Wednesday, 31 March 2010
if the news saddens you ever so, have a listen to an old show - there must be one or two you aint heard before....
Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Fursaxa - Mycorrhiza Realm (****)
Let me save you a trip to Wikipedia: a mycorrhiza is a symbiotic association between a fungus and the roots of a plant, which would locate a mycorrhizae realm beneath the topsoil, deep in the earth. Fursaxa (a.k.a. experimental songwriter Tara Burke) fills this domain with uncanny sounds: opener Lunaria Exits the Blue Lodge is an atmospheric awakening that evokes the breaking of dawn; Ode To Galliard’s sinister cello lurks beneath wails and moans thick with mystery; while Well of Tuhala’s wispy spell should soundtrack graveyard sleepwalks. Whether you’ll find this esoteric hokum or enchanting genius can be gauged by your reaction to the penultimate Charlote. A funereal dirge leavened by Mary Lattimore’s harp, its accessible beauty is shaken by its sudden collapse six minutes in. As the bottom drops away you’re either dazzled by its daring or frustrated by its abstruseness; if the former, dig this out.
Solex Vs. Cristina Marinez + Jon Spencer - Amsterdam Showdown, King Street Throwdown (***)
Before we assess the music, let's unpick the personnel. Elisabeth Esselink (aka Dutch songwriter Solex), meet husband and wife duo Jon Spencer and Cristina Martinez, frontman of Blues Explosion and both constituent members of Boss Hog.
If the ‘Vs.’ between their billing connotes a battle over artistic direction, Solex won - this is decidedly her creation, with little of the raw punk-blues of Spencer and Martinez’ other bands discernable in the mix. Though, with the record appropriating a diverse range of influences (it’s unsurprising that Esselink runs a record shop when she isn’t composing kitsch collages), raw punk-blues is one of the few genres this doesn't touch.Its retro-futuristic aesthetic resembles Cornelius remixing The B-52s: horn stabs, hip hop beats, lounge-core chill-out and more crop up, and while the result is admirably miscellaneous (Damon Albarn in his Gorillaz-guise would no doubt approve), it frequently gets stuck in a rut (sorry, ‘groove’). A mixed bag, with mixed results.
To Rococo Rot - Speculation (***)
For their eighth album, To Rococo Rot maintain their established aesthetic - impersonal atmosphere, sparingly stocked with isolating electronics and organic krautrock grooves. Their music does very little, but it does it well. Seele is an early treat, its processed piano striking and shattering glitchy electronica and intricate drums, but it’s relatively conventional by the Berlin trio’s standards. Things don’t get weird till No Way To Prepare’s tuneless squall, but that’s only a thirty-second bridge linking the sparse pulse of Forwardness to Working Against Time’s minimal synth-squiggles. The closing Fridays is a more interesting departure from the template; washes of electronic noise are lightly infiltrated by organ courtesy of Faust’s Jochen Irmler, the amorphous result shifting throughout its ten and a half minute sprawl. But dissecting Speculation and analysing its tracks individually is to drain it - as a complete work this is an excellent addition to a moody discography.
Monday, 29 March 2010
thursday, noon till 1pm, subcity.org
Sunday, 28 March 2010
Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History (***)
Initially resembling an emo-Foals, Two Door Cinema Club discover unexpected range across their full length debut. Pierce the production sheen and there’s much to admire; they echo the Rapture’s dancefloor-filling one moment (on This is the Life amongst others) and chirrup like Passion Pit on holiday the next (Something Good Can Work’s careful negotiation of the irritating/catchy high-wire). But it’s not all rosy: I Can Talk suggests the junk-heaped likes of The Bravery or Boy Kill Boy are a more consistent comparison - empty calories for the ears that whiz past unnoticed. That they were long-listed for the BBC’s Sound of 2010 poll comes as no surprise; like so many acts feted in Januarys gone by, the excitement their best songs generate dissipates too quickly for them to firmly find their feet. But sift out the filler and seeds of longevity remain, not least in You’re Not Stubborn’s up-beat finale.
