Thursday, 29 May 2008

Visa Dramas

photo by simply steve

With the expiry of my own UK working-holiday visa forcing me back 'down under' in July i've developed a new found sympathy for others facing a similar fate. I'm sparing thoughts today for M.I.A. who could soon be forced to return to London, or decamp to Montreal when her US visa runs out in June. Jam Showbiz and Daily Swarm report that the 29 year old singer is fast running out of time and exploring other options besides a return to the UK:

“I’m thinking of moving to Montreal in June when I leave my apartment. Basically at the moment I can choose between Montreal and London. My mum’s like, ‘I want you here!’ I haven’t seen her in, like, forever, so I have to choose between my mum and Montreal.”

Although she says Kanye might make a good woman of her so she can stay:

I think he'll marry me to keep me in the country. He was really dead serious about it."

Hey Maya, why not move to Melbourne with us! We can drown our sorrows over a big chicken parmigiana and a jug of Coopers at The Standard in Fitzroy. Mmm. Parma... Better than Kanye.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Lifestyle Brands

Ever get that feeling where if you hear a piece of useless jargon uttered one more time you're gonna slip out into the street, unholster your uzi and let it spray at the unsuspecting public? No? Ok. just me then...

Hipster Runoff on the weekend let fly with this overdue attack/piss-take on the all pervasive 'lifestyle brand' putrid shit concept that seems to be clogging up the 'real' world we live in. I know that I should be able to just get over my anger at this all pervasive, erosive marketting bollocks, after all i work in PR/Marketting myself... cough... but something snapped inside me when i saw the post and i'm ready to sign up wherever is needed to purge the Earth of the LB. Can i get an Amen?

...Or as one person commented: "this post just set me on my life's path". Amen.


photo by Lauren Bamford

Evelyn Morris (aka Pikelet) has got a new EP out according to Mess and Noise, who say that while not being quite on par with her debut, it nonetheless "lightly picks you up, applies some caressing, some probing, then puts you back down again, a little shaken a little breathless." Sounds good to me!

Any time invested in Pikelet is time well spent according to this scribe. I've been a devoted fan of everything Evelyn touches - from her important contributions to True Radical Miracle and Baseball, to her mesmerizing and beguiling live shows. Her Chapter Records debut of last year is worth hunting down, and you can hear selections from it on her myspace.

Pikelet ventures toward the equator this weekend with a show as part of Brisbane's all-ages No Culture Festival. In fact Evelyn plays 3 times on Saturday with her other bands too. Busy busy! Saturday's lineup is Baseball (Melbourne), Turnpike, Luca Brasi (Melbourne), Arrows, True Radical Miracle (Melbourne / Adelaide), Charge Group (Sydney), Alps of NSW (Newcastle), Pikelet (Melbourne), Kes Band (Melbourne), Rialto Decibel Choir (playing potentially their final show), The Surrogate, Willows, Maiden Names, Fourth Is To Burn Warehouses, Otters, and Swandive. Full details and timetable on that link above.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008


One of the highlights of the Explosions In The Sky curated ATP festival on the weekend was the Sunday performance by LICHENS on the mainstage. His primal, looped vocal squeels and drones over the moody improv-guitar washes were very warmly received by the crowd. Combined with his kinky Kramer hair and crazy WWI moustache, it was an incredibly captivating performance, both aurally and visually.

Robert Lowe is Lichens, and his records come out through Kranky. More details here too.

was a lovely surprise at still the best indie-music weekend around. Battles were startling as ever, and Dinosaur Jr earnt themselves some new converts, while De La Soul, Silver Jews and Jens Lekman impressed in the hollow surrounds of the Pavillion stage. But many of the performances lacked the spark and buzz of those the previous weekend in Camber Sands (curated by Pitchfork), and its difficult to think of anyone at the ATP in Minehead who I would describe as utterly compelling. The accommodation is better though, and as usual the vibe just as positive and relaxed, but i quite often left venues with a shrug of the shoulder - satisfied, but not excited. I did make a few new discoveries though, over both festivals, which i'll post about at a later date.

Oh, here's a video of Lichens in Paris:

Friday, 9 May 2008

ATP and sunshine

Make Ryan happy. I'll be cruising down to Camber Sands today for ATP vs Pitchfork, then out of action blog-wise for a while. I'm also in Dublin next week so if you can recommend a good inner city drinking hole or band venue, then drop me a comment. Will post some ATP photos and analysis from both festivals on my return. Peace out.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Edinburgh and The Rosie Taylor Project

I spent the bank holiday weekend in Edinburgh, my first time in the Scottish capital. Sitting on the grass in front of Princess Street with the sun shining onto the castle and the Old City area was just beyond magical. We even went on the very daggy whisky tour, and got stuck into the Talisker. Mmm, smokey, peaty.

