Archive | January, 2017

The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

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The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

Posted on 31 January 2017 by John Haylock

What a long strange trip it’s been for Oklomaha’s The Flaming Lips.

At the start of their journey there were primitive anarchic splodges of shambolic, psychedelic cacophony and disintegrating shards of brain scan feedback. This was most notable on their fabulously riotous early nineties albums such as Transmissions from the Satellite Heart and Oh My Gawd.

They now find themselves part of the mainstream, well sort of.

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In a world that is quite obviously insane and totally preposterous I suppose it should only be right and proper that Lips frontman Wayne Coyne is regarded as our bonkers saviour.

Let’s face it, rather him than Chris Martin or Ed Sheeran. Madness over sanitised sanity any day.

Anyway he’s not mad he’s just got an imagination that is bigger than a massively big tree with a six lane highway that’s been carved through it.

Think Brian Wilson meets Paul McCartney in a drugs factory. Think outside the box of frogs. He’s merely emancipated himself from mental slavery and got lost in the Strawberry Fields of the Nephilim, as you do.

Let’s not forget the band’s unsung heroes Steven Drozd, a name that sounds spookily a bit like an android, and Michael Ivins. These quietly loyal men at the back, whose melodic sensibilities have repeatedly come to the fore, have formed with Coyne a formidable song writing partnership.

So here we have another collection of loony tunes to devour, digest and discuss.

Oczy Mlody comes luke warm on the heels of the mildy entertaining Terror, and the awful Embryonic.

Over the last few years Wayne has spread his love too thinly, collaborations with Miley Cyrus, Kesha, Tame Impala and basically anybody he meets in a studio with a joint. This has been much to the detriment of the band he fronts.

There have been far too many side projects to distract from his primary directive- to blow peoples minds with the Flaming Lips.

I am happy to report that we’re on course again. This is the best Flaming Lips release since Yoshimi and those evil bastard robots grrr grrr.

It’s a relatively subdued album but absolutely littered with hooks, innocent magic, solemnity and gorgeousness. In the distance Death stands silently with a big scythe in one hand and a copy of Pet Sounds in the other.

Opening with glacial perfection the instrumental title track meanders gently into How?? an absolute Lips classic. Wayne’s vocals here are beauty personified. This will take the place of Do You Realise in their canon of crowd pleasing, heart string tuggers.

There Should Be Unicorns is a darkly hypnotic piece of electronica, with a haunting tracked vocal. Toward the end a scary Darth Vader voice speaks about swans and shit and I hastily conclude this is the best Lips track I have ever heard.

Sunrise and Nigdy Nie continue the lovely ethereal vibe. One Night While Hunting For Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill, is as mad as its title suggests. Imagine a skeletal folk song from an alternative Cornish universe, where a confused semi naked Poldark meets Dr Timothy Leary.

Listening to the Frogs with Demon’s Eyes similarly morphs into a hallucinatory experience. Epic in scope and heaven on headphones, whilst on a train heading into St Pancras railway station at four in the morning.

The Castle is catchy-catchy pop. It sleepwalks on candyfloss, it’s a sexy rumination featuring mushrooms, bumble bees and dragons and should come with a free Arthur Rackham print.

We a Family closes on a high. It’s an anthemic little excursion; walking boots not required.

Back on track then. Where on Earth (or any other planet ) they go next is anybody’s guess. But be assured the trip is definitely not over yet. Tickets please.

These are some of The Flaming Lips best songs of their long career, don’t take my word for it, those evil robots are coming to get you. Yeah.

Words by John Haylock

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White Buffalo & Jarrod Dickenson– Nottingham (Jan 25, 2017)

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White Buffalo & Jarrod Dickenson– Nottingham (Jan 25, 2017)

Posted on 27 January 2017 by John Haylock

This is not so much a critical review, more an advert for two of the brightest stars of Americana, or whatever the genre is called this week.

This gig at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms turned out to be the best double bill I’ve witnessed since I saw an unknown John Grant supporting Midlake in Leicester many years ago.

Jarrod Dickenson

Jarrod Dickenson

Beards, everybody has beards, these days and Jarrod Dickenson is no exception, with his tidy and precise one, complete with moustache, giving him the appearance of a very young Loudon Wainwright the third.

