Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Egyptian Hip Hop are a four-piece who, physically, bear a resemblance to a Bizarro version of The Horrors, all bright and cheery with a splash of colour and smiles. And I am going to try and ignore the fact that their music, identity and nationality are quite unlike their moniker and simply review the spectacularly new-fangled sound they introduce to the world on ‘Some Reptiles Developed Wings’, a new EP from the Manchester mob.
The four tracks on the record were produced by the funk mastermind known as Hudson Mohawke (whose album ‘Butter’ must be absorbed immediately for those not in the know) and it shows in the glistening sense of something new that jives it’s way throughout the piece. Opener ‘Moon Crooner’ begins, worryingly, with an 80s synth riff cutting into the track. Thankfully, some Cut Copy stylings and a boogie that screams out Mr Mohawke stage a daring rescue.
Then comes ‘Rad Pitt’, the EPs pinnacle, with front man, Alexander Hewett, in full-on Robert Smith vocal mode, stealing the best of the 80s via disgruntled, emotional lyrics and grumbles. A killer bass and hook, driving from sparse to overwhelming in that special way that I thought only The Cure could complete the look.
‘Middle Name Period’ is one gorgeous instrumental (a rare category in contemporary music), jam-packed with the distinct noise of wood blocks, heavy bass, gyrating space lasers, deformed verbal samples, solitary kick drums and an extended family of formidable percussion. Closer ‘Native’ sums up the Egyptian Hip Hop experience, in that a listen through sees you peacefully meander through several supposed genres that leaves the taste of unexpected innovation and jovial confusion on the tip of your tuneful tongue.
The group are still a very inexperienced group of guys finding a musical flooring, albeit doing so with extremely rare panache and talent. Accordingly so, the odd wandering and rumbling that pop up time and time again on ‘Some Reptiles Developed Wings’ merely show a band testing the water. Egyptian Hip Hop are poking their drumsticks about in the murky mire of the current music scene and finding it overpowering, consequently absorbing and assimilating the great heap of information and morphing it into something listenable, danceable and ridiculously captivating. I hope this sparks more young musicians and artists to try something unique, purely taking stimulation from previous scenes rather than a simple bash and rehash mimicry. A debut album with the perfectly picked producer, who guides the talented hands of Egyptian Hip Hop, could be the launch of a new genre to laud and lavish with praise (and sadly inspire a bunch of bashing, mimicking sound-a-likes but you bloody can’t blame the inventor of the idea).
Amidst all the high profile reunions (the Blinks, the Libertines, Robbie and Gary (!)) certain, low profile bands finally back together have been lost in the media scrimmage. It’s a mighty shame because Seefeel are back after fourteen years with a new EP full of abstract electronics and bewildering beats. Seefeel, for those that missed the initial boat, are a group from London who bought some guitars into the field of electronica and ambience, verging on the fabled art of dreampop. They worked with Warp records, crafting a sizeable catalogue of acclaimed albums and EPs before, after a final gig in 1997, taking an extended leave of absence from the music world.
Luckily, the temptation such a world brings was too much for the band to resist, when they were asked to perform at Warp20 in Paris last year, a gig to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the label. Reforming, with a new bassist and drummer due to prior commitments, they now have a new four song EP in ‘Faults’, 14 years since their last release.
The tracks show a slide in emphasis towards a psychedelic blend of genre and tone, keeping the electronic edge yet vibrating to an almost primordial shoegaze style. Opener and title track ‘Faults’ shimmers and shudders with a certain frailty, masked with a thumping boom of a drumbeat. The vocals of Sarah Peacock blanket the track, both distant and binding, as if whispering in your ear from a mile away.
This melding of relaxation and electric turmoil in the sound of Seefeel resembles a remote ramble through a roomful of instruments and computers, hazily drifting from one nature to the next. The group certainly knows how to effortlessly evoke a mood or establish an atmosphere within a five-minute track, evident in ‘Crowded’, which feels truly claustrophobic in it’s incessant beat and intermittent, interrupting synth stomps.
Seefeel are back with a rumbling quake of an EP, ominously uplifting in its exploration of modern electronics. The second half of the EP seems less focused, and suffers slightly as a result, but still hold a distinct deftness that distracts and disorientates the mind in equal, pleasurable, measure. Seefeel remain electronic pioneers and, fingers crossed, a new album could see them warping a lot more minds in the future.
Words : Adam Parker
It was always going to be very difficult to top 2007’s masterpiece ‘Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?’ Of Montreal leading honcho Kevin Barnes attempted to recreate that fate a year later with ‘Skeletal Lamping’, which don’t get me wrong, had its moments and some definite quirky pop gems for that matter. But despite all praise and positive reviews it got, by his standards it was not a patch on its predecessor. So what do they come up with next? This time it has taken 2 years to follow up ‘Skeletal Lamping’ and in the form of ‘False Priest’ you can hear where that extra time went, adding extra R&B elements with a deep pop production, Kevin Barnes is onto a sure fire winner once again.
Album opener ‘I Feel Ya Strutter’ has no introduction, launching straight into the chorus bar a 2 second timpani percussive beginning, showing that they don’t want any bullshit on this record. ‘Our Riotous Defects’ demonstrate the humour that Of Montreal has so consistently mastered throughout their 10 album back catalogue. Barnes portrays a couple of spoken word passages about a “crazy girl” he may or may not have had some infatuation with. The first single from ‘False Priest’ ‘Coquet Coquette’ is a clear highlight. Showing emphasis of a Spectoresque Wall of Sound together with a sensuousness that show confidence that the band are personally pleased with the way things are going.
