A Musical Letter To Myself At Eleven and Three Quarters
Being eleven is a weird stage. You’ve just come out of primary school on top of the world, ruling the roost, sitting on benches, stamping your authority on other smaller kids. You have come, seen and conquered primary school. But it all changes when you start your new ‘big school’ and end up on the floor again at the front - the complete bottom of the pile in secondary school. You’re not yet a teenager, but you find everything below you too immature and everything above you too complex. It’s a odd time being stuck in the middle.
What was I like at 12?
We’re now in 2004 territory in my musical memory box. Meander back at my last post here if you haven’t been following. I was still a tomboy. I was still a nerd. I had not yet come to terms with going to a girls school. I did not like my short skirt. Avril Lavigne was my idol. My classic look was baggy jeans (complete with chains, which I put on when my mum wasn’t around) and various grungy looking tshirts. I wanted to be a grunger. I was desperate to be cool. I was an angry, angsty pre-teen.
I’ll set the scene so you can remember the world was like. Everyone in Year 7 got a coloured ipod mini for Christmas 2003 which was promptly stolen by older kids on the way home. Britney got married in Vegas for 40 something days. The Darkness and Dido were winning BRIT awards. There was uproar when Brian McFadden left Westlife. McFly become the youngest band to debut at number one. Destiny Fulfilled became an early morning staple in our Year 8 form room. Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below wins the Grammy for Album of The Year. It really was a simpler time for Hip Hop and R&B - will.i.am was less annoying and wrote great pop songs. The charts was still a place of variety and so taste-wise, I chop and change between pop, soft rock and R&B.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I grew up and still live in a very religious household. Getting to age twelve meant that my access to music was still restricted, but my tastes were changing again and my mum was wary of this impending conflict. The Sunday afternoon radio listening had switched from Capital to Xfm. I had my first experience with Nirvana. I loved it, and I secretly longed to be allowed to listen to “the devil’s music”. I will touch on this in a later post.
So I started with small steps, trying to manoeuvre my way into becoming a part of the rock and roll dream. I was a huge Busted fan. Busted were radio friendly and mum friendly and thus I happily received their debut as a tenth birthday present. Hindsight is a beautiful thing and so I can look back now and tut and shake my head at my choice but I can honestly see why I was so fascinated by it. Average looking guys playing music that appealed to my teenage wannabe self. Busted were clearly influenced by bands like Green Day and I went looking for bootleg versions of Basket Case that I could download using our dial up.
I remember asking my mum to buy me Avril Lavigne Sk8r Boi (such terrible text spelling/faux speak, I’m actually cringing here) at a car boot sale and I held my breath as she gave the cd the once over, and handed me the 50p to pay the smiling lady. I actually re-listened to Lavigne’s Let Go album recently and I could see why she was so disappointed with its sound. It is a decent pop album, but only Losing Grip makes her metal influences more apparent - there are shades of Korn and System of A Down particularly.
Pop punk and nu metal was big business way back then. But it was a shortlived phase. Remember: OPM, Limp Bizkit, Alien Ant Farm, Puddle of Mudd, Papa Roach, Reel Big Fish, The Offspring, Slipknot, Evanescence, P.O.D, Linkin Park? Most of these bands soundtracked me playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, FIFA or bus journeys home standing next to older kids. I discovered quite a few artists via playing on my PlayStation Naughty by Nature, Bad Religion, Mos Def, Korn, Fatboy Slim. They all slipped through the PlayStation music ban net.
After this run in with pop punk and nu metal, I finally discovered my first two new ‘real’ indie bands: Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand. I read about Bloc Party in the News Shopper. I have searched in vain to find that article, it could be possible that I dreamt it but I went into school the next day and searched for Bloc Party on the Windows Media Player Song Search function (as an aside: does that still exist? I’m guessing that it doesn’t). I was supposed to be doing some sort of Excel spreadsheet or typing away on Mavis Beacon but I put my headphones on and I was greeted with the 3 minutes of sonic bliss in the form of ‘She’s Hearing Voices’. It was put on repeat for the rest of the lesson.
