Saturday, 26 February 2011
Friday, 25 February 2011
Having recently reviewed their outstanding album, I was particularly excited to interview fellow Brightonians Esben And The Witch. I met band members Rachel Davies, Daniel Copeman and Thomas Fisher over a glass of wine to find out a bit more about them.
Tegan MB: I've been aware of you guys for just over a year now. Is it fair to say you're a new band? There was a lot of press last year but how long have you actually been around for?
Rachel: We've been together for about two and a half years, three years now.
Daniel: Rachel's been saying two and a half years for about half a year now.
Tegan MB: Has the band always had the same line-up?
Thomas: I met Daniel about three years ago when we first started out; we just spent afternoons writing songs, working on drum loops with a drum machine and then Rachel joined us about two months after that. We always knew we wanted to add a vocal element to what we were doing and we went from there really. Daniel organised a gig for us fairly soon after that at the Freebutt.
Tegan MB: How do you feel about the Freebutt closing down?
Rachel: We're really sad about it; it gave a lot of people a really good opportunity, especially for bands like us.
Thomas: We played a lot of support shows there while figuring out what songs were good, what ideas were good, and how we wanted to go forward. We couldn't have done that without the support of a venue like that. It's a real shame.
Daniel: It's sad that for bands like us, just starting up, there won't be that kind of support.
Tegan MB: Even though the atmosphere of your music is quite otherworldly in many ways, do you think that there's anything about Brighton that's influenced or rooted your aesthetic?
Thomas: Geographically maybe, especially at this time of year: the sea, the cliffs, the downs. It's quite a spectacular place at times. All of us enjoy experiencing that, so I think that kind of infuses with the music.
Rachel: We all met in Brighton. It's quite a creative place and I think inevitably it's going to affect things.
Daniel: I think it's more about the people you meet in Brighton, the pace of life and to actually live in it, more than the town itself. I mean, it's impossible not to be aware of your surroundings, and it'd be foolish to claim that it had no bearing on the music.
Tegan MB: I've never actually seen you guys live and, obviously your music is quite theatrical, so I was wondering if that was matched by your live performances? Also, if it is, do you ever worry that people might think you're taking yourself a bit too seriously? Is it, maybe, a bit tongue-in-cheek?
Daniel: Yeah, it is quite theatrical-
Thomas: It's not tongue-in-cheek though... (laughs)
Daniel: No, it's not. We do wonder whether people think we're taking ourselves too seriously.
We're not going to do it any other way. You can't hide because someone, somewhere, doesn't like what you're doing. I think it comes down to conviction. It's the same with anything; if you genuinely believe in what you're doing, and if you personally think that it's good and it's appropriate, then you don't really have to justify what you're doing to anyone else. The only time you have to justify what you're doing is when you don't believe in it, that's when you start to question it, I guess. We try to put on a show.
Rachael: We try to make it a bit more personal. The live shows we appreciate are the ones that are a bit more all-enveloping, you know, with the lighting, and with the whole atmosphere.
Tegan MB: Have there been any changes to the way you do things since you signed with Matador?
Rachel: Nothing drastic, more of a gradual progression really.
Thomas: We've gradually become better musicians, hopefully (laughs).
Daniel: We've been really lucky in that, even though we've been signed to a label like Matador, we're still able to continue with what we've always done. With every other release, we recorded the album at home. It gives us the opportunity to go to the studio to record the vocals; whereas we always recorded the vocals in my bathroom, which is not ideal. If you're trying to push an album across continents, you should probably have the vocals recorded somewhere other than a bathroom.
Tegan MB: I think part of the reason why you guys deserve the attention you've been getting is because you've been loyal to this original aesthetic. So I guess there's not much chance of you guys taking a massive new direction?
Rachel: I wouldn't rule out doing something that was a little more left-field. But I think if we did, it wouldn't be a conscious, “Right, let's change things suddenly”. I mean, if it happens, it happens.
Thomas: It will happen naturally because the moment you go about planning in advance, it becomes a really horrible, unnatural process. There's obviously a bit of short-term planning that goes into how we want things, but we don't want to think too far into the future.
Rachel: It's a much more organic process.
Daniel: Invariably with anyone, in any situation, you'll have a lot of ideas; it's usually the ones that are timed right that end up coming to fruition, rather than when you hold on to an idea for a long time hoping you'll eventually get a chance to do it.
Tegan MB: I think, in a way, your album seems quite controlled...
Daniel: I suppose they're different things, though. You control your output, always. You don't just want to let everything go; it's much better to have the quantity lower and the quality higher. I think the difference is thinking about what you're going to do and thinking about how you're going to present it; knowing which bits you think work best.
