Friday, 30 October 2009

reviews: young republic, asobi seksu, the gothenburg address

here are some more reviews recently added to

The Young Republic - Balletesque (***)

After a sticky spell during which two members jumped ship on the eve of recording, second album Balletesque sees The Young Republic re-emerge to experiment with a number of style changes, with varied results. The title track is the spit of Frank Black’s days with the Catholics, from Julian Saporiti’s strained pitch to its boisterous country canter, while The Wolf eases off for a more pedestrian strain of grizzled blues. Though it feels counter-intuitive to criticise innovation, the instrumental embellishments in Sam Clemens prove less successful, its wavering fiddle bursts, brass pomp and other flittering orchestrations are routine rather than revealing. Bows in Your Arms plays more effectively to their strengths, chucking together feedback squeals and a sleazy Cabaret swing to great effect, while rousing finale Tough Year (Hard Waltz) defines its approach in the parenthesis – a winning fusion of Spiritualized-style romanticism and Two Gallants-esque Americana. A patchy pleasure.

out now

Asobi Seksu - Acoustic at Olympic Studios (***)

Acoustic reworkings aren't often worth the effort, either too similar to their original incarnations to warrant the additional labour or misguided and ill-fitting (oi Bon Jovi – This Left Feels Wrong…). With Acoustic At Olympic Studios, Asobi Seksu’s nucleus – singer/keyboardist Yuki Chikudate and guitarist James Hanna – easily avoid the first pitfall and go some way to sidestepping the second. Replacing their trademark blissful distortion with whistle-clean instrumentation alters the atmosphere considerably, stripping away swirling layers to reveal a sugar-sweet core. But it’s not too drastic a change, Yuki’s distinctive pitch provides the most obvious link (songs like Thursday could be sung a cappella and still enthral). Regardless, Acoustic… remains destined for fringe appeal, even amongst avid fans, for the simple reason that at no stage do they improve upon their own work, and the residual urge to re-visit their three proper albums instead is tough to shake.

out Nov 16th

The Gothenburg Address - The Gothenburg Address (****)

The Gothenburg Address have two on guitars, one on bass, one on drums and zero on vocals; looks like it’s time to dig out the Post-Rock Thesaurus. So, are they glacial, turbulent, fervent or shimmering? Yes, frequently in quick succession. Are their crescendos tear-inducing, awe-inspiring, goosebump-raising or just plain old ‘soaring’? That’s too subjective to declare definitively - like most instrumental post-rock (particularly that which comes with non sequitur track titles like Senior in the Stripper’s Light) their ebbs and swells are something of a Rorschach test for the listener to gauge their emotions by. They might mine the same bruised vein as a dozen others (Mogwai the most obvious national example), but frequent changes in speed - in addition to the genre’s more expected variations in volume - distinguish them from the field’s more pedestrian exponents. The Gothenburg Address are a storm on a mountain and a cliff-top in the rain and they’re bloody excellent.

out Dec 7th

Thursday, 29 October 2009

tonight there's gonna be a mistake, somewhere in this town...

alright, so i lied. no cold cave or copy haho in today's show cos i run out of time. alright? get off my back, yeah? (that's what i get for playing a massive long song by fuck buttons...)

but i did manage to fit a few other songs into the hour. specifically, these:

- thin lizzy - jailbreak
- jon maus - rights for gays
- fuck buttons - space mountain
- pelican - strung up from the mountain
- loch lomond - elephants & little girls
- the builders & the butchers - vampire lake
- shugo tokamaru - green rain
- camera obscura - james
- eagleowl - sleep the winter
- grouper - disengaged
- los campesinos - the sea is a good place to think of the future
- dananananaykroyd - fall for you

(listen again here)

next week will be miles better I PROMISE.


Wednesday, 28 October 2009

november skinny

so the new issue of the skinny (issue 50 no less) is out now and looks like this:

in addition to the ace cover feature on warp records (and new buzz-artist hudson mohawke), there's a muso top 10 with the melvins, an article on the raincoats and interviews with yo la tengo, girls and pelican amongst other things. it also features my article on paper planes that i put online last week.

oh, and on a film note, there's an interview with michael haneke which is pretty fucking cool if yer a film geek like me...

only a couple of my reviews made it to print - there are album reviews of asobi seksu and the gothenburg address and my thoughts on pixies, sparrow and the workshop and kill it kid live.

it's blooming everywhere so pick up a copy, aye?