My mum had noted differences in my behaviour and the clothes I was wearing and kept warning me that my new found love would have to go, it was probably soundtracking my descent into hell where all the rebellious teenagers went. Despite this, I bought Franz Ferdinand’s eponymous debut album solely on the strength of hearing Take Me Out one day - and it was my first real ‘guitar’ album, the one with all the tunes that girls could dance to. During my first listen, the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami occurred. I silently shat myself. Bad things were happening because I was secretly listening to guitar music. Realising, I couldn’t stop the forces of nature, I held my nerve with my new found lover. I bought the NME with Franz Ferdinand on the cover, and Alex Kapranos and Kele became my new musical heroes; they were angular, full of tunes and cool.
I was originally going to call this post ‘In Possible Defence of One Direction fans’ but I decided not to. Everyone is moaning that guitar music is dead but I see the problem as this: there’s no gateway drug (ie. band) to get young teens into glamourous rock and roll. Paramore are too much of a proper band, 5 Seconds of Summer (or whatever clean cut YouTube star is flavour of the week), Peace and Swim Deep are far too hipster-ish for your average eleven year old. We need Busted back. We need songs from average looking guys with guitars, singing about the future and breasts with just enough tongue in cheek to get you wondering about the world but the sort of CD that you can sneak past your mother. Artists who can lead kids down the right garden path; aspiring to the myth of teenage life in comparison to the hormone fulled, spotty, and confusing time that being a teenager truly is. This might be slightly hyperbolic but if I hadn’t bought that first Busted album who knows if I would be playing guitar right now….
This post is dedicated to my twelve year old self and to every Busted fan still in mourning.
Check out the playlist, it hopefully is a representative of what I would have been listening to around 2003-4.
EXAMS ARE FINALLY OVER and I’ve just landed back in Nottingham so I can finally relax. So I’m on the sofa in our flat writing this review of Splashh and Popstrangers at the Chameleon. It was my first time there, it’s quite a cool place, I will probably try and go a bit more now I know it’s disguised on top of a card shop.
Never have I ever been so enthralled by a support band that I hadn’t heard before. Whilst their stage presence was lacking and the crowd’s enthusiasm may have been feigned due in part to a lack of familiarity. Popstrangers were nonetheless impressive: full of fuzzy, discordant, grunge tunes. Check out Heaven below which has probably one of the best verse-chorus structures and chords that I’ve heard all year.
Despite the album pushback and a few technical problems, the crowd are all ears and allow Splashh to take them on a ride through their tuneful slacker-pop. Whilst Splashh’s tunes are in a similar vein to their fellow countrymen, Popstrangers, the extra guitarist and synths add whole new layers and textures to their tunes.
For 30 or so odd minutes, Splashh’s psychedelic swirling guitars, Sasha’s drawling and yelping and the understated, bright basslines and drums transport the crowd far away; moving through envelopes of noise and melody. Sasha tells the crowd before their last song that they’ll try and make it as long as they can and the extended version of Need It is a testament to their sound. For 7 minutes, the layers of reverbed guitars and dreamy lyrics and melodies unfold, unravel and decay slowly until the song is down to its bare groove bones; the dedicated bass and drums. For all its build ups and breakdowns, Need It is a brilliant sonic journey; promising signs for the album, Comfort.
Exams are holding me back unfortunately, so I won’t have time to write a proper review up. So here’s my photos from the Alt-J gig that I went to earlier this month. An Awesome Wave was truly awesome. Enjoy!
I think I’m starting to have a bit of thing for Ghostpoet. He may even be my ideal man.
His new album is lush, trippy syncopated beats and his rhythmic lyric delivery which he describes as ‘mumbling’. It’s all quite endearing stuff really for all its quirks: clicks, jitters, skips, jazz chords and afrobeat checks and slurs about The Thames and dim sum.
So I’m gonna chillout and listen to this mix, which 5:03 in, is sounding awesome.
I have to apologise people - my posts are probably going to get weirdly sporadic as I have exams coming up, so I will hit periods of high productivity or procrastination followed by nothing. I really am sorry and I apologise in advance. I have too many outlets and ideas and as such this has taken a bit of a backseat. This apology is just a warning and/or formality, who knows if anyone reads this blog!
As for Darwin Deez, it was a great show. The crowd was young but energetic. I’m not sure how I really felt about support act San Cisco particularly as one of their songs was about being a stalker but the crowd around me seemed to enjoy it.
