Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Primavera Sound 2011 Review - PULP!!!

I was going to do a review similar to my Great Escape one for Primavera, but I decided against it instead as I'm zonked. Instead I'll go straight into it and tell you something you probably already know, that Pulp were utterly majestic. It was like they'd never gone away. I didn't know until I returned home yesterday that they played a warm-up show in France on the way to Barcelona (just how good is the second encore from that show?!) but at Primavera they well and truly ruled the stage (the same setlist besides the second encore - we just had Razzmatazz).

Jarvis was confident from the outset, opener "Do You Remember The First Time?" was a perfect start and when you include "Disco 2000" early on in the set it surely is a sign of a band who know they could pull off their 'comeback' - and boy did they! My highlights have to include "Common People" purely because the crowd went utterly bonkers and boyhood favourites "This is Hardcore" and "I Spy" were superb. I'd only seen Pulp once before this and I'm already itching to see them again. Do not miss them this summer.

A brief synopsis of the rest of the weekend goes:

The Great:

The National - Probably the second biggest crowd I saw and they were utterly brilliant, even the (50%) Spanish crowd (they don't really move much do they?!) were well up for it and the show was brilliant, highlights "Squalor Victoria", "Mr November", "Terrible Love", "England" and I really could go on and on. Not particularly sure what Sufjan Stevens added on the two tracks he came out for (he was far too quiet) but The National were incredible. What a live band they are and it's good to see them getting the reception they deserve.

No Joy - I was in a great mood after The National and in anticipation of Pulp and No Joy certainly didn't let that falter for one minute, thirty five minutes of dirty, noisy guitars, heavenly. Full marks to the drummer too, some relentless energy and heavy pounding going on. I enjoyed them in Feb when I saw them and they were so much better here, though it was a shame not to hear "No Joy". Next time. If you haven't checked out their album 'Ghost Blonde' do so.

Of Montreal - Boy do they know how to put on a show, I was expecting madness and how Of Montreal delivered. Besides the colourful show, an on-stage wrestling side show show and Catalan flag waving the important thing is that they sounded absolutely bloody brilliant and really got the sober (no beer!!) going.

Perfume Genius - An early Saturday start was worth it to see Perfume Genius in the dark and deadly silent auditori, though clearly battling nerves (especially evident when Mike was playing the acoustic guitar - at least three errors were made) the show was utterly captivating and left the large crowd speechless, he really is one talented man, his songs are just beautiful and intimate.

The Good:

Tennis - Friday started well with a lovely sunny set from Tennis, their live sounds was more expansive than on the album and it worked really well, Patrick's guitar lines and the added dimension of a live drummer especially. A perfect setting for them with the distant noise of the sea after a lovely sunny day. The last song, no idea what it was (a cover?), was a big departure from the rest and worked really nicely, I think they found themselves some new fans and I heard good things of their Saturday afternoon show the next day too..

Smoke Fairies - One of only two acts I caught at both The Great Escape and Primavera, I enjoyed them again very much, they looked pretty nervous though and much of their humour stage interaction was missing. Still when you have their stunning voices, guitar work and song-craft that hardly matters.

Islet - A prelude for the bonkers antics of Thursday were the mad-but-not-quite-Of-Montreal Welsh experimentalists Islet, a few sound issues besides their early Thursday show went down a treat. The intense percussion is certainly my favourite aspect of their set, really good.

Cults - Much like Friday and Tennis, Cults got an evening crowd doo-woping about with their cutesy 60's style pop. The sound quality could have been better and their was far, far too much hair on display but Cults are destined to be one of the acts of Summer 2011 and the set was definitely enjoyable, "Abducted" and "Go Outside" getting the best response.

Warpaint - Warpaint keep getting tighter as a unit, they looked to be having a great time in the Saturday sun, I expected them to play a little longer (the set didn't make an hour) but what we did get was, as ever, brilliant. Stella keeps on stealing the show. Next up for my Warpaint ears is Glastonbury - looking forward to it already.

Soft Moon - The Soft Moon certainly win the award for youngest dark-synth pop fan award, with a boy of around three (perhaps a band members relative?) having a great time looking on from side stage for the first half of their set. The set was thoroughly enjoyable, dark menacing synth beats which sounded enormous, a later slot would have helped them out more though.

The Disappointing:

Glasser - I was expecting something massive, her album is percussion heavy and fills the room wonderfully, perhaps it was because it wasn't the usual full setup but I found her show pretty underwhelming if I'm being honest. Yeah it was the edgy synth pop that fills 'Ring' and yes Cameron's voice at times soared through but I think it fell a bit flat (at least for me). I'd certainly give Glasser another chance in a club environment and hope it was just a bit off this once.

The Bad:

Portal - The less said about the whole system the better. Anything that leaves a countless thousand people without the capability of buying any sort of drink for five hours should have back-up plans that can be instantly rolled out without waiting till almost ten o'clock.

Prices - €9 for a 750 ml beer. Seriously? Piss-take. €4 for 2/3's of a pint. Yeah, we were getting robbed. It's unusual for the street vendors outside to be the place to go for a cheap quick beer (and even they were trying to get €1.50 for something that you could by for €0.59 if you went 200 meters up Diagonal). Food wasn't much better unless you like your burgers being charged out at €6.00 and fries at €4.00 - thankfully the security was pretty lax and smuggling in the cheaper supermarket beer wasn't all that difficult.

