Tuesday, 2 December 2008

ALBUM: Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke (Island Records)

All the retreads of the disastrous MTV dominated decade of music – Alphabeat, Santogold, Black Kids and the mysterious internet meme that is Rick Astley have been getting pretty tiring. In fact, the 80s were up there on my list of stuff I hate – suits, genocide and famine. But somehow Pip Brown’s album manages to break out of the cheddar stylings (boring and cheesy) of the rest of the pack. For one thing, even though her lyrics aren’t complex or poetic in a Magnetic Fields way, they’re much more sharp and straightforward than most, like the ‘you’re so completely twisted; you’re so completely evil’ on ‘Manipulating Woman,’ proving Asperger syndrome can be kind of helpful. Then there’s the actual music – as retro as everyone says it is, it still has something original and contemporary about it, not at all like unearthing a rotten musical corpse *cough, Alphabeat, cough*. As much as there is to love about the album, from the intense electro-stomp of opener ‘Magic’ to the catchy but not sellout singles ‘Paris Is Burning’ and ‘Dusk Till Dawn,’ it’s not absolutely perfect. There are a few same-y moments, especially because of the overuse of the intro from Van Halen’s Jump (‘Another Runaway’ and ‘Back of the Van’) which isn’t helped by all the songs being in the mid-tempo range.

Still, with addictive riffs that’ll get you dancing without the aid of alcohol no matter how badly coordinated you are, Ladyhawke’s album shows how much you can do with some synthesisers and a little bit of autism.

Standout Track: My Delirium, or maybe Dusk Till Dawn

Ollie Khakwani

EP: Right Turn Left - Faust EP (Filthy Little Angels)

Jaunty, jolly indie can get a bit sickening at times what with there being so goddamn much of it about. Fortunately, Right Turn Left make the kind of music that, even though it’s not that dissimilar to their peers’ efforts, is hard to tire of. The Faust EP encases four perfect examples of this, from the short, sharp title track to the wise ‘We’re’ (full title or not, who knows?) with its affirmative chanting chorus of “It’s best to regret something you did do rather something you didn’t”.

Stylistically, RTL are like a more literate Holloways; all upbeat rhythms and a cheery disposition but with lyrics that sound as if they’ve been written by a more well-read, poetically inclined individual.

By far the standout track on this EP is ‘Sloe Gin’, a tale of teenage rebellion, female vanity and falling in love with music set to the group’s trademark carefree sound. If they keep going like this, they should be very successful indeed.

Standout track: Sloe Gin

Rhian Daly

LIVE: Roses Kings Castles. FOPP, Cambridge. 28th September, 2008

As fun as “proper” gigs are, sometimes it’s nice to not get pushed around or covered in beer. Hence, why intimate instores such as this one are such a pleasant change. With CD racks moved to one side and a privileged group of fans sat in a semi-circle on the floor or stood patiently a little further back, Roses Kings Castles takes out his acoustic guitar and enchants the top floor of FOPP with songs from his self-titled debut album, catching the attention of a few passers-by in the Saturday traffic along the way.

For those who haven’t yet heard, Roses Kings Castles is the side project of drummer Adam Ficek, first started as a way to keep busy whilst on tour. A couple of weeks prior to this meeting, he released his eponymous first record on his own label, The Sycamore Club. Tonight, Ficek is due to play at a Syd Barrett tribute gig across town but for now, he has a small but eager crowd to entertain.

Starting his five song set with recent single ‘Entroubled’, the audience is immediately drawn in. Whether intentional or not, playing with no microphone or amplification means to be able to fully enjoy Ficek’s performance you have to surrender yourself to him and give him your full attention. It’s a different experience to one you might normally have with live music, having to make an effort to hear the performer rather than being deafened by them, but the unusual act of exertion serves to make it that little bit more special.

Throughout the short set, Ficek chats and jokes with the crowd, especially when he has to restart second song and potential Christmas number one, ‘Horses’. A little later, ‘Sparkling Bootz’ is played much to the audience’s delight. Finishing on the beautiful twee-pop ‘Never Certain’, Roses Kings Castles leaves the store a veritable success, hopefully a trend that will continue wherever he goes.

Rhian Daly