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.