Archive | March, 2013

Clara Luzia – We Are Fish

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Clara Luzia – We Are Fish

Posted on 27 March 2013 by Joe

Austrian singer songerwriter Clara Luzia finds herself between a rock and a hard place. Her rock is her native Austria, where she won an Amadeus Award in 2008 for best alternative act and sells out 900 capacity venues.

The hard place is the UK and US where, she is set to remain an unknown, as her publicity machine focuses on her native Austria and mainland Europe.

There are a few over here who have taken an interest. Marc Riley has played a track on his BBC 6Music show and we were among a handful of blogs to review her retrospective compilation album The Range last year.

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She clearly wants to reach a wider audience and that sense of trying to appeal to a wider range of tastes while appease her home based fans is palpable on We Are Fish, her fifth studio album.

At times indie folk, her music strays into the stadium sized indie rock of say a Joy Formidable at times, while at others her band, with accordion, cello and clarinet sound likes a busking band on the streets of Vienna. It’s not always a comfortable blend but works best when she sticks more rigidly to a tight three minute folk pop song.

Among the less successful moments are the keyboard heavy opener, which breaks out with clarinet and drums coming to the fore towards the end but at 7 minutes is in dire need of some editing. This one will sound great live no doubt but doesn’t have the melody to carry it for a full seven minutes in recorded form.

The title track is also a bit of a mess, starting soft with her engaging vocals but turning into a standard indie rock stadium stomp by the end.

Third track A Presentiment, is a far more successful offering and makes full use of its five minutes because of its superior melody, even if the accordion focused ending does drag a minute or so too long. I’m desperate to avoid random comparisons with European artists, but her vocal similarity to The Cardigan’s Nina Persson especially on this track, is hard to avoid. It’s such a shame that this tender, pop savvy voice, along with some nice build up work from the cellist Heidi Dokalik, is lost during the heavier tracks, in particular Leave The Light On.

Back to the busking band, shorter pop song feel on Light is Faster Than Sound, which comes as a blessed relief to the stadium sized rock that hampers next track Monster In You’s promising start as a pop song. Things go a bit quirky by end track Menace Is My Head, which is an odd mix of bar room funk and distortion.

Compared to her laid back indie folk feel on much of The Range there is too little focus on this album to quite know what she wants to achieve. The harder rock production doesn’t suit her voice either. There’s a sense that compromises have been made and that this is not a true reflection of the sound Luzia is looking to achieve. If she wants a mid afternoon second stage slot at a mainland European festival then she’s perhaps on the money, but the UK may continue to elude her on this evidence.

5/10

by Joe Lepper

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John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts

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John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts

Posted on 25 March 2013 by Joe

In Pale Green Ghosts, sweary ex-Czars man, John Grant, presents an album of wonderful contradictions. In parts almost dirge-like folk rock, this incredibly raw and openly confessional record is also awash with poppy electronica.

john-grant-pale-green-ghosts

This makes Pale Green Ghosts frustratingly changeable in pace and likeability. But perseverance pays. Grant’s ability move seamlessly from flabby beats, synthy strings and squeaky tweets to staid rock – and back again – makes this feel like a complete Radiohead retrospective condensed to 12 tracks.

In places it threatens to provide schoolboy poetry. Glacier particularly fringes on the more winsome elements of The Divine Comedy. Yet like the Divine Comedy it soars most unexpectedly out of these am-dram moments to be a thing of beauty. Grant’s rich, deep vocal also brings Neil Hannon to mind.

On Why don’t you love me any more?, Grant tells things as they are, yet remains poetic. In some ways he’s a bit like Morrissey. But clearly these fussy meanderings are derived from a bucket full of black emotion from Grant’s personal life. The singer has gone through drink and drugs problems and recently revealed that he has been diagnosed HIV positive. This helps dispel doubts about his lyrics, putting them in serious context.

