Tuesday, 30 September 2008

double six double header - eugene mcguinness & laurel collective

Returning to London after a year long hiatus, I resolved to throw myself back into the thick of things, you know what that means kids, a gig double header. And not just any gig double header - A Double Six Records Double Header (That's A Double Six Records, A Sub Division of the Domino Recording Co Double Header). Brief is how I shall try and keep this as I am growing averse to live reviews - they are all beset by the same problems and reporting them never changes. I can only hope to use whatever problems arise to illuminate the artists in some spectacular way to the best of my usually inebriated abilities.

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what a support act should do (that is to show enough promise for everybody to be gushing with excitement, but then be withdrawn quick enough for the excitement to be directed towards the top of the bill), the other was utterly forgettable.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

resolution just as impossible as letting go

Trying to see The Whitest Boy Alive at Melt! Festival was an utter catastrophe. For those of you unfamiliar with the group, they are the most recent project of Erlend Øye (with glass of milk above), otherwise known for his sterling contributions to Kings of Convenience alongside fellow Norwegian Eirik Glambek Bøe.

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

one year old! - leaving paris - hey mec!

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

is it
a) Faley
b) Samuel Dust
c) Ross
d) Potter

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 shatsatcomp@gmail.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

time for bed

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

melt! festival 2008, gräfenhainichen, pt. 2

photo courtesy of sint

Melt! day 2 was about the slow rebuilding of anticipation after Late of the Pier's stonking performance the day before.

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.