Sunday, 29 June 2008

LIVE: Late of the Pier, Bugged Out! Warehouse Ball, Shoreditch, 6th June, 2008

Photo: +++ponyrock+++

For one night only, Late of the Pier take over Hearn Street Car Park to collaborate with promoters Bugged Out!; a perfect match indeed. Calling it one of the last London shows they will play until the festival season is over and the release of their eagerly anticipated album, it's set to be a good one. And they don't disappoint. Their set includes singles 'Space and the Woods', 'The Bears Are Coming', along with live favourites 'Broken' and 'Random Firl'. They produce hit after hit and their dose of piecing synths mixed with the grungier riffs of 'VW' along with drumming on bed slates and swift, funkadelic basslines manage to captivate. And all without an air of pretension; it all seems to come so naturally and the layers do not alienate, they only spur you on to dance until your feet ache. But it's still single 'Bathroom Gurgle' that gets the crowd really going and screaming in their best falsetto voices to lyrics that I still insist only dogs can understand. The more these boys play, the more amazing they get, they never fail to excite.

Claire Evans

Friday, 27 June 2008

FESTIVALS 2008: Forget Glastonbury, Go Boutique

When Kate Nash steps on to the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury today it will the mark the unofficial start of Britain's music festival season. It's too late to get Glastonbury tickets now but given the much publicised debacle over poor ticket sales and the name calling and blame throwing that followed it's safe to assume that those without tickets are so by choice.

So why did Glastonbury not sell out? Jay Z has, rather unfairly, been made a scapegoat to some extent (since when has Glastonbury been a rock festival anyway? It's always been a music festival,) the registration process that didn't seem to confuse anyone last year has been said to have put people off, even potential ticket buyers have been accused of not being the right type of music fans.

Given the line up this year and the cost of tickets it just doesn't seem like good value for money. For the same price as Glastonbury you can get yourself tickets to a couple of weekend events and if you include the money you save on a train ticket to Somerset, then you could also go to a few one day events too, and if you really look around you could find line ups that look like they've been hand picked especially for you.

Here's a few of the best alternative festivals to be seen at this summer.

Port Lympne Wildlife Park
4th July - 6th July


With a 20,00 capacity Zoo Thousand is one of those new small festivals that has crept up on us from nowhere. As if a festival in the grounds of a zoo and fairground rides wasn't enough the line up is one of the best around this summer. Although the mainstage will host headliners Mark Ronson and The Hives, the Tap n Tin stage is the place to be, with Late of the Pier, Pete and the Pirates and Cazals all due to appear.

Unusually for a festival Zoo Thousand's line up crosses over to an urban audience without ever alienating guitar fans. As well as the usual indie fanfare the dance tents look unmissable with electro favourites MSTRKRFT, Stanton Warriers and Evil Nine standing out.
And if that isn't enough to sway you some of the proceeds go toward animal conservation so we'll all be helping our furry neighbours too.


Friendly Fires
Sportsday Megaphone
These New Puritans
Wild Beasts


Anything aminal related - gorilla suits or animal masks. But we'd be most comfortable in Vince Noir and Howard Moon zoo-keeper outfits with a hint of summer neon.

Standon Lordship
1st August - 3rd August


Festivals are great as they're a chance to catch all different types of acts that wouldn't usually play together within a designated area. This year at Standon Calling, those acts include Super Furry Animals, The Maccabees and Mystery Jets as headliners along with the likes of Friendly Fires, Late of the Pier and Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. We also love festivals as they give you an excuse to go all out and dress up while you get to meet some crazy characters along the way. And all of this happens in an unbeatable atmosphere. At Standon Calling all of these things are definately on the agenda.

After seven years it has dropped its invite only policy and is opening its beautifully designed gates to everyone. More than just a music festival, Standon Calling invites artists and set designers to create alternative worlds and a festival far removed from the grit and shove of other weekenders. Held in the grounds of a 16th Century Hertfordshire manor house, the theme this year is Japan and on Saturday night there's a fancy dress session that will inevitably see many people taking advantage with the organisers plea to embrace "a clash between the floating world of old Japan and the searing neon decadence of its modern day equivalent."

There's Rockaoke on the lawn and if the weather's nice, you can enjoy a relaxing dip in the pool. On top of that they're raising money for local and national charities Standon & Puckeridge Community Centre and Phoenix Futures. What more could you want?


