Sunday, 20 August 2017

Marika Hackman - I'd Rather Be With Them (live at Rise, Bristol - 5th Ju...



This is Marika Hackman playing live at Bristol Rise back in early June this year. There is a sound only bootleg of the rest of this set up online, but it's quite quiet and starts mid set. Similarly, there is a bootleg of Marika's set at Rough Trade East earlier this year available online, but the sound quality is very quiet. The single 'My Lover Cindy' is out now, and earlier single 'Boyfriend' is still very much a sonic presence on radio.

Grace Mitchell - NoLo (Apple Music Festival: London 2015)



This is Grace Mitchell performing 'NoLo' at the Apple Music Festival in London in 2016. Unfortunately, it's not the best live performance I could find, but it is the one with the best sound quality. Because Grace is playing to such a lukewarm audience though, and seems quite (understandably) nervous, I would also recommend watching this live clip of 'Jitter' as, although the sound is a bit quiet, it will give you a better idea of what she's about as a performer.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Fantasy Festival #6: The Pop Festival - Lineup

Grace Mitchell: Grace Mitchell is a singer/songwriter from Portland, Oregon. Paul Lester as The Guardian's New Band Of The Day/Week guru got very excited about her song, 'Jitter' in 2015. She's signed to Taylor Swift and Lorde's label, and makes what I'd call smart pop that takes from a number of genres, but mainly R&B, electronica and rock. Grace has been touring the US and Canada throughout August.

Marika Hackman: Marika Hackman is a British singer/songwriter and multi instrumentalist whose second album, I'm Not Your Man, was released in June.  The lead single, 'Boyfriend' is a swaggering indie pop tale of a female/female/male love triangle becoming increasingly complicated. She will be playing at Leeds Festival on the 25th August and will be touring the UK into the autumn.

Jane Weaver: Jane Weaver first appeared on the Manchester music scene in the mid nineties with her band Kill Laura, a scouse indie pop outfit signed to Rob Gretton's Manchester Records. She later popped up as one of Misty Dixon on the Twisted Nerve label, but it's been her solo work that has won her, at long last, critical acclaim, with its exploration of psych and space pop. Her album Modern Kosmology was released in May, and she is playing the Liverpool Psych Festival at the end of September. She is currently touring the UK.

Stealing Sheep: Liverpool band Stealing Sheep started life as a folk troubadour outfit, releasing two albums of curiously mediaeval sounding folk, Noah and the Paper Moon and Into The Diamond Sun. Their third album, Not Real, released in 2015, revealed their smooth transition to psych pop. The band are not currently touring.

Santigold: Santigold, aka Santi White, is a singer/songwriter and producer from Philadelphia. She has released three albums of immaculate electro pop, of which 2016's 99cents is the most recent. The glitchyness of some of her work, and her sometimes vocal delivery, have led to comparisons with MIA, but her music is ultimately a collage of all sorts of sonic sources: Everything from modern dance music to post punk samples, to ska and Two Tone. She is not currently touring.

Solange: Solange Knowles' 2016 album A Seat At The Table was one of the standout albums of 2016, a poetic mediation on what it is to be a black woman in the US, but also a lively, imaginative, danceable and moving work of art. She played Glastonbury in June and  is currently touring the US.

Lorde: Auckland pop star Lorde, real name Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor, first began to garner attention in 2012, with her self released EP, The Love Club. A year later she released her second, immaculately written and produced, EP, Tennis Court, and debut album Pure Heroine, which featured the single 'White Teeth Teens'. An exponent of knowing, smart, observational minimalist pop, there is a world weariness to her voice and lyrics that contrasts sharply with her age: She is 21 this year. Her second album, Melodrama, was released in 2016. She is in the middle of a huge international tour at the moment, which will bring her to the UK in September. 


Fantasy Festival #6: The Pop Festival


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Monday, 14 August 2017

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Overcoats - 23 - Audiotree Live (4 of 6)



There was a severe lack of live concert footage of Overcoats available online, so I've chosen to revisit their session for Audiotree back in May. Which gives a good sense of what I live gig might be like. You can watch the full Audiotree session online.

Speech Debelle Performing "No War ,No Peace" Live @ Moth Club, Hackney #...



This is Speech Debelle performing 'No War, No Peace' live at Moth Club in Hackney in 2016. Again, sadly full live sets are in short supply online, but I do recommend you watch the film made for 'Live For The Message' in 2013. Eerily prescient.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Georgia - Kombine - Live (Eurosonic 2016)



This is Georgia performing 'Kombine' at Eurosonic in 2016. Full live sets are in short supply online, but you can watch a good clip of Georgia performing 'Nothing Solutions' live at CMJ in 2015 as part of a BBC Introducing showcase.

Connie Constance | Stars - Live at Adidas Futurehouse || GUAP



This is Connie Constance performing 'Stars' live at Adidas Futurehouse. There are other lives clips available online, but full sets are in short supply. I do recommend you watch the video to last years single 'Clouds' though. 

Friday, 11 August 2017

Fantasy Festival #5: The Florence Festival - Lineup

Connie Constance: Connie Constance is a London based singer/songwriter who originally trained to be a dancer, became a poet, and then moved into song. The single she recorded with Jelani Blackman, 'Clouds', reflects this combination of poetry and song. She was tipped by ID as a future soul star in their Class of 2016 piece. She played the Afropunk festival in London late last month.

Georgia: Former footballer and drummer for Kate Tempest, Georgia released her 'post punky hip hop soul' debut album in 2015. She played a number of festivals in 2016, including British Summer Time and Eurosonic, and has just released a new E.P 'Feel It'. She has just played LeeFest, and will be playing Lost Village festival later this month. 

Speech Debelle: Mercury Music prize winner Speech Debelle is a London based rapper and social activist who makes understated, multi layered, narrative urban survival music. She has released two albums and, last year, a self released EP. She is currently touring the UK and is playing Shamabala Festival and Greenbelt Festival in late August. 

Overcoats: Overcoats are a folkatronic or 'folk-soul' duo from New York whose music has been likened to Simon & Garfunkel. They released their debut album earlier this year and are touring the US throughout the summer and autumn. They would have played at all three of the Dot To Dot festivals in late May, but pulled out in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing.

Kate Tempest: Musician. Novelist. Poet. Playwright. There is seemingly nothing Londoner Kate Tempest cannot do. She headlined The Great Escape in 2015, "moved people to tears at Glastonbury 2017", and was the guest director at Brighton Festival in May. Her current, extremely timely, album Let Them Eat Chaos was released in 2016. She is playing a large number of festivals this summer.