Sambassadeur - European (****)
For all its sweeping strings and pop nous, Sambassadeur’s third album is an understated affair that initial listens might write off as underwhelming. At only nine tracks there’s little room for filler, yet the slight instrumental A Remote View is decidedly far from the peaks the Gothenburg quartet have it in them to scale. But the Cocteau Twins-like shiver of I Can Try, the sweet simplicity of High and Low, and the symphonic swell of Sandy Dunes will lure you back until, with startling clarity, the pieces fall into place. European only sounds like a compromise because it scribbles its delicately uplifting melodies on an immense Swede-pop canvas others have filled more vividly, but its subtlety gifts it a different kind of populist appeal. The world doesn’t want for happy-go-lucky indie-pop from Scandinavia, but there’s more to Sambassadeur than the odd Abba-echo or Spector tom-drum reverberation: they have heart.
Alphabeat - The Beat Is... (*)
Co-opting the sounds of yesteryear is hardly uncommon in pop, but it works better if the chosen template is, say, eighties electro, rather than the shitty fourth side of a Now That’s What I Call 1994 singles compilation. As Alphabeat resurrect Haddaway-style vocals, Ibeefa-house electric piano and backing tracks that practically warrant a ‘ft. Snap!’ suffix, it’s difficult to tell who’s having less fun – band or listener. Once in a while a slither of personality wrestles free from the Ace of Base production and smothering autotune, but that only makes the awfulness of their sophomore effort all the more lamentable – they’ve gone from refreshingly fun and up-beat to tacky euro-cheese, and in the process tainted in the memory the enjoyment that came before. As you rush to remove The Beat Is... from your speakers, try not to smudge the chalk outline of Alphabeat’s credibility.
(note: i don't usually repost negative reviews - while i review whatever get sent my way by the skinny, i don't feel the need to harp on about the crap stuff here as well. when it comes to the bottle rocket blog, i'd much rather keep things positive. but alphabeat's latest album is so massively awful i felt compelled to state my position one more time: it's shit. don't listen to it.)
Thursday, 25 March 2010
- the ramones - pet cemetery
- lcd soundsystem - time to get away
- frank zappa - valley girl
- broken bells - the ghost inside
- the triffids - wide open road
- joanna newsom - good intentions paving co.
- the pipettes - our love was saved by spacemen
- the tallest man on earth - burden of tomorrow
- benni hemm hemm - blood of my blood
- wild beasts - we still got the taste dancing on our tongues
- british sea power - apologies to insect life
- jeffrey lewis - back when i was four
- arctic monkeys - my propeller
- wooden box with a fistful of fivers - besides the point
listen again here
Wednesday, 24 March 2010
serve at subcity.org, noon till one.
While it's cliché to parrot the indie-poser mantra (“thou must favour the early stuff“), Thee Silver Mt Zion’s changing sound seems to prompt such declarations with every release – if not necessarily towards their finding-their-feet salad days, then for the skewed orchestrations of their Rusted Satellites/Horses in the Sky period. The opening I Built Myself A Metal Bird – from this year’s Kollaps Tradixionales – suggests the contrast isn’t in quality (its ferocious rock squall is invigorating), but in uniqueness as they ebb closer towards a more well-worn post-rock template. The older God Bless Our Dead Marines proves the highlight, the restraint of its gently crumpled canon climax more stirring than blustery crescendos. Efrim Menuck’s troupe is still fantastic, just no longer in a league so far removed from its peers.
Monday, 22 March 2010
1. elliot smith - bled white
2. ponytail - celebrate the body electric (it came from an angel)
3. club 8 - western hospitality
4. yo la tengo - upside down
5. ballboy - avant garde music
6. delgados - hate is all you need
7. patti smith - gloria
8. sparks - don't leave me alone with her
9. shout out louds - normandie
10. the pass - crosswalk stereo
11. broken bells - the ghost inside
12. why? - sand dollars
13. jonathan fireeater - give me daughters
14. frank zappa - valley girl
15. at the drive in - one armed scissor
16. liars - plaster casts of everything
17. prince - kiss
18. beck - sexxlaws
19. still flyin' - the hot chord is stuck
20. les savy fav - what would wolves do?