The Mystery Jets
Super Furry Animals
Late of the Pier
Florence and the Machine
Eddy Temple Morris


Anything Japanese! We'll be whipping out our sequin masks, and wearing red lipstick and bright kimonos. And we expect the guys to be going all ninja on us. Hooray!

Field Day
Victoria Park, London
9th August

Held in East London, Field Day is a festival for the trendy music lover set on seeing the latest acts within a small proximity. With stages hosted by the usual suspects (Eat Your Own Ears, Adventures In The Beetroot Field, Bugged Out!), this year sees Foals and Mystery Jets return to the bill along with Laura Marling, Noah and the Whale and Heartbreak. There is also what their website calls the 'Villiage Mentality', an area that contains fun and games and sports-like events that cater for creative and competitive minds. Splat the Rat!, Carrot Eating Contest and Pom Pom international look the most fun. So get stuck in.


Jeffrey Lewis
Primary 1
Wild Beasts
Filthy Dukes


The latest trends worn in a 'I just ran through a charity shop naked' style. Glitter. Oh and big, bright sunglasses, come rain or shine.

Clapham Common
24th August


If camping isn't your cup of tea or you think Reading and Leeds has gone too metal this year then head over to Clapham this August bank holiday instead. Get Loaded in the Park blows away all one day competition with a super excellent line up comprising some of the biggest names in rock n' roll (Iggy and The Stooges) with some of its brightest young stars (Kid Harpoon.) Also on the bill are dance pioneers Soulwax and the lively, if a little odd Metronomy.

There are no gimicky extras here it's just a a day of great music, and the perfect excuse for local kids like us to to get all excited about South London again. You don't need to just take our word for it, ask the Maccabees, "we’re really looking forward to playing. We used to hang out on Clapham common when we were fourteen, so it's nice to do something near home."


Iggy & The Stooges
The Maccabees
Boys Noize


Whatever the hell we like, we won't be camping so it'll be as impratical as we can make it.

Claire Evans

Thursday, 26 June 2008

LIVE: We Smoke Fags, Fangs, Animals Talking. Water Rats, Kings Cross. Wednesday 18th June, 2008

Following two excellent support sets from Animals Talking (spatial, almost glacial Joy Division-esque indie pop) and Fangs (like a Scottish Crystal Castles, but with entirely their own ideas and less undeserved media hype), the standard has been set and it’s pretty fucking high. Holloway boys We Smoke Fags are going to have to play a pretty tight set to stop themselves from getting upstaged by their awesome support bill. ‘Tight’ probably isn’t the right choice of word to use when describing this group though; in fact, it definitely isn’t. Raucous, rowdy, electrifying, invigorating... anything but ‘tight’. That’s not to disrespect Fags in any way, they would rather lose their edge if everything was perfect all the time.

Tonight, they’re their usual exciting selves, albeit battling through technical problems that leave a little to be desired in the sound department but that is beyond the band’s control. Still, songs like ‘Lust Puppet’ and ‘I Love You’ shine through, showing just how good these purveyors of electro punk can be. The whole set is packed with dirty, scuzzy electro hits that get the London crowd dancing, from ‘Passion for Fashion’ to the ‘Canapé of Love’, witty b-side to debut single and set closer, ‘Eastenders’. Despite the issues with sound, it’ll be hard to walk away from tonight’s gig feeling anything less than elated, a testament to the trio’s on-stage presence and charisma, and songwriting ability.

Rhian Daly

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

LIVE: Valgeir Sigurdsson , House of St Barnabas, Soho. Friday 16th May, 2008

Photo: Peter Corkhill

Crushed in between Oxford Street’s obnoxious shoppers, the hedonists of Old Compton Street and the theatre goers on Charing Cross Road, stepping into St Barnabas’ Chapel nevertheless has the affect of uprooting you from a Friday night in Soho and effectively reducing its bustle to a low, distant rumble. Inside the tiny chapel, a handful of fold-up chairs filled in for the pews, while candles lining the walls and banisters provided the only lighting: the atmosphere could not be more perfectly set for the gentle folk and electronica that followed.