Thomas: They're two different things. The aesthetic's one thing, whereas the composition of the album is something totally different. And that is something we spend a lot of time over, because we know we want the album to work; we want the artwork to fit with the songs; we want everything to follow properly. But the aesthetic is something we don't pay much attention to. There was no great plan with that – it's just left to surround the album.
Tegan MB: I wanted to ask you about being short listed for the BBC Sound of 2011 poll. How helpful do you think those kinds of things are for a band, and also, as a kind of taste-maker for the public?
Rachel: Well, it's incredibly flattering to be on the list. We were totally surprised by that, we really, genuinely weren't expecting it. I think they're helpful for bringing attention to artists that might not necessarily get as much otherwise.
Daniel: It's been very useful for us in that an absolute shed-load of people who had no idea who we were until that happened-
Rachel: (Laughs) -who were probably thinking, “Why the hell were they on that list?”
Daniel: I worry that, in our situation anyway-
Rachel: It creates an expectation.
Daniel: It kind of makes people think, because of the company that we're in, that we're gonna be more... straight up. It feels odd sitting alongside Jessie J. That's not to say those people aren't great; it's just that I'm not sure it's a sphere that we ever thought we'd be in.
Thomas: It's better that people judge us for the records and the songs we've released, rather than just solely for our inclusion on that list.
Daniel: It's in human nature, basically, to want to make a list for everything. We like to itemise things and that's not going to stop, regardless of your views on it. I've picked up a lot of great stuff from end-of-year lists though; some of them are good (laughs).
Tegan MB: So what's next this year then?
Rachel: Well, the album comes out on the 31st of Jan, so we're going to be touring for that
Daniel: We're going to see how far afield we can play. We've got a gig coming up in Brighton too. We haven't played in Brighton for over a year, so it's going to be scary. It's different when you're playing in front of people who have no idea who you are. You can be a bit more confrontational, and really put everything into it. But it's different when there's a suspicion that you might be playing to a bunch of people you know.
Tegan MB: Do your families ever come to your gigs?
Rachel: They've been to a couple of shows in the past; not in Brighton, but they've been to a few.
Daniel: My father came to one and got very drunk off our rider, and was being very vocal during our set. But in a lovely way!
Words: Tegan Rogers
Thursday, 24 February 2011
Battles are to release their long awaited follow up to Mirrored on June 6/7th.
Warp records this evening announced that the record is to be called 'Gloss Drop' and features collaborations from Yamantaka Eye, Matias Aguayo, Kazu Makino and Gary Numan. The tracklisting is this:
2. Ice Cream (Featuring Matias Aguayo)
5. Wall Street
6. My Machines (Featuring Gary Numan)
7. Dominican Fade
8. Sweetie & Shag (Featuring Kazu Makino)
10. Rolls Bayce
11. White Electric
12. Sundome (Featuring Yamantaka Eye)
Tripwires have announced details of their debut album 'SPACEHOPPER' which will be released on CD and digital download via Club AC30 on 23rd May 2011.
The band will be touring with Does It Offend You Yeah through March and April including a London show at Heaven on 4th April.
Tripwires also headline The Lexington on 21st April.
Tracklisting is as follows:
2. Positive Thinking
4. A Sunshine Overdose
7. Spring Snow
9. I Feel Sick
13. The Golden Age
Wednesday, 23 February 2011
Despite what I thought I knew about Deerhoof, which is admittedly very little, I was surprised with their latest. Deerhoof Vs Evil still contains what you would expect from this band; quirks, loops, squeaky fresh vocals and a general avant-garde energy, but it also offers something else.
Proving themselves as worthy technicians as well as musicians, Deerhoof worked every angle of the album, creating a singular vision of what they think it should sound like. The result feels raw, yet polished; a slice of garage rock with a twist of Deerhoof.
Despite the ranges in genre, the tracks are linked with a child-like innocence, both in lyrics, vocal delivery and song titles. Satomi Matsuzaki’s voice perfectly fits this aesthetic, always sounding sincere and playful in equal measure. Even when things get heavy, the band never sound anything less than fun, which is my biggest compliment. Deerhoof Vs Evil is the perfect summer record and I can’t wait to put it on whilst wearing my short shorts and sunglasses.
Album highlight, No One Asked To Dance is bittersweet and pretty. Stripped of electronics and led by a fast moving acoustic guitar, this is the black sheep of the album, sounding like nothing else. The song offers two minutes of sweet charm and emotion, giving the listener something to bite in to. In contrast, Secret Mobilization offers a slice of cool, sounding almost like soul, but with grimier guitars and a very heavy breakdown. These heavy breakdowns are a frequent Deerhoof fixture and they use them very cleverly, always giving the songs a rush adrenaline if needed. Album closer, Almost Everyone Almost Always has a spacey shoegaze sound, but ends rather abruptly. I was expecting an adventurous, even epic, end to the album, but was surprised by this modest, but enjoyable piece.
