Wednesday, 29 July 2009
The new show by Anthony Burrill opened at Kemistry last week to a huge amount of interest.
As I walked in I could barely get to see the artwork for the amount of people crammed in the see Burrill's new work and for good reason. This show marked a new step for Burrill as he has been diversifying his very stylistic approach somewhat.
Burrill who is famous for his use of clean and clear type and imagery in Screenprinting, this time has started experimenting with 3-d aspects and created pieces using materials such as perspex and plastic. His stunning use of colour has really been brought into a new light and the few pieces he created using mirrored perspex give a real art deco feel and his attention to detail, such as the fact that instead of just getting a leaflet about the exhibition you were actually given a set of six A5 prints (which are currently being displayed on my wall) really made the whole show a bit special.
The show runs until the 5th of September. Check it out.
Scottish producer Drums Of Death demonstrates the art of noise on this week's RA podcast. A Boop favorite from BLOC festival earlier in the year and appearing at Field Day on Saturday this is yet another great mix from residentadvisor.net check the backlog of mixes including; Four tet, Underworld, Radioclit, M.A.N.D.Y. plus so many more
Whilst browsing the HMV in a local town the other day I came across Little Boots album in the charts and really enjoyed the geometric shapes and space age feel to the album artwork, it almost made me want to buy the album.
It didn't take long to find out the art direction for Little Boots album cover had been designed by Hackney, East London based designer Chrissie Abbott. The typography and illustrative elements in her work make it extremely rich and interesting to look at. Hand made typography has most certainly taken off in the last couple of years, quite possibly thanks to illustrators like Mike Perry and Chrissie's carefully constructed letterforms and shapes are definitely some of the best hand typography to be produced recently.
Her illustrations for the Guardians Understanding People Guide are crammed full of colours and carefully placed shapes creating really interesting images often with a psychedelic and festival feel to them. Really looking forward to seeing some more work from Chrissie in the future. Her website can be found here http://www.chrissieabbott.co.uk/
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Cave Singers are another wonder from the seemingly unending amount of talent coming from Seattle and formed in the wake of three hardcore/Post Punk bands (Hint, Hint, Cobra High and Pretty Girls Make Graves) it is crazy to hear three musicians completely change direction but boy does it sound good.
Their debut, 'Invitation Songs' was an awesome debut but felt a lot more stripped down whereas Welcome Joy sounds like a band who have really found their sound and spent a lot of time pondering how to push it further and perfect what they have.
Each song just fills you with joy, with that hazy guitar, the subtle basslines and distinct vocals this is a perfect summer album, you can just imagine listening to it on a hot late August day as the sun is setting.
With their luscious, warming alt folk straight from the heart, the sort of sound that could glide across any venue and fill it with happiness.
If last year had Fleet Foxes for the summer, 2009 will have The Cave Singers.
Monday, 27 July 2009
I just found Norwegian designer Joakim Jansson's work in an old Computer arts dated about three and a half years ago and nipped to his website to see what he had been up to. There is some great work here with a very diverse range of styles with a great use of colour and a good eye for typography.
Check his work out at http://work.1-up.com/
In the last year there has been a big manifestation of craft design, designers producing work in three dimensional and then presenting it in 2D via a camera and computer.
Jehoaddan, a young designer from the US has been using this technique to produce some really exciting posters. Although the craft technique can be time consuming and hard to rectify mistakes, there is always something endearing and passionate about the hands on approach. Working with your hands will inevitably create imperfections and this always produces interesting shapes and forms within typography and images. This hands on approach is something I have always tried to capture in my own work. Jenoaddan has also produced some real nice illustrations, particularly loving the beast screenprint on his site http://www.jehoaddan.com
Jean Jullien is another designer who uses this technique in commercial work for clients like French music and fashion house Kitsune Noir. http://www.jeanjullien.com/
After being set aback by their amazing live show supporting Of Montreal a few weeks ago I felt it only right to give their debut ep a review. I acquired a copy after the band very kindly asking if I would mind swapping one of my 'Of Montreal' prints for it, a fair swap I would say.