Transport - Barcelona - surely it's not difficult to put on a few extra buses to get people home? There were apparently some on, I saw none. Just a couple of night buses so filled to the rafters you might as well have walked home - a two mile walk - perfect at 4am, yeah.

Sound Quality - as per most festivals, the sound quality really wasn't good. ATP stage especially stood-out for being pretty torrid.

I've left off a few bands I saw, I'm not here to say things are 'crap' and given how tired I am, I probably missed someone out! Overall, knackering, the football meant I missed PJ Harvey and whilst there are certainly some issues for the organisers to work out but Friday especially made the trip worthwhile.

The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio
Pulp - Common People - Electric Picnic 2011
No Summer by No Joy

Monday, 30 May 2011

Niki & The Dove #2 - Live Show


Here is a rather splendid live show from Niki & The Dove - I missed their London show last week because it was the night before Primavera and given how broken I feel today, it was probably wise to have an early night before my flight but judging on the quality of this nine track live set (amazing quality too) it was possibly the wrong call.

 The hour long set sounds simply magical and I'm sure people at Dot to Dot this weekend will come back with a similar verdict. Brooding 80's electro-pop, strong drums and dirty synth beats combined with the stunning vocal range of Malin Dahlstrom is a winning combination for sure, a dramatic fusion of Kate Bush and The Knife was one comment I remember reading and it's probably about true. Tracks I've not heard before like the second track "Fast Economy" and the beautiful closing track "Manon" sound fantastic and certainly increases excitement levels for their album which is hopefully in the works right about now.

Enjoy the set, and my favourite of her tracks to date "Mother Project" below:

The setlist is:
1. Bells 2. Fast Economy 3. The Fox 4. Mother Protect 5. The Beach 6. Somebody 7. DJ, Ease My Mind 8. Gentle Roar 9. Manon

Niki & The Dove - Lifting Off Live by The Solo Artist
Mother Protect by Niki & The Dove
The Fox by Niki & The Dove

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Strange Death of Liberal England #7 - Sometimes I Just Need You There


I wasn't aware of a new track from one of my favourite bands until last week, poor show me! So here's a quick post before I go to bed telling you about it in-case you've missed it too (unusually I'm writing this a few days before it's published as I'm at Primavera right now until Monday)...

The Strange Death of Liberal England are one of the UK's most underrated bands, I placed their debut full-length 'Drown Your Heart Again' at number three in my albums of 2010, I stand by that completely, I was pretty annoyed to miss them on their last tour, family beat music for a change!

Anyway, TSDOLE have released a digital single of a track from the album 'Come on You Young Philosophers!', having the album (twice) already means that it itself isn't too exciting but the following is, it comes backed by a new b-side entitled "Sometimes I Just Need You There", the good news, well it's absolutely brilliant! Go and get it on iTunes now then tell your mates to do the same.

Here are a couple of my favourites off the album if you are new to Strange Death give them a listen:
The Strange Death of Liberal England - Rising Sea by ilikepress
The Strange Death of Liberal England - Autumn by morrisday

This is the last of my four pre-written posts - see you next week for a wrap of my time in Barcelona.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Sea Oleena - New Music "Introducing"


'Sleeplessness' is the latest offering from Montreal-based artist Sea Oleena (Charlotte Loseth), the mini album released last month follows two last year but is the first one to reach my ears, I feel like I've been missing out too because it is absolutely stunning.

Seven fragile and sensual dreamy folk tracks which will arose a beautiful state of weightlessness as they calm and sooth your senses, this is just the perfect music to end your day on, utterly tranquil and relaxing.

It's hard to pick stand-outs, the album plays as one continual intoxicating lullaby but with "Southbound" the opening track and introduction to Charlottes' wispy, ethereal voice bathed in perfectly piano and some minimal shimmering electronic washes you'll soon fall in love, there may be a melancholic tone to the nature of her voice and the sheer beauty it exudes just washes me in all kinds of loveliness.

"Sleepless Fever" and "Insomnia Plague" are sedatives for your senses, gentle waltzing acoustic guitar strumming and Charlotte's soft voice, "Sleep" accompanied by a rather lovely video below with its hazy, dreamy and chilly air that would be just perfect for an autumn day walk in the park.

The album is available digitally via bandcamp page, on a pay what you like basis, so be generous!
A cassette release is planned for June via http://www.bridgetownrecords.info/p/upcoming-releases.html - not available for pre-order just yet so keep an eye out for that.

Sea Oleena: Sleepless Fever

Sea Oleena – Southbound

Cold White Sheets - Sea Oleena from Kayla Hoglander on Vimeo.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Straylings - New Music "Introducing"


Straylings release their new single 'Carver's Kicks' in June, you can listen to it below the following words.

I wasn't expecting this male / female due to be based in London, the sultry vocals of singer Dana Zeera fits somewhere between Mazzy Star and Patti Smith and the sound (for me) is more south state American than London, that of course is no bad thing, I couldn't care less where an artist / band come from as long as the music is good. It is...

"Carver's Kicks" is formed around a swirling guitar and stomping drum beat where Dana's smokey exotic vocal fits perfectly over the vintage almost western-esque melody, if this track was playing over 'Red Dead Redemption' it would have fit just perfectly.