To describe Deerhoof Vs Evil as humble, may sound stupid, but it’s accurate. Songs never wander, instrumentals are lean and they say what they need to say without leaping too far into obscurity. Falling into their ‘twee pop’ side, the album is a reminder that art rock doesn’t have to be dull. In fact, having fun is the coolest thing in the world, so why not indulge?
Words : David Campion
It has to be said, after the huge success of 2009's Two Dancers, Wild Beasts new album entitled 'Smother' has to be one of the most hotly anticipated albums of the year and we here at Boop central can't wait.
Fri 6 May UK Glasgow Oran Mor
Sun 8 May UK Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Mon 9 May UK Leicester Y Theatre
Wed 11 May UK London Wilton's Music Hall
Thurs 12 May UK London Wilton’s Music Hall
Fri 13 May UK Gloucester Guildhall
Sat 14 May UK Sheffield City Hall Grand Ballroom
Sat 6th Aug UK London Victoria Park – Field Day Festival
Monday, 21 February 2011
Cut Copy will also bring their blinding live show to the UK on the following dates:
Thurs 3 March – Glasgow - Death Disco Special @ The Arches
Fri 4 March – Galway – Raddison (free outdoor festival)
Sat 5 March – Manchester – Now Wave @ Gorilla
Sun 6 March – London - The Forum
Queens Of The Stone Age are to play a bunch of UK & European shows for May including London Roundhouse on May 17th where their amazingly brilliant eponymous debut album will be performed in its entirety.
These lucky cities will see them play the album:
02/05/11 Cologne - E-Werk (tickets from: www.eventim.de)
03/05/11 Brussels - Ancienne Belgique (tickets from: www.proximusgoformusic.be)
04/05/11 Groningen – Oostersport (tickets from: www.ticketmaster.nl)
06/05/11 Stockholm – Cirkus (tickets from: www.ticnet.se)
07/05/11 Oslo – Sentrum (tickets from: www.billettservice.no)
08/05/11 Copenhagen - Vega (tickets from: www.billetlugen.dk/home)
10/05/11 Munich – TonHalle (tickets from: www.eventim.de)
11/05/11 Zurich - Komplex 457 (tickets from: www.komplex457.ch)
12/05/11 Graz - Schlossberg Castle (tickets from: www.oeticket.com)
14/05/11 Eindhoven – Effenaar (tickets from: www.ticketmaster.nl)
15/05/11 Amsterdam – Paradiso (tickets from: www.ticketmaster.nl)
17/05/11 London – Roundhouse (tickets from: www.seetickets.com)
19/05/11 Dublin – Olympia (tickets from: www.ticketmaster.ie)
20/05/11 Glasgow – Academy (tickets from: www.triplegmusic.com)
21/05/11 Manchester - Academy (tickets from: www.gigsandtours.com)
23/05/11 Paris – Olympia (tickets from: www.avosbillets.com)
24/05/11 Antwerp - Trix (tickets from: www.proximusgoformusic.be)
25/05/11 Strasbourg - La Laiterie (tickets from: www.avosbillets.com)
26/05/11 Dudingden - Kilbi (Festival) (tickets from: www.starticket.ch)
28/05/11 Budapest - Petofi Hall (tickets from: www.livenation.hu)
29/05/11 Prague - KC Vltavska (ticket link TBC)
30/05/11 Warsaw – Stodola (tickets from: www.ticketpro.pl)
Tickets will go on sale this Friday.
J Mascis will play intimate European shows in support of his first ever solo album, ‘Several Shades of Why’. Mascis will perform at Cargo in London on April 14th, following the release of his new album through Sub Pop on March 14th.
Theres are the joints you can catch the Dinosaur Jr man
European Dates in April:
13th - Dublin, Whelans
14th - London, Cargo
16th - Paris, Point Ephemere
17th - Milan, Bloom
18th - Rome, Circolo degli Artisti
20th - Antwerp, Trix
21st - Amsterdam, Sugar Factory
22nd - Madrid, Moby Dick
23rd - Barcelona, La (2)
Also you can check out this hillarious video interview with Mascis.
