Saturday, 31 December 2011

Listen: Black Tambourine - Cassette

When it comes to Slumberland Records' early bands, Black Tambourine is THE ONE. Their sweet, often pining and slightly lost indie pop music can either shake off the dust and get you up and moving, or can be the accompaniment to a day spent wandering around indoors dreaming - where ever you go, their sound can follow and fit any mood.

With members of Whorl and Velocity Girl (inc. Mike Schulman who co-founded Slumberland), along with vocalist Pam Berry, the group of friends from Washington, D.C. played indie pop at a time when the US was largely still in slumber, and the UK was leading the movement thanks to The Jesus & Mary Chain, the Pastels and Orange Juice, and Creation Records as a whole.
But despite writing such perfectly-formed melodies, Black Tambourine's life span was very short, with only two 7" singles released during their time playing together.

Luckily, thanks to a few compilation records released much later (Complete Recordings in '99 and Black Tambourine in 2010) their legacy remains intact for all to enjoy.

I wanted to write about Black Tambourine today as many of their early recordings have been shared on their Bandcamp page and can now be downloaded for free! The 'Lost Inner Ear' mixes were previously stolen, and so this is their first outing. Click the cover below to listen and keep -

Black Tambourine - For Ex-Lovers Only

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

All Tomorrows Parties: Caribou, Les Savy Fav, Battles Curate

This weekend, I will brave the bracing winter wind in Minehead.

Here are my top line-up picks, in all-singing and dancing YouTube glory.

(I will try and remain sober enough to report back in as much detail as possible).






These are so many more (inc. all three curators) but all these vids are crashing my computer. See ya next week.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Sonic Youth: Hits Are For Squares

Review of Sonic Youth : Hits Are For Squares over at Bearded.

Summary: Fuck compilations and get yrself 1991: The Year Punk Broke if you want to invest in something worthwhile.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Oneohtrix Point Never at St Giles-in-the-Fields

My Thursday night was spent in the beautiful St Giles-in-the-Fields Church, sitting in a pew and blissfully watching Oneohtrix Point Never performing tracks from his new record, Replica.

Oneohtrix Point Never is Daniel Lopatin (half of Ford & Lopatin, and founder of the Software label), and the music he creates is suited to a reverent spiritual setting; under the loops and textures, there are low, choral voices and ethereal and distant samples, summoning a presence that can go from pastoral to ominous in a few steps of sound.

On record, it's music that requires intent listening, filling silence with a metamorphosis of sound. In a live setting and accompanied by visuals, the music takes on an even more powerful and transfixing form, as fading cartoon images and three dimensional fleshy shapes rotate and diverge. It might sound like a strange thing to say, but something about the tone and atmosphere of OPN's music gives me the same creepy feeling that I used to have when I was really little, and would lie in bed at night trying to get my head around life and mortality and the things that still blow my mind when I think about them for too long.

I couldn't find any footage online that does the live show justice, so here are some videos to check out:

Replica is out now.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Watch: John Maus - Hey Moon

Since its release, John Maus' most recent album, We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves has stayed put through many an iPod clearout, and is a record I can't see myself ever growing tired of.

The album follows on from 2007's Love Is Real which is equally as unique and atmospheric, borrowing theme music aesthetic from 80s flickering VHS movies, medieval sounds and solemn, echoing vocals that float up from the depths to create something quite otherworldy. Though favourite tracks come and go (and there are a great many of them), 'Do Your Best' is a song that will always get my full attention. It's also no suprise that John Maus was old college buddies with Ariel Pink, and was in an early line-up of the Haunted Graffiti.

Do Your Best - John Maus by parishrecords

Last week London was given the chance to see these songs brought screaming (quite literally) into the live arena, as John Maus played three shows in a row. I couldn't make the Thursday show and so saw him at Heaven (as support to Washed Out, who were good but totally eclipsed by his short but striking set) and at a lunchtime Rough Trade show the next day. Thankfully Abeano has very kindly shared a video of his newer track 'Hey Moon', alongside slow-motion footage from the Tufnell Park show.

John Maus - Hey Moon from JJJJ on Vimeo.

All of John Maus' catalogue can be purchased online from the Upset The Rhythm shop.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Read: Not Every Girl Is A Riot Grrrl

"Women should be heroes for everybody, not just for other women." - Amy Klein

Riot Grrrl has always been a tricky term to get to grips with, as it covers so much and yet is also an extremely precise movement in time, the timeline of which is slightly blurred. During its peak I was still playing Barbies and obsessing over Top Of The Pops, so I'm by no means in any position to provide a full history, but in my view, Riot Grrrl gave permission to women to be themselves, to eradicate dated attitudes of a woman's place in society and encourage women to speak out about their experiences and problems, and to support each other.

It was a movement that took place in gig venues, in social spaces and out on the streets, discussed in meetings and talked about in zines. It was the coming together of a group of people fed up with being sidelined because of their gender, especially in the so-called open minded punk community. It was the reclaiming of an individual's identity and a proactive, supportive outlook that empowered women and was another sharp attack on the sexism that still reared its head everyday, subtly or otherwise.

It's difficult to discuss briefly as there are so many elements to Riot Grrrl, and books such as Sarah Marcus's 'Girls To The Front' and 'Riot Grrrl: Revolution Girl Style Now!' do a brilliant job of detailing the views, events and people involved.

