Thursday, 30 June 2011

Tasseomancy #3 - Heavy Sleep


A new video and a new song for Tasseomancy, this is so good. Like previous album preview "Soft Feet", "Heavy Sleep" combines an eerie, dark chilly atmosphere with gorgeous harmonies and graceful, beautiful guitar play. The video plays out like a ghostly, twisted fairytale, a perfect backdrop for the track and their otherworldly music.

I was gutted I couldn't make their London show yesterday and equally that they appear not to be supporting Austra in London (but are in Cardiff). Fingers crossed that with their album 'Ulalume' due out on 30 August, they'll be another chance to see the girls soon.

Here's the track remixed by Trust / Austra Drummer Maya Postepski, adding an even colder electronic air to the track with manipulated vocals and synth glitches, I'm not quite sure what to make of it after a couple of listen. Listen / download:

Tasseomancy - Heavy Sleep (Maya Postepski Remix) by tasseomancy

If you missed the wonder of "Soft Feet" first time around, catch up now:

Soft Feet by tasseomancy

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Anika #2 - No One's There Single


Anika's self-titled debut LP blew my mind right at the back end of 2010 earning itself a place in my top 25 albums of the year barely two weeks after I'd first heard it - the airplay it's received on my stereo since could potentially lead to it being even higher if I were to do the list now - the white vinyl looks pretty sexual too.

Step forward to this week and Anika has released a digital single of one of the (numerous) stand-out's, 'No One's There' (one of the few original tracks off the album), with two bonus tracks. Firstly something the track was tailor-made for, a dub-step remix and at least for me, more excitingly a new track entitled "He Needs Me". A track written by Harry Nilsson for the Popeye soundtrack in 1980 (thanks wikipedia). It's wonderful too, Anika's vocals follow the same disconcerting nonchalance tone that is heard throughout the album whilst a looping organ sound plays out, it reminds me one of those things you see at the funfair slowed down, brilliant.

You can purchase the three track single for £1.99 via Anika's bandcamp. Listen below:

Here's a suitably downcast video for the last track, featuring black and white live recording interlaced with derelict buildings, which echoes the depression led paranoia and lingering fear that runs through the track:

In case you are new to Anika, here's another track to listen to off the album, followed by a captivating live performance of the same song. Check out the full album, you won't regret it.
Anika - I Go To Sleep by stonesthrow

Anika - I Go To Sleep (Live) from roteraupe on Vimeo.

Zola Jesus #10 - Vessel

Exciting news today with the return (not that she was away for that long!) of Zola Jesus. The prolific electro-synth superstar previews a new track in the form of "Vessel" to be taken from her forthcoming LP  'Conatus' which is out 26th September in the UK (via soutterrain transmissions) and 4th October in the US (via Sacred Bones).

"Vessel" is a stunning return for Nika Roza Danilova, atmospheric industrial synth effects simmer throughout with a propulsive beat and warbling vocals driving the song forward, it's perhaps more understated than anything on 'Stridulum'.

I wasn't expecting anything from ZJ this year, now it's been announced it goes straight up to the top of my anticipated releases. Can't wait to see her at End of the Road and Field Day and here's hoping a London show is added soon too.

NME have posted the album track-listing, so head there for that. Listen and download "Vessel" below:

Vessel - Zola Jesus by souterraintransmissions

Elephant - New Music "Introducing"

Elephant are Amelia Rivas (vocals, keys) and Christian Pinchbeck (guitars, computers) and are now based in London. They've to date released one 7" single 'Ants' with another 'Allured' to follow next month, if these two singles are any indication I can see good things ahead for this minimalist synth-pop duo.

"Allured" is a simple love song, tinged for a sorrowful ambience. Amelia's woozy, fragile vocals are the centre-piece of the track whilst gentle, haunting keys and soft percussive beats lull you to a dreamy and beautiful state.

Earlier single "Ants" has this jaunty electronic organ/accordion thing going on, with some delicate shimmering guitar soundscapes it's ridiculously easy to listen to. Amelia's vocals again peaceful and swoonsome. Both of these lead tracks are utterly delicious. 'Ants' b-side "Wolf's Cry" hints at a more electro side, with throbbing synth warbles, the fore-front though still on the dreamy, gorgeous vocals.

Both singles were released by Memphis Industries and can be purchased here. You can hear both singles b-sides on the groups Soundcloud page.

Elephant - Allured by elephanttheband
Elephant - Ants by elephanttheband

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Still Corners #4 - Cuckoo

Another exciting development over the weekend was the arrival of the single version of Still Corners latest 7" 'Cuckoo'. The title track a-side is everything I dreamed it would be, utterly, utterly gorgeous.

The vocals are hazy, ethereal, beautiful. There's a distinct organ floating through the mix with a gentle drum beat and shimmering guitar. Another new band that can do no wrong.

I'll leave this post very short (it works for Pitchfork) as I've already mentioned the live version. If you missed it the first time, do watch it again, it is quite wonderful.