Angel Olsen: Angel Olsen is a singer/songwriter from St Louis, Missouri. She began her musical career with Will Oldham (Palace Brothers, Palace Music) but her 2014 debut took her away from alt. country territory and into dark indie rock. 2016's My Woman married folky strumming to Velvet Underground infused guitar pop and garage rock distorted vocal stomping, all with a dash of eighties synth pop and sixties girl group melodies. It gained fans amongst the staff at Piccadilly Records in Manchester, Florence Welch, and Helen McCookerybook, amongst others. Angel is currently touring Europe, including the UK, and will be touring the US throughout the autumn. Her date at Green Man festival next week has sold out. 

Cat Power: Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall, from Atlanta, Georgia, has been making music since the early 1990s. Her early work featured choppy guitar work and raw vocals. She then went through a slow, minimalist phase, a critically acclaimed soul phase, and has in recent years emerged as a full blown soul electronica artist with anthems such as 'Cherokee' and 'Ruin'. She played a US date last week, but it looks as though no other dates are planned at the moment.

Florence + The Machine: Londoner Florence Welch formed Florence + The Machine in 2007. The name derives from the stage names Welch and keyboardist Isabella Summers gave themselves when writing songs together as teenagers: Florence Robot and Isa Machine. The bands first appearance at Glastonbury in 2007 was later described by Welch as "A complete shambles" and comprised of a muddied, sleep deprived and tearful Florence singing her set acapella until her guitarist arrived. These days, ten years and three albums down the line, Florence + The Machine are a veritable orchestra (there were twelve of them at the last count), no strangers to the festival circuit in the UK, US and Europe, and have headlined Latitude in 2010, Glastonbury in 2015, and British Summer Time in 2016. The band are not currently touring.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Helen McCookerybook returns with timely new album The Sea

In late June, the same weekend as I was feverishly working away at my piece on women and music festivals for The F-Word, I received a lovely surprise in the post.

The new Helen McCookerybook album, The Sea, complete with illustrated songbook.

You can tell, not just from the songbook, but from the CD packaging, what a labour of love this album's creation has been: It looks DIY in the best sense, an artefact painstakingly created with a lot of love.

Sonically, this is an album that has a clear and unfussy production that perfectly complements the minimalism of the songs. It seems odd to say it, given Helen's origins in the UK punk scene and post punk scenes of the late 1970s and early to mid 1980s, but the word that springs to mind most often when listening to this collection of songs is 'Gentle'. That said, it is perfectly possible to be gentle but scathing, quiet but raging, fierce but melodic.

Vocally, Helen's voice reminds me a bit of Kirsty MacColl, and the songs themselves have a timeless quality that mean that they could have been classics in a number of different eras from the 1940s onwards. There is the highly evocative 'Summer Days', an ode to summer with a looping guitar and crooned melody, the quirkily Doris Day ish 'Feathers',  and the silvery voiced 'Give Us Another Chance'.

There is also the very catchy and very timely 'Big Brother', a plea to resist the madness of walking unresisting into a cage of surveillance. A gilded cage hung with all sorts of bright sparkly things and bells and whistles, but a cage nonetheless. "You think you're free as a bird: Open your eyes" she cautions. Set alongside Noga Erez's recent take on social media addiction and Tacocat's take on the impact of the smartphone on modern day relationships, we do now appear to be entering an age where people are interrogating the recent and very fast impact modern technology is having on our lives. Which can only be a good thing.

With this in mind, it is worth pointing out that Helen McCookerybook has a very good line in wry observational, often very poignant songs, about relationships going wrong. 'Don't Be Silly, He Said' has a classic feel to it, with a gentle rolling melody and fierce and knowing lyrics detailing the duplicity of a marriage where one partner is straying and the other suspects that this is so. There's also the hauntingly beautiful, wry and vulnerable, 'Happy Ever After Man', a jaunty tune coupled with poignant lyrics. This is not a love song in the conventional sense: It is romantic disappointment, thinking you've found The One, and then discovering that you haven't.

'Who's That Behind The Camera Lens' is, by contrast, a spooky and unsettling affair, which in some respects has a similar lyrical starting point to Siouxsie and the Banshees 'Red Light', in that in both cases the camera becomes both a lyrical character and a sinister voyeur. In this case though, it's not a fashion model but a woman at the seaside who is being imprisoned in the lens, adding a chilling dimension to the jollity of the seaside holiday.

The title track, 'The Sea', is an absolute tour de force of a song. Opening with a  mournful choir, intoning 'Go home... to your war zone', this beautiful and haunting song uses complex lyrical imagery  evoking the peaceful scenery and calm sea with the raging waters and the 'monsters in the deckchairs' who 'damn you to hell'. The arrangements are gorgeous, which only enhances what is a mournful testimony to the past couple of years of inaction and folly when dealing with the refugee crisis. Following on from Helen's collaboration with the Charlie Tipper Conspiracy, 'Femme Fatale', late last year (which was sold in aid of Refugee Action) it is thoughtful and powerful.

'Women Of The World' is a gentle, positive, feminist, call to arms. It has a timeless feel to it so that you could  almost imagine it being used to summon women workers to the ARP in the 1940s just as much as you could imagine it being taken up as a feminist anthem in the late 1960s. A call to 'peaceful arms', it fits nicely between the folky but fierce marching song that is Pretty Girls Make Graves' 'Parade' and the biting post punk long look at history of Martha and the Muffins 'Women Around The World At Work'. I know that this song will definitely endure.

The album ends with a yearning for a utopian future via 'Think Of A Brand New World', but this is no hippy vision, just a quiet wish for something better; What, she asked, if we could start the world all over again? And do it properly this time.

A dream to live by.

Monday, 7 August 2017

M.I.A. - Double Bubble Trouble at Glastonbury 2014



This is MIA performing 'Double Bubble Trouble' live at Glastonbury 2014. You can watch most of the rest of the set on YouTube, but not as a single stream. This might be because bits of it were edited for political reasons by the BBC. You can watch 'Paper Planes' here. 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Fantasy Festival #4: The Confidence Festival - Lineup

Katy Carr: Katy Carr is a London based singer/songwriter and multi instrumentalist with a sweet, powerful, commanding voice who draws on Polish history and traditional folk music to create music that can be both small and large in scale. Her album Polonia is out now and she will be appearing live at the Lexington in London on 1st October alongside Helen and The Horns and Honey Birch. 

Helen McCookerybook: Helen McCookerybook began her musical life as a punk bass player in Joby in the Hooligans in 1977, she was later a bass player in The Chefs and guitarist in Helen and The Horns. She returned to music making about ten years ago and has just released her latest solo album The Sea. She is currently touring and will be playing The Lexington on the 1st October as part of Helen and The Horns, alongside Katy Carr and Honey Birch. 

