Thursday, 16 July 2009

Video: So Sick - Ne-Yo cries off Manchester gig

Los Angeles R&B star Ne-Yo tonight provided drama at Manchester's M.E.N Arena after aborting his near sell-out show half way through a headline set.

The self-proclaimed ‘smooth’ pop icon complained of illness after a couple of songs and appeared visibly uncomfortable, at one stage asking for patience from a loyal and fervent Arena audience.

The aborted set relied on backing tracks and audience vocals, with Ne-Yo even pushing out an unknown female singer from his own record label to placate a restless crowd.

By 10pm the singer and his dancing partners trundled off stage, leaving their bemused band charged with an awkward fill in. To his credit, Ne-Yo emerged teary eyed (quite a contrast to his gyrating antics some 10 minutes earlier) vowing to return to the city and finish the show at a later date.

After a similar walkout earlier in the current tour, we weren't totally surprised at Ne-Yo's cry off, captured on video below:

Read our full review of the gig for Manchester Evening News here.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Nights Out: Download Tramp! DJs Summer mix

Fondly remembered for their killer Bierkeller/Club North rave-ups, Tramp! DJs continue to head up some of the best Nights Out in Manchester and beyond.

Download the new mixtape from Will Tramp! and taste the summer vibes.


DJ Kaos 'Love the night away' (Tiedye mix)
Phoenix - 'Lisztomania' (Classixx version)
Holy Ghost- 'I will come back'
Shit Robot- 'Simple Things' (Todd Terje remix)
Adonis- 'No Way Back' (Greg Wilson edit)
Morten Sorenson 'Start Something' (40 Thieves remix)
Permanent Vacation ft. Kathy Diamond 'Tic Toc'
Crazy P- 'Love on the line' (Unabombers vox remix)
Visti & Meyland ' Yes Maam' (All night long'
Walter Meego- 'Forever' (Escort Remix- Pete Herbert edit)
Florence and the machine- 'Rabbit Heart' (Leo Zero remix)
The Whitest Boy Alive - '1517' (Morgan Geist remix)
Bill Withers -'Who is he?' (Henrik Schwarz edit)
House Of House- 'Rushing To Paradise (Walkin' these streets)

Download Tramp's Summer Lovin' Mix here (70MB)

Tramp! on Facebook

Image courtesy of Sebastian Matthes via Flickr

Friday, 10 July 2009

Video: Joy Division get Caribbean steel band makeover

Via The Quietus, brilliantly filmed by Nick Abrahams as part of Jeremy Deller's Procession at the so far, so very good Manchester International Festival.

Read our opening report of MIF (featuring our thoughts on Kraftwerk and It Felt Like A Kiss) here.

More MIF coverage next week.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Competition: Win tickets for St. Vincent live in Manchester next week!

Falling and Laughing have teamed up with the fine chaps at Manchester's Night & Day Café to offer TWO tickets to see St. Vincent's show on Monday 13th July.

To win, simply email us with a ONE sentence explanation of why you should get to see St. Vincent for gratis. The most entertaining message will be added to the guest list for the show*.

St. Vincent's graceful new album Actor is out now on 4AD.

For your viewing pleasure... Lake Fever Session video:

* Competition closing date is 11.59pm on Sunday 12th July. The winner will be notified via email by midday on Monday 13th.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

New Music Plea: Falling and Laughing needs you

Last.Fm is a great listening aggregator which charts your listening habits by 'scrobbling' tracks from a desired media player (it's a breeze with plug-ins for Spotify and Windows Media Player).

However, this week's artist chart from Falling and Laughing HQ scared us a tad. Two of the F&L Top 10 disbanded in the '80s, while only four albums from 2009 made it into our Top 20 listening. You could summarise some of the scrobbled artists as: best before, old-timer, Mojo magazine, senile or now working for the Co-Op.

F&L Top 20 artist chart: 28th June - 5th July

1 Mos Def 35
2 Bob Dylan 31
3 Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band 26
4 Death Cab for Cutie 24
5 Orange Juice 23
6 Josef K 22
7 Jack Peñate 19
7 The Knife 19
9 David Bowie 18
10 Beyoncé 16
11 Steely Dan 15
12 The Low Anthem 13
12 Paul Weller 13
14 Roxy Music 12
14 Brian Eno 12
14 Metro Area 12
17 Brand New 11
18 Friendly Fires 10
19 Fever Ray 8
19 Kraftwerk 8

Where is the new breed? Why aren't we scrobbling more new acts?

If you're a brave new artist we want to hear from you. You can send your track to Falling and Laughing through Soundcloud, Last.Fm, or link via email. Have you shot an interesting video? Have you made a super-new version of a track you love? Hit send.

If you're trading in CD or vinyl, ask for a postal address. We can't reply to every submission but every track gets heard, and if we like it, we'll let you know.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Video: Dirty Projectors - Stillness Is The Move

Have Dirty Projectors written THE Alternative Pop anthem of the summer?

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Chart Attack: Well done Miss Eleanor La Roux Jackson & the bloke who writes the music

For scoring a #1 with the zeitgeist spitting 'Bulletproof'.