Dickenson is from Waco in Texas, with a voice like honey and rum and a precision way with acoustic and electric guitar. The latter particularly was effective on Gold Rush, no not the Neil Young one. His is a tale about “the gold rush but ended up like most songs do being about Wall Street greed,” he tells the crowd.

He’s supported Jools Holland and bizarrely even The Stylistics. Check out his album The Lonesome Traveller, a lovely piece of work and contains Rosalie and a bunch of other love songs tinged with heartburn.

Dickenson is a class act and he’s coming back to the UK in March for a handful of headline dates. Don’t you dare miss him.

White Buffalo

White Buffalo

White Buffalo is the stage name for another bearded troubadour, Jake Smith. He’s a larger than life one-man nuclear powerplant. A big lad with a voice that could kill cattle at 600 paces.

Accompanied by two superb musicians, Matt Lynott on drums, who looks a bit like Dave Gorman in a cowboy hat, and on bass Tommy Andrews, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Holger Czukay from Can.

Together they make a formidable wall of sound, even more remarkable when you consider Jake only sports a violently abused acoustic guitar. But by God does he give it some stick.

Word has travelled fast. Internet word of babble, plus Smith’s contributions to Sons of Anarchy and Californication soundtracks make for a great turnout.

The band respond in kind by giving their all in an exhausting epic set of almost Springsteenesque proportions. This greatest hits set includes Come Join the Murder, Last Call to Heaven, Joe and Jolene and especially Wish it Were True. All were delivered with passion and anger.

So there you go, a double bill of rare quality. I’m still exhausted 24 hours later. Promise me you’ll check these guys out, you won’t regret it, I’m off for another lie down.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes

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Introducing… Eyelids OR

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Introducing… Eyelids OR

Posted on 25 January 2017 by Dorian

We’re not really introducing Eyelids OR (or just Eyelids in their homeland) as we have been going on about the band for some time.

We reviewed their debut album 854 back in 2014, and we’ve been raving about their subsequent single releases ever since.

However the band have just announced their first ever UK dates, supporting Drive-By Truckers, so it seemed to be the perfect time to catch up with the band’s songwriters, Chris Slusarenko and John Moen, to find out a bit more about the band.

You have been playing together for years. How did you meet?

JOHN: Chris and I met as young guys playing music in Portland. I moved to town in 1986 just after graduating from high school. Our bands played together here and there, but I especially remember being introduced by the cartoonist, Joe Sacco at a cafe. We were both skinnier then. I was bleaching my hair to stand out, and Chris wore a beret. I think we were both carrying satchels full of poetry.

Why Eyelids? (and how do you come up with band names? How do you top Death Midget?)

CHRIS: Well Death Midget was born out of innocence and teenage years. Plus it was the era of Butthole Surfers, Killdozer… So it fit our mess. To tell you the truth I’ve rarely got to name a band I’ve been in and I always thought Guided By Voices was one of the greatest band names of all time so it was special to be part of that. But names are tough… Eyelids (with an Or attached for our home state of Oregon—blessed on us via Tim Burgess of The Charlatans UK) just seemed to sound like our music a bit. A bit hazy, a bit eye-opening… It so weird when I stop to think about the word “eyelids” it just starts to fold in on itself… Once you’re the name you rarely stop to think of what it means anymore… it just becomes you.

Eyelids

You’ve both been in the background in some great bands, How do you feel about being the front-men?

JOHN: I think it’s terrifying, but it’s also kind of hard to resist. It seems there’s a fine line between “rocking-out” and looking like you’re about to die. Chris does most of the talking, thank goodness.

CHRIS: I can’t help the banter!!! Singing with Jonathan and John is easy–they come up with great ideas and I’m always surprised to hear harmonies. All my earlier bands never had them!!! Argh…so nice to have finally! And since John and myself both sing and write the songs it’s a nice back and forth between us live as well. I do like to rock out and look like I’m going to die so I’ll take that position for the band…everyone else can look cool. I’ll sweat it out…!