The band play The Drop on Thursday, I think I'll be elsewhere this time but I saw them play XOYO last week and they were wonderful (though I did notice they played as a four piece instead of the usual five - not sure if the drummer was ill?).

Cuckoo is released July 4th - pre-order now.

Still Corners - Cuckoo by The Line Of Best Fit

Still Corners performs "Cuckoo" in NYC from on Vimeo.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Lanterns on the Lake #5 - You're Almost There / Facebook

Three or four of bands I follow released exciting news whilst I was away at Glastonbury getting wet / muddy / hot / wet / freezing / hot / bout of heavy hay-fever / sunburnt and wet again (review to follow by the end of the week). Firstly comes news of one of my favourite new bands Lanterns on the Lake.

Their debut album 'Gracious Tide, Take Me Home' is to be released 19th September on Bella Union, which itself it's exciting news, but there is a bonus, we've been treated to a preview track in the form of  "You're Almost There".

It's absolutely perfect for my current weary come-down state of mind, a beautiful piano led track which bears all the Lanterns hallmarks and brings the need to use similar adjectives to those that I've been over-using to describe the band since last July; with luscious, rich instrumentation, hazy, dreamy atmospherics and Hazel's beautiful vocals it's utterly stunning, I know I'm not alone when I say that I cannot wait for the album.

The band have some UK festival appearances lined up for the summer (dates), hoping for a London tour date too!

Listen / download "You're Almost There" below:
Lanterns On The Lake - You're Almost There by Bella Union

and the sublime "Lungs Quicken":
Lungs Quicken by Lanterns on the Lake

Lanterns on the Lake - You're Almost There from Bella Union on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Lucy Rose - Middle of the Bed

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I saw Lucy Rose last year at the Borderline and her gentle, sweet voice really struck a chord with me. Textured, warm and overwhelming beautiful, without any releases she's built up a strong following through live shows and some stunning video clips over the past 18 months or so and now she's finally ready to release her debut material.

Her first single "Middle of the Bed" is just heavenly, a melancholic folk-pop track that's a perfect summation of the powerlessness vulnerability of unrequited love, Lucy's mellow voice is the focal point backed by a gentle, acoustic guitar and some clickety-clack (?) percussion. It's a heart-breaking song that will send shivers down many a spine.

The single will be launched with a special gig at London's Cargo on Tuesday July 5th - full details. To warm you up you can download two acoustic tracks for the price address here.

Here's the video for the single:

Lucy Rose - Middle Of The Bed
Lucy Rose - First (acoustic)

Here is an absolutely gorgeous acoustic track entitled "Night Bus", a perfect antidote to sooth me after a stressful evening of packing for Glastonbury (this is it from me until next Monday / Tuesday... Fingers crossed on the weather front! Review next week).

Actually another one, this is just as good, I am definitely in love. My daughter would love this park, I think I might have to visit soon! If you recognise the male guitarist it's because he was in Razorlight.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Austra #7 - Noisey Session

Some rather splendid videos were uploaded today featuring one of my (and the Internet's) most blogged about (and listened to) artists of 2011, Katie Stelmanis' latest project, electro outfit Austra. I've not actually posted about them since the release of their debut album, the outstanding 'Feel it Break' but I'm sure if you've read this blog for a period of time you'd have guessed I'd have loved the album...

From my introduction to Austra, the dark, brooding beat driven "Beat and the Pulse" to the second single, the more pop-friendly hooks of the stylised "Lose It", it's simply majestic. Other highlights are the enchanted melodies of "Spellwork", album opener "Darken Her Horse" which combines twinkling keys with an industrial rhythm and then "The Beast" which abandons the dance-oriented electronic synth which is so compelling music in favour of a piano ballad which fully utilises Katie's powerful, operatically trained voice. In summation, it's an essential album.

A typically irresistible and somewhat sexual performance, as someone interview says "She basically kills it". You can watch it in full here. As well as videos for "Lose It", "Beat and the Pulse", "Spellwork" and "Hate Crime" there are some interviews with the band and audience members from a home-town show in Toronto.

If that's all tickled your fancy, you can come and see Austra live at Cargo on Thursday July 7th - tickets. Other UK dates too. Can't wait.

Witch Gardens - New Music "Introducing"

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Witch Gardens bio states that the group are "four friends who love playing music together and writing songs in the kitchen of the modest home where ½ of the band live".

A distinctly raw and murky haze is a trademark of the groups lo-fi garage pop-rock sound. Reverb heavy, jangly guitars weave around like a spiders web. Sometimes indistinguishable, but saccharine sweet vocal harmonies are delivered with gusto and a muffled but prominent drum beat. It feels bedroom made and the approach is simplistic, sticking to a tried and tested formulae, exuberant energy over a brisk two minute stomp, but it's fun, enjoyable and with tracks such as "Shelly", "Small Darling Boy" and "Fiesta Texas" the girls and boy from Seattle could well be the next buzz band picked up by a Captured Tracks or Mexican Summer.