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

the best thing bout tonight's that we're not fighting

bottle rocket radio returns this thursday after a one week absence - hope you didn't miss me too much. to make amends for my temporary disappearance, i'm gonna play so much ace music that yer brain will be happy-mush by the end of it. as always the exact contents will be settled on at the last possible moment, but expect to hear something form tarot sport (the AMAZING new fuck buttons album), some los campesinos, some cold cave and probably copy haho.


Monday, 26 October 2009

paper planes interview

so i've popped my feature cherry with the skinny by penning a brief introductory article on the pretty ace paper planes. it'll be in the november print edition (which should be kicking about the country from tomorrow) and it's already up across at

Paper Planes
Folding the squalling energy of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs into fresh pop shapes, Paper Planes are taking off in a big way.

No great masterplan has guided Paper Planes’ initial trajectory. In fact, when New Jerseyite Jennifer Paley first journeyed to Glasgow, singing was the last thing on her mind. “Music had no sway on my decision to come overseas,” she explains. “I didn't know anything about what was coming out of Glasgow or had come out of Glasgow besides the obvious, Belle and Sebastian, Jesus and Mary Chain, Franz Ferdinand... Only so much filters through to America. My musical education started as soon as I arrived.”

That education involved three Scots with a track record on the Glasgow music scene. Chalk it up to serendipity: though joining a band wasn’t originally part of Paley’s agenda, when Christopher Haddow (guitar), Craig O’Brien (drums), and Fraser McFadzean (bass) asked her to sing, the answer was obvious. “Everyone wants to front a band in their own dream world, so I just said yeah… Those first few months were pretty scary but also very interesting for me, I kept waiting for someone to call my bluff,” she recalls. “As far as I was concerned there was not a musical bone in my body”.

If this was ever true it certainly ain't now, as anyone lucky enough to catch Paper Planes live will attest. Paley’s firebrand rock 'n' roll caterwaul sits comfortably atop the band’s surf-influenced new wave indie, but she wasn’t always so confident onstage. “I couldn't even give presentations at school because I got so ridiculously nervous in front of people,” she confesses, though such anxiety must seem pretty distant, several years and dozens of gigs later.

While performing no longer causes jitters, an unfortunate side-effect of the band’s transatlantic membership continues to haunt them. As a non-UK citizen, Paley’s residency here is subject to the shifting sands of bureaucracy, and having been forced on hiatus once before by visa issues, it’s an understandable worry. “This time around is going to be much harder,” she accepts. “I’m trying not to think about it just now. It’s pretty depressing to think you can just be booted out of a country after you’ve set up this whole life for yourself.”

Not that their last enforced separation stopped Paper Planes for long, the band swapping material back and forth across the Atlantic during their time apart. Debut single Doris Day involved comparatively fewer air miles, coming together in the course of a single evening upon Paley's return. Even the enigmatic title proved effortless. (“They were just words I had played in Scrabble the night before and they fit quite nicely.”) It’s a punchy calling card that has augmented their buzz and attracted the attention of Stephen Pastel and Gerry Love, who both DJed at their single launch.

But the quartet aren’t about to start rushing things. “We’re thinking about releasing another single, depending on how this one goes," says Paley. "We’re just taking things as they come, letting the whole thing plot its own course. Everything will fall into place eventually.” Floating on the breeze like their origami namesakes: expect them to go far.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

november poster

looks a lot like this:

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

photo, singular

so it seems, on inspection, that most of the photographs from this month's bottle rocket are bobbins. apart from this one:

no radio show tomorrow alas, but there are plenty in the archives to explore!

Monday, 19 October 2009

october playlist

well that was fun. if we ignore the usual wave of peculiar no-hope requests from the more deluded attendees (black eyed peas, dubstep, 'put your hands up for detroit'), we're left with a smashing eve.

