30 June 2008

Glastonbury: Best Quote

The best quote I heard from Glasto this year came from Elbow frontman Guy Garvey, who was interviewed by Rufus Hound. This was in relation to the fact that Garvey was brought up in a catholic household, but is now no longer a Christian.

GG: "Yes, I've worn a dress for Jesus"

The image is astonishing.

Sound of Gold

It can truly be said that LCD Soundsystem occupies the space somewhere in-between electronic and rock, especially after listening to the wonderful "Sound of Silver", the third CD I bought last week.

Just like on "45:33", James Murphy doesn't find any reason to rush his songs, which is particularly evident on opener "Get Innocuous!", "Sound of Silver" and "All My Friends". The gradual build-ups add to the depth of his songs, which are certainly not cases of style over substance.

It may be hard to believe but there really aren't any weak points on this album. Yes, it really is all killer and no filler! Every song has its own charm, from the angry, twisted patriotism of "North American Scum" to the almost sweet, oddly heartfelt tracks "Someone Great" and "New York I Love You But You're Dragging Me Down". It is obvious that, compared to "45:33", disco takes a more modern twist and is rocked up with guitars, funky basslines and hot beats. The guitar line on "Time To Get Away" sounds particularly retro, with an almost video-game quality (I'm thinking something from Crash Bandicoot - only that could sound old-school and yet still cool and modern). "All My Friends" has an immediate, attention-grabbing piano base that provides the foundations for what becomes an epic smash after about five minutes.

Involving his band more was a good decision - on the whole, the album is a lot tighter than "45:33", and even that was pretty well put together. The long, long, incredibly long tracks may not be to everyone's taste but if you give them a go I think you'll find something special indeed. If nothing else, listen to "North American Scum" - not as threatening as it sounds, but it is a blinding tune!

What I'm Listening To Right Now - "Teardrop" by Massive Attack


Everyone knows I love M.I.A. and everyone probably thinks that it's very strange since I seem to slag off nearly all other rappers (in a constructive manner, of course). So the second CD I bought this week was "Arular", her debut album.

While her second album "KALA" has political overtones and is particularly gritty in places (think "20 Dollar"), "Arular" is a more personal album, focusing more on M.I.A.'s relationships with people. But for the most part, it seems that on this album she just wants to have a bit of fun.

Opener "Banana Skit" seems like a completely mad piece of music, incredibly short with M.I.A. singing about, er, bananas. "Dash the Curry Skit" later in the album is just as mad. These "Skits" make "Arular", structurally, much like a Basement Jaxx album by breaking up different sounds and ideas. The space between "Banana Skit" and "Dash the Curry Skit" is filled with gritty, more western feeling songs but after that, her world music influences start to shine through more.

"Amazon" uses sounds that conjures up images of rain falling in the jungle with metallic shakers creating a tribal feel, while still maintaining a steady, danceable beat underneath. "Pull Up the People" and "Sunshowers" can be seen as more influenced by western R'n'B, especially compared to "Amazon" but she still doesn't leave her sense of fun. Still, they pail in comparison to the utterly bonkers "Bucky Done Gun" which has trumpets and a pounding drum punctuating M.I.A.'s rapping, flying along joyfully almost like a twisted carnival.

What I'm Listening To Right Now - "Stripper Vicar" by Mansun


I went a little bit mad buying CDs last week, although many of you probably think that 3 CDs isn't a lot at all. This included 2 LPs by electronic maestro James Murphy aka LCD Soundsystem.

The first of the 2 LCDs I bought was "45:33", named for the length of the first six unnamed songs on the album. Essentially "45:33" is a collection of mixes and experiments that Murphy created in 2006, prior to the release of "Sound of Silver" and includes an instrumental version of "Someone Great" alongside a remix of "North American Scum" and seven other previously unavailable tracks.