"On its Way" is more laid-back, seductive and moody. A country-blues slow ballad waltz that I can just picture relaxing to whilst drinking a glass of fine malt. According to their PR their debut LP is being finalised with release set for later this year, another one for a listen then.

straylings - carver's kicks by Covert PR

straylings - on its way by Covert PR

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Camille Delean #2 - Roads of Empty EP


When I did an 'Introducing' piece on the extraordinary young talent that is Camille Delean I mentioned that there weren't any releases to purchase, that's now changed because you can down purchase her debut four track EP 'Roads of Empty' via iTunes.

I won't repeat my earlier post, read that for my typically waffling thoughts but you should take this post as a prompt for you to discover Camille, her beautiful soulful voice is just too beautiful for words.

You can trust me when I saw you won't be disappointed if you listen to her EP. I believe Camille is moving to London soon, hopefully that means live shows aplenty. Now Rachel Sermanni and Camille in the same show, let's make that happen.

Rivers by camilledelean

Polls - New Music "Introducing"

Facebook // http://polls.bandcamp.com/

Polls are an LA based shoegaze / noise-pop trio who only recently came to their attention through their new single, 'Mouth of a Fox' which came out just yesterday via Jaxart Records on download / 7" (limited to just 250 copies on clear vinyl) - order one of them here.

The title track is simply great, starting with a repetitive dirty riff it focuses primarily on swirling guitars and a  lovely sunshine soaked vocal harmony.

The b-side is even better, ambitious in scope and exceptionally delivered. "Careful Way" starts subdued, with airy vocals and simple keys before exploding with a fuzzed out guitar and a punctuated drum beat that builds and build to an intense, explosive and highly satisfying conclusion.

If this LA trio carry on like this they'll adding a few zeros to their 157 Facebook 'fans' before the year is out.

Listen / Download mp3's of the single below.
POLLS - Careful Way by jaxart

POLLS - Mouth Of A Fox by jaxart

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Yohuna - New Music "Introducing"


A post I've been meaning to do for a while since I discovered Yohuna through a post on Anika In London, Johanne Swanson is a one-women bedroom project from Wisconsin and her four track debut EP 'Revery' is pretty stunning.

Opening track "Keep Apnea" is a perfect introduction, where Johanne's hauntingly beautiful echoey vocal swirls around sweeping synths and a percussive beat, it's raw emotive experimental music at its finest.

Like all the tracks present on this EP "Mateo" is washed in delicious reverb, its slow dreamy melodic ambience is luscious and the bittersweet vocals are completely enchanting. Closing track "Hometown Key" is perhaps even better, managing to make her lo-fi soundscapes fill the room with a massive, cavernous lullaby, utterly gorgeous.

Listen to one of the tracks below and you can stream / purchase a digital version of 'Revery' for just $1.00 from Bandcamp right now:
Yohuna - Mateo by morrisday

Here's a rather lovely video for "Hometown Key", it's a perfect accompaniment to the song.

Yohuna - Hometown Key from Caseytography on Vimeo.

Primavera 2011 - Ten Bands to See (Part Two)

This is the second part of ten bands that I intend to see in Primavera, the first part can be found here.

Llevant stage: Saturday 28th May, 18:45h
Blog favourite Warpaint fill more column inches shock. After my failure to see the girls at The Great Escape attendance at this show will be compulsory and thankfully with The Soft Moon playing directly before them means that I shall be aptly positioned to do just that.

I'm not sure I need to repeat myself again, I've mentioned probably about twenty times just how stunning this band are, and even more so on the live stage. Looking forward to it.

ATP stage: Thursday 26th May, 18:00h
It's all been quiet in the Islet world in 2011 as far as I've been aware, the Welsh group released a couple of superb EP's in 2010 and I've not heard anything from them since.

When I saw them last year, the show was utterly chaotic, tending to swap instruments between songs. Laden with clattering drums (a lot of clattering drums), skewed melodies, propulsive rhythms and either a single vocal or all members yelping at the same time - if you want to start your Primavera with a hypnotic, energetic show, Islet should be your port of call.

Pitchfork Stage: Friday 27th May, 17:00h
As I'm going to Spain to watch a music festival it's only fair that I include a Spanish act (I probably should say Catalan act as the band are from Barcelona) as one of my one's to watch, I'm certainly going to be in attendance early on Friday to catch Aias.

The girls speak in Catalan but don't let the language barrier put you off because if you are a fan of the surf-pop scene that's made Vivian Girls, Best Coast, Dum Dum Girls and so on nme darlings then you are sure to love Aias. Their album 'A La Piscina' is full of jangly, reverb-heavy fuzzy guitars, you know the sort, basically lo-fi pop sweetness and the girls will certainly be worth a go in their home-town.

PJ Harvey
San Miguel Stage: Saturday 28th May, 22:30h
The start time for Polly Jean is a bit of a stinker, she'll come on stage as the Champions League final heads towards the final whistle, I'm not sure what a Barcelona crowd will make of that, I'll be heading to the San Miguel Stage as soon as I possibly can to see PJ Harvey for the first time.

I was probably the last person in the UK to fall for her, only really getting into her material with the release of 'Let England Shake' this year and I'm intrigued to hear her live show after the album has blown me away.