Darwin was everything I had hoped for and more. Not only he was a great dancer, he is a very mean guitar player - an under appreciated quality now days. His band joined in his little dance skits - one of which I managed to record but YouTube also succeed in ruining the clarity/quality of. Excellent.
I wasn’t surprised by the fact that the songs from the first album, interspersed between breakdancing and songs from SFIP, got the warmest receptions. Radar Detector was a messy, singalong affair, Constellations was perky as ever and Bad Day has the crowd all wishing some ‘My Name is Earl’ type bad luck in unison. It is only the punky, shredding You Can’t Be My Girl and jangly, upbeat (800) Human that meet the same applause and reaction as his first album’s work. His guitar work shimmered all the way through, however, particularly on All In The Wrist (which is slow burner, band swaying wail out) and Redshift which closes the night with a bang.
A Musical Letter To My Nine Year Old Self: Humble Pop Beginnings
As I draw closer to the impending conclusion of my childhood (I’m going to be 21 in less than 3 months), I have found myself thinking about how my musical tastes have dramatically changed. So whilst I’m procrastinating from revision, I have decided that I’m going to write a series of blogs: one about my younger music taste self, my parents musical influences, the myspace years and my flirtation with dirty old rock and roll.
So what was I like at 9? Now I think about it - I don’t think I’ve changed too dramatically. I was a tomboy, I always have been. My sister reminded me the other day how when I was asked if I wanted a doll by our mother for Christmas, how I repeatedly told her that I didn’t want one. Although my mum continued in her constant battle of forcing me to wear dresses, and have girly toys, I rejected them and eventually, she did give up.
I think the last straw was the day I went to my friend’s football birthday party in a pink tracksuit, complete with Nike Air Max 90s (I was the only girl playing football) and I came back drowned in mud. The now brown and mud entrenched tracksuit was ruined. But I remember playing in Blackheath in the pouring rain - that was a good day. I spent my weekends in the library, reading (with sporadic visits from my dad), watching Stars In Their Eyes (which is still a childhood dream for me to go on) and playing FIFA 2000 with my cousin. (Besides, my mum got the last laugh in the form of sending me to all girls’ school for 7 years.)
I was born on Wednesday 15th July 1992, weighing somewhere around 7 pounds. The aforementioned memory of me playing football was at my first primary school so I must have been about 8. That would make it around 2000. We hadn’t died from the apocalypse, the terribly cumbersome school macs (provided by the Tesco voucher scheme) hadn’t imploded and our school trip was as far as Greenwich to the Millennium Dome. Konnie Huq, Tim Vincent, Lizo, Jamie Theakston and Zoe Ball were regulars on my TV screen. Pretty much every soap star was being thrown a record deal (Martine McCutcheon, Adam Rickitt and Sid Owen spring to mind). 9/11 and the Iraq War had not happened yet. Damilola Taylor was alive. My innocence of the world around me was still preserved.
In the year 2000, the digital age was not yet in full swing. The closest I got to the internet was using Netscape Navigator which was via my cousins’ boyfriend (now husband of 5 years as of last week, god time flies!). I distinctly remember being invited over to one of my guy friends’ houses (he still lives up the hill from me, and I bump into his mum all the time) to watch their digital set-top box. His mum worked for BT or Cable and Wireless and so he got loads of digital, technology type gadgets before everyone else. My cousin (the one who I played FIFA with) also had a digibox and I remember watching TLC on the Box at their house! I do miss these times, as whilst the internet has afforded us a huge variety of music and knowledge - children won’t know that there was life BEFORE the internet. Times were simpler then.
Therefore music could only really infiltrate the house in one of seven ways: via TV (aka CD:UK, The Pepsi Chart Show and Top Of The Pops), via kids singing it in the playground, via magazines (like Smash Hits), the annual Christmas CD buy and the radio chart show on a Sunday. Now I think about it, it actually had quite a bit of penetration.
My sister and I had a play room where we relegated to for most our childhood. It became our den; teddy bears, toy food, toy kitchen, dollies and my PlayStation - all littered it. We could happily watch SM:TV live, Live & Kicking and CD:UK on a Saturday morning, as mum was usually asleep and would only wake or come back from the doing the shopping around the end of CD: UK time - which meant time for the library and brunch. I was impatient - I loved the fact that CD: UK often spoilt the No. 1 single for me or sometimes the chart rundown would change so dramatically between then and 7pm on Sunday. The Pepsi Chart Show with Dr. Fox was great to watch on Wednesday/Thursday nights with my cousin when the European football wasn’t on.
