Thursday, 30 June 2011

Short Video: Independent Label Market on Berwick Street, London

Angular Records have uploaded a short video about the Independent Label Market held on Berwick Street earlier this year.

In their words:

"On Saturday 21st May 2011, as dawn broke in Soho, crates were unpacked, awnings stretched out and Independent Label Market breathed life into its lungs for the very first time. Something very special was about to take place in Soho's Berwick St. Never before had a load of the UK's great indie record label bosses joined together to pitch stalls and sell their own records themselves at their own unique brand of farmers market. As the label bosses acquainted themselves with the fruit and veg guys and figured out which way round to put the tarpaulin, a slight uncertainty gave way to beaming smiles from everyone as the sun shone and A LOT of fresh record label produce was sold..."

As a masked Mark Jones of Wall of Sound records puts it "This is what's it's all about, it's about giving our artists a platform to do what they do and representing them in the way we can represent them." Keep an eye out for Jarvis Cocker signing a copy of JG Ballard's 'Hello America' about half way through.

If like me you couldn't make it to the market this time around I'm guessing with it having been such a success there will be more.

Independent Label Market : Berwick Street

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Rough Trade instore: Underground Railroad 29/06/11

Just a quick update:  French band Underground Railroad did a superb job of clearing out some indie post-punk cobwebs at Rough Trade this evening.

Vocal duties are shared between guitarist Marion Andrau and drummer Raphael Mura with JB Ganivet on bass guitar and backing vocals.

Would definitely watch them again although I did feel some of the subtleties of the recorded songs were lost in the heaviness of the live performance, saying that I really did enjoy the heaviness and it looked like the band did too. If they can marry the two they are really onto something.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Kid Koala on Daytrotter

Multi tasking extraordinaire turntablist and DJ Kid Koala has recorded a Daytrotter session and it sounds great. He performs 'Moon River', 'Spanky Panky' and 'A Dub Thing'. I really recommend this session, such a talented man with a great ear for working a tune, best Daytrotter I've heard in a while.

[Download or stream the performances here.]

I also really like Daytrotter's writer Sean Moeller's description of a typical DJ/ turntablist concert:

"They're up there in their grand geekdom, twiddling and thinking about a thousand things at once, manipulating and rifling through their prized vinyl collections, matching up starting arrows and ending arrows and being as intellectually, physically and emotionally stimulated as they can be while a bunch of raging strangers on drugs are staring at them like they want to eat them."

Read more here.

Here's the Koala in action performing 'Moon River' at Picnic Electronik in Montreal. It's just like how I thought I used to sound all those years ago when I was on my parents old record player scratching my brother's Kraftwerk record. Sorry brother.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Festival Small Print: This Frontier Needs Heroes

Hi, if you're a regular reader of this blog you'll know I'm a fan of the End of the Road festival. To be fair I probably go on about it a bit too much but I get a little excited about music and it is a wonderful festival so I think I'm justified.

For me, festivals are not only about seeing the bands you already love, they're also about discovering new bands, the small print bands with unfamiliar names* that play afternoon sets on the smaller stages etc. I'm going to investigate as many of these bands on this year's line-up as is possible to try to get a feel for some of the sounds I think I might enjoy.

Today I'm starting with This Frontier Needs Heroes. The songs 'Firefly' and 'Space Baby' (which has a super cosmic video that appeals to my geeky tendencies) stand out as my favourites.

Band Info:
This Frontier Needs Heroes are brother and sister duo Brad and Jessica Lauretti from Brooklyn, NY.Their music has a very intimate quality conveying stories of heartbreak and love. They have released two albums, the first was back in 2009 called 'This Frontier Needs Heroes' with a follow up called 'The Future' released in May of this year. Incidentally they used Kickstarter donations to fund their second album which was recorded in an old school house in Wassaic, NY.

Some of you will already be familiar with this band having seen them support Kath Bloom, She Keeps Bees, Arbouretum, Tallest Man on Earth, and The Handsome Family and they have already played several UK festivals. I've never seen them play live but they already have extra points from me for having released their last album with album art in 3D complete with 3D glasses. Maybe I'm too easily pleased.

If the line up isn't crazily clashy I'll be checking these guys out or at least try to catch some of their set.

Photo by Benjy Russell

*unless you're a big fan of course.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

End of the Road Festival 2011

--Update: End of the Road 2011 is now sold out. 28/06/11. If you wanted to go I hope you managed to get a ticket. 