But as word of Riot Grrrl spreads further and further over time, the true meaning of the title can become skewed and altered, resulting in almost a caricature of its former self. Riot Grrrl is Bikini Kill and Heavens To Betsy, but it isn't a specific genre of music. In fact, it isn't solely a musical movement at all, but one that brings together the topics of art, music, politics, gender, sexuality, abuse and a host of other issues. And yet, female musicians are finding it harder and harder to shake off the tag.

By creating this 'other' woman, who doesn't fit the traditional stereotype, Riot Grrrl has become the badge placed upon them. And with it comes a stereotype all of its own. In my own experience, even the most liberal and open-minded of people have presumed that I'm a lesbian, just because a lot of my music collection is taken up with records made by women. This strange viewpoint also worryingly suggests that straight girls only listen to music made by men, which when you think about it, must mean that girls enjoy music only because they are attracted to the person making it... Don't get me wrong, I love The Pixies, but I don't feel the urge to jump Frank Black's bones, or to see Mark E. Smith in his birthday suit, thanks very much.

It's been on my mind for quite a while now, so I was pleased to read the 'Not Every Girl Is A Riot Grrrl' article by Lindsay Zoladz, published on Pitchfork a few days ago. In it, Lindsay discusses how nowadays, the comparison to Riot Grrrl can be detrimental to women, especially in music, because once again female musicians are labelled before they've even struck a chord.

Obviously being typecast as a Riot Grrrl isn't exactly the worst insult, but it's still lazily lumping an entire gender together rather than listening to the music being produced, and shows how limited our vocabulary for talking about women in music is. It was great to hear many women (including Grass Widow!) discussing their experiences with the term, and Amy Klein got it spot on, noting, "It shouldn't be sacrilege to say that a guitar player who happens to be female sounds like, say, J Mascis... And people should feel comfortable complimenting a 15-year-old guy, saying, 'Your playing sounds like Marnie Stern.' Women should be heroes for everybody, not just for other women."

Read the article in full here.

Kim Gordon reading the original Riot Grrrl manifesto:

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Listen: Coasting - You're Never Going Back

When Fiona Campbell isn't beating the drums in Vivian Girls, she's half of the brilliant Coasting, making driving pop songs that rattle and sway through swarms of soft harmonies and echo, but with enough of a kick to keep things interesting. You're Never Going Back is the first full-length from the Brooklyn-based duo, and has just been released on the sublime M'Lady's Records.

I think I played it about 10 times back to back when Spin put it up as a 'first listen', and luckily it's still streamable on their site, so go and check it out now before someone realises and takes it down!

The cover is also incredible.

Buy the record direct from M'Lady's here.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Prinzhorn Dance School - Clay Class

For the uninitiated, with a name like Prinzhorn Dance School, images of spandex and leg warmers are summoned; visions of glitter-clad kids all hungry for fame, leaping over vehicles and generally causing chaos. That was my first thought when, in 2007, the band appeared with their self-titled debut on DFA.

Thankfully, while the chaotic element may not be far fetched, Prinzhorn Dance School are far from obnoxious stage school kids. A collaboration between the musicians Tobin Prinz and Suzi Horn, their name stems from Dr Hans Prinzhorn, who collected art by mentally ill patients under his care.

With post-punk sensibilities and jumping guitars, their music is a wonderful, skeletal combination of scratchy guitar and thudding bass lines, with spoken male vocals and shouty female cries that jangle the nerves. I always feel cheesy throwing around comparisons willy nilly, but sometimes it can't be helped, so here goes... Think along the lines of The Intelligence, Beat Happening, a rowdy Young Marble Giants, or even The Raincoats and you come somewhere in the vicinity of Prinzhorn Dance School.

They also have lovely handmade merchandise - at the recent DFA night at the 100 Club, their merch stand was covered in hand-stitched purses, and what looked to be some kind of jam or preserve in little jars. Way more interesting than the usual tshirt and vinyl selection.

They have just announced that a second album will follow their self-titled debut, titled Clay Class. Very much an album dealing with the topics of our time, Tobin says of the album, "Even though our band lives in two different places at once - Brighton and Portsmouth, a sense of belonging doesn't really happen in either. I think that’s a wider issue which probably affects millions of people in this country, and the empty spaces Suzi and I are interested in – fields; lakes; warehouses; the sea; huge, people-less car-parks, or even the gaps in our music itself – simultaneously amplify that feeling, and give you the room to ask questions about it." Keep an ear out.

Clay Class will be released on 30th January 2012. Explore more.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Real Estate - Days

Real Estate have followed their lovely debut with new record Days, which sees the New Jersey gang of friends build on their laid-back and heartfelt sound. I reckon this could be my favourite album of 2011. 
Click to read my review for Bearded.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Fright Night Mix

Radio Vago - Shotgun
Siouxsie & The Banshees - Spellbound
The Sonics - The Witch
Veronica Falls - Found Love In A Graveyard
Broadcast - Black Cat
Plug - Fresh Pleasures
Las Robertas - Ghost Lover
The Cure - A Forest
Unwound - Murder Movies
The Cramps - Zombie Dance
Nervous Norvus - Transfusion
Bobby "Boris" Pickett - Monster Mash

Happy Halloween, guys and ghouls.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Citizens! - True Romance

Kitsune's latest addition Citizens! have just shared their first official video for upcoming debut single 'True Romance', and like Veronica Falls' use of 80s interpretive dance shots in the 'Come On Over' vid, it's a lovely montage of retro Bollywood-esque footage, set on grassy hills and snow-covered slopes.

