Monday, 31 August 2009

How and why we built a Hedgehog House!

A hedgehog has decided to live under our bbq. Out of sheer desperation to actually use our bbq we decided to spend our bank holiday building it a new home for the coming winter.

The box is an old used wine crate kindly donated by the local liquor store and the waterproofing is mostly re-used plastic carrier bags (one of them is from a well known and much loved independent music store). We hope he moves house soon!

DIY Hedgehog

Our Hedgehog House

Rough Trade Shelter

Rough Trade Shelter

DIY Hedgehog

The hedgehog under our BBQ


What's on in London this week (including FREE shows) w/c Aug 31st 2009


Here's my weekly hand picked list of concerts happening in London over the coming week, please leave a comment if you think I've missed any worth knowing about.

Monday 31st August

Notting Hill Carnival @ Notting Hill

Tuesday 1st September

Sleeping States @ The Bathhouse

Wednesday 2nd September

Magnolia Electric Co @ Bush Hall
Stars of Sunday League + more @ Wilmington Arms
The Grants + The Chairmen @ Notting Hill Arts Club (FREE)
**UPDATE FROM COMMENTS: The Antlers + My First Tooth, + Trail + downdime @ 229**

Thursday 3rd September

The Antlers with Bear Hands and Swimming @ The Macbeth
The Dodos + Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards @ Bush Hall

Friday 4th September

12 Dirty Bullets + Antlers @ The Lexington
The Antlers instore @ Pure Groove, 1:15pm (FREE)
Thomas Traux @ The Front Room (QEH)

Saturday 5th September

Rota @ Notting Hill Arts Club, 4pm (FREE)
She Keeps Bees @ Finsbury Park
**UPDATE FROM COMMENTS- Daylight Music ft. frànçois, Sparkwood&21 and How to Cure Dyslexia @ Union Chapel, 12pm (FREE ENTRY) **

(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)

OK, not the busiest of weeks musically speaking (with the exception of the Notting Hill Carnival on Monday) but London being London there's always something going on and sometimes it's free- yippee! Check out here and here for ideas.

It's a holiday here in the UK today and I am about to embark on a very special DIY project that may or may not work out. I'm very excited about it. Hopefully I'll have all my fingers left by the end of today. I'll put up photos if there's anything worth seeing.

Over and out.


Tuesday, 25 August 2009

TLS Edinburgh Edition: Concert Review - St Judes Infirmary @ National Portrait Gallery, Aug 22nd

St Judes Infirmary

St Judes Infirmary - National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh , 22 August 2009

Good things come to those that wait. In terms of the second St Judes Infirmary album "This Has Been The Death Of Us" , a follow up to the 2006 debut "Happy , Healthy, Lucky , Month", the intervening period has felt a long and frustrating gap. It is unclear how autobiographical the album title is as you can't go two and a half years between recordings without the odd bit of wear and tear. However the album launch for the St Judes second offering couldn't have been better timed and further confirmed the band's ability to stand out from the crowd. Playing the National Portrait Gallery to the backdrop of an avant-garde "Rough Cut" exhibition of modern design pieces echoed St Judes commitment to doing things a wee bit differently. Playing a tea time slot during the Edinburgh festival may not be unusual however playing a free gig amongst the scores of underachieving, overcharging comedians was a welcome break from The Fringe turning Edinburgh into some sort of monstrous stand up comedy Disneyland.

The good news for the dedicated fans and the toil of the band is that on the evidence of the showcase on Saturday, it looks as if the wait has been worthwhile. The ambient and comfortable surroundings allowed the new material to shine and the elapsed months since work begin on this record has seen the group mature in terms of sound and individual ability. Hearing the new material live, and then later on an advance release copy of the album, the patience and precision in all the songs shines through. Compared to the populist "record it quick and pile it high" thrills and spills of "slagheap" indie , the endurance delivered in "This Has Been The Death Of Us" sticks to it's principles - an almost unique approach at the end of this decade. The detail and delivery of every song has always gained St Judes respect from a devoted and appreciative few rather than the adoration of the masses. The band have always been appreciated in the highest circles in Edinburgh with top crime writer Ian Rankin and acclaimed artist Jack Vettriano keen supporters . Both do parts of narration on the album building on the eerie darkness of the lyrics and contrasting with the melodic and melancholic vocals. Saturday's show started with a loop of Vettriano as Jack had preferred to go to Leonard Cohen in Monaco than be at the launch in person. (Bet we had better beer) Where other bands have tampered with this type of format in the past these interjections, and poetry between songs from Ryan Van Winkle, the in house reader at the Scottish Poetry Library seemed natural and seamless.