However, TOTP was a whole different kettle of fish - as it was on later, my watching of it was monitored a little more. I remember my mum coming and turning off Tom Jones’ Sexbomb (even now, I still can’t listen to that song without cringing), my mum hanging around to see the world exclusive of Michael Jackson’s ‘You Rock My World’ video, All Saints doing the striding combat dance to Pure Shores, the rather naughty cartoon video to Robbie’s Let Love Be Your Energy, Ricky Martin shaking his Latino hips and my mum tutting at Britney’s ‘Baby One More Time’ video and Kylie’s spinning around hotpants. But all of it blew my mind - and I lapped up every moment: every dance routine, every melody, every word. Although later on, I would realise they were miming and most of these stars had significant crack habits - I still love it all.
I used to record the Chart Rundown on Sunday nights. I distinctly remember recording Blue - All Rise on to a tape and then writing down the lyrics with the help of my cousin. My mum would spend the whole day at church so we could (my cousin, my sister and myself) watch Fully Booked before going to church and returning in time for the last hour of the chart show. Luckily for us, the church I grew up in decided to put on a morning service so when church was in the morning, we came home after the first service and listened in peace to Capital.
The chart battles were interesting: Spiller’s Groovejet beating Victoria Beckham (although if I remember well, CD: UK reported VB as the chart no. 1, as it was at the point in time), being angry when Kylie beat MJ’s ‘You Rock My World’ to no. 1 and the classic Christmas no.1 - I was angry that S Club 7’s ‘Two In A Million’ didn’t make it. The chart show would be over and it was time for cake and custard and the remaining minutes of whatever late 80s/early 90s kids film was on Channel 5 - my mum could walk through the door at any moment from then which meant we had to be ready for bed and for school the next morning. (This was in the days of telephone boxes, so when she called to say she had left Church, our routine worked liked clockwork as to what we would do next).
[I remember I said I didn’t like this song and was made to sit in the corner for 2 hours]
Going to school in South East London meant that when So Solid Crew blew up and Darren (from Catford) came third in the first Big Brother, they were made into demigods. Pretty much every kid in primary school had a cousin who rolled in So Solid Crew and Oxide and Neutrino’s Bound 4 Da Reload was on CD:UK. As it was underground, it really relied on the kids of the playground to spread this music (there was often rapping and dance offs) and the older rowdy kids on the bus on the way home to play their music. 21 Seconds was mindblowing to a small child, (there’s a really good video somewhere of Chip(munk) talking about when he first heard it and how it inspired him to rap), but scary to my mum and as such as was banned from our house. Eminem, in all his dungaree donning, chainsaw bearing glory, was banned too. I wish I could remember all the countless songs that were banned from our household for every Steps song that I could listen to in return.
There was a huge difference between the US and UK acts - there was still that elusive longing for America by British acts. Acts would disappear for months whilst they did their customary US jaunt and some would never return once they crossed the pond; dropped and abandoned in the popstar wilderness on the premise of not floating through the incandescent pearly gates of the American music heaven. It’s probably for this reason that kids latched onto So Solid Crew so quickly: they weren’t another British act trying (and failing) to be American, firstly and their music was so different. I sometimes overheard conversations on the bus home from school from older kids who had gone to these underground raves - they seemed exciting. Garage was very British, and exciting. It was yet to be usurped by the IBIZA 2000 dance movement.
All these aforementioned musical moments were some of the best moments of my life. I think I can only remember them BECAUSE of my penchant for popular song since 1992. I wouldn’t change it for anything else. I can remember a good tune. So what can we learn from my nine year old music taste?
