Thursday, October 28, 2010

Warpaint The Fool - STREAM and LIVE VIDEO

I'm loving the new Warpaint Album - The Fool, which I got in the post this week.

A lot of people are referring to stuff like The XX, in reference to it, but the dark atmospherics remind me of things like Massive Attack, and the hypnotic quality reminds me a bit of late 80s / early 90s shoegaze. The result is still surprisingly original, and probably one of the best records of this year.

I'm kicking myself for not making it to their Sunday night gig here in Manchester, but thankfully someone videoed it for us, so here is some of the footage!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

THAT Record sleeve for Kanye West's 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy'

Record sleeves recent made the news pages of music websites when geek rocker Weezer decide to put chubby Lost star Jorge Garcia, better known as the show's character Hurley, on the sleeve for their new record.

The results were greeted with much mirth, and merriment, though it turns out, they claim, that they were in fact naming it after the international surfware company.

Roll forward a few weeks to Kanye West, around whom a great deal of anticipation is building ahead of his forthcoming album, 'My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy'. The rapper says that is label told him US Chainn Walmart wouldn't stock the proposed cover, though they have just an hour two ago released a statement to deny this.

The rapper how now proposed to offer 5 different album covers in order to be able to offer one which will not offend national supermarket chains, and other mainstream retailers.

Anyway, for my own take, I think the proposed image does expose the dark spectre of racism which still looms large over US society. The half-woman half-phoenix straddling the beer-holding man may not be a clear representation of a human being, but the implication is clear - as is the sense that miscegenation is not welcome in America, and represents the worst fears of US's white majority.

The whole fiasco also reminds me of Spinal Tap's 'Smell The Glove' argument in their hilarious movie, where a  woman kneels before a man, who is holding out a glove before. "You should have seen the cover they wanted to use", says their nefarious English manager to an uptight female record executive. "I tell you, he wasn't holding a glove".

Mark Sultan - Status

Mark Sultan is probably most famous for putting the ‘BBQ’ in the King Khan and BBQ show, but he’s also contributed to countless garage rock records on labels from Sub Pop to In The Red

Mark Sultan - Status from Daniel Taylor on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

VIDEO: Glasser - 'Mirrorage'

One of the biggest revelations of In The City last week was LA's Glasser. The brain child of 26 year old Cameron Mesirow, the music recalls Bjork and Fever Ray, haunting, witchy, a bit bonkers, and beaty. 

Anyway, this is an incredible promo vid, new as far as I know, for 'Mirrorage', from the album Ring. Checkit! 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

John Legend & The Roots - Wake Up

I was highly impressed by John Legend and The Roots, with their new album of protest songs which is out this week. I'm a fairly political soul, and it seems to be we live in apolitical, apathetic times, with bands more intent on chasing the dollar than saying something of substance. Although my good Twitter buddy Dorian Lynksey would argue, that rock and roll has always been more about the right to do what you want than fight the system.

Anyway, besides a corking album of soul covers from the era of funk, soul, and black power, they have cooked up a mean cover of The Arcade Fire's 'Wake Up', (below), which I love.

Blogging In The USA

Hi guys. I'm still processing all the incredible new bands and industry news I came across during In The City here in sunny Manchester last week. Probably the most fascinating debate I watched during the day was Blogging In The USA, a debate involving Ryan Schreiber of Pitchfork, Ollie Russian of My Band's Better Than Your Band, Dev Sherlock from Hype Machine, and Drowned In Sound.

Ollie kindly posted the debate on his blog, so here it is in it's entirety. There were various themes, including the huge, ever increasing number of blogs, the need for bloggers to create a unique voice, and the blandness of just posting a different song each day. As the US representatives Ryan and Dev stressed the need for blogs stateside because of the lack of media covering new and upcoming music, as opposed to the great radar media we have here in this small country (Radio One, NME, etc). Ollie also said he thought music fans were looking to blogs to find out where the cool music was coming from, as opposed to Jon Peel, or Steve Lemacq.

The idea of underground / emerging musical tastes being crowdsourced by aggregator blogs like Hype Machine and other means was also stressed. The panel also felt that targeting underground media such as blogs for promoting their new artists, as opposed to being perceived as uncool by breaking their acts in mid level mainstream meda, was the way forward., to make them cool enough to climb the greasy pole of fame. Anyway, enjoy.