It seems like being rubbish live, resembling a mawkish rabbit and acting the most awkward pop star of 2009 is working out just right for Miss Jackson.

Nice one. We'd take you over Pixie 'Spotty' Lott any day of the week.

Friday, 26 June 2009

New In: Beck covers Velvets' Sunday Morning

Via Pitchfork

And hear / download Beck's tantalising take on Bob Dylan's 'Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat' from this year's War Child compilation below:

Download Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (Beck)

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Nights Out: Download Club Clique's Summer Mixtape

Those reliable chaps at Clique have built up quite an electro-pop empire, with their current home at Manchester's Mint Lounge fitting extra snugly.

Tomorrow night (Friday, 26th June) sees a DJ appearance from indie-pop IT girl Florence and the Machine alongside Clique residents.

Their spiffing Summer Mixtape, featuring F&L turns Passion Pit, La Roux, Phoenix and Friendly Fires is currently doing the rounds, download here.

See you on the dance floor...

Live: Junior Boys at Manchester Club Academy

Junior Boys
Club Academy
9th June

Ontario, Canada duo Junior Boys are tonight greeted by a small but dedicated crowd at Club Academy in support of their excellent third album Begone Dull Care.

Singer Jeremy Greenspan complains of being as “sick as a dawg” but still produces a sparkling vocal performance while side kick Johnny Dark gets mean and moody on an army of synths and gadgets.

The last time we found the duo at a late night High Voltage session, they were tight, disciplined but worryingly calculated. Two years on, they seem to have loosened up and, although a different proposition to their high-production valued records, the ‘Boys appear energised by their pop-tastic new material.

The funky, 80s soul of ‘Hazel’ is bunged out early on, Greenspan delivering OTT vocal croons over crisp electronics and sharp drumming provided by a head-phoned sessioner.

‘Parallel Lines’ soon follows: it’s drawn-out, chilling atmospherics falling flat with a crowd with eyes on the dance floor. They hit stride with the monotone grove of ‘Work’ before fitting in older gems alongside newer material. Of the latter, ‘Bits & Pieces’ is immaculate synth-pop without the hipster posturing of contemporaries Chromeo, while ‘In The Morning’ (from 2006’s breakthrough album So This Is Goodbye) recieves the biggest cheers of the night.

Ending with a lengthy, guitar-led rock out, Junior Boys hint at a possible change in sonic direction. If you ask us, their electronic pop fits just fine, even if crowd numbers don’t hit the heights or cool value of Domino label mates Animal Collective or Franz Ferdinand.

Written originally for City Life.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Video: Wild Beasts unveil Hooting & Howling

Alright. We admit it. It took us a while to warm to Wild Beasts' odd-ball Cumbrian alt.rock, but we're sure glad we stuck with 'em.

Their debut album Limbo Panto fused a curious mix of post-punk, nature boy folk and jumpy rock and the foursome, backed by their encouraging paymasters Domino, look set to enjoy the rewards of a slow build and time to develop their potentially genre-defining songs.

'Hooting & Howling' (20th July) is the first track from their forthcoming second album, Two Dancers (3rd August) and is an intriguing return. We love the way the songs stark, chamber hall intro falls way to a classic guitar hook and delicate percussion. The minimal template smacks of a new found songwriting confidence and the background groove proves there's a handy rhythm section lurking behind the vocal and guitar bluster.

The 'Beasts play various UK summer festivals, and head out on a short tour at the beginning of October. Dates on Myspace.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Live: The Horrors at Manchester Ruby Lounge

The Horrors
Ruby Lounge Manchester
1st June

Inside the Ruby Lounge this evening there’s a curious mix of grungy teens, original shoegazers and inquisitive onlookers to meet The Horrors' feedback drenched stage entrance. Three minutes of noise later, singer Faris Badwin slouches on stage: stick-insect thin but hair and celeb girlfriend tamed, he’s visibly more comfortable with his colleague’s current choice of sound collage.

Ditching Birthday Party gristle for MBV glissando, The Horrors have transformed into a sharp bunch of songwriters, finally delivering on the dangerous hype that greeted their breakthrough in the summer of 2006.

Inside the sauna-like venue, only the front rows immediately give up to Badwin’s gangly posturing. ‘Do You Remember’ is a colossal, swerve-driving tune propelled by bowl-haired axe man Joshua’s saw-like guitar and ‘Who Can Say’ shows Glasvegas how 80s indie homage is really done (minus the poncy shades and gimmicky stand-up drummer).

Their crowing glory arrives with the epic ‘Sea Within A Sea’ which entwines Krautrock chords within a dank electronic enveloper: meanwhile Badwin wins over any remaining sceptics with measured vocal moans and Nick Cave-inspired introspection. Elsewhere, ‘Gloves’ is a haunting goth dirge, ‘I Can’t Control Myself’ a repetitive, caustic journey into Spacemen 3 drones and Sonic Boom lazerock.

Tucked away in the encore, early gem ‘Sheena Is A Parasite’ cramps things up a notch: a chaotic rock sprawl while a sweat drenched Badwin spiders his way into the arms of adoring front rows. With electronic influences seeping into the bands sonic template, signs points towards an exciting, dance floor friendly future. Energised by a change in label (XL, take a bow) and a broader songwriting outlook, these five odd Southend boys appear in fine shape.