Moreover the sound of St Judes has grown and potentially the band are now close to being able to recreate the genius of their writing on record and during live performance. Despite the band using three guitars, Emma Jane's voice continues to mesmerise and outfox anything more commonly heard at present. Duets with Ashley, backed by contrasting guitar styles, show a melody and range that more popular outfits can only dream about (sorry Florence). Another original step was seeing a band who had shown enough thought of how to write proper parts for the cello in their songs rather than some trendy notion that a string section will add something while complicating a lick more suited to rhythm guitar. This coupled with a more up tempo approach to drumming by Catherine Myers stops the risk of some of the slower numbers running down the cul de sac of country.

It is very difficult to compare the sound and approach of St Judes with anything commonly prominent at the moment and, like highly acclaimed acts of the recent past such as Silver Jews, Secret Machines, etc , the band run a risk of being musicians musicians. However one of the clever outcomes of doing a free gig in an unusual location is that folk who previously may not have made the effort, stumble across the venue and leave impressed. The short set made sure that happened with an original version of the opening track from their debut "The Church Of John Coltrane " where the opening verse was recited by Ryan our poet in residence. Adding to this and giving a sense of symmetry not often seen in a Portrait gallery, the band closed with the final track from the new album - "Foot Of The Walk" where the lyrics had been penned by Ian Rankin. The bottom end of Leith Walk perhaps being as far as one can get from the opulence of the Edinburgh International Arts Festival and has been the setting of many a Rankin story murder. The distribution of songsheets, meant that we could all join in with a rousing conclusion. Despite being tucked away as track twelve on the new disk, the song deserves has an anthemic quality and deserves prominent airplay. St Judes are probably the most melodic band I've ever been encouraged to join in with. A risk I can't see many others taking however if Florence Welsh reads this and fancies a pub sing along and a pint please get in touch.

"This Has Been The Death Of Us" has an official release date in September. You don't need to be an acclaimed Scottish Painter or a multi million selling crime writer to enjoy it. Rankin's famous character Rebus may advise that its "worth investigating"…

Written by Ian Campbell

Saint Judes Infirmary Myspace


Monday, 24 August 2009

What's on in London this week (including FREE shows) w/c Aug 24th 2009

Here's my weekly hand picked list of concerts happening in London over the coming week, please leave a comment if you think I've missed any worth knowing about.

Monday 24th August

Monotonix @ The Garage
Deerhunter with HEALTH and Crystal Antlers @ KOKO London
9Bach instore @ Rough Trade East, 7pm (see website for wristband details) (FREE)
Noah and The Whale instore @ Pure Groove, 6pm (FREE)

Tuesday 25th August

Wilco with Blitzen Trapper @ Troxy
She Keeps Bees with Dawn Landes and Anna Log @ The Windmill Brixton
Tortoise with Pivot @ The Garage

Wednesday 26th August

TJ Johnson's Bourbon Kick @ St Martin-in-the-Fields, 8pm

Thursday 27th August

I'm From Barcelona @ Favela Chic
Let's Wrestle + Eugene McGuinness + Swanton Bombs + Speak And The Spells @ Buffalo Bar
There Will Be Fireworks and To Arms Etc. @ Queen of Hoxton
Crystal Antlers instore @ Rough Trade East, 7pm (see website for wristband details) (FREE)
Athlete instore @ Pure Groove, 7:30pm (FREE -see PG website for more details on guaranteed entry)

Friday 28th August

Led Bib + The Brian Jacket Letdown @ The Luminaire
Sleeping States instore @ Pure Groove, 6pm (FREE)

Saturday 29th August

Stars Of Sunday League @ Marie Lloyd Bar, 8pm (FREE)

(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)

Plenty to see this week. If you think you've got strong enough muscles and an air of invisibility about you, why not check out the drum kit surfing Monotonix at the Garage. I'm not really built for this kind of gig. In most of the photos I've seen of this guy it seems the audience are either carrying him playing his drums or taking photos of him - does he not stand on you if you have a camera pointed at him? Seems like a good move.

If you prefer not being crushed by a crowd surfing drum kit plus drummer why not check out BETHAN ELFYN’S LUNCH CLUB AND MINI-BOOT on Tuesday - apparently you get free sandwiches as well!