Pale Honey: Swedish duo Pale Honey are comprised of Tuva and Nelly. They have been a band for a couple of years now and have recently transitioned from noisy indie rock to a more glacial sound.  'Why do I always feel this way?' was a tense, epic and understated single, and their most recent release is a Pixies/Breeders esque rendition of ABBA's 'Lay All Your Love On Me'.

Basia Bulat: Basia Bulat is a Canadian singer/songwriter whose 2016 album Good Advice was one of Piccadilly Records picks of the year. I would liken her sound to a more indie sounding Adele, which sounds very odd given that Adele is signed to XL (an Indie Label). Basia is playing in Canada this summer.

Hollie Cook: Hollie Cook cut her musical teeth as a keyboard player in the final lineup of The Slits. She has since released two flawless albums of modern day lovers rock. Twice, the most recent of the two, was released in 2014.

Shonen Knife: Shonen Knife, the garage punk band from Osaka, have been around since the early 1990s. Feted by Kurt Cobain, the band have gone through a number of lineup changes but remain resolutely joyously the same.

MIA: The poster girl for modern day agit prop, rapper and provocateur MIA grew up in Sri Lanka and West London. Her unique take on agit prop has inspired a host of other artists, including Santigold and Noga Erez. Her most recent album, A.I.M is out now and she is currently touring. She will be playing the Boomtown Festival on the 13th August.

Christine And The Queens: Heloise Le Tissier, aka Christine and The Queens, created a splash in the UK in 2016 with her single 'Tilted', taken from her first English language album, Chaleur Humaine. A pop star in her native France, Le Tissier's androgynous image and proclaimed pansexuality marked her out as a breath of fresh air and the dramatic and sophisticated electro pop of Chaleur Humaine marked it as a classic.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Martha Wainwright - Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole (live)



Martha Wainwright performing the enduring 'Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole'. You can find live streams on YouTube of Martha's recent UK dates, but they seem to require registration and are not just click and play. There is a nice clip of her performing at Cambridge Folk Festival in 2008 performing 'Jesus and Mary' though. 

Friday, 28 July 2017

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Emmy the Great - Mahal Kita | Acoustic live session in Paris



This is Emmy The Great performing an acoustic version of the title track from her current album, Mahal Kita. There are lots of good quality single song live clips of Emmy available online, and you can also watch a musical postcard from Emmy The Great online, in full. 

Emma Pollock - Old Ghosts (Live at Celtic Connections 2016)



This is Emma Pollock performing 'Old Ghosts' at Celtic Connections 2016. It wasn't her first visit to Celtic Connections and, while I've been unable to find a good enough quality full live set of Emma for you, I do recommend her cover of Billy Connelly's 'Everybody Knows That' from 2010's Celtic Connections festival. 

Monday, 24 July 2017

Fantasy Festival #3: The Modern Classics Festival - Lineup

Skating Polly: Skating Polly are a teenage sister duo from Oklahoma, comprised of the fantastically named Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse. They formed in 2009 and have been taken under the wing of  Babes In Toyland (who took Skating Polly on tour with them a couple of years back) and more recently Nina Gordon and Louise Post of Veruca Salt. They make visceral, sometimes angry, sometimes eerie and unsettling guitar driven punk rock in the grunge tradition.

Miya Folick: Miya Folick is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter who comes from an acting background and makes slightly otherworldly indie rock. She has the kind of voice that can quite literally stop you in your tracks, and you can read an interview with her in Vogue, of all places, from last year. 

Emma Pollock: Legend of the Glasgow music scene, co-founder of Chemikal Underground records, and a former Delgado, Emma Pollock is flying solo these days. Her music is experimental and pared down, making use of strings as much as guitars, understated and stylish. Her current album, In Search of Harperfield, was nominated for the Scottish Album of the Year award in June.

Emmy The Great: Musician and culture writer, Anglo-Chinese Emmy The Great grew up in East Grinstead, and has been making music since 2006. I hesitate to call her a bedroom folk artist, because I've never felt it to be much of a compliment, but I do see her as someone who creates amazing sonic landscapes largely independently much like Nancy Elizabeth. Her album, Mahal Kita, is out now.

Jesca Hoop: Former Mormon, former nanny to Tom Waits' children, and persuaded to decamp from the US to distinctly unsunny Manchester by a certain Guy Garvey. It was always going to be an intriguing backstory, even before Jesca Hoop started to release records. Memories Are Now, her fourth album, was released last year. She is electrifying live, almost Shamanic. She played Latitude on 16th July, and continues to tour and play festivals throughout the summer.

Laura Mvula: I really loved Laura Mvula's debut album, Sing To The Moon, and, while I couldn't get into the follow up, The Dreaming Room, I was still shocked to hear that Sony had dropped her (by email!) earlier this year. Even if The Dreaming Room wasn't my cup of tea, musically, I respected it as a record because it was experimental and new, and was a strong departure from the debut album, which had it's roots in jazz, blues, and soul. Laura is touring at the moment, and into Autumn, so there are plenty of chances to see her live.

Martha Wainwright: Martha Wainwright has been releasing records from 2005 onwards, and her music has taken a number of differing musical twists and turns along the way, from the bloody minded folky j'accuse of 'Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole' to the slinky soul groove of the more recent 'Take The Reins'. She is currently on the Canadian and US leg of her tour.

PJ Harvey: Polly Jean Harvey has been making music since the early 1990s and, as you would expect, her music has evolved and changed considerably in the past (nearly) thirty years, as has her singing voice. In recent years she has been reinventing the protest song and the radio ballad, and has diversified into poetry and broadcasting. One thing Harvey has never lost is her integrity, and her approach to music in recent years has reflected that.


Saturday, 22 July 2017

A positive story about the Glastonbury festival

Anyone who's been regularly reading my blog since the end of June will know that I've been posting a lot of stuff around the theme of women and festivals recently.

This all stemmed from a detailed report that the BBC did into festivals over the past ten years, which revealed a distinct lack of female headliners at festivals as well as that festival headliners were getting older and whiter. The report was released on the eve of this years Glastonbury Festival, which tends to be the sacrificial goat when it comes to festival criticism. I think the fact that Glastonbury is the biggest and most well established of the UK festivals, not to mention the most televised, might have something to do with this. Although the festival's radical, idealistic post hippie roots combined with its contemporary ticket prices are also part of the reason why it tends to get the most stick, rightly or wrongly.

My own response to the BBC report was critical of Glastonbury, in as much as I agreed with the NME that Florence + The Machine should have been offered a headline slot in their own right in 2015 rather than have got a headline slot by accident, but I did try not to single out Glastonbury for criticism specifically because I feel the issues raised in the BBC report are issues affecting festivals in general, not just Glastonbury.

