Sunday, 30 November 2008

Hey! Bo Diddley

After listening to some Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Blind lemon Jefferson and Bo Diddley, i thought I'd throw a lil' ol' link up demonstrating the brilliance of the Bo Diddley beat.
The pictures are awesome aren't they. we have the Duchess on the left, former female guitarist in Bo Diddley's merry band. she upped and left to get married! Then there's B- Diddy himself on the right of course.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

check out this here lil radio link (november 25th) MOLE enthusiast/ soon to be artist and my buddy ol' pal Alison debuts. listen to her velvet smooth tones. (also the girl referenced moaning about the Glaswegian crowd not being boisterous enough...was me!)

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Greg Weeks The Hive (Fact Magazine Online)

Greg Weeks seems to have built up a reputation of nurturing a doomy gloomy attitude, a folky grim reaper some might say; but when you’ve spent most of your past time listening to black metal and Sunn0))), disregard subject matter on the album and base your review purely on abundance of melody and instrumentals, Weeks is a great big ball of fun and optimism. In reality ‘The Hive’ doesn’t fall short on providing morbid and bleak tracks. The bespectacled founding member of psych folk band Espers, new solo album has moments in which it is hard to put an era or period to it. Mixing the occult, acoustic beauty with digital elements to create an amalgamation of tracks that are part mediaeval England, part 70’s trad rock/ folk and part Sergio Leone western; ‘You Won’t Be The Same Ever Again’ sounds like a death toll akin to Ennio Morricone. Particularly anachronistic however is Week’s cover of Madonna’s Borderline which is translated into a haunting ballad, I still can’t quite work out if the ditty is tongue in cheek or homage to her Madgejesty. Either way it’s probably the Weekest (aha) track on the album. His voice sounds somewhat out of place on the record, simple monotonous stream of lyrics are revived with Flutes, ocarinas, all manner of quirky instruments and tools; but there is a Clarity in the vocals and harmonies lending itself beautifully to the drone and feedback that creates the ethereal sound Weeks manages to achieve on certain tracks. A hive of maudlin, psychedelic lullabies that will leave you tossing and turning throughout the night.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Up The Irons?!?!?

I don't care what anyone says but this is a damn fine tune!

Black Metal ist Krieg

Despite the tangled web of murder, church burnings and its association with torture and Satanism, the earth in which the original incarnation of black metal is buried remains largely unturned by the mainstream music media.
The origins of black metal unfortunately do not involve a tale about a giant evil egg ascended from the depths of hell to wipe out all hope and optimism on Earth (no that, my friends, was Kerry Katona’s birth) the story of black metal developed in the slightly less obvious surroundings of Norway.