In The City: Music Blogging in the USA panel, 10.13.10 by rawkblog

Monday, October 18, 2010

Big Mama Thornton ft. Buddy Guy - Hound Dog

In an attempt to entertain myself, I'm posting a bit more to this blog than the usual once-a-year update! It's a good spot to keep all the good stuff I've discovered, as much as anything else, as a lot of it gets forgotten or just lost during the year.

Twatting around on Twitter yesterday I was sent a link for this. I find the blogosphere a fairly overwhelming place with its' obsession with discovering new artists and new songs constantly, and so finding this old classic and sharing it seems a healthy antidote. They don't make em like this anymore. And frankly, it pisses all over Elvis.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

In The City : Day 2

ok guys, this is going to get patchy now, and my memory of the many bands we saw is already fading and swilling about!

I'm truly exhausted now this fine Manchester Saturday. Anyway, here's what I saw on Thursday. It all started at The Castle pub, with Brown Brogues, who lit up the small working class old school pub with their strange bluesy punk. They're an odd duo, giant, big bellied drummer, and tatooed, vest wearing singer/guitarist, and their music was strange but compelling. I like to hear what a lead singer is singing, though, so bit annoyed with hearing a warble.

 Set 1 by brown brogues

Next was LA's Kisses, fresh in from performing in Tokyo, and after seeing a lot of industry types being too cool for school, it was refreshing to see punters genuinely enjoying their breezy, sun inflected pop. Like a ray of LA sunshine piercing the grim Manchester sky.

 Kisses by Kisses

I then split to catch Fixers at Noho, who absolutely blew me away. Incredibly harmonies reminiscent of the Beach Boys, and a darkness tipping a hat in the direction of the Arcade Fire (who incidentally, seem to cast a long shadow over several bands at ITC).

 Fixers - Iron Deer Dream by ITCManchester

Then it was time for Oxford one man band Chad Valley over at Noho. It was just one dude and some keyboards, so I was expecting the worst. I know some people loved D/R/U/G/S, and I am a fan of dance music, but as a spectacle, the thought of one or two dudes knob twiddling on a stage of keyboards and a Macbook or two is pretty boring to watch. But Chad Valley was good. His vocal added some personality and sense of performance to the music, which raised the dreaded term of "chillwave" in my mind, but without sounding like Travel advert music.

I also saw Oberhofer at Night and Day, and half Spaniard ensemble Crystal Fighters over at Dry Live, as well as Planet Earth at Gullivers, who all get honourable mentions. Favs of the nite have to be Kisses and Fixers, though.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In The City; Day 1

Right, let the madness begin! This year I headed down to newly comandeered venue City Inn, where ITC headquarters are to be based for the conference itself. After getting my goodie bag, I check out the end of a fascinating debate on how bands can break into China, lead by the right honourable John Robb.

The elder statesmen of Manchesters' punk scene lead a fascinating topic, which revealed that there is a burgeoning market for live music in China - there is a huge explosion in the number of venues and bands out there, both domestic, and foreign acts. Modern Sky is a leading Chinese label at the heart of this scene, it was revealed. The scene is not without it's idiosyncrasies - one promoter revealed how his band Star 64, had their visa application refused because in china 6/4 is widely accepted to refer to the date of Tienanmen Square. A quick name change to Star 69, and the application was okayed!

Meanwhile, over in the next room, Blogging In The USA was a really fascinating debate lead by Ollie Russian of My Band Is Better Than Your Band, with notable panelists including Ryan Schreiber of Pitchfork and Dev Sherlock of Hype Machine talking about the merits of blogging, and its' growing influence on the music industry. one of the key points was that having something unique to offer, and voice, or editorial, was key to standing out, as opposed to just posting song after song to drive traffic, as well as the idea that older conventional media publications are definitely threatened by the emergence of the power of blogs.

As for the gigs that evening, I was joined by the lovely Rhian Daly of abeano, who lead proceedings with her ear to the ground for hot new bands, and so we checked out boy girl duo Big Deal, I thought they were amazing. And they look great too.