As to why I, personally, can't ever envision myself attending Glastonbury this is a basic equation of: Cost of ticket, travel and camping equipment combined with not knowing in advance who you are going to see = Approximately £300 (probably more, if we include food) spend on festival with potentially very few, or no, bands playing I would like to see. I did spend something in the region of £300 attending British Summer Time last year (I'm including the London hotel bill there..) but I did that knowing who I was going to see, which made all the difference.

As an interesting sideline, it's food for thought that Jeremy Corbyn's appearance at Glastonbury this year gathered equal amount of interest/coverage to that of any of the musical headliners. Which in some ways is a positive thing, reflecting perhaps the youth surge in the 2017 General Election, but it's equally as much a sign of the times so far as changing attitudes of festival audiences are concerned. Not necessarily as much of a warning sign as the New York Times' decision  last year not to cover Coachella and Bonnaroo anymore, in that they felt that both festivals had become a poseurs paradise, the various bands playing effectively no more than decorative wallpaper to the punters gazing adoringly into their phones, but a definite change nonetheless.

With all this in mind, it was oddly heartwarming to read Lifeonlauralane's recent blog post about the fantastic, above and beyond, support she received as an attendee of this years Glastonbury Festival. Despite the traumatic circumstances that led her to contact the festival and ask for help, it's clear from her story that the event staff went above and beyond to ensure she felt safe attending the event. There are reasons why Glastonbury is the most popular and well attended of UK festivals and, hopefully, the attitude of its staff is one reason why people keep coming back.


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Estelle "Conqueror" on Skyville Live



This is Estelle performing a particularly fine rendition of 'Conqueror' on Skyville Live. I haven't been able to find a full live set of Estelle online unfortunately, but I have been reacquainting myself with her collaboration with Ben Watt, 'Pop a Cap in Yo Ass', a particularly fine tune. She's also recently released 'Woman's World' in support of Planned Parenthood.

The Staves - No Me, No You, No More (Glastonbury, 2015)



This is the Staves performing 'No Me, No You, No More' at Glastonbury 2015. You can watch the full Glastonbury 2015 set online. 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Fantasy Festival #2: The Slightly Serious Festival - Lineup

Julia Jacklin: Julia Jacklin is an Australian singer/songwriter from the Blue Mountains, who has lived in Sydney for several years but is currently based in Barcelona. Her debut album, Don't Let The Kids Win, was released in October 2016. She makes catchy folk pop songs, and her voice is ever so slightly reminiscent of a young Kristen Hersh. She has just, in the past two days, played at Latitude, and is right in the middle of a load of European festival dates. 

Kelsey Lu: Kelsey Lu is a classically trained cellist who combines sparse highly atmospheric musical compositions with a real stop-'em-in-their-tracks voice. Her back story is an interesting one, and she seems to have been quickly taken under the wing of a number of supportive artists, which bodes well.   She has just played the Night + Day Festival in Iceland, and will be playing a series of US dates in the autumn.

The Staves: The Staves are a trio of folk rock singing sisters from London who have released two albums, 2012's Dead & Born & Grown and 2015's If I Was. Recent single 'Tired As Fuck' hinted at a more rock direction for the band, who are not currently touring, and are perhaps working on new material.

Estelle: Estelle, the London singer/songwriter whose musical output cannot clearly be tagged as purely soul when it also includes aspects of R&B, grime, hip hop and areas of dance music, has released four albums and has won several MOBO's plus one Grammy (for her Kanye West collaboration, 'American Boy') she is a musically versatile and commanding performer who performed a lot in 2016, but is not currently touring.

Regina Spektor: Regina Spektor is an American/Russian singer/songwriter who will be playing some UK dates in the next couple of weeks. Although best known for the song 'Samson', her musical output and style is more varied than that particular song would suggest, combining Russian folk elements on one hand and hip hop beats on the other.

Natacha Atlas: Natacha Atlas is an Egyptian-Belgium singer whose early work in the 1990s included collaborations with the global dance band Transglobal Underground. She combines Arabic music and western pop of a number of styles to create everything from atmospheric laments to global dance music. She will be playing two dates in France this year, one in August, one in October. 

Patti Smith: The legendary Patti Smith released her debut album, Horses, in 1975 and has been written of as the 'Godmother of punk', thanks to the cataclysmic effect Horses had on a number of artists on both sides of the Atlantic. Since punk, she has continued to be a musical touchstone and inspiration, meaning she has inspired artists as far apart as The Raincoats and Florence + The Machine. She played British Summer Time last year, second on the bill to Massive Attack. She is currently touring Europe.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Thursday, 13 July 2017

The album of the summer is here!

Gothic Tropic's debut album, Fast or Feast, was released in May which, in these days of climate change, counts as the start of summer. I've developed a theory over the last couple of years that an album's release date in some way syncs to its overall seasonal feel and, as such, am ready to declare Fast or Feast to be the summer album of 2017.

'Your Soul' is a particularly glittering summer anthem, and it helps that the band are from LA and make sunshine drenched guitar indie rock.

At times Cecilia Della Peruti sounds almost Debbie Harry ish in her vocals (particularly on 'Teenage Behaviour' and parts of 'Your Soul'), but the intricate, almost post punk pop nature of the songs themselves remind me more of Adult Net, while at the same time sounding both fresh and timeless.

'How Life Works', 'Your Soul', 'Don't Give Me Up' and 'Stronger' are all blessed with great hooks and catchy choruses, but include a knowing quality and life smart lyrics that complicate the sunshine pop elements:

'They're not selling seats; they're selling fear' Peruti observes on 'Stronger'.

There's also the more experimental tracks, including 'Chemical Trail', 'If It Had A Body', and the almost lullabying 'Feed You To The Sharks', which is a subtly disquieting way to close an album.

Because it's so short (just over half an hour in length) you're left with a real desire for more and, as such, it's been on heavy rotation since I bought it a couple of weeks back.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Stevie Nicks - "Edge Of Seventeen" [Live In Chicago]



Stevie Nicks performing the epic 'Edge of Seventeen' live in Chicago. The album version of the song is over five minutes long but, in live performance, it's much, much longer.

This is the closest I get to classic rock territory, basically, and if you recognise the guitar riff that's because it was sampled by Destiny's Child for 'Bootylicious'.

There are many, many full live sets of Stevie Nicks both solo and as part of Fleetwood Mac available online. Most of the solo sets are from the 1980s, so I've picked out a concert from 1982 for you. It might be that more recent stuff becomes available in a few months or so online.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Gothic Tropic - Stronger - Live



A live version of the current single, 'Stronger', this clip captures GT on the road on a recent tour date.

The band's full set at The Satellite in LA is available to watch in it's entirety online.

