Wednesday, 30 January 2008

All Day Permanent Punk Ain't Gonna Change A Thing

Lightspeed Champion at the Amersham Arms (Friday 12th January): I’m surrounded by Goldsmiths first-year girls in little dresses bopping and hollering to Dev’s downbeat confessions. One of them is taking pictures of herself onstage. Sure, they’re pretty excruciating, but never have I felt so fucking old. If you ever want to blow that feeling out of the water peek in at Carbon/Silicon’s ‘Carbon Casino’, every Friday night until 22nd February at Ladbroke Grove’s ‘Inn On The Green’ (which looks like Lou’s Bar from ‘Neighbours’).

Amongst the odd rock royal such as Marc Bolan’s best friend and mingling Clash superstar Mick Jones himself, a crowd of punk veterans and their families awaited a riot injection last Friday. Some bouncy fucker knocked half my Guinness over me and I was poised to scorn until I realised he must have been sloshed past his bedtime and was probably recording Jonathan Ross.
Carbon/Silicon’s performance, when it finally came, was cripplingly depressing. The songs, written by two guitarists missing their original lead songwriter counterparts (Joe Strummer and Billy Idol), were entertaining enough. Jones was certainly turning on the chugging greying fireball next to me, but his mockeries of the paranoid state of our nation in ‘The Magic Suitcase’ and ‘Caesar’s Palace’, though lapped up by the congregation, resonated powerless. Maybe I’m just an unforgiving, unrealistic absolutist, but the whole affair smacked of futile stagnancy, of punks 30 years on still seething, bitterly dissatisfied but resentfully committed to their lives in the system.

Carbon/Silicon gave their weary disciples an outlet for rage and a rollicking set drenched in sentimentality for the days when punk seemed to threaten to rip society up at the roots. My companion, more at home soothed by the strains of Cat Power anyway, had a Hunter S Thompson moment with the rotund, upper-middle-aged, heaving audience turning into monsters and promptly left. I couldn’t have been hotter on his heels, and I’ve never felt so young!

Seems like all I write about is Morrissey these days! Following a grand residency at the Roundhouse cut short by a throat problem comes a new single preceding his 20 year-retrospective Greatest Hits, released as part of a new deal with Decca records on 11th February. 'That's How People Grow Up', bookended by wailing KristeenYoung vocals and with a soundscape echoing the queered nastiness of 'Viva Hate's darker moments, is a disappointment, like 'Alsatian Cousin' but without the intoxicating venom. A far more appropriate anticipation of his imminent Greatest Hits is the single's counterpart, 'All You Need Is Me’. The quintessentially Moz track boasts the ragged fuzz and regimented stomps trademark of Moz’s resurgence and a poised, hilarious vocal in which he issues a fuck-you to the endless turbulent attacks on his integrity with beautifully bemused elegance.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

moshi moshi mystery weekend

Last weekend, I went to Fleche D’Or twice as some of the brightest British talent crossed the Channel for a weekend in Paris.

First up was the takeover of Fleche D’Or by Moshi Moshi Records, one of London’s finest independent record labels. They have been quietly bubbling away for a few years now, bringing early releases for the likes of Hot Chip, The Rakes and then adding to it with further releases by Au Revoir Simone, Mates of State, Hot Club de Paris. It’s over the last year though, with the start of their Moshi Moshi Singles Club allied to some high-quality signings that you really start to see the strength of this label….

The Singles Club is a series of Ltd Edition 7”’s, usually by artists not on their roster that then seem to go on to ink large deals – Kate Nash’s Caroline’s A Victim / Birds preceded her deal with Fiction, and Late of the Pier’s Bathroom Gurgle came before their signing to Parlophone. Friendly Fires, Elle S’Appelle and Dananakroyd look set to follow in their footsteps this year and achieve big things. Michael Moshi is also described as Emmy the Great’s svengali on the sleeve notes for her recent single, Gabriel. Make of that what you will.

The signings on their roster that look set to impress with albums this year were on show in Paris last Friday. Due to the weirdness of French listings information, it’s really hard to tell the running order as the headliners aren’t always at the top. I got confused and missed half, if not slightly more of The Wave Pictures.

I was really impressed with the songs I’d heard off their Myspace and off Transparent. Collaboration is a key word for them, having recorded with the likes of Andre Herman Dune, whilst they were joined on stage at the gig by Slow Club’s Laura.

The most striking thing about them is their singer’s voice, which takes a bit of getting used to. It has a certain quality to it that I don’t whether to pity or praise, it fits suitably with the lyrics which are mostly about desperate pleas and regrets. The music is not especially complex, but they have a certain charm which draws you in. They have released quite a few CDs and you can download a few of them off their website. A full length album on Moshi Moshi is to follow later this year. It’s a pity I didn’t see more of them.

The Wave Pictures – Leave The Mirror Alone (Herman Dune cover)

The curtains close. I drink most of my hipflask. Slow Club emerge on stage, singer Charles looks pretty swish with a nice quiff. Their music is undeniably cute/adorable/lovely/insert cuddly adjective here and even on the more energetic numbers they still sound sweet like cupcakes and home-made lemonade, even if the quiff disintegrated into a droopy, sweaty mess. The set was a bit of a shambles with the band having to restart songs a couple of times. I felt for them as they just got the giggles, which is pretty unstoppable at times. Rebecca plays a kick drum and a chair standing up and still sounds better than Meg White. Their album will soundtrack a lot of summers lying on the grass, or something like that. Their best song was their first, possibly entitled When I'm 22 - please correct me if I'm wrong.

The next night I returned to the Fleche D’Or for Mystery Jets, who were due to play songs from their second album, entitled Twenty One, which should be out this spring. It’s taken me a while to make my mind up about Mystery Jets, I first saw them way back in 2004 supporting Bloc Party and was impressed by their ramshackle harmony laden performance. I’ve seen them about ten times since and for a while, I got a bit bored of them.

