Archive | April, 2014

Django Django – Late Night Tales

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Django Django – Late Night Tales

Posted on 30 April 2014 by Joe

Anyone who has been following Django Django  on Facebook for the last four years will know the act are tailor made to curate the Late Night Tales series. From funk and soul oddities to indie obscurities their links have brightened up our  fix of Zuckerberg action on a daily basis.

Django

It must have been a tough gig for Django Django, the band that formed in art college and blends indie pop with Bo Diddley and electronica like no other, to narrow down their selection to the required 19 songs and one cover version as the latest Late Night Tales curator.

For the cover  version they have excelled with a modern shuffling, almost trip-hoppy take on The Monkees psychedelic pop gem Porpoise Song. This comes towards the end of their collection, just before the traditional spoken word track that always concludes each release.

They start proceedings well too, with Leo Kottke’s acoustic guitar track The Tennessee Toad creating a nice laid back atmosphere.

In the middle though there are peaks and troughs. Among the highlights are Game Love by Gulp, the little known Welsh act formed by Super Furry Animal’s Guto Pryce with Scottish singer Lindsey Leven. It’s a great choice and gives deserved publicity to this interesting band.

Another fine track to be unearthed is Bone by Map of Africa, the genre hopping project of Thomas Bullock and DJ Harvey. More well know stellar offerings are Surf’s Up by The Beach Boys and Massive Attack’s Man Next Door.

But what counts against the Djangos spell at the helm is a weaker final third, with OutKast’s Slum Beautiful and a Live Garage Mix of Roy Davis Jnr’s Garage falling a little flat.

Harry Nilsson’s Coconut provides some humour and Canned Heat’s Poor Moon some class thankfully  in what is otherwise a disappointing segment of the collection.

Albeit with some misses they’ve done a fairly decent good job narrowing down what must have been a long list of hundreds for this project. For raising the profile of Gulp and covering The Monkees they also get extra brownie points from us.

7.5/10

by Joe Lepper

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School of Language, The Exchange, Bristol (April 23, 2014)

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School of Language, The Exchange, Bristol (April 23, 2014)

Posted on 23 April 2014 by Joe

Full of smiles, School of Language kicked off their Spring tour in Bristol, with an amiable and fun gig at the Exchange. Although a solo pop/funk project of Field Music’s David Brewis, this tour has a full band feel with his brother and Field Music co-creator Peter on drums, along with Hazey Jane’s Andrew Mitchell on guitar, Andrew Lowther on bass and The Futureheads’s David Craig on synth.

School of Language

School of Language

Even before they started playing the audience were aware this is a band with a sense of fun, as they made light of having to be their own roadies by taking to the stage to set up in ‘Field Music Productions’ branded caps and boiler suits, smirking throughout.

A quick change into shirts and in David’s case a rather smart grey suit jacket and they take to the stage, with smirks turning to smiles as one member of the audience shouts out “where’s Devo” in reference to their earlier attire.

David is on the road to promote Old Fears his second School of Language album. Although unmistakably Field Music with its angular chops and changes, it is a far more funkier/pop affair, with Prince’s Dirty Mind as an influence.

Live the guitars are much more to the fore, giving the album a far more Field Music feel, which in particular for tracks such as set finale So Much Time, give David and the band a chance to really show off their intricate playing.

School of Language

School of Language

Highlights were key Old Fears tracks such as Between the Suburbs as well as highlights from his first school of Language album Sea From Shore, especially Rockist (Part 1) which was greeted with rapturous applause.

During each song David is exemplary in his focus, concentrating on hitting just the right notes and just the right intricate guitar lick as he interweaves superbly with Mitchell.  Peter too on drums is full of focus playing the drums like he’s operating some kind of giant computer from the 1950s. All throughout they give each other knowing smiles. This is a bunch that clearly enjoys the whole process of performing and making music, something that the audience really picks up on and revels in.

Thankfully David and the band didn’t slip into any Field Music songs, even to fulfill a an audience members’ encore request for “covers.” In the end the encore was turned down “not because I’m being coy, we just don’t have anymore songs,” explained an apologetic David at the end.

Barbarossa

Barbarossa

Support was provided by London’s Barbarossa, a synth, drums and beards duo who are also on Field Music and School of Language’s label Memphis Industries. Their sound quality wasn’t as clear and crisp as School of Language’s with one particular bass buzz driving a few to the toilets, but there was enough tonight to know this is a fine act, with vocalist James Mathé superb singing, which is reminiscent of Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis, shining brightly among their electronica. Mathé tells us that a new album is in the offing and is one I’ll be looking out for based on this performance.