This five track sampler is merely scraping the surface of the potential for Local Natives. With a sound echoing that similar Alt Country sound that shot Fleet Foxes into the mainstream last year, Local Natives are contributing to a growing scene of people that are creating truly great music. The last song, a cover of an early Talking Heads song 'Warning Sign' doesn't just do it justice, it completely revolutionises the sound.
Their stunning vocal harmonies and delightful pop hooks draw you in draw you in and let the rest of the music wash over you as refreshingly as a cold beer on a hot summers day.
Skeletons & The Empty Pockets are the most recent addition to the Too Pure Singles Club, which has already produced 500 limited edition hand numbered 7" singles for the likes of Three Trapped Tigers, Friendship and Pulled Apart By Horses this year.
The Sheffield quintet formed over a love of Michael Jackson, Martial Arts and Slayer, Oh Brother, Oh Sister is reminiscent of bluesy, Queens Of The Stone Age style with pop choruses and the B side, 'In The Woods' has much more of a standard indie pop edge to it. Oh Brother, Oh Sister is the sound of a band with talent still trying to find that niche that will make them stand out above the rest.
Sunday, 26 July 2009
So with under a week to go Field Day is nearly upon us. With a lineup including a load of Boop favourites, Mogwai, Four Tet, Errors and a whole heap of other awesome bands, including:
Sian Alice Group,
The Big Pink,
The Temper Trap,
These are just some of the highlights, with all sorts of other things going on including a village fete, this is an event not to be missed.
I even love the artwork that has been posted in and around London for the past few months.
See you there.
Sunset Rubdown are one of the many Canadian supergroups to come out of Canada over the last few years, made up of founding member Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade fame and Wynne Ingr from Pony Up! and others.
Since first hearing these guys I have always had a soft spot for their delightful brand of weird yet charming indie. In fact their last album 'Random Spirit Lover' had a prime position in my top ten from last year so I had high expectations for their latest addition Dragonslayer.
Having already broken the barrier and let their sound sink in, Dragonslayer for me is an instant hit, as with 'Random Spirit,' their songs have a tenancy to go far beyond the three minute pop indie hooks and where you would be expecting the songs to end they suddenly pick up and go a different direction, songs such as the six minute 'Idiot Heart' which builds up to an epic finish with banging drums and a brilliant guitar solo with Spencer Krug's distinctively shrill vocals whirling away over the top.
The album is a lot more high energy and more angry than before still steeped in melody and complex twists with the emphasis on keyboards and piano parts and the running almost medieval fantasy theme with songs such as Black Swan, Dragons Layer,
including Krug's formal yet cryptic lyrics playing a main part in the overall style
of the album.
Dragonslayer is a brilliant addition to Sunset Rubdown's gleaming back catalogue and being a slightly more approachable album than usual will almost certainly gain them more a larger fanbase.
August the 10th sees the 20th anniversary re - release of The Stone Roses seminal self titled debut, one of the most important albums of its time. In the build up to this release they have been releasing a set of their first five singles with all sorts of art prints etc, the dates for these releases are:
6th July - ‘Elephant Stone’
13th July - ‘Made Of Stone’
20th July - ‘She Bangs The Drums’
27th July - ‘Fools Gold’
3rd August - ‘One Love’
So tomorrow will see the release of their biggest hit 'Fools Gold', there is a massive Facebook partition to get it to number one and a website set up featuring all sorts of archive material, www.thestoneroses20.com. It has been great to hear all of these classics again, they still feel as relevant today as they did twenty years ago. This is the sound of a band who would pretty much shape the outcome of the British music scene for years to come.
