28 November 2008

"People Shouldn't Be So Scared of Asperger's"

This week Pip Brown, aka Ladyhawke, revealed that she had Asperger's Syndrome, which is a form of autism. She said that she'd only been diagnosed with the condition a couple of years ago, and it sort of explains why her live shows can be so erratic.
She said: "People shouldn't be scared of it or anything. Some people don't even realise that they have it. I went through my whole life not knowing until only a few years ago, when it was just doing my head in and I had to get help.
"I only have a very mild form of it and there are some people who have it so bad that they find it too hard to even write a message to me - I love that I've been able to talk to people and be able to relate (to them) like that."
"I have real moments, quite often in soundcheck, when I just don't feel like I can perform. I don't feel like I can sing. I have these voices in my head telling me that I suck and I can't do it. There's one side of me saying suck it up and do it. And there's another side that says everybody's looking at you and they're judging you."
I think it's brilliant that she's been able to open up about it to try and raise awareness but since she's only really a little artist in comparison to what most people are into, I actually doubt how much of an impact this is going to have. While it does clear up a lot of the grey areas around Pip's performances and she makes a good point about the syndrome, not enough people will be listening. Of course I have and since I always found Pip to be a pretty nice young woman I was a bit shocked to hear that she has the condition. But then, this is exactly what she's trying to say - too many people are ignorant of the condition and don't really know what it's about. In 2004, Craig Nicholls, frontman with The Vines, was also diagnosed with the condition but yet it hasn't stopped him from getting on with life either.
Pip points out that there are many people who ave it worse than her, and I suppose if you want to see a comical version of this then you can look at Jerry in law firm comedy Boston Legal. But even he is quite cuddly and has a heart of gold.
Now if only someone like Kanye West or one of Girls Aloud would come out and say that they have the condition - that might get some more people thinking....

25 November 2008

TV... On the Radio!

TV On The Radio are a band that have, until now, slipped through my usually water-tight musical grip and have somehow managed to release 3 albums without even crossing my mind or me (gasp) hearing a single track.

That all changed the other week when I finally saw them live on Later... (bless that show, it can, on acassions, be quite revelatory) and lo and behold I was fairly hooked. Fairly because they only played two songs from their latest effort "Dear Science". Luckily for me the band now have their full album on their MySpace page so all I had to do was click and enjoy.

Then, by some crazy coincidence I keep seeing their video for "Golden Age" on the TV and I can't escape them. I think they're trying to tell me something. And it's been told well, since now I can't get enough of their slightly odd and kooky style of music. I can't quite contain them in one frame, as they seem to glide from genre to genre quite effortlessly but I can describe them like this - it's like what Radiohead would be like if they weren't so darned tedious and.... urrgh... (See? Radiohead must be boring since I can't think of any other words to spend on them).

I think you'll agree that there's some mysticism in there:

13 November 2008

Introducing: The RGBs

I have to thank the guys at Bridging the Atlantic for alerting me to this London-based band who really love a good keytar. Well, the instrument is making a bit of a comeback at the minute and I always marvel at how well everyone can play them, especially since they look like complicated bits of machinery.

Well, that's a different story. I'm really supposed to be talking about The RGBs, who are creating a big slice of fem-disco that is really not that safe if you happen to listen through all of the six tracks on their MySpace site. Little Boots is making a very broadcast-friendly name for herself but these guys will probably only ever be played on late-night obscure shows. Which, as ever, is a huge shame considering that their debut single "The Everlaster" makes singer Becky sound like Kate Bush going all electro. At least in my opinion. Actually, that's the thing that intrigues me about the band: Becky's voice. It seems to change effortlessly with each song but at the same time the music never seems disjointed as a result.

Then again, I would say that: I really hate it when there's only one style of singing or the same tune over and over again. Which brings me to the next point: tunes. I don't know what anyone else thinks but some of those wobbly disco beats and melodies are really catchy!