Vagabon - Cleaning house



I wasn't able to track down a festival performance by Vagabon as she's simply too new and there's not a lot of footage out there. This is an intimate performance in a small venue, providing an insight into the quieter end of her sprawling indie rock sound. Her full Audiotree live session is available to watch in it's entirety online.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Fantasy Festival #1: The Epic Festival - Lineup

Vagabon: Vagabon, aka Laetitia Tamko, hails from New York and released her debut album, Infinite Worlds, earlier this year. You can read about her in W Magazine, and you will find her music over on Bandcamp. She makes sprawling, raw indie rock with authenticity and heart.

Gothic Tropic: Cecilia Della Peruti hails from Los Angeles, and there seems to be some dispute online as to whether Gothic Tropic is Peruti alone, or whether Gothic Tropic is a band. The debut album, Fast or Feast, was released in the UK back in May. I was charmed by the bands set at The Castle as part of the Manchester leg of Dot To Dot at the end of May, and the album is an indie pop classic, with a sheen of California post punk pop and the intricacies of Adult Net. You can read about Gothic Tropic on DIY Mag.

Laura Gibson: Laura Gibson is a quietly established singer/songwriter who, until fairly recently, was based in Portland, Oregon. Her current, and third, album, Empire Builder, was released in 2016 and reflects the stark and understated nature of her songwriting. She is playing some UK dates in August.

Lily & Madeleine: Lily & Madeleine are two sisters from Indiana who play sophisticated folky pop. Their current album, Keep It Together, was released last year to critical acclaim, and they are currently touring the US in support to John Mellencamp.

Neko Case: Coming on like the lovechild of Patsy Cline and Gene Vincent, Neko Case makes gorgeously evocative Americana. She is one third of Case/Lang/Veirs, and also plays with The New Pornographers. She has released so many solo albums now that I have actually lost count and is resident in Canada. Her most recent solo album is the very presciently titled The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You and she has just come back from a short tour with The New Pornographers.

Bat For Lashes: Natasha Khan, aka Bat For Lashes, released her debut album, Fur and Gold, in 2006. Two Suns, which followed in 2009, included the haunting 'Daniel', and brooding 'Sleep Alone'. The Bride, which was released last year, is her fourth album. Her songs are both haunting and beautiful, always atmospheric and gorgeous.

Stevie Nicks: There is the Stevie Nicks who is a member of Fleetwood Mac, and then there is Stevie Nicks the solo artist. My friend, David Wilkinson, has a theory as to why so many hipsters like the McVie/McVie/Fleetwood/Nicks/Buckingham lineup of Fleetwood Mac: he puts it down to the success of Tango In The Night in the mid-late 1980s, when the hipsters were children, meaning Fleetwood Mac serve as a sort of musical comfort blanket for them. Solo Nicks tends to be more rock, a bit harder, a bit tougher, a bit more visceral. She is playing British Summer Time festival at Hyde Park on 9th July as the main support to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and will then be touring the US.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Return of fever

Following on from the BBC's report on the gender gap at music festivals, and related trends over the past ten years, I've found myself returning to the issue again.

Having had my own response to the report, and to the World Service's coverage of the report, published on The F-Word last week, I've been thinking of ways that I can promote some of the women I mentioned at the very end of my piece.

As I was coming to the end of the piece, I was starting to think about the kind of festival that I would pay to attend. Who would it be comprised of? I used Florence Welch's answer to the 'Which women would you like to see headlining Glastonbury?' question when she was asked it in 2016 as my starting point, as I liked her choices. I then started to think, seriously, about who I would want to see and how I would arrange the bills.

The upshot of this is that I have made lists of 7 possible festival bills that I would happily pay to go and see. These are small bills, 7 or 8 artists a time, for a fictional one day festival that I would call The Fever Festival. I've arranged the bills in terms of smaller, newer artists towards the bottom of the bill, emerging and semi established artists in the middle, and established artists headlining and taking the 2nd, 3rd and (in some cases) 4th place on the bill.

I've tried to mix it up musically, and in terms of age, ethnicity and sexuality. I didn't get very far with being disabled friendly though, and I think the invisibility of disabled artists within the music industry is something that needs tackling on a wider scale anyway, and at this stage, it would be hard to tackle it in any meaningful way by an exercise as frivolous as this.

Needless to say, all of the artists I've included on my fictional festival bills are artists I'd happily pay to see live.

Of the 7 actual headliners I've picked, only 1 of them (and regular readers will be able to guess straight away which one) has headlined a festival in the last 10 years. Given some of the choices I've made, this might surprise you as, in slight deference to the prevalence of what the BBC report describes as 'Heritage acts', I have included two headliners who would fall into that category. This was consciously done, not because I think festivals should be always headlined by artists in their sixties and older, but because I wanted to play the promoters at their own game and also would love to see the two artists in question headline festivals in their own right, having both been second on the bill to male acts over the past couple of years.

Of the other four headliners, I would say that one is very established artist who has been around for nearly thirty years and has played at many festivals, several times, without being offered a headline slot, one is a young singer who is very big in the pop world but not in the festival world, one created a big splash with her debut English language album last year and played some festivals, was not high up the bill, but would do justice to a headline slot, and the third one is an established but not best selling artist who has recently launched a solo career, has never made it to the main stage of a festival, but is an electrifying performer who would be more than up to the job of headlining a festival.

These are, of course, personal choices and readers will no doubt be able to create their own versions of their own fantasy festival bill, just as I have.

I'm going to post a series of live clips between now and the end of August of all the 53 performers I identified in my piece as being festival and/or headliner material. Ideally, I would be posting well filmed clips of the artists playing at festivals, as many of them have put the hours in at innumerable festivals. Unfortunately, this hasn't always been possible because, while many of them have played festivals, their performances either weren't filmed or were filmed badly and, as such, aren't useable. The way I've approached this problem is to use the following criteria;

1) Is there a clip of the artist performing at a festival and is it of useable quality?

2) If not, is there a clip of the artist playing a live gig to an audience, and is it useable?

3) If not, is there a clip of the artist playing a live session somewhere, ideally in almost gig conditions, and is it useable?

4) If not, is there a promo video available, ideally showing the artist simulating a live performance?

Of all the 53 artists I'm including, there was only one where I had to use option 4, and that was because the artist in question is so new that there's very little beyond promo videos available online.

Festival number 1 starts this Friday, and I will be posting a mock poster of the 'bill' later this week, along with an overview of my choices ahead of Friday. In terms of the videos I'll be posting, it would have been possible in a number of a cases to post full, good quality, festival sets in their entirety but I've chosen not to do so because it would widen the gap between my headliners and artists located further down the bill. Where I'm aware of a good quality full set being available online, I'll endeavour to signpost you to it in the blog posts that accompany each video.