Great to have you back, you little Horrors.

Written originally for Clash Music.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Live: Black Lips at Manchester Academy 3

Black Lips
Manchester Academy 3
24th May

Adored around the globe and with enough indie-rock cred to last them into rehab, Black Lips are a chaotically brilliant live band, or so F&L remembered…

We left the cities Roadhouse venue two years ago having witnessed a tight, sharp, on-top-of-their-game rock group touring their superb Good Bad Not Evil album to much acclaim.

Two years later and they find themselves upgraded to the larger Academy 3 on a gorgeous bank holiday evening. Maybe it’s the sunny weather or the £13 door price, but a distinct lack of pizazz greets the Atlanta four piece onto the stage.

The fist pumping first six rows of the crowd do their best to rouse their heroes, and things begin well with the honky-tonk drawl of ‘Drugs’ and the garage avalanche of ‘O Katrina’: a bass-heavy trawl through New Orleans via Hurricane Katrina.

Bassist and singer Jared maintains a cool demeanour whilst others over-egg their parts around him: to his right guitarist Ian resembles old time rocker Jimmy Nail with his denim and dodgy teeth, while stage left the enigmatic Cole looks incapable to belting anything out: delivering flat, flustered guitar and vocals.

But there’s still something special lurking behind the wasted, heroic chic. ‘Cold Hands’ could be an outtake from classic garage rock companion Nuggets, while ‘Bad Kids’ is a life-affirming ode to youthful rebellion. Elsewhere, new material fails to ignite, but ‘Buried Alive’s comic book horror shows the ‘Lips’ wayward genius.

At the finale fans clamour onstage for a good old boogie: quite a spectacle (we learn later that Cole’s guitar is stolen) but also an ancient stage act that appeared a little, well, desperate. Pack this rock’n’roll circus into a smaller venue and you may have seen one of the gigs of the year, but the feeling just wasn’t there tonight.

Written originally for Clash Music.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

New In: Hurts set to puncture the dance floor

Hurts are a brand new group based in Manchester and London. Theo (vocals) and Adam (electronics, guitar) formed the songwriting team behind Bureau and Daggers and have now settled on a sleek, minimal pop blueprint.

When Theo Facebooked us last week, he linked to an Disco Lento (slow disco) wiki and their stark MySpace page.

On the evidence of debut tracks 'Unspoken' and 'Illuminated', their future looks stardom shaped. 'Wonderful Life' is the song that really gets us going, watch the b&w video below:

Watch this space...

Friday, 5 June 2009

Video: Run Toto Run doze on Passion Pit's Sleepyhead

One of the brightest, most visually striking bands to emerge from Manchester in a good ol' while, Run Toto Run have impressed us with their delicate, dreamy pop for some months.

Their take on current It band Passion Pit's 'Sleepyhead' is especially charming and well worth three minutes of your Friday.

Run Toto Run launch their new single 'Plastic Gold' on Saturday 13th June upstairs at Manchester's Kro 1. See you at the bar!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

F&L Exclusive: Super Fresh Power Squad get down(load) & dirty with Copycat

Exciting times! The very first F&L MP3 exclusive has arrived!

Super Fresh Power Squad are five shit-hot looking lads from Manchester. They accessorise with more bling than the whole of South London and their Adidas get-up is pristine and box fresh.

They arrived to indie kid bemusement last year with a pumped up, full-on live show and gaggles of glitter-eyed groupies. Bopping along to the vocoder rinsing 'Sexy Robot', the Miami sunset, cyber sleaze of 'Electric Lovin', the boys broke down traditional artist/audience etiquette with cheeky grins and tongue in cheek stage patter.

We'll hand over to band sound shaper and body mover Deadly D for the low-down on exclusive download Copycat:

"Myself, BPG and Zero started writing Copycat back in December. I got through about 76 versions before finally deciding on it's current format. I haven't even told the other guys that it's finished yet: the first time they will hear it will be downloading it at F&L. Come and see us live to witness the full force of Super Fresh."

Conveniently, the boys are performing a FREE showcase in London at 93 Feet East this Friday, June 5th, stage time 10.30pm.

Download Copycat (Divshare)

Look out for the 'Fresh at selected summer festivals as they knuckle down and finish their debut album. Check progress on their MySpace page.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Video: The Nightjars go summer with Valentine

Prepping their self-titled debut album (review here), Manchester's The Nightjars have released a video to accompany lead track 'Valentine'.

Perfectly timed with the arrival of the British summer (cloudless skies, burnt noses), Valentine's Boards of Canada-inspired visual montage was put together by curiously named Mr Dreams.

The Nightjars is available to buy now via the bands MySpace page.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

The Killers play for Jonathan Ross: World swoons

And the Best living Pop Rock band award for 2009 goes to:


Last night Vegas wideboys The Killers performed for Jonathan Ross, a suit wearing man whose 'comedic value' recedes with each flick of his mop. Kudos to Wossy's team for pulling in Brandon & Co to replace the AWOL Katie Price: playing four songs in front of a whooping BBC crew audience.

