Sunday, 30 October 2011

Blouse #3 - An Interview With

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We might be heading towards the run-in as far as 2011 releases go and soon, no doubt, we'll be faced with the usual annual barrage of 'best of lists' (this blog will be no different), but the year, which I think has been a fabulous one for new music, still holds a few aces up its sleeves, one of them is the self-titled debut LP by Portland's Blouse which is released November 1st (US) / 7th (UK).

I've been following Blouse since they put the hypnotic "Into Black" on their bandcamp page about a year ago now, it's still as seductive and beautiful as when I first heard it. We've also previously heard the intoxicating "Firestarter" and the woozy, retro feel of "Videotapes",  the latest preview is "Time Travel" which is more new wave than the dream-pop tag that the trio have been labelled with, shadowy synth blares, a hypnotic percussive pulse and deep bass-lines combine with the slightly detached feeling of Charlie's soft, alluring vocals. Immerse yourself in its beauty, you won't regret it.

Patrick was kind enough to answer some questions for me which you can read below:

What inspired you to start making music?

Patrick - Charlie had just moved to town from Los Angeles and I wasn’t playing with anyone. We gave each other our music in graphic design school. So I guess we inspired each other to start making music.

Of your own songs, which are you proudest of and what track is the most fun to play live? 

Patrick - I’m proud of all of them, but the most fun song to play live is always changing. I’d say right now my favorite is probably Time Travel.

Which artists do you feel have influenced your work and continue to do so? 

Patrick - When we started the band we found a mutual appreciation for bands like The Velvet Underground, Galaxie 500, Suicide, and My Bloody Valentine. I think we are all influenced by different styles of music. We still have an appreciation for 80’s new wave, shoegazy, dreamy-pop.. We are definitely not stuck in a genre and will continue to make different styles of music as we continue on.

Which song do you wish you had written? 

Patrick - Because “Careless Whisper” by Wham! is playing at the bar I’m at right now. I’m gonna say that song. Or I at least wish I had written that sax part.

What's the best gig you've attended in recent memory? Or a band that you’ve played with who impressed you? 

 Patrick - We played in New York with Unknown Mortal Orchestra. They are totally ridiculous live. Amazing to see what a three piece with no backing tracks or frills can do. I totally got into the new Twin Sister album after we played with them.. but they were pretty compelling live.

If you were to curate an ATP event, who would you want to invite along? 

Patrick - I think Captured Tracks deserves an ATP event. So I’d invite all Captured Tracks bands. Ha, ha... sounds like I’m sucking up to the label.. But there is some great diversity between bands at Captured. Mike and Katie have some amazing taste.

Recommend an artist that isn’t getting the attention they deserve. 

Patrick - I feel like these days there are so many bands out there it’s all about what people are willing to put into it. If a band isn’t getting attention by putting up their mp3’s then they should go shoot a music video themselves and edit it to their music. They should record better versions of their laptop projects. Or they should record a laptop version of their studio track. It’s all about content. If a band doesn’t feel like their getting the attention they deserve they should create more.

*****

Many thanks to Patrick and Blouse for taking the time to answer my questions. You can pre-order the album here (US) or here (UK). I'm certainly not going to disagree with his comments re Captured Tracks, definitely one of the best labels out there. Typically after an interview I do a small playlist of artists and tracks mentioned and this one is no different, with a distinct CT theme. Enjoy:






Saturday, 29 October 2011

Rachel Sermanni #4 - The Fog

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There's a small handful of singer-songwriters who regularly seem to show up on this blog, one of them is the unbelievably talented Rachel Sermanni, the young Scottish singer is undoubtedly one of my favourite new voices and I'm yet to hear anything that detracts me from the opinion that she's set for amazing things, especially when a new track drops as good as "The Fog".

It's the first taster of Rachel's debut EP 'Black Currents', due for release January 30th (you can buy Rachel's 'The Worthy Sessions EP' for five British pounds here) and it's frankly stunning, starting with a genteel meandering acoustic and Rachel's entrancing voice it soon grows wings and turns into this emotional, defiant beauty backed by strong instrumentation throughout. Looking forward to hearing the rest.

That was enough to excite me by itself but on the same day I also got the news that Rachel and Russian Red are to play a couple of shows together at the turn of the year, I think it's Lourdes' first ever UK shows. Consider me as giddy as a goose! Honestly, cannot wait for this one, especially as it's at the stunning Union Chapel - get your tickets now. (They also play Glasgow together the day before - details).

Rachel spends the next month on tour throughout Europe support Fink (full dates can be seen here).

Listen:
The Fog by Rachel Sermanni

This live version is just spectacular, one listen and you'll understand my praise and why she's got this uncanny knack of turning an audience silent:

Friday, 28 October 2011

Evans The Death - New Music "Introducing"

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Being somewhat of a gig whore around London clashes are part and parcel of my life but this past Tuesdays was particularly annoying because four new bands who I'd have loved to have seen play were all on at the same time, two at each gig, I don't regret my decision to go and see only the second ever gig from Carousels and the London debut of Battlekat - both were bloody excellent and firmly on my 'to see' (mental) list but I do wish I could have a clone sometimes because further north at Camden Barfly, the simply fantastic Dead Slow were playing along with Evans The Death (who I believe they now share a member).