I first came across you from your work with Robert Pollard in Boston Spaceships. He’s a ten album a year kind of guy. How do you keep up? (Both in the recording and the drinking)

CHRIS: Well you just gladly jump in. Part of Bob’s work ethic definitely had an effect on John and myself and was the reason that we both realized we worked really well together. Since Bob would send us a cassette of him singing and playing guitar John and myself had to quickly help create the album he wanted (knowing full well there was another EP or LP or double LP breathing down your neck right behind it). I really wanted to go back to way early GBV worked. Not letting the “band” know the song very well and just get inspired takes before over thinking it. That has kind of flowed over into Eyelids where often the first ideas we play over someone else’s song tend to be the ones we use. Just letting your mind and fingers drift… none of us are what you’d call smoking guitar players but we do love our riffs and hooks. As many as we can pile on we will. And in terms of releases with the upcoming RSD 7” we’re doing with Gary of the Cribs singing lead and the full length in May that will be 5 7”s, a 12” Ep, and 2 full lengths in under 3 years… not too shabby. And we have 4 songs already finished for our next EP as well.

854 was one of our favourite albums of 2015 (and 2016 when it came out in the UK). How do you follow that on your second album?

CHRIS: This is actually the only second album I’ve ever made that I’ve been a principal songwriter in besides The Takeovers albums I did with Bob (Chris performed and wrote all the music, Robert Pollard sang and wrote lyrics). So it’s kind of abstract to think about what a 2nd album means for us. The first album was made with John, Jonathan and myself as a recording project/dare. But after we put a full band together to play the songs live a different character came into it as well. The EP we did after 854 reflects that pretty well. It rocks a little more but still has that weepy quality that I like. The new album was the first one where all 5 of us were there from the beginning and it was pretty exciting to hear that. For example I was playing a new song to everyone called “Moony”. It’s kind of a pretty looping type feel. But then John and Jonathan started adding this cool Television type interplay and Paulie and Jim were playing this XTC Black Sea area drumbeat and I was so happy. My simple little phrase all the sudden had an unexpected life pumped into it.

Peter Buck is producing for you, how did you come to work with him?

JOHN: Peter moved to Portland several years ago, and he is very generous with his time and talents. We are connected through Scott McCaughey who played in REM, and was instrumental in helping my first recording/touring band, Dharma Bums. Scott produced that bands first record and encouraged us in many ways. Peter has played guitar on a Decemberists record, as well, and he would come into Chris’s video store fairly often, where they got to know one another. Also, Chris was pretty heavy into the REM fan club in the old days. I believe he and Peter corresponded. All that to say, we are huge fans and we had to ask him to produce!

CHRIS: Yeah I wrote to R.E.M. right before Murmur was released and Peter was kind enough to write back. We wrote back and forth about 3 years after that. They’d send me reject photos, weird old posters, chronic town t-shirts that were bootlegs. Very generous. He told me they always wrote to anyone where the hadn’t played yet figuring someone in NY or Chicago would find their way. But at the time they were thinking “what the hell is Portland?” Then we re-connected as adults and it’s been a great friendship. And in terms of producing you really want to do well when he’s in the room! No waste ya know!!! He’s got great ideas and he’s been great to work with.

You also have a Record Store Day release with Gary Jarman of The Cribs on vocals, how did you come to pick him for the track?

CHRIS: I’d written some music for Robert Pollard to sing over called The Carbon Whales. It was a fake UK Post-Punk band—like a lost EP that he released. Gary heard it and said it was so convincing and true to the spirit of the original era—he loved it. So when we wanted to do another Record Store Day 7” I wanted to do something that would stand alone. So many RSD releases these days are live tracks or reissues. I wanted something that was made specifically for this event. So we thought it would be cool to have a Gary and his intense Wakefield accent sing lead on both tracks. He’s got such an amazing voice and delivery. It was perfect. I wrote the songs as I would have when I was 17. Kind of innocent but full of confidence. The lyrics I banged out really quick too. Then we all just played on it and had Gary come in and it became a real thing. The 7” is called Eyelids Meet Gary Jarman.

Eyelids Live

Your dates with Drive-By Truckers are your first gigs in the UK. What should we expect from an Eyelids live show?

JOHN: Jet lagged American imperialists, of course! Ha. We are a rock band trying to play pretty… Sounds terrible, right? I really don’t know… I’m sure we will be a bit giddy to be playing with the Truckers(amazing!) in such killer venues. As a band, I think we are good at enjoying the moment together, and that energy( along with the songs that we are quite proud of) translates as a good time to those watching and listening.