First up was American folk singer, Sam Amidon, who played a generous amount of material from his recent, Valgeir Sigurðsson-produced LP, ‘All Is Well’. Joined by Sigurðsson himself, as well as a trio of female Icelandic musicians (seemingly framed alongside the altar’s murals of the Apostles), who would switch between accordions, bassoons, violas and a variety of brass instruments, the set was nothing short of captivating. Amidon sat at the front, sometimes plucking a guitar, sometimes a banjo, and despite the dark nature of some of his songs, spoke jovially to the audience. His confidence as a performer came out through a series of eccentric ticks: at one point between songs he spontaneously delivered a shrieking throat performance accompanied by odd gestures of his right hand. It went on for two minutes before he burst into laughter and such was his presence that you couldn’t help but laugh along. At another instant, he chose to “lope like a buzzard” during his performance of the cautionary ‘Little Johnny Brown’ which involved running and leaping through the audience and burning himself on some candle wax.

Alongside his more outlandish antics, he was also capable of incredible tenderness such as when he asked his friend ‘Dave’ to go up and provide and a hauntingly mournful backdrop of wails to ‘Wild Bill Jones’. Despite his warm tenor occasionally failing to reach his songs’ higher notes, Amidon set a very bar for Sigurðsson to follow, and alas it was one which he failed to match.

After the two effectively swapped positions (Sigurðsson to the front to play with his Mac and knobs and dials, Amidon to the back to sit in the corner banging a drum), the Björk producer played cuts from his excellent ‘Ekvílibríum’, replacing the album’s vocal contributions from Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Dawn McCarthy with fragile instrumentation. The most bewitching effect of the night came from the audience’s participation during ‘Equilibrium Is Restored’: over the low, rumbling synths and meandering instrumentation, Sigurðsson instructed the crowd to breathe slowly and heavily giving the impression that some gentle wind was circling through the chapel, casting everything in a hypnotic haze. It was really quite stunning.

One got the impression that Sigurðsson is a bit of a perfectionist: throughout the set, he would sit in front of his Mac looking over the musicians as if the songs could sound better. While it is a commendable feature, his constant walk up to the switchboard did detract somewhat from the experience. Another slight niggle came from his almost lack of presence. Sure he was there, but the songs strayed only very slightly from how they sound on record and you could probably have played the songs straight from the album to achieve the same entrancing atmosphere. Being first and foremost a producer, he could be forgiven for this, but one can see the performance diminish considerably had the setting been any other music venue.

It was fitting then that Sam Amidon came back for vocal duties on the closer, ‘Baby Architect’; Sigurðsson is a wizard of musical composition, but this was really Amidon’s night.

Jorge Costa

Friday, 20 June 2008

Q&A: Captain Black

Photo : Greg Nolan
Nominated for this year's Indy Awards and given a leg up by News of the World, of all people, things are looking very rosy for Captain Black right now. Read on to find out how Camden's coolest new band are taking all this, straight from the horse's (or, er, front man Keith Austin's) mouth.

Hello Captain Black! You’re originally from Hampshire, which as far as I’m aware isn’t that well renowned for its musical heritage (please do correct me if I’m wrong). What sort of scene have you got going on down there? Is it a good place for young bands?
Places like Southampton have a scene I think but Hampshire is a big place so I couldn't really comment on the whole county, if we're talking about where we grew up then no.

So you’re now currently residing in Camden, the Capital of Cool. Did you find it hard at first to get yourselves noticed there?
Kind of, we sat in pubs on our own for a while with nothing to say to each other as we lived with each other and knew exactly what had gone on with our days, then we made some friends and they saved us from our own personalities.

How did you hook up with your record label, Bumpman? What was it about them that made you want to work with them?
They are owned by the guys who run the Hawley Arms and we played regular sessions on monday nights there so they asked if we would consider releasing the next single with them, we said yes because they are all massive music fans and had a vision for how the label would be seen by other people and wanted to do things properly.

You had your launch party for ‘Sister’ the other day. Why did you choose to release that song?
Sister quickly gained a lot of attention live and was the first song after 'Come On Up To Our House' that captured peoples attention. So many people asked for a copy of it we had to release it. I think its our best single so far.

What are your plans for an album? Is it all recorded and ready to go or have you still got to get in the studio and do it?
All the songs are writen, there are plans on the way to get in to the studio soon but it could be the end of the year before we see any signs of a release. There will be another single/EP before that though.

You have two brothers in the band; I’m guessing there’s the occasional period of tension or friction? How do you deal with that as a group?
Yes, Mark is my brother, we do argue a lot and everyone else just deals with it, that's just the way it is.