Noah and The Whale will be playing a free show at Pure Groove later today (Mon 24th) -this is bound to be popular especially with it still being the school/university holidays. If you're a fan I'd suggest you get yourself down there pretty early, Pure Groove will fill up fast. Crystal Antlers at Rough Trade East on Thursday should also pull a good crowd, you'll need to get yourself a wristband one hour in advance for that one.

Whatever you get up to, I hope you have a great week.


Thursday, 20 August 2009

Grizzly Bear @ Koko 18th Aug 2009

At times it felt like the Gods wanted me to miss this show but I defied them. Tickets sold out, puh! Feeling lousy, puh!

Backed with tons of hype from the blogosphere and a pretty awesome third studio album, Grizzly Bear have been on my list of 'bands to see' for some time.

My Verdict: (This is going to be short) Awesome! So glad I went. They do live up to the hype, they are outrageously talented musicians and if you ever get the opportunity to get a ticket don't pass it up. As I've said before, how good must it have felt to be Daniel Rossen on the day he discovered he could sing.

There's a nice review of the show here.

Seriously jealous of any one with a ticket for their sold out show at the Barbican in October, got a spare? Maybe I should have lied and told you they were awful to improve my chances. Hmmm.

Grizzly Bear: Myspace

Set List

1. Southern Point
2. Cheerleader
3. Lullabye
4. Little Brother
5. Knife
6. Fine For Now
7. Two Weeks
8. Colorado
9. Ready, Able
10. I Live With You
11. Foreground
12. While You Wait For The Others
13. On A Neck, On A Spit


He Hit Me


Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Live Folky Goodness @ Rockfeedback TV

It's officially 'Folk Week' over at Rockfeedback and if you're a fan of 'Emmy The Great', 'Peggy Sue' or 'Andrew Bird' keep an eye out for exclusive sessions from all three of these artists recently recorded for the site.

The 'Emmy The Great' session has already been posted here. Emmy explains a little bit about her methods for writing songs and where 'The Great' part of her name originates from. She also performs 'A Bowl Collecting Blood', 'Edward is Dedward' and 'Short Country Song'.

I've been informed the 'Peggy Sue' and 'Andrew Bird' sessions will also be posted to Rockfeedback TV during this week of folkyness so keep a watchful eye out, sit back and enjoy.

(Photo: Andrew Bird (2007) by ilgiovaneWalter (Sobchak)


Monday, 17 August 2009

What's on in London this week (including FREE shows) w/c Aug 17th 2009

Here's my weekly hand picked list of concerts happening in London over the coming week:

Monday 17th August


Tuesday 18th August

Grizzly Bear with Hermana and Magic Arm @ KOKO
Port O'Brien + Kurran And The Wolfnotes @ The Borderline
Pearl Jam with Gomez @ The O2 Arena
Oneida with Teeth Of The Sea @ The Garage
WILLIAM FITZSIMMONS instore @ Rough Trade East, 1pm (FREE)

Wednesday 19th August

Wooden Shjips with Papercuts @ The Borderline

My First Tooth with Line & a Dot, Tristram, and A Line @ The Slaughtered Lamb
Bill Callahan @ Union Chapel
Theoretical Girl instore @ Pure Groove, 6:30pm (FREE)

Thursday 20th August

Rockfeedback Presents Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros @ The Lexington
Animal Collective and Gang Gang Dance @ O2 Academy Brixton

Friday 21st August

Beach House with Vetiver and Papercuts @ Union Chapel

Saturday 22nd August

Rota @ Notting Hill Arts Club 4pm-8pm (FREE) see link for up to date band listings

(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)

It's a good week for live music in the capital. I'm really looking forward to finally seeing Grizzly Bear and supports Hermana and Magic Arm tomorrow night at Koko's - actually to be honest it's not just the show I'm looking forward to, whenever I go to Koko's I also like to indulge myself in one of life's other little delights, a cheap but tasty vegetable curry at a little eatery round the corner. On the subject of food, maybe I should write a regular feature about good places to eat near concert venues, mixing my two favourite subjects could be a lot of fun.


Friday, 14 August 2009

Album Reviews for Rockfeedback: 'Sweet Baboo' + 'Their Hearts Were Full of Spring'

I've written a couple of album reviews for the music website ROCKFEEDBACK. Great site, awesome people, check it out here. You can read both of these reviews in full along with lots more reviews of newly released albums here.

Sweet Baboo - "Hello Wave" (Release Date 3rd August 2009)

"Death, God, demons, travelling and his tales of pretty girls form the basis of Steve’s songs. All are traditional Country music subjects but as with any good song, you can have all the right ingredients but it’s the delivery that counts. And it’s here that Sweet Baboo makes his mark..." read the full review here.

