd like to see most on their own. Probably the drummer I think.
Menomena - The Pelican
Back to the Vice stage for Alan Braxe, one of the king's of French filter house. He's pretty well known for his work with Fred Falke, and whilst you can't really say that it's original, it's just fucking good. Nobody ever stopped drinking beer or 1€ Jagermeister because it wasn't good. He played the instrumentals from Modjo's Lady which I loved. No vocals but the crowd knew what they were witnessing.
Alan Braxe - Addicted
LES SAVY FAV = incredible live. Everybody knows that they have one of the best and craziest frontman in recent years. I don't need to say anymore.
Back, back down to the Vice stage for some slightly more recent French electro goodness. First up was Surkin, who is 20 but looks about 12. White Night Two is one of the best dance tracks I've heard all year and certainly signals a step up for Ben. His DJing ability has never been in doubt, but I wasn't too sure about the tunes. He's climbing though, and if France were to have an electro fighting tag-team, I'd have Surkin alongside Danger and SebastiAn.
Kavinsky, on the other hand, cannot DJ very well. I think everybody knows this. It doesn't matter though because he is quite possibly the coolest looking motherfucker alive. Take a look at that photo above. He is 34, but acts like he is about 21. What he lacks in live DJing ability he makes up with some killer 80's zombie electro. It bugs me when people bracket Kavinsky in with the Ed Banger lot, because he isn't signed to Ed Banger. And he doesn't use distortion, which the big Ed Banger players are famed for. It's more melodic, arpeggiated and the artwork is like the best comic never made.
Surkin - White Night Two
Kavinsky - Wayfarer
Right, I'm moving out of Paris kinda soon. Gonna try and get a post up tomorrow with my track of the summer so far. It's fucking killer and that's all I'm going to say. Melt! review on Monday and then LOTP instore at Pure Groove on Tuesday. I need to stop going to festivals cos they are so incredibly annoying to write up.
Competition to be announced also. This blog is moving too. Wordpress. And I want more writers. So, if you think you have what it takes, email me.
Saturday, 2 August 2008
jay-z: "What do you say, me, you and your Chloe glasses go somewhere private where we can discuss fashion?"
When I was 13, my school-bus journeys meant being glued to my tape Walkman, staring idly out the window as Korn, Silverchair and Nirvana blared away in my ears. My sister, three years older, was discovering Jurassic 5, early Destiny’s Child and Erykah Badu, so eventually I began to drop the grungy, nu-metal thing that Kerrang! was hot for; I was under the influence of something new. Being aurally fed a mixture of sounds from, not only the above, but the likes of The Fugees, Busta Rhymes, and Phi-Life Cypher, I was discovering the world of hip-hop. I changed habits, bought The Source magazine and some Adidas shell toes; soon enough that old tape Walkman was overrun with globally successful hip-hop artists and the (then largely unfamiliar) American label, Rawkus Records.
A year later, by the age of 14, my collection had grown to include artists not only on Rawkus, but Okayplayer and the BadMeaningGood series, with Stones Throw records – home to Madvillain, Quasimoto and J.Dilla – following suit. Some poppier songs from Kelis, Missy Elliot and Outkast had caught my attention; rummaging around in my sister’s room, I discovered a tape she had made from recording one of Tim Westwood’s Radio One shows. Getting out the Walkman I was promptly introduced to R Kelly’s Fiesta which seamlessly mixed into Guilty until Proven Innocent, a Jay-Z song which not only caught my attention with its catchy chorus and looping whistle, but lodged in my head for the rest of that day. So the following day I went straight to Fopp to purchase Jay-Z’s debut album Reasonable Doubt. From the opener Can’t Knock the Hustle, I knew straight out that Jay-Z wasn’t to be ignored.
At that time, Napster and Morpheus were a God-send, giving easy access to more and more Jay-Z. The sample from the musical Annie in his song Hard Knock Life had friends and I singing along and dancing around each other’s bedrooms to Big Pimpin’. I knew that I had found a hip-hop artist who didn’t give a shit if he was mainstream. Jay-Z was always pushing boundaries with what he could sample: everything from The Doors and A Tribe Called Quest, to Earth Wind and Fire.
Whilst Common, Mos Def and Talib Kweli were rapping about the language of love, Africa, and people robbing their grandmother, Jay-Z stuck to the popular themes of money, women and notoriety, embodying his success in the song U Don’t Know.
Jay-Z’s sixth LP The Blueprint was released in 2001, reaching number one in the U.S. on September 11th 2001. Mainstream fame here in the UK, not to mention popularity amongst my school friends, was certain. The Blueprint featured Kanye West’s production (before becoming a full-on recording artist himself) combining rawer songs such as The Takeover, with accessible club-hits such as Girls, Girls, Girls and IZZO (H.O.V.A).; the album received much praise and five stars from The Source.