CHRIS: I never get tired of playing out and to finally get to play these songs overseas will be incredible. Live I think we’re pretty kick ass so hopefully people will be ready for the songs to be amped up a bit. Pretty and loud. Also I’m a total anglophile in terms of music, film, books… For instance we’re doing an in-store at Rough Trade Records and to me as someone all the way over here on the West Coast of the U.S. it still makes me flutter my eyelids… can’t help it…

If you had to sell Eyelids to someone who had never heard you play before, how would you describe the band?

JOHN: I often dream of not being a salesperson… but, if cornered, I would say that we are a melodic rock band that wouldn’t mind being thought of as an (inclusive) art project. We are strong enough that your weird uncle won’t think we suck, but are soft enough to remind you of that rare house cat that will allow you to stroke its belly. There you go.

CHRIS: What he said.

Chris and John were interviewed by Dorian Rogers

Tickets for the band’s shows with Drive-By Truckers are available here.

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Glastonbury Emerging Talent 2017 Competition Launches

Glastonbury Emerging Talent 2017 Competition Launches

Posted on 24 January 2017 by Joe

Details of this year’s Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent competition, where thousands of acts compete to win a prestigious main stage slot at the event, have been announced.

For the fourth year running Neonfiller.com’s Joe Lepper will be among the 40 music writer judges, tasked with whittling down the entries to a 120 strong longlist.

A panel of judges, including festival organisers Michael and Emily Eavis will then choose eight long listed acts to take part in a battle of the bands event in April in Pilton, Somerset, near to the festival site at Worthy Farm.

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The winners of this free-to-enter competition will win £5,000 talent development prize from the PRS Foundation  as well as a main stage slot at the 2017 event. Two runners-up will receive £2,500 from the PRS Foundation. For the last three years all eight shortlisted acts have appeared at the Festival.

Acts from any musical genre can enter the 2017 competition FOR ONE WEEK ONLY from 9am Monday 30th January until 5pm Monday 6th February 2017 via glastonburyfestivals.co.uk.

ETC 2016 winners She Drew The Gun

ETC 2016 winners She Drew The Gun

The 2016 competition was won by Merseyside band She Drew The Gun. Previous winners include Declan McKenna, who was signed by Columbia after winning the accolade in 2015.

To enter acts need to supply a link to an original song on Soundcloud and a link to a video of themselves performing.

Emily Eavis said: “New music is at the very heart of what we do here at Glastonbury. The Emerging Talent Competition has become such an important way for us to find the next wave of talent from across the genres, and then help to shine a light on it. I’m really excited to hear this year’s entries.”

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The Flaming Lips – Manchester Academy (January 22, 2017)

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The Flaming Lips – Manchester Academy (January 22, 2017)

Posted on 24 January 2017 by John Haylock

You know what its like, you go for a walk in the woods and fall down that bloody rabbit hole again.

As you fall you remember the last time this happened; you almost became imprisoned by the Red Queen, you know, the one that walks backwards and lives above a kebab shop in Lazytown. Luckily you were saved by a somewhat sweaty Japanese student in a giant black gorilla outfit.

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You finally land uncomfortably on a bed of rice and a sea of beer and stumble toward a big cow shed made of drugs and dry roasted nuts. There’s two girls on a stage playing not very good music so you watch a fight and go and look for unicorns.

A wizard with a grey beard appears and you party like it’s 2099, driving an invisible car made of milk chocolate into a cave full of weeping men. A small yellow duck appears on your head, its powers will be revealed later. Steve Coogan laughs and you sing Space Oddity at the top of your voice.

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Stars explode and a giant rainbow appears. The wizardy man floats off inside a bubble of love and you solve the Fermi Paradox.

Where are all the aliens? ?

They’re already here.

Look! A man on a somewhat immobile unicorn.

Making contact using variable sound vibrations, The Flaming Lips have a message for humanity. But you are so primitive you cannot understand it. Fortunately that small yellow plastic duck of destiny translates for you and the assembled throng. Sadly no one is listening as everybody is dancing badly to something that sounds like Passover by Joy Division.

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The wizardy man makes deep pronouncements. A keyboard blows up and you find the words ‘make it a double please’ coming out of your mouth with increasing regularity.

Vertical curtains of illuminated light send beams of pure joy into the throng. There are cannons. There is a ticker tape supernova.

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You’ve seen it all before. You love it. You forget there is a big ginger twat in The Whitehouse. You live briefly in a world of light, love and unity (and shit unicorns).

Do you realize? was so fucking moving. But it always is, just ask Alice.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes

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