Their album is due for release in 2012, but for now you can see them live on tour with The Rapture all around the UK for the next 7 days. Keep an ear out - there's a lot more to come.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Visit: My Band T-Shirt

I got a little bit obsessed with this site last week. It's music geekery in its finest form - fans sharing long and personal stories about what is essentially just some smelly fabric with a logo printed on. Band tee's have long been the ultimate badge of pride, resulting in the wearer either getting happily knowing looks from fellow fans or braving ridicule by proudly advertising what's in your headphones (well, before Topshop and the like got in the act and ruined everything with their mindless replicas).

With more stories added every day, it's tough to keep up with them all, but two favourites have to be the Hole 'Teenage Whore' shirt that led the wearer to a (thankfully positive) meeting with Ms Love herself, and Sarah Drinkwater's sad story of a Blur fan too young to make the trip to witness Britpop at its height.

You can contribute your own tales at mybandtshirt(at)gmail(dot)com.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Listen: Veronica Falls - Veronica Falls

It's high time I gave Veronica Falls a mention - especially as ever since 'Beachy Head' first made an appearance online (a love song set around Brighton's infamous suicide spot) and I was lucky enough to catch their first show, I've had a serious soft spot for their spooky, melancholy 60s-via-Black Tamborine-tinged tales of tragedy and deceased lovers.

Having played in Sexy Kids (their track 'Sisters Are Forever' has become a bit of a jokey theme song between my sibling & I), Your Twenties and The Royal We previously, they're seasoned songwriters, and manage the tricky task of combining the sonics of ghosts past with their own delicate and tense sound.

They've released a few quickly-grabbed 7 inches on No Pain In Pop and demo recordings, but the 17th October will see the release of their first full-length record, Veronica Falls. Thanks to my day job I've been listening to the record non-stop for the past few months, and as well as the adored early stuff there's plenty of new heartbreak to be found in tracks such as 'Misery', 'Bad Feeling' and 'The Fountain', plus the more upbeat and hopeful skip of 'Come On Over'.

To celebrate the release, Rough Trade will also be selling limited edition Veronica Falls Covers LPs, featuring six covers, paying homage to the Eurythmics and Rolling Stones, and including their stunning rendition of Roky Erickson's 'Starry Eyes', which is a more tender take on the original.

Find out more (and get a free mp3) over at

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Read: Girl Gang Zine

I've been a regular visitor to Maren's blog for a while now - every entry makes me want to book an impromptu flight straight to Berlin to see the subjects of her beautiful photography in person; her illustrations are delicate and ALWAYS depicting super cool girls (Wild Flag, 'Rebel Girl', the Las Robertas design for their recent European tour) and she has impeccable taste in music.

About a year ago, she told me about her idea for a zine around the theme of 'Role Models', and I must have typed out some answers to a few questions she emailed over. And then promptly forgot all about it in the midst of some winter blues and job worries.

But Girl Gang Zine has arrived! And what a fine papery read she is. I have no idea how Maren and Kristina managed to get SO many well known women involved - the contents page reads like the best party ever: Grass Widow, Brilliant Colors, Super Wild Horses, Cassie from Vivian Girls, Electrelane, Marnie Stern, Tavi Gevinson (Style Rookie/ Rookie Mag), Karin from Fever Ray/The Knife, Kate Nash, Zola Jesus & others, all openly chatting about their music, art, feminism, love, life and all the rest of it, in an incredibly candid manner. To have a page of my own about my zine, Shebang, is quite mindblowing & a total honour.

The zine is as lovely as you'd expect from two such talented girls - all images are illustrated, with text a mixture of hand-written intro's and typed Q&A's. A few of the women featured are new to me (The Blow, signed to K Records, in particular), so I've got plenty to look up, as well as others to revisit. With a quote from Kathleen Hanna kicking everything off, it was always set to be a winning read.

The zine is available from the Girl Gang Zine site - get yours quick!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Listen: Beat Happening - Indian Summer

Motorbike to cemetery
Picnic on wild berries
French toast with molasses
Croquet and Baked Alaskas

We'll come back for Indian Summer...

Last week I was complaining about the winter creeping in, and now it's reverted back to midsummer & is so hot that taking the bus feels like a trip through the flames of hell. Autumn FTW!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Show: Shudder Pulps, Tense Men, Fair Ohs at The Stags Head

It'd been a good few weeks (or maybe even months) since I'd gone local to a show, and the Fair Ohs single launch at the Stags Head looked set to be unmissable, with a line up featuring two very new bands that have taken shape with roots laid between Brighton and London.

For once, I actually took some photos. And then lost my phone. So pictures nicked from their webpages will (once again), have to do...

The first to bridge the Brighton-London divide was the excellent Shudder Pulps; three guys piecing together a mix of ramshackle post-punk/experimental learnings, broken up with poppier tunes with stand-out choruses and the like. It's very much the jigsawed sounds of a band trying things out and seeing where things lead them, and their set was a lot of fun to watch (albeit from the back of the room behind a lot of very tall men, so it took about ten mins to work out where the vocals were coming from!). They also have a rather nice 6-track cassette out, which I think you can get direct from them or pick up from future shows – highly recommended listening.

The London-Brighton theme then continued with Tense Men, who I'd been hoping to see live for a while now, made up of members of Cold Pumas and Sauna Youth (credited as Righteous James Phoenix and Overland Fisher on their debut tape). And the wait was certainly worth it – between just the two of them, their guitar loops, echoing vocals and incessant drumming felt like a fight for survival rather than yr usual pub set, sweeping up any stray thought or minor distraction into a trance-like state. Sometimes these things work best live, but away from the stage, their self-titled cassette still perpetuates all of the energy and spirit of a show. You can listen to tracks and find out more here.