Their debut release 'Alice Agatha Branch & Christ' came out yesterday via a very limited cassette tape run (just 50) on Wonder Beard, you can get it here. Be quick, I doubt there are many left (at most 49!).

Listen below:
Witch Gardens - Fiesta Texas
Witch Gardens - So Many Parties
Witch Gardens - Shelly

Monday, 20 June 2011

Las Kellies - Kellies

Hot on the heels of seeing Costa Rican garage-rock band Las Robertas I went to see Argentina's Las Kellies (they seem to have added the 'Las' recently, their older branding simply Kellies) playing at White Heat last Tuesday. Las Kellies, just like Las Robertas the night before surfed up a wonderful blend of indie-reggae-punk-garage rock & roll, combining three way vocal interchanges in both English and Spanish during a compulsive, charming and highly energetic show.

In fact their setlist showed they scuttled through twenty-six tracks in their forty-five minute set-time, quite an incredible feat. I doubt anybody in attendance would deny the show was funky, fun and completely engaging. The energy generated by the girls was incredible, the prominent bass-lines were a definite highlight for me, all three girls were brilliant, clearly having a great time and at the end of the show I walked away happy and wishing they were playing London again soon. Unfortunately they are not, their brief UK tour is now over and the girls have moved on to France, hopefully they'll be back soon.

I only had enough cash with me to purchase one of their albums, I went with their most recent album, their third, 'Kellies' (released via Fire Records) and it's great (although I do slightly regret that now as I've not managed to track down a hard copy of their other releases online). I feel behind the times not picking up on Las Kellies sooner but I think outside of their native country the girls haven't really taken off (in fact I couldn't name a single other Argentinian band), well, perhaps until their recent signing with Fire and the released of 'Kellies' which has picked up some great reviews from both The 405 and Drowned in Sound.

When they both give and album 8/10, there is no point in me reviewing it in a far more amateur fashion, so I'll leave this rambling post with the promise that if you are looking for some good times, modern rock & roll pick yourself up a copy of 'Kellies' and listen to "Erase You", "Perro Rompebolas" or "Bling Bling". I promise you'll feel better for it.

las kellies - kellies - Prince In Blue
Kellies "Perro Rompebolas"

This video is amazing, watch:

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Ten Bands You Should See at Glastonbury 2011 Part Two

The second part of my bands to watch at Glastonbury, following on from part one here:

The Joy Formidable
     John Peel Tent, Sunday 26th, 14.00 - 14.45

Kicking off the second part of my tips to see at Glastonbury with any but a surprise for readers of this blog. The act I've seen the most live in the past twelve months, The Joy Formidable are (for me) the best live act currently on tour. The intensity created by the three members is extraordinary, their songs are fantastic, their album is one of the best albums since who knows.

Expect TJF to tear up the John Peel stage early on Sunday afternoon. Cannot wait.

Whirring by thejoyformidable

Lykke Li
      The Park, Sunday 26th, 20.00 - 21.00

I'm looking forward to seeing Lykke Li on The Park stage, it will be the first time I've seen her since the Rough Trade East show the same day her second album 'Wounded Rhymes' came out, I went to that show by chance, they'll be no chance I'm missing this one, the album has established itself as one of my favourites of the year.

Stunning, inventive pop tracks and some of the best beautiful ballads of the year with tracks like "Sadness is a Blessing" and "I Know Places", she is going to be amazing, Beyonce who?

Lykke Li - Sadness Is A Blessing

      John Peel Tent, Sunday 26th, 19.05 - 20.05

I'm expecting a qutie spectacular show from Hurts, despite struggling to get critical acclaim from some quarters the group have established themselves as a real hit with fans amassing some fervent fans, especially in Eastern Europe.

Their blend of theatrical operatic-pop, brooding demeanour and 80's grandiose styling is perhaps too flamboyant for some but after seeing them rise from their debut London show at Wilton's Music Hall to a Brixton Academy date I'm looking forward to seeing them on a big Glastonbury stage.

HURTS - Wonderful Life

      Oxlyers In West, Friday 24th, 15.00 - 15.40
      Chai Wallahs, Saturday 24th, 16.00 - 16.45
      Avalon Stage, Saturday 25th, 21.40 - 22.40

A hat-trick of official gigs (with at least one more at The Crows Nest) for Guillemots, a band I saw on the main stage back in 2007 (they've since fallen off the mainstream radar, perhaps partly at the bands doing thanks to their rather eccentric 'Red').

I said recently (here) just about everything I could about the band, so let's just say I'll see you at a couple of these Glasto shows.