John Butler is someone that a fair amount of people in this packed venue have waited a long time to see, although massive in his native Australia he has still yet to hit the sort of mainstream success he has achieved in his home country, something that doesn't bother him in the slightest, still feeling totally humbled at the fact he can come halfway across the world and sell out venues as established as the Union Chapel. In fact the venue felt just right for this intimate and rather special event, the Union Chapel, a big converted church where everyone still sat on the old church benches and purveying a sound which flowed and echoed off of the insanely old walls which fitted perfectly until the drummer came on 3/4s of the way through the set and was still drowned out by the vocals and guitar.
This was a truly magical performance with a set list consisting of all of the greats, Treat Yo Mama, and Zebra.
Despite the seating everyone was lifted to their feet in a wave of applause after the stunning 12 minute 'Ocean' which totally blew me away, never has an acoustic set felt so epic and intense, the sort of stuff he does to that guitar would be a struggle for two normal guitarists to keep up with.
John Butler is an extremely talented man with a great vocal range as well as brilliant guitar work which was more than enough to satisfy me but he had to go and push it even further by having a jam session whereby him and the drummer switched places whilst playing and he proceeded to showcase his skills on the drums as well.
This show stopping performance had the crowd revelling in his every move and there were still people waiting in the pouring rain to get his signature about an hour after the gig had finished.
Tortoise's sixth full length album couldn't have come at a more important time, with the likes of Battles, Animal Collective gaining huge success it feels only right that one of the pioneers of the weird and wonderful should be back displaying an album that could very well be one of their best to date. More accessible than some of their previous work 'Beacons Of Ancestorship' as with any Tortoise album completely revolutionises their sound with tracks taking on a more 'happy,' energetic route than some of their older material, mixing in a lot more crazy synth noises with some fast paced drum beats such as the 3 minute 'Prepare Your Coffin' which feel more like jazz and electro than anything post rock.
In fact through the album we find a huge variety of different influences with every track feeling that little bit different with the first three tracks mixing in heavy, dirgey samples and then you get track four, 'Gigantes' which starts as more of a Lo- Fi, stripped down number and builds up to the kind of spacey synth sounds you would expect to hear as the soundtrack to some kind of Blade Runner esq film.
The craziness doesn't stop there, with tracks such as 'Yinxianghechengqi' adding some punk into the mix.
Being their first release of new material for over five years, Tortoise have definitely taken the time not only to hone their very distinct sound but to completely evolve with the times and create an album that is totally full of surprises.
The latest single from upcoming Hamburg based electro Dj 'Fukkk Offf' is as dark as it may very well sound. Love Me Hate Me Kiss Me Kill Me is the title track from his debut album out a little later this summer and is a homage to the infamous 'Sinful Mile' in Hamburg's red light district. With a dirty bassline pretty much running through the whole six minute track and some pretty interesting loops and samples this is one for the dancefloor.
The single contains three remixes of the track by dj's all over the globe ranging from New York local 'SCNDL' to Moscow based 'Polymorphic.' Each of these dj's bring their own distinctive stlye to the track.
Friday, 24 July 2009
Since this single arrived through my door earlier in the week I have not stopped listening to it. The dramatic chorus and some very unsettling guitar work combine to create an aggressive yet uplifting song. Just when you think the greatness is over, up comes the dreaded B side which is just as awesome as the single. 'In The Blackout' has more of that awesome epic guitar and drum work, building up to a great chorus that is the sort of hook that you want stuck in your head. Twilight Sad are another sterling addition to the recent surge of awesome bands coming from Glasgow. 'I Became A Prostitute' is just a hint of greatness from their upcoming album. I can't wait to hear it, these guys are one of my top favourite bands.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
I got my YCN Library Card through the post today, for those of you who don't know, YCN have now opened 72 Rivington Street, which is the physical home of YCN. The bottom floor of the two story building has a lending library where you can pick up, amongst other things the Middle Boop zine.