Tense Men live

And I didn't see their whole set, but from what I did catch Dalston fixtures Fair Ohs were as potty-mouthed and entertaining as ever, packing out the entire room and inciting a lot of dancing and heckles in equal measure. Listen and learn more here.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Listen: Stephen Malkmus + The Jicks - Mirror Traffic

"We are the tigers
We need seperate rooms,
We are so divided
Let us in."

Pavement is dead, long live the Jicks!

It's sadly true - the Pavement reunion has been officially put to bed, confirmed by Stephen Malkmus in a recent interview. It's time to stop looking back and to move onwards and upwards. It will all be OK.

Softening the blow is this latest offering from Malkmus' solo project, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks. Does this man ever take a day off? It seems not. Mirror Traffic, produced by the current indie go-to-guy Beck, marks the band's fifth offering in ten years. After the previous strung-out jams of the sprawling Real Emotional Trash, it sounds as though the recent reunion has had a lasting effect; I know everyone's been saying it, but this is probably the closest thing to a Pavement record he's produced so far.

There is a sharper focus to the songs; even though Malkmus is the king of trail-of-thought melodies and subconscious meanderings, as a whole this album seems more complete than some of his other outings. It also serves as an important reminder - he's been going it alone now for ten years, exactly matching the lifespan of Pavement; this certainly isn't any kind of vanity project or frustrated solo effort but an accomplished band in its own right. And with that said, I promise the Pavement comparisons will now cease.

Opening track 'Tigers' is as perfect as a song can get - a peppy pop ode with imagery only Malkmus could serve up ("I caught you streaking in your Birkenstocks, a scary thought, in the 2ks..."), and the hits don't stop there - 'Senator', 'Stick Figures In Love' and 'Tune Grief' are bone-shakingly brilliant and catchy as hell. The whole album travels across many sonic terrains - we have the tender introspective and calm ('No One Is (As I Are Be)', 'Long Hard Book', 'Asking Price'), the atmospheric instrumentals ('Jumblegloss') and the laid-back, sleepy tangles that piece together the loud and quiet ('Share The Red', 'Gorgeous Georgie').

Some people might have complained that Mirror Traffic is a little too long, but that's like moaning about having too many parties to go to or too much fun - plain ridiculous. When Stephen Malkmus' songwriting is concerned, there can never be enough to listen to, and I hope it never ends.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Listen : dressuptomessup mix #1

Gene Pitney - 24 Sycamore
Nancy Sinatra - Tonight You Belong To Me
The Lemonheads - If I Could Talk I'd Tell You
Elvis Costello & The Attractions - (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
J Mascis - Not Enough
Orange Juice - Louise Louise
Thurston Moore - Benediction
Sleater-Kinney - One More Hour
Kurt Vile - Invisibility: Nonexistent
Carpenters - Superstar
Dory Previn - The Lady With The Braid
Dinah Washington - I Wanna Be Around

With the seasons changing over, I've celebrated the arrival of Autumn with two typically festive traits - getting very ill, and spending a lot of time cooped up inside as the orange nights get darker. I thought I'd be able to get some writing done with all of this down time, but the only activities I've been able to muster energy for have been watching The Inbetweeners, making a vat of soup and painting my nails. I AM SO BORED.

It's nice to see the trees turning shades of red and copper from the window, and feeling snug under my duvet, though. I've been listening to a lot of comfort tunes - songs that accompanied crunching through leaves on my way home from secondary school or moping around my bedroom when it rained too hard to venture out. Songs that remind me of late nights sitting up with friends in the kitchen and listening to on headphones under the covers when I couldn't sleep. Warming, familiar sounds that go some way to curing this cold.

And so I introduce to you the first dressuptomessup mix! I've been lazy and ended up making it on Spotify, which I'm ashamed about. But that's easier for everyone, right?  Even if you ONLY listen to the Dory Previn track, then that's fine. I think I've now played it 100 times over, and I love it more and more every time. Anyway, I hope you like it.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears - Oh My!

Wild Flag released the video to their first single, 'Romance' this week, and it's a fitting video for such a great song - the four of them driving around Portland in a hot pink car, causing trouble in a race against time. I managed to get tickets to their Lexington show in December, and I'm probably more excited about that one night than the whole of the Christmas season.

Which brings me nicely onto another song that's been bringing joy to my ears this week. A few months ago, Daniel Glass from the record label Glassnote came into work, and besides sharing some interesting tales, he also left us with a demo CD from a band called Oberhofer.  This one song in particular caught my ear - it has a familiar feeling to it, and I'm not usually a fan of xylophone (or whistling, for that matter) in songs, but this track pulls it off without verging on cheesy or twee.

The video is also spookily in line with the new Wild Flag video - people donning animals masks, but 'Away FRM U' is a lot more lo-fi and introspective, without the heady high jinx of 'Romance'.

Watch below and see what you think:

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Take Note: PAP•IL•LON

From two of the Dance Magic Dance trio comes a new venture - this time the guitar grrrls are being filed away in their record collections and replaced by all manner of globe-stretching ecclectic rareties, oddities and psychedelic trip outs. From African Psych to Turkish Freakout, Bollywood soundtracks and 70's freakbeat, their new club night looks set to breathe some new energy into London's nightlife. I CAN'T WAIT.