Made-up Lovesong #43 by Guillemots

Special Guests
       The Park, Friday 24th, 20.00 - 21.15
       The Park, Saturday 25th, 19.45 - 21.00

It wouldn't be Glastonbury without some wild and wonderful rumours about who the special guests at The Park stage are going to be, some I think are wide of the mark, I can't see Arcade Fire playing when they are in Poland Friday and Luxembourg Sunday, of course I'm happy to be surprised. The Killers play in London Wed-Friday and although they could play for a fourth day in a row in Pilton, I can't see it happening.

My guesses? Well I think it's going to be Arctic Monkeys and Pulp. The Monkeys might be alright, I saw them headline in '07 and it was pretty rubbish though but on a smaller stage perhaps they'd be worth a viewing (although I'm not a fan of their new material) but the weekend could be made by a Glastonbury return for Jarvis et co. Why they aren't headlining the festival is Michael Eavis' business, I personally think they should be and I've got just about everything crossed that Pulp turn up and put on a phenomenal show during the weekend, if it's anything like the Primavera show, phenomenal it will be. See you there Jarvis?

Pulp - This is Hardcore

Still want more? Well if I was to make it 15 bands to see, I'd have recommend: Sea of Bees (The Park), Exlovers (Oxlyers in West), Deep Cut (BBC Introducing), Those Dancing Days (The Park) and Emily and the Woods (Acoustic). See you there.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Ten Bands You Should See at Glastonbury 2011 Part One

It's less than a week until Glastonbury 2011, like everyone else who writes a blog and is going to Somerset next week, here's a list of ten bands I think you should see... I'm not going to give a survival tips post, basically ignore everything it says in this Telegraph article and you'll do alright. Fingers crossed that this weather forecast is accurate too, after the horrendous weather of the past week I'll certainly take it.

Saying that, here are a few of my places to go tips. Firstly, the Crows Nest (up the hill at the back of The Park). I saw Mountain Man at the Crows Nest last year and it was amongst the highlights of my entire weekend, their schedule isn't announced yet but so far confirmed acts include Summer Camp and Guillemots.
Secondly, Strummerville, this isn't so secret anymore after some quite big bands took to stage around the late night campfire to play short sets. I saw Lissie and a few others here last year, the atmosphere was great and we may need the fire to keep us warm. I'll certainly be aiming to get myself in place for some bands rather than enduring the madness of late night Shangri-La.

I don't particularly think it's the best line-up ever this year (of course it's my opinion only), The John Peel stage bears only passing resemblance to the sort of music that its namesake would play, The Other Stage seemed to have been curated by someone who's done nothing but listen to Radio One this past year and The Pyramid, well the less said about it the better.

Thankfully with it being Glastonbury there are plenty of other stages to pick from and plenty of acts worth checking out, the smaller stages (especially The Park) have picked some pretty good acts to play, I've highlighted my first five picks below (with five more to follow tomorrow):

Caitlin Rose
     The Park, Friday 24th, 14.15 - 15.00
     Acoustic Stage, Sunday 26th, 14.00 - 14.45

Caitlin is back in our shores for quite a few festivals this summer starting with two sets at Glastonbury (though I'm hopefully she'll play one of the places I mentioned above too) and I cannot bloody wait to see her again, I've seen her ten times in the past twelve months and I'm yet to be disappointed, I know that's one word I won't be using to describe her show at Glastonbury.

The scheduling God's have not been kind to me and it's doubtful I'll make the Acoustic Stage show, but The Park on Friday afternoon, cannot wait. According to my geekery I've listened to her two and a half times more than the second most played act over the last twelve months, it's fair to say that 'Own Side' is firmly up there with my favourite ever albums.

Caitlin Rose - Shanghai Cigarettes

Esben and the Witch
     Oxlyers in West, Sunday 26th, 12:00 - 12:40

I shall finally be catching up with Esben and the Witch next week after being unable to make their last couple of London shows and I'm really looking forward to it. I've been obsessed with a recording of theirs from a recent Amsterdam show. The bass sounds like it killed the tapers headphones it was so heavy and in one of the renamed dance tents Esben will sound perfectly at home, if only the show was at twelve midnight instead of midday, nevertheless this show is un-missable.

One of my favourite albums of the year, expect to see it feature highly in my end of year lists. I meant to post about their incredible record store day release previously, if you haven't got the Chorea EP then rectify that as soon as possible, the b-side "Corridors Installation" (a reworking of one of the highlights of their debut EP) is 18 minutes in length and by far the best thing the band have ever done.

Esben and the Witch - Argyria

    The Park, Friday 24th, 16.45 - 17.45
    John Peel Tent, Saturday 25th, 16.50 - 17.40

Surprise! I think Warpaint have been at every festival I've attended so far this year and have made by 'bands to watch' list in every one as well, if you've seen the girls yourself then you'll know why I love them as much as I do.

On stage they always look to be having such fun, beautiful vocal interplays, extraordinary guitar play and have I mentioned Stella's drumming before? Yes, yes I think I have - it's incredible. Two shows equals twice the fund. One the highlights of the weekend is written right through Warpaint's sets.

