Thursday, April 17, 2014

Three for Thursday: Bastard Mountain, The Proper Ornaments, Ides

Bastard Mountain - Meadow Ghosts

Bastard Mountain are Neil and Pete from Meursault, Jill from Sparrow & the Workshop, Rob St John, Rory from Broken Records and Reuben of James Yorkston's Athletes. Over a week they congregated to record a partially ad-hoc collaborative album for Song, By Toad, which on this track resembles the Low/Galaxie 500 slowcore playbook in the fog as a ghostly presence. Farewell, Bastard Mountain is out May 12th.

The Proper Ornaments - Summer's Gone

Half of The Proper Ornaments came to London on a one-way ticket from Buenos Aires purloined by Andrew Loog Oldham, leaving behind a family attempting to sent him to a mental hospital. The other is James from Veronica Falls, which isn't quite the same backstory. The music they make together here in just over two minutes evokes the Velvets, Felt, post-feedback J&MC and the Real Estate-led current American brigade of breezily psychedelic underground melodicists. Their debut album Wooden Head is due via Fortuna Pop! on 9th June.

Ides - Giant

Once more Alanna McArdle presses record on the lowest of fi recorders, plugs in and pours her severely cracked heart out. Still no word on whether these few demos released recently are heading anywhere while Joanna Gruesome are heading towards that tricky between-albums stage.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Unsecret sounds: Daphni & Owen, Pictish Trail, Sylvan Esso, Fear Of Men

Daphni & Owen Pallett - Tiberius

Dapnhi is Dan Snaith of Caribou, this instrumental collaboration for a forthcoming double A side piecing together that band's recent charging metronomic electronics, with a much darker, paranoid hue, and Pallett's violin seizures.

The Pictish Trail - Wait Until

Johnny Lynch's ever evolving solo project, from double album Secret Soundz Vol 1 & 2 out 9th June, has something in common with Caribou's catalogue too, juddering synth sounds and flowing beats starting off mildly foreboding before warming up and opening out to the discerning world around Lynch's gentle vocals examining loss and loneliness.

Sylvan Esso - Play It Right

Where Nick and Amelia tear down the gauziness surrouding their previous excursions into electronic pop, pump up the squelching bass sounds and cast the staccato beats into full-on technicolour, while still sounding like a folk vocalist cast adrift in electronically generated space. The album is out June 2nd.

Fear Of Men - Descent

Yet another track from Loom, the proper debut album finally out next week, in which staccato drums and chorus surges completely upset the classically indiepop dreamy chiming.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Ten: The White Room

It's forgotten these days - partly, it has to be said, by Channel 4 themselves - that you can do a snappy live music show without becoming behoven to commercial sponsors asking why The Vamps aren't on, one which has the range and historical awareness of Jools without the aura of Real Music. The White Room, fronted by Mark Radcliffe, lasted four series between 1994 and 1996, which in its way makes it appropriate for this week's Britpop celebrations, and there's an atmosphere of celebrating and presenting music for its own sake here, as well as the tendency to throw these bands, some of whom were becoming uncommonly successful, at the viewer and seeing what sticks. Here's ten examples.

Course, after all that set-up it has to be acknowledged the one thing everyone remembers from the series is Iggy Pop in transparent trousers, doing Lust For Life about six months before the Trainspotting soundtrack was released but around the time - possibly the same week, actually - of the film launch. And don't that audience just go nuts for him. Note from when Iggy decides to fraternise with one that the show has its own dancers, something nearly all music television fell for in the early 90s. According to the credits Jimi Hendrix was a guest that week, which is some booking.

And if it's not that they recall, it's Ray Davies and Damon Albarn singing Waterloo Sunset together, starting here at about 5:45, though Damon doesn't appear to actually do a lot apart from backing vocals and looking bashful when Ray drops into Parklife at the end.

Here's the pull of their show - Portishead very much didn't just do any telly show that asked in the aftermath of Dummy's success, so when they did turn up you usually got something special like this early version of Over. They followed it with a reworked slo-mo Sour Times

Similarly, you rarely saw Bjork with her full live set-up on TV. They gave her plenty of space to run about in at the end too.