Disco feel? Check. Funky vocals? Check. 70s brass? Check. It's a very uplifting and funky collection. Personally I like Track 2 (no idea what the tracks are called - even iTunes doesn't know - so let's call it "Shame On You"). "Shame On You" sounds like old-school dance music, and takes its time to build up into the short bursts of brass and choppy vocals. "Freak Out" does the same, blending seamlessly into "Starry Eyes". Nearly all of the tracks here are over six minutes long, with one or two exceptions. However, "45:33" only benefits from its long build-ups and it is the perfect album to put no when you're getting ready for a night out.

If you liked Hercules and Love Affair earlier this year, you'll love this.

What I'm Listening to Right Now - "Don't Let Him Waste Your Time" by Jarvis

Glastonbury: Who Should've Been There

This is not a wishlist for who I'd like to see at Glastonbury next year but more of a small list of people who could've replaced, say, Jay-Z (you can tell I'm pretty steamed up about that!). So, you could have had:
  • Coldplay
  • Radiohead
  • REM
  • The Police

etc? Surely these could have been better headliners. Maybe they're on the list for next year. However, if you believe Michael Eavis then five acts have already been lined up. Apparently one of them came off the back of Jay-Z's performance, so can we expect 50 Cent next year? I sincerely hope not! Other people I would've liked to caught this year include:

  • Santogold
  • M.I.A (although I'm not sure if she actually turned up or not)
  • We Are Scientists (I'm interested now - what I saw of them was pretty good really)
  • Neon Neon
  • Hercules and Love Affair
  • The Gossip
  • Goldfrapp
  • Ida Maria

Curse my lack of red button action! Although I just caught some more Kings of Leon while eating my dinner...

Glastonbury: Other Bits And Bobs

Well, since my red button wasn't working (curse the BBC again!) I was reduced to watching the highlights, which generally only consisted of a song or two from each featured artist, which turned out to be very few. Still, here's some other little snippets of what I caught.

Mark Ronson: I'm starting with this guy because I want to get it over with. Ohhh..... This was slightly torturous. Especially his cover of the Smith's "Stop Me" which he has slaughtered, disembollowed and buried with a mass of horns and saxophones. Daniel Merriweather's voice just doesn't do Morrissey any justice. Oh, and he had Lily Allen on stage with him and the ditzy thing had forgotten the words to her own songs, even though she wasn't drunk like Amy Winehouse (there's a surprise. Lily Allen? Not drunk?). He did a slightly better job of Candie Payne's "I Wish I Could Have Loved You More" but I hope he doesn't go putting it on his next album.

Hot Chip: They had Wiley on stage with them, and together they did a version of "Wearing My Rolex" which was a lot more tolerable than the original - then again, would you expect a rubbish version from the Chipsters? As usual, it was "Ready For the Floor" and "Over and Over" which received the biggest cheers. They seemed to be trying a more rock sound that night - I'm sure there was a more heavy guitar sound than usual. It wasn't a bad thing though. Maybe they should keep the new sound.

The Fratellis: Bland, bland bland. They reckon they've made their sound bigger, but I still think they're trying too hard to be something they'll never be. Mix some rubbish lyrics with some "heavy" guitar lyrics and a lot of apparent style over substance and you've basically got the Fratellis wrapped up in a neat little package. How on earth these guys outranked the Editors is beyond me but still.... if it's what they really want. Glad I didn't see "Chelsea Dagger".

Kings of Leon: Not a bad performance for first-day headliners KOL. Now that frontman Caleb Followhill is off the drugs, his lyrics are now far more understandable. They gave a good solid performance while playing songs like "The Bucket", "Fans" and "Molly's Chambers" in a set that spanned all three of their albums. Nice, and I wish I could have seen more. I think I could really get into them if I just gave them more of a chance.

The Zutons: Their new album hasn't gone down that well in the press yet they still draw some massive crowds and always end up with the fans singing along. Yesterday it was to "Valerie". Yes, that song that Mark Ronson wrecked (like a reverse Midas touch musically, but he generates a heck of a lot of money). They actually made Ronson join him on stage during the song, and he stood there in a very funny looking bowler hat looking a bit lost and playing the guitar. The original version of "Valerie" is undoubtedly the best. I found "Pressure Point" and "Why Won't You Give Me Your Love" enjoyable as well.