Evans The Death have been snapped up by Fortuna Pop! and have treated us to a song which didn't make the album cut, sounds like you're in for something a bit shit then... fear not, it's great, "Hello Seems To Be The Hardest Word" is a thunderous, ramshackle pop belter. Urgent and heavy guitar riffs speed along while the identifiable vocals of Katherine Whitaker are rich and damn-right sexy.

For further proof of this talented London five piece check their recent, debut single "I’m So Unclean", a deep bass-line, scatter gun drum beats and lyrics (with a voice to match) that could easily be the female version of Morrissey (before he completely lost the plot) makes for a wonderful, thumping slant on melodious indie-pop. 'Ones to watch 2012' lists await. You can order that single on iTunes or on white vinyl 7".

Evans The Death - Hello Seems To Be The Hardest Word by Fortuna POP!

Evans the Death - I'm So Unclean (Fortuna Pop!)

Thursday, 27 October 2011

IOOOIO - New Music "Introducing"

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A few days ago I said the UK is at the forefront of an 80's revival with at least a handful of acts channelling enormous, pop-noir soundscapes through dark, brooding synths and powerful vocals.

If that's the case then Scandinavia has been Queen of quirky, electro-dance / pop for many a year. Ever since The Knife burst onto the scene waves of our Nordic cousins have been combining afro-rhythmic drums, throbbing metallic beats and distorted vocals to stunning effects, no better than Karin herself with her Fever Ray project and more recently, Battlekat (who after seeing live on Tuesday night, I can confirm are the real deal - amazing) and iamamiwhoami (UK shows needed!), the latest off the conveyor belt could well be Sweden's IOOOIO (don't ask me how the hell you pronounce it!) and their first track, the wonderful "Adventure".

I'm not getting into a debate about the name right now instead I'll stick with the track, "Adventure", a quite stunning electronic track, a sci-fi dance pulse with smooth beats and a beautiful female vocals, I don't really have any information to share on the band, so for now just enjoy this track. Listen below and buy on iTunes then sit with the masses waiting for more.

IOOOIO - Adventure by IOOOIO


IOOOIO - Adventure from IOOO IO on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Chromatics - Kill For Love

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'Kill for Love' is the absolutely luscious new single by Chromatics, the first taster of their new album of the same name which is due January next year via the purveyors of cool, sexy, synth-pop Italians Do It Better.

"Kill for Love" has Chromatics signatures right through it, the hazy, melancholic air and the soft, ethereal vocals of Ruth Radelet seem on top of the mix whilst Johnny Jewel's slow paced beats and production twinkles and shines.

It's just blissful, perfect for those late, late night moments, you can decide which type. "Kill For Love is available to download now from iTunes to tide you over until the album next year.

Listen below:
CHROMATICS / KILL FOR LOVE by ITALIANS DO IT BETTER

Summer Camp #6 - Down + More

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The wonderful Summer Camp release their long awaited debut next week and this post acts as a summary of various updates from the band, I'll start with news that if you want to pledge to receive a signed copy of their debut album, a CD of demos, handwritten lyrics and a whole host of other exclusives you've only got three more days to do so - go to Pledge Music and find something to suit just about anyone and any budget.

The band have released a seasonally themed Halloween video for new track "Down", it's a song I can remember being a highlight of the show when I first saw the band way back in June 2010 supporting Slow Club, of course I didn't know it was called "Down" then, in fact I don't remember the Down bit at all but I do recall the infectious "my life, your life" and the wonderful scuzzy riff, it sticks in my memory alongside fellow album track "1988" as being the highlights of that early show, since of course I've found many more. "Down" confirms the duo's knack at seamlessly combining irresistibly catchy melodies with heart-warming vocals, the perfect mood enhancing track, though not exactly the song I'd turn to for a "spooky" Halloween party.

You can also download (as always for free) a typically wonderful session from Daytrotter that contains four tracks offering a perfect cross section of the Summer Camp catalogue thus far and also a cover of Wreckless Eric's "Whole Wide World", the highlight of which is a stunning piano and vocal version of "I Want You", transforming the track into a haunting ballad that adds a real sense of drama and shows that there is so much more to the sugar-coated retro synth-pop which first put them into the blogosphere.

Edit - If you can't wait for the release of 'Welcome to Condale' next week, you can stream the album in full, via Prefix Mag right now, head here to listen to all twelve sexual tracks.