By Joe Lepper

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Record Store Day 2014

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Record Store Day 2014

Posted on 18 April 2014 by Dorian

I may not be willing to queue up from 6am anymore, but I still get excited about Record Store Day each year. the number of participating shops might be dwindling, two of my local participating shops have ceased to be since I first heard of the event, but the list of limited or exclusive records being made available seems to get longer each year.

Go to the Record Store Day site and you’ll see 17 pages listing the different items available ranging from ∆ ∆ (the secret of being first in a list is using some alphabetically tricky symbols) to Zoe Howe (a book rather than a record in this case).

Record Store Day 2014

 

The only way to be certain of getting the items you want from the list is finding a shop that stocks most of them (I’m lucky in that Brighton’s Resident Records always has a huge stock of titles) and get there very early. I’m going to have to hope that my (relatively) short list of “wants”, including Devo, Neko Case*, Grant Hart, Luke Haines and The Lemonheads aren’t on the lists of all the early risers.

Among the pick of the other Record Store Day releases is a vinyl limited edition reissue of The Twilight Sad’s astonishing and haunting 2007 debut album Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters.

Remastered with bonus tracks, including demos, the album has not lost its impact, with lead singer James Graham’s beautiful Scottish vocals sounding better than ever on key tracks such as Cold Days from the Birdhouse.

However, top of my list is a glow-in-the-dark 10″ version of the Ghostbusters’ theme tune. The original 12″ release of the Ray Parker Jr classic was one of my first record purchases, but was sadly mislaid some years ago. A limited edition luminescent version can finally fill that hole in my collection, if it isn’t snapped up before I get there that is.

There has been some controversy this year, and a recent Quietus article explores some of the problems that the day creates for independent labels. Independent labels losing out to the majors in terms of getting vinyl pressed is one issue, but also highlights that there could be a place for a UK based pressing plant in an invigorated climate for vinyl. Another concern is that this year there are 643 releases, compared to 277 three years ago, which suggests that the quality of releases is being compromised in favour of sales that the event generates.

These reservations aside, it is a successful event that clearly helps a lot of the shops that take part and gives an annual boost to a struggling part of the highstreet. Perhaps some tweaks in the next twelve months would be wise by the organisers, scores of average releases will undoubtedly lessen the impact of the more interesting ones. However, if it gets people through the doors of their local record shop spending money, then perhaps that is enough?

By Dorian Rogers

*Since I originally drafted this post I have seen that the Neko Case and Jason Lyttle 7″ version of  ‘Satellite of Love’ has a list price of £14.99. One of the criticisms that people have of Record Store Day is that loads of the releases are overpriced and therefore aimed at Ebay and not fans. Charging £14.99 for a 7″ inch single, even if it is a limited edition coloured vinyl single, is just too much.

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Public Service Broadcasting – University of Leicester (April 16, 2014)

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Public Service Broadcasting – University of Leicester (April 16, 2014)

Posted on 17 April 2014 by John Haylock

It has been heartening to witness the rise and unstoppable rise of the uniquely British phenomena that is Public Service Broadcasting.

Since the somewhat low key and unheralded release of their May 2013 debut album Inform Educate Entertain, Mr J. Willgoose Esq, the act’s guitars, gizmos and inert corduroy fashion icon, and Wrigglesworth, PSB’s drum machine in human form, have been on a rollercoaster (a rollercoaster that only goes up and has no downy bits) of enthusiastically received live shows and festival appearances, culminating in last year’s Neon Filler endorsed, chaotically joyous Glastonbury shows.

J. Willgoose Esq

J. Willgoose Esq

The sheer inventiveness and uniquely original concept of the album with all its BBC archived samples married to an almost Krautrockian (especially Neu), propulsive drumbeat and treated guitars has proved to be a genius trick. By word of mouth alone they have, to paraphrase Fatboy Slim, certainly ‘come a long way baby’. More nineties references ahead, you have been warned.

The venue tonight, was deep within the labrynthine bowels of the University of Leicester campus and looked like a mini-Hogwarts dining area, all very woody and proving to have some good acoustics.