Estelle: (Shudder). No heart. No soul. All feathery dress and high heels. R'n'B singer Estelle knows how to bore an audience. Well, except the people who were actually there who all seemed to be really into tunes such as "American Boy" and "1980". But it's simply flashy! There's just no substance to her songs and she never looks passionate about what she sings. The Jazz/World Stage has had a funny Glasto really.

Vampire Weekend: Soft, fairly safe New York indie for people who don't know where else to start. No, I'm being a bit harsh. I quite like Vampire Weekend and can imagine listening to them quite comfortably but I have to say that "Oxford Comma" annoys me to no end. The tune wouldn't be too bad, but I think it's the lead singer's high-pitched voice that completely grates. Please, take that little bit out and I won't be angry with you VW! Still, a pretty good performance that everyone seemed to enjoy.

The Futureheads: One million times better now that they've cut out all of the "oh oh ohs". Still, the staccato style of the lead singer is slightly offputting and annoying, despite the fact that live their sound seems to be beefed up a bit. On record, they're just a bit wet, but seeing them live seemed to confirm that their music is better when heard in a tent with a hundred amps. Nice, clean.... an improvement.

The Raconteurs: Jack White's other band put on one of the best performances I saw this weekend. You can never expect the guys to do a conventional performance and stick to what they've recorded in the studio. "Steady As She Goes" ended up as an improvised, seven-minute-long rock-fest. Easily one of the best bands of the festival.

Glastonbury: Jay-Z

This man has caused the most controversy at Glasto in ages. People, including myself, think that having a big American hip-hop artist as a headliner at Glasto would turn it into a dangerous, hip-hop fuelled annual event where there is no longer a place for indie. Which would be a shame. Glasto has always been a place for indie bands, usually from the UK.

But at least he was better than Amy Winehouse.

Yes, he put on a bit of a show, probably had the best video screens of the whole festival and got the crowd going.... but what the heck was he talking about? He was going so fast that I had no idea what he was rapping about, and the only song I had any recollection of from the past was "99 Problems". The rest was a mix of samples and rapping at 100mph with more expletives than you could shake a stick at - although, I only actually noticed most of these when, a day later, they showed a few songs and took out all of the swearing, which was incredibly weird but incredibly funny!

Watching the set on TV was strange because no matter how hard the camera tried to find a black face, they failed! There were incredibly small pockets but the vast majority of people were white and all of them seemed to say that he was "incredible". Hmm.... Wonder if they actually understand what he's talking about.

Having sat through his whole set, I decided that although it certainly wasn't as bad as I thought it could have been (perhaps because it wasn't as heavy on the gangsta scale as I thought it was going to be), I still don't think that acts like Jay-Z suit the festival. Hopefully next year we'll go back to the indie scene and all will be forgiven.

Glastonbury: The Wombats

Liverpool indie band the Wombats put in an energetic performance on the Other Stage, generating a mass sing-song on their singles. Apparently they felt a little bit foolish after addressing the crowd before "Let's Dance to Joy Division" but they didn't show it - the song itself went smoothly with some nice harmonies and the trio looking like they were genuinely having a good time.

"Kill the Director" and "Backfire at the Disco" went down well too but for me "Moving to New York" is the jewel in the Wombats' crown. This was probably the best song they played in the set, with the most passion and feeling compared to some of the other tracks they played.

Nice inflatable wombat on stage with them too. I particularly liked the way it sported large red sunglasses. Classy.

Glastonbury: Amy Winehouse

God, this performance was like watching a train wreck! How painful it was to see Amy Winehouse, clearly drunk, slurring all of the words to her songs - most of which she obviously couldn't remember - and generally making a bit of a fool of herself. It would probably have been better if she hadn't turned up. I'm sure someone else would have performed without making such a hash of everything.