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Bowerbirds, the trio from Raleigh in North Carolina release ‘Upper Air’. The follow up to their 2007 debut release ‘Hymns for a Dark Horse’. After a tour with The Mountain Goats, and being described as their “new favourite band in forever” by lead singer/songwriter John Darnielle in the process. Upper Air would have been eagerly anticipated, especially by such musicians amongst modern American Folk music. For those of you Indie lovers who appreciate lush harmonies with textured but stripped down instrumental production then there is no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy this album. Right from the off, album opener ‘House of Diamonds’ begins with Phil Moore’s soft vocals, piano and acoustic guitars before accordionist Beth Tacular joins in the chorus with her harmonic vocals to leave the listener with a clear sign of what’s to follow. Instrumentally Moore and Tacular can do no wrong where the guitars, accordion, piano and drums compliment each other well, especially in songs such as ‘Beneath your Tree‘, ‘Chimes’ and ‘Crooked Lust‘. The male/female harmonies add a dynamic approach to the vocals which is appealing to the audience. Songs like ‘Ghost Life’ has an anthemic feel to it with the chanting like sing-along chorus. A simplistic touch which can appeal to a wider demographic also. For those of you who enjoy meaningful lyrics with a good story and like them to stand out then
I can see ‘Upper Air’ losing its initial appeal after many listens. Once you become used to the overall sound of the album you begin to focus on the album lyrically. After a few plays, I do wonder whether the lyrics have any true meaning and can take a while to figure out, but perhaps this adds some mystery to the records concept. And for that, then you’ve got to give these guys some credit.
Following on from the recent success of American Alt-country/New Folk artists such as Band of Horses and Bon Iver during recent years, Ohio based Jason Molina has been making contemporary music of this kind for the best part of 15. With his band Magnolia Electric Co, they release their third LP as a 4 piece. A concept album in memory of late bass player Evan Ferrell who was tragically killed in a fire accident in 2007, Molina expresses his deep loss with the title given under a different pseudonym. ‘Josephine’ gets going after the piano and horn led opener ‘O! Grace’ with the doo-wop influenced but punk-rock aesthetic of ‘The Rock of Ages‘. With its long build up and abrupt ending, closing the track in under 3 minutes, it invites the listener to imagine how the song could progress. We continue to feel Molina’s themes of loneliness in a more focused manner throughout the record, in tracks such as the title track, ‘Hope Dies Last’ and ‘Map of the Falling Sky’ which portray the emotion of tragedy in his lyrics. Musically Magnolia often creates an atmospheric mood with a multi layer of brass instruments, keyboards and banjos alongside the basic rhythm section, instead of a more stripped down attempt which one may feel would be more suitable to the lyrical nature of this recording. However, I feel ‘Josephine’s lack of direction lets it down. Clocking in at 46 minutes, these 14 tracks begins to feel tiresome approximately 2 thirds of the way through meaning its length prevents it from ever being a classic. Overall though, Steve Albini’s well polished production doesn’t make you forget the melancholy expressed in Molina’s performance of which ’Josephine’, may well be his strongest and most poignant song writing contribution of his many releases to date.
Monday, 20 July 2009
Young French DJ and the hottest remixer in town Brodinski has debuted his mix album as part of the legendary Bugged Out mix series. This is a mix album filled with 303 beats, bleeping synths and tunes from the scenes best artists including Boy 8-Bit, KC Flightt, Noob, Zinc and plenty more.
All the tracks are blended superbly as only Brodinski can, they are blended so well that you would also be fooled into thinking that you were listening to one continuous track like some kind of electronic prog opus.
It doesn’t start getting energetic until the last half of the album when the tempo picks up and the dirty, distorted electro kicks in and you are given no other choice other than to embrace it and shake all that can be shaken. That’s not to say the first half isn’t exciting and energetic but this is more a groove based affair designed to make you nod your head and tap your feet, it’s like switching from Marvin Gaye to Metallica they’ll both get you moving but in different ways.
This is excellent edition to the Bugged Out series one which is sure to prove a big hit among the kids. Brodinski is also out and about DJing round Europe, including a couple of dates in the UK, and the world so be sure to check him out soon!