Friday, 30 June 2017

'...It is the aftermath of fever'

Some pieces take longer than others. 

As regular readers will know, I likened my recent (ish) experience of writing a chapter on women, punk and fanzines for a book on punk and fanzines to pulling teeth: Painful, long winded, with lots of agonising, re-doing, picking at it...

By contrast, the piece I have just had published on The F-Word, on the theme of women and music festivals, was written in a sort of feverish state last weekend. All credit to F-Word music editor, Jo Whitehead, for turning it around so quickly.

The sequence of events goes like this:

On Thursday 22nd June, I was half listening to the World Service while cooking my tea when they suddenly started talking about Glastonbury. No one I like is playing Glastonbury this year (or, indeed, ever seems to really, by and large...) so I wasn't really listening, until it became apparent that this was going to be a report on the lack of women playing music festivals, and I found myself listening, wearily at first, then angrily.

I seethed for about 24 hours afterwards, I think, then re-listened to the news bulletin in question on iplayer, did some further reading, and went to bed on Friday night feeling a bit more thoughtful about it. But still, ultimately, annoyed.

I got up for work at 7am on Saturday morning, had my breakfast, and as I ate, I began to get an idea for a piece about the whole issue of women and music festivals. I have to leave for work at 8:15am on Saturdays, which is a lie in for me because the 191 doesn't run on Saturdays so it's the 192 and they run more regularly. Anyway, this meant that I had exactly 15 minutes between 8am and 8:15am to plan the piece, which I did. In full. I then grabbed my stuff and legged it to the bus stop.

When I got home from work at just before 6pm, I sat down with the plan, read through it, switched my laptop on and wrote...

At about 8ish it occurred to me that I'd better have some tea. At 10 ish I remembered I was meant to have a shower. At midnight I thought 'I'd better go to bed now'.

I did sleep, but I was awake again by about 7am and up again, working on it, by about 8am. I eventually left it alone at about 10am in order to go into Manchester to buy the Gothic Tropic album at Piccadilly Records.

Then I had to go to the launderette and do the Co-Op leg of the food shop, then back home, work on the piece some more, do something else, work on the piece some more...

I finally stepped away from it at about half 11pm on Sunday night, having gone off on all sorts of weird and wonderful tangents throughout the day, many of which I subsequently excised around 11 ish just before I submitted it.

My final thought as I switched off the light and lay down in bed was: "There's an awful lot of Florence + The Machine in it. Will that be a problem?" I've been worrying about this a lot since, but now that the piece is up, I'm less worried. Because I know that I was using the band as an exampler and that I was writing in critical mode, not fan mode, and as such, I think it works.

It's not normally my style to write an opinion piece, or a j'accuse, and I don't think that the finished piece is one, as such, but it's much more of an opinion piece than I would usually write. Which I was uneasy about at first, but less so now. I was also uneasy because I'm not a festival veteran: As I wrote in my review of British Summer Time last year, my formative gig going years were spent at All Dayers, not Festivals. But, this is perhaps not so much of a problem as you might think, in that it allows me to take an outsider view on matters.

(Florence + The Machine, Ship To Wreck, live at British Summer Time 2016)

In recent years I've got very into a style of journalism that perhaps isn't traditional music journalism because it borrows from other areas, like economics, and which is generally less myth making and more dispassionate. I think the BBC report that inspired all of this falls into that category, and the articles from The Economist I've mentioned in my piece do as well. The Guardian, in it's reports on the industry side of the music business, also does interesting and enjoyable reportage and debate in this line.

As I see the piece up online, I am reminded, as I have been at intervals all week, of Paddy McAloon's 'I Trawl The Megahertz', a sort of stream of consciousness piece set to music, epic in scope. There is a pause at one point, a lull, in which the narrater, having expressed something close to mania just beforehand, concludes that the disillusionment that follows is 'The aftermath of fever'.

I hope that won't be the case. I have a lot of music to write about at the moment, if only because there are so many great albums out, but I'm not sure how those pieces will emerge yet, or when. I just know they will.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Georgia - Feel It (Official Video)



And the sound of young London, keeping at it, doing good. I think that this might be the song she opened her set at British Summertime with last year: The one that frightened the lounging hipsters.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Gothic Tropic - How Life Works



Aside from Honeyblood, Gothic Tropic were the only other band I saw at the Manchester leg of Dot to Dot, and they did not disappoint.

They played to about 50 people (full capacity) in the tiny back room of the Castle Hotel on Oldham Street at 10pm, where the temperature was akin to that of a pizza oven, and they were fantastic. I was reminded of Adult Net; there seemed to be that same sense of clean post punk pop energy and crispness overlaid with California warmth. They are a great live band, very energetic and immersive. The album, Fast or Feast, is just out and it's a pop classic basically. I loved it on the first listen and will be buying it.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Honeyblood - Sea Hearts



As mentioned yesterday, I did see Honeyblood play at Dot to Dot in Manchester at the Albert Hall on 26th May. They were on at 5pm, which is never going to be a great slot because it's just too early for the audience to be really ready for you. The band played really well, and are clearly amazing musicians who make a staggering amount of noise for just two people, but aside from three pockets of teenagers (mainly girls, some boys) going absolutely berserk to it, the audience was somewhat reserved and quiet, there in body but not in spirit. Despite the wider circumstances of what was going on in Manchester that week, I do feel that if the band had been playing in a slightly smaller venue, later on that night, they would have fared better, crowd and venue wise.

That said, they are a band who are well worth checking out live, and on record as well. As much as I love them, I am aware that, were I 17 I would love them a whole lot more because they are made to be loved by teenage girls, who will latch onto them and clutch them to their fevered hearts with an intensity so fierce it will hurt.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Vagabon - " Fear & Force " (Official Video)



I almost saw Vagabon perform at Dot to Dot, but didn't because I was seeing Honeyblood at the Albert Hall immediately before her set at Gullivers. Because of the amount of time it takes to travel between those two venues (the Albert Hall being near Albert Square, Gullivers being on Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter) it didn't seem worth trying to catch the end of her set. It was a pity though.

As with No Vacation's 'Mind Fields', this video has a clear narrative arc that draws you in. By coincidence, the subject matter is quite similar too, though the songs are very different and I'm pretty sure they're directed by different film makers.

I'm interested to hear the album.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Miya Folick - Talking with Strangers (HQ)



Miya Folick was featured on the Spotify playlist for Dot to Dot, but wasn't scheduled to play at the Manchester leg of it. As with Kelsey Lu, she has a fantastic voice, and some really strong songs, of which this is one. Well worth keeping an eye out for. Instinct suggests she will also be amazing live.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Avante Black - Drug Money (Official Video)



I almost saw Avante Black at Dot to Dot in Manchester on 26th May but something had gone wrong with the scheduling at Mint Lounge so what I saw in the end was a large chunk of their soundcheck before I gave up and wondered over to Gullivers, where I discovered Overcoats had cancelled.