If you're stuck for something to do before Britain's Got Talent's finale it's worth I-Playering: only if you're willing to sit through Jon's inane chat with three Irish vicar blokes who scored a record deal and Joanna 'can I run the whole country?' Lumley.

Thank the lord for YouTube!

Now follows a snazzy video log we learned during 3 years hard graft obtaining a 2:1 in Media Studies:

0.00-3.10 = 'Human': peachy.

2.54-3.02 = Drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr (yes, Vannucci) does his best 'sex face'

3.23-7.10 = A new song we're not particularly fond of.

7.10-finish = 'Mr Brightside': the best 'indie-rock'n'roll' tune ever written.

As an extra treat here's some 'footage' of the bands performance of 'When You Were Young'. It's a wonderful insight into the anonymous director's worrying case of shakes and the absence of a volume button on his Goodmans.

What a gem.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Video: Royksopp - The Girl and the Robot (ft. Robyn)

The Girl and the Robot is the second single from Royksopp's lauded new album Junior. The highly stylised video features Swedish diva Robyn frolicking around with a Robot, while Royksopp main men Torbjørn and Svein turn in a brief cameo half way.

Robyn's star turn is a lesson in ice-cool, uncluttered electronic pop. Or, to paraphrase Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove: How I Learn To Stop Worrying And Love The Robot...

Video via Pitchfork.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Get your Kraut on: Oasis, Sonic Youth, Foals dig NEU!

Krautrock (German rock music primarily made in the late 60s to 70s) has become an increasing influence on popular alternative music: name checked heavily by new artists, while its original bands glaze in the glow of renewed interest in their genre-defining exploits.

As Julian Cope of 80s saviours The Teardrop Explodes gushed in his out of print 1995 book Krautrocksampler, German rock and electronica of this period oozed sonic ideas and out-there journeys of musical brilliance that sound fresh to this day. Alongside NEU!, a duo who released three essential studio albums in the early 70s are Can (arguably better, druggier and artier), Faust, Cluster and Harmonia (who featured Michael Rother of NEU!).

On Brand NEU! released this week on the Feraltone label, Oasis pop up with b-side 'I Can See It Now' which detects basic, monkey-like traces of NEU! but not much - we suspect their involvement ties in with marketing initiatives, while Primal Scream's 'Shoot Speed / Kill Light' reminds us of 2000's XTRMNTR album that made them briefly the most vital band on planet earth. Of the new breed, Foals, Holy Fuck and School of Seven Bells pull in admirable NEU! aping tuneage, while Cornelius' 'Wataridori' is a real find:

Overall the track listing is varied, listenable and accessible for the uninitiated. However, we're left wondering how the project would've unfolded with artists covering NEU! songs rather than presenting their own, and (hypothetically) how self-confessed NEU! disciples David Bowie, Pere Ubu and Stereolab may have interpreted NEU!'s considerable influence.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Video: May 68 in session, unveil new track My Ways

Following our intro to May 68 last month, we've picked up footage of the Best New Pop Band in Manchester in session for Channel M Music (one of the last ever performers).

Listen to 'My Ways', a new demo track streaming below. Tight and sleek, glamourous yet accessible, it's one of their best efforts yet. More please!

With industry buzz picking up pace and gigs booked throughout the summer, we recommend dashing down to a show quick sharp, live dates on May 68 MySpace.

Download 'My Ways'

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Festival report: Futuresonic09 (part 2)

Following yesterday's intro report on Futuresonic, here's our summary of the musical output of the festival, written originally for NME.

A leftfield mix of art, technology, debate and music, Futuresonic is an intelligent, demanding festival.

Now in its 14th year, Futuresonic will in 2010 transform into Future Everything. In between tech-focused debates at the cities Contact Theatre, we pinned down Drew Hemment, Futuresonic artistic director to discuss his favourite musical acts.

Thursday’s musical action kicked off with an astounding performance by electronic wizard Murcof, featuring jaw-dropping live visuals by AntiVJ (video footage on the way).

Venturing over to Urbis, we found leftfield hip-hop legends Anti-Pop Consortium arriving late onstage and performing only new material. Hitting form as their set draws to a close, the Radiohead-endorsed mavericks fired out bouncing beats and cutting urban rhymes.

On Friday evening, the Bjork-like Soap&Skin enthralled a tiny crowd at a Unitarian church near trendy Deansgate. Her set is taut with emotion and stunning harmonies, she sends daggers to an errant soundman before delivering a mesmerising finale on the chapel’s grand piano before exiting through church doors and into the night. Hauntingly special.

Saturday brings an all American lo-fi indie showcase and post Great Escape, the US entourage are a little worse for wear. Opening band Times New Viking impress both on and off stage. We caught them pre-soundcheck to discuss Manchester, electric toothbrushes and Joy Division.

On stage, they’re a rocket fuelled trio, high on Sonic Youth fuzz and art-rock melody. Drummer/vocalist Adam dedicates songs to Henry Rollins and Heath Ledger before performing a fiery new track name-checking Martin Luther King. Not afraid to bare themselves with a dozen tracks over a breakneck 30 minutes, TNV are our favourite band of Futuresonic.