The National
Llevant stage: Friday 27th May, 21:15h
I started the post with an obvious choice and I'll end it with one too, The National were my re-discovery of last year (I thought saw them in 2005 but didn't really fall for them until the release of "Bloodbuzz Ohio") and I'm very much looking forward to seeing them again and for the first time in 2011.

Many of you will know what to expect during their 75 minute slot, hopefully the decent set length will mean we'll be treated to many favourites and a few surprises... Will we get to hear "Exile Vilify" or "Think You Can Wait"? At Brixton they played "Lucky You" which was rather wonderful, though in all honesty them turning up will be enough, but if they play the stunning live versions of "About, Today" and "Terrible Love" I'll leave one very happy camper.

Sure I missed off Animal Collective, Battles, Factory Floor etc. FF probably would have got a shout but they play at 03.45!!! Even armed with Pro Plus I cannot see my old bones being awake then!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Primavera 2011 - Ten Bands to See (Part One)

I'm not sure I've recovered from The Great Escape yet, in fact I definitely haven't but in just twenty four hours it's time to set course (Ash Cloud permitting) for Barcelona and Primavera Sound 2011. A pretty stunning line-up for the three day event (with pre and after show sandwiched to make it a five day long affair for the hardcore). Here are ten bands that I intend to see over the weekend split into two parts, the first five below:

San Miguel Stage: Friday May 27th, 01:45h
I'll start with the most glaringly obvious choice of the weekend, the return of the best band of the nineties, Pulp. Since Jarvis and co announced last November that they'd be returning from hiatus for a summer of shows (and then who knows) I've been as excitable as a three year old in a toy barn and now finally we are in the same calendar week as the first show...

In general I've not been a big fan of the mass reform culture we've seen the last few years, it seems a lot of groups are milking any remaining drops of the cash cow before it's too late but for Pulp I think it's going to be a totally different ball game.

What's the set-list going to be? Will we see some older gems alongside the more obvious tracks like "Babies", "Common People", "Do You Remember The First Time?" etc etc. Me, I'd like to see a couple of tracks from 'Separations' and definitely some off my favourite Pulp album 'This is Hardcore', one thing for certain it's going to be bloody awesome.

Perfume Genius
Rockdelux (Auditori) Stage: Saturday 28th May, 16:00h
I'm looking forward to finally seeing Mike Hadreas aka Perfume Genius live for the first time, he played in London last week but I decided to see Planningtorock (which was pretty great as you'd expect) so had to miss out, it would have been a much gut-wrenching clash if it wasn't for this early show in the seated Auditori which has the potential to be one of the most magical, sublime shows of the entire weekend.

'Learning' is certainly one of the best albums of 2010 its hauntingly beautiful and intimate nature in a quiet arena should translate into a show that's something a little bit special.

No Joy
Jägermeister Vice Stage: Friday 27th May, 23:00h
No Joy were absolutely brilliant when I saw them at Hoxton Bar & Grill back in February, half an hours worth of a deafening shoegaze wall of sound that was absolutely lovely on my ears.

On their debut record 'Ghost Blonde' the vocal is low in the mix and live it's the same with the two girls (on the live stage backed by two blokes on drums and bass who both add perfectly to the overall ambience) preferring to rock out their guitars, long hair covering their faces, it was frenetic and an absolute joy (yeah I know) full of fuzzy, pounding noise. I've frequently mentioned how much I love their self-titled track "No Joy" and I'm certainly going to be there to hear it again.

Pitchfork Stage: Thursday 26th May, 21:45h
I was meant to have a date with Cameron Mesirow a while back but in the end I went to see TJF (again), meaning that this will be my first experience of a live Glasser show and I'm full of anticipation about finally breaking that duck.

Last years 'Ring' put Glasser on most peoples lips with its weaving cocktail of percussion heavy throbbing electronica, with Cameron's gorgeous vocals and a healthy dose of tribal chants and hand-claps it was a simply stunning debut and if the life show is any where near as expansive as the album, then it's going to be simply divine.

Of Montreal
San Miguel Stage: Thursday 26th May, 20:00h
I first saw Of Montreal at Cargo probably three years ago and then later supporting Franz Ferdinand and their weird hallucinogenic psychedelic live spectacle completely blew FF out of the water, their prolific output has been a bit lost on me recently but I still absolutely love their 'Hissing Fauna....' LP and their live show is a 100% mind-boggling enjoyment guarantee.

Expect grand stage designs, epic costumes, Kevin Barnes to spend at least two songs in the crowd and for it get even more random than you could possibly envisage.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Bonjay - New Music "Introducing"


Bonjay are Toronto duo Alanna Stuart (vocals) and Pho (beats & effects) who combine dance-floor electro with a stunning R&B vocal. They release their debut UK single on 6 June via One Bird Records and you can sample both sides below:

Both tracks come from the same left-field dance arena.  The minimal "Creepin'" with whirling, pulsing loops is more introspective while "Stumble" grabs your attention from the second it starts, with grimy high-energy beats, repetitive glitches and heavy bass. Though what made me reach for the repeat button was the compelling vocals, soulful and utterly entrancing throughout.