More happily meanwhile, Blackbelt is a slice of Scissors Sisters underpinned by words written by a man who has seemingly swallowed a dictionary. It is a stomping, bleeping, slapping masterpiece. And the bass-y title track should be cranked up to 10 on the car stereo, with the windows down as you cruise slowly around a small town striking fear in the hearts of members of the local Rotary Club.

Tracks with downbeat titles such It doesn’t matter to him, and I hate this town, mean this collection has little mass-market appeal for sure. What’s more, Pale Green Ghosts’ genre-crossing nature makes it one for a musical connoisseur. But you’re a connoisseur aren’t you? Otherwise why would you be reading a review on Neonfiller.com?

So go on. Give it a listen.

9/10

by Rob Finch

Editors note: It’s also worth checking out John Grant’s debut album Queen of Denmark, where he is backed by the mid 70s folk rock sounds of Midlake. It is also a marvelous album. Here’s a clip of one of its standout tracks Mars.

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Tullycraft – Lost in Light Rotation

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Tullycraft – Lost in Light Rotation

Posted on 22 March 2013 by Joe

Who knew “nasal delivery” could be a compliment for a singer? Turns out that for Tullycraft lead singer Sean Tollefson even his PR company refers to his singing style with that phrase.

However, there’s a reason these nose based vocals have been flagged up as on this album, their first since 2007’s Every Scene Needs A Centre, they’ve drafted in Phil Ek, a master of bringing out the best in an artist’s voice.

Tullycraft_LILR_Cover

For a band that were at the forefront of the mid 90s American twee scene the vocals are still geeky and the songs are still cheery indie pop as you’d expect, but under Ek’s direction there’s a renewed sense of confidence. Ek, who has produced the Fleet Foxes, has also brought a sense of intimacy in Tollefson and other vocalist Jenny Mears’s singing, as if they are  telling their tales right up to the listener.

Does it sound out of place, old fashioned even? No, it sounds like a welcome fillip and good to know that there’s still some cheery people out there, especially from a band that formed 18 years ago.

While many of their peers are still drinking weak lemon drink from a flask and grumbling about this and that, Tullycraft have added a good splash of gin to this poor metaphor of a flask and are belting out optimistic happy pop, as if the recession and all the other ills since 2007 had never existed.

Across each of the 11, two to three minute, tracks there’s a strong sense of consistency. The pace and nods to pop culture throughout the decades never let up and Lost in Light Rotation is all the better for it.

Musically each track seems perfectly weighted as well with the opening, choppy guitar chords of tracks such as Agincourt and Westchester Turnabouts offering a superb introduction to the confident vocals of Tollefson and Mears. They even carry off pop culture references to Hanson’s MMMbop, on Westchester Turnabouts, and Bobby Freeman’s hit Do You Wanna Dance, on Wichita With Love, with aplomb. The rousing singalong of the title track is another of many highpoints.

Tullycraft are back, happier than ever and showing indie pop bands just how it should be done.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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My Bloody Valentine – Hammersmith Apollo, London (March 12, 2013)

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My Bloody Valentine – Hammersmith Apollo, London (March 12, 2013)

Posted on 21 March 2013 by Joe

My Bloody Valentine have long been the most unassuming performers. No grandstanding axe hero poses are thrown – Kevin Shields does not have the moves like Jagger.

Although they do not indulge in the stagecraft of most performers there is a large visual element to their show tonight in the form of massive backdrop projection – enormous saturated dream images, midnight drives through avenues lined with trees, the ghosts of guitars fifty feet high – apropos of the narcotic haze in which you find yourself listening to My Bloody Valentine.

Latest album MBV

Latest album MBV

Just as their contemporaries Spacemen 3 were taking drugs to make music to take drugs to, My Bloody Valentine were at the heart of a unique explosion of drug consumption. Too young to have been punks and in thrall to the psychedelic scene of the sixties, there was a desperate need to escape the dreary conservatism of 1980s Britain.