Helped by the production of Jon Brion, we get this soulful vibe in the records sound, returning to live organic instruments together with sequencers and midi sounds certainly making ‘False Priest’ their most funky release to date. As well as this, I also notice a clear sassiness in Barnes’ lyrics. Tracks like ‘Godly Intersex’, ‘Sex Karma’ and ‘Girl Named Hello’ are fine examples that to a certain extent wouldn’t sound out of place at a classy 70’s disco. ‘Enemy Gene’ and ‘Sex Karma’ feature guest appearances from R&B stars Janelle Monáe and Solange Knowles respectively, while we continue that 70’s soul vibe with the excellent ‘Famine Affair’. Closing track ‘Do You Mutilate?’ continues in the similar formula we get throughout ‘False Priest’, during the first 2 minutes at least. The track then develops into this robotic sounding vocal freak-out for a further 4 minutes about sporadic themes such as race and the afterlife. A track that is nightmarishly creepy yet still blissful and funky at the same time.
So whilst Of Montreal has continued to develop new ideas on this record it still sounds very much like their own. A fusion of Psychedelia and R&B seem have worked well on False Priest, with Barnes himself branding the term “Soul Punk” during a passage on ‘Do You Mutilate?’ which could well be described as the albums sound. As excellent as ‘False Priest’ is though, the steadiness is by no means perfect. ‘Hissing Fauna...’ was indeed perfect in every way shape or form but you wouldn’t expect them to top it’s genius just yet. However, I would say that it is a more consistent and coherent LP than ‘Skeletal Lamping’. Barnes and his band are heading in the right direction towards creating another flawless record yet again.
Words: Freddy Rothman
Monday, 30 August 2010
Sunday, 29 August 2010
Roadburn festival is thrilled to unveil the curator for the 2011 edition of Roadburn: Sunn O))). The band, to be specific Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley, has agreed to curate the festival running for 3 days from Thursday 14th April to Saturday 16th at the 013 venue and Midi Theatre in Tilburg, Holland.
As curator, Sunn O))) will personally select the bands that will play during their special event as well as perform a headline show. Sunn O))) will be Roadburn’s fourth curator, following David Tibet in 2008, Neurosis in 2009 and Triptykon’s Tom Gabriel Warrior at this year’s festival.
Friday, 27 August 2010
This Nottingham based five piece are about to take the world by storm. Pristine vocal harmonies played over that same tropical indie jangle that has so many heads turning at the moment. Kind of like a punky Local Natives, with first single 'The Glockenspiel Song' already showcasing strong song writing capability, so much so that they have seemingly already found their niche, this really is a band to check out.
Dog Is Dead
Thursday, 26 August 2010
Everyone's favourite Icelandic nutter Björk is back, having just released a new song to go with the forthcoming Moomin 3D movie.
'The Comet Song’ will only be available as a digital download from September 6th. All profits received by Björk and her record company partners will be donated the UNICEF childrens charities in Pakistan to help aid flood relief.
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
One of the greatest bands of the last 10 years, Liars, who released their latest stunning album Sisterworld earlier this year on Mute, have announced they will play a new London headline show at Heaven on the 11th November courtesy of ATP. They also have a new EP named Proud Evolution out on the 18th October featuring amongst other things a Thom Yorke remix. Support for the London show is to be confirmed, tickets are on sale from today. Purchase here
Despite their short history, San Franciscan's The Fresh & Onlys have already released a flurry of 7"s, a limited-edition cassette, and two full-length albums (on Castleface and Woodsist) 'Play It Strange' will be their first for the legendary In The Red Records and third album total in less than three years.
Sound pointers range from Violent Femmes, 13th Floor Elevators to early 80s British indie-pop and a nod towards the Australian underground scene of the same decade, 'Play It Strange' highlights the band’s ability to create pop music that’s skewed yet perfect.
'Play It Strange' will be released on the 25th October and the tracklisting with Artwork is as follows:
1. Summer Of Love
3. Until The End Of Time
4. Tropical Island Suite
5. All Shook Up
6. Be My Hooker
8. Plague Of Frogs
9. Who Needs A Man
10. Red Light Green Light
11. I'm A Thief
Having personally been recommended this band by John Dywer as well as their appearance at the Matt Groening curated ATP in May. Middle Boop welcome this release with open arms.
The excellent Silver Columns are back with their brand new video titled 'Always On' which you can see here!
“Always On”, released on the 13th September via Moshi Moshi and comes backed with a gloriously sprawling, thrillingly dense 9-minute remix by Caribou.
Monday, 23 August 2010
The scene on the album cover of ‘J. Roddy Walston and The Business’ could easily be a trashed hotel room taken from the set of Cameron Crowe’s ‘Almost Famous’, a space full of symbols of the counter cultural ethos that permeated the riffs and rasps of musicians who plodded out their wares across rain lashed Woodstocks and seedy saloons in beat-up backstreets. This mentality and mindset are almost extinct in 2010, replaced by clean-cut suits, up-market bars, boutique festivals and a steady but sure movement away from genuinely soulful rock and roll. Yet here comes J Roddy Walston and The Business, spawning a wondrous throwback to 70s with true blue-eyed rock and roll, dive bars and flung beer bottles on their self-titled debut record.
Walston, the heart, soul and instigator of the band, has been at this for over a decade, piling through line-up changes in the early years, gaining some reputation as a party band in the Nashville scene. The very next party I am lucky enough to host, attend or gatecrash, I vow to find some way to throw this into the play list and hope it will end up in some form of chaotic, limb-flinging throw down (also known as the perfect party).
J Roddy Walston flings every influence that comes his way into the melting pot of music manufactured by the band, including a hint of gospel, even if just in the holy spirited essence that fuses itself to the albums ethos (whether that spirit is divine or Jack Daniels is very much up for debate). His family was a Southern churchgoing collective where musical hoe downs came thick and fast and you can feel the riotous shindig atmosphere building in the nooks and crannies of the instrumental howling.