Their Hearts Were Full of Spring - "How I Wasted My Youth" (Release Date - 10th August 2009)

"The cover, illustrated with hand drawn artwork of a blood stained person looking like they are dying in the arms of a military looking man, dressed in black with black eyes, has a... fairly melancholy feel to it. It mentally prepared me for this slightly macabre theme to continue through to their music and I was quite surprised with the fairly upbeat clean indie pop sound that followed..." read the full review here.


Monday, 10 August 2009

What's on in London this week (including FREE shows) w/c Aug 10th 2009

Candle Light

Sorry it's been a bit quiet round here but as a rule I tend to go for the "don't speak unless you've got something to say" style of blogging and over the last week my mind has been occupied by a combination of good books and trivial things that if you let them seem to consume all the thinking space that's available. There's one thing I can guarantee, I'll always have something to say on a Monday and here it is, my hand picked list of concerts happening in London over the week:

Monday August 10th

Kill It Kid instore @ Pure Groove 1:15pm (FREE)
She Keeps Bees instore @ Pure Groove 7:30pm (FREE)
Brandi Carlile with Kill It Kid @ Scala
The National with Broken Records @ Royal Festival Hall

Tuesday August 11th

Devotchka with Tristen Prettyman @ Cargo
Emmy The Great & Friends instore @ Pure Groove 7.30pm (FREE)
Helios with Goldmund and Rameses III @ Union Chapel
Laura Marling and Friends @ Royal Festival Hall
Pearl Jam @ O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
She Keeps Bees with Babe Shadow and The Dufflefolk @ Old Queen's Head
Sound Bites ft. Si Falconer, Izzy Detroit and more @ The Abbey Tavern, Kentish Town
Norman Oak with Jess Bryant and The Bibles of Twang @ The Slaughtered Lamb

Wednesday August 12th

Led Bib instore @ Rough Trade East, 7pm (wristband collection 1 hr before) (FREE)
End of the Road Records Showcase with Woodpigeon, She Keeps Bees, and Sons of Noel and Adrian @ The Borderline

Thursday August 13th

Mary Hampton with The Lofty Heights and Lewis Garland & The Kett Rebellion @ Tamesis Dock
Canary Wharf Jazz Festival: Martha Lewis's Cafe Aman @ Canada Square Park 1 - 2:15pm (FREE)
The Doctor And The Pencil + Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip + The Chapman Family + Spy Catcher + Frank Turner + Jersey Budd + Eight Legs + Citadels + The Xcerts + more @ various venues
Yaneka with Ayu and Sam Brookes @ Monkey Chews 7:30 - 11pm

Friday August 14th

Forest Fire with Broadcast 2000 @ The Luminaire
Billy Childish instore @ Rough Trade East 5pm (wristband collection 1 hr before) (FREE)

Saturday August 15th

CANARY WHARF JAZZ FESTIVAL: Gilad Atzmon And The Orient House Ensemble + Lauren Dalrymple + Porkchop/James Morton + Lizzy Parks Quintet + Twelves Trio @ Canada Square Park, 1 - 9:15pm (FREE)

BRIT JAZZ FEST: Tommy Smith/Arild Anderson/Paulo Vinaccia + Kit Downes Trio @ Ronnie Scotts

Rota ft. Function / Badge of Friendship present: You’re Smiling Now But We’ll All Turn Into Demons, The Monroe Effect and Ex-Libras @ Notting Hill Arts Club 4pm - 8pm (FREE)

(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)

There's a very jazzy feel to my listings towards the end of the week, this is partly because there are lots of free jazz concerts going on but I also chose to recommend them because I think I'm partially experiencing a reawakening of the love affair with Jazz I experienced as a student.

Far from being an obsessive infatuation with this particular genre of music, at the time it more sort of slowly crept up on me and invited me into dark basement rooms with the promise of warmth, cheap coffee and a distinct absence of the usual beered up revelers who graced the students union. I guess it was like a soundtrack to a treasured time I spent with close friends, ordering bowls of ice cream with six spoons and chatting quietly until the wee hours of the morning.

The jazz club managers were kind in the sense that they knew they were never going to make much money out of us but since we behaved ourselves and caused no trouble the most they ever asked was that we made a small donation to the musicians, whatever we could manage. Good times and some great music. Most of the artists names I don't recall, I wasn't a 'music journo' back then, I was just busy finding ways not to study.