Before our main PSB meal though we are served up some fine punky shoegazey salad (what I like to call shoepunk) from a trio hailing from South London going by the not very thrilling name of Happyness.

Happyness

Happyness

Their first number kind of meandered along directionless and lulled you into a false sense of security because the rest of the all too brief set was punctuated by a more twisted and rockier sound. I spoke to Benji the guitarist (wearer of a very dubious and hopefully ironic Def Leppard T shirt) afterwards and he told me enthusiastically how much he loved Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jnr. The Sonic youth element I could certainly hear, although it was Sonic Youth filtered through a politely British filter. They have a number called Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste the Same… so they get my vote. Happyness are playing a fair few festies this year; go check them out.

A very reserved Leicester crowd go slightly enthusiastic when our dynamic duo Public Service Broadcasting  take to the stage (perhaps they are in shock from hearing that the city’s most famous authoress Sue Townsend, mother of the fantastic Adrian Mole has passed away), whatever the reason the crowd initially remain rather subdued.

Wrigglesworth

Wrigglesworth

First thoughts include, ‘blimey Mr J. Willgoose Esq has got 3 guitars now, and ‘that looks like a new shiny drum kit’ and ‘oh! They’ve invested in a bigger tele’ (the old wooden and cardboard thing that adorned their sets last year is now history).

The pair seemingly play the entire album, every track now something of a classic, with accompanying black and white archive footage of everything from spitfires, dogfights, go- go dancers, gas masks and assorted random snippets of dialogue. It proves a mesmerizing mix of sound and trippy visuals.

Of course Willgoose never says a word, he uses his laptop to do the talking, he appears to have sampled responses to anything you can shout at him, at one point, he just randomly used the laptop to say ‘Walkers crisps’, love it !’.

He introduces two new numbers both about Dutch skiers, go figure! It would have been nice to hear more new stuff but I’m sure it’s all in the pipeline for album number two.

By now after spiffing versions of Spitfire, Night Mail, The Now Generation and a blistering Signal 30, the crowd are really up for it and they finally wake up, but its too late. An hour is all you’re getting. The New Order-esque melody of Everest becomes a reluctant encore, it floats in the air and puts a smile on everyone’s faces, and that’s yer lot

But wait! Is there friction in the camp? After Everest, Wrigglesworth didn’t come back on, he left it up to a somewhat confounded looking Willgoose to thank us all for coming (in the computer voice of course). Is there mutiny in the lower ranks? Stay tuned.

As I wandered out I couldn’t help thinking Adrian Mole would love  Public Service Broadcasting, they’re clever, they’re subversive, probably had bad acne when they were teenagers and probably one of them went out with a girl called Pandora Braithwaite.

Funny what you think about when you’ve had half a bottle of absinthe before going to a gig.

Words by John Haylock, Pictures by Arthur Hughes.

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Glastonbury Festival ETC 2014 winners M+A

Posted on 08 April 2014 by Joe

London based Italian act M+A were the deserved winners of this year’s Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition. Here’s a clip of one of two tracks they performed at the competition’s finals at Pilton on April 5. This one is particularly reminiscent of Euro-popsters Yello. Great performance.

by Joe Lepper

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School of Language – Old Fears

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School of Language – Old Fears

Posted on 08 April 2014 by Joe

Every few years Field Music’s brothers David and Peter Brewis venture into solo waters; Peter in 2008 with The Week That Was and David in the same year and this year with School of Language.

At times its hard to distinguish these different acts, all are unmistakably Field Music and David’s second School of Language album Old Fears is no exception, with his brother as well as other Field Music regulars also contributing.

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But there are some small, notable differences. Field Music’s more recent releases have a greater focus on guitar interplay and a 70s production, whereas The Week That Was and School of Language have more of a 80s feel to them, with the latter venturing into pop funk at times.

On this latest School of Language release David Brewis is even channelling his inner Justin Timberlake, particularly on the slick track Dress Up (see the track’s excellent Talking Heads style video here). He admitted to The Quietus recently that rather prog and inventive rock by the likes of XTC and King Crimson, it is the pop of Shalamar and Prince that are his key influences on this album.

There is indeed some great pop on display, with Between the Suburbs and Dress Up in particular standing out. But the album still lacks the knockout killer pop blow that was Sea From Shore’s Rockist Part 1. That track’s beatboxing vowel intro proved a highlight of that debut but thankfully there’s still some similarly inventive vocal work on this latest release, most notably on the track Suits Us Better.