‘Brave Man’s Death’ is some form of rock ballad with a delicious hook-laden core that weeps its way through a Southern folk story. The plink plonk of ‘Caroline’ resembles an American Elton John before devolving into the odd flash of heavy guitar slide and wonderfully crashing drums. The rasp and eventual breakdown on ‘Full Growing Man’ is as good as any 70s iconic caterwauling rock smash, stumbling from ‘Fortunate Son’ to ‘Tuesday’s Gone’.
The riffs, screams and punches that this record emits are echoes of so many 70s stereotypes but the sheer aggression and spirit more than makes up for any thought of this being outdated. Music is such a force that when it’s made as well and as passionately as this, the notion of uncool or old-fashioned is absolutely obsolete. Who cares where and when it comes from if it sounds this damn exciting?
There is the major issue that if you never became a fan of the blue eyed, rock and roll stylings that burst forth in the 50s and 70s, then this could be a major flop with its sentiment and approach so very modelled after such a sound. Be that as it may, say you don’t enjoy the sheer bollocks out rock that is peddled here and I will question your brain and proceed throw a beer bottle at your face, turn this record up to 11 and start a bar-room brawl to prove my point.
Words : Adam Parker
Following the announcement that Tyondai Braxton would no longer be playing for Battles, the band had to cancel their forthcoming shows including a headline performance at this years ATP Halloween show 'Release The Bats.' Replacing them will be New York post punk crazies, Liquid Liquid as well as the mighty Polvo who played their first show after a 12 year hiatus at the Explosions in the Sky curated ATP few years ago and London based noise trio Factory Floor.
Here is the complete lineup
WALLS (DJ Set - on Kompakt Records)
Anyone who attends dressed like one of the bands will be in with a chance of winning a trip for four to all 10 days of ATP this December; both festivals (Weekend 1 curated by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Weekend 2 curated by Belle & Sebastian) and In Between Days
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Young illustrator Jack Hudson is fresh out of uni and already making waves in the industry. With the backing of It's Nice That and some stunning work for Sky Larkin, things are looking bright for the talented man whose diverse range of colourful illustration first found a home with independant publishers such as Kruger and Nobrow.
Vermont trio Mountain Man who were recently over here in support of their wonderful album Made The Harbor were filmed performing a few songs in the abandoned St Augustine's Tower in Hackney. The surroundings provided the perfect setting for their minimal, haunting sound.
Wednesday, 18 August 2010
Here we have Middle Name Period, one of the stand out tracks from their fantastic upcoming EP Some Reptiles Grew Wings out imminently. This is a great place to start with a band that have so much potential for greatness.
Middle Name Period
the catchy-as-hell Cleveland four piece create seriously Lo-Fi pop that rivals anything about at the moment. They are set to release 'Turning On' on 25th October which will be their first major release with the single 'Hey Cool Kids' on 18th October
'Hey Cool Kids'
They will also be over here in November supporting Les Savy Fav:
13 - Glasgow, ABC 2
14 - Leeds, Constellations Festival
15 - Brighton, Komedia
22 - London, Electric Ballroom
To anyone who hasn't been to The Peel before, let's set the scene; The Peel is the only venue this far south of London within a massive radius that doesn't play host to old Clapton tribute acts and 15 year olds murdering whatever slither of dignity the Chili Peppers have left every night of the week. It was quite big on the British Rock and Ska scene a few years back when bands like Capdown were popular but now the real highlights are when, every so often they put on a 'secret' show when a large band wants to showcase new material.
Tonights performance showcased a lot of material from their upcoming Year Of The Ox 12" out a little later this year and some old classics such as Crusades, all played at the sort of deafening levels that make you realise ear plugs are always a good choice.
A Fucked Up show is really something to behold, they are the epitome of a 'live' band, before the first song has even dropped, lead singer Pink Eye has already got his shirt off and is in the crowd ambling in between the pit, grabbing people and generally making a nuisance of himself whilst screaming his gut wrenching vocals and smashing things over his head. The sheer volume and intensity of the gig had everyone totally in awe. Next time these guys are in town, make sure you catch them as you will be missing out on a real treat.
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
Scottish sextet Broken Records will be back late August in support of their new album Let Me Come Home which will be released October 25th. In celebration of this, they are also offering a free download here.
A Leaving Song
Saturday 28th August - Edge Festival @ Liquid Room, Edinburgh
Thursday 23rd September - Arthur's Day, Dublin (venue TBC)
Tuesday 28th September - Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, London
It takes a certain sort of special band to be able to make a track that's 'feel good' whilst retaining a punk aesthetic and still sound amazing. Well, unsurprisingly to anyone who know Japandroids, they have the power to do just that.
The Canadian duo have quite a unique hold on their fans and the ability to inflict an element of nostalgia into their sound with Younger Us a bit of a hark back to a time before that whole southern American 90's punk scene had been totally inflicted by money (thus the genre of 'Pop-Punk' was born.) The hooks are enough to entice any sceptical listener and the racket that the two piece make is second to none.
Younger Us is three minutes of pounding drums, uplifting guitar lines and a fiendishly catchy chorus. Without compromise Japandroids have created a huge following with a reputation for wild live performances, if you haven't had a chance to check them out yet, Younger Us is a great place to start.
Words : Gordon Reid
‘A stranger is just a friend I don’t know.’ Ok, that is a cheesy, touching and somewhat schmaltzy sentiment of which to begin a music review but it is ultimately fitting way to begin this particular look into a very exciting EP.
Coil Sea is simply a coming together of a bunch of friends and acquaintances who just wanted to turn up, plug in and play. Don’t be fooled, this isn’t just some random jam session but a careful orchestrated set of tracks with musicians pooled in from excellent acts such as; Arbouretum, Big In Japan and The Anomoanon. What blossoms out of this culmination of talent are four tracks of quite incredible raw emotion and fervour that is really deserving of your attention and adulation.