1. the very best - yalira
2. belle and sebastian - i'm a cuckoo (avalanches mix)
3. vampire weekend - oxford comma
4. the hold steady - chips ahoy!
5. husker du - these important years
6. the replacements - i will dare
7. shonen knife - flying jelly attack
8. wild beasts - all the king's men
9. the shins - know your onion
10. weezer - el scorcho
11. the flaming lips - the yeah yeah yeah song
12. asobi seksu - transparence
13. bmx bandits - i wanna fall in love
14. raveonettes - suicide
15. au revoir simone - anywhere you looked
16. aberfeldy - something i must tell you
17. guided by voices - my kind of soldier
18. the kills - cat claw
19. starfucker - girls just wanna have fun
20. helen love - beat him up
21. the drums - let's go surfing
22. the cure - inbetween days
23. rem - gardening at night
24. the flatmates - trust me
25. danny and the juniors - at the hop
26. lloyd cole - rattlesnakes
27. le tigre - let's run
28. the primitives - through the flowers
29. hall & oates - you make my dreams come true
30. barrett strong - money
31. the white stripes - blue orchid
32. the futureheads - walking backwards
33. pixies - into the white
34. bloc party - positive tension
35. the strokes - 12:51
36. sam cooke - accentuate the positive
37. the clash - rock the casbah
38. buzzcocks - running free
39. eddie and the hotrods - do anything you wanna do
40. martha reeves - i'm ready for love
41. blondie - 11:59
42. the smiths - handsome devil
43. wolf parade - shine a light
44. the rezillos - top of the pops
45. elastica - stutter
46. the housemartins - me and the farm
47. prefab sprout - king of rock n roll
48. thin lizzy - jailbreak
49. mc5 - tutti frutti
50. the four tops - i can't help myself
51. the small faces - all or nothing
52. yeah yeah yeahs - date with the night
53. super furry animals - something for the weekend
54. pavement - gold soundz
55. mansun - being a girl
56. prince - let's go crazy
57. david bowie - sufragette city
58. graham coxon - freaking out
59. you say party we say die - the gap
60. the decemberists - o valencia
61. the libertines - don't look back into the sun
62. fleetwood mac - go your own way
63. the pretenders - don't get me wrong
64. pains of being pure at heart - the pains of being pure at heart
65. genesis - jesus he knows me
66.pulp - do you remember the first time?
67. kirsty maccoll - new england
68. patti smith - because the night
69. hank williams - i'm so lonesome i could cry

thanks to everyone who smiled and danced etc. no thanks to the guy who stood on the plug, turning of jailbreak midway through, and then continued to stand there while we frantically tried to restore sound, trying to request songs the whole time! well, how bout we request you MOVE AWAY FROM THE DECKS. sheeesh.

a few photos of the night will follow...

Saturday, 17 October 2009

tonight tonight tonight

Q. dance?
A. yes please.

Friday, 16 October 2009

second hand wonders

here's what i squeezed into the radio show yesterday, available to listen again here.

- pavement - carrot rope
- califone - giving away the bride
- efterklang and the danish national chamber orchestra - mirador
- mc5 - tutti frutti
- kraftwerk - the model
- osso - enjoy your rabbit
- sister jet - la la dance
- the four tops - i can't help myself
- super furry animals - something from the weekend
- colin macintyre - stalker
- james yorkston and the big eyes family players - mary connaught & james o'donnell
- brendan benson - metarie
- yeasayer - sunrise
- sam cooke - accentuate the positive


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

oh my baby baby baby baby baby babe

so, pavement are reforming. oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh your god, oh his god etc.

malkmus and co will therefore definitely feature in tomorrow's radio show, as will efterklang, super furry animals and kraftwerk. oh, and there'll probably also be a mention or seven of this saturday's bottle rocket dancing party at nice n sleazys!

radio: thursday 12-1pm,


Tuesday, 13 October 2009

review: jonathan richman @ oran mor, 10th october

Rock 'n' roll idolatry has effects both positive and negative. Blinkered dedication to onstage heroes can electrify a gig, but it also means every mediocre inter-song wisecrack uttered from the stage tends to be answered by sycophantic cackles. Since such exaggerated fawning is usually as prevalent at a concert as beer and body odour, a performer as genuinely funny as Jonathan Richman takes some getting used to, the hubbub of humoured crowd noise threatening to run riot over the Spartan set-up of nylon-string acoustic guitar and lightly-brushed drums. Not to worry: the arrangements may be minimal and the tone ad hoc, but the quality of songwriting comes through loud and clear, as does Richman's almost child-like perspective, which transforms any topic - springtime, sorrow, affected accents, Keith Richards - into a series of sweetly comic vignettes. The mirth Richman generates is anything but forced, steering the occasion well away from the call and response trappings of hero worship.