Next! Crystal Antlers begin sluggishly, their swampy rock struggling to pierce Urbis’ questionable sound system. They recover with closer ‘Parting Song For The Torn Sky’ which shows that underneath the grizzle, there’s a potentially great modern rock band itching to emerge.

Tonight’s line-up is so hip that the soundman sports a Hype Machine t-shirt and crowd haircuts veer from the comic to severe. Marnie Stern provides an intriguing live performance, but her stop-start artiness means it’s hard for momentum to be sustained.

Later, headliners Ariel Pink begin inauspiciously but quickly fire out a curious mix of surf-garage, 60s pop and crunchy punk. ’22 Eyes’ sounds like The Fall minus the Salford accent, while new single ‘Can’t Hear My Eyes’ sees wired frontman Pink croon to lounge soul. It shouldn’t work, but there’s method within Ariel Pink’s wayward madness.

Reverential and arty, Futuresonic is unlikely to appeal to a mass musical audience, but organisers should be commended for pushing eclectic, worldwide talent towards futuristic celebration.

The Future is Everything.

* Photo and video content courtesy of Charlotte Dearsley

P.S. Try the F&L YouTube channel and our Flickr feed for more coverage from Futuresonic09.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Festival report : Futuresonic 09

Between Thursday and Sunday we sampled the annual Futuresonic festival, based in Manchester. Now in it's 14th year, Futuresonic is a leftfield mix of art, technology, debate and music.

We'll be publishing photos, reviews and more video content from tomorrow morning, alongside a link to our report for NME.

For now here is video footage from Saturday's show at Urbis featuring Times New Viking, Crystal Antlers, Marnie Stern and Ariel Pink.

Marnie Stern, live at Urbis, May 16th

Crystal Antlers, live at Urbis, May 16th

P.S. Try the F&L YouTube channel for more video coverage from Futuresonic09.

Friday, 15 May 2009

New In: Wilco stream Wilco (the album)

This week Wilco took the sensible step of streaming their new album Wilco on their own website following a full leak online. The band had clearly planned ahead and quickly moved to placate fans tempted by downloading the leaked tracks.

On first listen the new record is shaped by Krautrock structures, sparkling guitar interplay and as usual, highly accomplished instrumentation. We've yet to take in Jeff Tweedy's words, but it's safe to say that Wilco is a winner; proven by the band's eagerness to stream its entirety to the world, 6 weeks before stated release date. Now that takes some balls.

Get your rocks off to 'Monday' from the recent Ashes of American Flags DVD:

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

On screen: Radio 1 Big Weekend in decent line-up shocker

Last weekend saw the annual BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend pitch up in Swindon. A quick flick through the online highlights revealed a none too shoddy line-up, and we were spared any contact with 'presenters' Edith Bowman and Reggie Yates = result.

OK, so obvious chart botherers Calvin, Dizzee, Lily, Akon, Kasabian, Franz and er, Chris Moyles all plugged their latest records/tours/weight loss but there were also sets from the very new Temper Trap, promising indie-geeks Bombay Bicycle Club and god-like disco boys Friendly Fires.

There's a ton of footage over at Radio 1's homepage, while we've scoured YouTube for embeddable highlights - enjoy...

Calvin Harris played his pop hit 'I'm Not Alone' - a chavvy rave-up with wayward vocals. Highlight comes 4m 10secs in; "Swindon, get ready to go off!!"

Dizzee Rascal
goes 'Bonkers'. Noisy:

Friendly Fires 'Jump In The Pool'. Yes please:

Is that Kings of Leon? No it's Midlands apes Kasabian easing through 'Empire':

Like your pop soppy? Getting wallowing with The Script's 'Breakeven' (SPOILER: it's a fan video):

Recession = the return of escapist, fantasy pop (see La Roux, Little Boots, Marina and the Diamonds). Lad rock is dead - try telling that to The Enemy:

Alesha Dixon's 'The Boy Does Nothing' still sounds fresh even with ropey dance moves:

White Lies. Immaculate on record, 'Fairwell to the Fairground' sounds a little tired here:

'Kingdom of Rust' by Doves. Nuff said, these blokes deserve every accolade they'll pick up via their new album:

P.S. Where were Great Britain's best pop band - A.K.A Take That?

Oh, found 'em:

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

"Jesus, £1?" The Charlatans get credit crunched

Whilst perusing the racks at Fopp HMV we came across this forlorn package retailing at £1. Live at Last is a visual document of The Charlatans' Brixton Academy show in 2004

£1 for a DVD?
After lengthy google-ing research we found HMV 85p cheaper than the miserly

The sales blurb from Play is wonderful garbage:

"This may be their first ever full length live DVD, but there can barely be a rock fan in the country that hasn't, at one time or another, experienced the pulsating power of the Charlatans in performance. A band for the big occasion, this DVD captures the band at Brixton Academy ; and as ever Tim Burgess leads the band in another monster rock groove that has become their trademark."

Poor Tim Burgess. We hope you actually sell your next album for real money (not give it away on the XFM website) so you can get to the barbers, mate.

The Charlatans at their mid-90s indie heyday:

How good is Melting Pot?