Down by Summer Camp
Summer Camp - I Want You (Daytrotter Session)

Monday, 24 October 2011

Curxes - New Music "Introducing"

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The UK is definitely the forefront of an early 80's influenced synth-pop revival movement and if the world was a fairer place Brighton duo Curxes would find themselves on Top of the Tops alongside a new wave of pop-noir / electronic acts like Alpines, Creatures of Love and Paper Crows.

The reality of course is that TotP is confined to the doldrums, Simon Cowell manufactured twaddle rules the roost and at the time of writing Curxes have just 162 fans on Facebook (go change that please) in comparison to Cher Lloyd's 1.75 million. Thankfully, if you reading this you belong in the former universe too.

Back to Curxes, they've been together for about a year and have a couple of tracks available on iTunes now, I've streamed a couple of my favourites below. "Creatures" channels the haunting, seductive vocals of Siouxsie with atmospheric, industrial pop rhythms and pounding beats that come at you from all directions that recall a sound somewhere between The Human League and Depeche Mode at their prime.

"Jaws" evolves into a fabulously intense pop track that has incredible dance floor crossover potential thanks to the icy, brooding dramatics delivered by Roberta Fidora's incredible vocals and the intensity of Macaulay Hopwood's punchy, metallic synths. "Once Upon a Time" doesn't want to embed but you should definitely listen to it as it's perhaps their strongest track to date, a thumping soundtrack with an unnerving, chilling pulse and then, just when you think the duo are only capable of monstrous beats and powerhouse vocals comes "Spires", which let's Roberta's vocals truly shine, genuinely breathtaking.

Curxes play a Halloween show on Sunday October 30th at London's The Bowery, the band are on first and it's an early show (tickets) so get down early, if I'm back from visiting family I'll do the same.

Jaws by CURXES
Creatures by CURXES

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Palmz - New Music "Introducing"

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So this past week I fell in love again, the latest source of my undying affection is Palmz, a band born and bred in California and led by Lexie Corfiatis, their nostalgic, dream pop music is one of the best things to drop in my mailbox since God knows...

If you're ready to be seduced, recall memories of simpler times when life's biggest dilemmas were what to wear and whether the girl you like liked you back then I suggest starting with "Teenage Heartthrob", a hazy, languid guitar and drum beat melody create a yesteryear pop ambiance while Lexie's sugar-sweet, laid-back vocal delivery melts your heart.

"Nothing in the Universe is Lost" similarly is effortlessly charming, breezy sun-tinged hooks, cool and simple, a blissful pure pop track, my favourite though is perhaps "I Will Never, Ever, EVER, Feel Again", a wistful, heartfelt ballad with these gorgeous guitar solos and Lexie's dreamy vocal delivery. Definitely call it love.

So, if you fancy a bit of retro, distinctly American pop music, listen below. Tracks can be purchased from bandcamp now.

Lanterns on the Lake #7 - Long Long Long

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Lanterns on the Lake can't do much wrong as far as I'm concerned, as well as their spellbinding debut full-length 'Gracious Tide, Take Me Home', a real album of the year contender the North-East sextet have contributed a track to a compilation CD on this months MOJO magazine (and also includes Emmy The Great covering "All Those Years Ago"). The track, a cover of the George Harrison penned Beatles track "Long Long Long", it's beguiling in its beauty too, as ever masterfully produced, adding their signature cinematic soundscapes and heart-tugging emotion awash in achingly gorgeous vocals and sweeping strings to the pensive track that (and I'm no Beatles guru) is perhaps one the Harrison's most underrated tracks.

Lanterns November date at The Lexington has sold out already so the band have announced a new year date at Cargo, 12th January 2012, you can get tickets for that here and see the rest of the November tour dates over on the Lanterns on the Lake website.

Lanterns On The Lake - Long Long Long (The Beatles cover)

Here's the video the the breathtaking single "Keep on Trying":

Lanterns on the Lake - Keep on Trying from oof video on Vimeo.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Seapony #5 - Sailing

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The is an aptly timed posting for my Seapony 'Go With Me' vinyl arrived from Rough Trade just yesterday (available for just £11.99 with mp3's and a rather amusing sticker on, amusing but with a serious undertone - keep physical products alive), this isn't about that LP though, I've mentioned tracks from it a few times (search label for more), it's delicious. This update is to tell you that there is no stopping the Seattle indie bliss-poppers, now expanded to a four-piece, a follow up release 'Sailing', a stand-alone 7" single is released November 22nd via Hardly Art.

You can listen to the a-side below, "Sailing" is a wistful continuation of their breathtakingly beautiful sound, Seapony like to keep things simple yet "Sailing" sees the band expanding their arsenal slightly with the addition of blissful xylophone and acoustic guitar melodies whilst dropping some of the fuzzy, jangled indie pop that exemplified their debut. Melancholic, tranquil and dreamy, "Sailing" is the perfect anti-dote for evenings like these where a glimpse out of the window quickly tells you that winter's a comin' and if you're anything like me, you're sitting at home still nursing the previous days overindulgences.