This music is one of the most perfect aural representations of certain kinds of drug experiences. That isn’t to neglect the sex or rock and roll elements of the famous equation. If anything on record there is a perfect balance of sex and drugs in the chemistry of Kevin’s and Belinda’s half heard murmers.

Live the added dimension that the vocals bring to the mix is lost under the avalanche of guitar noise, too low in the mix to register. It’s a shame to lose this as the mystery of the half heard vocals is a hook for emotional involvement, the sheer majesty of the sound on it’s own can be dauntingly inhuman without this.

Opening with I Only Said, they run through tracks from Isn’t Anything, Loveless, MBV and their vital E.P.s. before closing with Wonder 2, the stand out track from latest album MBV.  Performed with great fidelity to their recorded versions, at the volume reproduced tonight you hear angel trumpets and devil trombones.

Standing in the slipstream of You Made Me Realise  with the pulsing roar of overdriven amps shaking through your internal organs you become acutely aware you’ve never quite heard anything this loud and maybe you may never hear anything again and for a minute you don’t mind.

by Garry Todd

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Phosphorescent – Muchacho

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Phosphorescent – Muchacho

Posted on 16 March 2013 by Dorian

I’m not a big fan of recording artists deciding they want to experiment in the studio. In the hands of a gifted producer it can work, but too often it is the sound of an artists with too much control making a bad job of it with all the tools at their disposal. In the last few years I’ve been disappointed by Chan Marshall smothering the life out of her songs on Sun and Justin Vernon making his songs sound like Enya on his heavy handed second album as Bon Iver. I was therefore a little worried that Matthew Houck had blown it when I first listed to ‘Sun, Arise! (An Invocation, an Introduction)’, the electronic heavy first song on his latest album as Phosphorescent.

Phosphorescent - Muchacho

I shouldn’t have worried though, Houck is much too skilled a producer and arranger to let the tools get in the way of the music. Second track ‘Song For Zula’ is also heavily treated but is unmistakably a Phosphorescent track and stands up against any song in his back catalogue.

Beyond that the songs wouldn’t sound entirely out of place 0n 2010’s Here’s To Taking It Easy and showcase Houck’s fragile vocals and layered arrangements beautifully. ‘A Charm/A Blade’ is a case in point as pedal steel, piano, horns and multi-layered vocals manage to sound tired and epic all at the same time, a great center point to the album.

‘The Quotidian Beasts’ picks up the 7 minute epic reins from the previous album standout ‘Los Angeles’ and does it with some style, wailing guitars battling against mournful violins, another superb piece of arrangement. These songs are not just well arrange and played, the compositions are superb and the downbeat oblique lyrics never less than interesting.

Muchacho ends with an alternative (and more successful) version of the opening track ‘Sun’s Arising (A Koan, an Exit)’, neatly wrapping up a superb record and giving us another early album of the year contender.

9/10

By Dorian Rogers

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Low – The Invisible Way

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Low – The Invisible Way

Posted on 15 March 2013 by Joe

Among the most surprising aspects of the press release to accompany news of Low’s latest album The Invisible Way is that this is now the 20th anniversary of the band.

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Centred around husband and wife duo Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker they have been fine tuning their brand of so-called slow core rock across ten albums now. But arguably it was not until their 18th year with 2011’s C’mon where they hit their stride. They’ve always expertly combined epic and tender music  but on C’mon the tenderness shone through more than ever as they created their first truly great American album.

The Invisible Way takes that haunting, tender ethos of C’mon one step further. Gone are the overt ’50s and ’60s electric guitar sounds  to be replaced with piano, acoustic guitar and an even softer Americana feel under the direction of producer, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy.

The result is simple and beautiful. Sparkhawk explains that it was a visit to Wilco’s  Chicago studio that convinced them to adopt this sound. “They (Wilco) had invited us to come check it out several times over the years, but this would finally be the day…What really converted us was hearing the new Mavis Staples tracks they were working on – big, simple, raw and intimate. Plans were made then and there.”

