Monday, 30 March 2009
Parish returned the favour producing Harvey's last album White Chalk and the pair release new record A Woman A Man Walked By, this week.
Lead single 'Black Hearted Love' is the dark, brooding lead single, complete with crunching guitars and Gothic elegance.
Saturday, 28 March 2009
Mullet haired San Diego resident Nathan Williams is Wavves, described by his PR team as an author of 'slack beach punk anthems'.
The ever reliable Pitchfork TV filmed a show last month in New York, and although we find Williams' onstage persona a little irritating, there's much to admire in his primitive musical template.
Augmented by a live drummer, Wavves rip through songs at an alarming speed, 'California Goth' seeing Williams declare 'I am a perfect person / I am a catch' over wired guitar chords and scatter shot drums.
Elsewhere, debut UK single 'So Bored' (released on Young Turks at the beginning of March) is a thrilling punk take on The Beach Boys' surfboard pop.
Wavves are currently touring North America, with new UK dates promised this summer (most probably festival appearances). An album is also in the pipeline, though dates have yet to be confirmed.
Very new, unsigned noise rockers Lost Knives live in Manchester. They emerged just a month ago with three songs on their MySpace page.
They've yet to even play a gig yet, and lose their gigging virginity on 30th March with Broken Records at the Ruby Lounge, Manchester.
The three songs currently online - recorded in demo form earlier this year in Liverpool - brim with musical verve and have been praised by the resident bloggers at Hype Machine as well as receiving a play on influential American radio station KCRW.
The most intriguing track of the three, 'Out Of Touch', may require a few listens, but there's well executed ideas and blooded spirit running through its young veins. We hear hints of Bloc Party, early Cooper Temple Clause in the gruff vocals and heavy guitar work, and the electronic back beat hints at future dance floor aspirations.
You can hear 'Solstice' and 'Cold Morning' here. The band perform the following Manchester shows in April and May:
18 Apr - Ruby Lounge w/ Whitest Boy Alive + The Answering Machine
3 May - Sounds from the Other City Festival, Salford w/ Plugs
15 May - Roadhouse w / Violens & May 68
Download 'Out Of Touch'
Thursday, 26 March 2009
Also signed to Columbia, the Massachusetts quintet have enjoyed lots of love from salivating music bloggers since their Chunk of Change EP (listen on Spotify) arrived in September through French Kiss. Debut album Manners drops on May 18th (UK) and a day later in America (In Sound pre-order).
Propelled by the awesome 'Sleepyhead', Chuck Of Change picked up praise for its strong tunes - despite some noticeable musical pilfering going on - 'Smile Upon Me' apes LCD Soundsystem's 'All My Friends' while 'Live To Tell The Tale' is eerily similar to much on The Postal Service's Give Up.
It's unclear whether the 'Pit have the crossover capability of Andrew Van Wyngarden and Ben Goldwasser (MGMT) or the technicolour charm of Empire of the Sun. They seem to have the preppy geek chic down to a tee, but real star quality sells records.
The band tour the UK alongside Dan Le Sac in May (poster below), before playing extensively across North America in June. Dates and teaser album track 'The Reeling' are now on MySpace, watch a studio sessions video from Fader TV below.
Friday, 20 March 2009
It arrived with substantial media coverage in the UK on 10th February this year, and support shows no sign of diminishing as user numbers increase (as of 2nd March Spotify boasted 1 million users from Western Europe and the UK) and record labels sign up their artists for streaming (tracks are added daily to the existing four million).
Spotify's easy on the eye design and functionality has gained many followers. And despite muso's complaining about the depth of Spotify's current catalogue and a security scare earlier this month, the application has challenged your average music fan as to the merits of their 'gathering dust' CD collection.
However, this week it emerged that Spotify's high quality streaming service appears not as cute as it looks. One member of the Record of the Day forum complained of receiving a letter from their Internet Service Provider stating they'd used up their monthly 12 gigabyte bandwith allowance from two weeks of Spotify streaming. It seems that listening to music on Spotify eats the same amount of bandwith your normal song download would, meaning that 'all day' consumption will bite significantly into household or business ISP bandwith quotas.
