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!