Another key difference is that Parker sings lead vocals on five of the 11 tracks, compared to one or two on previous releases. It’s a smart move with her softer vocals proving a perfect fit for the album’s back to basics approach.

This is particularly the case on the piano heavy So Blue. Her vocals are just so perfectly understated and never showy. The acoustic guitar backed Holy Ghost is another excellent Parker vocal track; haunting, mournful and passionate, like the image of a widow on the porch of a  frontier shack it conjures up. The same can be said of her vocals on Just Make It Stop, another stellar track on the album.

But not to be outdone Sparkhawk’s vocals turns are just as sublime, with Tweedy bringing out the passion in his delivery well, particularly on the track Clarence White.

Their combined vocals, most notably on the sumptuous track Amethyst, also shine brighter than ever under Tweedy’s direction.

C’mon was one of our top albums of 2011 and at the time I wondered how they could possibly better it. Turns out stripping back their sound even further into the mists of Americana was the answer. Another beautiful album from one of America’s most engaging acts.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

 

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Gong – Flying Teapot

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Gong – Flying Teapot

Posted on 12 March 2013 by Joe

The next time you’re stuck outside Stoke-on-Trent in a train going nowhere – but nominally to Manchester – you can thank Flying Teapot. Yes Flying Teapot. For this is one of those seminal early 70s prog rock albums that made a name for Virgin Records, and eventually countless millions for Richard Branson.

Gong

Strange as it may seem, there was once a ‘Canterbury Scene’ and Gong were fundamental to it.  Even more bizarrely, Gong saxophonist Didier Malherbe was first encountered by band members in a cave in Mallorca (although his website is lamentably quiet on the subject).

If you’re thinking Flying Teapot is a silly name for a record, you’d be right. It’s a play on words of ‘flying saucer’. It’s not Shakespeare. But then it doesn’t pretend to be.

Gong’s raison d’etre appears to be surrealist nonsense. Indeed, if it is silliness you want then this LP delivers. As part one of the concept trilogy Radio Gnome Invisible it comprises a barely intelligible meandering narrative. Track one, helpfully also called Radio Gnome Invisible, starts with a whistly wibble and continues with a deliberate Franglais pronounciation of the hook line. Don’t be put off.

This is music that feels freshly silly even today. Although it’s a concept album of sorts, it’s a real antidote to the serious, poutingly sexual musicians of our era (and of their era too). This is funked-up, wigged-out shit replete with dirty basslines. This is from the dawn of prog rock. It is prog rock before it got wanky and self-indulgent (as all great musical genres do – yes, even dubstep). It is truly progressive in the way you might have once believed of the Lib Dems before they got any real power. This is the territory of Zappa or Beefheart.

Gong

Gong

At times, it feels as if it’s Jeff Wayne, inspired not by H.G. Wells, but by the Brothers Grimm. This is particularly true on the track Zero the Hero and the Witch’s Spell. As proto-blogger Piero Scaruffi off-puttingly put it in 1999, Flying Teapot is, ‘a demented collage of nursery-rhyme melodies, circus horns, jazz rhythms, galactic keyboards, sensual/celestial wails, sardonic mantras, mock-heroic electronics, caricatural anthems’.

Track two (of a mere six) – the titular Flying Teapot – is an eleven minute genre-voyage of a song. The length allows an exploration of themes, sounds, influences and musical juxtapositions to keep you on your mental toes. Zero the Hero and the Witch’s Spell is another nine-minute epic that fuses sounds into an essentially jazz drone rock triumph. Malherbe’s sax and flute really come to the fore against Hillage and Allen’s guitar riffs.

Witch’s Song, I Am Your Pussy is essentially The Wicker Man set to music. Vocalist Gilli Smyth gives a witchy shriek of laughter that starts girlish and turns ghoulish. Like a Hammer House Horror version of the chattering cackle of the fly in the Happiness Stan interludes from The Small Faces’ Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake.