Baby by warpaintwarpaint

Oh Land
     Club Henge, Friday 24th, 16.30 - 17.30   
     Rabbit Hole, Friday 24th, 22.30 - 00.00

I'll be giving Bono and co a wide-berth and although I can't see the Danish pop starlet performing for the allotted time of 90 minutes I'll be taking a trip to the bizarre underground club of The Rabbit Hole (well that's if I get the riddle right and then can fit through the tunnels!) to see Oh Land.

Her self-titled album is one of the pop albums of the year, the beautiful opener "Perfection" is delicate, graceful wonderful and then there are her hits "Sun of a Gun" and "Wolf & I" which will surely sound like real dance anthems in a little makeshift club in Glastonbury's Park area, I'm not sure some of the fans nearby watching Crystal Castles will agree, but sod them!

Oh Land - Sun of a Gun

Spotlight Kid
     BBC Introducing Stage, Friday 24th June, 18:00 - 18:25

A band I've had a post half written for about three months (I'll get it done soon I promise!), Spotlight Kid blasted their way onto my agenda after being hand-picked for a support slot with The Joy Formidable at Koko in early May (and Leeds).

Their new tracks are the best work I've heard from them to date, "Plan Comes Apart" will literally blow your socks off, frenetic pacing, a driving beat, loud and noisy guitar melodies, it's bloody brilliant. As is "Haunting Me", check that track out below and then see the band at the BBC Introducing stage on Friday evening before every magazine gets hold of them and calls them the 'saviour of the shoegaze genre', or something:

Haunting Me (Album version) - Spotlight Kid

Friday, 17 June 2011

Creatures of Love #2 - An Introduction to Creatures of Love


I first mentioned Creatures of Love on the back of seeing them in January, besides the odd supporting gig slot they've since been quietly working away at getting their debut release ready, and lo and behold now it is...

The aptly titled 'An Introduction to Creatures of Love' is released 18th July as a free download and extremely limited (just 66 copies) single track CD in 7" packaging via the CoL musicglue site, go ahead and order, but you probably shouldn't dilly-dally.

The track is magnificent, chiming keys, pounding electro beats and edgy guitar create a brooding, otherworldly ambience whilst Bonita's powerful, dramatic vocal strikes a chord, it's a real statement of intent.

Do check out the demo of "Barbitos" and "The Book Thief" too, incredible tracks. I'm looking forward to hearing the next releases already.

The band have been announced as first support for a certain band called The Joy Formidable on their upcoming tour (full dates here), there is headlining single launch show at Dalston's Servant Jazz Quarters on July 21st, I saw Fanfarlo there early last year and the place is tiny, so get down early (Facebook event details).

Creatures Of Love - An Introduction To Creatures Of Love
Creatures Of Love - Barbitos (Studio Demo)

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Amatorski - New Music "Introducing"


I'd not heard of Amatorski until a couple of weeks past (that's about as long as it takes for me to digest and post a new artist) though judging by the number of fans on their facebook (more than eight thousand) they've obviously got quite some following in their native Belgium.

Anyway, I don't really care about the number of followers on a social networking site, I'm here to say that they recently released their debut full length 'TBC' and it's more than worthy of your time, for fans of Portishead, Sigur Ros etc this Belgian group will be a perfect discovery (if of course, you'd not heard of them before), their sound is magical, perfectly crafted songs conveying a feeling of heartfelt emotional bliss.

Opening with the melancholic instrumental "Fading" which fills the air with a glockenspiel lullaby that reminds me a bit of that music-box tune you hear as you walk into the Haunted House at Alton Towers (if you've been you'll know what I mean). That's a good way of describing their sounds as well, at face value it's delicate and graceful but their is an undoubted dark edge amongst the tracks itching to be released, never more so than on the stunning "Soldier", arguably the best track on the album, where a trip-hop beat warbles through your speakers with its heavy bass throbs whilst dual vocals soar and elevate. On "22 Februar" haunted synthesisers bubble beneath lead singer Inne's gorgeous, ethereal vocals. It's evocative and completely compelling.

There are plenty of gut-wrenching moments, "Never Told" is a more simplistic piano led ballad where strings lead to a climactic, invigorating finale, it's spine tingling. "8 November" starts in a similar vein, with the addition of a sleepy drum beat, until at the midway point a cacophonous wall of instrumental noise interrupts the extraordinarily beautiful haze, then just as suddenly the dreamy lullaby resumes.

Move over chocolate, 'Amatorski might well be Belgium's best kept secret.

8.5 / 10

You can order a limited vinyl copy of the album here or get it digitally via bandcamp.

Soldier by amatorski
8 November by amatorski
22 Februar by amatorski

Echo Lake #2 - Another Day

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Yesterday I mentioned that Echo Lake are playing a single launch show at White Heat on July 19th (tickets through - the website doesn't currently list them as playing but the flyer does) and that I didn't know what the single was, well, today I do...