P.S. We wouldn't usually publish such awful photography but we had a bearded shop assistant chasing us around the premises so had to snap on the move.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Live: Ghostface Killah in Manchester

Ghostface Killah
Manchester Academy 2
May 10th

A leading member of hip hop legends Wu Tang Clan, Ghostface Killah (real name Dennis Coles) is a prolific album maker, with an eighth solo outing set for release later this year.

Live, he’s erratic; at a recent London show he was reported to have stopped rapping to hold a Del Boy style sales pitch to shift a few t shirts onstage. Tonight he’s half an hour late but starts strongly, firing hip-hop rhymed bullets to a Wu Tang adoring crowd.
Ghostface’s onstage presence is as big as his extra large DJ, and he continually bigs up the assembled crowd. Unfortunately his impassioned shout outs fall largely on deaf ears, as the three quarters full Academy crowd fail to drum up an atmosphere to suit the machismo-fuelled energy onstage.

As well as the best bits of his own solo career, Ghostface serves up off the cuff versions of hip hop staples such as ‘Pass Me By’ (The Pharcyde), ‘Method Man’ (Wu Tang Clan) and ‘If I Ruled The World’ (Nas). Like a well stocked human iTunes library, Ghostface talks up, then performs 90s classics, as well running through his own back catalogue, with ‘Ice Cream’, ‘We Celebrate’ and ‘Be Easy’ making for a smoking hot opening.

Flanked by two, sometimes three MC’s, Ghostface doesn’t hang around; bashing out expletive ridden snippets and rhymes at a frantic pace. There’s little let up until a hasty talent contest finds the best MC in the audience (local Hit & Run promoter Chunky won, X Factor style) and sadly, the shows momentum disappears as young females are tempted onstage to writhe with the MC’s. Occasionally majestic, Ghostface and friends left most of the crowd craving a little more, rather than meeting their high, Wu Tang Clan referenced expectations.

Written originally for Manchester Evening News / City Life.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Good cover: Wilco get the hump on new album art

We love the cover art to Wilco's new album.

Wilco (The Album) is out June 30 on Nonesuch.

Hear their tip of the hat, topical cover of Woody Guthrie's 'The Jolly Banker', below.

Download The Jolly Banker

Friday, 8 May 2009

Hit the North – What the closure of Channel M Music means to Manchester

Channel M Music (CMM) began in April 2006 with a skeleton staff of producer Daniel Parrott and a handful of camera operators. There was no grand plan, simply a desire to represent new talent from Greater Manchester and beyond, both in front of and behind the camera. Early shows mixed amateurish skits with curious Mancunian-humour (legendary comedy figure Frank Sidebottom has appeared since the beginning) with a larger than life Scot (Gerry McLaughlin) on presenting duties.

Within three years of broadcasting the music department has produced over 350 individual programmes dedicated to new artists. It gave TV debuts to national and international talent such as Friendly Fires, The Enemy, Noah and the Whale and Passion Pit, but it’s the department’s championing of Manchester bred bands The Ting Tings, Twisted Wheel, Delphic and The Answering Machine that represent the biggest achievements.

The news of the department shut down filtered through social networks on 27th April, with the formal announcement of 41 job cuts and a programming re-vamp (news and sport sections remain but no dedicated arts output) coming a day later. In recession hardened times, arts based programming is always in danger of being marginalised. But following yesterday’s news that ITV’s flagship arts vehicle The South Bank Show is to cease filming – we’re left wondering whether the arts will ever be well represented on television in the future. As a nation we’re bombarded with news and tacky late night quiz shows, so why isn’t more creative art programming being aired? Music’s growing online popularity suggests that an audience is ready and waiting to watch quality programming. In Channel M’s case, why get rid of something that was unique and worthy of anything MTV or the BBC have put their names to?

Parrott admits the CMM launch was “a struggle” but after a testing first year, “labels and bands were fighting to get on”. He added: “Through our locality, we were able to build the channel into the fabric of the music scene."

Without an industry recognised model to gauge city by city viewership, the channel’s failure to tot up audience figures didn’t help the music department’s cause; without a facility to count, it’s hard to gauge how many people are watching – only where they are watching. With little grasp of their own viewer demographics, evening advertising slots didn’t deviate from day time models; leaving an impressionable, younger audience unengaged by personal loans and double glazing.

Manchester journalist John Robb says the music department closure is sad, but somewhat inevitable. “The idea is great, but to make it work is tricky, especially when the channel is not widely available”. He added: “Music shows are expensive to make, and CMM was a cumbersome show shot at an expensive location (Urbis gallery).” Of the Manchester music scene it has championed, Robb sees strength. “The cuts won’t damage the scene heavily, but bands will miss out on the experience of playing on live TV, which is adds to new artists’ CVs.”

New artists provide the buzz and excitement in an often predictable music industry, and Gemma Evans, of signed Manchester quartet The Answering Machine, told us of her disappointment. “It gave us confidence and experience in a relaxed, supportive environment. Some of the staff also helped us make professional music video which definitely raised our profile.” Steven Griffiths of unsigned group Airship, who have appeared twice in session, told of the anger felt in local music circles. He said: “I’m shocked and sad. Since our second session, things have snowballed for us – suddenly booking agents and labels are getting in touch rather than the other way round. It has been a catalyst to interest currently around the band.”