People were obsessed with David Bowie's teeth in the mid-90s, presumably because of his living in America but being from Brixton. He was on to promote Outside but couldn't resist pulling out Boys Keep Swinging with a coruscating Reeves Gabriels solo.

Sparks with guest Bernard Butler, who turned up a few times as guest guitarist on the series just after he'd left Suede. Russell had one of those Jamie Theakston-style wet-look heavily parted haircuts that was big in the mid-90s. Ron looked like Ron.

Nick Cave and Polly Harvey perform an intricate public courtship ritual.

Some of this upload looks like it's been left on a radiator but no denying the power of prime Rocket From The Crypt

Or for that matter Smashing Pumpkins, with dancers on the stage with the band this time, which can't have been Billy's idea.

And it was the mid-90s so Oasis were on, but doing Acquiesce rather than Some Might Say, possibly at Radcliffe's insistence.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

All over the place: tUnE-yArDs, Shunkan, Waking Aida, Uncle Luc

tUnE-yArDs - Wait For A Minute

A second track from Nikki Nack, which for now at least trades in the frantic looping and drumming for a retro R&B rhythm and squelchy analogue synth solos. Merrill's vocal follows suit, pushed to the front the better to depict deep reserves of self-doubt that bring a different meaning to it all.

Shunkan - Wash You Away

Another exciting product from the Art Is Hard factory of lo-fi goodness, Shunkan is a young New Zealander who sounds like a lost Crutchfield sister, chugging dark pop hang-gliding on a wave of feedback before a power cut at the end. EP out 5th May on very limited cassette, because this is what we do now.

Waking Aida - How To Build A Space Station

Haven't had much really good new instrumental math-rock on here lately, something that changes with a Southampton band, active and prolific for a few years but only now getting round to an album (Eschaton, June 2nd, recorded by one of Maybeshewill and released on their Robot Needs Home label) that over a full seven and a half minutes of shifting surges masters the capture and release, peaks and troughs of it all, urgent with a technicolour resolvency.

Uncle Luc - I Write

Luke Barham, formerly singer with power-pop nuts Stagecoach, debuts solo with an appealing acoustic shuffle he terms 'baroque and roll' - someone else must have done that line before now, surely - and claims influence from Nick Lowe and the Beach Boys in equal measure.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Tuesday tasters: Archie Bronson Outfit, Free Swim, Jarbird

Archie Bronson Outfit - We Are Floating

A slightly more straightforward, maybe even qualifying as classic rock rumpus than we're used to from ABO, taken from their new album Wild Crush, though there's still that evil guitar tone and it still sounds like a psychedelically painted back porch on fire.

Free Swim - Meal For One

Another track from the sort-of-comeback Well Done Everyone EP, out 5th May, a rambunctious half-spoken barn burner that starts off as an ode to an evening alone and then... well, you'll hear. After Steve Lamacq played it last week someone tweeted that it was "the best tune I've heard for 10 years". Well, wouldn't go that far but...

Jarbird - More Bad Celebrity Poetry

Debut single from a Leeds-based band who seem to have only been around since October but have already got PJ Harvey co-conspirator Rob Ellis producing them and on this evidence escape any particular locale - there's something of the post-XX spacious beats the likes of London Grammar and Woman's Hour are approaching from each end but with aching harmonies and falsetto crescendos taking it to another emotional plane.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Weekends away 2014: Live At Leeds

WHAT? One of the great British live music cities puts bands of all sizes all over the place for May Day

WHERE? Brudenell Social Club, The Cockpit, The Faversham, Holy Trinity Church, Leeds Met, Leeds Uni, Nation Of Shopkeepers, O2 Academy, The Wardrobe, The Cockpit Bar, Town Hall, Oporto, The HiFi Club, Belgrave Music Hall, The Packhorse and Faversham

WHEN? 2nd-5th May

WHY? Eight years old now, LAL attracts some big commercial hitters and heavy new band hitters as much as hugely promising local talent in harmony

HOW? £25 from loads of online and in person outlets

FRIDAY: Blood Red Shoes, Melt Yourself Down, plus The Unconference panels, workshops, Q&As etc

SATURDAY: Johnny Flynn, Fair Ohs, Woman's Hour, Eliza and the Bear, The Amazing Snakeheads, We Were Evergreen, Happyness, Pet Moon, Blaenavon, Bat And Ball, Imp, Marika Hackman...