The good news is that it's for a brand spanking new release and the great news is that the a-side (I've not heard the b-side yet) is bloody excellent. 'Another Day' will be released through No Pain In Pop on 18th July, the best word I can think of to describe the song (and the London quintet) is luscious.

Linda's fragile vocals are perhaps higher in the mix and less distorted than on the 'Young Silence EP', I like it. "Another Day" is a perfect track for those hazy, hot summers days we're yet to have this summer (maybe the track should have been released in April when we seemed to have had our 'summer'!) with glistening guitars that gradually build up in intensity to a crashing crescendo of beautiful shoegaze-pop noise.

It's gorgeous, Love. Listen below:

Another Day by Echo Lake

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Las Robertas - New Music "Introducing" + Live at The Lexington / Facebook

Until Monday if I were to have been asked to name a band from Costa Rica my face would have gone blank, however I can now name one, and a very good one at that, Las Robertas hail from the Central American Country and I saw them play their debut UK show at probably my favourite London venue, The Lexington. I found myself there not to see Las Robertas (I'd not heard of them until that day) but Echo Lake.

My fourth time since February, the London group have really put together a perfect half hour slot, an exceptional introduction in "Sunday Evening" with it's droning hypnotising intensity and foot-stomping progressive beat. "Young Silence" is transformed with rattling percussion and layer upon layer of hazy, frenzied guitar and is utterly wonderful. A new stage set-up sees the focal point move onto guitarist Thom and his energetic and vastly competent display is certainly worth the admission alone. See them next 19th July playing White Heat for their single launch (not actually sure what the single is yet but that's what the poster said!).

Las Robertas could easily hail from Brooklyn or Los Angeles for it's easy to compare them to Vivian Girls or a heavy, scuzzier Best Coast with their garage-rock influences as they work through their songs at blistering pace, fuzzed up guitar riffs buzz off the walls backed by a crashing drum beat and wonderful vocal harmonies, their hazy sun drenched vibe and youthful exuberance warms up an increasingly busy Monday night crowd.

There are some early 90's grunge sounds too, gritty noise-pop numbers such as "V For You" and "The Curse" match scuzzy, shoegaze guitar soundscapes with some incredible drumming (full credit goes to the drummer Franco, his shirt might look horrendous but he's pretty spectacular behind his kit).

Las Robertas were simply wonderful, overwhelming charming in their humourous, if a little awkward stage presence (wouldn't you on stage in a Country for the first time) and I was happy to part with £10 for their CD after the show, they forgot the T-Shirts or I might have one of them too.

You can order that CD, their album 'Cry Out Loud' here - do it, and if you are at a loose end in London on Friday (or Brighton tomorrow) go and see them live at The Shacklewell Arms, who knows when they'll next return (though you can safely say I'll be there when they do).

Las Robertas - The Curse
Las Robertas - In Between Buses
Tele - Las Robertas

Airship - Kids

I know I say this a lot, but I really do mean it when I say I thought I'd previously done a post on Airship. I appear to have dreamt it, I've seen them five times supporting The Joy Formidable over a couple of different tours over the last 18 months and they gradually impressed me more and more. I've put a link to stream "Algebra" below, that was the song I enjoyed the most live.

If you've read this blog for a while you may have noticed that I've been gradually moving away from the more typical indie based set-up in favour of folk/electro/noise-pop etc, so it's refreshing to actually return to my roots and listen to some up-tempo thrashing guitar noise.

"Kids" is their new single, released this week, it's a delightful pop-rock track (though it could be treading close to the dreaded radio-friendly words of "anthemic"), piled with guitar-noise with a message of rediscovering your childhood somewhere amongst the propelling drum beat and breakneck pacing, the overall theme is something perhaps we could do with taking note of, though to be honest, I can't see me going into the woods and building a den this coming weekend!

Their debut album "Stuck In The Ocean" is due later this year. Listen below:

Airship - Kids
Algebra - Airship

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Dead Slow - New Music "Introducing"


I've not been able to find out too much info on London based duo Dead Slow, a new group comprised of Josh Cohen and Alanna McArdle. A quick glance at their facebook tells me that their influences are Pixies, Sonic Youth etc and their sound is lo-fi alternative / dark-pop.

Instead of an endless prose about how they met, what they had for dinner yesterday and their favourite colours, I'll let the music do the talking:

Listening to the demos of "This House" and "Hunting" it's easy to compare them with xx and why not, with luscious minimalist beats, gentle, intricate guitar strokes and smooth female vocals the tracks are simply delicious. Introspective, intimate and beautiful. Dead Slow might be unknown to many now, I doubt that will be the case for much longer. "Sleep" is just gorgeous, the subtle, melancholic mood is crying out to be your solitary night-time soundtrack which equally soothes and send shivers down your spine.

"M" and "Q" are slightly heavier, fuzzier, entering a grungy, ambient trip-hop sound which is equally breathtaking whilst Alanna's vocal retain an ethereal beauty that you can do nothing but fall for.