Seapony - Sailing by hardlyartrecords

Do check out the video to one of the gems from 'Go With Me', "Where We Go":


Seapony - Where We Go from Hardly Art on Vimeo.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Underground Railroad - 8 Millimetres

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Underground Railroad are my no means a new band though the Parisian / London based trio didn't reach my radar until this, their latest single release, "8 Millimetres" is utterly captivating, a bluesy melody with an brooding vocal harmonies and heavy guitars which create a seductive, psychedelic atmospheric beauty.

'8 Millimetres' was released on Monday as a digital single via One Little Indian Records (purchase at iTunes) ahead of a vinyl releas of third album 'White Night Stand' which is due October 24th via Tiger Trap or available digitally at iTunes now.

The band are on tour in the UK right this moment, I've included a handy picture detailing the remaining dates to the left, attendance is advised if the band are about to hit your town.

Underground Railroad - 8 Millimetres



Throwing Up - New Music "Introducing"

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I'm ill, call it a week long hangover after overdoing it last weekend. I've learnt my mistakes and have reconsidered a similar venture this week, at my age, it's probably for the best! Being ill and miserable what better than some frenetic, snarly garage-punk to blast the germs away, London trio Throwing Up offer just that (I am actually ill, there is no 'throwing up' joke to follow).

Their latest single is "Mother Knows Best", a raucous blast of infectious, fuzzed up grunge that certainly doesn't over stay it's welcome, it's released next week on US label What's Your Rupture? and will be able to be purchased in the bands shop here. You can download "Medicine" for free below, similarly energetic and catchy, fast punching drums and even faster scuzzed up guitar riffs, I'm new to Throwing Up but if their live show is as equally fun as their records then I'm ready to grab a beer and dance around.

Throwing Up - Mother Knows Best by Whiteboard Publicity
Throwing Up - Medicine by Whiteboard Publicity

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Chelsea Wolfe #4 - Nick Cave Cover / Mer Video

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Chelsea Wolfe is easily one of my favourite discoveries of 2011, I've talked about her two releases at length already so I'll avoid repetition here (though if you are interested search the label), instead here is a two part update, firstly a video has been released for "Mer", a stand-out from 'Apokalypsis', the surreal video fits the hypnotic darkness of the song perfectly, floating somewhere between Wicker Man camp and Italo horror it's equal parts alluring and creepy. Watch;



Then, this quite frankly, fucking amazing cover version of Nick Cave's "I Let Love In" has been circulating around the internet for a few weeks, so naturally I'm slow on the uptake. It keeps the same melody as the original version yet Chelsea stamps her own stamp on the dark, anti-romantic story. Underneath a layer of murky fuzz is this haunting, mysterious and compellingly beautiful lament. Listen below:

Chelsea Wolfe - "I Let Love In (Nick Cave cover)" by Creeping Wave

Order her albums via Pendu Sound. Live UK shows please:

i-N Session w/ Chelsea Wolfe from Anna Dobos on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Battlekat #2 - Debut EP Release

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It's been a while since I brought an update on Just a Number 052711, since, the cryptic name which they originally went by turned out to be the date when they officially announced themselves as Battlekat and confirmed rumours that they were from Scandinavia (it wasn't too hard to predict they weren't from Isle of Man - though the rumours of Karin Dreijer Andersson's involvement appear unfounded). Denmark, Copenhagen to be precise.

They are about to release their first EP, '0527201110242011', unsurprisingly given its title on October 24th via Good Tape Records. You can listen to two of the tracks below, both are incredible, "All The Useless Things" continues along a similar vein to the earlier tracks we've heard, combining radio-friendly electronica and experimental mysticism, its relentless, thumping beat might just be the best thing I've heard from them so far. Mother Nature" is edgier and atmospheric, a sonic assault of throbbing synth glitches, tropical beats and Matilde's eerie, filtered yowls. If you were sitting on the fence waiting for more tracks to judge them on then prepare to be blown away.

Battlekat play their first UK shows next week, they are:

23/10 SWN Festival, Wales
25/10 White Heat @ Madame Jo Jo, London - http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/user/?region=gb_london&query=detail&event=461136
27/10 JaJaJa @ Lexington, London - http://www.wegottickets.com/event/137241
29/10 The Nest, London

ALL THE USELESS THINGS - RADIO EDIT by Battlekat
MOTHER NATURE by Battlekat

Watch a live version of "Mother Nature" below, think it sounds even better. I'm pretty excited about the White Heat gig and it will also be my first time seeing Carousels who'll definitely be on my short-list for acts to watch in 2012.

Stealing Sheep #3 - Noah & The Paper Moon

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The last time I saw Stealing Sheep was a strange one, at The Station Sessions in London's St Pancras station, whilst thousands upon thousands of commuters stream past a makeshift stage three Liverpool based musicians play unconventional psychedelic pop-folk, it shouldn't work but it does (although it passes by those too attached to their iPhones and Blackberry's).