News of the World made you one of their top bands for 2008 and put you one place above the Courteeners. Was it a little weird seeing yourselves being tipped for success in a national newspaper?
It was weird, especialy because of the terrible picture they used of me! Really nice to get some exposure in a nation paper though and to be listed up there with Laura Marlin and Black Kids was an honnor.

You were nominated for this year’s Indy Awards but alas, didn’t win. What do you think of the band who beat you to the prize, The Brent Flood?
We have no idea what the Indy Awards is really about and I've never heard of Brent Flood. I'm sure they're great, are they from Brent?

Things seem to be really going well for you at the moment. You’re supporting Brakes soon and playing the 2000 Trees Festival with Art Brut next month, which must be pretty exciting. If you could play with anyone ever, who would you choose and why?
Yeah things are going really well, If I could choose anyone to play with I would choose Art Brut and Brakes, thats how well things are going for us.

And finally, what are Captain Black’s plans for the not too distant future?
We are going in to the studio next week to produce our new single, we have a great producer called George Shilling, he has worked with Primal Scream, 2220's and loads of other people so we are really looking forward to that, we're just getting straight on with the next release after the summer.
Rhian Daly

SINGLE: Popup - Love Triangle (Art Goes Pop)

Slowcore bands like Ida are the first things conjured up by the minimalist arrangement and delicate guitar line, making ‘Love Triangle’ seem to lack the jerky, kinetic side that NME’s Alex Miller found on their earlier singles, but eventually three minutes in I had a told-you-so moment when some guitar chord jabs came in and the patience paid off. Suddenly all the other parts kick in and Popup’s pop ambitions are finally realised with some squeaky guitars and more girl-boy harmonies, and the vocalist’s previous sandpapery voice climbs into a yearning shout making for a seriously intense final chorus that begs you to sing along before dying down to its previous soft guitar line.

‘Love Triangle’ definitely shows some potential with its clever lyrics about betrayal between two conjoined twins, and the vocals with the strong Glaswegian accent were brilliant, but the build-up, or lack thereof in the first three minutes, could have been cut a little shorter as the track was growing a little too sombre. Still, Popup have once again proved that indie can do pop better than mainstream any time.

Ollie Khakwani

SINGLE: Nacional - Telephone (Art Goes Pop)

If you’re a fan of déjà vu, you’ve come to the right place. Glaswegian insipid indie folks Nacional are yet another tedious new band set to sweep the slate of equally dull indie away in one, by doing exactly the same as every other band topping the NME chart this week and causing mass suicide to those with decent hearing. Ouch; But what about the tunes? Sure, if your view of indie is a dollop of Razorlight with a side of Scouting for Girls, and for that extra taste, a slight sprinkling of the Kaiser Chiefs, it’s a hit. It’s an indie dancefloor smash, with the same repetitive vocals, the same repetitive bass line, and the same repetitive chords. What could go wrong?
Straight from the offset, high hopes for this band are nowhere in sight. On first listen, it’s not too offensive. Yes it’s background music - and there is better background music out there - but there’s nothing too dreadful to document. Third listen: slay me now. I don’t know whether it’s purely the music, severe hayfever, too much of Josh Homme’s angry influence, or all three, but something about this track is really irritating. A mountainous start and an even rockier finish aren’t helping offer the band any second chances, and incessant vocals repeating the drab and uninspired lyrics aren’t much good either. I’m trying to restrain my antagonism from reaching the keyboard, but the thoughts swirling around my head go something along the lines of “Shut up, or I’ll shove that relentless “telephone” down your throat”. D.I.Y or die? The latter seems to be more preferable right now.
Let’s be optimistic here, as at least some good can be squeezed out of this embarrassing number. Kids: this is what NOT to do if you’re looking to release your band’s single. Looking for inspiration? Go listen to Atlas Sound, High Places, anything but this ramshackle excuse for a song. There’s plenty of mediocre tasteless indie out there, please don’t be an addition to such an unfortunate statistic. In the ideal world, loss of musical ability to Nacional, and anger management for me would undoubtedly the way forward. Unfortunately, we’re in Britain, circa 2008. Bomb scares in Exeter, racial disputes, gang violence, the credit crunch and the downfall of parliament. I’m still an angry teen, and Nacional are still a dreadful band.
A killer track, for all the wrong reasons.
Olivia Jaremi

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

DEMO: The Bumps

The Bumps are a UK based bubblegum/electro-pop duo. Their sound is a melee of 60s psychedelia and garage rock guitar hooks. Tracks like 'ASAFP' and 'Magick Eye' inspire a dreamy surreal feeling which brings Captain Beefheart to mind. Whilst 'Don't Get Ahead of Yourself,' falls more along the lines of the Kinks.