The EP begins in a grand fashion with the compelling ‘Abyssinia’. This track has that uncanny knack of being able to stimulate the neurons and synapses in the brain that cause the foot to begin to tap and accompany the hypnotic beat that is being provided for by the drums. One thing you will come to understand instantly with this band is that these are artists that do not believe in the conventional structure of a song. They are very content and happy to make a song run its course for however long it takes rather than being shackled by the limits of a 4 minute rock effort.
It has to be stated that if Coil Sea decided to perform as a live unit, they would not go wrong by starting with the first track. It feels almost like a invitation to a musical journey that you understand the band is undertaking with you. On my first listen of this EP, I could not help but feel it sounded like The Who swirling around in a maelstrom of 80s electronica and what the outcome was, was a very experimental and elaborate sound.
The second track, ‘Dolphins In The Coil Sea’ emanates and resonates a feeling to the listener that it is heralding a gathering to a celebration of music and the creationism of sound. As soon as the toms on the drums ring out, as well as being accompanied by striking guitar notes, the song takes on the form of a tribal gathering where you have the pleasure of hearing this band ply their trade and showcase their art to some esoteric deity. As for all of the tracks on this album, one thing I admire about this EP is that lyrics do not need to be the vehicle of the song. Every instrument is given it’s chance to shine and it seems more like a mutual partnership than a band.
This ambience is certainly felt in ‘Revert To Dirt’ where it is clear that every band member and instrument is on an equal footing in the mix. There is no such thing as vying for position in Coil Sea, just that pursuance for the warmest sounds. A quarter of the way through the song, the beat changes to an slithering shuffle that is embellished by good use of guitar effects, all of which culminates in a very dream like quality.
The final track, ‘Waking The Naga’ definitely begins with a purpose. This is the definitive track that really indicates that this is the crescendo of the journey that shows how far these strangers have come in creating some musical brilliance. The music feels like a rolling electronic wave siphoning its way through your very senses and leaves you with a very warm feeling as the final dulcet tones of the EP cascade out of the sound system.
If I was to advise on anything this month, I would definitely urge you to check this group out and stress that sometimes all you need is a feast of friends to develop a feast of music that will no doubt incite your interest and definitely acknowledge what this act is going to come up with next.
Words : Barclay Quarton
When legal reasons forced Australian three-piece Pivot to become PVT, a perfect opportunity was presented to said band to make an immense comeback from the two-year period since their last album, ‘O Soundtrack My Heart’. Thus met with much anticipation, ‘Church With No Magic’ sadly does not quite deliver. Or perhaps more accurately, aforementioned opportunity has not been seized to its full potential because ‘Church With No Magic’ is still a great record, make no mistake.
From the eerie chill that seems to seep out of the speakers during the Portishead-esque ‘Crimson Swan’ to the charming attempts at pop songs that are ‘Window’ and the title track, this album has at once an instant allure yet is also a grower, delivering more on each listen. True masters of the bedroom sound, the band certainly fulfil their mission statement of transforming ‘common metals into gold’, in a manner that is both innovative and unpatronising to the listener. Classical complexities such as the tempo change in ‘Windows’ and dynamic fluctuations in opening track ‘Community’ are well-placed and add depth, as opposed to being clumsily plonked in for no apparent reason, as is sadly so often the case in popular music.
Yet despite all this it is hard not to feel that the band could have gone a little further on this album; pushed forward to greater frontiers. Its overall sound is likeable in a comfortable, ironic-nostalgia way; akin to an amusing 1980s imagining of The Future, a sci-fi film set in the same era. Which at the end of the day isn’t really enough. To say that something doesn’t live up to the hype surrounding it often seems unfair, as hype is usually created by everyone other than the creators of the art themselves. So it seems suffice to draw on wise words of past teachers – good try, but could do better.
Words : Rachel Cranshaw
On the back of their album launch at Hammersmith Working Mens Club last week, the Manics
are celebrating the launch of fantastic new album Postcards From A Young Man
by offering a new exclusive, non-album track to download for free.
Manic Street Preachers // I'm Leaving You For Solitude by Stayloose ">I'm Leaving You For Solitude
Postcards From A Young Man is released on the 20th September. New single '(It's Not War) - Just The End of Love') which I'm sure you've already heard will be out the week before.
Here we have the new video from Blood Red Shoes latest single Heartsink which was out on the 16th August.
Upcoming live dates
27 August- Reading, Festival Republic Stage 8pm
29 August- Leeds, Festival Republic Stage 8pm
6 October- Manchester, Club Academy
7 October- London, Electric Ballroom
Monday, 16 August 2010
Following on from last weeks announcement of the new Mirrors single. 'Ways to an End' is bursting with infectious electronic pop nouse and Middle Boop can now bring you the brand spanking new video. A fittingly stylish and dramatic performance clip filmed at the uniquely stunning Brighton cinema, the Duke of York. If you like this then we're in for a treat with the Mirrors album, which we'll announce details of in due course. In the meantime, enjoy 'Ways to an End', which is out next Monday on Skint Records.
Klaxons' long awaited new single Echoes is out today on Polydor Records. You can see what you think by watching the video for Echoes here:
It's the start of a very busy fortnight for the group. Next week they celebrate the release of their follow up to 2007's debut LP 'Myths of the Near Future' in the form of 'Surfing the Void', with a gig at London's Heaven on Tuesday 25th August.
You can pre-order both tickets and the new album now via: http://hmv.com/hmvweb/navigate.do?&pPageID=4647
Friday, 13 August 2010
In conjunction with Oxfam, Sam Duckworth of Get Cape has auctioned himself on Ebay offering to play in the house of the highest bidder to raise funds for the floods in Pakistan.
The bidding ends at approximately 14.37 on August the 18th and has already raised well over £1000.
You can check out how the auction is getting on and bid here.