With their debut album 'Conditions,' Australian quartet The Temper Trap are treading dangerous ground. They have the ability to go one of two ways, one way would be to continue writing songs like 'Drum Song' and 'Rest' and undoubtedly gain mutual respect and admiration from a devoted group of fans and musicians alike, or they could go and do what Snow Patrol did and completely lose the ethics to which they started with, write some truly awful pop music and play Wembley or something.
I hope it's not the latter as Temper Trap do have a pretty decent debut album here, albeit a few tracks do get a bit too polished for my liking but for the best part there are some really great pop hooks that build up to some nice epicy finishes.
For the hardened music nerd Temper Trap will probably end up a guilty pleasure band, much alike Death Cab For Cutie, no one wants to admit they like them but will gladly whip out an album and listen to it with the greatest of ease.
Already playing some great dates in and around the Country over the next few months including Field Day next month they are sure to draw a crowd.
Check tracks 'Love Lost' and 'Resurrection'
Amazing screen printer Dan Stiles recently sent over some of his finest work in which I feel needs to be showcased. Stiles, whose work feels reminiscent that of Saul Bass and other designers from that era has certainly been living the rock and roll lifestyle, creating pieces for some of Boop's favourite bands including Grizzly Bear, Mars Volta and Justice. His bold use of colour and geometric shapes make his work really stand out as one of the finest in his field.
Check his site for many more exciting pieces.
The latest edition of the Middle Boop magazine is now in stock at 72 Rivington Street, otherwise known as the physical home for YCN. The ground floor at of the building is open publicly daily, to present the outcomes of YCN projects alongside other creative work and products. It is awesome for the Middle Boop magazine to be included in such a great hub for creativity.
Urban Outfitters have just released the second edition of their music player ltsn. To accompany the 20 track streaming album, featuring Slow Club, Bat For Lashes, Au Revoir Simone and Datarock the designers have created a specific piece for each track consisting of some really nice photo montage. Well worth checking out.
Jay Reatard is a name that has been bounding about in the music world for quite some time now and so it should be, this man has been involved in so many different bands, projects, collaborations, etc and at this point in time you will find his name in 23 different album releases ranging from garage rock legends The Lost Sounds and The Reatards to side projects Deconstruction Unit and Angry Alves, he has released 7” splits with Sonic Youth and Deerhunter and averages around 150 gigs a year(despite some only lasting 10 minutes.) So even though ‘Watch Me Fall’ being only his second studio album if you haven’t heard his name before, why the hell not?
Watch me fall combines his original punk and garage ethics but pushes his own boundaries further by adding a few well produced pop hooks into the mix, which makes his music certainly more accessible but in doing so does not lose any of the Reatard charm and the lyrics themselves are as dark and forcefull as ever.
The album was recorded entirely in his home studio With each instrument played and recorded by Reatard. It feels a lot cleaner production wise than some of his earlier work which has advantages and disadvantages, yes it certainly shows his sound in a new light but it does seem to lose a bit of that raw energy and impact that his live shows are well known for.
Either way this is still a very good album and as it develops you seem to be let more and more into the wonderful world of Jay Reatard, with tracks such as ‘My Reality’ and the proper old school punk, ‘Hang Them All.’ His music is very reminiscent of early Ramones and Clash, with simple, catchy songs that pack a punch. He has taken these influences and developed a real style, to the point where his songs are very recognizable.
It is certainly onwards and upwards for a man who is doing things the hard way and succeeding.
Of Montreal are a band that have really progressed ad over the last few years bigger and bigger, developing a pretty large and dedicated fanbase, so with this being their biggest show in London to date there is no surprise that the venue is packed full of the weird and the wonderful all waiting for their opportunity to see one of Of Montreal's very special shows.
Before they got under way though, Shepherd's Bush was graced with the presence of a very special support act going by the name of Local Natives. Neither myself or colleague had ever heard these guys before and after their first few songs I couldn't believe his excitement (being a hard man to please) stating "These guys are really, really good." He was right they were. Playing the sort of alt country that brought people like Fleet Foxes into the limelight last year with their mix of ridiculously tight musicianship and intricate vocal harmonies which sounds so refreshing from the usual below par support acts, it is rare to see a supporting band with so much to offer, I mean Local Natives really know how to right a good song and to top that they are great guys who just seem to love what they are doing.