It’s important to recognise the ongoing psychadelia of the age that this music came from. And the socio-political statement that this music was making (or perhaps deliberately not making). This is more than simply drop-out/drop-some music. This is an apolitical rejection of anything serious by a descent into fantasy. This is an album to read a Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comic to. This is a band that appeared at the second Glastonbury in ’71. It is a rejection of the staid and of right-and-proper thinking.

This is not a comedy record though . It will make you laugh. In it, you can spot influences of The Goon Show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Derek & Clive. The image of the Flying Teapot is a druggy subversion of a peculiarly British icon in the same vein as these

Of course, the jazz-swing fusion track Pot Head Pixies is the closest thing to a 3-minute pop song that Gong produced. Its lyrics may appear blinkeredly unnuanced today. But it’s not far from the storyland theme and wibbliness of the much-lauded Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake. Just a bit more flakey that’s all. I like to think that A.S. Byatt was listening to Gong when she penned her fairytale-infused Victorian gothic novel The Children’s Book.

Kevin Ayres

Kevin Ayres

Flying Teapot came hot on the heels of Virginia Plain, which Roxy Music had debuted less than 12 months before. Virgina Plain is a song so sublime and ridiculous that it’s almost impossible to listen to without thinking of the Big Train pastiche. Again, 1973 was the year that The Wicker Man appeared in cinemas. Culture still had the ability to shake people to their cores if they cared to look and listen.

Why you should add Flying Teapot to your collection? It is now 40 years since Flying Teapot was first issued. The Gong generation are now in their 60s and 70s. Yet, the influences of Gong are far-reaching, if rarely acknowledged. Several tracks from the Aphex Twin’s Come to Daddy EP feel ripped from Flying Teapot only with the BPM turned up to the max.

Gong’s sound can be felt down the years to the ambient sound of the early 90s, through to the more experimental line of indie music such as Of Montreal. More overt coverage comes from Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, whose 1994 track, Kevin Ayres, celebrates the sometime Gong collaborator and Canterbury scene stalwart of the same name, who died earlier this year.

New listeners to Gong’s Flying Teapot may wish for a consistent melody or a consistent feel or a sensible lyric. There are plenty of other artists that can give you less acid-fuelled phonics (although, with Gong, the comedown is mellow and you can always move onto harder stuff later on).

This record will make you rethink psychadelia, jazz, prog rock and space rock. It might make you rethink drug laws. Or it might just make you switch it off and go and listen to Mumford & Sons on your iPhone.

For more weirdness about Gong visit here.

by Rob Finch

 

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John Howard – Loved Songs EP

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John Howard – Loved Songs EP

Posted on 11 March 2013 by Joe

Just when we think we know it all about music along comes someone like John Howard to introduce us to a whole new wave of songs and artists we’d never heard of.

Howard is something of an expert in hidden talent himself. The former CBS artist’s career failed to take off in the 1970s but after a stint in music A&R, he has been rediscovered in an internet age and has spent the last few years producing and releasing a raft of artistically impressive releases from his new home in Spain.

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His latest release sees him helping us to discover more hidden talent. Called Loved Songs this five track EP is an eclectic mix of cover versions of tracks that have inspired him over the years. While admittedly Paul McCartney and Rufus Wainwright are no strangers to the limelight, in McCartney’s case Howard has chosen one of his more obscure tracks, I’m Carrying, a B-side from his 1978 single London Town. Poses by Wainwright is the most well known of the five tracks featured.

For the remaining three artists Howard has chosen those who, while critically acclaimed, have not had the profile or commercial success befitting their talent. A line that arguably sums up Howard’s career too.

This includes What’s The Difference Chapters 1-4 by the late 1960s San Francisco songwriter Scott McKenzie, arguably always the bridesmaid and never the bride compared to his peers including the Mamas and the Papas and The Beach Boys.