They play their first ever show at Brixton Windmill on July 7th (shame it clashes with Austra or I'd have definitely checked it out) - if you fancy going, ticket link is:

Listen below:
Sleep by Dead Slow
This House by Dead Slow
M by Dead Slow

Monday, 13 June 2011

Stealing Sheep #2 - I Am The Rain /

I did a short Introducing piece on Liverpool's Stealing Sheep as long ago as last November, that came as a big surprise to me as I thought it was much more recent... The girls have since released two EP's on 7" Vinyl, 'The Mountain Dogs' in February and more recently 'I Am The Rain' towards the back end of May, the latter is probably their best work to date (order links via bandcamp).

The four tracks offer an eclectic variety of sounds, opener "Noah's Days" starts with an ominous, haunting key-line and doom-laden drum punches which exhibit a dark, eerie atmosphere that hovers around the edge of much of the EP before it sweeps into a rousing finale of chanty choruses.

Next up is the psychedelic title track "I Am The Rain", it's simply joyous, built around a rhythmic drum beat and tambourine, it has a gorgeous swirling melody and the trademark Stealing Sheep three-way harmonies are simply beautiful, it's enchanting and far too brief at just two minutes in duration.

"Bats" is pretty bonkers, intricate guitar twangs play around eccentric vocal arrangements and hand claps, it's every but wonderful as insane. Though if that was hard to explain then the closing track "Secrets" is impossible, starting with a lush keys and delicate vocals before synth glitches and all sort of oddities occur, psychedelic breaks and a reprising of the title track. It's fun, well-crafted and most importantly quite brilliant.

The girls have certainly raised the bar with 'I Am The Rain', they continue to redefine their own sound, moving slightly away from the folkish charm of their debut with a melange of influences and stylings. Their gig-listing page has lots of gigs including a mainland Europe tour, most exciting for me are the Glastonbury date, one with Smoke Fairies at Barfly in August and this Sunday (19th June) where the girls headline a Sheltered event at Hoxton Bar & Grill.

I Am The Rain by Red Deer Club Recordings
Stealing Sheep - Mountain Dogs by Forte Distro
Noah's Days by Red Deer Club Recordings

Stealing Sheep - I Am The Rain from MCR Scenewipe on Vimeo.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Silent Portraits - New Music "Introducing" /

I don't have much to tell you about Silent Portraits, it's another project shrouded in anonymity, reading between the lines I gather that it's a one-woman project based in Berlin. A website which compromises solely of videos for her track leads to her myspace(!) giving the only insights with following in her bio "I improvise little tunes mostly at night" and "sounds like: a giant star run out of fuel".

It's a pretty accurate description for the half dozen or so tracks available for free download via her bandcamp / soundcloud, introduce an intoxicating blend of deeply melancholy and ambient soundscapes with sparse echoed instrumentation and a ghostly vocal washed in reverb.

Hauntingly fragile and beautiful, the mood is sparse and intimate, perfect for those long, dark hours of self reflection. Listen to some of my picks below, "Mama" is certainly worth two and a half minutes of your time:

Silent Portraits 'Mama' by Silent Portraits
Silent Portraits 'Fact Leaves Its Ghost' by Silent Portraits
Silent Portraits 'Stranger To You' by Silent Portraits

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Mire Kay - New Music "Introducing" / Facebook

Mire Kay is Swedish duo Emelie Molin and Victoria Skoglund, they released their first release 'Fortress' in April (I could pretend I knew they were together in a band name Audrey but I didn't) and it's pretty lovely...

Containing five tracks, the soft vocals harmonise with a distinct Scandinavian twang whilst the girls ethereal folk sounds switch between rich orchestral instrumentations and melancholic but relaxing melodies. The EP is beautifully crafted, delicate and soothing to listen too, it's a perfect accompaniment for a damp, apparent summers' evening, where my mind is wandering with thoughts of a nice rest on the sofa.

You can stream and purchase the entire EP via bandcamp and via purchase a CD/10" here. Listen to the EP's stand-out  "So You Learned" below:

Friday, 10 June 2011

Clytem Scanning #3 - Armada Review

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I've been as patient as I can remember (musically) with my purchasing of Clytem Scanning's debut LP 'Armada', I really wanted a vinyl copy of the album which was delayed in manufacturer (since April!), so I've been waiting, having to cope with streaming the album from Marianne's bandcamp page until... yesterday when we got the great news that the vinyl is now ready to order (I shall be ordering my copy over the weekend) - you can order it here.

I've said how much I love "Massue" before (here - check out "Stabilise" too!). I do, it' propulsive industrial beat is intense, addictive, brilliant. Marianne's vocal pierces through and then there are the crunching, dirty, sludge-like guitar riffs. It's one of the best electro tracks I've heard this year. If it was on the Austra album every hipster in London would be going crazy for it, it's not, it's on the release of this Parisian lady instead, no big deal, let's make them go crazy for her too.