To celebrate the release of Chilly Gonzales new film featuring Tiga and Peaches, electro meastro himself Erol Alkan has reworked the Gonzales track Never Stop.
Chilly Gonzales - 'Never Stop' (Erol Alkan Rework) - Preview by phantasysound
Taken from their forthcoming EP, we have their incredibly catchy song Moon Crooner on offer as a free download.
New EP 'Some Reptiles Grew Wings' will be out via Moshi Moshi on September 20th.
Sunderland's greatest import since...Ever? Frankie & The Heartstrings are set to release their new single Ungrateful on the 4th of October. This will be the bands first single to be available digitally.
They are also playing host to a number of live dates.
LIVE DATES including co-headline tour with Summer Camp**
14/08 Leicester, Summer Sundae Festival
19/08 Edinburgh, Fringe Festival Cabaret Voltaire w/ Sky Larkin
26/08 Reading, Oakford Social NEW £3.50 / £4 http://www.wegottickets.com/event/89003
27/08 Reading Festival, Radio 1 / NME Stage (early doors! first band of the weekend)
29/08 Leeds Festival, Radio 1 / NME Stage (early doors! first band on)
30/09 Brighton, Jam**
01/10 London, Lexington** SOLD OUT
02/10 Leeds, Brudenell Social**
04/10 Cardiff, Clwb Iforbach**
05/10 Manchester, Deaf Institute**
06/10 Glasgow, Stereo**
08/10 London, Lexington** NEW £8.50 www.ticketweb.co.uk / www.wegottickets.com http://rockfeedback.com
09/10 Newcastle, Cluny**
10/10 Nottingham, Stealth**
19-23/10 New York, CMJ Festival NEW
Check out this new video 'New Rules'. The forthcoming single from Finish duo Shine 2009. Harnessing edgy beats and lazy atmospherics, 'New Rules is their blissful modern take on the summer baleric sound.
Thursday, 12 August 2010
We at Middle Boop have been ever supporting of the influx of bands creating the fascinating new wave of Psychedelic/Lo-Fi sounds that has been gripping the underground scene over the past few months. None more so than San Francisco's Thee Oh Sees who with their ever expanding back catalogue including one of our favourite albums of this year so far 'Warm Slime' have gained a cult following across the world.
I, Freddy Rothman caught up with John Dwyer from the band before their sold out gig at London's Luminaire venue for a chat about their latest sound, junk food, The Fall and of course his current band.
Firstly, its nice to have you over in the UK.
How’s the European tour been so far? Any shows that have stood out at all?
God there has been a bunch of good ones. Playing All Tomorrows Parties was really fun, we got to meet a lot of cool people. Meeting James Chance was great. Matt Groening was awesome. There were a lot of great bands, that and the sound there was really good and really enjoyable. Just lots of great bands, Spiritualized who I’m not really a huge fan of were something else. Venice was great, we got to play on a boat in the Lagoon which was absolutely ridiculous, a really wasted night. Err…fuck, what else. Leeds was actually really great last night which was cool. It was like a million degrees but really fun.
You’ve just released your 11th LP ‘Warm Slime’ which I noticed the sound has evolved in a more Lo-fi and experimental direction during the last couple of records. How would you rank this alongside your previous work?
To be honest a lot of the rock records we don’t really listen to them because we play them live. It's more the softer stuff that I’ve gone back to a couple of times and listen to because it’s so different. I like how this one sounds, because we did it live. We did it in like 8 hours. Set up and played like if we would at a show, so we rented a club. We played on a stage mind you but we set up in the middle. We had an open bar, it was just really relaxed. We had our friends there. Mike from Sic Alps played on it with us, it was just really fun. So hopefully that comes across on the record. I feel I like a lot of the records more than the actual sound of them and the orchestration sort of reminds me of the moment they were recorded in my life, so ive got a little bit of a memory, so every one (album) is a little bit different. We try to move locations, like I’ll see a spot and if I like this spot I find the owner of the place and im like “Hey man, can I rent this for a day?” then he’ll be like (low voice) “why?”, then I’ll get freaked out and be like “it's just my band, I’ll bring everything at 10am then at 10 at night I will be ready to leave”, so I think we’ll be leaning in that live direction a little bit more.
I’ve noticed a surge recently of bands that have started experimenting in this whole Lo-fi/Psychedelic sound. Why do you think this fusion of sound has got more and more popular?
Well I think because it's accessible to everybody, like anybody can just sit down and record at home, whether it be digital or (analog). Like in San Francisco everybody has been buying these 3-88’s. This one particular machine, because it’s so user friendly. Im an idiot when it comes to that sort of stuff but I bought one of these and I cant stop recording. It's super fun to use, its like it was made by Play School or a toy company for adults that just wanna sit around, smoke weed and record songs. But yeah, I just think anybody can do it, regardless on whether you wanna gain a lo-fi aesthetic or not. The actual reality of lo-fi is that it means that its cheap and easily done. Anybody can do it, so its attractive to anybody who wants to write songs. Especially digital. Man I don’t really use digital myself, ‘cause I haven’t been able to make it sound good for me, but I can like check email and that’s about the extent of it. But it's cool, y‘know. It’s making more bands, and there’s a lot of people out there that wouldn’t normally be recording if it was otherwise.
Would you even say that the music scene in California has influenced your sound in any way, as well?
Yeah, California has always been great for music, man. Like I think the fact that its getting props now, is maybe the only fluke in the situation. When I moved out there, I loved so many of the bands I saw that never even made it out of the city, and broke up or whatever. But you know, the history of San Francisco and in particular LA is so incredible musically. San Francisco is just a weird and isolated place to live because it doesn’t have the money to hype up stuff so much. So the fact that its getting recognised is because its getting out into the world so much I think more than from home hyped up. Like these bands are all touring now and people want to do this suddenly
*Thee Oh See’s tour manager walks in*
Yeah definitely, the whole California thing has definitely kind of kicked on in the last few years hasn’t it? Especially in this country, bands such as Wavves and No Age etc have kinda transferred this Lo-Fi sound into the UK recently.