Track forward a few months and the girls have shared stages with Slow Club and toured with Emmy The Great, now comes the exciting new that Stealing Sheep have been picked up by Heavenly Records who'll release a retrospective EP "Noah & The Paper Moon" on October 24th ahead of an album in early 2012 (pre-order at Piccadilly Records), the six track release contains most of the tracks on their previous 7" releases that I talked about in June and new track "Paper Moon" which you can listen to below and download (along with two other tracks) for the cost of an email address here.

If you've yet to fall for the trio's mystical and undeniably sweet charms then "Paper Moon" is a great entry point, off-kilter rhythms, hand-claps and whimsical melodies all swathed in beautiful harmonies and tribal drums add up to a track that is equally  entrancing and brilliantly fun.

The girls have a few London shows coming up, including support slots with The Fixers, Lulu & The Lampshades and a Huw Stephens presents shows - full details on facebook. Will definitely make at least one of them!

 Stealing Sheep 'Paper Moon'
Stealing Sheep 'Your Saddest Song' (Live at Maida Vale Studios)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Bleached #2 - Searching Through The Past

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Bleached have wasted no time whatsoever lining up their third 7" single "Searching Through The Past" which is due for release (and available to pre-order via Suicide Squeeze Records) on November 28th, you can listen to the title track below, continuing with the Clavin sisters new direction of energetic, breezy pop.

"Searching Through The Past" has a distinctly nostalgic vibe where lightly fuzzed guitars and rat a tat drums combine to create a melody so catchy that you'll be tapping your foot along before you know it,  the infectious choruses would be perfect to soundtrack your summer beach party, perhaps we'll have to move to Australia to make that happen!


Bleached - Searching Through The Past

Here is the video to previous single "Think of You":

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Whirr #2 - June

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Whirr (formerly blogged under their old name Whirl - a lawsuit forced them to change) return with a limited 7" 'June', you can listen to the lead track "Junebouvier" below, it's bloody brilliant too, the San Francisco six piece have recently signed to Tee Pee Records and this is their first release with them (limited to 250 copies and can be order from the label direct).

"Junebouvier" is genuinely outstanding, any fan of melodic shoegaze should love this, a punching drum beat kicks through whilst a wall of beautiful textured guitars and hazy vocals melt your heart. Their debut full length is due next year and is definitely one to be excited about.

Whilst you are at it, pick up their exceptional 'Distressor EP' on beautiful vinyl (with an even more beautiful bum on the front) for just £8.00 here.

Whirr-Junebouvier

Friday, 14 October 2011

Golden Grrrls - New Music "Introducing"

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One of my favourite new London based labels is Night School Records, it's ran my a man who devotes much of his time and resources to the music he cares about and this, his labels fifth release, and second by Glasgow noise-pop trio Golden Grrrls, is another gem.

A-side "New Pops" certainly doesn't hang around, played at breakneck speed, purposely sloppy drums, fuzzy, jangly guitars and dual melodious vocals, it comes to a delightful conclusion in under two minutes.

If anything flip side "Red Sea" is even better, a slight reduction in velocity and increase in sweetness sees lush vocal harmonies and infectious guitar riffs get inside your head building up to a cacophony of colliding noise and messed up drums.

The limited (to 300 copies) 7" is due for release on November 14th and can be ordered here, the last Night School Golden Grrrls 7" is now sold-out, so if this takes your fancy don't hang around too long.

Golden Grrrls - Red Sea by NightSchool
Golden Grrrls - New Pops by NightSchool

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Caitlin Rose #19 - Own Side Now Vinyl Release

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I've been waiting for this one for a while... It maybe about 15 months since the release of Caitlin Rose's debut 'Own Side Now' (in the UK) but that doesn't stop it still being my most played record, my (still) favourite album of 2010 by a long stretch is very soon to be released on gatefold vinyl via ATO Records. You can order it from Caitlin's website here and you'll receive a bonus 7" containing two of my live favourites, Caitlin's covers of "Faithless Love" by Linda Ronstadt and "Marie" by Randy Newman (where's "Young Blood"?!).

If you've been on this blog before you'll have no doubt read a couple of my numerous gushing posts about the album and her music so I'll leave this post to the point. If you are state-side, Caitlin is back on the road with a two week long US tour in a couple of weeks, you should go - full dates. Here is a recently released clip of Caitlin at Rough Trade East last September, the third or fourth time I saw her (thankfully I don't make any impromptu crowd appearance). Can't embed it for some reason, it's more than worth your time.

If you've been on Mars, listen below:
Caitlin Rose - Own Side
Caitlin Rose - Shanghai Cigarettes

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

First Aid Kit #3 - The Lion's Roar

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I've been following First Aid Kit ever since they got me all gooey-eyed at Glastonbury 2010, that has basically involved me waiting patiently for their return whilst repeatedly playing their debut EP and full length (get them here if you haven't already), I'm glad to say that the wait is now over. The Swedish sister's second full-length 'The Lion's Roar' is due for release January 23rd 2012 and we've been treated to a stream of the title track.