On second thoughts the dark, cold, isolated landscapes of Scandinavia, its pagan heritage makes Norway seem like the likeliest lad of them all. Gaahl the notorious front man of BM band Gorgoroth hails from a rural Norwegian village just a 2 hour boat trip, 45 minute car journey, skip and jump away from the nearest cosmopolitan city. It’s not too difficult to see how such places can inspire some of the most disturbing yet simultaneously beautiful, dark ambient music.
Initially influenced by the heavier end of the metal spectrum, bands such as Bathory, Venom, Merciful Fate, you could say black metal was a response to the increasing accessibility of Death metal. Euronymous, the late founding member of BM veterans Mayhem often voiced his discontentment for the state of death metal; ‘It’s a big trend today to look totally normal with these goddamn jogging suits and sing about ‘important matters’, and call it Death metal. These people can die, they have betrayed the scene.’
One item of clothing black metal musicians aren’t renown for wearing is casual sportswear. The general uniform seems to consist of black, presumably in order to match the colour of the musicians souls (plus it’s slimming.) The other obvious staple being corpse paint, pioneered by the likes of KISS, King Diamond, and introduced into the scene in it’s ‘modern’ sense by Dead the late lead singer of Mayhem (yes that’s another ‘late’ member of Mayhem to add to our collection.)
‘Before the shows, Dead used to bury his clothes into the ground so that they could start to rot and get that "grave" scent. He was a "corpse" on a stage. Once he even asked us to bury him in the ground - he wanted his skin to become pale’.
Despite the rather ridiculous addition of spikes, PVC and witches hats (please check out this classic immortal video for help with obtaining the black metal ‘look’) black metal has a number of articulate and insightful renaissance men some might say…maybe not!
The scene arguably has developed and evolved in dark waves, the first wave included artists such as Mayhem, Darkthrone, Emperor, and Burzum. Through media coverage and interviews with Varg Vikernes of Burzum and Euronymous parallels are easily drawn between Black metal and politics, although some refrain from becoming politicized altogether, influenced more by Norse mythology, H.P Lovecraft and Tolkein.
The creation of Helvete, Euronymous’ record shop and the strict social and aesthetic rules within the scene, reinstated elitism within musical genre, with which a black metal hierarchy was instantly created. The influx of right wing mentality within the scene has been known to attract vehement xenophobes neo Nazism (Varg Vikernes is one of the main artists attributed to this mentality) however the Aryan superiority witnessed in Paganism and Odinism has been referenced as far back as Led Zeppelin! It’s interesting if you were to source the music all the way back through to its original roots; metal, classic rock, soul, blues, slavery- the root of all ‘evil’ is black, much to the disappointment of National Socialist black metal bands the world over.
My personal interest in the music was certainly fuelled by the drama surrounding the genre, it was probably a number of Terrorizer articles and the whole of ‘Lords of Chaos’ before I had even begun to try and listen to the music itself. To the untrained listener not much distinguishes black metal from death, grindcore, trash, crust punk and infact every other sub genre of metal there is (there are of course hundreds) but there are certain characteristics which one must be familiarized with in order to associate a particular act or artist with black metal.
For one the music must sound as though the gates of hell have been opened and earth itself has been consumed by the subterranean underworld, as flames lick the mortal world, and with it an aural assault that sounds like an orchestra consisting of a chainsaw and some old garbage cans (excuse the American colloquialism) being attacked by a psychotic drunk, vocals come courtesy of an old lady riddled with tuberculosis coughs up a lung.
The varying musical styles of black metal range from traditional to industrial to symphonic to melodic to electronica to operatic and so on and so forth. The more experimental acts are of course the most interesting. Many artists that grace the Southern Lord roster, Striborg, Atilla Csihar’s work with sunn0))), Leviathan et al tread the avant garde side of the track.
The likes of Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth and Satyricon have gone on to find some mainstream success. Even if it is for using shock merchandising tactics (remember the COF ‘Jesus is a Cunt t-shirt with the masturbating nun…no me neither.) Personally these bands make me feel sick, but not in a good way.
Despite initial concentration in Norway and Europe, Black metal is also a global affair, hailing not just from Scandinavia, but far from the fjords in USA, Australia, Japan and South America (I’m yet to hear of any big names coming out of Africa.)
The search to find female input in black metal that isn’t confined to ‘operatic vocals’ and melodic choruses, is a chore in itself. After extensive research (badly done I must admit) I managed to conjure up two at least two well known acts with a substantial amount of Estrogen in them. Japanese black metal girl group Gallhammer and Runhilde Gammelsaeter formerly of doom metal band Thorrs Hammer, apparently she use to date Ihsahn from Emperor, see you just cannot detract from the misogynistic world of such masculine music, there just HAS to be sex involved! How true this is, I’m not so sure. Hopefully there are plenty of females within the genre perhaps they’re far too evil to rear their nocturnal heads into the limelight.

(DISCLAIMER AIMED AT BLACK METAL PEDANTS: In no way am I attempting to provide a complete of even accurate portrayal of Black metal, I am in no way an expert just very interested in the genre and the bands, please forgive any mistakes and misquotes and please don't burn me.)

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Strange Fruit

Strange Fruit- Billie Holiday

Brings a salty tear to my eyeball, beautiful. There is a particularly haunting note she hits in the line 'For the sun to rot/ for the trees to drop'.