So with two nights there I had scanned The List to find a decent gig on either Saturday or Sunday. Vampire Weekend had sold out but I found something at the Bongo Club on Sunday with a charming group from Leeds called THE ROSIE TAYLOR PROJECT. They come across like Belle and Sebastian or The Lucksmiths in their stylee - gleeful, intelligent pop tunes with strummy guitars, subtle trumpets and intimate, wistful vocals. Right up the girlfriend's alley and in the right context, mine too.

So we had ourselves some evening drinks at a couple of boozers on the Royal Mile, filled up on burritos and tortillas (traditional Scottish fare!) and hoofed our way to the venue at around 9pm only to find it closed. Outside we bumped into one of the Rosie Taylor Project who told us that they weren't on until midnight, and that doors didn't open until 11. Far too late for us alas! I don't understand why the venue wouldn't open earlier on the night before a bank holiday monday... put the bands on at 9 and 10pm, then DJs go from 11 to whatever. I guess every venue has their reasons, and I think its a regular indie club night on Sundays, but we we're a little disappointed.

So, although we promised we'd try to come back later in the evening, we had to retire, and apologies to the nice chap we spoke with outside the venue, I hope the gig went well!

The Rosie Taylor Project release through Bad Sneakers and have some of their fab tunes on myspace and i've also posted one of their videos below:

Friday, 2 May 2008

The BBC Sound Index

Seems the BBC are trying their hand at creating a new kind of music chart, one which can track downloads, streams and buzz on an artist rather than measure units sold or shipped.

Its called the Sound Index and they're describing it thus:

"Every six hours the Sound Index crawls some of the biggest music sites on the internet - Bebo, MySpace, Last.FM, iTunes, Google and YouTube - to find out what people are writing about, listening to, watching, downloading and logging on to. It then counts and analyses this data to make an instant list of the most popular 1000 artists and tracks on the web. The more blog mentions, comments, plays, downloads and profile views an artist or track has, the higher up the Sound Index they are. So, the Sound Index is a music buzz index controlled entirely by the public."

You can filter the index for demographics and stuff, although as this is a beta test phase its a little limiting (only uk and us? pft.)

The main index is incredibly mainstream and foul so here's my filter for 27-39 year old males interested in indie and electronic music in the USA: "The Yankee Loner-Manchild Nerdo Indie-dex"

Thursday, 1 May 2008

The Reatard and the Rain at ATP

There's quite a few reasons why I'm getting excited about the upcoming ATP vs Pitchfork festival. A swag of friends from Australia are coming along with me, and for most it will be their first ever All Tomorrows Parties. The very successful indie festival took its Don't Look Back series Down Under this year, with Sonic Youth and Low joining local stalwarts like The Surrealists in reinterpreting one of their iconic albums live. And although Aussies have had their chance at curating the UK festivals (The Dirty Three and Nick Cave) its not until now that we've been able to experience some part of ATP on home turf. So while i'm in London, and somewhat cut off from the buzz at home, it does seem as though more and more people are waking up to ATP. I'm hoping that when my antipodean friends kiss goodbye to Camber Sands on the Monday morning, they'll take away the same amazing feeling i had when i left my first one almost exactly 4 years ago. And maybe we'll one day get our entire festival.

So, another other reason to look forward to the weekend of the 9th, 10th and 11th is that there's a whole swag of bands i'll see live for the first time - Sebadoh, Red Kross, Hot Chip, Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend and Ween are standouts. Plus there's also a couple of new treats, and first up we have HOWLIN' RAIN.

photo by Daniel Arnold

Howlin' Rain is formed around the songwriting and vision of Ethan Miller (above), from the very great Comets On Fire. There's less wall-of-noise mayhem here, more a weaving of 70s boogie blues with wailing hammond and freak-country grooves. The Grateful Dead or Cream spring immediately to mind as comparisons. I'm yet to hear their entire album - Magnificent Fiend - but from from what is bubblin' around on Hype Machine I'm sure their live set is going to be a thoroughly enjoyable, possibly even psycheadelic experience. More details on the Howlin' Rain website.

photo by lechampiondumonde

I'm also dead keen to check out JAY REATARD (pictured above) who is from Memphis and was recently blowing minds and eardrums in Australia. He's also been super busy hitting dickhead stage divers square in the face (see video below). Huge applause! It'll be interesting to see how his punchy, uncompromising garage tunes go down among the beard-strokers at ATP, but i'm sure if his set comes late enough in the evening that there'll be enough satisfying destruction. Check out his stuff on Hype Machine and on his myspace. He even has a blog.

Here's that video from a show in Toronto where he thumped a member of the crowd who was acting like a cock.