Creepin by onebirdrecords

Stumble by onebirdrecords

If you are unsure about how to dance to this, see below:

Bonjay - Stumble (Addy version) from Bonjay on Vimeo.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Hella Better Dancer - New Music "Introducing"

Facebook /

I recently did a post about Ghosts You Echo who are signed to a small label, Roundhouse Records. At the same time I came across another band signed to the same label, Hella Better Dancer.

When I searched for some basic info on the group I came across this "All four members are in sixth form". That one sentence is enough to make me green with envy. Primarily because I'm getting to the stage where I can't even remember my sixth form days and secondly because for a group so young, they've got a fantastic sound that belies their jealousy inducing youth whereas I'm about as tone-deaf as it comes.

On "Last Song" and "Fuse" I can't help but think of another youthful band who swept the indie scene in 2008, Cajun Dance Party (who split but members have since formed a little band named Yuck). A gorgeous and restrained vocal from front-lady Tilly was the initial appeal, backed by some tight percussion, jangly guitar riffs and fantastic arrangement the group manage to infuse catchy indie-pop tunes with a great level of maturity. Instead of coming out all guns blazing and saving the "proper tunes" for the second album the London foursome have get their stall out from the beginning and crafted something extremely praiseworthy.

Their more recent EP 'Swimming' shows incredible progression, "Hundred Balloons" with some luscious melodies and shimmering soundscapes is immediately appealing and effortlessly cool, it's probably their stand-out to date though "Say It" and "Twenty Three" both have that catchy, jangly poppy beat that could well become their trademark. Cliché time, if Hella Better Dancer (it's a bit of a tongue-twister name guys!) were a stick of rock, they'd have promising written right the way through it.

The band are doing their A-Level's right now so are off the gigging circuit till the summer (good luck guys!) though again that just makes me go 'sigh', right, I'm off down the pub, I don't have any exams!

Hundred Balloons by Hella Better Dancer

Say It by Hella Better Dancer

Josh T. Pearson - Daytrotter Session


You may or may not have read my Great Escape review, if you did you'll know that for about the past two weeks I've been 101% obsesssed with Josh T. Pearson and his extraordinary LP 'Last of the Country Gentlemen'. I also said his 45 minute live show last weekend was one of the best I've ever seen and have since snapped up a ticket for a repeat performance at a special 'An Evening with Josh T. Pearson gig at The Barbican in November, if you've any sense and live somewhere remotely near to London you should do the same.

One of the best sites for special sessions had another treat for me this week in the form of a Josh T. Pearson Daytrotter session. You should go and download it right now because it is absolutely sublime.

Once you've done that, empty your diaries for the next twenty one minutes, this is more important:

and something a little more eclectic:

Genius, how this man is still playing small venues and not national theatres and halls I have no idea, see him now before the rest of the world catch on.

Josh T. Pearson - Woman When I've Raised Hell
Josh T. Pearson - Country Dumb (piano version)

Thursday, 19 May 2011

iamamiwhoami - ; john

It's rare for me to post about a 'mainstream' artist (and by mainstream I mean someone capable of 62k's worth of views in four days) because there are so many sites telling you about them that if you first read about them here then it's likely that you are my Mum.

However, I'm going to make a brief exception and post about iamamiwhoami (still not confirmed but reported to be Swedish artist Jonna Lee) who has perhaps created the best viral musical campaign to hit internet to date (and spawned hundreds of other mysterious, anonymous project to boot). She's successfully managed to create the an army of devote followers with a dozen or so YouTube and iTunes tracks that it does make you wonder if the days of physical projects are numbered (though I doubt it and think not - I'm sure I'm one of many who'd love a physical copy of her releases to date with beautiful artwork, a supporting DVD etc, yeah it would be amazing).

Now I'm not going to go into the in's and out's of her visual themes etc - if you want that check out this wiki page - but iamamiwhoami is certainly no gimmick, her Knife-esque electro soundscapes push every known boundary with their overall presentation and artistic creativity. It's definitely ambitious and it's unbelievably stunning, take her come back track (her BOUNTY series was almost a year ago now) "; John" with a long sprawling and frankly creepily weird video (that's one hell of a lot of toilet roll!) it's just outstanding, perhaps surpassing her own highs heard on "O" and "Y" the addictively melodic electro dance track is simply one of the best tracks you'll hear this year, iamamiwhoami have raised the bar again, I hope it's the start of a new series of clips from her.

As well as her earlier tracks, I highly recommend you track down her live video performance too, it defies the word sublime.

iamamiwhoami - ; john

Tearist - New Music "Introducing"


Now this is a post I've been meaning to do for ages, I saw Tearist play at The Old Blue Last at the end of March and the show was utterly mesmerising... One of the loudest shows I can remember (my ears were ringing for days) and one of the most commanding performances in memory (perhaps until I saw Josh T. Pearson last week) from frontwoman Yasmin Kittles. From the get-go she called upon every ounce of her body as she screamed and shrieked into her microphone like a possessed, demented creature. Spending her time between quivering around the small stage in a ritualistic trance, hammering metal pipes against everything and anything and delivering her powerful, intense vocals with wide open eyes starring into the audience.

William provides the engine for Yasmine's explosive display, his synth sounds are dense with thick layers of industrial rhythms and noise creating a pulsing heavy dark disco sound with propulsive drum machine beats, I'm not sure what genre you can call it; dark, experimental electro-dance will do.