...Bipolar Sunshine, George Ezra, Fuck Buttons, The Hold Steady, Pulled Apart By Horses, I Like Trains, Fat White Family, The Wytches, Superfood, Yuck, Saint Raymond, Sam Airey, Honeyblood, Lanterns On The Lake, Rae Morris, ¡Forward Russia! - no, really, ¡Forward Russia! are back, albeit apparently only for this one occasion...

...Cheatahs, Courtney Barnett, Albert Hammond Jr, Fickle Friends, Royal Blood, Black Moth, Drenge, The Witch Hunt, Teleman, Tennis, Rosie Lowe, Arc Iris, Menace Beach, Ella Eyre, Clean Bandit, Nina Nesbitt, Chloe Howl, Wolf Alice, King Charles, Arthur Beatrice, MT, The Sunshine Underground, The Bohicas, Sivu, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Gambles, Circa Waves, Lola Colt, Lyla Foy, Mausi, A Plastic Rose and Los Campesinos!

SUNDAY: Dum Dum Girls, Neurosis, Kodaline, Crocodiles

Weekends away 2014: Odd Box Weekender

WHAT? Much admired DIY indie label puts on the fifth of its annual weekenders, this time over three days

WHERE? Power Lunches, Dalston on Friday; Macbeth, Hoxton on Saturday; the Lexington Sunday

WHEN? 2nd-4th May

WHY? Trev Odd Box has a good ear for ground level indiepop of all shades, from jangly to noisy, and his label events always tempt a high calibre.

HOW? £27.50 the weekend, plus Saturday/Sunday/both passes

FRIDAY: The Manhattan Love Suicides (reformed POBPAH-supported noiseniks), Tyrannosaurus Dead, Sock Puppets, The Wendy Darlings, The Sweet Nothings

SATURDAY: The Spook School, Shopping, Heathers, Fever Dream, The Wharves, T.O.Y.S, Gum, Ravioli Me Away, Moustache of Insanity, Falling & Laughing, Palomica

SUNDAY: Kid Canaveral, One Happy Island, Night Flowers, Chorusgirl

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Weekends away 2014: Liverpool Sound City

WHAT? City-wide (largely) new music hullaballoo in its seventh year

WHERE? The city's cultural quarter, including East Village Arts Club, Kazimier Gardens, Leaf Cafe, Liverpool Cathedral, Mello Mello, Parr Street Car Park (!), Tavern on the Green, The Attic, The Brink, The Cavern Club, The Factory, The Garage, The Kazimier, The Shipping Forecast and The Zanzibar

WHEN? 1st-3rd May

WHY? One of the more established multi-day events and a place labels send their hottest properties and unsigned bands get well catered for alongside established crowd pullers. Alongside the music a full series of conferences, panels and speakers discuss "music, football and style", including John Cale, Thurston Moore, Dave Haslam, Andy Votel, Record Store Day founder Spencer Hickman, John Doran of The Quietus, Kevin 'Powder' Sampson, Peter Hooton of The Farm and former Premier League chief executive Rick Parry.

HOW? £120 for a full conference and music pass, £66 for just the music, plus assorted day and two-day tickets from here

THURSDAY: Gruff Rhys, Blood Red Shoes, And So I Watch You From Afar, DZ Deathrays, Jon Hopkins, PINS, Marika Hackman, The Wytches, Courtney Barnett, Clean Bandit, Fat White Family, Thumpers, The Bohicas, The Amazing Snakeheads, Jane Weaver, God Damn, Traams, Sivu, Circa Waves, Houdini Dax

FRIDAY: The Hold Steady, Fuck Buttons, Factory Floor, Drenge, Wolf Alice, Woman's Hour, Girls Names, East India Youth, Fair Ohs, Superfood, Fickle Friends, Lanterns On The Lake, Albert Hammond Jr, Chloe Howl, Blessa, Bipolar Sunshine, Pawws, We Were Evergreen, Raleigh Ritchie, Tennis, Royal Blood, Spring King, Saint Raymond, Eliza and the Bear