I can't go on forever, which is why I've found the video for "The Everlaster":

Quick News

Asobi Seksu are releasing their third album entitled "Hush" in February next year, and guitarist James Hanna says that it will not feature as many of their thunderous, distortion-filled, seven-minute long musings. Which is a shame because it worked really well on their last album "Citrus" where they got the balance between that and the more classic three-minute-long pop tunes just right.

Well, we'll just have to see how it pans out.

12 November 2008

Introducing: Jape

So in my last post I said that I wouldn't use the "Introducing" tag for a band that wasn't technically new - well I've pretty much instantly screwed that up by using it here for weirdy electronica man Jape. It's actually a side project from Richie Egan, a guy from the band Redneck Manifesto. But it's a side-project with friends in high places (heh heh, see the coincidence with the picture?) as the Raconteurs covered his song "Floating" on their tour. Not bad for a guy who's often branded as the Irish Beck.
But, er, I wouldn't call him the Irish Beck really.
He's a little bit more folk-like than Beck but on recent album Ritual he's gone more electronic. That's good. I can't actually get "Graveyard" out of my head if I hear it. It must be the kind of plinky-plonky keyboards that introduce it - good funky gravestone music (erm, this is odd since Beck's video for "E-Pro" was set in a graveyard...).
I better stop talking now and just let you make up your own mind. Here's "I Was A Man":

Go With The Flo

Not a new band, so I can't put my little "Introducing" tag in the title. However, I am becoming increasingly endeared to Florence and the Machine. While "Kiss With A Fist" was at first annoying with its slightly blues-rocky feel, I think I fell instantly in love with "Dog Days Are Over" - even if some people say that it's a bit like a Kate Nash look-a-like trying to be trendier than Kate Nash.

But come on! I think the Nash comparisons are a bit harsh for Florence Welch: after all, she's her own woman and doesn't look like a little cockney girl in a tea dress. Actually, she's like the rough and ready version of Alison Goldfrapp, as demonstrated by her video for "Dog Days Are Over" (careful if you don't like clowns):

See what I mean? She doesn't sound all weak and girly, and is actually singing people! What kind of a phenomena is that? Someone in this day in age who doesn't shout/talky sing? Great!

Neon Neon Review

The Sage Gateshead
7th November 2008

Producer Boom Pip and Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys created Neon Neon last year with a goal in mind – to create an album that celebrated the lives, wives and death of car designer John DeLorean. “Stainless Style” ended up being nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and with good reason; the album mixed various genres together to create a brilliant collection that has to be one of the albums of the year.
But when they came to the Sage, I didn’t really know what to expect: just a standard show with some flashing lights or something much, much grander?
The group had taken the time to create a series of short films to accompany the music, starting with a look at the manufacturing of DeLorean’s vehicles during “Dream Cars” and moving on to a choppy movie examining the films of actress Raquel Welch while playing an extended version of their single “Raquel”. The mystic voice of DeLorean spoke from beyond the grave to address the band through this time, asking “how did you get inside my head?” after they finished a typically bouncy version of “I Told Her On Alderaan”.
The group were then joined onstage by Har Mar Superstar during “Trick For Treat” and then by their support band, rappers Yo Majesty, for “Sweat Shop” – both sending the temperature to boiling point. They started their encore with the slightly demure “Steel Your Girl” but then ended with a spiced up and feverish extended rendition of “Stainless Style”, marking the death of DeLorean.
This was no ordinary gig – it’s not everyday that you see a band putting in so much effort to try and make the night a special occasion but Neon Neon managed it without looking as if they were trying too hard to impress. It might have been a touch too short but it was spectacular while it lasted.

02 November 2008

Introducing: School Of Seven Bells

Today seems like the day when all the bells are ringing: first Howling Bells now School of Seven Bells - yet another wonderful Brooklyn band, would you believe? There seems to be a good thread of bands from there thinking along similar lines: if you examine Chairlift, MGMT, Yeasayer and these guys hard enough you'll notice that while they are obviously influenced in some by psychedelia, and have a distinctly dreamy quality to them.