Yeah, I mean No Age is based on a club in Los Angeles which was a great spot to play for a long time. But, y’know, it's cool. It still definitely has a family vibe for a lot of it as well.
Going back to the new album. ‘Warm Slime’ is a very interesting title. Tell us a bit about that. How did that name come about?
I honestly don’t remember how that come about. The song is obviously just a repetition of summertime. We wanted to do a pretty summery, fun record that’s not so like, I’ll put a boom box on my bike when I ride to the beach, which is often. For me a summertime record is a poppy thing that makes me feel good on a sunny day, like the most recent thing ive been digging out is ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ by Rod Stewart. I’ve been loving that record so much, but I don’t know why. My mom always loved it when I was a kid but I hated it, but now it's suddenly come into the light. So now im trying to do something… not LIKE that, but sort of has that same vibe. Light hearted and catchy, y’know.
Yeah, its funny how you see things in a different light when you get older isn’t it?
Haha, yeah. I didn’t like hamburgers when I was a kid, and now I’m like ‘what the fuck have I been missing out on?’
Yeah yeah, I didn’t like Pizza until the age of about 15 (both in agreement with this discussion).
Yeah I also wanted to talk about the cover art for your records. The graphic design in your album artwork is fascinating, but seems to rapidly vary with each release. Would you say that Artwork is an important part of Thee Oh Sees aesthetic?
Absolutely. I hate nothing more than when a great band does a great record and then they have shit artwork. I feel like sometimes people are like “ok, that’s good”, and then they stop focussing. You know, because it's so much work to get a record together. Not us in particular because we’re like *click click*. Like im lazy and impatient when it comes to recording. Im just like “its done! Its good!” And I’ll do a couple of final touches. But some people spend so much time on their records. The Fresh and Onlys (fellow San Franciscan band) in particular spend so much time recording and getting it right, and they’ll re-record the whole record, which frankly I would never do unless it really sucked.
To me when you see a record on the wall, like there’s been a few records that I’ve bought based on the cover. I have no idea what it is. You see it and your like ‘wow what the fuck is this?’ and you asked the guy at the store “is this good?” he’s like “ah, it's fucking great!”. Also a lot of stuff is us showcasing friends of ours. The new record ‘Warm Slime’ was done by my roommate. He’s a painter and he’s amazing and I really liked that painting in particular, so I asked if I could use it and he was like “yeah I guess”, so its often people we know.
'Warm Slime' cover art.
It's like that with me also. If there’s an album im thinking about buying, and if the artwork is awesome that just swings it for me.
Yeah, especially on a 12” vinyl, and also a pretty record y’know. All the way deep into the heart of the actual product, its nice. The underground of vinyl is even making a comeback as well. We work with a company called Pirates Press in San Francisco that I love, that does anything. They get excited if you throw something at them that they can’t do, because then they’ll ask themselves ‘lets figure out how to make this work’, with the etchings, centre pressed stuff, holograms and weird shit. They love trying to do something weird. So, it's mighty fun.
Awesome. You have the habit of constantly releasing new material. What is it that inspires you to continuously record new music?
Everything around us. Other bands. Music. Art. I don’t really have too much to do outside that either, so I’m constantly writing and if the band latches onto something, then we’ll record it. I dunno, I don’t have any problems with releasing. Plus we move really quickly as a band. Our set turns over live so much, that if I were to pace myself more like somebody who was actually spending a lot of time on stuff then we’d be far behind in a live situation. Like the record would be coming out and there will be so much we haven’t played in 2 years, you know. So I always try and work with companies that have a quick turnover, who say they can get it out in a month, instead of saying it may take half a year and they will want to do some promo. That just wont work for me. And by then I’ll have another record out. I am trying to slow down a bit now.
That’s cool though, I like that. I like it when bands keep releasing stuff. I mean, a lot of bands just fuck around, spending years and years trying to perfect things, although in a way that can be good.
Exactly. We’re not My Bloody Valentine. We wont spend 5 solid years in a studio, that’s not what where we’re at. I respect that as well but it’s a very different aesthetic to what we have personally.
Yeah, I do like it when there is more stuff and you can constantly get into and keep listening to it. Where as some bands release an album, and you listen to it continuously for about 2 years, then you’re just waiting for the next record to come out. But with Thee Oh See’s I like that you release a new record and you don’t get stuck with it for too long.
Yeah. Plus, go get that money!
Haha. Yeah that’s another thing too. Ok, my last question for the readers of Middle Boop. What have you guys been listening to at the moment. What should we be listening to based on your current tastes?
This band Bare Wires. They’re great. They’re from our town and I don’t just want to talk about our town, but Bare Wires’ new record is phenomenal. It's not out yet but it will be soon. They’re just a really really great pop band. What else we been listening to? Mostly older stuff, honestly. It’s been a lot of Jay Reatard. (Turns and asks their tour manager) Kristen, What else have we been listening to a lot of? It’s been a varied selection.
Kristen: The Fall… oh and The Tear Garden.
Fuck yeah. The Tear Garden who are Edward Ka-Spel and Skinny Puppy’s band, The Tear Garden are fucking great, but theres been a lot of stuff like country music too.
The Fall you can never get tired of. They just peoduce so much stuff don't they?
Yeah! I almost hate that guy for being so easy to listen to.
Yeah, the whole of your life you can constantly discover a new album. Another band actually like yourselves in that respect.