Simply though, it was simply one hell of a fucking show.

They've a couple of releases, firstly a debut EP 12" (order) which came out right at the end of last year, similarly to the live sound I described it contains six raw tracks full of fierce outbursts, banshee wails and noisy samples throughout it's pounding, unrelenting and absolutely outstanding duration, listen to "Long Cold" and "Heedless" if you don't believe me.

More recently they released 'Tearist Living: 2009-Present' a vinyl live album LP which you can order here.

Tearist - Headless

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Selebrities - New Music "Introducing"

Facebook // http://selebritiesmusic.com/

Brooklyn trio Selebrities released their debut full length 'Delusions' this week and I've been really enjoying the vintage tones blending new wave, disco-noir and post-punk influences on display throughout.

Opening with a dark tone that sounds like it could have been made in Manchester by the likes of New Order, "Delusions" and "Living Dead" both fill the air with atmospheric pop-noir sounds full of weaving guitars and a driving echoey beat.

Tracks such as (my album highlight) "Time", "Into The Night" and "Can't Make Up My Mind" show a more colourful side. A synthetic drum machine and shimmering synth beats exude an ambience that is effortlessly cool, "Into The Night" especially with it's repetitive Italo-disco beat deserves it's place in a buzzing club setting.

The nonchalant vocal delivery of Maria Usbeck which only adds to the overall flavour, the album is immediate and completely addictive.

Selebrities sound like they should be on Captured Tracks, they are not, they are on Cascine and you can order 'Delusion' now here or here digitally.

Can't Make Up My Mind by selebrities

Time by selebrities

Can't Make Up My Mind from Selebrities on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Great Escape 2011 - Saturday Review

So we quickly arrive at the third and final day of The Great Escape, Saturday starts earlier than the previous two days with a trip to Shipwrights Yard to catch local four piece Fear of Men who charm the crowd with their lush indie-pop full of hooky guitars and charming melodies, about perfect for the half-warm early summers day. It was the first time I'd seen them and if they carry on the way they are going, it certainly won't be the last. Stand-out was the first track I heard by the group "Phantom Limb".

Next I decide to have some much needed caffeine and warm donuts (I am in Brighton after all) before heading to what used to be the flagship venue of TGE, The Queen's Hotels for Generator's North East Invasion show, I catch the end of Polarsets set, their sound is pretty massive, some epic percussion dance tracks and they go down well with the crowd, next up were Mammal Club who again play to a large audience in the converted hotel space, enamouring the crowd with a couple of North / South jokes early on before playing a storming, indie set, if you are a fan of Friendly Fires / Foals / Delphic style experimental pop you'll do no wrong with both these sets of Geordie lads.

The primary reason I'd made my way to Queen's and was willing to forget about the impending FA Cup Final was for the afternoons last two acts, firstly it was the turn of Let's Buy Happiness and a mear sixteen or so hours since I'd seen them the previous night. If anything they were even better, sound even grander as their textured kaleidoscopic guitar sounds filled the room with graceful beauty. Since last nights amnesia I've remembered another new track to keep an eye out for, "Skinny Moon"! I'm sure we'll be hearing some new news from LBH soon, hopefully we will anyway!

Next on are headliners Lanterns on the Lake, a band I was pretty excited to see again (as I've previously mentioned), as soon as they start with "Lungs Quicken" I remember why, it's utterly gorgeous, with stunningly beautiful instrumentation the six piece band layer their sound with celestial melodies and ambient guitar soundscapes. The sound of silence you hear whilst they place is around a hundred people falling in love. The music is heartfelt, emotional and sublime, they do a musical swap-shop of instruments during song changeovers, though Hazel takes the majority of the vocal duties. The show has to be cut short by a song (I'm guessing so the evening show can sound check - though I'm not sure what harm five extra minutes would do?!) which is a shame but for the twenty five minutes set, the band manage to fill the audiences ears with the utter joy.

If a show is judged on the length of the queue to buy CD's afterwards then Lanterns are clear winners, as I walk out (I already have their three EP's) their is a long precession of punters keen to snap up the lovely handmade EP's. The debut album on Bella Union is nearly ready, cannot wait.

The afternoon is still not over, it's time to head back to Shipwrights Yard to catch EMA, another artist I'm particuarly excited to see, the show is rammed, after queuing (I'm guessing the majority are here for Frankie and the Heartstrings who are on after) I finally get in - the view isn't great (see picture below) but we are treated to twenty minutes of fuzzed up guitar heaven. "Marked" opens a shortish twenty five minute set which plays heavy on the droning, soaring intensity of Erika's guitar play never better than on her albums opener "The Grey Ship". It's a rather better set than this paragraph, the aperitif for more EMA later that evening because as we leave I'm handed a flyer saying EMA is playing an additional show at 22:30, deal.

It's surprising to some that there is a two to three hour break between 4:30-7:30 at The Great Escape, I tend to think it gives you chance to recharge, grab a bite to eat (or a nap) and not miss anything too exciting though I do think before long TGE could well be an all day affair. Saturday evening starts with a trip along the pier to Horatio's to see Canadian four-piece Braids, one of the biggest "buzz" bands in the lead up to the festival.