I was yet to appreciate the britpop of Blur, discover Suede, the Bowie samples in Samantha Mumba’s Body II Body and I was far too young to understand that Coldplay, Dido and David Gray were not just a good excuse to turn down the television, I still detest Westlife. I sang Oasis and Macy Gray tunes but it was because of the great melodies and not because it was a hip thing to do. For me, pop music was fun in the early noughties and late nineties. It was the period of the good old novelty tune. I listened to mostly pop, R&B, mild rap and dance. Most of the tunes being written at this time were great - even the utter rubbish was somewhat good - who remembers the ludicrous chorus of Wyclef’s Perfect Gentleman, The Rock or Las Ketchup?
Records didn’t take themselves mega seriously. The good times were good, money and records were flowing; Robbie was pop’s Golden Boy, Jay Kay was crashing ferraris, 5ive were getting girls, S Club 7 were on TV, record companies rubbed their hands in glee at the very thought of B*Witched, Lianne Rimes and Shania Twain, it was Pras Michel’s Ghetto Superstar and not Cheryl’s Ghetto Baby, Pop Idol and Popstars were just wee babies and X Factor was not even a fully formed idea in Simon Cowell’s head. Showbiz had just about all the attractive glitter, glamour and drama that it could get.
So in closing, this blog post is dedicated to every Boyzone, Bob The Builder, 5ive, Daphne & Celeste, Spice Girls, even the organs in D:Ream’s ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ that I have ever listened to. These tunes are now ingrained into my soul. As a kid, I believe you should listen to everything that you can, you will only be able to appreciate it when you’re older.
When Thatcher died last week, my mum said, ‘she did some wicked things, but the way they ousted her out of power…’ She shook her head as I didn’t understand what she was on about. ‘You’re a product, child of Tony Blair, aren’t you?’ she said laughing.
She waggled her finger at me mockingly.
'Education, Education, Education.'
Get your musical one whilst you’re still young. Enjoy the playlist.
I haven’t had a lot of time for this blog in the past couple of weeks - Why you ask? Who knows really, I just find myself pre-occupied with dreaming and trying to finish songs, even DJ-ing has taken a backseat. I guess the spectrum of the satisfaction of being the object writing the blog vs. the subject of the blog is shifting more in favour of the latter so I better finish my degree before I tell my mum these dreams.
I’m breaking my silence to tell you all about the gig I went to a fortnight ago.
Kids, this is Kilo Kish
If you don’t know her - get to know immediately. Her debut album, K+ was produced by The Internet so it’s got all of the trademark trippy, jazz discordance but her set was filled with spacey dance tunes. Definitely worth checking out - her dancing was cute and her hype DJ was cool too.
Then came The Internet
Syd, quite rightly, described her music as Stevie Wonder on acid. The lyrics may be unsettling and may contain just about as many references to drugs as Return of The Space Cowboy, but this is nothing to be sniffed at - (Syd has actually written her own just-say-no blog). Whilst the album may leave you a tiny bit cold and opaque (maybe as I was playing it during the day), there’s an underlying warm jazz and neo-soul narrative that only really comes alive in a gig setting.
The arrangements are sparse on record, but are warmly decorated with Matt Martians sour synths, unexpected chord changes and peppered with Syd’s cooing, understated vocals (which also really shined live).
My head-nodding became a full on skank at the front of the stage in debted mostly to the electronic funk element. The off-kilter beats, the funk and bossa nova percussion are sublime and the clashing brass stabs developed into a real force of sound to be reckoned with.
P.S. Check out Tay Walker as well - his interlude when half the band decided they were going to pee was beautiful.
P.P. S. In fact the band were all great - they loved Nottingham!
five reasons why the BRITs have completely lost its mind
So it’s the morning after the self-satisfactory random award giving ceremony charade that we used to call the BRITs. Somewhere in the country, record company executives are waking up smug, critics confused and PR teams sitting analyzing Ben Howard’s SEO statistics. I used to like the Brits, but maybe as I’ve gotten older and wiser, I’ve become more of music industry machine. Last night was a shambles - nothing actually happened.
1. The Oracle
I managed to predict all the winners except Best British Male. Why should I be able to prophesy the winners by the criteria of which label they’re with, who’s sucking the most dick and/or needs the publicity? I became a living room oracle.
2. The Credible
BRITs thinks that its a credible award ceremony. This years attempt at credibility was letting the Black Keys win something.
3. The Contradictions
However they completely backtracked on this premise by inventing a new award just so One Direction could win something. Winning means airtime. What is the likelihood of this award being around in 3 years…?