Here's a message from The End of the Road Organisers today:

"Dear All, Yes folks, you heard it correctly - Adult tickets to the festival are now running low! In fact, we've only got 300 tickets left and once they're gone - that's it! Sold out! So, if you would like to join us in September - don't delay! Go get your tickets now! Lots of happy wishes, The End of the Road Festival Team"

If you're thinking about going I'd say you'd do well to pick up a ticket quick smart, after Glastonbury people might be looking for more festivals or they might never want to go to one again! Anyway, snooze and lose as they say. 

Get your tickets here.

Line up here.

Pure Groove - It's been almost a year.

Musée Mécanique's 'Hold This Ghost' album seemed in my humble opinion to be wrongfully missing from most of the 'Best Albums of 2010' lists. I loved seeing them perform at Pure Groove Records and then getting the chance to chat with them afterwards.

Almost a year after it's closure I still really miss the Pure Groove store and I know I'm not the only one. It's such a shame it had to close, it still feels like there's a gap in London's music scene that hasn't really been filled properly. Getting the chance to hear lots of new music and fairly often have a quick chat with the band in your lunch hour was just the best way to perk up an otherwise boring work day.

Here are some of the awesome artists I've been introduced to thanks to instores:

Mumford & Sons
Emmy The Great
Dengue Fever
Musée Mécanique
Kate Tempest
Cymbals Eat Guitars

I do realise living in London I'm more spoilt for live music than most but I just miss Pure Groove, that's all. I should add that they are still spreading the word about excellent new music to the world via their online store at Check it out.

Friday, 24 June 2011

New Release: Unknown Mortal Orchestra + Stream

Until yesterday I'd never heard of Unknown Mortal Orchestra but since then I've been listening to their eponymous debut album (released June 21st) pretty much non stop, it's really good!

They hail from Portland, Oregon and play a loose style of psych rock which apart from Tame Impala isn't really my usual cup of tea. There are so many intricate grooves and subtle sounds on this album that work so well. The bass on songs such as 'Jello and the Juggernauts' and 'How Can U Luv Me' makes a solid yet at the same time light playful foundation for the overall sound. Every time I listen I hear something new I like. This is a very exciting album. 

I've booked tickets to see them play at The Lexington in London (promoted by Rockfeedback).  I'd love to hear from anyone who's heard them play live - please leave a comment.  I'm very excited about this show. They're also supporting The Wave Pictures at The Royal Albert Hall's Elgar Room on July 7th and playing the Lounge on the Farm festival in Kent on July 10th.

[Spin has the album streaming here]

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Yo La Tengo in Musicwood Documentary

A week or so ago I mentioned Yo La Tengo would be appearing in a documentary about how the special wood that is used to make acoustic guitars is at risk as a result of rapid deforestation. The documentary is called Musicwood and first came to my attention initially in the form of a Kickstarter project.

A short clip of the Yo La Tengo performance and a little interview with the guys from the band has been posted online.

To find out more about the Musicwood project click here and follow them on @MUSICWOODDoc.

Explosions In The Sky - First Music Video

The first official Explosions In The Sky video has been premiered by one of my favourite magazines, Wired. This seems to be a new direction for the band who have released 6 albums over the last decade or so but have never released a video until now.

The track is called 'Last Known Surroundings' and is taken from their latest album 'Take Care, Take Care, Take Care'. The video apparently took "months and months of solid work" by close friends of the band at Austin design studio Ptarmak. The video features illustrations from Sissy Emmons and animation from David Hobizal and apparently could just be the start of many more Explosions In The Sky music videos to come. Great news!

This is one of those videos where I wish I had a home projector and a large white wall to watch it on. Can't wait to see more.


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

'Me Talk Pretty One Day' - David Sedaris

I don't usually veer away from writing about my favourite subject, music, on this website but I'm enjoying this book so much I thought I'd share it with you. It's really not very often a book makes me laugh but this one has had me smirking on my commute into work pretty much every morning for the past week and believe me, a smile on a London commuter train is pretty rare. The book 'Me Talk Pretty One Day' is a collection of essays written by David Sedaris covering his life before and after moving to Normandy, France and is possibly the most witty text I've read in years.

I can't remember whether I heard about this book via Largehearted boy or @jenshenton - both are great for book recommendations.