The Bumps manage to use a lot of instruments without sounding messy, and their psychedelic sound perfectly complements their often off-beat, verging on the darker side of life lyrics. Listing among others The Turtles, The Beach Boys and Beck as their influences The Bumps deliver a sunny, uplifting set of tracks which make you want to move your feet. Their short but sweet songs are light hearted, party music that you can clap along to.

Amy Honda

ALBUM: The Zutons - You Can Do Anything (Deltasonic)

Although ‘Valerie’ might have suggested The Zutons were nice Northern optimists, first single from ‘Tired of Hanging Around,’ ‘Why Won’t You Give Me Your Love?’ showcased a snarling side beneath the jaunty pop hooks. Still, ‘You Can Do Anything’ in general takes a heavier sounding approach, on some tracks making the last album seem like Tara Reid (drunk, swearing and with the occasional stint in jail) compared to its Mike Tyson (dangerously insane with a punch that can powder bone). Tracks like ‘Family of Leeches’ and ‘Freak,’ stories about benefit fraud and rent boys, are the best examples of The Zutons’ lyrically and musically grittier edge but at the same time the album’s denser arrangements are often so aggravatingly studio polished that it steals some of the effect. Strangely enough, they seem most in their element on their slower tracks where they’re not trying to seem pissed off, like closer ‘Little Red Door,’ which is bordering on precious.

Still, the retro-rock that rightly earned The Zutons so many fans is still omnipresent, this time round with a strong 70s feel like on single ‘Always Right Behind You’ which almost sounds like that Christmas song by Slade and the Fleetwood Mac like ‘What’s Your Problem?’ Again, the simple chord progressions on a lot of tracks give some unintentional bounce that makes it hard to take the nasty picture of Britain they’re trying to paint seriously or the angry lyrics like ‘You’re a virus, you only ever make mistakes’ make the album seriously not fun. On the plus side, despite losing their guitarist ‘You Can Do Anything’ has some awesome guitar work, especially the wild solos on ‘Harder and Harder’ and ‘Give Me A Reason,’ making me suspect their previous guitarist was the limiting factor.

Though it pains me to retread another criticism of The Zutons, Abi Harding seems to be doing even less on this album besides the usual three-note sax riff, backing vocals and her primary function, selling their gig tickets and getting photo shoots. But fuck credibility, as they say themselves ‘she has nice hair and legs.’

Overall it’s a decent album but it lacks the charming quirkiness that made their first album so instantly memorable instead opting for both angry flailing songs and slow tempo ballads. No amount of axe-bashing can hide the production veneer that characterises the ‘trying-to-crack-the-States’ album and it’s hard not to miss what The Zutons used to be.

Ollie Khakwani

Q&A: Cassie and the Cassettes

In between exams and enjoying the summer sun, Cassie Layton, front woman of hotly-tipped Londoners Cassie and the Cassettes, took some time out to talk about funk covers bands, The Smiths and festival plans…
Your name kind of follows a structure that’s quite popular at the moment (Florence and the Machine, Rosie Oddie and the Odd Squad etc). It’s also pretty light-hearted and fun. How long did it take you to come up with it? Did you go by any other names? I always think it must be quite hard to come up with the perfect band name.
Actually, a friend of mine initially suggested it as a joke. At the time the band wasn't formed yet, but it stuck in my mind as a possible title. I don't think he remembers suggesting it though, probably a good thing, might try and claim royalties later or something... And I agree, finding a decent band name is tricky, all the best ones are taken!

