Thursday, 29 May 2008

Exam Stress

Oh dear. A week today and exams are all over for me but until then its stress and revision and escaping from revison through various forms.
One form = the genius of Jeffrey Lewis. If you fail all your exams who cares? If you can play an acoustic guitar, make up some witty and clever lyrics, draw wicked cartoons and be an 'anti-folk' icon your sorted and can follow in the footsteps of the man himself.
For now though you could just listen to these and chill for two seconds before picking up the books again (urg):
Back When I Was 4- Jeffrey Lewis
I Ain't Thick- Jeffrey Lewis

I could go on and on and on and on and on (etc) about the amazing music created by JL but, you know, gotta revise and all that (making the point of the post nicely I think)... byeeee !


Saturday, 24 May 2008

LIVE: Noah and the Whale / Slow Club

Went to see Noah and the Whale and Slow Club last night at "Get it Loud in Libraries" in Lancaster Library. A completely brilliant setting as the bands are hemmed in with books, spoken word tapes and cds on a stage and a venue seriously intimate. People sat crossed legged on the floor in the manner of five year olds (but ones with good taste in music- not the Tweenies or something)...
Slow Club have compact and sublime songs ranging from raucous to soft. Masters of crescendo its really hard to believe only two people are up there making so much sound. Shouts and duel harmonies so lovely they lie next to each other perfectly, entwining and breaking at different points. to tell the tales Stories are told through the medium of guitar, drums (and old bits of chair tapped loudly) and voice; "Apples and Pairs" takes simple melodies and a smooth pace and adds lyrics sprinkled with melancholy and a twist on a simple love story. "Me and You" shows the dexterity of the band in that they can make faster music which gathers the audience up in its joyful dips and dives.
Noah and the Whale were superb! Racing through "Mary", "Jocasta" and "Shape of My Heart" they played a tight set with various members taking up different instruments and Rebecca (Slow Club) on harmonies. I've long been enjoying this new emerging "folk" scene (neu-folk? Oh dear God no. Getting a bit of the Klaxons touch with genre going on!) and live Noah and the Whale sounded better than ever. Crisp sounds fly over one another as guitars and glockenspiel and violin and drums weave around creating beautiful noise. The influence of the "anti-folk" / Jeffrey Lewis thing is almost tangible and culminating their set with "5 Years Time" a feel good glow almost descended on the audience and heads bobbed and hands clapped and some Spanish people filled in optional "Woo's" and jigs. They came back on to play a Temptations cover trying (slightly failing) to get some audience participation going on and leaving the stage to a wealth of new fans.

Friday, 23 May 2008


Is it noise? Is it music? Is it a comfortable middle-man? IS IT ALL THREE? Do these questions make sense?
Ahh, the beeps and bleeps of Esser, disconcertingly catchy. I'm not altogether sure it should work, electronic voice drifting over funky (yes, funky) bass and synth. "Lets Work it Out" is guarenTEED to have you humming, singing, dancing, pointing fingers in a 'Saturday Night Fever' kind of way and all the time the relentless rush towards the end nearing in sight. Play it again, Sam. "I Love You" take disjointed synth, sort of like being at a fairground but with added cool (have you seen his hair?- very cool). A modern love song, really. In the same way Crystal Castles defied musical genre and had noise-music which made sense after a few listens Esser has the same sort of thing going on. "Headlock", on first listen, is like "Huh?" second listen though the discordant vocals are appealing, the backbeat is the most important thing ever and indeed "you press the button/ I start dancing" becomes a true statement on both listener and artists part. It's taking musical genre and turning it on its head. Discordant-pop? Whatever it is I liiiike it! Catchy as fuck and ace live too; talent in abundance.
It is rather too early in the morning to write in coherent sentences about music, sorry.
Esser's Myspace
Lets Work It Out - Esser
I Love You- Esser

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Chester French

They're signed by Pharrell (or something) and sing about meeting girls in 'grocery' stores, Jimmy Choos and are quite, quite American with a Beach Boys-meets-Harvard-graduates 'vibe'.
"She Loves Everybody" sounds as if it could have been plucked from the 60s except for the slightly risque "She craves affection/ So I use protection" instead of the more innocent "I wanna hold your hand" from the Beatles. There is the twang of the guitar next to the twang of the American accent, harmonies and innuendo-take-another-look lyrics. An undercurrent of electro buzzes next to the retro-pop feel. Summery enough to make a bit of a splash in the chosen season and (hopefully) a sense of tongue-in-cheek as one of them sings "Is she just another shortie" - A burning question to ask and I know Pharrell is producing them but the hip-hop slang doesn't sit well unless its a bit of a piss take. Oh and "Jimmy Choos" has a nice bit of repetition in the "She needs Jimmy-Choo-ooh-ooh-ohh-oos"- innovative I'm sure you'll agree.
Anywayyyy... I'm quite liking their blend of different influences; the fact they dress 'preppy' (oh the American colloquialisms) yet have major hiphop stars foaming at the mouth and have named themselves after a famous sculptor. 'Dig it dude'.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Sun and Cynics

I am one of those people who doesn't find talking about the weather boring. It doesn't represent a conversation dying on its feet between two awkward (and probably related) people; instead it represents a nation finally able to go outside and play frisbee, or drink wine in a park or merely just sitting outside the confides of their houses like the people of Europe do everyday.
The sun has been shining for about a week now and for Manchester (and England) that is no mean feat! So to celebrate:
Good Day Sunshine- The Beatles
And for the dash of cynicism every good day needs: Joe Strummers Grave- Billy Childish
Billy Childish has everything that is good and pure about punk, rock'n'roll, The Clash, the decline of Britain and wit combined in "Joe Strummers Grave". He is inimitable and does far more than I could ever write about or do justice too; creativity personified. Things about Billy Childish

Saturday, 10 May 2008

LIVE: Lightspeed Champion/ Operator Please / Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man

Venue: Manchester Club Academy
Date: 05/05/08
First up were Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man with a phenomenal live performance for a band first on the bill. Energy and talent swirl around the ex-Les Incompetent front man and the blend of eerie subject matter and haunting guitars and synth couldn't be further away from spiky indie-pop if it tried. Like disconcerting chamber music but with an endearing, popular twist. Chamber pop, perhaps?
Dev sneaked on stage to play guitar in their last song and material like "Fatherhood" and "Matter of Time" was executed with precision and passion.