Download Bodies of Water latest album 'Twist Again' for FREE

Hot on the heels of yesterday's blog post, Bodies of Water are offering the opportunity to download their latest album 'Twist Again' (released today) for free. This option will only be available for a few days and in their words "We want the stuff we’ve been working on to find its way into as many hands as it can, and we figure this may be a good way for that to happen. If you end up listening to it much, and have the means, please buy it!"


[Download Twist Again here]

In other news, hasn't Bon Iver released an album or something?

btw If you're not a fan of Bodies of Water then first of all, why not? And secondly, I will start blogging about something else tomorrow, I promise.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Bodies of Water New Album 'Twist Again' Stream

Here's a stream of Bodies of Water's latest album 'Twist Again' a day before its official release (June 21st). Thank you Bodies of Water!

Love 'Open Rhythms', love these guys.


Sunday, 19 June 2011

Menomena - ''I Am The Fun Blame Monster' Re-released

Last month Menomena re-released their rather excellent 2003 debut LP 'I Am The Fun Blame Monster' (with an extra 9 b-sides). There are a couple of free tracks for download from the album here.

For some reason unbeknownst to me, I find this album works as a great accompaniment to cooking dinner.

Twenty Cell Revolt - Menomena

Here's their fantastic Blogotheque show from 2007.

From the Blogotheque website:
"We were in a courtyard in Charonne, and he had already noticed the baby held by his mother at the window, while Menomena played “Wet and Rusting”. But behind him, there were these two little ones, who, within two seconds, completely got it: understood that this dislocated pop, both chaotic and extremely structured, was made for booty-shakin’. At that point, the band didn’t have much to show—though they had so much for us hear—and these kids stole the scene."

Friday, 17 June 2011

Woods - 'Out of the Eye'

I have a bit of a difficult relationship with Woods. I love some of their songs and the rest I can take or leave. I really like 'Out of the Eye' off their latest album 'Sun & Shade'. I've played this album many times and ended up wondering off to do other things around my home and then I'll overhear this song and always end migrating back towards the speakers. There's something a little tribal and satisfying in those drums. Maybe I'm becoming a bit of a hippie? Or as MrChalky would say "*becoming* a hippie?"At which point I'll remind him he's the one who loves the movie 'Hair'. Anyway, here's the song:

[Stream the rest of Sun & Shade here ]

Thursday, 16 June 2011

What does it mean? #1 'Fangela'

Released in 2009, 'Fangela' was track #2 on Here We Go Magic's eponymous debut album. I was lucky enough to see them play once and have always had a soft spot for this song in particular.

So what is a Fangela? I've never heard of the word before.

The Urban Dictionary suggested Fangela is:

"A mythical fog that when conjured grants you the power of darkness. No one knows how it can be conjured but rumor has it, Luke Temple might have some knowledge on the topic."

"Dude I was at this party last night and Luke Temple conjured this crazy fog thing called a Fangela. It was intense."

Other search results included the German chancellor Angela Merkel.  I think Luke Temple (the singer of Here We Go Magic) is maybe one of the few people who actually knows. If you know or have any ideas please leave a comment.

Fangela Lyrics:

Look at me

All is yours till the morning comes

Look and see

Feast your eyes on a winded world


On first impression
And he barely made a dent

He had an appearance
Of a talking fog

And then the fog

You can even realize your bloodless lips

You´ve gotta move
You´ve gotta move

Look at me

All is yours till the morning comes
Look and see

Feast your eyes on a winded world


You thought you saw a funny shadow on the wall
With colored eyes and a hissing sound

That´s just the devil come to petrify your soul

You´ve gotta move

You´ve gotta move

You´ve gotta move!

Look at me

All is yours till the morning comes

Look and see

Feast your eyes on a winded world


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Musicwood Documentary feat. Yo La Tengo

Things I didn't know until this morning #1: The acoustic guitar is under threat.

Watch this video about how the 250 year old trees that make guitars are being chopped down on an industrial scale not for just guitars but for lumber and construction devastating forests to the point of no return. I saw this video on Kickstarter where these guys have raised over $20000 to finish making a film documentary about what is happening to the trees and the implications this has on the future of the guitar.

They’re also including several musical performances in the film so that the acoustic guitar can have its own voice, and we can hear exactly what the guitar-makers are fighting to save. Currently they’ve filmed with musicians Yo La Tengo, Turin Brakes and Sergius Gregory. They also have a verbal agreement to film with Academy-Award winners The Swell Season, and are in discussions with Willie Nelson, Arcade Fire, Gillian Welch, and more. 