Sunday, 20 February 2011
Saturday, 19 February 2011
Hard to believe it’s mid February already isn’t it? Before we know it the summer and all it’s basking glory will be upon us. Here’s something else to look forward to... Field Day
Actress / Ariel Pinks’ Haunted Graffiti / Cocknbullkid / Ducktails/ Electrelane/ Factory Floor/ Gruff Rhys/ Hype Williams/ Jamie Woon / John Cale/ Konono No.1/ Mark Kozelek/ Matthew Dear/ Mount Kimbie/ Omar Souleyman/ Oneorthix/ Point Never/ Pearson Sound (Formerly Ramadanman)/ Roska/ Sun Ra Arkestra/ The Horrors/ Tortoise/ Trophy Wife/ Twin Shadow/ Wild Beasts/ Willy Mason plus many more T.B.A
Thursday, 17 February 2011
Check out Austin, Texas three-piece Love Inks. They will release their debut album this spring, but before that, their debut single 'Blackeye' is a highly infectious dreamy pop jem that will hit the streets on March 28th through Italian label Hell, Yes!
We'll bring you album details when they're announced, but in the meantime, you can check out 'Blackeye' below.
LOVE INKS "Blackeye" by HellYes
In contrast to such inviting artwork, the first track seemed to offer a rather vanilla introduction to Cut Copy’s new album, ‘Zonoscope’. However, this Aussie group go on to unleash the sweetness, syrups and sprinkles to deliver a knickerbocker glory of tunes for their third album.
Fans of their previous material will be hooked from the start, as this album follows their last, ‘In Ghost Colours’ with bright eyes. Whilst they maintain their symbolic electro beats all the way through ‘Zonoscope’, it is the slightly tamer tracks that make it stand out from the previous. Each song flutters between extreme genres of the ‘80s; dashing their iconic synth pulse with shoe-gaze sounds it is a promising mix that is comparable to a LCD Sound system Jesus and Mary Chain mash-up. It is an unlikely unison that Cut Copy execute well.
Though old fans may enjoy, it is plausible to think that following this record, 2011 will offer up even more to this band. The album puts forward the bouncing energy of what bought them to fame, flirting with other eras and sounds that will be sure to land them a few more fans this year.
The highlight of ‘Zonoscope’, for me, was the third track, ‘Where I’m Going’, which standouts out on the album for its sprightly, ‘60s pop melody. It seems that even the lyrics reflect this- ‘all you need is a dream and a lover too’.
Despite this, it is arguable that some of the tunes within the album lack originality within the music itself; there are moments that are suspiciously similar to known songs from the past. Having said this, it is a common occurrence which is seen from many artists, and therefore perhaps a dismissible flaw. On a whole, the album comes together nicely, offering you something that is familiar to the ears, yet tickles the brain.
‘Zonoscope’ concludes with ‘Sun God’, an epic fifteen-minute track that is as versatile to be suited for a warm summer day with your friends, or a long and dirty night out. It is fair to say that Cut Copy, have grown from their initial style, maybe only very slightly, managing to cultivate their sound, and with a hint of something colourful.
By L. E. Dee Robson
Psychadelic pop is an oddly beautiful form of music that can split into two possible disparate directions; either wonderfully jaunty 60s pop rock or spiralling, swirling freak-out psych alongThe Flaming Lips line of outlandishness. Brown Recluse are a five piece from Philadelphia who combine a little of the two approaches to this uniquely exhilarating genre of pop music to forge a decadently luxurious sunny sound on their latest effort 'Evening Tapestry'.
Ambient, mystical sound swells in the first moments of opening track 'Hobble To Your Tomb', before a sweetly sung slice of indie pop (albeit interlaced with whirring, child-like electronics) grasps hold and leads you on a merry-go-round of jaunt and joy. The aforementioned introduction is somewhat subdued compared to the majority of a record that prefers to sit in a memory of sunshine rather than the bite of winter, recalling a Beach Boys for the 21st century, full of surf rock guitar patches and buoyantly beating percussion.
There are sparkling spots of sonic sunshine scattered throughout the record, evident in the likes of 'Summer Showers', a track that starts life with the quaintly serene vocals of Timothy Meskers. He possesses a rarely found softness and deftness in his vocal meandering, sauntering up and down scales with utter ease, drifting into dream territory with a bittersweet air and aura. 'Beautiful Light' is a stopgap in the midst of the album that highlights the blatant and bold comparisons between Brown Recluse and the 60s psych bands, who utilised classical composure to craft loving pop songs that toyed with the ideas of harmony to update and renovate pop music for a new youth suddenly gripped by rock and roll fever.
I am not quite sure if we are in anything comparable to this in 2011; rather true rock music is something that has been twisted, turned, transformed and trampled on so many times, people have been turning to electronics, computers and warped representations of rock to satisfy the primal urge that kick-started when Elvis started shaking his hips on stage (of course, it all started back with the blues but, for white, mainstream America, Elvis was basically Satan with a quiff). Similar to such luminaries (and obvious influences) as The Zombies and Phil Spector, they keep the length of their musical manifestations down to around the three minute mark; this is the tried and tested rule of gripping pop music and the half hour running time of the record, though brief, surely does flutter by in the blink of a lazy, daydreaming eye.