Spotify currently broadcasts its library from peer-to-peer networks alongside a central server, a system that can infringe on an individuals browser use, separate streaming or downloads. Spotify chiefs have described their current system as "naive", but hope to fine tune its impact on browsing applications.
Many ISP's make their business models tuned to frequent downloaders; the more bandwith they individually use on a monthly basis, the greater leverage ISP's have on increasing price plans. It's been suggested that ISP's could switch from monthly inclusive packages to metered bandwith charges (you pick a price plan with a specific usage limit) to correspond with the rise in popularity of streaming media online. But many new listeners drawn in by the lure of Spotify are unaware of streaming's dent into their daily browsing, internet usage and ultimately, their own pockets.
Find new music additions on Spotify
Get started with Falling and Laughing's March playlist
A welcome celebration of the humble independent record store in these digitally force-fed times, the UK arm of Record Store Day will offer exclusive releases from Graham Coxon, Sonic Youth and Tom Waits.
Wilco's first live concert film (frontman Jeff Tweedy released a solo live DVD in 2006) was filmed across gigs in Washington, New Orleans, Tulsa, Nashville and Mobile and features 13 songs from all corners of their enviable back catalogue. If the film is anyway near as good as 2002's I Am Trying To Break Your Heart documentary, then we're in for a real treat.
Recently the band joined forces with everyone's favourite new band, Fleet Foxes, to perform a cover of Bob Dylan's 'I Shall Be Released' as part of their support to Barack Obama's successful presidential campaign.
Download 'I Shall Be Released' - Fleet Foxes and Wilco
Ashes of America Flags is released on 18th April through Nonesuch.
To our delight, German electronic pop pioneers Kraftwerk will open the festival with a live performance at Manchester Velodrome, supported by American composer Steve Reich.
Other notable events include Elbow's two night residency at The Bridgewater Hall alongside The Hallé symphony orchestra, Rufus Wainwright's debut opera Prima Donna at the Palace Theatre, De La Soul performing their seminal hip hop album 20 Years High and Rising at The Ritz, Amadou and Miriam's collaboration with the Beating Wing Orchestra and the intriguing It Felt Like A Kiss, a drama featuring music composed by Damon Albarn.
It's not to late to volunteer and put your own stamp on proceedings, while tickets are said to be flying out fast for the Kraftwerk and Elbow shows.
Thursday, 19 March 2009
They've been described as a cross between CSS and Roisin Murphy, but we can also hear the mechancial moves of Metro Area and the pouting of Glass Candy.
If you like what you hear, you're able to download a demo EP from their Last.Fm page and see them live at the following shows:
April 17th - Blowout @ Chorlton Irish Club, Manchester (w/ My Tiger My Timing)
April 29th - The Deaf Institute, Manchester (w/The Juan Maclean)
It's been a slow, measured build for the St Albans trio, and word of mouth has propelled them into the hearts of clubbers across the globe. Helped by some inventive, catchy singles ('Paris', 'Photobooth', 'Jump In The Pool') and cutting edge remixes (pick up the Air France remix of 'Skeleton Boy' here), Friendly Fires are certainly on a roll.
Check out our review of Skeleton Boy for High Voltage while enjoying the video and their laid-back cover of Lykke Li's 'I'm Good I'm Gone'.
Download 'I'm Good I'm Gone' (Lykke Li cover)
Skeleton Boy is out now on XL, find the bands world tour dates on their MySpace.
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
With Metronomy main man Joseph Mount on production duties, thecocknbullkid has made tentative strides since emerging last July with debut 7" 'On My Own' through Mount's Need Now Future Records.
Dismissing of 'aspirational pop music', (hands up, Lady Ga Ga) Blay aims to strike with an honest, warts n all approach to songwriting. She's name checked Morrissey and early Madonna as big influences, while describing herself in interviews as an "anti-popstar" when shuffled next to chart bothering ladies Girls Aloud and The Saturdays.