Formed by former Secret Machines guitarist and vocalist Ben Curtis, he recruited Alejandra and Claudia Deheza to sing for him together so that they created harmonies and then branched off in different vocal ways at certain parts in certain songs. They've just released their first proper single (there have actually been quite a few demo EPs), "Half Asleep". As the title suggests it's a typically dream-pop inspired piece of electronica punctuated by some fuzzy background guitar work and some rather spaced out vocals, different to the singing on some of their other songs.

Other songs like "Prince of Peace", which is probably my favourite song right now (can someone please tell me where I can download this!?) - this is quite Yeasayer like, it has a rather eastern quality to it almost completely driven by the girls' vocals as they chant and power away through admittedly repetitive but ultimately lovable lines that put you in some sort of trance.

Everything is distinctly light and airy about this band but with some slightly darker undertones lurking somewhere beneath the fuzz - I would say that if you like any of the bands mentioned above, and enjoy people like Royksopp then you're probable on to a winner here. The debut album is supposedly out.... tomorrow!! But I've had bad luck with release dates before (curse you, Chairlift!) so keep checking. Until then... well I can't find a proper video so I'll just have to leave the MySpace URL. Enjoy:


The Wonder of Arrogance... Or Maybe Not

Last night I read the extended interview and article about Razorlight in Q Magazine (which is the first time I've bought it, I've been reading it for three days and still haven't quite gotten to Martin Scorsese yet!) and I still think that Johnny Borrell comes across as a bit of an arrogant little so-and-so.

I've heard more new tracks on various programmes here and there and yes, locking yourself away in a little Scottish cottage obviously works as does breaking up with a Hollywood star* (still think it was an odd couple though) - and here's the thing, he hasn't changed a bit.

Okay maybe appearance-wise he's no longer wearing those awful white spray-ons and he's got an earring but big whoop hey? Fact is, Borrell comes across as more accepting of other bands (Keane, for instance, but I would have forgiven him if he wasn't accepting of them) but still thinks that Razorlight is the best band in the world today.

It got me thinking though that maybe you need a touch of arrogance to make it in the music world? Correct me if I'm wrong but quite a few popular bands and artists have made their name through being somewhat arrogant. Sometimes being too shy and reserved can backfire on you, hence Ladyhawke's live shows in which she can't bear to even look at the audience and sings in a super-fragile manner (actually, add Cat Power to that mix as well although maybe it was the drink and drugs with her).

Hmmm.... the whole point of this post I suppose was to make you think whether or not his arrogance is a hindrance to his band or not - if I'm painfully honest I have to say that surely it isn't! People like presence and personality on stage as well as off it. Whether you like it or not Borrell has a large stock of the stuff.

What the Bells? They're Finally Back!

It's been nearly three years but Howling Bells are finally releasing some new material and I say... about time! I've been waiting for the follow up to their extaordinarily beautiful and different 2006 self-titled debut for absolutely ages!
They plonked "Cities Burning Down" on their MySpace site ages ago, but have only just come round to releasing a proper single in the form of "Into the Chaos". When I first heard the song my immediate reaction was that they seem to have gone a little bit more "standard rock" (I think you know what I mean) but then when the chorus kicked in I was pleased to hear that Joel Stein hasn't given up his wonderful style of guitar playing. It still contains all the sweeping magic that it did on wondeful songs like "Setting Sun" - and his sister Juanita's voice hasn't lost its slightly breathy and flexible sound either.
Well from what I can gather the new album will be called "Radio Wars" (correct me if I'm wrong but can't seem to get any other information) and I managed to pick up a video for "Into the Choas", albeit a live segment so I've teamed it up with the vid for one of my favourite Bells' songs "Low Happening". Enjoy!