London Loves You by Anthony Reynolds, who was frontman with the band Jack (later Jacques) in the 1990s, is another undiscovered gem. I’d never even heard of Reynolds before hearing Howard’s cover version and he is now firmly on my radar as an artist to check out. London Loves You is a sublime ballad, which Howard lovingly plays here.

Highlight of the EP though is Blackpatch by the late Laura Nyro, the 1960s and 1970s New York folk singer with a showtune heart whose eccentric singing style gave her critical acclaim but not the commercial success her songwriting deserved. Like Reynolds I’d never heard of Nyro before. But on the strength of Howard’s version of Blackpatch I’ve now bought the album it originally featured on, 1970’s Christmas and the Beads of Sweat. Across all the covers it is this one by Howard that achieves the rarest of feats of almost bettering the original. I love the original, but Howard’s optimistic vocals and bouncy delivery brings out a sense of fun in the track that Nyro’s melancholy vocal style could never quite achieve.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

 

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Robyn Hitchcock – Love From London

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Robyn Hitchcock – Love From London

Posted on 08 March 2013 by Joe

After a two year break from releasing albums Robyn Hitchcock, one of the UK music industry’s most enduring and endearing figures, is back.

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Now signed to Yep Roc Records, his latest album Love From London is overtly political, with references to economic and environmental injustice and centred firmly in his native London; a world away from the Norwegian setting for his last album Tromsø, Kaptein (2011).

As befitting a man whose career has now spanned five decades the production by Paul Noble, is full of sounds from the past; from 1980s synths and the decade’s chorus guitar pedal effects through to a ‘90s Primal Scream pop bombast in places. But the production never sounds completely dated and manages to remain credible thanks mainly to the wonderfully mournful cello of Jenny Adejayan, a rare and welcome sound amid Hitchcock’s style of English pop.

In the PR blurb Hitchcock describes the album as one that “celebrates life in a culture imperilled by economic and environmental collapse.” He adds: “We are surfing on the momentum of chaos. If a consensus on the reality of global warming comes from the people, then the media, the politicians and the corporations will have to adapt to it.”

But its not the environmental themes that are the most striking, instead it is the economic injustice of the people of London and across the UK that stands out. For Hitchcock there is clear anger at how so many can live in poverty while those in the City get richer. This is most prevalent on Fix You, my highlight on the album, which is particularly critical of coalition government attempts to label those out of work and vulnerable as skivers.

Lines on this track like “they make you redundant and blame you for being a slacker while the financial backer is taking a call with a strawberry mousse” are even more striking as it highlights how rare such political song writing is these days. Hitchcock turned 60 this year and the younger generation of songwriters can learn a lot from his controlled anger at the state of the world.

Although Fix You is my highlight, the best segment of the album comes early on with the sad I Often Dream of Trains-style piano ballad Harry’s Song providing a beautiful opening before Hitchcock flexes his pop muscles on the excellent Be Still,  Stupified and I Love You. The album takes a dip in the middle section, particularly on Death & Love and Strawberry Dress, which plod along in comparison to the fine start. But the poignant end section, including Fix You and End of Time soon bring the listener back around.

Love From London may have echoes of the past but with its rare politicised song writing is firmly rooted in the UK of now and shows a veteran performer still very much at the top of this game.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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Documentary Special

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Documentary Special

Posted on 06 March 2013 by Dorian

We appear to be in the midst of a bit of a golden age for music documentary, with films about interesting and surprising subjects coming out or being announced with increasing regularity. The reduced cost of making films in the digital age and the new crowd sourced methods of getting funding make creating a film about a relatively obscure artist achievable without the need for cinema showings or guaranteed DVD sales to support the endeavor.

Last year was a good year for the music documentary at both ends of the success and attention spectrum. At the top end was the Oscar winning ‘Searching For Sugarman’ which took an artists that was both obscure and hugely famous (depending on where you live) and coupled it with a fascinating story to great effect. Also notable was the epic homage to George Harrison, ‘Living In The Material World’, that was perhaps too comprehensive but was certainly a labour of love for Martin Scorsese.