Her new single, 'I'm Not Sorry' ticks all the boxes for sassy modern pop; grinding bass and synth stabs shimmy up against Mount's poppy percussion, while the vocals remind us of pop IT girl Lily Allen. With Mount at the helm for the recording of her debut album (due out in the Autumn) Blay has a good chance of becoming the alt-pop star it'll be OK to like this time next year.
Fix your eyes down to watch I'm Not Sorry's promo video and hear the Stuart Ramsey remix...
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
This year is the 20th anniversary of the release of their eponymous debut album. Rumours are that a tour would coincide with a planned reissue of the album, remastered by original producer John Leckie. But are modern day reunion tours any more than money driven mortgage payoffs for artists?
There's no doubt that a reformed Stone Roses would have no trouble shifting large units of tickets (Ian Brown, the most successful post-Roses member, performed SR songs at the vast Manchester Central venue in 2007) but then again, so can Michael Jackson, an artist whose 'career' was finished until those nice people at the o2 Arena gave him a ring.
Blur were the latest big name Brit pop band to reconvene for live shows, while The Verve went the whole hog and recorded new material, which unfortunately hasn't stopped Richard Ashcroft starting work on a new solo album. Plenty of legendary groups haven't succumbed to the tempting waft of cash that reunion brings (hello The Smiths, Talking Heads and The Jam - despite the rhythm section forming From The Jam, minus Paul Weller in 2007) and there has been artistic success in Portishead and My Bloody Valentine's 2008 comebacks.
Paul Weller was quoted in 2006 on the subject of reunions: "Me and my children would have to be destitute and starving in the gutter before I'd even consider that, and I don't think that'll happen anyway ... (the Jam's music) still means something to people and a lot of that's because we stopped at the right time, it didn't go on and become embarrassing." Even Ian Brown said in 2007 he'd "rather sign on" than reform his former group.
Us? We're torn between school boy memories of learning how to play guitar to The Stone Roses and wishing that Ian Brown could actually sing. We suggest trying Spiritualized's planned live show in London this October (they will play 1997's magnificent Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space album) for artistically valuable nostalgia.
A definite attempt to explore new sounds following the goth dirge of their 2007 debut album Strange House, Sea Within A Sea takes in many shoegaze and post-punk influences.
Produced last summer by Geoff Barrow (Portishead), the song (below) is a refreshing change of tactic; singer Faris Badwin has lost the angry young man and embraced reverb fuelled vocals, while his band sound more comfortable in experimental mode - the second half of the song shows them taking an almost ambient direction.
After the bands aggro-fuelled breakthrough at the end of 2006 (there were strong rumours that their label Loog 'purchased' the bands NME cover in August of the same year), the Horrors divided opinion among the indie-rock masses. Were they the perfect antidote to tedious electro or just bad goths?
When we interviewed the band for Artrocker magazine around their NME shows in 2007, they kept us waiting for an hour while they slept off hangovers and didn't look enamoured to be on board the rock'n'roll ship. Since then they've left Loog (who took on the more commercially marketable Courteeners) and signed with the excellent XL, and sound all the better for it.
Second album Primary Colours is released on 4th May, for live dates check their MySpace page.
Monday, 16 March 2009
The album will available through download from this evening and gets a physical release on April 13th by Rough Trade. You can hear their Krautrock-inspired new track 'Inaugral Trams' (featuring a German speaking appearance from Franz Ferdinand's Nick McCarthy) below.
We'll be commenting on the playback through Twitter, check our feed for our thoughts on their new material from 8pm. In the meantime get nostalgic with SFA's awesome back catalogue on Spotify, or put your feet up for the Cardiff boyos classic 'Northern Nites' video, below.
Sunday, 15 March 2009
We haven’t seen Mean Machine, and the thought of prisoners 'getting pally' with Vinny Jones means we’ll probably never bother. While we're at it, the so bad its hilarious A Shot At Glory brought together the unlikely acting combo of legendary Scotland centre forward Ally McCoist and Academy Award winner Robert ‘Gordon McLeod’ Duvall.
Apart from the excellent Escape to Victory and Fever Pitch, your thinking mans football fan strives for that film which encapsulates the emotional rush of following your team, the unique connection between millionaire footballers, their managers and the terraced working class.
