Friday, 29 May 2009

When the kids in the next door tent started doing Susan Boyle impressions, I just wanted it to rain...

Hay - on - Wye

Wow, I think this is the longest gap I've ever taken between blogs! Truth is I've been enjoying a little down time taking a holiday in the South of France with my French family and then camping at the world renowned Hay-on-Wye festival (Hay is known as 'a book town', it's a tiny place population 1900 and has 39 bookshops so that's basically 1 book shop per 48 people!) and I'm off to Dublin tomorrow to see my brand new little niece.

Unfortunately I got a little stomach bug just before getting on the flight back from France which ran over into the beginning of camping and as I'm sure you can all appreciate, stomach bugs + camping is not ideal! Thankfully it didn't last long and I was feeling back to happy normal self by the end of the first evening under canvas although when the kids from the next door tent started doing very loud Susan Boyle impressions ('Britain's Got Talent' contestant) right outside ours, I just wanted it to rain! Thank God it did.

It's good to get away from the computer for a while, I recommend it to everyone! Normal blogging will resume shortly.

Enjoying an ice cream and a paddle @ Cassis (southern France)

This little doggie nose kept appearing under a door in a street in Hay-on Wye, I never saw the full dog

Toulon Market: It's much easier to be healthy when your local market sells food that looks this good!

'Murder and Mayhem' - just one of the 39 bookshops in Hay-on-Wye - a must for any book lover!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Ice Cream Machines and Grizzly Bears

Today has been packed full of lovely sunshine, walks by the seaside along with the occasional shock of the nudist beach variety (remember I'm British and therefore inherently prude). I also discovered a 'great invention' that our continental counterparts utilise - a cornetto machine where the pre made icecream part is inserted into a machine similar in design to the ones used to make a 99 in the UK and is then pushed through into the cone. FYI It tastes the same as a normal cornetto but is less rigid. I'm undecided as to whether I prefer the UK or the continental version, maybe I'll have to eat some more to make up my mind.

On a more musical note, if you haven't seen this already, Black Cab Sessions have just released their latest video, this time it's Grizzly Bear, check it out here.

Fanfarlo's 'Reservoir' is Rough Trade's 'album of the week', here's a link to their recent Bandstand Busk for you to get a feel for them (link here).

Thursday, 21 May 2009

It's bit quiet round here...

Oh hai. Please expect things to be a little slow round here over the next few days, I'm busy eating nice meals and enjoying the sunshine. I will be posting but it'll be pretty random but don't worry, I haven't forgotten you.

Here are a few interesting links I thought you might enjoy:

give The Low Anthem's latest offering 'Oh My God, Charlie Darwin' a well deserved great review, read here. (These guys are my band of 2009 so far.)

AnikainLondon reviews Metric at the Electric Ballroom, great snaps too, read here.

Ohbijou have an Ohbiblog!

The Line of Best Fit interview Grizzly Bear, read here.

Be well,

Chalky xo


Sunday, 17 May 2009

What's on in London this week (Including FREE shows) w/c May 18th 2009

Here is my hand picked list of gigs happening in London this week. Please leave a comment if you think I've missed any worth knowing about.

Monday May 18th
Rockfeedback presents a Rough Trade Records acoustic showcase show ft. Basia Bulat, The Veils and Joe Worricker @ The Lexington
Kimya Dawson, Karl Blau and Angelo Spencer @ Union Chapel
Deerhunter + Women + Waves + Extra Life @ Scala
Sad Day For Puppets instore @ Rough Trade East, 7pm (see website for details)

Tuesday May 19th
Metric @ Electric Ballroom
A.C. Newman and Andrew Morgan @ The Luminaire

Wednesday May 20th
Ane Brun @ Union Chapel
DM Stith and Marla Hansen @ Hoxton Hall
Titus Andronicus instore @ Pure Groove, 1:15pm (see website for details)

Thursday May 21st
Voga PArochia ft. Mayor McCa, The Coolness, The Bicycle Thieves and Lial Arad @ the Lock Tavern