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

I know Ms Holiday did not write the lyrics herself, it's actually based on a poem written by a Jewish teacher called Abel Meeropol and was inspired by the lynching of two black men in the deep south. as i mentioned before i'm not a lyrical fantatic, but i know a moving piece of poetry when i hear one.

Lithops- Ye Viols! ( solo album by Jan Werner from Mouse on Mars and Von Sudenfed)

Lithops, the solo reincarnation of Jan St Werner (of Mouse on Mars and Von Südenfed fame), presents Ye Viols! a collection of installation soundtracks from a number of recent exhibitions St Werner has worked on.
The project takes its name from
a genus of plants native to sub-Saharan Africa which avoid being eaten by blending in with surrounding pebbles. Pretty apt it would appear as St Werner’s project, with all its subtleties and painstaking, detail, obscures itself to create what the inattentive listener may describe as ‘background’ noise; listen closer however and the idiosyncratic features of St Werner’s work make themselves known.
Multi-Layered, fine details and the dynamics of each individual track makes the experience like looking through a futuristic kaleidoscope. Though Lithops is inevitably influenced by the synthetic, unnatural rhythm of man made technology, there is something quite organic about the record. particularly the repetition in some areas of the album; ‘In nitro’ sounds a lot like the percussive elements in drone veterans Earth’s song ‘Raiford (The Felon Wind)’ from the album ‘Hex…’
Ye Viols! As an industrial composition, is reminiscent of an aural accompaniment to Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’, an ultramodern soundtrack to a visual dystopia.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

torn ACLs: Cedar By The Sea (Herts and Essex Zine)

The recent wave of North American artists invading university radio stations the world over, has built up into a tsunami of educated and poetic souls vying for the attention of the cappuccino sipping musing types.
The Torn ACLs is another addition to this scene, American indie pop infused with elements of jazz and an array of global instruments. Their well produced debut EP ‘Cedar By the Sea’ combines simple pop song structures layered with beautiful melodies. The EP opener ‘Reputation’ begins with a cacophony of hand claps which quickly dissolve into the songs opening beats, a basic idea which proves innovative and inviting in the first seconds of the record. The EP is reminiscent in some areas of a less talented and avant garde Hot Chip. Lyrically parallels can be drawn with Ben Folds Five, vocally- Weezer and the electro pop of The Postal Service.
A section in closing track ‘Obsessively, compulsively’ providing lots of feedback guitar, shows potential for something more raw and less perfectly polished, which would make the record slightly more appealing to me as the sickly sweet fairground pop begins to bore after a while .
The torn ACLs obviously have the talent and the ideas destined to make them as successful as their contemporaries, however I still found myself waiting for the epic climax of each song. ‘Cedar by the sea’ shows potential, however a rougher finish to harden the smooth production would prove the perfect tonic. For now, however the EP will probably remain confined to the geek chic soundtrack of coffee shops and bakeries in the groups hometown of Seattle.

Victoria and Jacob: Super Computer (Herts and Essex Zine)

There is something a little bit strange with the recent trend for employing a childlike voice, I’m not sure if it’s an intentional display of vulnerability, some sort of gesture of innocence or if the vocals in question naturally sound like that of a whining 4 year old?
Whinging infant aside, Victoria and Jacob: Super Computer is a little bit like marmite, not that you’ll either love it or hate it, it just seems a bit sticky and tar like in quality.
All the songs do appear to melt into each other, which is a criticism, Victoria and Jacob refuse to depart from the safe cove of infantile pop they have created, the melody sounds the same on all three songs.
The lyrics and vocals conjure up obvious comparisons to suburban chanteuses such as Thomas Tantrum and Kate nash. The childlike simplistic quality in the voice can be irritating in most parts but there are moments in the track ‘Lion Hunting’ which prove endearing.
The twinkly twee electro pop of Victoria and Jacob is pretty poorly produced and the computer syncopated beats synthetic and fake backing track does little to enhance the vocals. The best parts of the EP involve the variety of early learning instruments the duo employ, contributing to the nusery rhyme vocal delivery.
Elements of Joanna Newsome can be found if you look hard enough through a super strength microscope with an inbuilt heat detector but the lyrical themes are rather too ambiguous without being poetic and the songs generally uninspiring. Super computer?... Meh burn the computer.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Dear Science