Dizzy Gillespie - 'And Then She Stopped'


Monday, 3 August 2009

What's on in London this week (including FREE shows) w/c Aug 3rd 2009

Here is my hand picked list of concerts happening in London over the week:

Monday 3rd August

Stars of Sunday League with Little Words, Olly The Octopus, I Said Yes, Semaphore, Younghusband, Planet Earth, Jeremy Warmsley, Broadcast 2000 plus a Special Secret Guest @ The Luminaire

Tuesday 4th August

Crocodiles with Colours and The Jelas @ Bardens Boudoir
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart with Hatcham Social and Veronica Falls @ The Garage
Crocodiles instore @ Pure Groove, 1.15pm (FREE)
Treetop Flyers @ Notting Hill Arts Club

Wednesday 5th August
The Twilight Sad + Factory Floor @ The Lexington
The Evangenitals + She Keeps Bees @ The Sheepwalk (FREE)

Thursday 6th August
Wild Beasts instore (Album Launch) @ Pure Groove, 1.15pm (FREE)

Friday 7th August
Mariee Sioux with Alessi's Ark @ Cafe OTO

Sunday 9th August
Hunga Munga's Natural Selection with Alessi's Ark, Off Ground Touch and more @ East Reservoir Community Garden

If you're partial to a little Jazz the Brit Jazz festival is on so there's plenty going on at Ronnie Scotts, check it out here.

(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)

Since this is a handpicked list, please don't expect every person twanging a stringed instrument in London this week to get a mention, I try to give you a selection of what I think should be interesting concerts. Of course there is no way that I will have heard of every band or artist who is going to be playing so if you think someone else deserves a mention why not leave a comment and give a recommendation.

btw on Friday it's going to be 07/08/09 (British dates) and at five minutes past four and six seconds in the morning it'll be 040506070809. I'll stop now.


Saturday, 1 August 2009

Moondog Loves Me!

Let me try to explain the title of this post by describing some of my experiences from the past week.

Tuesday > Browsing the internet I come across a Moondog CD in someone's photo. I research Moondog because I like the name and sounds a bit like 'Moonpig' the card company. I'm intrigued so I end up on his Myspace page. 'Birds Lament' (1969) plays first which I instantly recognise as the song Mr Scruff remixed in 'Get a move on'. 'Nice' I think to myself (I'm always pleased to find the orginal song a sample has been lifted from), I listened to a few more tracks and then moved on to some other music.

Wednesday > There's something bothering me about Moondog. Since hearing his song 'Single Foot' the day before I can't seem to get the sprightly pipe sounds out of my head and they're beginning to drive me a little cuckoo. Fascinated by his story on Wikipedia informing me he was blind, dressed up as a Viking and busked on New York's 6th avenue from the 1940s until 1974, I order a book about him from my local library and head off to visit my friend for the afternoon. During one of our regular chats about music I mention Moondog. She'd never heard of him but was similarly intrigued. Why can't I shake the name? What is it about Moondog that's causing me to obsess?

Thursday > I find myself listening to Moondog Radio on LastFM. It takes me on a very surreal Jazzy journey through the likes of Alice Coltrane, John Zorn, Sun City Girls and Raymond Scott. Raymond Scott catches my ear, 'Cindy Electronium' ends sounding uncannily like Kraftwerk. I look up Raymond Scott and discover 'Cindy Electronium' was written in 1959. How could this possibly be? The music sounds electronic and fresh. I digress. (If you're interested, here's a link to a video of Cindy Electronium -Kraftwerk like sounds begin at 1 min 22. ) At this point I feel like I have uncovered a whole new world of music I never knew existed.

Friday > I see a twitter from Alessi of Alessi's Ark promoting the HungaMunga festival she's going to be playing next Sunday. Sounding like a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon I headed over to their website and arrived at the booking page. Take a look here (the booking page) to see what greeted me. Moondog loves me! What a coincidence!

I book my tickets because I know it'll be a lovely afternoon with live music from not only Alessi's Ark but also Tristam, Brody and Quint, Rebecca Jade, Kari Kleiv, Joe Buzfuz and the fabulous Off Ground Touch. The festival is raising funds for the lovely East Reservoir Community Garden Wildlife Centre, a very worthy cause, you can buy your tickets here, I'm sure Moondog loves you as well!

I think you could safely say I've had a Moondog themed week.

and Mr Scruff's version sampling Moondog's 'Bird's Lament'.

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