Richard Cheetham, promoter at the Night & Day Café and owner of the High Voltage record label and fanzine feels the city has lost an important promotional outlet. He said: “Channel M on the whole seems disparate with conflicting adverts amongst programs, so making it financially viable must have been tough. That said the music output did a lot for Manchester in terms of showcasing new local talent and the pull of touring bands visiting the city.”

Jon Ashley, founder and editor of the influential web site Manchester Music attributed the job cuts to failings high up at the Guardian Media Group. He said: “It's sad - so much investment has been made in developing GMG’s support for the arts. OK, advertising is down but the Scott Trust (GMG owners) are hardly poor.” As an veteran of Manchester’s punk boom, Ashley has seen music programming come and go but holds CMM as the best platform. He added: “Before CMM, ITV made a couple of series based on local music, but they never lasted. CMM’s attention to detail and quality will be missed - it immersed itself in new music and showcased leading music production values - the sound recording was impeccable and as good as anything on the BBC.”

Arguably the biggest losers in today’s recession have been journalists, with redundancies and news room re-jigs across the industry, especially in the North of England and most pertinently at MEN Media, whose head of online editorial, Sarah Hartley this week stood down from her post. Ashley continued: “After the job cuts across MEN Media it's hard to distinguish the Scott Trust from any current high street bank. Manchester (home to the very foundation of the organisation) is being stripped bare of a prime resource and source of information for its public. It reminds me of Boddingtons closing down its Manchester brewery - it makes no sense in terms of commitment to the local community and local identity. CMM represented what we've achieved and how far we've come.”

Freelance video journalist and ex Piccadilly Radio journalist Gavin Hill was blunter when commenting on the cuts; “Channel M on the whole is massively under resourced and has under achieved from the outset. There is a business model there, but it might as well be done on the web with a lot less outlay. The venture lacked vigour and real innovative ideas. Did it really take what Manchester has and make the most of it? A world famous city with high crime, rich and poor and a trailblazing music scene deserves better.”

At the filming of the final CMM session this week, staff appeared bullish about their personal situations, preferring to take pride in the three years of hard work that helped put Manchester back on the musical map once more. Its dedication and support to local bands will be sorely missed, but so will the technical skill of individuals that made the department tick. It will be a crying shame if those workers de-camp to London to work on rival offerings in order to earn a crust.
That really would damage the city of Manchester and its creative community.

** Big thanks to Shirlaine Forrest for use of the photos and to the interviewees for their time.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Welcome back: Sonic Youth riot on Jools Holland

Sonic Youth return with new album Eternal on 9th June through Matador Records.

Last week the 'Youth appeared on Later with Jools Holland, with the chaotic 'Teen Age Riot' (our favourite alt.rock tune of all time) fondly reminding us of their life affirming Roundhouse show in September 2007.

Listen and download new free track 'Sacred Trickster' below the videos.

Download 'Sacred Trickster'

* Thanks to Andrew Kesin for the photo, via Matador

Friday, 1 May 2009

Video: RIP Channel M Music

This week saw the announcement of 41 job cuts at Channel M, Manchester's Guardian Media Group funded television station. The saddest cuts came in the music department, whose staff worked tirelessly from April 2006 bringing new talent to the screens (and later) laptops of Manchester; championing local talent in the same breath as international.

We are currently putting together an in depth piece on this subject, to be published early next week on this very blog. For now, we'll direct you to Megan Vaughan's hit-nail-on-head tribute and some choice cuts from Channel M Music's enviable session archive.

The explosive Dananananaykroyd, from last month:

Manchester's next big things, Airship

Interview with Nick Cave:

What do YOU think about the Channel M job cuts? How will it affect Manchester music? Leave your thoughts below...

Monday, 27 April 2009

On Screen: Best: His Mother's Son

Best: His Mother's Son (shown yesterday evening on BBC 2) follows briskly on the heels of Clough tragi-comedy The Damned United (article here) and reveals the dark, destructive story of 1970s football legend George Best and his mother, Ann, both alcoholics. At an hour and a half long, the film has enough time to make a presence felt, but its menacing coldness means viewers were left with little feeling at its close. Thank god we had Adrian Chiles and his West Bromwich jokers to lighten the mood directly afterwards...

Directed by Colin Barr (Maxwell, The Lavender List), the film is faithful to mid late 60s, early 70s Belfast (riots and unrest puncture shots in and around the Best household) and is pitched directly to tug at our heartstrings. The addiction that plagues mother and son is well buffeted with brooding character shots in dreary locations like the Best family kitchen and George-funded chip shop.

Michelle Fairley's performance as a stricken mum is moving and at times unsettling, while Lorcan Cranitch is brilliantly restrained as George's father Dickie. Problems arrive in Tom Payne's portrayal of Best; never moving into second gear, he gives a restrained, lazy act at odds with his mothers angry emotional state. Early on, a 15 year old George is told by his family that a move to Manchester is "Your chance to be yourself", and later his mother snarls "Yes George, the whole world revolves around you."