(Credit to Matt Kent/Getty Images via Huffington Post)
4. The Performances
All the performances were not that great. Let’s compare JT for example. JT was surprisingly….underwhelming. Where was the bumbling mashups or the medley at the end? Where was the togetherness/the collaborations? Even though they usually are quite terrible, for every terrible ABBA/Robbie/Take That medley, there’s usually a beautiful Dizzee/Florence, Oasis, Prince mashup/medley.
The quality is bad, and I know they’re different songs but you get the gist.
5. This Guy
BRITs hosting duties are like presidential terms - you should fight for one and earn a second if you deserve it. NOT FOUR TIMES. Keep it moving guys, let someone else do it. Don’t get me started on his lame jokes and his kiss with Grimmy. And please for the love of man, don’t get Jack Whitehall.
(Credit: Dave Benett - Daily Mail)
Other notable mentions have to go letting Adele win Best British Single so she can have 5 minutes to talk which then led to a very awkward silence of James Corden’s ‘is she finished yet?’ joke, Robbie looking very shifty over Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey looking suspect.
Happy Frank Ocean won something though - that was the only slice of justice in the non-humble pie.
Finally exams ended and I’ve been so busying trying to rectify and restore normal order including my sleeping and eating patterns.
Hoping to go to some more gigs and I’ve bought a mini recording studio because I’m AWESOME. I am trying as much as possible to do as much musical stuff.
Here’s a playlist of what has been keeping me sane - pre and post exams.
Also HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO IN DA CLUB by Fiddy Cent (50 Cent). It’s absolutely amazing that that song is 10 YEARS OLD. God, I feel old now. But I seem to be regressing I spent an hour watching Supermarket Sweep with my housemates yesterday.
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?”—
Here’s my Spotify playlist that’s got most of the wonderful musical treats that 2012 has served us.
Missing from that list is
Jamie xx - Reconsider mix
Shift Key - Thong Song mix
Cape Cod - We Don’t Have To
I couldn’t include some of the cool newer bands on that Spotify playlist such as VLAD, Harting, Cape Cod, Sheen, Ade Suleiman, Nathan Geyer, Shift Key, The D.A, Wanderlings, Tiger Years, Soma, Adult Jazz, Jake Hart and Apes & Horses.
Thanks to all the bands, DJ, producers who have throw music my way this year. I will always listen so feel free to post or direct me to your soundcloud links.
RIP to those who have left us along the way - Donna Summer, Ravi Shankar, Robin Gibb, Whitney Houston, Dave Brubeck and Fontella Bass.
2013 promises to be amazing musically - going to see Foals and Angel Haze, I’m carrying on with band stuff and writing music, hopefully I will purchase my first set of recording equipment and pedals and of course I’ll keep writing here about my musical discoveries.
Been long overdue a long post - but hopefully since it’s now the holidays and I will be on my way back to London, I should have more time to post. (This probably won’t happen, so please don’t hold me to this!)
The tail end of 2012 has been a bit of a dry spell in terms of new releases but we have lots to be excited for in 2013, bands seem to be coming out - left, right and centre with new album plans.
Everything Everything - Arc
Due Date : January
there’s an assurance from the handful of new tracks, that whatever else may be hiding on Arc will certainly make everyone stand up and dance or at least remind everyone (and Alt-J) that the wonky pop kings want their crown back when they sail into the big time.
Hurry up and give us your eclectic social commentary flavoured pop.
Palma Violets - 180
Due Date : February
Saw this band on my live travels this semester at Uni - they’re amazing live. I’m hoping that the live energy translates across to CD form, if not it could flop quite hard, like the Vaccines hype. But talking to the lads after their gig, they are such lovely fellas - I hope they become a real force in 2013.
Foals - Holy Fire
Due Date : February
HURRY UP AND COME FUNK SHIT UP, YEAH. I’m going to see them at Rock City as well in the new year, mega excited.
Tribes - Wish To Scream
Due Date : May
I listened to the taster that got sent in the email today. It’s very Americana. Like the Mystery Jets - Radlands, if it sounds that sweet then I can live with it, I think.
Azealia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste
Due Date : Whenever she feels it’s necessary
After 2012’s mixtape spectacular which pretty much soundtracked my Summer job commute, I’m looking forward to Miss Banks’ album more than I can even express right now.