Curious Oranj. His middle era has been really kicking in for us lately…
*The conversation develops into a frank and fruitful discussion of various Fall albums, including current LP ‘Your Future Our Clutter’. As well as the amazing essence of Mark E.Smith for several minutes before the interview closes. Then John and the rest of the band go off to get some food.*
Words & Questions: Freddy Rothman
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
I almost don’t want to write this review. Because I know if you haven’t heard ‘Treats’ already, some of you are going to read this and be seriously put off. So let’s just get this out the way shall we? Sleigh Bells are a noise-pop duo made up of Alexis Krauss and Derek E. Miller. They’re from Brooklyn and signed to M.I.A.’s N.E.E.T. Recordings after Spike Jonze told her to check them out. Oh and they’re getting major Internet buzz. I know, right? With a start like that Sleigh Bells didn’t really need to bother making their album good, but they did anyway.
This album somehow manages to simultaneously sound like nothing and everything you’ve ever heard before. The songs are simple and loud and exhilarating. In a half hour album there isn’t a lot of time for build up, so what you get instead is hook after hook smashing into each other, beginning with ‘Tell Em’, which was released as a single on August 9th. Amongst the noise there are some slower moments. ‘Rill Rill’ is as close to a ballad as you’re going to get and it is quite beautiful in a way, with Krauss’s vocals lending an almost childlike quality to the song as she sings “Have a heart, have a heart”. ‘Infinity Guitars’ is another standout track, purely for the way it kicks up a gear in the latter third. The lyrics are practically unintelligible over the cascade of drums and synths, as is the case with many of the songs on the album, although this should have little effect on how likely we are to enjoy them . The album finishes with the title track, ‘Treats’, which starts off sounding like ‘How Soon Is Now?’ before turning into a sinister screech of a song that ends as abruptly as the album began.
Comparisons to Crystal Castles are inevitable but not entirely helpful. This is pop music. They remind me of Micachu’s home made pop sound and just a touch of M.I.A. herself, with the copious use of patch worked unusual sounds. Is there an element of needing to get your ear around it first? Absolutely. But the pay off once you manage to do that is an immensely enjoyable album that I wouldn’t be surprised to find on a few end of year lists.
Words: Joanna Dunne.
Charming designer, writer, BMX rider Johann Chan recently commissioned the extremely talented type designer Seb Lester to design a logo and graphics for his bike frame, Emer Swift. Here are the stunning results.
Women will be back in the country later on this month in support of their new album Public Strain out on 30th August.
August 30 Sheffield, DiS @ Harley 8pm, £6 adv
August 31 Cardiff, Globe 7.30pm, £8 adv
September 1 London, Cargo 7.30pm, £7.50
September 2 Manchester, Deaf Institute 7.30pm, £8 adv
September 3 Leeds, Brudenell Social Club 7.30pm, £6.50 adv
September 4 Glasgow, Stereo w/Cymbals Eat Guitars **VENUE CHANGE**
September 5 Newcastle, Cluny 8pm, £7 adv
September 6 Brighton, The Hope 7.30pm, £7.50 adv
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
Mirrors have announced details of the release of a new single plus details of a European tour with OMD. ‘Ways To An End’ will be released on Monday August 23rd 2010 via the Brighton based label famous for bringing us a certain Fatboy Slim, Skint Records. Available on 7” and mp3, the single features another brand new track, ‘Broken By Silence’.
Middle Boop are pleased to be offering you the chance to stream 'Ways To an End' here:
Mirrors 'Ways To An End' by skintrecords
Full details of the band’s support shows with OMD in November are below:
13th Birmingham, UK Rainbow Rooms
18th London Lexington
20th Bristol Start The Bus
21st York Basement
27th London Club NME @ Koko (headline set)
28th Brighton Audio
10th London Monarch
11th Cologne GERMANY, E-Werk with OMD*
12th Hannover Capitol*
13th Leipzeg Haus Auensee*
15th Stuttgart Theaterhaus*
16th Munich Tonhalle*
18th Berlin Tempodrom*
19th Hamburg Docks*
21st Luxemburg, LUXEMBOURG, Den Atelier*
22nd Brussels, BELGIUM Ancienne Belgique*
23rd Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS Paradiso*
25th Paris, FRANCE Le Casino de Paris* *denotes with OMD
Monday, 9 August 2010
Formed just last year in San Francisco, primarily as a side project by Wooden Shjips’ Ripley Johnson along with Sanae Yamada, the aptly titled Moon Duo have since then released a Single, EP and have now come up with another piece of Psych-Doom gold in the form of an LP simply titled ‘Escape’. With the record consisting of only 4 tracks clocking in at 28 minutes, you may be mistaken for thinking we have another Extended Play here, but with a very effective use of repetition and riffs, it certainly has a feel of a very consistent album.
Each of the four tracks consists of a continuous drumbeat which gives ‘Escape’ a Krautrock edge to your standard piece of Doom Rock. The first composition we come across is called ‘Motorcycle, I Love You’ which starts with the base of a looped drum sound and guitar backing track that continues to get layered with keyboards, heavily distorted guitar riffs and mumbling vocals that is almost completely drowned in a wall of sound and noise. It has very much an improvised feel to it yet it leaves the listener with a unique dilemma to either lie in a darkened room with the music blaring through the headphones or dance around with the speakers cranked up full volume.
The remaining 3 tracks continue with this formula of rhythm and guitar loops, but with each track varying in tempo. ‘In The Trees’ again features dreamy guitar riffs but adds a more Psychedelic and drone feel. The closer you listen the more gorgeous the track sounds, with the build-up of textures combining to create a piece of blissful noise. ‘Stumbling on 22nd St’ has a more melodic essence to the previous two tracks with Yamada’s keyboard sounding more prominent. The vocals also sound clearer and it’s not until Johnson’s singing stops when the added guitars begin to wail out of the track.