That said, at least she made it. Still, I certainly wouldn't go so far as to say that it was "a magnificent performance" like the BBC pundits declared it was. "Back to Black" was only recognisable because of the backing band, and Amy only just about remembered the tune to "Love is a Losing Game".

Perhaps her lowest point during this disastrous performance was getting down from the stage to be nearer the fans and punching one in the face. Let it be clear: she was NOT provoked, despite what everyone might say and she certainly DID give some poor man a very sore head. Running along in six-inch heels is never a good idea, so it was no surprise that in a drunken stupor, she nearly fell over twice and was staggering around with probably no idea what she was meant to be doing. She needs to sober up before doing this again.

Glastonbury: Editors

I have to say that I was a bit worried before sitting down and fully enjoying Editors this year. I thought that Tom Smith's voice seemed a little muffled and distant but realised that it must have been the effect they wanted - there actually haven't been any notable sound problems this year, aside from Neil Diamond's mike cutting out during his set.

So back to the Editors and they were on particularly fine form, even if they did look a little tired (not surprising since they've done nothing but tour for the past year or so). Tom's gloomy voice was still as passionate as ever, and although I didn't get to see their new material (curse the BBC!) it was still a good set to watch.

"Blood" and "Bullets" are always brilliant, whether live or on record so I was glad to catch them. "The Racing Rats" from their second album is probably one of my favourite Editors songs, so it was also nice to hear a version of this. Still, it was pretty much the same as they did last year. They need more new matierial.

26 June 2008

Finally Here

It's coming tomorrow! Glastonbury is finally upon us! Be amazed at the very similar lineup to last year with a few slight alterations to make sure that viewers and festivalgoers don't think they've gone back in time.

It looks like good weather this year as well. I'm actually rather angry at the Eavis bunch for claiming that bad weather in previous years has hindered ticket sales. Look at your lineup you two! Jay-Z?! I still don't know what they were thinking when they booked him but if you're the betting sort, you can get good odds of 7-2 that Jay-Z will be booed off the stage.

In typically evil fashion, all I can say is "Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!"

Stay tuned for more Glasto coverage.

24 June 2008

New Artiste

Ooh, I've discovered the shamelessly 80s yet still somehow modern Ladyhawke today! It's funny looking on the MySpace site (about the only place I can find her music right now) where it states the list of her influences - it's all 80s stuff, which is quite cool really. There's no-one bad or cringeworthy on the list.

So here's all I know about her: Ladyhawke's real name is Pip Brown, she's from New Zealand and er.... well, that's about it. Thing is, she's practically so new that not many people know too much about her. I think I've done well. She's doing a set on the radio tomorrow morning so I must listen to it!

Do yourself a favour and listen to "Paris is Burning" which is nowhere near as violent and horrible as it sounds. It's a glittery piece of synth-rock that picked my spirits up this morning (not that they really needed much lifting!).

What I'm Listening To Right Now - "Left Behind", the fab new single by CSS

The Fuss

Whee, pretty looking picture of Las Vegas to the left here with some nice fireworks, a gargantuan pyramid and little twinkly lights. There's probably some people down there too, but they're too small to see.

If you translate this into musical terms, you'd probably get something a bit anthemic with human qualities, a nice buildup into something spectacular, a good vocal performance and then goes out with a bang which is.... nothing like Glasvegas.

Please, give it a rest with the hype people! In two years time everyone will have forgotten them and their supposedly anthemic rock. No-one will remember "Daddy's Gone", no-one will be able to sing a line from "Geraldine", nor will they believe that there was ever a song that sounded so distinctly Scottish and at the same time so distinctly morbid.

Okay this isn't going to happen - there will be lots of Glasvegas nuts out there who still bang on about them well after they've disappeared into the foggy Glasgow night and into obscurity, but at the minute its the rest of us who are suffering. I mentioned "Geraldine" previously and this recently gained 9/10 in the NME who have also dubbed them "the best band in Britain". This is the same magazine who act as a chauffeur service to drug addicts (i.e. Pete Doherty) and have said in the past about bands being the next big thing (we'll not go into that, there's too many to mention). On the same page as I see the review - this is on the interweb, by the way - there are three comments branding the song "rubbish" and telling them to "stop jumping on the bandwagon", only not so nicely as I've put it there.