You’re working with No Pain in Pop at the moment. How did that come about? Are you fans of the other bands they’ve worked with like HEALTH and Telepathe?
If I'm honest, I haven't actually heard of those bands. The only one I've heard is We Smoke Fags who aren't really my type of music, but the guitarist saw them live and said they put on a really good performance. I think I'll go and see them sometime.
You’re quite a young band. Have you had any problems with people patronising you because of your age or age restrictions not allowing you to play gigs?
We're not that young, are we...? Well all of us are 18 or 19 now so age restrictions aren't really a problem. They never have been as far as I remember. I think for our first two gigs a couple of us were underage, but it never prevented us from playing and no one's ever been patronising, not to our face anyway.
All age concerts are pretty much all the rage right now. I’m assuming as a young band you’re quite receptive to these? Have you played many yourselves? Have you noticed a difference between all ages crowds and over 18s audiences?
Well we haven't played any all ages concerts as yet, hopefully we will in the summer. But at the last gig we played at the Great Escape, the audience was a lot older. I think the only difference was less movement, there wasn't as much dancing going on, it's much nicer playing to a rowdy crowd; it’s more relaxing.
Who first inspired you to start a band? Do you look more at older or newer bands for inspiration?
Well half of us originally met through a funk covers band called The Funkbomb Detonators and we've all had experience with other bands before, but it's really difficult finding people who you can get along and also connect with on a musical level, the two are surprisingly hard to find.
I think it was during my Nirvana phase that I made up my mind to form a band, but I gave that idea up after a series of musical flops. It was only when I became good friends with the other band members some four years later that it seemed even remotely possible. And we definitely look at older bands for inspiration. Not that we’re against modern music, just as nature has it none of our favourite bands date later than about 1994.
What do you think about the current musical climate? A lot of people seem to enjoy slagging it off at the moment. And what do you think about the state of the industry right now?
Well I won’t go as far as slagging it off, but I have to say it’s been in much better positions than it is now. I don’t know too much about the industry, but I think the drop of record sales has made them very sensitive and acutely aware of any new bands that could potentially up the sales. This means we’ve has a lot of one hit wonders recently and artists that sell perhaps 1 top record and then peter out into nothing.
There are some really talented bands around at the moment, but there’s also a lot of rubbish. I guess you could say that about any era though, it’s only the revolutionary bands that stand the test of time whilst the rubbish ones are sifted out, never to be seen or heard of again. This is quite philosophical!
Belle & Sebastian comparisons seem to get thrown about left, right and centre when your name is mentioned. Do you think these comparisons are fair? Do you mind being constantly tagged with that?
I don’t mind at all, I think they’re a great band, although it’s only recently that I got into them. I can some similarities though I don’t think we’re worthy of the constant comparisons! I’m not complaining though, they’re extremely talented.
You say you’re ready to “fight injustice and bands full of pale Smiths obsessives”. I take it you’re not too enamoured with Morrissey and co. then?
Hell no! I love The Smiths; ‘Ask Me’ has to be one of my favourite songs of all time! The rest of the band likes them too! We should really change that on our MySpace, it’s sending out completely the wrong message. So many people have very angrily asked me “why don’t you like the Smiths!?” I didn’t realise it would cause this much of an uproar! I have to admit, we didn’t actually write that biography on our MySpace, it was a friend of ours, and whilst he did it extremely well, the content isn’t entirely accurate. Well, that part isn’t anyway, that and the Justin Timberlake comment; 'SexyBack' is a great song!
When you’re writing songs, is it a group effort or more just based around one individual’s ideas?
Well so far I’ve written the songs either on guitar or piano and then I’ve presented them to the band to work their magic upon. We do all the arrangements together so it’s very much a group effort. Although I’ve recently started working on writing some things with the guitarist Tom Varrall which is going really well, we’ve got some cool songs on the cards.
Is there a goal or objective behind Cassie and the Cassettes or are you purely together just to play music?
I think we’re just going to see what happens, it would be amazing if something big came of the band, it’s a fantasy that frequently crosses our minds, but if it doesn’t, we’d definitely stay together to play music.
You played Great Escape festival the other weekend. How did that go? Did you get to experience the rest of the festival after you’d played?
Oh, I kind of answered that a little while before, but it went well! A little strange as it was the first time we played a gig with none of our friends in the audiences, but it was good. And sadly we played on the final night so the festival was drawing to a close, but I’d like to go back there next year and enjoy it as a voyeur instead.
What are your plans for the summer? Are you playing any other festivals or going to any as punters?
We haven’t got any firm plans to play any festivals yet, but half of us are going to Benicassim which should be very exciting! Our drummer Nick is travelling across Europe and I think he’s going to Dour, but other than that we’re festival free.
Looking past summer, have you got anything sorted in terms of an album yet or are you going to concentrate more on touring and getting your name out there?
I think we’re going to play some more shows and we’ve planned to release a single this summer, but as I said before I think we’ll just see what happens, fingers crossed this wont be the last you hear of us.
Rhian Daly