"The Lion's Roar" takes the First Aid Kit to another level, their impeccable debut 'The Big Black & The Blue' focused on delicate acoustic picks and beautiful layered harmonies, here the sisters are backed by a full band, the vocal tone is just as stunning whilst the soaring country-waltz tinged arrangements and stomping drums sweep you away on its emotive, beautiful journey. Lyrically the developments are just as obvious, alongside "Ghost Town" I'd place "The Lion's Roar" as their darkest track to date, honest and plaintive reflections that belie the girls (still) young age.

First Aid Kit support Lykke Li at the Roundhouse on November 1st and headline the Bush Hall on December 6th (tickets) - see you there, Bush Hall will be the perfect setting, can't wait.

Listen:
The Lion's Roar by First Aid Kit

Elephant #2 - Assembly


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Elephant return with the lead track from their third release, the four track EP 'Assembly' (released November 14th via Memphis Industries and available to pre-order here), if you fell for the London based synth-pop duo (although I do believe they're now playing live as a three piece) like I did in June then the title track "Assembly" will be music to your ears...

Equally as heartfelt and luscious as "Ants" or "Allured", "Assembly" (clearly Elephant have a thing for "A" titles!) shows clear signs of the bands development, the three minutes sweep along effortlessly (and beautifully) with Amelia's delicately soft vocals echoing around twinkling keys and swirling synths. Lovely, much anticipation to hear the other three tracks.

I missed them playing a free show at The Social last night as I saw Planningtorock (sensational) but Elephant are back playing live with five dates alongside Casiokids in November - details.

Elephant - Assembly by elephanttheband
Elephant - Actors by elephanttheband

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Pink Playground - New Music "Introducing"

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If Mexican Summer release a record there is a pretty high chance it's going to be good (see Tamaryn, Light Asylum, No Joy and so on for proof), that record continues with the Houston dream-pop / shoegaze duo Pink Playground, they've just put out their debut full-length with the Brooklyn based label and it's bloody brilliant, an intoxicating cacophony of thick, hazy distortion and ethereal gorgeousness.

The eight track 'Destination Ecstasy's' compelling MBV inspired noise demands to be played at ear-splitting levels, best portrayed on “Stationary” with its relentless, seething riffs and beautifully vague vocal melodies shrouded in so much reverb they become indecipherable and "Ten" with its abyss of droning fuzzy, feedback and Tara's soft, hushed harmonies, the lyrics are buried away in the music adding another layer to the luscious sonic textures.

Equally worth of your time is "Sunny Skies", guitar swirls and dream-like melodies float amongst humming fuzz, drum machine beats and wistful vocals whilst "Dark Bloom" shrill keyboard rhythms sound equally delicious. I recommend listening through a decent pair of headphones (not apple ones) to bring out some of the exquisite layering on this outstanding record, then listen to it again and again.

You can buy the limited CD / LP alongside an earlier 10" and tape from their own label here or direct from Mexican Summer. Their own label looks great, I know where I'll be spending a few of my next spare hours.

Listen below (more available via bandcamp):
Pink Playground - Dark Bloom
Pink Playground - Ten

Monday, 10 October 2011

Lianne La Havas - New Music "Introducing"

Facebook /liannelahavas.com/

Soul isn't a genre I post about too often, I've some heritage there because I grew up on my Mum listening to the likes of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Delfonics and so on, though I'd be hard-pressed to think of more than a small handful of contemporary soul artists that I enjoy, the newest addition to that could well be Lianne La Havas whose beguiling voice will stop you dead in your tracks.

Lianne's vocal is effortlessly soulful, possessing this exquisite tone and vocal range whilst seemingly appearing to possess enough natural charm and charisma to turn a London bar audience to stunned silence (check the video out below for proof). Thankfully you don't have to turn into X Factor to see Lianne, she's playing a handful of intimate shows in November to celebrate her debut EP's release, catch before stardom beckons (full dates).

Lianne has, in fact, two recent releases to speak of, firstly a free EP, a four track live recording entitled 'Live in LA' which you can get for free with a quick trip to her website, I've streamed the lead track below.
Secondly is one that you'll have to dig into your pocket for, her debut release 'Lost & Found', a five track EP available digitally on iTunes and on 10" vinyl on November 21st. Lead single "No Room For Doubt is a duet with Willy Mason and a video for it is due soon. More on this incredibly talented young lady soon no doubt.




Lianne La Havas from Black Cab Sessions on Vimeo.

Bird #2 - An Interview With

Facebook / birdofficial.co.uk

I first mentioned Liverpool based five piece Bird in July when I was pulled in by their atmospheric doom-folk, weaving together an enchanting, otherworldy sound of sweeping violins, subdued percussion and songwriter/singer Adele Emmas' celestial vocals, they've now readied their debut EP for the worlds attention, more on that later.