Peace - Untitled
Due Date : Who Knows
Peace were joking around that the album was called ‘Ian’ the other day but with them you never know.
Can’t find the Ian tweet actually now, I may have been dreaming. Enjoy their naughty new single, Wraith. The video features girls twerking and it’s about getting a blow job.
Swim Deep - Untitled
Due Date : It’s a mystery
All we know is that it’s being recorded in Belgium and bassist, Cavan’s hands nearly fell off in the process.
Plus there’s stuff to come from Arlissa, Atoms for Peace, Haim, Laura Mvula, Savages, Splashh, Childhood, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE!
I don’t have a lot of time to write this review as I should actually be doing work. So I’ve put a timer on my phone and when 15 mins is up, I have to stop and move onto my work for my Caribbean Francophone Writing seminar. As you do.
What seems like an eternity ago, I went and saw Spector. It was actually a month ago so not that long. Here’s what I learnt.
Be on time for gigs. I keep missing the very first act when there’s three acts playing. I caught the end of the LULS set and from what I could tell - the lead singer was pissed off.
I can dance. Having been able to move closer to the front as my trusty gig friend actually arrived on time, I got to bob along happily at the front for Swim Deep. We met Austin selling tshirts at the end and he was complimentary of our nodding skillz.
Swim Deep are a relatively new band and they appear to be growing in confidence - they showed off a new song and they are still flirting with new sounds but Honey and King City were warm, hazy electro songs with sunshine laidback vocals. Hopefully they’ll have finished their album and be full of confidence when they’re back in Feb.
Don’t just dream in your sleep, it’s lazy. I love that line.
I have four minutes left. Fuck.
Indie disco is not dead. I think it’s a well known fact that I’ve been HASHTAG ## TEAM FRED INDIE KING MACPHERSON, since the days of Les Incompetents. Dividing opinion since 2003, Fred Macpherson is best described as the smarmy kid in the back of the class who tells the teacher they’re wrong. But it’s for the exact same reason that he’s loved.
So what about his latest venture, Spector? Having been described hilariously as H&M models (remember the Strokes were too!), you can’t deny their hipster style. However, they know how to put on a good show. They’re cool kids in suits but they’re not afraid to poke fun at themselves. Enjoy It While It Lasts is throwback and nod to Fred’s indie disco, electro pop past but it’s humorous, witty and full of big choruses. Never Fade Away was a highlight in particular of mine.
Crap it’s actually 18 minutes past the time I was supposed to finish this.
Spector’s 40 minute set of juxtaposed, dancealong indie is exciting and full of character with Fred whipping out his comb, looking in the mirror, taking questions and compliments (an old guy yells ‘YOU LOOK LIKE SPANDAU BALLET!’ and Fred gladly accepts the accolade), tweeting from his blackberry and jerking around with his bandmates. His bandmates humour his playful nature - laughing, posing around him and his bassist tells off my mate for tweeting during the gig and threatens to call his dad.
You’ve got to give Fred some credit here as for all his ambition - Spector’s tunes and set pack more punch and spontaneity than most of the other indie cindy guitar bands, nonchalantly plodding along. I’m not sure if the album title is supposed to be self-fulfilling or some kind of prophecy but handle it with care, it doesn’t belong with the landfill indie pile.
Been illegally busy this week, running Open Mics, going down to Londoninium, singing in public (LOLWUT), and spending far too much time in the library. Also got to interview Mikill Pane and got the new VLAD EP - Gamma which you should all check out.
Been meaning to write about this gig for a little while. The second of my week of gigs was Everything Everything at Rescue Rooms.
Supporting Everything Everything was the funked up four-piece, Fiction whose song, Big Things stood out amongst their set. With bouncy basslines, and a Hot Chip-esque synth line, Big Things was a bright slice of smart pop sensibility that won me over.
Then came Everything Everything. With recent single, Cough Cough finally giving them the chart recognition that they deserve, the room was packed out and ready.
"You’re all packed in here and you’re up for it, Nottingham." cooed Jonathan before launching into Man Alive favourite, Suffragette Suffragette. Jonathan, no longer weighed down by his guitar, happily discards it between songs to jump about and bang drums.