SATURDAY: 65daysofstatic, Radiophonic Workshop, Public Service Broadcasting, Jungle, Kill It Kid, September Girls, All We Are, Jagwar Ma, Luke Sital-Singh, Jimi Goodwin, Death At Sea, Bridie Jackson and The Arbour, We Have Band, Famy, 35 Summers, Kodaline, The Kooks

Thursday, April 03, 2014

And more again: First Aid Kit, Honeyblood, King Post Kitsch, Fickle Friends

First Aid Kit - My Silver Lining

The Söderbergs are turning into proper expansive country storytellers, the influence of producer Mike Mogis and arranger Nate Walcott from the Bright Eyes family giving it the aura of the desert road to the horizon as the ultimate aim, fleshing out the sound in a similar way to how Laura Marling developed, and her accent seems to be creeping in too. Third album Stay Gold is out 9th June.

Honeyblood - Killer Bangs

A rush of two-piece sugarcrush frenzy and shades-in-promo-picture attitude out of Glasgow, a straining at the seams nature lending it a neat Vaselines reflection via Best Coast or the Dum Dum Girls. Single out 12th May, album 14th July, in between a tour supporting Courtney Barnett.

King Post Kitsch - Veronique

Second track from the upcoming Sheep On A Beach album as first mentioned here last week is wiry, agitated and quite the driven shamble.

Fickle Friends - Play

Second song from the much touted Brightonians. Turns out they're the new Summer Camp!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekends away 2014: Handmade Festival

WHAT? Like a multi-venue event but more so, putting the outer reaches into intriguing spaces around a major city centre

WHERE? A number of central Leicester venues

WHEN? 2nd-4th May

WHY? With stages supported by 2000 Trees, ArcTanGent, Big Scary Monsters and Alcopop! there's a decent post-hardcore/instrumental/post-rock leaning to the bill, but not without some intriguing deviations. Unlike most city festivals this also exploits non-standard locations, with stages in vintage halls and galleries

HOW? £33 for the weekend

FRIDAY: And So I Watch You From Afar, Three Trapped Tigers, Her Name Is Calla, Grace Petrie, FTSE, Peter Wyeth

SATURDAY: Shonen Knife, Haiku Salut, We Three And The Death Rattle, Katie Malco, Sisterland, TE Morris, Weikie, Tellison, Tangled Hair, Woahnows, Brawlers, Feedback Voice

SUNDAY: I LIKE TRAINS, Dry The River, Dark Dark Horse, VerseChorusVerse

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Phantom Band - The Wind That Cried The World

Just as it looked like they'd been quietly left in a corner one of STN's favourite pop-sonic adventurers are back with a third album, Strange Friend, out June 2nd. They call it "the most straight-up set of recordings" yet but that's only on their terms of detuned bloopy electronics, hints of kosmiche and big threatening wordless caws that refuse to let too much light in. There are dates in June that are fully recommended for their limber live assailment: 3rd Glasgow Art School, 4th Hoxton Bar & Grill, 5th Manchester Deaf Institute, 6th Aberdeen The Tunnels.

Weekends away 2014: Focus Wales

WHAT? 150+ live bands, plus assorted interactive sessions, comedy and so forth

WHERE? A number of central Wrexham venues, all within walking distance

WHEN? 23rd-26th April

WHY? STN has always been a sucker for a thoughtfully booked multi-venue festival, and also for festivals in Wales, so... The first of the year's really fascinating expansive bills, smartly put together and not overly willing to make too much of a fuss about itself. Also a range of panels, seminars and speeches involving the likes of Huw Stephens, Alan McGee, John Robb, Will Sergeant, Chris Hawkins and Islet/Shape Records' Mark Daman Thomas.

HOW? £30 for music, £50 for everything, individual gig and day tickets too - all broken down here

THURSDAY: Damo Suzuki, John Cooper Clarke, Georgia Ruth, Cian Ciarán, Seazoo, The Gentle Good, All We Are

FRIDAY: Islet, Euros Childs, Mowbird, Golden Fable, Masters In France, Houdini Dax, HMS Morris, Poltergeist

SATURDAY: Gulp, Keys, Chris T-T, We Are Animal, Black Moth