Monday, 31 March 2008

where is the undertaker?

photo. Gabriel Loverman

I was somewhat taken with Motherhood from Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man's debut single, released late last year on eminent London indie Transgressive Records. Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man are the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of Les Incompetents, a deceptively tuneful racket, who perhaps never really got the credit they deserved. Lead singer, Frederick MacPherson, was often seen out and about the town with Peaches Geldof, which led to almost weekly appearances in the London dailies as "Fred Les", as the journalists responsible clearly weren't that concerned about actually reporting anything to do with his musical activities or even finding out his name.

Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man - Motherhood (buy here)

It's fair to say though that Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man want to seperate themselves from Les Inc. entirely and in choosing to release songs written from the turbulent mindset of parents, as opposed to the disco-queens and fifteen drink rounds of How It All Went Wrong, they achieve this. I prefer Motherhood out of the two songs on the single, mainly because the sentiments of post-natal depression expressed rather elegantly jar delightfully with Fred's vaudevillian vocals. This is heightened further by a slight sense of surprise that Fred accomplishes this, I mean to look at him I wouldn't have really thought him capable of empathising with this perspective. But then what do I know, it's not like I can empathise anyway...I digress. Whilst reading his blog, I noticed that they've written a song about Primo Levi's The Drowned and The Saved , which I've been studying this year for my degree, and if you haven't read it, all I can say is that it is pretty heavy. Bodes well for the next EP, entitled "The Lay of The Land; The Turn of The Tide", which I think will also be on Transgressive / Warner soon. There is a track from the EP called Thanatos currently playable on their myspace.

I'm chocabloc with essays and my job at the moment, so apologies for the way things have been a bit sparse and it'll probably continue for the next five weeks. After the end of April, things are gonna get frantic on here, I promise. Interviews with Kotki Dwa and Elle Milano have been done, I just need to write them up. I've been to a lot of gigs too, thinking one big gooey round up. And soon there will be a bit of a big report on the Mystery Jets album, which is most definitely a contender for album of the year.

Friday, 14 March 2008

instore: mystery jets at pure groove//10/03/08

some photos taken by Ben

The London Paper featured the headline ‘Blew Monday’, something which made me smile as I descended the escalator in Waterloo Station. Twenty minutes later Constance and I emerged and crossing onto Holloway Road grimaced at the grumbling grey clouds above. But we were in high spirits; we were on our way to Pure Groove for our second instore of late. This time it was the turn of Mystery Jets, a re-scheduled event to coincide with the release of Young Love their first single since 2006’s Diamonds in the Dark.

Admittedly we were early, arriving little after 5pm for a 6.30pm start time, but Pure Groove’s very own ‘event’ on (I hate to say it) Facebook, showed that 84 people were attending with around 100 maybes and if you know Pure Groove you know it’s the size of a leisure centre changing room. We hung around in the shop for a bit, read The Stool Pigeon and were turfed out so they could set up. Me, Constance and our friend Doug braved the elements- first came the rain, then the wind, then an ear infection; we had numb fingers despite the gloves, numb toes despite boots and socks and were dancing about on the street corner to get the blood flowing but hey- we were ten people from the front and behind us stood ten, thirty, fifty, maybe sixty people more. The clock limped round to 6.45pm, the school girls in front held up a hand-scrawled note pleading to be let in and suddenly the door opened. Before the room was even half full the band had launched into what I believe was Hideaway, the opener on the upcoming album Twenty One. And to keep things fair they had kindly decided to play two gigs to cater for the queue. After the second song, Half in Love With Elizabeth, my fingers had feeling and my nose was a little less pink. Blaine asked ‘any requests?’ to which came differing replies of Zootime! Dennis! Young Love! He replied ‘you all want old songs… so this is Flakes’ and along came the somewhat heartfelt number that Mystery Jets provided as a free Christmas download.

Since the final release of Diamonds... from their debut album Making Dens the band have been pretty quiet down on Eel Pie Island with the odd DJ-set here and Henry “Dad” Harrison stepping-down, but this has clearly given way to fresher, tighter, interestingly layered dance-y gems. I had never seen Mystery Jets until now, which is something I mildly regret as the gigs from here on will focus on promoting Twenty One over Making Dens (an album which I adored from my very first listen). But Twenty One might just supersede its predecessor, avoiding the dreaded crap-second-album trap, because the four boys have been so focused that all-round growth is evident. This was shown by every aspect of Two Doors Down (originally leaked as ‘Girl Next Door’) from the synth-saturated chorus to the lyrics: ‘…I hear that she liked to dance around the room to a worn-out 12” of Marquee Moon…” which would have had my Dad smiling.

The infectious- almost pop- vocal harmonies that featured in practically every song they played proved just how well this band dovetail together. William’s guitar playing outdid itself with each song, Kapil’s drums kept everything running with incredible accuracy and when performing Flakes Blaine allowed his voice to reach levels not heard on Making Dens.

But of course everyone was waiting for the final song, the main reason for being there on that gloomy Monday afternoon: Young Love. William took to lead vocals with ease and although there was no Laura Marling to add that sugary sprinkling of femininity to the song they kept it sweet and light. The applause, whistles and man-cheers proved just how far the boys (who kept it real with granddad-style sweaters) had come since last playing a Pure Groove instore in 2006, a time when, according to Doug, the attendees barely peaked 20 - nothing compared to the queue which snaked around the building!

Mystery Jets - Two Doors Down

Saturday, 8 March 2008

gig: the kills at the ICA, 3rd march

'One-Trick Two-Hander'

Instead of a support act The Kills give us ‘Red Meat Heart Cinema’; amongst reels of Velvets, Stones and Patti Smith Group footage we’re shown some heavy rock by guys in t-shirts and shorts who couldn’t give a shit; watching the cripplingly self-aware arty pretender crowd nod along like they feel the same way is hilarious.

The Kills aren’t as good as the royalty they’re claiming descent from, but they use a classic conceit when putting on a show: as the gig gets hotter they move their mics to face each other, inspiring those ripples of ‘are they, aren’t they?’ through the titillated audience. VV’s a gorgeous sex kitten but after seeing The Kills a few times the trick’s less potent; Hotel doesn’t even beat her to the floor with white noise this evening (a spectacle far better than any sample clip you’ll find on the net).

Songs from ‘Midnight Boom’ exhibited tonight are tight and convulsive but (certain crafty beats aside) for the most part do little to distinguish the gig from ones they played years ago. No-one covers The Kills; some say that’s because they don’t write songs but just soundtrack their pornographic exclusivity. Exceptional new song ‘Last Day Of Magic’ tears up that criticism this evening. The big redhead in a leather jacket stood next to me would tell you the best thing about it is that it’s inspired by Dostoevsky, but the best thing is if you took tonight’s aesthetic away and were left with Hotel playing it in shorts it would still be a fucking great song.

'Last Day Of Magic' - The Kills