Their set was packed full of new songs from their hotly anticipated (well at least by myself) album, Arc. If anything was evident is that Everything Everything have spent the past year honing in their clever craftsmanship. The difficult second album doesn’t seem to be a problem - as they gallop their way though genres. But whilst a streamlined Everything Everything may worry Man Alive fans - the new songs fit smoothly alongside older material.
Take the stomp along Kemosabe for example - which features choppy synths and beats, odd samples, a heavy distorted guitar line but it keeps Jonathan’s falsetto and the verbal idiosyncrasies from Man Alive. Don’t Try takes the tribal percussive moments from Schoolin’ and turns them into a climatic dance track.
One clear difference with Arc is that the new songs, interspersed throughout their set, are peppered with an overarching social commentary. Duet features cello swoons and a falsetto crying about the future, The Peaks (an actual ballad!) has a piano chord sequence that R. Kelly would be proud of which juxtaposes Jonathan’s lyrics about ‘more villages being burnt than animals being born’ and Cough Cough with its riot footage style video is their chaotic, scattering syncopated single about greed.
As the crowd file out after a brilliant performance of Photoshop Handsome - one of their encores which was probably more playful and frenetic than ever, there’s an assurance from the handful of new tracks, that whatever else may be hiding on Arc will certainly make everyone stand up and dance or at least remind everyone (and Alt-J) that the wonky pop kings want their crown back when they sail into the big time.
My mate usually manages to write whole reviews during the course of a gig. Not sure how he does it, but it was physically impossible to do for Peace.
"MA - MA - MA - MA - MA - MA - MA -MAAAADNESS" - (Bellamy, 2012).
I think that’s the only way to describe Peace’s gig, which made Palma Violets’ gig earlier this month look tame. Having been warmed up suitably by the whammy pedal abusing, shoegaze girl-boy harmonies of Carousels, as soon as Harrison came on, you could tell the crowd was up for it.
They launched straight into EP Delicious’ opening track, Ocean’s Eye and kept up the pace with a raputous rendition of Follow Baby - which in a small, packed room meant that there was chaos, and sweat.
Li’l Echo, Wraith and California Daze were all similar singalong affairs with the crowd dancing, jumping and yelling every word. By the end of California Daze, the now suitably drunk and excitable crowd begin requesting ‘1998’, their cover of Binary Finary’s trance classic. Harrison seemed to enjoy the baiting before grinning and cheekily agreeing to play it if ‘Doug remembered his part.’
As the night ended with raucous version of Bloodshake, Doug crowd surfing and a stage invasion in which the crowd hugged and greeted members of the band, you some how got the feeling that you had witnessed something pretty special, and hoped that everyone would start embracing the message of Peace to all men. Or at least the madness of it all. Radical.
Been to a crazy number of gigs in the past eight days or so feels like I’ve been on a grand headline tour of The Bodega and Rescue Rooms.
I hadn’t actually planned to go to this gig but my housemate persuaded me otherwise. I had heard about and talked about the support band, Wanderlings before on my blog, so I thought that it would be a darn sight better than uni work.
They announced they had lots of new material to play, which was sounding great and their bassist was one cool dude. Still definitely a band to watch.
Now onto Life in Film - considering the fact that my housemate and I disagree on a lot of music choices, I was a bit dubious but I have to say I was won over completely.
Towards the end of their set, their newer stuff from the Needles & Pins EP shone brightly and convinced me that maybe my housemate does have some taste. Melodic, pop hooks and riffs like ‘Oh Lord, what can I do?’ from Needles & Pins and Until It’s Over respectively and contemplative crooning moments like Carla, which was eagerly yelled and requested by several screaming girls, showed how this up and coming band can take on the War On The Charts with their arsenal of tunes.
I can’t even remember how I stumbled across this, think it might have been via the good old stalker page aka Facebook. This always happens with the good stuff. I lose the page, hum it all weekend and then have to trawl through my internet history to find it again. GODDAMN IT.
So yeah, it’s a rainy day up here in Nottingham but vybzing to Ady Suleiman in the library. It’s summery, choppy chords, laidback bass and soulful vocals - a lovely slice of summer on a terribly grey day.
Apparently, he’s from Nottingham so I will have to see if he’s doing any shows around.