The Damned United (released UK-wide on 27th March) is the film adaptation of David Peace’s excellent novel of the same name; accounting for Brian Clough’s haphazard 44 days in charge of 70s English football kings Leeds United. Playing Clough is Michael Sheen (The Queen, Frost/Nixon), while Timothy Spall and Jim Broadbent turn in performances as Clough’s assistant Peter Taylor and Derby chairman Sam Longson respectively.
Peace’s book delved into Clough’s claustrophobic mental state, reliance on alcohol and blazing boardroom rows at a frenetic tempo, so it’ll be interesting to see how the film is paced and how Clough’s sadness and helplessness caused by drink is handled by director Tom Hopper.
Shot on location in Derbyshire, Yorkshire and Majorca (Clough liked to get away every once in a while) the film has been rejected by Clough's family, who did not support Peace’s book.
Canadians Junior Boys release their third album Begone Dull Care on May 11th in the UK, with single ‘Hazel’ recieving a physical 20th April release through Domino.
The web buzz around their new material is highly merited, as Begone Dull Care is a stunning record; an immaculately produced mix of synth-pop and MOR songwriting.
In a recent interview with Fact magazine, singer Jeremy Greenspan described the album as about "making music, the unpredictability of it, the imperfection of the conditions, the sense of discovery...unstable instruments and unstable ideas." Their languid, drawn out songwriting remains, but in keeping with the ‘working’ theme, there’s a greater methodicalness on show throughout Begone Dull Care.
In amongst the graft and toil, Hazel screams 'Pop song', with nods to 70s easy listening rock and early electronica.
Chilling album opener ‘Parrallel Lines’ is now streaming on the Junior Boys Domino artist page.
The band tour Canada and North America throughout April and May, with rescheduled UK and dates promised for June, dates below.
5 London – The Arches
7 Dublin – Academy
9 Manchester – Club Academy
Friday, 13 March 2009
Preceding the album is new single ‘One Day’, released on 6th April (DFA store). Beginning with stabbing synth rhythms and some neat vocal tricks, the track builds on a classic keyboard riff then ends with a flurry of percussive, dancefloor magic. Expect remixes from Surkin and Emperor Machine amongst others, while UK live dates have just been released (see below).
Talking of remixes, we’re dying to hear Juan’s mix of Franz Ferdinand’s ‘No You Girls’ – can anyone help us out?
19 April – LONDON – Noise of Art at Ether @ QEH
28 April – LONDON – White Heat @ Madame JoJos
29 April – MANCHESTER – The Deaf Institute
30 April – LIVERPOOL - Korova
Both rode with much hype in 2007 armed with debut albums and significant press buzz. Penate in particular found it hard to live up to the brightness of his early singles across a full album, while the Maccabees looked tired and uninspired when we caught them live in Manchester last April.
Penate’s ‘Tonight’s Today’ is a surprising defection to preppy drum beats, loose vocals and sun kissed, reverb heavy guitars – a million miles away from the overstated indie styling of his debut. It would be quite easy to dismiss this as jumping on a TV On The Radio/insert new Brooklyn band name *here* bandwagon, but maybe Penate will turn into the true pop star he was being trumpeted as two years ago.
Tonight’s Today is released on 30 March through XL. Expect a new album from Mr Penate dropping in time for summer festivals.
The Maccabees current free download ‘No Kind Words’ is a propulsive, dramatic track which finds them edging towards an Interpol vibe they waxed lyrical about during early interviews. The video below features that bloke who’s on the telly quite a lot these days (Matt Horne), and the band are on tour from next week. They've just announced that new album Wall Of Arms will be released on 4th May through Fiction.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
The change in sound and outlook is remarkable, replacing potential indie anthems with euphoric beats, Kraftwerk-inspired electronics and heroic guitar work. Live, they're joined by drummer Dan, who gives the trio an even sharper dance edge.
The first fruits of their labour can be heard in the spine-tingling 'Counterpoint', released on R&S Records on 13th April (pre-order 12" at Rough Trade and Puregroove). Having originally recorded on their own, the band have been working on their debut album with producer Ewan Pearson. Live, they're pretty sharp as low-key shows around Manchester last year showed, and they've since supported Bloc Party in Europe.