First up though is an interview with the band, kindly answered by Adele:

What inspired you to start making music? 

I just think it's been in my blood, running through my veins since I was a child. Music has always been such a massive part of my life, I always remember Joni Mitchell or Nick Drake echoing through the walls of my house when I was younger. I just knew I was going to make music one day, there is was nothing else I ever wanted to do.

Of your own songs, which are you proudest of and what track is the most fun to play live?

Out of all of them I'm mostly proud of Phantoms, it seems to be the track that has got us out there. It's very powerful and eerie and the whole band have helped bring the song alive in a big way. Although, we do have a new track called My Love Sleeps With Lions and I think that's a close competitor, it's definitely the most fun to play live, we can rock out in that one which is a bit unlike us!

Which artists do you feel have influenced your work and continue to do so?

I'm into music that makes you feel emotion and inspires the human heart. Those musicians for me are the likes of Leonard Cohen, Pink Floyd, Roy Harper and Kate Bush. Classical music can also be incredibly moving, for example the likes of Henryk Gorecki or Phillip Glass.

Which song do you wish you had written?

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Into My Arms. This song was being played on the radio the day my Nan passed away so it's a very special track to me and my family, it's incredibly sad yet uplifting at the same time, it's just beautiful.

What's the best gig you've attended in recent memory? 

I haven't been to many gigs of late, although, the best gig I ever went to was Arcade Fire at the M.E.N. There were seas of people all singing 'Wake Up' it and 'No Cars Go' it was so powerful I cried! Everyone just felt so united, brought together by the love of music

What is your favourite record of the year so far?

I really like Liars - Sisterworld. I love so many different genres of music but I have real grunge roots after listening to Nirvana and Fugazi as I was a teenager. So this album is brilliant if that's what your into. It's dark and grungy and something different compared to your standard rock bands.

If you were to curate an ATP event, who would you want to invite along?

It'd have to be ... Bat for Lashes, Warpaint, Chelsea Wolfe, Zola Jesus, The Beta Band, Radiohead and The Brian Jonsetown Masscare. Now doesn't that sound good? I think I should be curator!

Recommend an artist that isn’t getting the attention they deserve.

Joanna Newsom, I think the reason why a lot of people don't like her or can't listen to her is because people think she has a irritating voice. But she has written some of the most amazing songs, especially the Ys album. Her lyrics are just mind blowing.

*****

Many thanks to Adele for answering my questions, certainly my favourite ATP curator to date (even if I'd probably choose sleep over Radiohead!), the EP I mentioned above is digitally released somewhat perfectly given the haunting, eerie nature of Bird's song-craft on Halloween, October 31st.

Led by the title track "Phantoms", of which the world has already decided is their signature track to date, distinctive instrumentation create an ethereal atmosphere through a repetitive, stomping drum beat, melodic guitar and gorgeous harmonies, it's certainly not a bad track to have as your 'signature'. The other three tracks maintain the spiritual ambiance too, my favourites are the beautiful "Hey Hey Moonshine" and "The Witch Hunter", one of the eeriest tracks I've heard for sometimes, just wait until Tim Burton hears Bird...

The EP is launched with a special show in Liverpool on December 3rd, full details can be found on this facebook event page.

Listen to a couple of track below and watch the video for "Phantoms", shot in black and white it perfectly matches the ambience of the track:

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The History of Apple Pie #3 - Mallory

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Another young London based band who've wasted no time in picking up plaudits and fans with their distorted  guitars and sugar-sweet vocals is The History of Apple Pie who've announced their second single 'Mallory, following from the now sold-out 'You're So Cool' (which I mentioned back in June here), the 7" single will be released through Roundtable Records on November 14th and can be ordered now through Rough Trade.

A-side "Mallory" is a spruced up version of one of the original tracks that made me fall for the band, slightly fuzzed guitars riffs, a catchy melody and gorgeous vocal harmonies, for any fan of delicious indie-pop music, it's really impossible not to love.

The band have a few gigs on the horizon, the next of which is next Tuesday, October 11th at The Macbeth - it's free and details can be found on this facebook event page.

Listen:
Mallory by The History Of Apple Pie

Saturday, 8 October 2011

2:54 #4 - Scarlet

Facebooktwofiftyfour.net

This week sees the return of 2:54, the London sisters have shared the lead track off their forthcoming four track EP, 'Scarlet'. The song of the same name is wonderful to, a continuation of their equal parts broody and luscious soundscapes, thick and heavy basslines, moody vocals and dark crawling guitar. Just like the four other songs I've heard from 2:54 to date, it's a bit gorgeous this.

The EP is released 14th November via Fiction and you can pre-order now on limited and signed 10" via Recordstore or iTunes.

I'm looking forward to seeing the girls again after last seeing them in the spring at The Lexington, they play London's Corsica Studios on November 9th and support The Big Pink throughout November.