Watch & listen for a sample of what's in store...

PAP•IL•LON from PAP•IL•LON on Vimeo.

Find out more.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Read: Got a Girl Crush Zine

While a number of people shrug off feminism as an outdated concept, or seem to think the word needs rebranding (personally, I'd rather be tied to the proverbial kitchen sink for eternity than refer to feminism as 'Bootylicious'), there is still a lot of girl love missing in popular culture (and the wider world, but that's a post for another day...).

The crappy supermarket magazines are still bursting at the staples with giant 'ring of truth' paparazzi photos, pointing out a slight peek of fleshy stomach or a Sunday morning shot of some poor, half-awake woman making a dash for the newsagents without any make-up on. These 'Women's Mags' want to be our most trusted friends and witty gal pals; all more than happy to dish out advice about what not to eat, what to nip and tuck, how to give the perfect blowjob and how to avoid the ultimate failure of (whisper it now), being single. Yet it makes for a very strange friendship - the kind that, if the papery pages were to go all Weird Science on us and become a real women, we'd probably meet up with once, nod along politely to her deluded rambling for five minutes and then make up some excuse about ironing pants and run for the hills.

Thank fuck for zines. The lone voices of intelligent girls sat in quiet little bedrooms can become a chorus of insights into weird and wonderful worlds, with tiny fragments of thoughts and musings cascading from photocopied pages and out into the great beyond. Although the printed word will always be my preferred format, the Internet can be a wonderful tool, and Andrea and Meg, the duo behind Got a Girl Crush, have got it spot on with their new zine - condensing their wonderful website into a beautifully designed keepsake.

Starting life as a much-visited Tumblr, GAGC's short and fascinating postings about unique and talented women became a haven for girl-wide positivity. Musicians, actresses, poets, photographers, artists, comediennes, pilots, writers and many more grace the virtual pages, sometimes selected for huge, groundbreaking achievements or simply for silencing the room by launching into a crazy rap on a talk show - anything and everything goes.

And you can now catch up with their many girl crushes at length in physical format! The new Got a Girl Crush zine catches up with ten women who are all inspirational in their fields, to chat about their lives, work and aspirations. Put together with a keen eye for design and an intrepid spirit, Issue #1 was a pleasure to flick through and totally worth the wait.

The issue is available to read virtually here and can be ordered here if, like me, you prefer the old-fashioned bedtime reading experience.

Listen: Wild Flag - Wild Flag

I write this sat in bed, recovering from the carnage that was Reading Festival at the weekend. I swore I'd never go back, but seven years is a long time away & a free ticket was way too tempting to pass up. I feel like I've been smacked in the head with a welly boot for three days straight.

My saviour in this horrible little hungover rut I've got myself into today is WILD FLAG. After months of waiting for a full album, it has arrived, and we are not worthy. I know they don't want to be called a super group, but this record is proof that the tag is well deserved. Very different from anything Sleater-Kinney produced, but bold, showing off both their technical talent and creative energy and resulting in a fiery garage rock record that channels some Patti Smith (I know they cover 'Ask The Angels', but the are definate parallels in Carrie's commanding, jumpy vocals). It's the debut I think everyone had been hoping for; this is what the new era of guitar music should sound like.

Click HERE to stream at NPR

Wild Flag - Romance by MergeRecords

Friday, 5 August 2011

Watch: Grass Widow at the Zoo

Grass Widow "Milo Minute" from what rabbit on Vimeo.

I'll avoid some pun about monkey business... Grass Widow play for the gorilla's at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, Massachusetts.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Band: Cool Moms

Not to sound like too much of a suck up, but after doing some more digging around Gunilla Mixtapes links yet AGAIN I came across Cool Moms. With nothing but an empty Soundcloud page to go on and also an unGoogleable name, I went in knowing nothing about them except for the music they were making was a fuzzy joy of basement recordings and riot grrrl-borrowed vocals. Simple but super catchy and fun.

Then I head to Facebook and everything makes sense - the band is comprised of Allison Wolfe (vox), Grace Hall (guitar, drums, vox), Mary Jane (bass, vox) and Shelina Louise (drums, guitar, vox). Allison Wolfe is of course best known for founding Bratmobile and playing in Cold Cold Hearts and Partyline, so it's little wonder her new project is stickered with lo-fi touches and the usual sassy pop that fizzes through all of her songs.

Have a listen to 'Crazy' for a quick pick me up:

Crazy by Cool Moms

Listen to more here & like it up here.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Download: Gunilla Mixtapes

I've snuck a little link in the new Music + Mixtapes section (waaay down on the righthand side) but felt this needed to be shouted out LOUD! Gunilla Mixtapes is my new favourite blog; a regularly updated mixtape site, sharing the knowns and unknowns of the 80s grrrl (post-)punk wasteland.

The posts pop-up monthly, showcasing hand-picked tracks from the backcatalogues of little known names and forgotten gems. It's freaking awesome and even if your iTunes is already at bursting point, the links section alone is worth a visit.

I've had trouble finding most of the tracks on youtube, but here are a few examples of what's instore...

Visit Gunilla Mixtapes here.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

This Is Our Music

This afternoon I'm finally getting around to backing up my laptop (yawn), but having time stuck inside waiting for the little computer windows to take their sweet time transferring files is turning out to be incredibly satisfying. It's also a good excuse to revisit some of the new releases and songs that I've been having to put off paying attention to over the past few weeks, so here's a few choice picks...