As the record winds down, after another jingling gallop in 'At Last', we find a lounge-like quality in amidst the psychosis, reflecting a sound that resembles The Shins on acid; all glimmering radiance with an underlying pensiveness in the retreating rhythm of 'Paisley Tears'. The finale bookends the tale of an Evening Tapestry with 'March To Your Tomb', a more defiant approach to heading towards the grave as folk-led riffs, a surprisingly effective dash of organ and the baroque pop vocals map out the longest track so far, perhaps allowing the band to play themselves out in an oodling manner; carefree yet concise, and with a sense that this is the end of their tale (for now) and that someone, somewhere, will live happily ever after.
Words : Adam Parker
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
Warp Records will release Autechre’s ‘EPs 1991 – 2002’ on 11th April 2011.
This 47 track collection brings together material from the bands EP releases (now mostly out of print) from between these years.
For more details on these releases and details on how to buy, check out the link from the excellent BLEEP website.
Ok so by now everyone in the world probably already knows about this but we thought we would announce it anyway. The fantastic Radiohead are to release their new album entitled 'The King Of Limbs' this Saturday, basically without any pr or leaks, it's just going to be there.
Monday, 14 February 2011
With ‘Several Shades of Why,’ Mr Masicis' first foray into the world of the solo album, he has worked well to strip everything down and release an album full of catchy acoustic numbers.
If January has you on auto-pilot then Copenhagen’s Iceage should snap you out of it like a stubbed toe.
Though their ages should be irreverent the fact that these four Danes are making such excellent noise in their teens marks them as talented as The Murder Of Rosa Luxemburg at their prime.
The music sits somewhere between DC hardcore and British punk but filtered via weirdness. The songs are all velocity but skewed and prone to shoot off at unexpected angles.
Their debut album New Brigade is available on Dais in the US and Escho in Denmark.
Sunday, 13 February 2011
From Tooting in South London. Dignan Porch have announced details of their new EP titled 'Deluded' which is due for release March 8th, on Captured Tracks records.
Artwork is displayed above and the tracklisting is as follows:
1. Flame (Intro)
3. Like It Was Again
5. I'm A Saint
6. I Threw Myself From Tower Bridge
7. Footsteps in the Snow
Dignan Porch's garagy fuzzy tones are well worth checking out live too, and you can catch them at a couple of shows in the near future at
February 27th - Old Blue Last, London
March 21st - The Hope, Brighton
Friday, 11 February 2011
The fantastically talented Stephen Chan has had my head spinning recently with his mesmerising artwork. Seemingly able to create extremely detailed illustrations with ease, Chan has so far created work for the likes of Digital Arts, Ammo Mag and a whole host of exhibitions.
Thursday, 10 February 2011
This is Katie Stelmanis’ first visit to the UK with Austra and only her second ever UK show, the first being at the Windmill in Brixton only the previous night. Tonight Katie and her band, including the Lightman sisters (of Tasseomancy) on backing vocals take to the stage in a packed out Old Blue Last.
As the band sink into opener ‘Darken Her Horse’, layers of sparkling star like synths build up and Katie’s voice begins to immediately demand attention as the crowd hush and start concentrating on the stage. Before too long a steady beat is pounding and the song builds into a soaring, chorus before the tune fades back into the sparks that began it.
Following this is ‘Lose it’, arguably one of the catchiest songs of the year. Surely deserving of a single release at some point, the descending, vivacious vocals in the chorus deserves full concentration on the first listen. As the song continues the majesty of Katie’s song writing becomes clear as layers of vocal lines weave over each other, ending with three different lines on the final chorus all creating sonic revelry.
The layering of these vocals is the real power in Austra’s cannon, live there are three singers, with Katie taking centre stage and one of the Lightman sisters on either side. The twins provide an alluring back drop for Katie centre stage as they dance identically on either side the visuals become immeasurably haunting for almost the entire set. Inevitably Austra get to their incredible debut single ‘The Beat And The Pulse’ builds out of rumbling bass into a marching juggernaut of a tune, sending the crowd into a frenzy as Katie’s incredible vocals blast out of the PA.
The PA is the only gripe of the night in fact, as the band already sound too large for the Old Blue Last’s relatively meager speakers. The band go on to Heaven supporting Hercules & Love Affair the next night, I can only hope they soar into headlining these kind of shows themselves, they definitely deserve it
Words : Michael Woods
Tuesday, 8 February 2011
Moon Duo have announced the first details of their official debut full length album which is called 'Mazes' and will be released on April 18th on the Souterrain Transmissions label. This follows on from last years brilliant 'Escape EP'.
And to wet your appetite for this release, we're giving you the title track to listen below!