'Drug Money' is a bit of grower I think, and this could be a Wolf Alice or Pale Honey situation for me: Initially I overlooked them both and took them a bit for granted, only for them to completely blindside me with some really good records. So I think Avante Black will be worth keeping an eye on, just in case.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Overcoats - Leave The Light On



While Hanna and JJ were off on their European tour, they also released a video to accompany their single 'Leave The Light On'. As you would expect, there's lots of excellent dancing.

Unfortunately the band didn't play their UK dates at the Dot to Dot festivals, which is a shame, but perfectly understandable in the circumstances. In the meantime, I have reviewed their excellent album, Young, for The F-Word and you can get a flavour of the live experience by watching their Audiotree live session in Chicago in May. 

The album review was quite hard to write. Not because Young is a difficult album, or hard to write about, but because I found myself writing the review in late May in what was a very traumatic week for Manchester, and for the UK. I don't feel the circumstances in which it was written have overshadowed the review, but they have shaped it, for better or for worse.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

London Grammar - Truth Is a Beautiful Thing (Lyric Video)




From the new album, Truth is a beautiful thing, which is produced by Paul Epworth who did the first two Florence + The Machine albums.

London Grammar are one of those bands who I've dipped in and out of over the past few years. I was a big fan of their early track 'Metal & Dust', and I distinctly remember them playing at Pangaea at Manchester University in 2013. That's remember it happening I mean; I didn't attend. I've been looking forward to the new album as the singles bode well and this one in particular feels very atmospheric, poignant and gorgeous.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Natasha Kmeto - Pour Down (official video)



Because after the events of the past few weeks, and the last twenty four hours, I feel a real sense of catharsis and a need to dance.

Thank you to Elmo, Lord Buckethead and Mr Fishfinger for giving me moments of hilarity in the last twenty four hours.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Never Mind The Terrorists, We Are Manchester


This picture was taken tonight at 25 past 7, not 25 past 6: I haven't adjusted the time on my camera for British Summertime yet.

It is up on a fence around a building site on Stockport Road, directly facing Manchester Apollo.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Overcoats - Little Memory





'Little Memory' was the first song Hana and JJ wrote together in their final year at college. You can see from this why they've been written of as being a female Simon & Garfunkel for the modern age, but you can also hear a hint of darkness and the sparse bleakness of Chet Baker. An early snapshot of what was to come.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Which Witch - Florence + The Machine - Live Rio 2016



I am very obsessed with this song at the moment.

I went looking for the recorded version on YouTube so I could share it, only then I couldn't find it. I did find this clip of the band performing 'Which Witch' in Rio in 2016 though, which will give you an idea of it. The band also played it in Poland and Italy on the outgoing European leg of the How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful tour in December 2015, but as far as I know, it wasn't performed on the outgoing leg of the UK tour, and definitely didn't feature in the bands homecoming set at Hyde Park.

An extra track on the How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful album, 'Which Witch' was, gleaning from interviews with Florence Welch about the album, an early track that didn't end up on the album proper because although they liked it, it was too like Ceremonials in sound. If you liked 'Breath of Life', you'll like this.

Because I can't find the recorded version on YouTube, I will have to refer you to Spotify on this occasion if you want to hear the demo/extra track version of the song. It is well worth it, believe me.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Jesca Hoop - Memories Are Now [OFFICIAL VIDEO]





It's taking me longer to warm to Memories Are Now the album than it did to Hunting My Dress and The House That Jack Built, but it's a grower.

The title track is understated genius. It creeps up on you slowly, and gradually overpowers your senses until you give in.

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Staves - Tired As Fuck [Official Video]





There's an unease, a disconnect, a jarring sense of the artificial while at the same time an incredible searing anger and vulnerability mixed in with the weariness that makes this video at once powerful and really quite difficult to watch.

My initial thought on hearing this song ( a few months back now) was "Ye Gods, you can tell that they were on the F+TM How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful tour in 2015", and while as gut reactions go it still holds true, the truth is undoubtably going to be more complex. I suspect that The Staves were on the verge of shifting in a more rock direction perhaps anyway, and that this is the advance guard of this new creative approach.

I look forward to hearing more.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Laura Gibson "The Cause" (Live at WFUV)




It's taken me a while to get into Laura Gibson. As with Julia Holter, I think it's a case of every now and then there's a song that really grabs me, and that I get really into, and then I feel like I have a longish wait for another one to come along. It might be lack of attention and a bit of impatience on my part though, as it took me three or four listens to really get into 'The Cause'.

I am blogging 'The Cause' because, before I started on the Between Two Books odyssey of reading, I'd been reading quite a few books on the suffragettes, and today is local election and mayoral election day. If you have an election to vote in today, go forth and vote.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Official music video for 'Polonia' by Katy Carr





I met the lovely, and staggeringly talented, Katy Carr at two 40 Years Of Punk events in London last summer. We were introduced by Helen McCookerybook, Katy being one of Helen's former students.

'Polonia' is the title track from Katy's 2015 album.

I was going to include the version of 'Hallelujah' from Polish National TV on the basis that it made me cry, but I think 'Polonia' is probably more representative of Katy's work.


Sunday, 30 April 2017

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

...And right back to reality again





Given I've been writing about fanzines for weeks, this feels most apt. I am now wondering if Grace is having a Kate Nash moment, but not sufficiently to stop jumping around the living room to this.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Back to work again...

Unconventional writers desk, i.e. the kitchen table
I had actually intended to have the whole four days of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend off from writing, and have a mental health weekend, but instead I elected to dive headlong into a literary voyage and start reading all of the books on the reading list of Between Two Books, The Florence + The Machine book club. 

This is odd for me because I'm normally very wary of book clubs. I think it's because of having done an English degree and, while I always really enjoyed the socio-cultural discussions around the literature we were reading for the course, didn't actually enjoy many of the texts themselves much. The most profound, as in earth shattering, connection I had with a literary text that I was studying occurred right at the end of third year when we did Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychosis. Which, of all the texts to latch on to, is probably the most troubling one, and probably something I should be really, really worried about. It didn't worry me though: Not in the same way that identifying with Prozac Nation years later did anyway, but I digress...