They play for probably slightly less than their allotted half hour to a jam packed and lively Horatio's and complete just four tracks due to the lengthy nature of their meandering experimental indie tracks, but on "Lemonade" especially it's just perfect, beautiful soaring vocal harmonies alongside intricate and technically superb instrumentation, Braids justify their hype.

I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place again as there are so many places I could go next, I choose to leave the larger Horatio's venue where EMA is playing next and see Kitten at The Haunt, the venue is new to me and it's fair to say I don't like it's dark and cheap club feel, the smoke machine in my face doesn't help either.

They arrive stage and deliver a blistering, energetic version (probably too energetic) of "Transmission" where Chloe jumps onto an amp with a clear aim of blowing away any cobwebs from the audience. "Kill The Light" is superb, slightly more reserve is shown as Chloe concentrates on guitar and her delivering her wonderful vocals and it works better for it, I said this last year and I still think it true, this band could well go far. Chloe's stage presence is superb though with the amount of tambourine bashing going on,  I'm pretty sure she'll have some painful bruises on her legs in the morning.

I quickly run (walk quickly) to Komedia where I find Lanterns on the Lake almost halfway through their set though I'm lucky enough to hear the track that I missed earlier in the day, their gorgeous noise fills the much larger room wonderfully and their are plenty of impressed on-lookers (although some annoying chattering can be heard behind - why do people do this!?). They seemed to finish before their allotted time which is a shame for me, especially as I decide to leave before Guillemots arrive and head elsewhere...

I go to Jam and catch nearly the entirety of a set I didn't plan on, French group Team Ghost and I'm pleasantly surprised, during their post-punk influenced sounds of wailing guitar crescendos and crashing drums wrapped in waves of synths I'm gradually pulled closer and closer to a pretty exhilirating set. It's an aggressive assault throughout but if this show is any indication of their sound then they are certainly worth further investigation.

After Team Ghost finish pretty much all of the crowd depart too leaving EMA to setup their equipment and sound check in an almost empty venue, it makes the Englishman in me nervous (and the band too, Erika looks
on with mild bemusement) thankfully before they start the room fills up to a more acceptable level.

It's a longer set than the earlier one at Shipyards which allows EMA more time to play more tracks off her album 'Past Life Martyred Saints', on a live stage it manages to pack even more punch, raw and intense, varying between grunge soaked guitar heavy hooks to a softer yet brutal motional roller, for the small audience here it's pretty fabulous

Top marks goes to her backing band, the drummer so nonchalant for twenty five minutes suddenly expoldes with a charge of packed precise drumming and the electric violinist is perfect throughout, though star of the show is undoubtedly Erika Wielding her star covered guitar she sludge's out her reverb-heavy distorted guitar lines whilst her singing recalls a younger PJ and Cat Power.

Closing with her noisy anthem "California" she finds a way into the crowd, before returning with a wry smile after a few punters back away from her advance. Then it's over, it's been utterly captivating. There may have been about 50/60 people here tonight but those who were walked out know they'd seen something pretty special.

There is still time for one last act, one quick alleyway away is The Loft where Alpines play a late night show. On tracks like "Empire" and "Ice & Arrows" their sound is fantastic, intense drums (from a real drumkit and an electric one) alongside Catherines soaringly powerful vocal (her look reminded me of Lykke Li), perhaps the show is a little too repetitive and a couple of tracks that don't use quite the same vocal range would add more variation, my tired legs are starting to feel it and I decide on one last trip to the over-prices seaside chippy and with that The Great Escpe 2011 ended, it was a pretty good year, yeah? Roll on 2012.

Monday, 16 May 2011

The Great Escape 2011 - Friday Review

Day two of my The Great Escape 2011 review (Thursday here)

Friday lunchtime started as Thursday had, with a trip to Above Audio, whilst it's certainly not my favourite venue as the main standing area is by the exit door and close to the bar the stage is quite well positioned for views. First on were Norwegian troop Team Me who were pleasing enough, a rich typically Scandinavian guitar based indie-pop sound laced with electro and abundance of percussion played by six(?) multi-instrumentalists who put their all into the show, the venue was packed and I didn't see many leave which speaks for itself. 

Next are a band I was definitely interested in seeing, The Jezabels. Almost immediately we were treated to the enormous vocal of Hayley Mary, if you took a look at her slender frame you would never believe her capable of such a powerful performance as she pranced around the small stage. On tracks such as "Hurt M2" and "Mace Spray", the piano-led emotive, cinematic trademark of the group really shines. Overall there is no doubt the Aussie four piece are pretty impressive, my criticism could be down to the sheer size of the venue, their sound is meant for halls not a converted pub but on occasions there's perhaps too much going on, the drummer is incredible but in places with the sheer volume is a little overbearing, saying that I wouldn't hesitate to see them again given chance. 

Next I head to Shipwrights yard to catch The Smoke Fairies who are running late, Katherine later explains it was due to some traffic which means their set is cut short but what we do get is a wonderfully crafted brooding folk music, the girls are exceptional musicians, their intricate guitar work and tightly woven harmonies are utterly captivating, it's such a shame the set was so short (three songs). The fizzy vimto was to-die-for though, hadn't had one in years and it comes highly recommended.