  2:54 - Scarlet by 2:54 Band

Friday, 7 October 2011

I Am Harlequin - New Music "Introducing"

Facebookiamharlequin.com/

I get a lot of music submissions in my inbox, far too many for me to cope with as a one man, spare time blogger. For that reason I have to be a little ruthless in tackling my emails, I was joking with Robin at Breaking More Waves the other day that any email that uses the word "Remix", "Mumford and Sons", "R&B / Hip-Hop" and "Kasabian" generally gets deleted without further investigation, most emails I try and look at in time (saying that I've some unread from early September) though you do get some submissions that make you think "how the hell have I not heard this before". That was the case with I Am Harlequin (known to her parents as Anne Freier), a German born, London based artist who stopped me in my tracks with her new track "Because He Loves Them Both".

Yes there's been influx of female artists with soaring, powerhouse vocals producing quirky, independent pop under strange pseudonyms but "Because He Loves Them Both" stands out amongst them as it's one of those innovative, captivating tracks that commands your attention on first listen. I Am Harlequin's music is hard to classify a genre, there are elements of classical, electronica and more than enough pop hooks to be played on prime time radio, I Am Harlequin is certainly eclectic but through numerous tempo changes lies this beautifully produced, spellbinding pop track.

I'm sure this will be a crowd splitter though fans of strong, identifiable electro-pop certainly should take note, watch the suitably off-kilter video or listen to a stream below:



I am Harlequin - Because He Loves Them Both

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Coathangers - Hurricane / Johnny

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I'm a big fan of boutique labels (a quick look around this site will lead you to find my attempt, which has some news of its own soon), they are generally run by passionate people like myself who don't really give two hoots about making money (though breaking even helps) and exist as a platform for someone to release music that excites them by artists that perhaps haven't got another means or as a way to support independent artists. These are the labels and artists where your hard-earned (or student loan) should be going - Coldplay really aren't going to miss it (sorry Chris) and their new stuff is shit anyway.

The reason for that outburst of love and affection for  indie labels was the second release by a London boutique label, X-Ray Recordings which sees them release a double-a side limited edition flexidisc of two tracks from US band The Coathangers third album (although the first I've heard) 'Larceny & Old Lace', "Hurricane" and "Johnny". I don't normally quote press releases / band statements (what is the point) but on this instance I'm going to use the a paragraph as I think it perfectly sums up The Coathangers:

"The Coathangers stormed onto the scene, as a completely unaffected, unpretentious, deliciously sloppy, and totally infectious rock band"

"Hurricane" sums that up, its fast and ferocious pacing certainly doesn't overstay its welcome with catchy guitar riffs,addictive bass hooks and scattergun drums propels the track whilst the vocals combine a snarling gravelly lead which shrilling harmonies, deliciously sloppy indeed. The punky spirit of "Johnny" might be even better, seething, angry growls and jumping bass line, brash, dirty and brilliant, I certainly wouldn't want to be Johnny and have these ladies pissed at me. The flexi-disc is released October 24th and can be ordered through the label or Rough Trade now.

Listen:
The Coathangers - Hurricane
The Coathangers - Johnny

Oh Land - Bloodbuzz Ohio

Facebook / ohlandmusic.com/

I'm confusing myself here, I'm pretty sure I've posted about Oh Land before though, apparently I have not. Apart from my review after seeing her twice at Glastonbury, this is the maiden posting about the Danish singer-songwriter / pop-star, she's yet to be officially launched in the UK, her self-titled (second album) is due for release here on November 21st (though it reached no 5. in the Danish charts in March). Any purveyor of synth-pop would be wise to investigate Nanna Øland Fabricius as soon as they can and if you are reading this, let that time be now...

The album is probably the best pop album I've heard this year (I can't bring myself to listen to Nicola Roberts), "Sun of a Gun" is the catchiest, an energetic slice of fun that's both dance floor and radio friendly, similarly "White Nights" keeps things playful, sparkling synth hooks, looping drum beats and gorgeous melodies make for one of the most irresistibly infectious tracks of the year. My favourite track though is "Wolf & I" where Oh Land's sultry vocal completely enchant you in a goose-bump inducing ballad.

Anyway, all that gushing wasn't actually the reason for this post, this was... Oh Land has released a cover of The National's "Bloodbuzz Ohio" and before you fanboys go running off screaming, listen to it, it's actually all kinds of brilliant. A restrained synth warble and delicate electronic beat create this dreamy, brooding ambiance and the switch of vocals from Matt Berninger signature baritone to Oh Land's ethereal whispers create an emotive version that is nothing sort of beautiful. Covers can be a dangerous thing, Oh Land have pulled this one off no question.

Oh Land - Bloodbuzz Ohio (The National Cover)

Oh Land play Heaven on November 10th - tickets - unfortunately it's the same day as St Vincent and until somebody gives me a DeLorean DMC-12 I'm unable to time travel or be in two places at the same time.

Here's some samples from the album:
Wolf & I by Oh Land


White Nights from Oh Land Music on Vimeo.