Friday May 22nd
Jim Lockey, Beans on Toast and Peanut Albinos @ The Slaughtered Lamb

Saturday May 23rd
Great Lake Swimmers and Sharon Van Etten @ The Borderline
Sharon Van Etten instore @ Rough Trade East, 1pm (see website for details)

(In case any concerts have changed dates/ changed venues/ been cancelled or I've made a typo, you'd be wise to check out the venue websites before heading out the door)

I'm going to be a little here, there and everywhere during the coming week so blog posts will be as random as usual. Looking forward to the RockFeedback and Rough Trade evening at The Lexington tomorrow, tickets are only £6 and there are still a few available here, "ahhh go ON!"


Saturday, 16 May 2009

The Low Anthem + Ohbijou @ The Slaughtered Lamb 13/05/09

Four words, GIG OF THE YEAR (so far anyway!).

The Slaughtered Lamb is a pretty intimate venue, seeing a gig there is like watching a band play in your living room and I managed to claim a nice spot just to the front right of where the bands perform.


Ohbijou were on first, delivering a sweetly sublime set, full of sumptuous vocals and all kinds of intricate sounds from a myriad of instruments including a cello, mandolin, violin, glockenspiel and synth . Their sound is a cross between indie and folk with a twist of pop and a dash of bluegrass. The vocals are without doubt my favourite element of their sound, singer Casey Mecija has one of those voices that you could listen to for hours and not get tired of.

MySpace: Ohbijou

The Low Anthem

The Low Anthem. I'll try to avoid gushing but this band was really something. If I tell you I went home and straight away bought a ticket to their show at The Union Chapel next month for fear it would be sold out after having witnessed such a fantastic performance, that should give you some sort of an idea.

The Low Anthem are from Providence, Rhode Island. They play a blend of folk rock Americana style and really deserve to be singled out from all the other bands who have tried and failed miserably at this genre. The Low Anthem are the real deal.

Singer Ben Knox Miller took to the stage, harmonica holder slung over his shoulder looking every bit the folk hero joined by Jeff Prystowsky on double bass and Jocie Adams on clarinet (who wikipedia tells me is also a NASA technician -if that's true, how cool is that?!).

The Low Anthem

Their quieter, more delicate songs such as "Ticket Taker", "Charlie Darwin" and "Ohio" were delivered with such incredible sensitivity I had to remind myself to blink and breathe! They struck the perfect balance between quiet songs and racier numbers such as "The Horizon is a beltway" and "Home I'll never be" and then there was that hypnotic rendition of the old folk song "Sally Where'd You Get your Liquor" putting the vintage pump organ (apparently bought on ebay for £26 for this tour) to mesmerising effect. The last song of the evening was called "This God Damn House" and featured Ben whistling into two mobile phones creating a fittingly haunting reverb sound – whatever made them think of doing that I don't know but it was the perfect ending to an awesome show.

The Low Anthem

After being suitably blown away by their performance I couldn't stop myself from going up to them and... well gushing! It was only after about 20 seconds "mid gush" that I realised one of them wasn't actually a band member but a fan who ran a convincing double for the clarinet player, Jocie Adams. Whoops! Don't worry though, I quickly found the real Jocie Adams and relayed my "gush" to her so she didn't miss out!

The Low Anthem are like a secret you don't want to get out for fear you won't be able to watch them in small venues any more. I loved them (if you hadn't guessed) and I'm pretty sure they had everyone in that room on Wednesday night captivated with full jaw dropping effect. Don't miss your chance to see them at The Union Chapel on June 23rd, that show is going to be huge and it will sell out. Tickets here. Their latest album 'Oh My God, Charlie Darwin' is available here on CD and will re-released in the US on vinyl June 9th (you might want to check around for release dates for CD and vinyl formats for different countries).

I recommend visiting their MySpace and listening to "Charlie Darwin", "To Ohio", "Ticket Taker" and "The Horizon is a Beltway", actually just try all of them!

Myspace: The Low Anthem

Here's a video I found of "This God Damn House" featuring Ben whistling into two mobile phones - the phone bit starts at about 3min 40 in.