Moon Duo - Mazes by souterraintransmissions
With the ever increasing encroachment of technology in all corners of the world, from our everyday lives to the way in which art is influenced, created and released unto the public, a vast part of artistic endeavour either looks forward, attempting to develop a new strand of thought and creation, or harks back, drawing upon outdated ideas and styles in order to sound distinct, different and fresh, especially to a young audience raised in a world of digital formats and instantly accessible media. Nostalgic decade and genre reruns are two-a-penny nowadays, from the new rave nightmare to the day-glo 80s revival, but an actual physical return is rare outside of select circles, such as the world of Ducktails, the original pseudonym of Matthew Mondanile, guitarist of Real Estate. His initial solo offerings consisted of stripped back tape cassette recordings, full of fuzzy indistinction and undefined riffs that crackle their way through the thin line of tape that spins and clogs in a physical sensation that is all-but gone in the world of MP3s and USBs.
Whilst such a musical ideology is initially captivating in its simplicity and archaic allure, the unfortunate deficiency of availability of a cassette player, as well as the hazy hum offered forth, provides an automatic barrier for certain segments of a possible audience. Real Estate are a psychedelic pop band who peddle surf rock melted into an aforementioned haze, and it feel’s as if Ducktails has taken on the aura of his band’s work by blending his blurring murmurs with melodic choruses, surf-led, genial guitar and vocals that sweeten the recipe into a surprisingly saccharine spirit on ‘Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics’.
The opening piece of the record, ‘In The Swing’, bumbles its way into life thanks to a stuttering percussive start and an endearing riff that shuffles it’s way throughout. This ambling approach evokes an instant warming of the heart, sounding far too understatedly joyous to dismiss with a sarcastic sneer. The music feels like a big hug from an old friend, thanks to the tremulous, tender twang of the tracks and the soft fuzz coating the recordings, recalling long lost summer memories from a longed-for youth. ‘Little Window’ contains a tambourine accompaniment that elevates the atmosphere to a much sunnier climate, almost bouncing it’s way higher and higher with each shake and rattle.
‘Killin The Vibe’ is a masterstroke of a lazy, hazy track, using a tropical guitar line and repetition to its utmost, recalling the best of Best Coast and Panda Bear. And, coincidentally, this is made all the more exquisite by the addition of Panda Bear for an alternative version of the track at the end of the album, adding in a big dollop of upbeat vocalisation to provide the cherry on top of the Ducktails cake. ‘Porch Projector’ leisurely sprawls out into a meandering manipulation of sound, breezing it’s way through a blustery, sleepy tone that brings to mind a world of stoner dreampop. This last hurrah of the album is a reminder of the origins of Ducktails, disconcerting and disjointed yet merging into a ten minute treat that creeps along with a comfy, cosy warmth and an improvisational attitude that demands an admiration that simply can’t be gleaned in the highly-glossed, over-produced, three minute pop hits that litter themselves throughout the chart listings.
Words : Adam Parker
One Steven Paul Jobs, everyone’s favourite Bond villain-a-like and all-inventing creator of things-we-didn’t-know-we-even-needed, is at least partly responsible for a good many changes in the way we as a society think. Some such changes are undoubtedly good things; for example, bestowing upon graphic designers the ability to do their work (because everyone knows that, despite the fact there are plenty of PCs out there the technical equal of your average MacBook, designers just can’t work on anything with a smug little ‘Start’ button staring out at them from the bottom-left). Some are unquestionably bad – no one, bar perhaps Alan Partridge, can make one more want to throw out a lovely new roll-neck in a fit of fashion-related self-doubting. And some are more of a mixed bag.
The iPod revolutionised the music world, and it’s clear we’re ostensibly the better off for it. But the portable music revolution, as in history’s other great leaps forward (the French; Industrial; number 9), was also responsible for a number of innocent casualties, with one glaring great sea of metaphorical aristocrats’ heads towering like a gory colossus above the rest – the long-playing album.
In this terrifying new century of instant individual song downloads, on-demand films and butter that’s somehow spreadable straight from the fridge, the poor, clapped-out old LP as a statement of artistic intent is in its death throes. Finding ourselves in a situation strangely reminiscent of the early 1960s, the single – or, rather, now, any track cherry-picked from an album or best of – again reigns supreme.
Which is why it’s so ridiculously refreshing when you do eventually hear an album like Seefeel’s Seefeel, crafted in the tradition of those mythical post-Sgt. Pepper days of yore when albums were created to be listened to from start-to-finish, and savoured like a real ale twat does his pint of freshly-poured Stagnant Puddle. There will be no singles lifted from Seefeel, because there are no singles to lift; it’s an unashamed 52-minute journey meant be digested as one cohesive whole. It’s just a crying shame that, musically, it isn’t a bit more listenable.