Clytem Scanning follows a wave of independent female artists blending visual and musical art forms with stylish and compelling results, yes the obvious Knife / Planningtorock / Fever Ray comparisons can be made, though like another of my favourite new artists from the left-field realm, Gazelle Twin, Clytem Scanning is definitely her own woman, this album is her vision.

'Armada' is no one-trick pony, "Palace of the Others", "Dance with Nereids" and "The Body Solderer" continue with the similar vein of dark, brooding electronica that makes "Massue" so good. Mechanical pulses, rhythmatic loops and random (as I called them previously) 'Terminator style' glitches and noise, it creates an intimidating atmosphere, the result is menacing, hypnotic and brilliant. Deafening too when you play it as loud as it should be, in some dimly light underground club if by chance you happen to own one (thought not!).

"In The Line of Moebius", "Taiga" are more dance-oriented tracks and see Marianne enter a more Bjork-esque eccentricity, whereas "Eau Triste" is a haunting melancholic ballad, a total change from what comes before it, allowing her beautiful voice to really shine through.

There are more tricks up her sleeve. Closing track "Gyo" is mesmerising, if damn right cold and foreboding, a demented organ echoes throughout (there is even room for a saxophone solo) whilst Marianne's vocal chills the air closing the album with the sombre feel of a funeral procession for the dead. It's a bold ending after nine previous tracks of dark, yes, but synth driven beats, one I think works amazingly and which highlights the creative freedom that Marianne gave herself whilst creating 'Armada'.

I love it. I need a London show, please come soon - I'll promote it to the hilt! 9 / 10

This album is stunning, don't take my work for it, order 'Armada' now via: Digital, CD, Vinyl.

Samples below:
Clytem Scanning - The Body Solderer
Clytem Scanning - Gyo
Massue by Clytem Scanning

This bedroom made video is how I discovered Clytem Scanning, watch and allow your jaw to drop:

Clytem Scanning 'Massue' from Miss Lois Iron on Vimeo.

Guillemots - I Must Be A Lover / Facebook

I'm actually surprised I've never given Guillemots a post of their own, I've mentioned Fyfe's solo album a couple of times and I picked Guillemots as one of my bands to see at The Great Escape 2011 (I never actually made it to see them, instead I saw EMA play to about 50 people) but this is the first time I've covered just them, sorry for the delay!

Their debut EP 'From The Cliffs' blew me away back in early 2006, I first saw them play KCLSU in March that year (supported by the incredible Misty's Big Adventure) and proceeded to see them six or seven times leading up to Glastonbury 07, I was in love. They followed the EP (if you've not got it, get it - "Over the Stairs", "Cats Eyes", "Who Left The Lights Off, Baby?", "My Chosen One" - all excellent) with a breathtaking first album 'Through The Windowpane'.

It was simply stunning, most obviously perhaps with tracks carried over from the EP, the joyous "Trains to Brazil" and "Made Up Lovesong #43". The latter must be one of the most beautiful songs of the last ten years. The album was more than the sum of those two parts though, with excellent numbers such as the title track, "We're Here" and the albums epic closure "São Paulo", which at eleven minutes long is an emotional journey well worth taking.

From that same era were two utterly wonderful demo's, I'm not sure what's become of them, they're worth tracking down because they are two of my favourite Guillemots tracks, the aching beauty of "Cold Cool Moon" and "Sea Out", one of the most spine-tingling piano ballads you are ever likely to hear. Also from their prolific early period check out "By The Water" with Aristazabal on vocals and "The Rising Tide", both from the 'Of the Night EP'.

All that made it quite a surprise that I never connected with the follow-up 'Red'. "Kriss Kross", "Falling Out Of Reach" and a few over tracks aside, I just found it too eclectic for my tastes, the band are exceptional musicians as ever, but I don't know, I just didn't get it.

Anyway, that's enough reminiscing, the reason for this post is to tell you that I am back in love with the band. Their third album 'Walk The River' (buy) is wonderful, if predominately washed in a melancholic gloom (though if you scanned the tracks I've picked as favourites, that seems to be my favourite!). The openers really pull you in, "Walk The River", "Vermillion" and in particular "I Don't Feel Amazing Now", which is their most sumptuous ballad since that first album. "The Basket" is great too, fuzzy guitars mean it's a departure from those openers and it's a direction I'm all for.

What prompted this lesson through my history of Guillemots releases was not to prepare you for an exam, but to tell you that they are soon to release their excellent new single "I Must Be A Lover" (out 3rd July), you can watch / listen below. Do that, it's definitely the track that lets the most sunshine in from the album and is as captivating a pop song as you'll hear this year, climaxing with a joyous, uplifting chorus.

Here's the video, Fyfe is wearing a nice(?) suit and has had a haircut too (perhaps the John Lewis money has come through?!), check out the back steps at the end too:

Guillemots - I Must Be A Lover (single edit) by Guillemots
Trains to Brazil by Guillemots
Kriss Kross by Guillemots