Monday, 16 June 2008

SINGLE: Luke Leighfield - If You Haven’t Got Anything to Say / Coming of Age (Got Got Need)

Fed up of 80s revivals, drug-addled celebrities and fads that pass quicker than you can say “New rave is a massive joke, yeah?”? Then Luke Leighfield is here to voice your frustrations in buoyant, sing-along piano pop form. ‘If You Haven’t Got Anything to Say’ is one of the highlights of Leighfield’s second record, ‘Fan the Flames’, and is his debut single proper. Never has cynicism sounded so much fun, as the future-pop-star-in-the-making tinkles the ivories jovially, whilst running through a list of music-related things that wind him up. Not that he’s mouthing off for the sake of it – there’s the distinct feeling that this song was written because Leighfield really cares, not to gain more publicity like certain members of the current indie fraternity like to do. If anything, it seems that ‘If You Haven’t Got Anything to Say’ was born out of frustration that musicians who are peddling the same unoriginal sounds swamp the charts and press, whilst DIY heroes like Luke are left in obscurity with the recognition they deserve being handed over to some one hit wonder. But with songs as strong as this (and there’s plenty of them over his two LPs), it shouldn’t be long until Leighfield himself is drowning in critical acclaim.

Flip over your record to find previously unreleased demo ‘Coming of Age’, a tale of teenage lust and adolescent mistakes – a topic that’s been sung about many times before, sure, but Luke Leighfield brings a fresh take to it with his youthful wisdom crafting lyrics like “The joy of getting older is making these mistakes” and “We’re still learning/We’re coming of age”. A beautiful song and perhaps an antidote to mend a broken heart, albeit one that will involve plenty of tears.

Rhian Daly

EP: The Sexual Hot Bitches Vs The Lovely Eggs - Split 7” (Filthy Little Angels)

The Sexual Hot Bitches are two ladies from London, who create riot grrrl-tinged pop music about killing cats and shagging. The first of three tracks on offer here, ‘Kitty’, is a droll tale of wanting to kill their cat so they can get a dog. What is best about this is how the Bitches manage to make attempted cat murder sound so sweet and innocent, when some of the lyrics are a little bit dark.

Taking a different angle, ‘Let’s Fuck’ is a lust-ridden Elastica meets Yeah Yeah Yeahs alternative dancefloor riot. Short and sweet, it’s energetic and exciting; a sort of musical prozac, if you will, as it’s pretty much impossible not to smile whilst this is playing.

The final contribution from the Bitches on this split single is ‘Hot Pie’; a shouty, scuzzy minute and a half of fun and one of the standout tracks on this whole record.

The Lovely Eggs are another duo, this time one girl, one guy and from Lancaster, not LDN. They’re also a little stranger than TSHB, but in an entirely good way. I’m always intrigued by songs that are twenty seconds long, so on seeing the track length of ‘Mix Dan’ appearing on my computer screen, I had to listen to it straight away. What I got was a list of the different species of owl. Which, you have to admit, is pretty spectacular. In fact, the first three tracks from the Lovely Eggs hint that they’re slightly obsessed with birds, with ‘I Like Birds (But I Like Other Animals Too)’ and ‘Jon Carling’ both repeatedly mentioning the feathery creatures. Other subject matters covered by the Lovely Eggs include getting shoes dirty at farms (the 15 second ‘Dirty At Farms’, which sounds like the foundations of an Art Brut demo), parties and mass suicide (‘I’m Having a Party’) and ‘Cops and Robbers’; a nursery rhyme-esque 10 seconds. And then, to top it all off, the record finishes with 15 seconds of what sounds like birds singing. But a little speeded up. Obviously.

Standout Tracks: The Sexual Hot Bitches – Kitty / The Lovely Eggs – I Like Birds (But I Like Other Animals Too)

Rhian Daly

SINGLE: Gloria Cycles - Vegas (Wendy Bike Records)

Think of Vegas and you think of glamour, excitement and lavish excess, right? So putting on Gloria Cycles’ debut single, you’re probably going to be expecting something that reflects that. Unfortunately you couldn’t be further from the truth as ‘Vegas’ is a mundane journey from start to finish. The opening chiming guitar work is weary and overdone, whilst the constant repetitive backing vocals from bassist Jen Dalby don’t take long to get on your nerves. One positive of this track is lead singer Kenny McCracken, possessing an interesting and distinctive voice that saves this single from being an absolute disaster.