Brilliant Colors - Again & Again (LP)
Last summer my birthday was spent at Sex Is Disgusting's 'Dude Fest', an all-dayer at the Cowley Club in Brighton with a bunch of bands who had the tough task of injecting some energy into the hungover Sunday afternoon crowd. By around 6pm everyone had risen from their party-induced zombie states from the night before, and the tiny venue was transformed into a mass of headbanging and bodies throwing themselves around, with only wires snaking across the divide between the stage and the pit. Brilliant Colors were over in the UK and headlined the day, their poppy indie cuteness cut with brittle hooks and unruly melodies that perfectly suited the DIY setup of the day.
     Their new album 'Again & Again' - the follow-up to 2009's ultimate debut 'Introducing...', borrows even more from 80's nostalgic indiepop than its predecessor, but keeps up their sass and signature sound with sharp guitars swapped for a swaying, head-nodding sweetness. This record encapsulates all that is Pretty In Pink - you can picture Andy Walsh lying on her floral bedspread in her peach dress, surrounded by pop icons and waiting for the phone to ring as 'How Much Younger' loops on her tape player. Indiepop of this variety - when done so well - can never be over saturated and will always have a welcomed spot in my record collection. Stream it on Spotify now or pick up the limited pink and blue swirly LP from Slumberland.

Wild Beasts - Smother (LP)
Wild Beasts are one of my favourite bands to follow - their sound is always evolving, and with every album it's difficult to predict which direction they will have moved towards. I've loved them since a recommendation from Gary from The Cribs three years ago, and at that point I'd never even heard of this fourpiece from Kendal before, let alone had any idea of the kinds of sounds they made. That quickly changed, and track 'The Devil's Crayon' caught my attention and stayed on my stereo for the rest of the summer. It was enough to want to interview them for Shebang, and just before Two Dancers came out a friend and I went to see them, and were both blown away by the intensity of their live performance and the heart-stopping beauty of their new songs.
     To watch a much-loved band become increasingly well-known and appreciated is exciting, but as with most things I start to lose interest once everyone else joins in (which is a trait I hate - completely ridiculous and snobby - and also meant that Smother's release wasn't really on my radar so I've really missed out). Thankfully I've now had time to play catch up, and have been reminded of why I loved Wild Beasts so much in the first place. It's mature and less frenetic, and the title is apt - it's a record to get readily lost in and to want to approach again and again. The lead track 'Albatross' is stunningly intricate, and rather than stacking up the obvious sexual innuendos as in Two Dancers, this time the lyrics remain understated and tense, creating an other worldly, dreamlike domain. Available on Spotify and online, as well as in all good record shops with good taste. (Totally shameless but what the hell - if you want to read my interview with singer Hayden from the band from a few years ago, go get Shebang #2! I still have plenty of copies left).

And while this isn't strictly music, my iPod plays of choice go to the Desert Island Discs podcasts, merrily waking me up every morning as I take the bus to work (and oddly, they are the exact length of my journey time, so I'm not left wondering which discs would be saved from the waves or the books that would be read). Not content with waiting a whole week for a new episode, I've started to revisit the older DID sessions from years ago, and last week's guests included Jarvis Cocker, Joanna Lumley, Paul Weller and Whoopi Goldberg who all spoke candidly about their lives and picked some excellent songs. Find a castaway here.

And it's thank to Jarvis that I've been introduced to Dory Previn's 'The Lady With The Braid'..

(FACT FANS! Camera Obscura dedicate a song to Dory on their Let's Get Out Of This Country album, gushing "How I adore you Dory Previn, I turn you up to eleven..." Sigh.)

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Book: Doris - An Anthology of Zines & Other Stuff 1991-2001

Doris is the queen of zines; the kind of zine that you might pick up for a quick flick through before drifting off to sleep, and then before you know it you've read the whole thing (twice) and are manically digging out the next issue while your alarm draws ever closer to a rude awakening. It's the kind of zine that talks to you rather than at you, that questions and challenges and whispers deep, sometimes dark secrets to you from its photocopied pages.

Having always ended up with at least one copy of Doris after many a zine fair (usually thanks to the wonderful Marching Stars Distro), my collection was still left with gaping holes, and so when I spotted a chunky volume of Doris (feat. all issues of the first ten years of the zine, compiled into a very professional-looking book), I had to take a copy home.

Doris is the ongoing project of Cindy Crabb, a woman brave enough to share her most intimate and secretive thoughts and stories with readers, and encouraging of others to do the same. In her typewriter text and handdrawn simple sketches, she talks about her life, her friends, her family, her beliefs and values and her dog, written with all the wit and trail-of-thought chattiness of a pen pal you might have been in touch with for twenty years, rather than a stranger living across the ocean.

She doesn't lead a conventional life, and is all the better for it - her tales are of hitchhiking and living in a tree house, silly anecdotes about old housemates building boats and thoughtful passages exploring politics, gender, mental health, lifestyle choices, family issues and a whole heap of other topics that are glossed over in commercial magazines and kept quiet in our brains.

The Intro sums up it all up nicely-

"Doris is about finding a life worth living and creating a world that will allow us to live; Creating a world full of meaning, that we can thrive in, that we can come together in, where we will be heard, where we will be able to believe in ourselves, where we won't think our thoughts and emotions are crazy. A world where we will know for real that we are not alone"

Even now, twenty years of from the first issue, Doris hasn't become outdated and a lot of the topics pondered are still vibrantly impacting on our lives today, for better or for worse. And thanks to this blue book, we can all gain some perspective without sweating it over the many hush-hush subjects of life. Long live Doris!