This God Damn House by The Low Anthem live at Firehouse 13 Providence

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Review: My Latest Novel, The Low Anthem, Ohbijou and The Acorn @ The London Eye 12/05/09

The London Eye

On Tuesday morning I had the pleasure of watching FOUR bands perform on The London Eye. It's not very often I can begin a concert review with a sentence like that! I was supposed to be attending my first ever Tai Chi class but when Kevin Molloy of RockFeedBackTV asked if I'd like to join them at 'The Eye' it was an absolute no brainer.

The bands were My Latest Novel, The Low Anthem, Ohbijou and The Acorn. All four are signed to the Bella Union label, all four were fantastic.

So the basic idea was to get each band into a pod on 'The Eye' for one rotation which is easier said than done when there's a lot of equipment and people and the eye doesn't actually stop for you to get on! This incredibly ambitious feat was achieved and no band members or vital instruments were left behind apart from The Low Anthem's vintage pump organ (apparently bought on ebay for £26) but that was because it just wasn't allowed, shame, that would have been awesome.

The Low Anthem's Vintage Pump Organ

Each band were filmed playing three songs and some managed to fit a swift interview in but that was usually interrupted by the automated voice suggesting we stand on the designated spot to have our photo taken. After a couple of rotations we all became pretty sharp at predicting when the lady was about to make her announcement, thankfully it wasn't during the filming of any of the songs.

Here's my attempt at trying to summarise each band's performance:

My Latest Novel

My Latest Novel: A mixture of Indie meets Folk. Gorgeous harmonies in 'All in All in All is All' sent shivers down my spine and made me feel a bit wobbly. I kept thinking why haven't I seen these guys live before? Why? Why? WHY?! Brilliant.

Most likely to... make me want to sound Scottish.

Album: Deaths And Entrances to be released on Bella Union 18/05/09, Album launch concert details here.

The Low Anthem

The Low Anthem: What more could you want than this? Breathtaking vocals that make you pinch yourself to make sure it's real. An absolute pleasure to hear such an intimate performance. Loved them so much I got myself a ticket to last night's gig at The Slaughtered Lamb which worked out to be my best gig of the year so far. Don't live one more minute of your life without having heard these guys. They're playing The Union Chapel on June 23rd, I've booked mine I can't recommend enough that you do the same.

Most likely to... try to get an vintage pump organ on the London Eye, oh hold on they actually did try that!

Album: 'Oh My God, Charlie Darwin' released on Bella Union 02/09/08


Ohbijou: Beautiful sounds, simply sublime at 443 ft. Favourite moment was shouting 'Wolves!' during 'The Woods' song. The sort of band that makes you want to pick up an instrument and join in. Great support show last night for The Low Anthem, was a real treat to hear them play again. (Here's the YouTube video for 'The Woods')

Most likely to... count the pod as one of their instruments.

Album: 'Swift Feet For Troubling Times' to be released on Bella Union 01/06/09

The Acorn

The Acorn: These guys even got the kids in the next pod along dancing, the sort of music you just want to go on and on. I enjoyed watching one of the band members in an 'egg shaker trance' looking out over London. At the end we all just stood there blown away.

Most likely to...
make the people in the other pods dance crazily even though they couldn't hear them

Album: 'Glory Hope Mountain' released on Bella Union

Kids dancing to The Acorn in the next pod

So there you have it, so much more intimate than listening to your ipod watching four amazing bands from a dizzy height with the hustle and bustle of London slowly drifting by. It doesn't get much better than this. I can never go on the London eye again without musicians playing, it's soo much better!

Big thanks to RockFeedBack, The London Eye and to all the musicians who made it happen. Please do it again!


Wednesday, 13 May 2009

TLS Edinburgh Edition: Concert Review - Morrissey @ Glasgow Barrowland 7th May 2009

Morrissey by JalapeƱo (photo not from Glasgow Barrowland)

Our man Ian in Edinburgh has been enjoying a gig in Glasgow again, this time it was Morrissey.