Three seems like a very small minority, doesn't it? Then let us turn to the guiding light of favourite radio station 6 Music to show the way. Surely they wouldn't let me down? No, they didn't let me down. A panel of five judges rendered "Geraldine" as, well, "boring, vomit-inducing and enough to make you want to jump off a bridge". Nice conclusion.

Just to back up my point about hyped bands, The Couteeners (shudder) graced the cover of NME only a month or two back, hailed as the best thing since sliced bread. This week's NME: "The Courteneers, 'No You Didn't, No You Don't': A polite piece of rubbish 3/10". Take solace in the fact that they scored one point more than Agyness Deyn's dire attempt at singing with NY band 5 O'Clock Heroes...

What I'm Listening To Right Now - "Hurricane Jane" by Black Kids

Saw It Coming

So Amy Winehouse has emphysema. Now, it's terrible and all but is this really shocking considering how much we hear about her drug abuse, smoking and alcohol problems? Surely lots of people would have known about the potential causes of emphysema and would've told her to stop, or at least try, just for the sake of her health.

Actually, they did try this. I stand corrected. It was as blunt as "stop taking drugs or you'll die". That's pretty much what the doctors said to her when she was told about her condition. Now it's "stop taking drugs or you'll be like an old woman on a ventilator". Seriously, that's what they said! No mincing of words, nothing. Personally, it's a little bit shocking but I think it's worse that her dad actually goes to the Sun or Star or Mail (can't remember which one) and tells the whole world about his daughter's sorry state. This will only make things worse. Amy is fragile enough as it is, now she'll have media dogs biting her skinny ankles and asking if her emphysema is getting any better/any worse.

LEAVE THE POOR GIRL ALONE! My theory is that if everyone just leaves her be, she's no longer in the tabloids and her life is like it was a few years back when no one was even interested in her life, she might start to recover. She also needs to ditch Pete Doherty and her good-for-nothing husband Blake, currently incarcerated. Then maybe she'll get better and won't have less than 70% lung capacity.

You know what the weirdest thing is though? The doctors have told her she can play Glastonbury this weekend! That just doesn't make any sense...

What I'm Listening To Right Now - "The Race" by Cajun Dance Party

23 June 2008

Music Hole

Someone out there has to have heard at least one song by French songstress Camille. If you haven't, you're missing out on something quite magical. She's not your average pop star and indeed tends to only use peoples' voices to create her music, which is the beauty of her new album "Music Hole" which I've been enjoying now for a good month or so.

Granted, there's some nice instrumentation to add atmosphere on "Cats and Dogs". Apparently they're not our friends, they just pretend. Then she imitates cats, dogs, monkeys, pigs, sheep... This premise pretty much sums up the way that Camille thinks, which is a bit like a bonkers Kate Bush on a night on the town with Bjork. See, this isn't for people who like Girls Aloud or Sugababes. It's much deeper than that. "Winter's Child" and "The Monk" are somewhat out-there but then she creates more down-to-earth pop songs like "Money Note" and "Gospel With No Lord".

"Money Note" is a witty stab at divas such as Mariah Carey and Celine Dion where Camille imitates them mockingly and pokes fun at the fact that they're aiming to be the best and hit all the right notes to make billions.

My favourite song though has to be "Katie's Tea" which at first sounds like a little ditty sung as an ode to the tea that her friend Catherine makes. She sings about the different varieties of tea (Tetley's and Lapsung Suchang - yes, I know I can't spell it - are mentioned a lot) and how she couldn't give it up for the world. Then it all gets a little bit dark, with the tea turning blood-red and then the music turns into a hypnotic spiral to represent her "trip" into madness.

Give it a go. No doubt a few of you will end up liking the srange but humourous stylings of this well-kept gem.