Despite the pop feel to Old Fears, the Field Music progressive rock sound is not far away and there’s still plenty of the King Crimson and XTC-esque guitar trickery that has typified Field Music’s most recent releases,  especially on tracks such as Distance Between, Small Words and A Smile Cracks. The production though is far cleaner, dazzling with a Top of the Pops 1983 shine rather than chin stroking with a Top of the Pops 1975 straggly-haired prog rock vibe.

The main point to get across when reviewing this album is that, yes, it is a solo off shoot project from a much loved band, but no, it is no diversion. It has the same core Field Music sound that has garnered a growing fan base and a Mercury nomination (for 2012’s astonishing album Plumb), albeit with a slower, relaxed, chart friendly groove.

8.5/10

by Joe Lepper

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Rhodes – The Birdcage, Bristol (April 4, 2014)

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Rhodes – The Birdcage, Bristol (April 4, 2014)

Posted on 07 April 2014 by Kevin McGough

Spellbinding and hair tingling Hitcham born Rhodes (David Rhodes) arrived in Bristol armed with some sure-fire, perfectly formed, future hits  to enrapture Bristol’s Birdcage.

Rhodes’ journey to this point, if he is to be believed, is truly a remarkable one as he claims having previously only played bass in bands prior to this incarnation he didn’t actually pick up a guitar until January 2013 when he instantly “discovered he had a voice” (see Robert Johnson at the crossroads for a similarly instantaneous musical transformation).

WHL_0686

Dressed head to toe in charcoal black bar a small silver pendant, 24 year-old Rhodes exudes that Jamie XX kind of cool – thoughtful and urbane – and has a very softly spoken and modest stage presence.

After a long wait and in spite of the impersonal atmosphere generated by the venues seating layout (cluttered by pretty but impractical gentleman’s club chic chairs) a hushed silence descends on the crowd as lights dim and Rhodes begins.

Starting with the beautifully dark ‘Run’ with its sensitive delay drenched guitar picking and searing vocals (soaring higher than the sound system is capable of) the track exhibits Rhodes exquisite vocals that recall Anthony & the Johnsons or Jeff Buckley.

The sound is stripped back from the Charlie (Noah and the Whale) Fink produced version from his debut (‘Raise Your Love’ EP) last year but loses non of its rapturous intoxicating brew. Like teenagers with a schoolteacher crush the crowd stand or sit and stare transfixed in awed silence.

WHL_0679

A police car hurtles by the huge open windows and the neon burst of the lights fills the room atmospherically as Rhodes ploughs on through other standouts like ‘Your Soul’ – think Foals after-party, ‘Worry’ – very early Coldplay, ‘Raise your Love’ – ‘Sin E’ era Jeff Buckley and tonight all come with a rapturous soundtrack from the audience.

Stumbling only once early on when he forgets the words on ‘Darker Side’ (but is quickly righted by the front row who recount them as fast he forgot them) it’s all executed expertly and when he laments that “the world now I adore” you can’t hep but feel this flow of affection will soon be reflected both ways as his popularity no doubt gathers momentum.

Review by Kevin McGough, photos by Will Fahy

Morning EP is released by Rhodes Music on May 11. More information here.

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Finals – Pilton (Apr 5, 2014)

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Finals – Pilton (Apr 5, 2014)

Posted on 06 April 2014 by Joe

The Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent finals, taking place in the packed Pilton Working Men’s Club near to the festival site, proved itself to be a contest that is evolving with changing moods and emerging trends.

While last year’s finals had a strong folk rock slant, this year’s acts were far more electronica based. Gone were the cellos and Northumbrian percussion of last year’s deserved winner Bridie Jackson and the Arbour. Instead the stage was packed full of Korgs and Apple Macs.

M+A accept their prize from Michael Eavis

M+A accept their prize from Michael Eavis

All the eight finalists, who were whittled down from 6,000 entrants and then 120 long listers chosen by myself and 39 other music bloggers, were of a high standard. But there was one act that stood out. We in the audience knew it and the judges certainly did. This years winner’s were London based Italian act M+A, named after members Michele Ducci and Alessandro Degli Angioli.