i have to say i've developed some affection for the concept of open letters, Saul williams seems to be a big ol' fan of them and my favourite new yoik noiseniks TV on The Radio have just produced the most beautiful and epic open letter Science could ever hope to recieve. i just lurve post!!!
i'm a little bit behind on the new album front so its a bit of a bummer that i ordered the album a considerable amount of time after seeing TVOTR (more on that latah) but not actually owning the album did'nt prevent me from enjoying the new songs live, no siree, i gots the scars and the bruises to prove it!
the opener 'halfway home' is a bit of an anthem with a catchy 'bababa' intro line and awesome fast swinging beat that gets you wobbling and jubblin' about (i just made the word jubblin' up, nice isn't it.)

as of yet i've listened to the album about 3 times and so far, except for halfway home, nothing has really embedded itself in my brain. all i know that on first review i sort of swallowed it as a generally goood release, doesn't quite have the legendary status as desperate youths... or any outstanding singles that can parallel wolf like me and staring at the sun, but that is something only time can create. like cheese, these sort of classics need to mature over time after which they will take over your audiophile life!

theme wise, apparently Tunde (my favourite four eyed nigerian vocalist) claims it was some sort of response to science and its unemotional stubborn reasoning! (i'm sure there's a far better explanation and analysis of the album concept however...i can't provide one just yet.)

i'm not much of a lyrical dissector to be honest, they could be singing about scratching their balls all day frankly and that probably wouldnt taint my view of the record. the only lyricists or music i really take notice of writing is usually Saul Williams and hip hop, or when i can decipher vocals. alot of the songs i listen to i have no clue what the fuck they are talking about (listen to any Melvins stuff and also the song skin peeler by Mortician and YOU try and interpret the lyrics.)
i wonder if that makes me shallow.
anyway back to the matter at hand, Dear Science...mmm Kyp Malone and his Castrati vocals, mmm horns mmmm David Sitek soundscapes and production...mmmmmm i can smell food, i'm hungry.

The Sea and Cake (Fact magazine online)

Piece 'o' cake.

After reading an article about the windy city outfit and one brief mention of Chris Ware; The Sea and Cake remind me of graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan ‘The Smartest Kid on Earth’. Both have this bright and clean aesthetic whilst subtly alluding to the dark underbelly of mundane suburban life.
‘Tight as a nun’ is one crude phrase one might use in order to emphasise the perfectly synchronized efforts of each member playing on the quartet’s brand, schpanking new release. Vocalist Sam Prekop claims ‘I don’t feel versatile within musical language’ which explains why and how The Sea and Cake have concocted their own specific musical vernacular with a hint of the accent adopted by Sonic Youth. Parallels can be lazily drawn between both artists as Prekop’s soft raspy vocals occasionally recall the drawl of Thurston Moore.
The record is full of angular riffs and intertwining guitar rhythms that melt into McEntire’s relaxed percussive input. Car Alarm’s crisp production compliments the simple and clean layers of each song, clean straights lines and pop in its purest sense.
Gems such as ‘Weekend’ integrates chic (not the group) disco pop elements and threaten to become ‘pseudo sophisticated music’ club favourites with art school grads. ‘Mirrors’ incorporates steel drums; in turn contributing to the dream like sheen the album possesses that completes the surreal urban ambience.
Just as the accompanying video clip to ‘Weekend’ is a lovely portrait of the free and whimsical nature of youth; Car Alarm is a breezy vacation from the depths of the subterranean concrete jungle into the purer arms of mother nature.

Los Campesinos (Fact magazine online)

Young beautiful and doomed.