The Erol Alkan produced version of Diamonds in the Dark got me very excited though, as it seemed to capture the eccentric nature of Mystery Jets better. It just had something that the live show didn’t, which I think can be important. I bought the US album, Zootime, which had a few more Alkan produced tracks and it hasn’t really left my MP3 player since. Their new album had Alkan behind the decks and the set they played at Fleche D’Or was filled with some absolute gems. Shorn of Henry, Blaine's dad, the new look Jets look incredibly tight and had the confidence to only play two songs from their first album, which is refreshing. Check out the video footage of Young Love below also. Go to myspace to listen to the whole thing, it's their next single featuring Laura Marling and it's amazing.

Mystery Jets – Diamonds in the Dark
Mystery Jets – Scarecrows in the Rain

EDIT: Have decided Young Love is too good. Will have another post just for itself soon.

I must admit I’m a bit out of blogging practice. I’ve been meaning to write more on here but have found myself hindered by my temporary laptop, which isn’t very 2008 – it doesn’t even have a CD drive. It cries for more virtual memory every time I play a song and I have to hold the internet cable in the socket at times to keep everything going. It’s like swimming in treacle. I’m really hungover too, but I just needed to post something. These technical issues really haven’t aided my quest for continuity. I can barely think straight. Should be a singles of the year for 2007, soonish but I’m not going overboard with all the end of year stuff.

I’m back in London this weekend for a few days and will be going to some gigs. Most likely Noah and the Whale on Sunday at Blue Flowers and DURRR on Monday. The below video is also genius.

Monday, 7 January 2008


Okay. So my laptop has broken again! Twice in 6 months. Not fucking happy at all. Think this time it's pretty dead. I was in the middle of writing a post on Kitsuné Maison 5 before the black screen of death descended. I can't really finish it as I don't have much time on borrowed laptops. Here is my favourite track from the album, the fairy lights remix of Late of the Pier's Broken - this is pretty similar to the remix which you can find with their Zarcorp demo and most of the time's I've seen them it's usually what they've started their sets with. It is a lovely, scrunched up reworking by the band themselves of an incredible song. It's the first thing to pop out from them since signing to Parlophone. Enjoy. It's rather fitting given my technical difficulties. It's definitely getting played at my birthday party tomorrow along with the rest of the album which includes some sweet tracks from David E. Sugar, Fischerspooner, Does It Offend You, Yeah, DatA, Rex The Dog, Big Face et cetera.

Back soon. Hopefully. 

lost album: mirwais - production

Remember this? (If player doesn't work click here)

Maybe ring a few bells? Yes? No? Well anyway, it's pretty good isn't it?

Naïve Song is the work of Mirwais Ahmadzaï, a 47 year old French producer of Afghan / Italian parentage, formerly of 80s French new wave band Taxi Girl. The song featured on the album Production, which was released way back in 1999. I think I got it for Christmas the year after, I can’t remember exactly. The song was all over the radio at the time, and I just had to have it. Quite a lot of people know the song, but have absolutely no knowledge of the album, which is a seamless mix of electro and techno with the odd guitar thrown in. It borders on the progressive, but still has some classic pop moments.

Production opens with Disco Science, a track which pounds the listener into paying attention with a throbbing disco beat and hypnotic chanting, interspersed with all manner of euphoric electro crashes offset by subtle guitar strumming. This song also featured on the soundtrack for cockney gangster romp, Snatch. It then segues perfectly into Naïve Song, where playful synth melodies collide with jarring acoustic guitars, whilst distorted vocals express dissatisfaction with the world. Utterly fresh and joyous. Things then get all melancholy for a bit with V.I. (The Last Words She Said Before Leaving) which builds up slowly, before turning slightly scuzzy towards the end. I Can’t Wait displays a more techno side with a gorgeous breakdown that leaves you with that feeling of a CD skipping, but actually it isn’t. Junkie’s Prayer sounds like a robot with a raging hangover which alternates between harsher electronic moments to morose string-led sections. Then Definitive Beat kicks in like a brick to the face, with heavy drums and bass that just wipe the slate clean before leading into Paradise (Not For Me). This song features vocals from none other than Madonna. Mirwais was handpicked to produce a few of her albums on the strength of Disco Science and Madonna lends her voice to this track which is imbued with a similar hazy paranoia, as in Junkie’s Prayer. Never Young Again sounds like the outtakes to Madonna’s Music but without the slightly grating vocal and reworked with the same jarring mix of electronica and strings that grace this album. The album ends on Involution, a chilled out number which rounds things up suitably.

Surprisingly, Mirwais hasn’t released anything since but has been beavering away on a new project. Entitled Y.A.S., Mirwais has joined forces with Yasmine Hamdan, part of Lebanese electro-duo Soapkills.

Mirwais describes the idea behind this project below.

“The idea is that today, in Western culture, we hear about Arabs everyday - in a bad way, because of terrorism, etc - we lack cultural representations coming from those countries that could be mixed with the western culture,. I don't want to do world music, but instead a good western production with a real Arab identity."

A demo posted on their myspace sounds promising, and I’m looking forward to hearing the full length, when it eventually surfaces. Maybe then, in these post-Justice / ALIVE times, another French producer will get a bit of credit for his worthwhile contributions to the world of francophone electronics.

Below are a few tracks / videos to get you acquainted with Mirwais, if you aren’t already.

Mirwais - Naive Song (click here to get a remix from Palms Out Sounds)
Mirwais - Disco Science
Mirwais - Junkie's Prayer
visit his website////buy Production

Video for V.I. (The Last Words She Said Before Leaving)

Listen to Taxi Girl's Cherchez Le Garcon