Monday, 12 October 2009

sparrow and the workshop + kill it kid @ captains rest, 8th october

here's another gig review of mine, copied and pasted from the skinny for your pleasure:

When it comes to observational banter, “you know when you swallow a load of lip gloss and it’s all scratchy?” isn’t the most universal bugbear. Said scratchiness luckily has no discernible effect upon Kill It Kid’s Steph Ward, her smooth voice equally effective at the forefront of the band’s bluesy rock-n-roll compositions as it is providing harmonic support to fellow lead vocalist Chris Turpin. The latter’s style is less conventional - like Eddie Vedder auditioning as Nina Simone for Stars in their Eyes - but no less successful, viscerally if not quite enunciatively.

Sparrow and the Workshop’s Jill O’Sullivan deserves similar acclaim for her flexible timbre and tone, her powerful vocals nestled at the heart of the three-piece’s dark, folksy balladry. However, Gregor Donaldson (drums) and Nick Parker (alternating between prominent bass and textural electric guitar) ensure there’s no mistaking the band for a “Cat Power + backing”-style solo affair, all three displaying a strong unity and close humour which makes their set all the more welcoming. Last Chance and The Gun are the pick of their more morose material, but Devil Song is the highlight, its whip-crack rhythm injecting tonight’s set with a welcome dose of vitality.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

don't expect me to die for thee, yeah?

another bottle rocket radio is put in the digital 'listen again' cell, waiting for a plucky web-wanderer to click on it and release its contents into the air once more. will you be that web-wanderer? these are the riches that await you...

- the very best - yalira
- paper planes - restless
- gummy stumps - restless
- mudhoney - touch me i'm sick
- the vaselines - jesus wants me for a sunbeam
- the sparrow and the workshop - last chance
- j tillman - though i have wronged you
- eddie and the hotrods - do anything you wanna do
- envy - shield of selflessness
- jonathan richman and the modern lovers - hey there little insect
- meursault - nothing broke
- james blackshaw - fix
- adam green - pay the toll
- the slits - love und romance
- girls - solitude

click here to turn words into sounds!


Tuesday, 6 October 2009

pixies @ secc, 4th october

what a cracking gig... here's the review i wrote for the skinny:

Last time Pixies played the SECC, punters got Teenage Fanclub, BMX Bandits and Cud as support before the stage belligerently collapsed. There’s only one support tonight, but Sons and Daughters’ punchy introductions more than suffice. Racing through brittle voodoo-rock thrills, their energy is unsapped by the cavernous surroundings – and, more importantly, the stage stays sturdy as they depart.

Opening images of slicin’ up eyeballs has the crowd craving Debaser’s piercing riff, but first come Doolittle-era B-sides (including a violently unhinged Bailey’s Walk) which collectively threaten to outshine the main set, a complete run through the seminal Boston quartet's aforementioned second LP. An encore concludes the period’s rarities with the night’s second version of Wave of Mutilation and Into the White’s taut squall of furious noise and deadpan vocals. And that, based on setlists for previous nights of the tour, should be that…except, gloriously, it isn’t, and anyone who smugly skipped out early to dodge crowds should weep. “Last time we came here the stage buckled…here’s the rest” smiles Deal, before racing through much of Come On Pilgrim and concluding with a soaring Where Is My Mind? Though their reunion has been criticised as a cash-in, the Pixies leave with smiles mirroring those of their dazed and grateful audience.

Fanfarlo, First Aid Kit, Woodenbox With A Fistful of Fivers @ King Tuts, 30th September

my review of the fanfarlo/first aid kit show is up on the skinny's website now, but if you're a lazybones here it is below:

Resembling slap-dash Texan carnies, Woodenbox With A Fistful of Fivers immediately appeal. They’ll possibly balk at the comparison, but imagine the Rumble Strips with less Dexy’s, more Morricone and a touch of Rawhide and you’re close to the essence of their rootin’ tootin’ sound.

Midway through their set, First Aid Kit thank the audience for being “so quiet and peaceful”, before hastily adding “we don’t mean that ironically!” Sarcasm would have been understandable, but despite a rowdy bar occasionally encroaching upon their subtle instrumentation their anything-but-delicate voices ring affectingly clear throughout. A cover of Donavan’s Universal Soldier succinctly encapsulates their charms, its na├»ve sentiment and winsome melody underscoring the Swedish duo’s wide-eyed allure while emphasising their crystalline vocals. A muted miniature freak-out from Johanna at the end, meanwhile, foregrounds the playfulness just beneath their surface earnestness.