What attracted me to Between Two Books was the list of books that they had already read: Since 2012, they have read books by, amongst others, Gwendoline Riley, Emma Forrest, and Jeffrey Eugenides. As someone who has previously been obsessed with (at different times) Sick Notes (third year of degree, pre Sarah Kane) and The Virgin Suicides (at 6th Form college: I found it in the library one day and devoured it instead of going to Media Studies, then forgot about it until the film came out, read it again, and became obsessed by it all over again) and who has a particularly vivid memory of reading Namedropper aged 15 when it had just come out, liking it, and playing the 'spot who the real indie/pop star is' with it, it seemed almost unnerving to discover that someone else, especially someone whose work has become an integral part of my life, has been reading the same authors as me, albeit different works and at different times.

What with having finally finished my punk women and fanzines chapter for MUP, and having hit something of a wall with the current stage of my punk women book, a dive into a literary hinterland, particularly over a four day weekend, felt irresistible.

And so it has proved!

I started Gwendoline Riley's Opposed Positions mid week, finished it on Friday, and almost immediately started Kirsten Reed's The Ice Age, which has been my favourite so far. I'm currently about half way through Emma Forrest's Your Voice In My Head, which I'm also enjoying, to my surprise, as I haven't really got into any of her other books, post Namedropper.

But, today, I resurfaced from my literature drenched hinterland/cave to listen to the punk ladies on Radio 4's The Reunion, inadvertently breakfasting to the tail end of The Archers omnibus in the meantime. The punk ladies taking part were: Gaye Black of The Adverts, Gina Birch of The Raincoats, Toyah Wilcox, Tessa Politt from The Slits, and Vivien Goldman. I don't think I gleaned anything new from the programme (as opposed to the one on French punk, which was a revelation), but it was interesting, and I'm glad Radio 4 did it.

Afterwards, I somewhat guiltily thought 'I should get back to sorting out those literary agent submissions for the punk women book'. I've managed to get some work done this morning, so it was worth pushing myself.

As with the punk women and fanzines chapter with MUP, especially at the re-drafting/checking stage, you end up doing a lot of niggly work that isn't massively interesting and is, frequently, quite depressing. I was telling Paul about this one Saturday on the bus home from work, namely about how I was spending my time trawling through books looking for examples of sexism in the 1960s counterculture and, specifically, in underground comix of the period. It was really easy to find examples too: Not to mention incredibly depressing.

My current depressing task is to locate examples of songs from the late 1960s/early 1970s that were big hits while being incredibly sexist. I don't think it'll be hard... I already have one in mind that I know is on a sixties Sunshine Pop compilation my mum has, and which always makes my skin crawl when I hear it. The rest of the CD is fine, just that song...

So that will be a task for today, and I can cheer myself up afterwards with the Emma Forrest book, or dance around the living room to let off steam again. Whichever...

I'm going to continue with Between Two Books I think, but only in the reading sense, not the discussion sense as I tend to find I get bossy in discussions and, besides, it requires a Facebook account, and I don't do Facebook or, indeed, Social Media. I don't think blogging counts as social media anymore...

If you want to find out more about Between To Books, you can find them on Twitter, on Facebook, and you can read an interview with Leah Moloney, one of the girls who runs it, over on The Guardian. There's also an interview with Florence Welch about Between Two Books, and literature more generally, on W Magazine's website as well.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Harkin - "Independence Day" (Comsat Angels Cover)





This was recorded either at or following the LA Women's March, earlier this year. Katie Harkin picked the song because it felt like a real song of the times, despite it's historical position as post punk classic.

This version is fresh and, yes, feels very timely. You can watch an interview about the project over on YouTube. 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Noga Erez - Off The Radar (Single Stream)





This is the title track from Erez's debut album, and it's a very timely, not to mention highly infectious,  take on social media anxiety. The album, which is out on June 2nd, certainly promises to be a mighty beast.

She is playing a couple of UK dates in May in London at Village Underground (4th May, supporting Sylvan Esso) and in Brighton at The Great Escape, 19th May. Then she's back in London in August for Visions Festival (5th August). The evidence of this, and the three previous singles, suggest she is well worth checking out.

Getting there, with musical interludes

Regular readers of this blog (yep, all two of you..) may have noticed that I haven't been writing any long posts recently.

This is because I've been doing a lot of punk related writing work and haven't had time to do much writing outside of that. There's been a lot of music up here though, and that's to reflect all my 'take my mind off punk for a bit' listening lately, of which there has been A LOT.

Today, in-between punk chapter edits, I bought the XX album and pre-ordered the Overcoats album, which comes out on 21st April. I can't wait for the Overcoats album.

The XX I have been aware of for at least eight years I'd say but, while I quite liked them before, I never bought any of their records. The new album is a lot more dance orientated, and it's really struck a chord with me, and improves with each listen. I always liked the slightly melancholy minimalism of  the XX, but the dance element brings a whole new dimension to it.

I did see the band live in 2010 at ATP in Minehead, but I had to leave partway through the set because Sara and I were being tasered by the bass and felt too physically discombobulated by it to stay, even though we were enjoying the set aside from that. We subsequently wandered around outside for a bit, unsteadily wailing 'TASERED BY THE BAASSS!' to the tune of Manfred Mann and the Earth Band's 'Blinded by the light'. I think this incident occurred the same night as we went berserk at one of the club nights to Sonic Youth and then found ourselves sonically embarrassed when the DJ's switched over and didn't recognise any of the songs the new one was playing because they were all very student-y and hipsterish. Both incidents reflecting a growing sense of 'Am I too old for all of this?' which, I imagine, grabs anyone over the age of 25 periodically.

But anyway, I don't think the XX are in need of an endorsement from me, but I do so freely anyway. It's a great album.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Cold Comfort Lane - Holy Moly





'Cold Comfort Lane' is Holy Moly & The Crackers new single, and it's out this Friday (7th April). Some of their other songs sounds more Gogol Bordello than the swaggering garage punk you're getting here, but whichever way the majority of their oevre swings towards, they do promise to be a great live act.

They start their UK tour this week, and you can find the tour dates over on their website.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Leave The Light On (Official Audio)





I'm thinking of having a monthly, or perhaps weekly, feature on this blog called This Weeks Ace Song By Overcoats!

It's really nice to be receiving the bands increasingly excited emails ahead of this months album release, and the regular feeding of tracks is just making me long for the album more and more.

The band did a suitably enthusiastic performance of this track, along with others, as part of their recent Tiny Desk concert. Complete with mad dancing, of course.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Angel Olsen - Intern





So many people were urging me to get into Angel Olsen last year and, you know, sometimes you get a bit wary or suspicious when that happens but, in this case, everybody was right and My Woman is a great album.

Helen McCookerybook wrote a rave review of Angel's live collaboration with the Raincoats last year, which still sounds like the live billing from heaven for me.

I've gone for 'Intern' because I think it's the most 'stop-'em-in-their-tracks' song on the album.