Runner up Izzy Bizu

Runner up Izzy Bizu

So why were they so clearly the winners? First off, they sounded great. Fun danceable pop, with funny inventive vocal effects reminiscent of Europopsters Yello. The looked great too, bent  over percussion and key boards, furiously bashing away at cymbals, and blowing carnival whistles. By the end of their two allotted songs the audience quite simply wanted more, which sealed their victory. Their prize was a coveted main stage slot at the festival, plus £5,000 from the PRS artist development fund.

Runner up Black Tambourines

Runner up Black Tambourines

In joint second, and scooping £2,500 in PRS cash were first act up Izzy Bizu, whose voice is stunning and set the bar high in the finals from the outset. Her blend of soul, funk and pop backed by piano was instantly appealing. She looks a star in the making and is a deserved recipient of her prize.

Gibson Bull

Gibson Bull

Black Tambourines, a punk band from Cornwall, were my second favourite act after M+A. Their old fashioned, energetic brand of punk honed from years of playing to Cornish and other UK crowds, was perfect. Live they were a sensation, bounding around the stage and making me think ‘why can’t all bands be this good live?’ Another deserved winner of a cash prize tonight.

Hero Fisher

Hero Fisher

Gibson Bull was as near as we got to folk tonight. His blend of folk rock with trip hop gave a relaxed twist to the genre. He would not have been an unsurprising winner, as like all tonight’s acts he was an accomplished live performer. Sadly for him though he was a year too late to be in with a chance of impressing the  judges.

Furs

Furs

For the indie music crowd Furs, a duo from London, and Hero Fisher, also from London, were welcome additions to the final eight. Both are packed full of emotive indie rock that could fill the John Peel Stage at the festival with ease. Of the two Furs sounded like they needed a little more time to develop their sound, with bands like Still Corners already excelling at this kind of music. Hero Fisher, however, already has a unique selling point, with the 1960s twist to her guitar playing and vocals, really standing out. They are an act I want to see more of.

Pandr Eyes

Pandr Eyez

Final mention goes to Only Girl and Pandr Eyez, two more genre fusing bands mixing RnB with pop and soul. Both were excellent, with superb vocalists, but in comparison with the zeitgeist cool of M+A and the live passion of Black Tambourines, looked out of place on this short list and a little too mainstream and safe  for the judges and the assembled crowd of music critics and regular festival goers.

Only Girl

Only Girl

By Joe Lepper

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Goldfrapp – Colston Hall, Bristol (April 1, 2014)

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Goldfrapp – Colston Hall, Bristol (April 1, 2014)

Posted on 03 April 2014 by Conal Dougan

For tonight’s gig at Bristol’s Colston Hall, Alison Goldfrapp offers us a show of two halves. With a five-piece backing band including violin, the show begins with a run-through of the woozy, reflective material from the latest album Tales of Us before rounding off with the foot-stomping Euro-disco that Goldfrapp first made waves with.

mute-feature-goldfrapp-press

The dreamy tracks from Tales of Us are played with minimal spotlighting, the music washing over the audience. The material is sinister, beautiful and mournful – Annabelle is stripped down to acoustic guitar and Goldfrapp’s vocals, while Drew is remarkably pretty. The songs stand up on their own, but when played together they create a soundscape dripping with intrigue. The band is incredibly tight, and the outstanding acoustics of Colston Hall allow them to stay true to the material.

With the crowd lulled into a dreamlike state through the first hour, it becomes increasingly difficult to see how uptempo tracks such as Ooh La La could be segued in. Nonetheless, the band manage it by steadily increasing the pace until Ride A White Horse signals the start of the party.

However, Colston Hall’s failings are made clear during this second part of the show. Goldfrapp possess some serious floor fillers, but in the stuffy atmosphere of the venue it takes several of these tracks, including Ride…, Number 1 and Train to get the crowd on their feet. It is not until the final track of the evening, an extended version of Strict Machine, that the majority of the crowd is standing. Nevertheless, the material is played tightly, and with real passion and energy.

What becomes clear on the night is that Alison Goldfrapp is fast on her way to becoming this generation’s Kate Bush. She commands the stage despite moving very little and saying even less, and orchestrates the band superbly. She is both effervescent and enigmatic at the same time, surely the goal for any performer, and commands the total attention of the crowd. Her voice also offers up a dichotomy, at once both mellifluous and sharp, and it is obvious from the faces of the audience members that many, both male and female, have fallen madly in love with her.

With the addition of her latest songs, Goldfrapp has produced a show easily summed up in one word: gorgeous.

by Conal Dougan

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