Of Montreal came onto stage in their usual eccentric fashion, with band members being led onto stage by dancers in various colourful costumes and a guy in a fox mask, exploding straight into 'Nonpareil Of Favor,' the opener from recent album Skeletal Lamping. By the end of the song they were joined on stage by dancers in gas masks and pyjamas who appeared to by killing someone for a reason possibly only known to the band. The set continued in this crazy fashion with lots of visuals, dancers acting out surreal routines on stage involving masks, feathers and a lot of glitter. It really made for a unique show and showed that as they have gotten bigger they have really made the most of what they now have access to. Their more recent songs fitted in well with the older classics but my highlight was the 11.53 minute 'The Past Is A Grotesque Animal' which sent the crowd into a frenzy of dancing.
This was a great show from two bands who certainly have bright futures ahead.
Not only was this Of Montreal's biggest London gig, it was also the biggest show that Middle Boop have designed a print for, which went down pretty well. The print is also being given away as part of a competition in conjunction with Rough Trade stores.
Monday, 13 July 2009
This event marked Engineers first gig in over two years and despite such a long absence they pulled off an unforgettable show. The venue was absolutely rammed, with many people struggling to find a decent spot as so many people were , you can tell this was a gig fans had been waiting (very patiently) for. The band themselves seemed quite humbled by the fact that so many people had given their time out to check out Engineers and they certainly didn't disappoint and loved every second of the gig, with lead singer Dan Macbean bounding onto stage with a huge grin on his face.
This was the launch night for their new album 'Three Fact Fader' they did showcase a lot of new material which the crowd seemed to love, despite a majority not having heard them before, tracks like their most recent single 'Clean Coloured Wine' and the droney 'Does It Feel Right' went down really well.
The sound quality was amazing with each corner of the venue drenched in their blend of Synth laden Prog. This is most certainly a 'live' band, with new tracks 'Three Fact Fader,' 'Emergency Room' and the showstopper 'The Fear Has Gone' taking on a whole new life on stage.
The looks on people's faces after the show said it all. The two year gap was well worth the wait.
After really enjoying a lot of music Fatcat and One Little Indian are producing recently I jumped at the chance to check a number of their latest bands showcasing material all under one roof.
The event was part of a week of gigs at the ICA hosted by a different label each night in order to celebrate Independent labels with Bella Union, and Ninja Tune also hosting nights. The ICA has put on some great gigs of late, (Mogwai's week long residency a few years ago and more recently Errors) and this was no exception.
The first band to grace the stage were the hotly tipped 'We Were Promised Jetpacks' this was a great time for me to see them as their recent debut album has really grown on me and their live show proved exactly why these guys look set to have a sterling year. Their live sound was immense, coming on with the eight minute 'Keeping Warm' which built up to a catastrophically epic few minutes of delayed guitar, pounding drums, catchy vocals, hazes of dry ice and lights, this is how their set continued. After literally blowing the crowd away for the best part of an hour the the lead singer asked 'it's really quiet, have we done something wrong,' obviously modestly unaware of how much the crowd were in awe of them. A hard act to follow but tonight's headliners 'Twilight Sad' who produce their brand of post rock absolutely drenched in effect laden guitars, emotive vocals and synths, showcasing material from their upcoming album they proceeded to spend their time on stage similarly blowing the crowd away with bone crunching intensity.
I needed a breather after the set had finished, still trying to get my head around what I had just witnessed, both bands had completely outdone any expectations.
All is certainly looking good for Fatcat and One Little Indian.
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Scottish band De Rosa announced a little while ago that they were to split. Signed to amazing indie label Chemikal Underground, De Rosa created a wonderful blend of Post Rock and Folk. Their latest album Prevention was released only a few months ago and was applauded by critics including us.
These guys will be missed.