Having said that, the Muddy Baker remix reconstructs the track and turns it into a six and a half minute electro wonder, taking the best parts of the song and cutting the crap. Perhaps Gloria Cycles should take note from this electro refit and use the same strategy to improve their own work.

Rhian Daly

EP: Anthony Love - Action / Passion EP

Essex isn’t really renowned for producing that many great bands or artists, with its most famous sons probably being Blur. Of late, The Horrors, These New Puritans and Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly have all crept out of the county’s woodwork, and maybe one day, in the near future, Anthony Love’s name will be mentioned in the same breath as those. The obvious comparison here is clearly with Sam “Get Cape” Duckworth, what with the two both being singer/songwriters from Essex and all, but where Duckworth writes mainly about politics and world issues, Love sings more about “broken hearts and broken glass” – romantic affairs of the heart that you’d expect a 18 year old to write about.

‘Action/Passion’ is Love’s second self-released EP, containing 5 sublime acoustic efforts. ‘Daily News’ is a strong start to any record, bursting with a youthful desire to be different to the elders surrounding us. ‘This Town’ is full of longing and is guaranteed to make you think of lovers loved and lost, with tender lyrics like “You the know the thing about honesty/It’s a policy I’m not following/If I tell you how I feel/It’s only ever going to end this thing” surely resonating and striking a chord with many teenagers the world over. ‘Maxim’ is a gentle 3 minutes something of beautiful melancholy whilst ‘LAYA’ is a more upbeat, although still very sincere, affair. Closing track ‘Heartbeats’ shows a poetic depth to Love as a songwriter, something which only grow stronger over time.

‘Action/Passion’ is an insightful collection of songs that with proper, professional production could be transformed into sweeping sonnets that will surely bring Anthony Love the attention he so deserves.

Standout track: This Town

Rhian Daly

Q&A: We Smoke Fags

North London's WE SMOKE FAGS release debut single 'Eastenders' this week on sixsevenine.

Which additional instrument would you like to see in the band?
Live drums one day would be cool. But if I had to pick something else entirely, it'd be a whisk with variable speeds and a glass mixing bowl.

If you were invited to a gods and goddesses party which mythical figure would you go as and how would you depict it in costume?
Ra, god of the sun, because he's got a birds head. I'd model the head on a falcon's and make it out of paper mache. Then I'd wear some gold robes and carry a big stick. I reckon It'd look pretty damn good!

If We Smoke Fags was a dance, what dance would you be?
Better than the Rolex sweep.

And on the same subject, what is your best token dance move?
Flailing limbs and also trying bogle.

If you could promote only one band in the world, except yourself, who would it be?
One band? Probably XX teens, we like them.

What were you doing at this time yesterday?
Walking on a beach in Dublin, looking for crabs with Harry.

Look to the past or look to the future?
Both, but never the present.

What is your most effective insult?
"I saw your Mum on Jeremy Kyle, wearing Reebok classics". It's Harry's really, but it's spawned the "I saw you Mum...." game on tour.

You’ve got a whole variety of shows planned over the summer, what one are you most looking forward to? And has there been a gig you’d rather forget?
Japan's Summer Sonic festival. We've never been to Japan, it's going to be like stepping into another world! We've heard from other bands that playing there is pretty surreal.

Yes, but I've forgotten.

You have an interesting mix of influences listed on your myspace. How do you work individual interests into the band?
I think it just comes naturally to Joey in the writing process. We're always introducing each other to music and experiences we've each discovered and that filters through to our songs.

Is it better to be influenced or inspired?
Inspired, without a doubt. But influence plays an important role.

Your debut single ‘Eastenders’ is out soon, has it been hard work to get to the point where you’re releasing a record?
I wouldn't call it hard, but very long! It's been frustrating, we were first meant to release a single about the same time last year, but things kept on changing, albeit for the best. We're all fucking exciting about this one, we feel everything is ready now.
So, what pray tell does the future hold?
The usual band stuff, recording the album, more touring, trying to take over the world...

Claire Evans