Here's the trailor:

You can read more about the Musicwood Film project and how the funds are being used here. I don't think I would want to even imagine a world without guitars in it.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Video: tUnE-yArDs - Gangsta (Live on KEXP)

Here's a Tune-Yards top up in case you are missing them after last week's amazing Scala show. Recorded for Seattle's KEXP this is 'Gangsta' with a short interview at the end. They really look like a band who are enjoying what they are doing.

Thanks to twentyfourbit for bringing this video to my attention

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Royal Festival Hall 'Singing Lifts'

On Friday I had my first experience of the Southbank 'Singing Lifts'. Forget a simple boring "*ping* level 2, doors opening" instead at the ground floor you will hear a bottom E from the baritone with a soprano A sharp at the sixth floor. The scale will be faster if you descend the entire number of floors because that is quicker than travelling a single storey. I found this youtube video of the this unexpected but fun experience.

My friend and I tried out a few floors and we were joined by a cute elderly couple who were doing the same thing. Love finding stuff like this.

The 'Singing Lift' (Work No 409) was originally created by former Turner prize winner Martin Creed at the Ikon Gallery in 2006 and was recreated for the Royal Festival Hall's glass lift as part of the Southbank's Chorus! festival last year.

Austra- 'Feel it Break'

I've been meaning to mention Austra's debut album 'Feel it Break' for a while now. It's a blend of synth-pop with danceable electro beats and fairly haunting vocals that's been steadily growing on me. I haven't seen them live yet but I am planning on remedying this at End of the Road this year, if not before. Incidentally former Terrible Love Songs Living Room Concert star Rod Thomas will be opening for Austra at Cargo in London on July 7th, tickets here.

"For me, music should be a release," Austra singer Stelmanis says. "I used to write songs with the intention that people would listen to it in their headphones when they needed to escape. Now, I keep the same mentality, but also want people to be able to dance and completely lose themselves in a more physical way. If I can emotionally stimulate the mind and the body through music, I'll feel like I've accomplished something significant." -NPR Music interview

I love how the vocals reach out from the depths of the deep fuzzy electronic bass in this track 'Beat and the Pulse'. I don't think it'll be long before we hear this song in a TV advert, it's got that feel about it.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Greening up Festivals

It's good to see Pitchfork have declared their green intentions for their 2011 Chicago based festival. Obviously musicians can clock up a more than average amount of airmiles etc touring and so I think it is vitally important for the environment that festival organisers pay attention to their carbon footprint and encourage festival goers to do the same. If you're interested in what they're doing, all the details are here. Basically they have said they have put together a recycling programme to enable food vendors to recycle their waste and there will be more recycling bins dotted around the festival. There's more free secure bike parking, the festival will be powered by biodiesel fuel and they are encouraging people to buy carbon offsets for long journeys made by air/car/van/train etc. There are so many more things festival organisers and attendees can be doing such as decreasing the number of leaflets handed out, selling local produce, sharing transport and it is great to see any amount of effort being made. Of course loads of other festivals are pulling their weight, here's the Guardians 'Green Guide' to some of this years Summer festivals.

Of course we are all responsible for the environment so it's up to all of us to make an effort to reduce our impact whichever festivals we attend this summer. 

Thursday, 9 June 2011

End of the Road Festival 2011 -----> M Ward is added!

Great to hear End of the Road have added M Ward to their 2011 line up. End of the Road organisers, with this addition you are really spoiling us! Nathaniel RateliffBeth Jeans-HoughtonThe Growlers and Steve Smyth have also been added.

I get the feeling this is going to be yet another really special EOTR.

The full line up looks something like this:

Joanna Newsom
Laura Marling
The Walkmen
Wild Beasts
The Fall
Lykke Li
Gruff Rhys
Okkervil River
The Unthanks
John Grant
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Best Coast
White Denim
Joan As Police
Willy Mason
Wooden Shjips
Jolie Holland
Josh T Pearson
Kurt Vile
Micah P Hinson
James Yorkston
Gordon Gano & the Ryans
Caitlin Rose
The Leisure Society
Zola Jesus
Allo Darlin'
Among Brothers
Sam Amidon
Big Deal
The Black Angels
Bob Log III
Bo Ningen
Kathryn Calder
Cambodian Space Project
The Cornshed Sisters
Dan Mangan
The Deadly Syndrome
Dry The River
Darren Hanlon
Drum Eyes
Emanuel & The Fear
Emmy The Great
The Fresh & Onlys
Lanterns On The Lake
Daniel Lefkowitz
Lia Ices
Lightning Dust
Lily And The Hackabouts
The Love Language
Daniel Martin Moore
Cass McCombs
The Mountaineering Club
Other Lives
Doug Paisley
Perfume Genius
Rue Royale
The Secret Sisters
She Keeps Bees
Skinny Lister
Slow Down
The Staves
This Is The Kit
This Frontier Needs Heroes
Timber Timbre
Treefight For Sunlight
Sarabeth Tucek
Twin Shadow
Wild Nothing Woods
Young Man
Nathaniel Rateliff
Beth Jeans-Houghton
The Growlers
Steve Smyth