Bored after reaching superhuman heights on the football pitch, GB hit party hot spots and gossip columns with unshakable zest. Back in Belfast, his mother crumbled under her son's media attention and found solace in drinking with girls half her age, eventually frightening off daughter Barbara and causing anguish for loyal husband Dickie.

Dickie is a hard working, proud man who at first comes across as a disciplinarian (on George being late for training he crows "He's a footballer, not a pop star") but as the film progresses his demeanour softens as his wife's condition deteriorates. He's ambivalent to George's self-inflicted demons (GB first retired from football at the age of 27), preferring to force his elder daughters and their estranged mother together.

In a sobering postscript, the film reveals that Ann Best died at 54, after just 10 years drinking. Her son lasted just five more life years, but his abuse took place through his fall from grace; from teenage heart-throb to TalkSport studio dweller.

As a spectacle, Best: His Mother's Son is a mix of 70s nostalgia and cold anguish; the film equivalent of Joy Division's deathly but daring, post Ian Curtis album Closer.

Watch Best: His Mother's Son on BBC iPlayer, until next Sunday (3rd May).

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Video: The Horrors - Who Can Say

The Horrors release second single 'Who Can Say' from new album Primary Colours on May 5th via XL.

We recieved the album t'other day and it's one of the best we've layed ears to so far this year - check back next week for a full review.

Read our verdict on first single 'Sea Within A Sea' from last month.

Proof not to judge a book by it's angsty, dodgy goth cover?

Cheers to Big Stereo for the video tip.

Friday, 24 April 2009

On Screen: Tony Manero murders the dancefloor

Tony Manero is the new film directed by Chilean Pablo Larraín, and was the winner at last year's Torino Film Festival, as well as being submitted to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language film. A chilling, unforgettable piece of work, Tony Manero is notable for it's authenticity and strong character performances, not least from main protagonist Raul (Alfredo Castro).

Raul is besotted with John Travolta's character (Tony Manero) from late-70s blockbuster Saturday Night Fever; aping his every move in practise and performance, stopping at nothing to appear on a national TV competition as the 'Chilean Manero'. By nothing we mean murder (stealing a television from an old lady before feeding her none-too-wiser cat, before hitting a local labourer for glass to light up a dancefloor) and family betrayal (whilst his daughter gets caught up in political strife with police, Raul hides in a cupboard) to make his dream performance.

Castro's performance is nothing short of mesmerising; equal parts schizophrenic and camp, his manic, piercing eyes and brooding expressions mark a definite parrallel to Tony Montana of gangster epic Scarface. Indeed, there's also violence, vulgarity and seediness to add to Castro's unmissable performance. Surrounded by women in the household, Raul is a frustrated performer on the dancefloor and in the bedroom. He's the complete antithises to Travolta's dumb twinkle toes, as Saturday Night Fever's North American ideals clash against the brutal politics of 1978 Chile in the midst of General Pinochet’s dictatorship.

Scene after scene is supremely built, Raul's dancing scenes particularly potent alongside his criminal, brutal acts. The grace and delicateness he shows on the 'floor contrasts wildly with the overly masculine bravado and brute power displayed out on the streets.

Our favourite quote bookends the film, as first a television producer then the studio host ask Raul - "So, what do you do?" "This", he replies, meaning he'll go to any means to perform, to be Tony Manero.

A must see, though you'll never look at John Travolta the same way ever again.

Tony Manero was showing at the Cornerhouse in Manchester.

Live: Whitest Boy Alive in Manchester

Whitest Boy Alive
Manchester Ruby Lounge
18th April

Whitest Boy Alive
front man Erlend Øye is a happy soul tonight; making no effort to disguise the geeky grin he sports throughout his bands 90 minute set. Back in the North where he spent six months living in leafy Chorlton (being Manchester, Erlend still got attacked) Øye barely moves two feet all night, such as his comfort and calmness these days.

Fellow white boys Marcin (bass, cracking 80s perm hairdo), Daniel (keys, outstanding player) and Sebastian (drums, hidden from our view by a speaker stack) are consummate musicians, driving songs forward with minimalist precision and a whole lot of funk. First song ‘Keep a Secret’ starts inauspiciously but gathers momentum with Øye’s prickly guitar line and weaving keyboard stabs. Each song is performed effortlessly; studied, piercing eyes glare from Marcin while Øye continues to flip a manic grin. No instrument dominates, and tonight’s sound mixing is near on perfect.

New songs flirt with old in a crowd pleasing set list. New songs are nailed and performed by seasoned pros; ‘Dead End’ picks out new-wave riffs as Øye laments lost love, while ‘Intentions’ sounds like Steely Dan after a visit to the Hype Machine. ‘Golden Cage’ pretty much lifts the roof off the Ruby, sparking furious dancing in the sweaty front rows. The brooding ‘Timebomb’ offers a change of pace before the band launch into The Prodigy’s ‘Out of Space’ to the crowds delight.

WBA aren’t just here to sell their new album, there’s more joy in the scratchy funk of ‘Above You’ and the pop perfection of ‘Burning’ from 2006 debut Dreams. We haven’t seen a better live performance this year, and it’ll take something special to top Erlend and his boys on this form.

Written originally for Clash Music. The Whitest Boy Alive's new album Rules is out now, via their own label Bubbles - order here.