When the rumours started that Jay-Z was retiring, I felt pretty gutted. Being only 16 in 2002, I never imagined that I would see him play live… and then a show at London’s Wembley Arena was announced. My friends and I begged and begged our cautious parents – whose associations of hip hop then were 50 Cent and his 9 bullet wounds – knowing we couldn’t miss out. Forking out £40 (which was a lot, back then even) we donned our tracksuits, straightened our side-ponytails and put on our gold hoop-earrings. Heading to London was exciting back then, and walking to Wembley surrounded by fans, it seemed, from all ages and cultures, we were both scared and in awe.
Jay-Z played a raw and raucous show, men were shouting and jeering, the women were squealing and squabbling. Despite a silencing freestyle rap and pyrotechnics heating up the arena beyond its already fiery atmosphere, Jay-Z never ceased in retaining an aura of someone still angry at the world. He may have been planning to retire back then, but even at that show something felt like it was incomplete.
So when another album was released in late 2002, by way of The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse – a double-album still featuring West’s production, not forgetting the Neptunes and Timbaland – I was surpised. What about retiring? What was with all these ‘featured’ artists? All of a sudden there were 25 songs to digest and it all felt a bit too much, like there was suddenly something Jay-Z had to prove, to keep his reign over mainstream hip-hop. There, my interest in Jay-Z started to wane and feeling a little disappointed I shelved The Gift & The Curse.
Fast-forward to February this year and I hear he’s coming back. O2 Wireless Festival in Hyde Park, as a headliner for an unusual mixture of a day which featured Hercules and Love Affair (not yet tired of their debut), The Cool Kids, Annie and Pete and The Pirates. Well, why not? I’m still into him. It’s a case of, I’m still a fan of (that old chestnut) “his earlier stuff”, but it’s true. I haven’t bothered with The Black Album, despite owning it. And the most recent American Gangster so called ‘concept-album’ about his experiences selling crack on the streets of the Marcy Projects, well I couldn’t even a name a song. O.K. so that’s pretty bad, but the classics such as Ain’t no Nigga, I Just Wanna Love U, Can I get A…and Song Cry were what I wanted to see.
It had been six years since my friends and I had travelled up to London to see him play last time. I felt that a lot would have changed: he’d married Beyonce, leading a very private life, hell he’s even made a concept-album… it screamed maturity and reinforced his ‘ruler of hip-hop’ status, because he seemed to have grown where other rappers have remained making commercial, radio-friendly records. I might not have bothered with his last few, but I certainly wanted to see how he would compare to the fire that he breathed at Wembley. So in early July, the boyfriend and I went for a day of fun in the park. Even this year it was £40 for the ticket but you certainly got your money’s worth.
Jay-Z came on stage at a little after 8.30pm to cheers and an almost unified salute of diamond-shaped hand signs, made by putting your index fingers and thumbs together. One guy to my right muttered to his mate “What’s that all about?”, “Dunno” he replied. See, this is why I’m a fan of “his earlier stuff” because that kind of thing, a mere hand gesture, is never forgotten and unites such a crowd.
The show itself was relentless, featuring brass and drum sections, DJ mixing various beats and Memphis Bleek providing supporting raps. The videos to accompany the songs were clever, creative, featuring everything from beaches and jet-skis to Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull. The crowd rapped along at speed, a guy to my left knew every word, and I surprised myself by being able to remember some, too. Occasionally, taunted by the girls and guys in the front row, Jay-Z joked with the crowd, telling one girl ‘not to do that’ because she was putting him off and thanking another for wearing a Barack Obama t-shirt. Big Pimpin’, Is That Your Bitch, and a rap battle between the sides of the audience for Jigga What, Jigga Who ensued; the 2002 show had tension, but here everyone was just having fun.
The highlights were endless, rapping his introduction to Umbrella, the crowd reacted by putting up their own umbrellas, a theme which remained for the rest of the show because he ‘liked how that looked’. Another was the moment when, after riling up the crowd with images of George Bush, Jay-Z rapped majestically about Hurricane Katrina and the devastation left behind: still there and still ignored. Things brightened up with a remix of American Boy, bringing in a rap about ‘London Bridge is falling down’ but slowing it down and emphasizing in fact he meant London breeches.
Jay-Z closed the evening with his chart-success Encore, drenched in blue light he moved across the stage like a man in absolute power, with the chant ‘what the hell are you waiting for?’ underpinning the song, those final minutes were epic. Here was a single man in front of thousands of others, proving just why he was still conquering. Retire? Give it ten more years.