Their decision to start afresh now looks inspired. See below for the video to Counterpoint and current confirmed UK and European live dates...
13 London - The Queen of Hoxton (Dummy Mag Launch)
09 London - Notting Hill Arts Club
12 Sheffield - The Plug
16 London - Pure Groove In-store (On-stage 6:30pm)
21 London - Madame Jo Jo's
01 London - Koko (With Phoenix)
05 Paris - La Maroquinerie (Kitsune Party)
16 Cornwall - Beachbreak Live Festival
On the evidence of teaser download 'Jetstream' and 'Kingdom of Rust', we shouldn't expect a vast departure from the trio's cinematic indie-rock, but if it ain't broke etc. They've certainly timed their return well, with fellow Mancunians Elbow finally making inroads into the nations hearts.
Kingdom of Rust's video takes in the windswept suburbs, motorways and hills of the North West before sampling the delights of Blackpool sea front.
Of the couple of remixes currently doing the blog rounds, Still Going's disco-tinged reworking trumps Prins Thomas' sedate, slo-mo remix.
Melancholy has never sounded this good.
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
We had the pleasure of speaking to Erlend Øye last month for the April edition of Clash magazine.
Conducting the interview through Skype, Erlend had a few problems making out our questioning. Like a true gent, he offered to call us back on our landline! Erlend and his chums have made a cracking record in 'Rules', which you can pick now directly from the band at their Bubbles online store.
The band perform dates in the UK in April, but with both London legs sold out, act quick for tickets to the rest of the shows. Their Ruby Lounge date in Manchester on April 18th sure looks tasty.
Full interview below...
Returning with sparkling new album Rules, Whitest Boy Alive leader Erlend Øye is talking from his hometown of Bergen, Norway. He’s an articulate, well worded man, with a steely confidence of his bands considerable musical talents.
Following the release of 2006’s debut album Dreams, the foursome took the songs out on the road, playing shows were they could in Berlin and Scandinavia. Erlend admits that the group works “differently from other bands”, with emphasis on musicianship and taking artistic chances, rather towing a music industry line. Word of mouth and the support of key music bloggers found the Whitest Boy Alive a following across Europe and America, and Erlend himself has recently been busy working on the high anticipated new Kings of Convenience record.
We are eager to learn about the group’s beginnings in 2003, when Erlend and bassist Marcin met at a techno club in Berlin, and started work on an electronic dance project. “We’d work on songs at a place called Café Moscow, on Mondays and Tuesdays when it was quiet. We’d often bump into Sebastian (drums) and Daniel (Rhodes piano and Crumar – a vintage Italian synthesizer) in the hall, but it took a while before we spoke to them. They looked shady, we were afraid they’d steal our equipment!” Soon they joined forces, as Erlend and Marcin grew tired of using programmed drums, and sought a more human touch.
the whitest boy alive 1517 street concert ic berlin
So what makes the Whitest Boy Alive tick? Erlend says of his band mates; “They all grew up in Germany, and share a real understanding of house and techno. They grew up with Theo Parish, Chicago and Detroit music. That’s the common denominator in this group.” With Daniel now a full time member (he appeared on only two tracks on Dreams) the group decamped to the Mexican West Coast to record new material towards the end of 2007. They quickly set about turning a friend’s garage into a recording studio, but faced an unwanted five week delay on the customs clearance of Sebastian’s drum kit. “If any bands ever want advice about how not to transport their gear to another country, email us” jokes Erlend.
So what is different with the new album, to Dreams? “Well, in terms of BPM, these new songs are slower than the first set. We were calmer this time,” says Erlend. Did your surroundings in Mexico influence the new album? “One of the things we wanted with this album was not to be influenced in that way. We still wanted to make a Northern European record, but in a warm climate. There’s only one song on the album that was written in Mexico (album opener ‘Keep A Secret’) which was written after we’d gone to a small town fiesta. We saw an amazing band, playing cumbia music, with heavy bass playing, horns and rapping. That was the only direct influence on the song writing.”