TV has been another good source with BBC4 and Sky Arts leading the way in showing interesting and well produced documentary films on a wide range of artists. Sky Arts tends to show archive films but the BBC have made and shown excellent films on the likes of Squeeze, The Kinks and a surprisingly in-depth look at the work of Chas and Dave. They also have a film about David Bowie in the pipeline which features world renowned Bowieologist Nicholas Pegg in a consultant role.

Lawrence of Belgravia

Lawrence of Belgravia

Last year saw two of British music’s greatest curmudgeons celebrated in film, Felt/Denim/Go-Kart Mozart main-man Laurence and former Auteur Luke Haines.

‘Laurence of Belgravia’ was perhaps the better film and showed Laurence as an increasingly delusional figure, clinging on to concepts of stardom that  would never come, although it is all wrapped up in a self-perpetuated myth by the artist himself. (You can watch a trailer for the film here).

‘Art Will Save The World’ shows Luke Haines as a figure who is increasingly affable and comfortable with his place in modern music. At odds with his (again self-perpetuated) image as the most evil man in Brit-pop it sees him moving towards becoming something of a national treasure. It is perhaps best viewed as a companion piece to his excellent memoir, ‘Bad Vibes’. (You can watch a trailer for the film here).

Pitchfork has also entered the music documentary arena  and done some sterling work as part of their Pitchfork Classic series of films. These films are similar in concept to the 331/3 series of books focusing on a single album by the band in question whilst offering up some biographical details about them. These films to date have been of a very high quality and managed to get all the principle players interviewed for the films and included some excellent archive footage. Best of all is the recent film about Belle and Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister, and managed to make a brilliant record seem even better. (You can watch the whole of the film on the Pitchfork TV site here).

The Sad and Beautiful world of Sparklehorse

The Sad and Beautiful world of Sparklehorse

Below I preview four films scheduled for release, or in development, most of which have been made possible by crowd funding (the pros and cons of which I will not discuss here, although it is much debated).

‘The Sad and Beautiful World of Sparklehorse’ is a film about the music of the late Mark Linkous, one of my favourite recording artists. The UK interview filming has been completed and the producers are currently trying to raise funds for interviews in the US and Europe on this crowd-funding website. I have mixed hopes for this film based on the interviews captured to date, with some like-minded musicians such as Jonathan Donahue and Ed Harcourt included as talking heads. More worrying is the appearance of TVs Matthew Wright in the film, he may be a big fan but this doesn’t add credibility.  Hopefully the remaining interviews will include collaborators like David Lowery, Dangermouse and PJ Harvey and the archive footage could be what lifts this film.

‘Song Dynasties’ has already managed to get full funding through Kickstarter and looks set to bring out the story of Kevin Barne’s Of Montreal on DVD later this year. The film has been put together from hundreds of hours of footage from throughout the band’s career and has been 16 years in the making. If it is anything like as entertaining as Of Montreal are live on stage then it will be captivating viewing. (You can read more about the project and watch a trailer for the film here).

In February we posted a review of a little-known (in this country at least) album by the South African punk band National Wake.  We now have an opportunity to find out more about the African punk scene thanks to the forthcoming release of ‘Punk In Africa’, a film made by Deon Maas and Keith Jones in South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Kenya. (No UK showings of the film are currently scheduled but more details about the film and some footage can be found here).

Best of all is ‘Are We Not Men?’, a film about Devo. And  if you watch the trailer (above) you’ll see what an exciting film it looks to be. Devo were colourful, subversive, different and had some ideology to support the ideas in their songs. The perfect subject for a documentary film and one that should appeal to those unfamiliar with the band as well as their fans. The film was made possible by a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $70,000 and is scheduled for a release in August this year.

If you have any favourite music documentary films, or know of any interesting projects in production, please post a comment below.

By Dorian Rogers

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