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.