I had a gap in my agenda so I took a chance and went to see Rebeka purely because I was in the mood for some 'dirty synths' as the programme notes called it (along with a more bizarre claim of Chinese Techno) and I was more than pleasantly surprised as the Polish duo were quite exhilarating in a highly enjoyable half hour set. Combining beat-heavy disco electronica with those raw, dirty synths previously mentioned, add in a couple of tracks with some crunching guitar and an energetic vocal and it adds up to a pulsating show, it sure had the mixed crowd at Horatio's dancing about, even at 3pm with the sound of the funfair a distant buzz. I'll certainly be checking out their music once I get the chance.

Four hours drinking yet again took its toll and I retire for a rest before kicking off my evening session at Above Audio for Canadian youngsters (I hadn't previously realised how young) Modern Superstitions who are thoroughly enjoyable in a half hour set led by the energetic lead of singer Nyssa. Her spunky performance and Chrissie Hynde howl vocal is certainly the highlight, overall it's charismatic, entertaining and damn-right fun, the punky guitar lines and catchy tracks were a more than pleasant way to kick off the evening.

I had so many options of bands to see next but I decided to stick to my pre-festival agreement with myself to see bands I'd never caught before ahead of ones I had so I reluctantly missed Still Corners (thankfully they've two London shows next month) and head to the Prince Albert to see Rachel Sermanni.

Now I'm not really convinced this was the ideal setting for her, the Albert is a dark, dingy room on top of a quite decent pub (it sells Birra Moretti on tap after all) though once the young Scottish folkstress steps onto the stage the setting is soon forgotten, you are transferred to a much more serene place as her captivating, well crafted and incredibly beautiful music calms you with a blissful ease, literally causing goosebumps with its spellbinding quality. As she stepped onto the stage she came across as a little shy so it was really alluring to find that Rachel is really witty and funny, in-between tracks she talks with ease and confidence with some amusing stories and song introductions. Soon a potentially tricky venue where you could easily expect to hear the clunking of beer glasses at the bar is quickly transformed to a silent theatre, with an attentive crowd eager to hear every word from Rachel. Her guitar work was also exemplary, some traditional folk strumming along side more slightly aggressive up-tempo turns too, she sometimes plays with a backing group, on this performance I don't see the need.

I really shouldn't say things like this given most music I think should be household is reserved for small clubs whilst mundane and mediocre artists rule the charts, but if this young and talented lady doesn't find herself with an army of devoted fans before long, then the world really is in need of some help.
She teased us with mention of future releases, I hope that one isn't too far away, I'm eager to hear more.

Next up are one of my favourite acts Let's Buy Happiness, I'd first seen them at TGE last year and in the interim year I'd fallen for them time and time again on record and become increasingly encouraged by their developing live sound, the good news is that they are still finding room for improvement. There are some great new tracks in the set, my memory is shocking but "Dirty Legs" was one title, you can tell they are increasingly confident and comfortable on stage as the expand on their dynamic shimmering guitar soundscapes. A reworking of "Works Better on Paper" especially wonderful, alongside singles "Fast Fast" and "Six Wolves" and a favourite of mine "Clean Mistake". Sarah is as charming and immediate as ever, her beautiful vocal is certainly one of my favourites in the business, though, just where is "Devil's Show"?!

There was only one place I heading next, to the Pavillion Theatre to catch Josh T. Pearson. I arrived in plenty of time (thankfully as the venue was soon to be packed with both Josh and Villagers fans) and begin waiting a little while for Josh to arrive, when he does he is taller than I anticipated carrying a cable for his amp in a couple of Rough Trade bags. He starts dead on time, perhaps a little early and immediately showcases a dry sense of humour as he jokes about his age, tiredness and not knowing what day of the week it is. He then kicks into the first of his "ten minute chart smashes", "Sweetheart I Ain't Your Christ" which (as you'd
expect if you've heard his extraordinary album 'Last Of The Country Gentlemen') is a dark, morose and lengthy track of stark, honest Americana.

"Woman, When I've Rasied Hell" follows in similar fashion, equally heart-wrenching and hauntingly beautiful, the audience remains silent throughout. It's completely captivating, his achingly painful and honest words, a face that shows signs of a thousand heartaches, every single second is absolutely commanding, all this whilst he flawlessly strums at his acoustic guitar with nonchalant ease.

Josh was due to play 30 minutes but the enormous reception he received meant neither Josh nor the crowd wanted it to end so we were treated to some more jokes (most not so good!)  and "Thou Art Loosed", the audience response at the end was probably the loudest reception I heard all weekend, I think it reached Josh too and he appears not to want to leave before a Villagers roadie finally asks him to finish his majestic set.

I've been to a few gigs in my times (275 according to Songkick) and this 45 minute set ranks amongst one of the most jaw dropping things I have ever seen, he plays London in November, don't miss it.

The night ends with disappointment, a trip up to the Green Door Store to see Planningtorock ends before it has started, an earlier blown up PA system led to ptr not playing, certainly a shame for the queuing crowds, though I'll get a chance to see her next week and after the Josh T. Pearson show perhaps it's fitting that I hear no more live music, I have a couple of reflective beers instead, Friday you were pretty spectacular.

Unlike the pictures, this video isn't mine:

Rachel Sermanni : Sleep @ The Great Escape 2011 from Josh Butterworth on Vimeo.