Operator Please took a completely different take with bouncier sounds and ferocious violin making up most of their set. The vocals have a tinge of "The Noisettes" about them and songs like 'Leave it Alone' have potential to be dance-floor classics. Blending a menagerie of instruments, strong vocals and that undeniably addictive Ping Pong song they had most of the audience dancing and bobbing about. Highlight of the night had to be watching a man of at least 50 with a beer-belly and fashionable goatee punching the air and singing along despite evidently not knowing any words other than "ping pong".
Lightspeed Champion have evolved ten-fold as a live band. From bashful and awkward on stage to engaging in almost full blown conversation with members of the audience there is a departure from apologies and mumbling. Launching through "Galaxy of the Lost", "No Surprise" and "Tell me What its Worth" with skill and sureness a confidence surrounds the band. Dev Hynes still retains some of that bashful awkwardness that makes him such an endearing front man, though. Dealing with one girl yelling out "Can I be your girlfriend?" he fends the question off with a couple of blinks and by launching into another song. Getting Fred from Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man on-stage and Dev setting up stall behind a drum-kit they did a cover song and before launching into the epic "Midnight Surprise" came a rendition of the Star Wars theme tune; showing the sense of humour hasn't been lost amidst the tightening up of live performances.
Vocals which soar over the crowd coupled with the violins, guitars and drums gives the folk-esque genre a new twist and new material played sounds even better than earlier stuff with a more guitar-led twist. Finally shaking off the Test Icicles cloak which veiled him at the beginning of his new musical endeavour Dev has proved that the songs are filled with talent and wit and now a new sense of refinement and confidence.


Thursday, 8 May 2008

Cassie and the Cassettes

At first Cassie and the Cassettes seem like a band focused on plinking keyboards and whimsical vocals. Looking a bit further brings out lovely lyrics and an upbeat message which is tinged with a touch of melancholy ("Today was fine/ But I'm not ok"). The perfect songs to sit back, close your eyes and let the music do its magic. A flutter of tounge-in-cheek graces "But I suprise you / When I say I don't like you" as the keys and guitars lull the listener into a vocal-focused message before launching back into the chourus. It's really like Kate Nash if she had talent and better lyrics than her face full of freckles or like Soko without the French-tinged accent.
"Two of a Kind" is up-tempo'ed and still lovely! It swoops and soars; perfect summer pop; tender lyrics and hearfelt vocals. Based in London so the vocals do at times have a cockney tinge but thankfully not full blown "orite guv'na, apples'n'pairs, I'm-a-bleedin'-cockney" stuff! I swear you'll be humming to these songs in you sleep and my only grumble is that there isn't more music to be heard as of yet!

Subtle Belle and Seb tones whisper through the songs as the distinctive keyboards and skittering drum beats creates magical undertones. It seems simplistic yet skill and substance surround the band and as they themselves pledge "the band are now ready to fight injustice and bands full of pale Smiths obssesives, invading public eardrums along the way…"

Jade x

Sunday, 4 May 2008


There are a million-and-one remixes of every imaginable song and genre. A craze which either renders songs ten times better or completely massacred- there are no grey areas.
I'm addicted, possibly belatedly, to Rumble Strips on Amy Winehouse. Hot foot it down to for lots of other electro-ridden goodies + Mystery Jets remixxxxxx'ed by Shoes (beautiful to say the least).
Back to Black- Amy Winehouse (Rumble Strips Remix)

Saturday, 3 May 2008

John and Jehn

There is more than a hint of brooding and darkness underneath the overlapping synth and French-accented vocals of John & Jehn. A tres, tres cool et jolie fille et garcon (ouch, GCSE French) living in London they give the impression that they are so cool it might just hurt to touch them, speak to them or ever lay eyes on them. Describing their split EP (one "John" and one "Jehn") as a 'conversation' rather than 'battle' their hybrid of taunt, angular guitars and swooping synth makes at first an uncomfortable hearing and the strained vocals emit screeches from time to time. Yet this is like Ipso Facto without the Horrors haircuts (although Ipso do manage to hold a tune a bit better J&J have gritty garage infused music to fall back on). With Velvet Underground-ed glamour the synth cuts like a blade through "1,2,3" wrapping the whole song together in a Joy Division-meets-The Fall-meets-The Slits. Post-punk with a French twist. "20 L 07" takes a departure from moody-pop and combines a bouncier sound and electronic feel; one trick ponies they are not. Boy meets girl, boy sings then girl sings, boy and girl unfurl to show a shared love of music and wearing black. Basically a loved-up couple making music together in a brooding, swaggering and confident manner; cool as fuck and like those faded rock stars presented in black and white. "Fear Fear Fear" has echos, repetitive sounds and a desperate undertone which grapples with the listener and leaves them disconcerted in a good way. Split-vocals focus on monotone, whispers, screams of anguish, sultry harmonies and breathy sighs; and lets face it everyone loves a couple of ultra-beautiful things creating chic-rock'n'roll.