Get your copy now at Microcosm Publishing and find out more at the Doris site.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Show: Raw Power at Corsica Studios

On Sunday I found myself making a last minute dash to the Raw Power all-dayer held at Corsica Studios in Elephant & Castle. To be honest most of the line-up was a complete mystery to me and it was my first time venturing South of the river for a show since last Autumn, but a day unpacking my suitcase, chain-washing bundles of clothes and food shopping wasn't the most appealing cure for the post-holiday blues, so off I went, avoiding reality for another 24 hours.

With a line-up littered with the odd familiar face but mainly new names, there wasn't the usual pressure to run from stage to stage, and the afternoon was spent eating hotdogs, catching up with friends and getting lost in the maze that is the three stage rooms of Corsica.

After a lot of music-watching at 1234 the day before I was pretty slack at picking myself up from my chair to watch all of the sets on offer, but Bo Ningen were their usual terrifyingly brilliant selves; splitting eardrums in a wash of feedback and hammering jams, their faces covered in the shadows of long, dark hair.

There were also many interesting performances on the acoustic stage, with many duos and bands multitasking their way through meandering instrumentals and peeled back songs, left bare without the usual distortions and effects and the ideal setting for a Sunday afternoon retreat.

But there was one band there that stood apart from everything else, not just on the bill that day but apart from a lot of current music in general. I've always been a sucker for a bit of distortion and Beat Happening-style simplistic, shambling fun, but at times a band will appear that will shake home just how important meticulously crafted song-writing and musicianship can be. Race Horses, a five-piece (who may or may not all be) from Wales, quite literally stopped me in my tracks as I navigated my way through the room, heading for refreshments.

Beginning with new song 'Furniture' (I think), the room was suddenly transformed into what I can only imagine Jarvis Cocker's kitchen must sound like – the clatter of pans, vocal patterns that dance around the walls and a side helping of eccentricity served up with the catchiest of choruses. There were at times two drummers, various instrument swapping at intervals and a frontman who appeared both awkward and entirely at ease in front of the stampede, and yet there were no gimmicks or frills, just a strong set that silenced the nattering crowd and swiftly left a lasting impression on my memory.

After returning home to do some research I think they also played the new songs 'Sisters' and 'Mates', and finished on a beautiful song I didn't catch the name of, closing with a simple vocal refrain sung in Welsh that almost made me have a little cry (please note I was just a tiny bit hungover, but still...). It'd be too lazy of me to chuck in a bunch of comparisons as although they sample all the best aspects of Nineties pop and indie's playful side, it's a world entirely their own. My only regret is not making it to the merch table in time to pick up a record - hopefully they'll play London again soon.

You can listen to their recent Mark Riley session here, and find out more over on Facebook.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Introducing: Las Robertas

The flourishing creative/punk scene in Costa Rica is rarely focused on this side of the ocean, but Las Robertas' recent trip over certainly gave everyone something to talk about.

Though they appear to have had various line-up changes, last week saw Mercedes, Monserrat and Franco fly the flag for Costa Rica (quite literally - they pinned up their national flag across the stage for their sets) on their first trip to Europe and the UK. Visiting London, Manchester, Brighton and London again for a farewell show, their lovable lo-fi blend of guitar pop gently rattled through the various venues as harmonies and heads swayed in time.

The music they play is kinda like if the Vivian Girls had really stuck to their garage guns after their debut; most songs just passing the 2 minute mark, sweetly sung without an whiff of sugar or self-awareness. You can't swing a tote bag around these parts without hitting upon a guitar band with a taste for K Records' vinyl and a C86 fixation, but it's been a while since I've heard a band taking those influences and making them their own.

As well as being the sweetest people you'll ever meet, their aesthetic is also an important factor as they enlist artist friends to help out with videos (watch 'Back to the End' below) and have beautifully designed merch. Look out for an upcoming interview with them in Shebang and listen here...

Their new album 'Cry Out Loud' is out now.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Dolly Mixture - Remember This: The Singles Collection 1980-1984

Jane stays cool, the other girls dance,
Kisses her cigarette, waits for her chance
The boys are moving in she’s ready to go
With all the information that they wanna know...

How come you're a hit with the boys, Jane?
You know you put all the rest of the girls to shame

Dolly Mixture is one of the most underrated bands of the late Seventies/early Eighties, without a doubt. A musical case of 'always the bridesmaid, never the bride' rang true for them, as despite having chart success as backing singers for Captain Sensible, their own post-punk pop songs were kept slightly more hidden from Top 40 fame.

Cambridge-based school friends Debsey Wykes (bass/vocals), Rachel Bor (guitar/vocals), and Hester Smith (drums) started up Dolly Mixture in 1978, encouraged by a mutual love of the Shangri-La's and The Undertones (who they supported on one of their first tours). Pop fact - they were once supported by a little known band called U2, and also played with The Fall and The Transmitters in '79.

It's thanks to John Peel that the girls were given their first big break after moving to the Big Smoke - the ultimate tastemaker (who still stands unrivalled for his impeccable taste in new music) played them on his radio show and fawned over them in his Sounds column, and they briefly signed to Chrysalis, before disowning their Shirelles cover of 'Baby It's You' for fear of being marketed as a girl group. Releasing their Captain Sensible-produced single 'Been Teen' on Paul Weller's label in '81, the trio ended up recording backing vocals for his hit single 'Happy Talk' and appeared on Top Of The Pops.