"It's now or never!" proclaimed the biggest British musical genius of the last 25 years at the start of an eagerly awaited final night in Scotland on the latest Morrissey town hall tour. An already warm Glasgow Barrowland may well have appreciated a Cornetto or two however settled for the greatest lyrical couplet of the early eighties "PUNCTURED BICYCLE ON A HILL SIDE - DESOLATE!" We were off and it sounded like it was going to take a hell of a lot to stop us.

Reports had indicated that the week had gone well - Total respect to Morrissey for taking five nights to play Central Scotland including Stirling Town Hall - not the biggest venue in the world - and Dundee Caird Hall (Seen in may films as part of Moscow - proud moments for Dundee Reds) and then finally two nights at the Barras. Expectation is always pretty high for these live shows however, as usual, and with almost effortless style Morrissey scales these heights like some Alpine mountaineer. It would be very easy for big Stevie to get very lazy - a couple of phone calls to numbers that start 0161 and a few nights in football stadiums could set him up for life but you don't earn your reputation as a genius without continuing to impress with fresh material and new interpretations of the soundtrack for a generation.

Morrissey had the mix exactly right - some Smiths classics - including a great semi acoustic version of Death of A Disco Dancer, a track I've never heard live before which ended almost as a homage to local grunge stars My Bloody Valentine in a wall of white noise mixed with powerful renditions of the stand out tracks from Years Of Refusal. When Last I Spoke to Carol blended Morrissey's vocal range with almost Tijuana backing style. The jury is out on whether his cough mid song was a blip or a subtle joke about swine flu ( subsequent cancellation sadly perhaps suggest a cold) It's Not Your Birthday Anymore and I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris these were the new tracks that went down best with the lyrics as dark as ever almost in contrast to Morrissey's general demeanor as he seems to grow more relaxed with every tour.

He took time to banter with the Glasgow crowd, started off the now traditional shirt stampede (no luck again) and made a number of witty observations. However I fear that as a boss, he may be a hard task master. His band are flawless. The much respected Boz Boorer, once of The Polecats gives a complexity to guitar lines which keeps the old sounds fresh - aging slightly, Boz's resemblance to Bill Hayley gave Morrissey's rockabilly style numbers an extra panache. Solomon Walker lends a more edgy punky bass track than his predecessor - the popular Gary Day and Matt Walker came on with the biggest gong and kettle drum seen in Glasgow since some prog rock nightmare in 1973.

Morrissey has created a new style from his original material. Ask rocked up would have surprised the most cynical of critics from the 80's and a live version of Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others - always overshadowed by There Is a Light which precedes it on the Queen Is Dead stole the show as a lost classic. Finishing with First In The Gang To Die - the track which relaunched him into the limelight completed the night. A superb night to end the show - pity there were no ice creams.....

Written by Ian Campbell

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

My Latest Novel, The Low Anthem, Ohbijou and The Acorn @ The London Eye

OK, time to come clean about what I got up to this morning! I was invited by Kevin Molloy of RockFeedBack to see FOUR bands (My Latest Novel, The Low Anthem, Ohbijou and The Acorn) perform on the London Eye. Here's a photo of the London Eye for those who have no idea what I'm talking about, it's basically a huge ferris wheel.

The London Eye

I'll be writing a full review over the next day but in the meantime here are some photos from the morning to give you an idea of what it was like (btw, I went round FOUR times! Each revolution takes just over half an hour, all the bands were great so it was a lot of fun.) The performances were filmed by RockFeedBack and the footage will be posted on their site soon. Also, all these bands are performing around the capital over the next week, I highly recommend checking them out.

My Latest Novel

The Acorn

Kids dancing in the next pod along!

The Low Anthem

The Low Anthem


The Low Anthem Organ (the organ unfortunately wasn't allowed in the pod)

The Acorn and Ohbijou busking

Proving the point that buses nearly always seem to come along at once!

Here are all the bands MySpace links so you can check them out while you're waiting for my review!:

My Latest Novel
The Low Anthem
The Acorn


Monday, 11 May 2009

What's on in London this week (Including FREE shows) w/c May 11th 2009

Here is my hand picked list of gigs happening in London this week. Please leave a comment if you think I've missed any worth knowing about.