The fourth and final number is the title track. Displaying a lighter approach with the backing track, Moon Duo continues to indulge us with layer upon layer of guitars but drenched with a divine use of Tremolo. What you get with ‘Escape’ as a song AND as a full album is a successful blend of riffs, noise and an energy that is driven without a weak note in hearing. Sure, you’ll find influences of the likes of Suicide, 13th Floor Elevators, Silver Apples and Faust but Johnson and Yamada have cleverly chosen the right elements to make this record the sound extremely fitting with the Psych sound of 2010, but one that is most certainly a gem like no other.
Words: Freddy Rothman.
With their hotly anticipated, self titled début album nearly upon us, Tweak Bird are offering Boop readers a free download of the track Lights In Lines, a stand out song from a great album.
Lights In Lines
Tweak Bird is out via Souterrain Transmissions on 30th August
On Nicholas Stevenson’s debut album, ‘Dearest Monstrous’, his sound held a hearty dose of sensitivity. It was evident and apparent in the guitar pluckings and elegantly fragile voice of Mr Stevenson, who recorded the whole thing in his bedroom. Such a homemade product had a heartfelt sensibility fused to the package, as if the intimacy grafted itself onto the music. With the release of a new EP, ‘The Aeroplane Darling’, it is worth asking whether any of this intimacy will be lost with the introduction of higher production values and the lack of an initial amateur approach.
‘The Aeroplane Darling’ is a five track EP with a wonderfully illustrated cover, setting up pre-listen high hopes to the likes of people like me, who find a beautiful cover an inviting entrance to a piece of music. The placid acoustic sound is still there and the vocals still seem on the verge of breaking, even more emotionally evocative than before if possible. Opener ‘Ernest’ is a troubled Elliot Smith-like wander into trembling refrains and dejected dreams. Thankfully, we still have the same storytelling sense, steeped in feeling and profundity. Stevenson has somehow managed to retain the overall attitude from his earlier work, transferring it flawlessly, albeit with the addition of some new instruments.
Highlight ‘Cambridge’ is a remarkable re-telling of spirited, youthful memories, instantly reminiscent to anyone who has left behind a city of fond friends and heart-warming history. Stevenson croons “Oh my oldest, my dearest friends” to unseen, past pals, reiterating a strikingly solemn sensation.
Nicholas Stevenson is a singer-songwriter with both a literary talent and a musical ear for the nostalgic, calling to mind similar artists such as Conor Oberst and even Leonard Cohen. He has some way to go yet but from such early releases, he seems to be heading somewhere passionately and dramatically. With each song and artistic exhalation, he takes his stories, voice and guitar on a journey that must only improve with the extension of what makes his talent so accessible, genuine experience and an existence through a kaleidoscope of emotion and music.
Words : Adam Parker
It is said that the amount of studio time that the eponymous Toronto hardcore psychedelic rock act Ten Kens spent on recording their second album was bordering on unhealthy. It was said that they had made the transitions from a magnanimous live act to living, eating and sleeping the production of their music, from dusk till dawn.
Well, it is my pleasure to announce to you that all those hours that this hard working band put into perfecting and honing their craft has not been vain. This is because their second offering ‘For Posterity’ is a fantastic continuation of form and something that is sure to delight their fans. It is also an album that draws in any new listeners to the group, such as myself, and grabs them and refuses to let them go before the last note on the albums rings out.
It is in this spirit and fervour that the album begins and we are treated to a drum solo to start the album with ‘Johnny Ventura’. You can tell Dan Workman and his band mates have been doing their homework on their psychedelic and progressive roots as you can almost be transported back to the early days of Pink Floyd as Dan lets out a Roger Waters-like wail over the thrashing guitar riff which is Ten Ken’s weapon of choice to get their musical message across to the masses. However, this is not to say that this group doesn’t have their mellow times on the record as we are treated to a break from their angst in the middle of the track. Ultimately, this track ceases in the chaotic fashion that it embellished at the start.
‘Back To Benign’ also shows the band taking on the influences of musical history as one can detect a touch of ‘Echo and The Bunnymen’ both in the rhythm and vocal sound. That is a key part of what makes this band so unique. There are no clear lyrics to be heard per say, as they are deep in mix and enshrouded by reverb, but the tones of the vocals is what carries each song.
Without doubt one of the rawest songs on the album is ‘Insignificant Other’. Their limits seem boundless and the band is left to flex their talent to their liking. This freedom is continued in the title track ‘For Posterity’ as both Punk melody and vocals are added to the cauldron to add to the bands relentless impact on the listener.
‘Screaming Viking’ is short and sweet but one of the best on the album. The whole track feels like a war cry and this is emanated from each instrument and voice and surmounts to two and half minutes of pure energy that is very rarely seen these days.
In ‘Summer Camp’, the bass guitar gets thrust centre stage and the vocals get brought out of their dream-like state to the forefront. This ambience is continued on to ‘Grassmaster’ where the music builds up slowly to a crescendo that sounds like many strings were shredded in angst.
In ‘Style Wars’, the longest track on the album, we are treated to a song that is very reminiscent of Oasis but the melody works more on chaos theory than any set structure. This is a track where you can see that the band must whip their followers into a riotous throng when they ply their art live on stage. ‘Hard Sell’ and ‘Welfare Green’ bolster the album with two more powerhouse songs, however the latter displays a slightly more melodious and softer edge that carries on to the end of record.
In my opinion, ‘Yellow Peril’ can definitely be considered one of the best on ‘For Posterity’. It is a tune that works very well in the studio and will certainly be a crowd-pleaser when they tour. It proves that there is more to Ten Kens than punchy riffs, however there is still a touch of this fury at the end. The album ends with the fitting ‘Can Not Be Dark’ and leaves you with the nice feeling that at least there is a band out there that cares about their music that they are willing to sacrifice a lot for in.
Ten Kens may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you can be rest assured that they will put their heart and soul into every endeavour that they accomplish and will not leave you unhappy.
Words : Barclay Quarton