Determined to be seen as a separate entity to CS, they released the Demonstration Tapes album on their own Dead Good Dolly Platters label in 1983, which featured Dolly Mixture songs at their best - bopping pop gems that sparkle with cheekiness and sass (listen to 'He's So Frisky' and 'How Come You're Such a Hit With the Boys, Jane?' for an introduction to their very British harmonies and humour). The heavily instrumental EP Fireside followed the year after, before the band called it quits.

Last year they released a very limited box set that sold out before I could gather together some record-buying funds, but luckily another collection has just been released - Remember This : The Singles Collection 1980-1984. I made sure this one didn't pass me by, and spent this afternoon spinning the beautiful white LP as I did a little DIY in the house. The collection spans the bulk of their catalogue; Side A compiles their early poppier numbers (inc. 'New Look Baby', 'Been Teen' and 'Everything And More') and Side B leans on the more classically-inspired piano and cello tracks - the different styles they experimented with further go to show why their were named 'Dolly Mixture'. Tracking down Demonstration Tapes as an accompaniment is also highly recommended.

You can learn more about Dolly Mixture here.

How Come You're Such A Hit With The Boys, Jane?:

Been Teen:

On TOTP with Captain Sensible:

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Put A Bird On It!

Yup, I've given in and joined Twitter for more regular updates / outpourings of fangirl excitement.

Find me at @DressUpToMessUp

Live: Tom Tom Club

Rap it up for the common good
Let us enlist the neighbourhood!

East London doesn't dance. Maybe an overstatement, but rarely do nights out here compare to the sweatbox clubnights of Brighton, where the pounding of feet on the dancefloor cause the records to skip and jump as the needle struggles to keep up. The news that NYC's ultimate party band Tom Tom Club are playing live again may be the saving grace, as it's IMPOSSIBLE to listen to Tom Tom Club without finding your limbs taking on a life of their own.
Having struck their first funky chord in 1981 after starting out as a side-project by Talking Heads husband and wife founders Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, their big hits 'Genius of Love' and 'Wordy Rappinghood' have long been a staple at house parties and nightclubs and soundtrack all manner of frivolous fun. What first drew me to Tom Tom Club was member James Rizzi's colourful, childlike artwork that appears on their LPs and videos and underpins the band's aesthetic, as the bright, busy scenes of palm trees, dancing figures, stars and musical notes call up the pure joy of their sound and style.
Now at the grand old age of 30,  their birthday celebrations will take place in London at the Jazz Club on the 15th, 16th and 17th July. They also have a new record out, 'Live at the Clubhouse', so if you're on your summer hols when they visit you can still have a TTC party in your room!

Genius Of Love:

Wordy Rappinghood (Chicks On Speed cover):

The story behind Wordy Rappinghood, told by Tina and Chris:

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Split: Ale Mania / Sauna Youth

Sauna Youth know how to put on a show. In a field at midday, shielded from the bright sunlight by a thin tent with a mass of silent onlookers, they still manage to summon up the energy of a sweaty basement gig, mutating from mild mannered guys into a surging mass of wild abandon and charging riffs all looped in by stray microphone cord that circles the crowd.

They have a new split called 'Magenta', put out on Faux Disc and shared by Ale Mania (who I've gotta admit, are brand new to me, but listening to track 'Peoline' makes me feel like I've been missing out). The 7" is available to preorder here.

Thanks to modern technology you can also preview the tracks on the cute little widget below, if you're of a cautious nature:

The split is out on the 25th July, with a limited run of 300.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Male Bonding - Bones

After heading off to Woodstock for a month to record their second full-length, the follow-up to last year's incredible Nothing Hurts, Male Bonding have returned with a sharper sound that defines their rolling, echoed harmonies and raging guitar hooks even further. The record was produced by John Angello (Sonic Youth, Kurt Vile, Dinosaur Jr) and judging by this taster, it's going to be awesome.

'Bones' is the new track, and it's available for free download/streaming below.

Endless Now will be out August 29th, just in time to wrap up yr summer.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Label: Kill Rock Stars

Kill Rock Stars is my favourite label ever. Still going strong after TWENTY years, I always trust their taste and have been introduced to so many of my most-loved bands thanks to their never ending and always expanding roster. They are one of the few female-led labels in the US (and probably the world at large too) and are the epitome of the DIY ethos. Their bands include Bikini Kill, Comet Gain, Quasi, Bratmobile, Sleater-Kinney, Grass Widow, Gossip, Kleenex/LiLiPUT, Thao, Unwound and Marnie Stern. And their tshirt designs are always awesome.

For new starters or seasoned pro's, this compilation really is their BEST EVER, with cherry-picked underground hits from bands that will never sound dated or tired. Access the free download via the image below and click it up!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Reasons To Love The Internet #1 - Nu Thang

I sure wish he'd been at the Christian camp I went to.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

No Joy - Ghost Blonde

Time's a ticking this evening so I'll be quick, but I wanted to give No Joy's debut Ghost Blonde a quick mention. They've penned a bold collection of tracks, submerged in a heavy terrain of shoegaze sensibilities, bleached-out vocals and bass-heavy, sharp guitars calling upon comparisons to The Breeders, Fire Party and maybe even a little Hole. It'll take a little while to sink in, but those unafraid of allowing themselves to soak for a while will be rewarded.

Ghost Blonde is out now on Mexican Summer.