The beauty of the Whitest Boy Alive song writing process is that once a track is written, it is bashed into shape during live shows. This way, songs are kept lean and minimal, very much in keeping with the bands recording ethos or Rules, as Erlend explains; “We aim not to layer too much when recording; a song has to be capable of being played live by all of us. It makes us work harder; there are so many shortcuts in the studio.” All this makes for an exciting, highly accomplished live show. Erlend; “We don’t use backing tracks, like many of our peers. To play these songs we have to rehearse a lot and be brave. We don’t hide behind anything.”
Rules will be released on the bands own label named Bubbles, where fans can purchase music and merchandise directly online. Do you feel that labels (especially majors) are less important now? “I think they’re pretty much obsolete” says Erlend. “Many labels are still clinging to their old ways, especially UK labels who continue to push out ugly CDs. For us, a record sleeve is just as important as the music inside. I think a lot of bands over the past few years have questioned whether they need labels any more, especially when you can distribute digitally yourselves and get the rewards directly.”
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Manchester's Dutch Uncles (formely Headlines) are currently up there with best young songwriters in the North, but with the rest of the UK seemingly too busy lapping up heavily PR'd token-indie, these boys took themselves off to Germany to record and release their debut album.
The self titled record is now available in the UK, here and here, with a launch party at the Deaf Institute in Manchester scheduled for 16th March.
'Face In' is their best tune, hear it on their MySpace.
Continuing the Manc-indie-theme, The Answering Machine release their corking new single 'Cliffer' this week. Finally looking like they mean business, Cliffer is a belting, forceful attack of guitars, with a top video to boot.
* No Manchester band posts tomorrow, we promise...
A: A conjoined ego bigger than the entire North West and a horrendous take on a Smiths classic!
Judge for yourselves...
Thursday, 5 March 2009
Newly signed to the excellent 4AD, The Big Pink are Robbie Furze (guitarist for Alec Empire) and Milo Cordell (founder of Merok Records and the man responsible for bringing Klaxons, Crystal Castles and more recently Telepathe to the world).
From the evidence of the half a dozen available MySpace streams, their sound isn't a million miles away from the moody Scots, with hints of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Spiritualized and Suicide.
Decide for yourself with the video for 'Velvet', below...
Wednesday, 4 March 2009
Their debut single 'Suffragette Suffragette' was one of our favourite tunes of 2008, and though newie 'Photoshop Handsome' is not quite as immediate as it's predecessor, we're won over through it's sheer odd-ball charm. Watch the bonkers video below...
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
Night & Day Café,
‘SOLD OUT’ reads the paper sign outside the Night and Day Café in the heart of the cities still hip Northern Quarter. Whilst a number of flash venues have established themselves in Manc-land over the past year, Night & Day still stands as the holy grail of dank, dark gigging to many folk about town.
Decidedly non-plussed after witnessing the back end of Apache Beat’s taut art-rock set, we find Leicestershire’s Kyte limbering up around their instruments. Still very much developing after a couple of low key EP releases, they’ve since hit their stride in the live arena. These lads don’t look they’d be much fun on a night out, but their musical ambition is matched with achingly beautiful tunes to comfort anyone through a harsh winter. You’ll either want to hug or strangle singer Nick Moon and his unique vocals, but we’re left with more evidence of this bands growing reputation.
School of Seven Bells are late onstage due to woes on the M6 but any cobwebs are blown away with a balanced set taking in the majority of Alpinisms, their ‘out-now’ debut album. Early on, ‘Prince Of Peace’ neatly brings together glitched beats with stuttering vocal harmonies from identical twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, while on glorious single ‘Half Asleep’, Benjamin Curtis provides avalanches of gorgeous, controlled feedback noise. The beat heavy ‘Iamundernodisguise’ is a spooky journey into prog guitar sounds and chanted vocals, and ‘Connjur’ takes cues from Au Revoir Simone’s dream-pop; the colliding guitar and synth melodies stealing our breath away.
We’ll sleep well tonight.
Written originally for Clash Music