Fanfarlo are less successful at dissipating their own cloud of earnestness, though there’s plenty else to enjoy. Despite several members jostling for space, their ambitious compositions - topped with singer Simon Balthazar’s emotively reedy vocals - are remarkably cohesive and cogent. But there’s the rub: for long stretches, Fanfarlo rest on plateaus rather than scaling the peaks their multi-instrumental ‘epic-indie’ sub-genre offers, pleasant rather than proselytising. But though they may not climb as high as might have been hoped tonight, they share the same widescreen vistas as their contemporaries without succumbing to self-importance, and songs like Luna have a tuneful vibrancy that more than makes up for lulls elsewhere.

Friday, 2 October 2009

reviews: califone, paper planes, efterklang

some more reviews from the skinny, reproduced here for your reading pleasure...

Califone - All My Friends Are Funeral Singers

Such a vast variety of instruments crop up on Califone’s sixth album that to list them all would fill this review’s entire word count, leaving no space to eulogise the way its multifarious and ambitious ingredients are weaved into an incessantly inventive whole. Sweetly simple and Elliott Smith-like one moment, murky and abstract another, and like Four Tet playing Wilco covers at another still, there’s a rewarding inquisitiveness at work throughout. Lyrically, occasional high-cultural allusions and mysterious plotlines add charm rather than pomposity, while purposeful melodies display a keen pop nous that plays off against their more unorthodox tendencies superbly. Intriguingly, the album is only half the story: ringleader Tim Ritili has also been working on a feature film of the same name, incorporating many of the record’s themes and characters and aiming to premiere in 2010. The promise of equally evocative images accompanying this record’s sizable charms is tantalising indeed.

out 5th October

Paper Planes - Doris Day (****)

The multinational Paper Planes are three quarters Scottish, one quarter American. One listen to Doris Day and you’ll probably have a hunch as to which member hails from across the Atlantic, Jennifer Paley’s rawk-yelps closely redolent of Karen O’s. Paley isn’t the bands’ only import, however, with the Scottish contingent making a fair old racket packed with rockabilly swagger and rollicking rock 'n' roll thrills, which sound more like the product of fifties-style diners and road trips to the coast than drizzle and grey skies. This is an exciting, eye-opening debut from a band already displaying vast promise.

Out 12th October

Efterklang & the Danish National Chamber Orchestra - Performing Parades (****)

When orchestras and pop (in the loosest sense) collide, the results tend to be either peculiarly misjudged (say, Metallica’s S&M) or pleasant-but-pointless (any earnest attempt to dodge ennui with strings). Efterklang’s Performing Parades pleasingly falls into the elusive third category, in which the instrumental depth only found in a roomful of top class musicians enriches the songs. A reworking of Parades arranged in collaboration with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra, this is music from another star, bubbling with complementary refrains and topped with charming eccentricities. Moreover, an accompanying DVD offers promos, a making-of, and best of all, the full concert film: what impressed on CD astonishes when combined with the sight of fifty artists resembling constituents of Much Ado’s enchanted forest, in conical hats and dabbed face paint. The DVD pushes the package from curio to essential for existing Efterklang fans, and marks them an overdue discovery for anyone else.

Out 19th October

Thursday, 1 October 2009

girlie so groovy ah ha ha ho

note to self: if you plan to play songs from your ipod on the radio show, remember to charge it first... that way you don't have to frantically flick through cd wallets looking for replacements.

luckily, i'm an incredibly calm and fantastic professional, able to adapt to any problems thrown my way. which is why the show came together beautifully and sounded like this:

- the human league - together in electric dreams
- allo darlin' - dear stephen hawking
- damon & naomi - judah and the maccabees
- why - these hands
- mountain goats - genesis 3:23
- vladislav delay - musta planeetta
- andersens - i am so tired
- joan as policewoman - the ride
- pixies - motorway to roswell
- pixies - debaser
- king khan and his shrines - welfare bread
- sons and daughters - johnny cash
- sky larkin - fossil, i
- malcolm middleton - fight like the night
- the raveonettes - suicide

listen again here. you just have to press the big button. the red one. the one that says 'listen again'. it's all very straightforward really.