What I'm Listening to Right Now - "I Told Her On Alderaan" by Neon Neon

21 June 2008

Perfect Summer Party

"Pick up the pace and enjoy the race" suggest Cajun Dance Party on the title track of their debut album "The Colourful Life". And that's what you end up doing as you listen to this brilliant collection of songs - and they've only just joined sixth form!

I feel it is necessary to compare CDP to bands such as Arcade Fire for use of strings and arrangements, particularly on the title track, "The Race" and "Amylase" but they still manage to keep an identity all of their own. "The Next Untouchable" is a five-minute indie blast with swirling guitars and choppy vocals that shakes off the ties with other bands while "No Joanna" is a little lovelorn ballad that will capture your heart. But it is on their singles "The Race" and "Amylase" that they really shine.

"The Race" probably has the best of a bad bunch of lyrics, as on this song they seem more well thought out and less naive than on the other songs. I don't feel that this is particularly important though, since the words have not affected my enjoyment of the album. It's just not important.

For me though, it is the wonderful "Amylase" that sets them apart from other new indie bands at the minute. If this song doesn't want to make you run around with a massive smile on your face, then nothing will. It is quite simply one of the most joyful songs I've heard in a long time and will probably be a staple on my iPod for months to come. "Amylase" sounds quite similar to songs by people such as Those Dancing Days but has much more depth and substance.

My only problem with this album is that it's just too short! Clocking in at just over half an hour, it leaves me wanting more. Luckily, they're busy working on another album to be released later in the year so I won't have to wait long to hear more from this great band.

06 June 2008

Twice In A Day

The wine, that is - it's on my other blog right now. Anyway, the point of Mr. Red Wine being on here is because I'm infuriated with one Lily Allen. Granted I'm always angry with her. How on earth did a little chav like that get her own chat show on BBC3? Then she's drunk during a V Festival interview and slagging off other people constantly on her blog. Pretty low, really.

Now the little chav devil is saying that "it's not cool" to get drunk. This after she's been snapped seemingly thousands of times by the paparazzi for being well and truly legless! The nerve! Surely if she thinks this then she shouldn't be off her head every time she appears in a newspaper or an interview on TV. It's just blood-boiling!

Moving on a bit to her arch-enemies, or so she thinks. I'm talking about Girls Aloud. Yes the girl group that just won't go away. They're probably the best all girl group for a long while, proving it with their staying power but now they're going to get a show on the BBC? What's the world coming to? How on earth will 5 (is it five, I don't know) girls manage to present comfortably? I don't think they've thought this one through. It's probably all just to bump the ratings up anyway but it's still really disheartening. I hoped that one day the BBC would actually get a competent presenter to host a chat show, but how wrong I was.

05 June 2008


Yesterday I bought "Velocifero", the new album by Liverpool four-piece Ladytron. I have to say that despite the distortion - more on that later - it's a really catchy and strangely uplifting album, despite the dark undertones.

So, I was originally attracted to this album because of the first single "Ghosts" which combines somewhat ethereal vocals with funky synths and some rock sensibilities. And that's pretty much what you get on the whole album; thirteen tracks worth of pounding drums and blaring synths that almost drown out the two lead singers. Not that this is a particularly bad thing though. In a way it doesn't really matter that they're almost being drowned in sound, since what they're saying isn't, I don't think, particularly important.

Of course, it is because of some lousy production that this has come about. Maybe the album would have been better if the vocals took a more prominent role, like they do with most bands. It was produced by the band themselves, so I'm sort of willing to let them off the hook - let's face it, surely they can't be the most qualified people to produce a full album. It doesn't dent the enjoyment I have experienced over the last couple of days by listening to the album, but the distortion is the only low point. A band like Asobi Seksu can get away with it because of their shoegazing style but it doesn't quite work for the electro that Ladytron produce.

Nevertheless, it should be said that the album has some great songs on here other than "Ghosts". "Predict the Day" and "I'm Not Scared" are two other stand out tracks for me, while "Kletva" breaks up the unrelenting sound nicely.

What I'm Listening To Right Now - "Patriarch On A Vespa" by Metric