Monday May 11th
Andrew Bird and Cortney Tidwell @ Shepherds Bush Empire
Sarabeth Tucek,Lucas renney and Elizabeth Devlin @ Slaughtered Lamb
Graham Coxon instore @ Rough Trade East, 7pm (FREE) see website for more details

Tuesday May 12th
Shearwater and The Cave Singers @ Union Chapel
The Acorn and Ohbijou @ Scala
Cursive @ Dingwalls
The Mae Shi, Abe Vigoda, Tubelord @ Bardens Boudoir

Wednesday May13th
Whispertown2000, The Whispertown 2000, Stars of Sunday League and Lulu and the Lampshades @ The Windmill Brixton
The Low Anthem and Ohbijou @ The Slaughtered Lamb

Thursday May 14th
ATP Presents: Yann Tiersen + Matt Elliott @ Electric Ballroom
The Low Anthem and Ohbijou @ The Slaughtered Lamb
Alessis Ark instore @ Rough Trade East, 1pm (FREE)

Friday May 15th
Platforms:live presents Peggy Sue, Alessi's Ark and Blue Roses @ Borderline

Saturday May 16th
Jarvis Cocker instore @ Rough Trade East, 7pm (FREE) See website for more details

(In case any concerts have changed dates/ changed venues/ been cancelled or I've made a typo, you'd be wise to check out the venue websites before heading out the door)

Lots going on this week, I am very excited about hopefully spending tomorrow morning with a couple of the names on that list, check back here tomorrow to find out who!

I should also bring to your attention the abundance of SKA that's going to be generated at the O2 Academy this week as The Specials begin a five night residency. If you're going best dust off your pork pie hat and start warming up those SKA shuffling muscles to these videos, and if you not going well why not have a little dance anyway, it's good for the soul!

This is Ska! from 1964

The Specials - Too Much Too Young

Have a great week.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Beirut @ HMV Forum Videos

Here are some videos (yes already!) from last nights Beirut performance at the HMV Forum care of LaMusiqueDeLouie who writes the blog

Thanks Imdia!

Beirut - The Shrew live @ Forum - London 08/05/2009

Beirut - Gulag Okerstar live @ Forum London 08/05/2009

Looks like I missed a goodun, next time, next time!


Friday, 8 May 2009

Beirut Tonight!

(Beirut by obo-bobolina)

I've just turned down tickets for the Kentish Town HMV Forum Beirut gig tonight - am I mad? *Chalky shakes her Magic 8-Ball* - "signs point to yes". I just can't make it. For all you lucky people going, here's something to get you in the mood. I love Zach Condon's voice.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Indie Ghetto Karaoke

I stumbled across the Indie Ghetto MySpace this morning and I've been hooked watching their videos ever since.

Simple concept: Hip Hip Covers from UK indie artists (well it's a bit more like indie karaoke).

For example, Beans on Toast and Josh Weller have covered Warren G ft. Nate Dogg's Regulate.

Here's the original:

Warren G ft. Nate Dogg - Regulate

Here's the Indie version:

Beans on Toast, Josh Weller - Regulate

There are loads more Hip Hop indie covers on their MySpace here.


Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The Danish Poet gives us HOPE

Unfortunately my time of late has been sucked up trying to communicate with a ... difficult landlord. Badly in need of a little time out from life's stresses, Danish Poet Blog author Ian France couldn't have delivered his debut album "Hope" at a better time.

I highly recommend dimming the lights, pumping up the bass and giving "Hope" an MP3ish whirl. In his own words:

"Playing at 36 minutes it is a 10 track exercise in experimenting, and an experiment in making electronica music...Remember to turn the volume all the way up. XD"

All tracks from "Hope" are free for download on his site here, you can also check out more of his very cool music on his MySpace.

Not only is Ian producing some excellent tunes, he also makes cracking videos, here's the video for 500 Souls, one of the tracks on "Hope".

500 Souls - Ian France

Thanks for the Hope Ian, you are a very talented man, please keep them coming!

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