and of M Ward of course.

M Ward - 'Right in the Head'

Quick Note: tUnE-yArDs @Scala 08/06/11

Tune-Yards you have spoilt me. What an awesome gig, what a voice! Lots of dancing, lots of fun, an amazing sound and a very appreciative crowd.

If like me you are not completely sold on their 2 albums, try them live, the sound is more alive, the tribal style drumming is so powerful. The wailing layered loops and infectious uke riffs of Hatari made for possibly one of the most best openings to a concert I've seen in a while. It was also really nice to stand in an audience that was pretty much 50/50 male to female for once. Love what this band are doing live and Scala continues to be my favourite London music venue. Brilliant evening.

I think the set list went something like this:

Do You Wanna Live
You Yes You
Real Live Flesh
My Country


Tuesday, 7 June 2011

What American English sounds like to non-English speakers

Prisecolinensinenciousol, a parody by Adriano Celentano for the Italian TV programme Mileluci is sung entirely in gibberish designed to sound like American English, I think it sounds like sleep talk. My brain keeps trying to make English words out of the gibberish but I know it's just being lazy and trying to make the sounds conform to something I can recognise. I actually quite like the beat and feel of this song and the dancing is quite superb!

Bed photo from here.

Monday, 6 June 2011

The Knife: 'Pass This On'

'Pass This On' by Swedish brother and sister duo The Knife was released in 2003 from their 2nd album 'Deep Cuts'.

This video was directed by Johan Renck and features female impersonator Rickard Engfors. Both members of The Knife, Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer are also in this video, Olof is the one responding to Rickard's flirty moves, Karin is the girl staring at the end. Apparently Rickard Engfors has been described as"Sweden's best looking girl" and recently the Swedish fashion house Panos Emporio chose him to model their swimwear range which had to be re-shot because it caused too much controversy.  

This might be an oldie but it's a golden oldie. Great song, fantastic video, incredible cheek bones!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

KLF - Bring the Beat Back!

"They're justified and they're ancient and they drive an ice cream van." - Tammy Wynette and KLF (The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu), 1991.

Perhaps the oddest modern day pop collaboration.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Quick note: Low @ The Barbican 03/06/11

Simply put, a fantastic show.  Everything from the new album 'C'mon' mixed with loads of oldies including Breaker, California, Silver Rider, Breaker, Violent Past and a sublime encore of Two step, Amazing Grace, Canada and Laser Beam. Perfect.

Mimi's vocals (which are very prominent on C'mon) pretty much stole the show for me, 'Especially Me' was beautiful. What a voice.

Well done to the Barbican for getting the sound balance right. Such a good evening from such an impressive band.  Keep on keeping on Low, you're head and shoulders above most of the acts I've ever seen.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Gil Scott-Heron (April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011)

It's been one week since Gil Scott-Heron's death and his body is almost at its final resting place but first there is a public viewing ceremony at the Campbell funeral home in New York later today. By 62, Gill Scott-Heron had put his body through more than most people could stand let along live through. Lets try not to let this fact distract us from the creative wake this incredibly gifted man has left behind. R.I.P. Gil Scott-Heron.You will be missed.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Low Interview on WBEZ

Here's an interesting interview with Low recorded for the radio show Sound Opinions on WBEZ in Chicago. The show includes live performances (Nightingale, Try to Sleep, Witches, You See Everything) and conversations about religion, rock and mixing music with marriage.
Links to individual songs here.

This is one of my favourite tracks from their latest album C'mon called Especially Me. The "Al Green" song is another favourite.

And in case you missed it, here's a link to the Tiny Desk Concert they recorded for NPR last month.

Looking forward to seeing them play the Barbican tomorrow evening, it's been too long.

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