Listening to ‘We Are Beautiful...’ is the audio equivalent of a hedonistic tea party, where the lime jelly has been spiked and the kids have too much fizzy pop.

Los Campesinos!, pioneers of welsh ‘Tweexcore’, blend fast paced melodic anthems with Biting vocal delivery. The seven piece can’t avoid comparison to the likes of Canadian behemoths Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire.
With sweet and sour juxtaposition of the male/ female lead vocals, delightful harmonies that drown in waves of soaring guitars and strings to reach their uplifting climax. However, the formula lacks versatility and I can’t explicitly pick out anything that marks this album out as a change of direction from their previous efforts.
The record is peppered with lyrical content exploring drunken phone calls to ex lovers, masturbation and insecurities, the average issues of attractive but tragic young adults.
No singles are to be released from the record, and its distribution is limited, perhaps an intentional obstacle in order to prevent the likes of Fearne Cotton getting their grubby little mitts on them.
Lack of promotion and obscure themes aside, the Lyrical ambiguity finds resonance with an audience’ in fact the line ‘Collected scabs in lockets/ Hung them round our necks like nooses’ literally reminded me of a girl at school who use to wear her boyfriend’s randomly discarded teeth as pieces of jewellery. Cute.

Concrete and Glass

Telepathe and tv on the radio- cargoLondon (as part of concrete and glass)

The Kings and Queens of the New york alternative pop scene graced shoreditch in October to headline the excellent Concrete and Glass 2 day festival, which was of course to exhibit some of the coolest and most innovative art and music in the worlds major cities atm. However I was unable to sample many of the delights that the festival had to offer due to the popularity of TVOTR, ridiculous competition to get into the venue in order to witness the spectacle.

Telepathe- wore glitter like war paint, clad in baggy t shirts and leggings they certainly exude quintessential new yoik cool. The heavy basslines, ritualistic drumming and the catchiness of tracks such as chromes on it’ won me round, despite the terrible sound (listening to the myspace version of that track is a much more comfortable experience.)
lead singer Melissa Livaudais invited audience onto the tiny Cargo stage, only managing to get 4 up there before security were sweating over the drunken hyponotised girl carelessly swinging her beer over the expensive synthesizers on stage. They are visually compelling, you can tell they really want the audience to be involved, however the cargo crowd weren’t in the most involving mood. Muffled claps met the end of each song, but perhaps the bands behaviour was too avant garde for the audience that night, or most of the cargo crowd aren't used to being beckoned on stage by three lesbians who look like they've run riot in Claire's accessories.
It might be interesting to see the band headline their own tour in a similar sized venue with perhaps a bigger stage so they can create the mass riot they always threatened to that evening. The excitement was infectious you could literally feel the buzz radiating off of each gig goer. It was of course a very special occasion due to the ridiculously long wait the band have forced on their British audience. It was TVOTR'sfirst show in 2 years so it was eagerly anticipated, so much so that cargo was packed from 7:00, tv on the radio wernt due on until 1:00am.
The setlist was laden with older back catalogue rather than the Dear Science shizz, mainly stuff from cookie mountain and desperate youths blood thirsty babes. Highlights: obviously wolf like me, dreams and the encore finale starring staring at the sun (unfortunately I had to abandon my position at the front and missed most of the last song due to a minor need for oxygen) it was an amazing concoction of heavy hi hat disco beats pounding bassline and distortion/ drone that flooded the whole venue with the sweet soulful sounds of adebimpe’s velvety vocals.
My T- shirt was utterly soaked by the end of the night. there was a Crush towards the front, i was expecting some stage diving and more physical interraction, even though it was hot hot hooot i still love the intimacy of cargo. this month the group are going on to play the not so cosy shepards bush empire, it would appear already not even a month after the new album was released seeing the band play tiny venues is a novelty. i look forward to hearing them debut more from Dear Science at ABC in Glasgow next week, i shall most definately fight my way to the front and swing my wild locks to 'Staring At The Sun'.