Big Deal - Locked Up by snipelondon

r Dalston powercore trio No Age (why does everyone hate Dalston so much?) Beaty Heart who were like a more chaotic, less commercial, frantic Friendly Fires. I loved their energy, but I think these Goldsmiths students need the influence of a decent producer to introduce some discipline and tidy them up a bit! Finally, I got my one pick over at The Roadhouse, going to see Chiddy Bang.

 Chiddy Bang - Stylo (Remix feat. Chiddy Bang) by pacificfestival

 Personally I thought they were brilliant, but Rhian wasn't impressed much. *sadface*

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Eleven Tigers: Stableface

I'm quite liking this from Lithuanian producer Eleven Tigers, who'll be releasing long player Clouds Are Mountains soon. What with all the indie-shmindie stuff I get to listen to all day, a bit of minmalist dubstep is a breath of fresh air...

<a href="">Stableface by eleven tigers</a>

October Journalism Roundup

While I'm here, I may as well keep you up to date with my recent scribblings for various publications.

Firstly, my most recent piece was a 25 Classic songs of the 80s feature, which a lot of people seemed to enjoy.

Secondly, I hit the Guardian with another of my articles, this time on the recent falling out between Mani of Primal Scream, and Peter Hook. The disagreement thankfully got sorted, but I'm proud of the piece as a decent bit of journalism for a major publication.

Meanwhile, the recent visit of Mark Ronson to the city was exciting, and although the mess up by PR company meant I didn't get to interview him, I at least got a ticket in and wrote a review of the gig.

As a fan of Frank Turner, I was happy to get the chance to interview him, (he's currently in Europe, and will be back soon) for Skiddle, the results are here. He had some firm opinions on file sharing which were an eye opener.

It isn't just a succession of Indie bands that I interview, thankfully, as I spoke to young grime MC  Aggro Santos about his two top twenty hit singles, the origins of the current, commercial "urban" scene, and his Grime background.

Back on a local tip, I interviewed Jeremy of band-of-the-moment, Everything Everything for Skiddle. He was just insanely eloquent and knowledgeable about the current music scene, and had a lot to say relationship that new bands like Dutch Uncles, Delphic, and EE have to Manchester's heritage. had to leave that bit out, because I had so much stuff, but a fascinating, cool guy, and a great band. Well worth a read.

Going back to the end of August, I was privileged to interview LA hotties The Like, a 4 piece girl group with the look of a 60s girl motown act, and the sound of a British invasion band like the Animals. They were hot and feisty. Great fun.

A completely different music style was offered by Trance meister Paul Van Dyk, who I had chance to interview this summer. He didn't seem to like it very much when I suggested the superclub and superstar DJ era was over, but nevertheless, a very high profile producer, and he had a lot of stuff to say.

Probably my favourite discovery of the entire year has been that of Nashville / Dallas singer Caitlin Rose (pictured), who  had her debut album out this August, and I had the chance to meet her in person and chat. She was cheeky, funny, and knew her music. 

Later that same day I saw her perform at Manchester's Night and Day, where she was absolutely amazing.

Somewhere in there, dunno if I mentioned this before, I spoke to Esben And The Witch, who gave me their first major interview for a publication. They're now signed to Domino records with an album to come next year, so watch this space.

Sadly, it was the three year anniversary of the death of my mentor and journalistic idol, Tony Wilson this August, so I talked to Factory and Hacienda stalwart Dave Haslam about the late, great broadcaster.

That's it for now. There where a few other acts I spoke to and wrote about here and there, but you get the idea!

In The City 2010

It's that time of year again. October. Weirdly sunny. And it's time for In The City, Manchester's music industry conference, complete with a roster of up and coming bands, as well as an unsigned competition.

I'm looking forward to the debates, particularly on Branding (there's a panel entitled Brand On The Wall), and a keynote interview with Nick Mason of  Pink Floyd, who's this years' big name keynote "In Conversation With", alongside Mick Pickering of Factory / The Hacienda.

Bands-wise, I'm looking foward to Kisses, Team Ghost, No Age, Murkage, and generally just being surprised by discoveries / recommendations.

Oh, and Steve Lemacq and Marc Riley will both be broadcasting live on BBC 6Music live for the event.

I'll be keeping my eye on Twitter, and you can get touch with me there if you're at the event, my handle is:


See you there. Oh, and here's some music from the bands that will feature over the three days. (thanx DiS!).

Drowned In The City Of Manchester by sjaycats