For a group who haven’t released an album in some fifteen years (excepting last year’s comeback EP Faults), Seefeel feels like surprisingly familiar territory. Continuing from almost exactly where the robotic shoegazers and Warp protégées originally called it quits in the mid-‘90s, Seefeel serves up more of the same trademark ambient minimalism and otherworldly, slowly-evolving soundscapes that first brought them to the prominence during that historic grey area that lie between the dance explosion of the late ‘80s and the impending ascendance of Britpop a few years later.
And yet, on first listen, it’s still a remarkably and unexpectedly disconcerting experience. Seefeel’s claustrophobic layers of hypnotic, looped guitars, droning synths and fat, dub-styled bass, processed and squeezed into distorted dissociation, combine to create a sonic collage that sounds unnervingly alien, and frequently non-human. Drums are sparse, boxy and unpredictable, and singer Sarah Peacock’s off-kilter, treated vocals wander in and out at random, as they do resembling uncannily the sound emanating from the turntable of an evangelical panicker looking for Satanic messages in a copy of Led Zeppelin II played backwards.
But it’s this lack of any human quality or warmth that proves to be the record’s undoing. Whereas the druggy weirdness of previous Seefeel outings – especially critics’ favourite and magnum opus Quique – sounded empathetic and inviting in a post-rave, giss’-a-hug kind of way, Seefeel is cold, metallic and distant; more K than E. In a way, it’s the aural equivalent of a relatively realistic blow-up doll; you can appreciate it superficially and aesthetically – love it even – but it doesn’t really matter. Because it’s dead inside, and it doesn’t and can’t love you back. You get the picture.
But, of course, none of that’s really very important. Is it a good album? Is it bad? Would I recommend it to a friend? Yes. Maybe. Probably. Who cares? Seefeel is a cohesive album as a piece of art, dammit, and it’s glorious! God save the LP! Viva la (counter-) revolución!
Monday, 7 February 2011
I must admit this post-rock quintet hailing from Leeds have never surfaced on my musical radar before. Helioscope is the second full length release from the lads since forming in 2005, the first incarnation being White Fields And Open Devices back in 2007.
Helioscope is mainly an instrumental affair, with certain elements not sounding too unfamiliar to fellow post-rock progressive peers such as Glasgow’s Remember Remember with their progressive looping time signatures, or Texas’ Explosions In The Sky with their epic, swirling guitar riddled crescendos. All the post-rock trademarks you’d come to expect are here with most tracks building up and escalating into layer upon layer of feedback infused guitars, droning in the background with persistently crashing drums like a wall of sound coming tumbling down on you, (see opening track “Monoform”).
The record is relatively heavy – but not so much in a Mogwai way; more along the lines of some sort of metal band you might have listened to growing up whilst still discovering your musical preference. One of my criticisms would be the over use of power chords, normally in the climatic stages of a song, such as “Art/Choke” or “The Trap”. The addition of this sound doesn’t do justice to the prelude we’ve been sitting through and ultimately builds up towards a disappointing end, like the musical equivalent to Lost.
When the sparsely used vocals do come into play, they sound incredibly polished and add a refreshing counter balance to the music. “Recur” for example displays some vocal talent and shows the boys can clearly hold a note and harmonise together, like The Beach Boys met 65daysofstatic for a jam. A collaboration with solo artist Stuart Warwick on “Meatman, Piano Turner, Prostitute” adds some welcome variety to the album, offering some delicate, haunting vocals to accompany the atmospheric synths and intricate drumming.
I’ve had to revisit the album a couple of times in order to form a bond with it, and I’m pleased to say I’ve been able to see through the obvious influences and appreciate the album for what it is – a well crafted, post-rock record which occasionally reaches epic heights. Whilst it doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the table, it adds another positive notch in the bedpost of the genre.
Words: Neil Phillips
Last night, half Jewish half Canadian self-proclaimed “musical genius” Chilly Gonzales played the incredibly intimate Borderline on Tottenham Court Road in aid of HMV’s Next Big Thing.
Posters upon entering stated “Chilly Gonzales, the musical genius gracing the stage tonight, would appreciate it if all attendees could keep quiet throughout his performance”. I’d always heard Chilly was quite the prankster, so I took this with a pinch of salt and assumed he wouldn’t get all diva-esque on us…
By the time Chilly Gonzales had graced the stage in his usual performance attire (that would be a dressing gown incase you’re wondering), the crowd were ready for a slice of the electro piano funk brilliance that was released last year in the form of Ivory Tower (one of my personal top 5 albums of 2010). The majority of the show was a solo performance from Chilly, with a combination of tracks from the new record, a couple of old ones and some medley jams in-between.
Chilly gave a tongue in cheek step-by-step guide as to how he created the Apple advertising campaign favorite “Never Stop” – yet joked despite appearing on the technology giants advertisement campaign, how he has failed to blow up. This followed with Chilly getting an iPad out and actually performing the song on it there and then. How’s that for an endorsement? This wasn’t without a technical glitch which led to the poor sound man getting an onstage grilling from a frustrated Chilly who broke into “Take Me To Broadway” to kill some time.
The evening would not be complete without the ever charming Chilly telling anecdotes in-between songs. One tale told how fellow Janadian rapper Drake took “The Tourist” from “Solo Pianist” and proceeded to use it on a free mixtape which circulated the internet. Despite the entire song being used with nothing more than the sound of a champagne bottle being opened at the end of it, he never got any credit. He went on to say he actually met Drake due to his father living in the same block of apartments which led to him getting “musically raped again” when he ended up performing the track in person for Drake.
Prior to the encore (which was a song about Nazi’s with Chilly playing a pair of bongos) the show ended with Chilly getting some onstage support from a drummer and three young ladies on backing vocals for the performance of newly released single, “You Can Dance”, which cemented why Chilly was performing there in the first place. As the man himself put it:
“I’m a man of the times… living in the Barbara Streisand era”.
Chilly Gonzales will be performing at KOKO on May 5th.
Words: Neil Phillips
Sunday, 6 February 2011
Friday, 4 February 2011
My biggest live music regret was missing these guys at Reading Festival 2005 due to "clashing" with an artist I thought i'd have less chance of seeing again. How wrong was I... or so I thought.
After appearing on this years Coachella Festival line-up, this is the official conformation we've been dying to hear from the band. Sebastian wrote this on their blog. Now come and play some UK shows please! With love.
Thursday, 3 February 2011
May 13th 2011. Keep it in your diary.
Or the case of this live performance on Later With Jools Holland, I think 2006(?)
One of my favourite Later performances with REM performing this stunning vocal/piano version of 'Nightswimming' from their Automatic For the People LP.
Just take a moment, watch this, shed a tear. Do what you gotta do.
Wednesday, 2 February 2011
Gruff Rhys has been constantly been on the forefront of creating flawless music. Go back to 1996 when I could hear my dad playing a recorded cassette of Fuzzy Logic, the Super Furry Animals have always been there abouts throughout my music listening youth to this present day. And when his Neon Neon collaboration with hip-hop producer Boom Bip came out of the blue three years ago, it proved that Rhys can make anything sound great. However, out of his musical projects, his solo work has often only been sparsely pounded through my ears. Still of course much appreciated but out of everything he’s done I would be honest to say is the least of his work I’ve divulged in.
Here we have Hotel Shampoo, his third solo record to date and the follow up to 2007’s 'Candylion'. First and foremost, what’s great about this new record before I’d even listened to it was the title’s reference to Gruff’s habit of collecting shampoo bottles and other complimentary items from hotels while touring. As demonstrated in this brilliant short film. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZLUS7rnzFQ
Onto the LP itself, produced by long time friend and collaborator Andy Votel, the record begins with the exquisite lead single ‘Shark Ridden Waters’. Which those of you who ever listen to BBC 6music over the past couple of months will know exactly what this track is about. For those of you who don’t listen to much radio, basically it’s a beautifully orchestrated piece of sample-led style pop that ultimately sets the tone of what is to come.
In what is a much sombre feel to the album, Hotel Shampoo showcases a variety of instruments from woodwind, brass and strings as opposed to electronic bleeps and beats that are demonstrated in much of Rhys’ other work, with the exception of perhaps ‘Christopher Columbus’ and ‘Rubble Rubble’. In tracks such as ‘Vitamin K’, ‘Take a Sentence’ and the wonderfully alliterated ‘If We Were Words (We Would Rhyme)’ there is very much the feel and influence of Burt Bacharach style love songs. The bossa nova swing of ‘Space Dust #2’ is a gorgeous duet of easy listening pleasure featuring El Perro Del Mar’s Sarah Assbring, while ‘Patterns of Power’ reminisces us of what Gruff is used to in the Super Furries.
For me though the standout on Hotel Shampoo is the feel good and upbeat ‘Sensations in the Dark’, breaking away from the mid-tempo ballads of which stands out like a sore thumb because of this and is very much worthy of its future single material.
All in all Gruff Rhys has come up trumps yet again, where he goes back to basics yet displaying an overwhelming sense of musical creativity. Hotel Shampoo is an easy listening record that is by no means middle of the road, with thirteen compositions of sheer talent and modesty that wouldn’t feel out of place fifty years ago, neither do they today. All hail Sir Gruff!
Words: Freddy Rothman