21. interpol - slow hands
22. surfer blood - swim
23. pavement - date with ikea
24. franz ferdinand - darts of pleasure
25. rose elinor dougall - fallen over
26. sandie shaw - there's always something there to remind me
27. the raveonettes - that great love sound
28. the concretes - chosen one
29. the smiths - girl afraid
30. of montreal - first time high
31. jesus and mary chain - head on
32. the go-betweens - that way
33. jimmy cliff - you can get it if you really want
34. wilco - monday
35. the hold steady - constructive summer
36. mint royale and lauren laverne - don't falter
37. cyndi lauper - money changes everything
38. bruce springsteen - hungry heart
39. lcd soundsystem - time to get away
40. beastie boys - no sleep till brooklyn
41. beyonce - single ladies
42. fleetwood mac - everywhere
43. belle and sebastian - sukie in the graveyard
44. haircut 100 - fantastic day
45. patrick wolf - accident and emergency
46. shakira - she-wolf
47. liz brady - partie de dames
48. big country - in a big country
49. idlewild - actually it's darkness
50. abba - sos
51. kirsty maccoll - new england
52. new order - true faith
53. the ramones - pet cemetery
54. talking heads - and she was
55. the white stripes - fell in love with a girl
56. andrew wk - party till you puke
57. pixies - here comes your man
58. blondie - denis
59. the futureheads - hounds of love
60. the isley brothers - twist and shout
61. the rhythm wreckers - blue yodel no. 2
Thursday, 18 March 2010
the show went a little something like this:
- big star - thirteen
- josiah wolf - the new car
- why? - sandollars
- withered hand - takeaway food
- babybird - tv
- thee silver mt zion memorial orchestra - hang on to each other
- burnt island - music and maths
- emma pollock - hug the harbour
- the hidden cameras - ban marriage
- tindersticks - the flicker of a little girl
- the temptations - get ready
- patti smith - space monkey
- talking heads - and she was
- liars - plaster casts of everything
- mint royale and lauren laverne - don't falter
listen to it here.
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
and here's a list of what i wrote what's in it:
- review of talk to me DVD (biopic of dj petey greene starring don cheadle)
- review of 1234 (that british indie-pop film i've been banging on about...)
- review of polar bear's 'peepers'
- review of trips and falls's 'he was such a quiet boy'
- review of to rococo rot's 'speculation'
- review of rm hubbert's 'first and last'
- review of baby dee's 'book of songs'
- review of chris bradley's 'at the outpost'
- review of emma pollock's 'the law of large numbers'
- review of fursaxa's 'mycorrhizae realm'
- review spoon's king tuts show on valentine's day
I AM SO OPINIONATED
Saturday, 13 March 2010
then maybe if there's time I'LL TALK LOADS ABOUT NEXT WEEK'S BOTTLE ROCKET DANCING PARTY WOOP WOOP.
go to subcity.org on thursday at noon you big ninnymuggins.
Thursday, 11 March 2010
- sparklehorse - hundreds of sparrows
- sparklehorse - little fat baby
- pavement - date with ikea
- still flyin' - the hotchord is stuck
- the clean - tally ho
- boris - flower sun rain
- the fiery furnaces - south is only a home
- calexico - two silver trees
- the fall - over! over!
- atlas sound - walkabout
- deerhunter - never stops
- the walkmen - lost in boston
- four tet - she just likes to fight
- the pictish trail - you covered the earth with your thumb
you can listen to it here.
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
thursday, noon till 1pm, subcity.org
Monday, 8 March 2010
‘Write what you know’ goes the cliché. Giles Borg appears to have taken the advice, using his experiences as a musician to write and direct his London-set feature debut, 1234. Ian Bonar plays Stevie, a sensitive dreamer who wears black-rimmed specs, cardigans, and his heart on his sleeve. He has songs but no one to play them, so with drummer friend Neil (Mathew Baynton) he recruits moody scene veteran Billy (Kieran Bew) and conceptual artist Emily (Lyndsey Marshal). One practice session in the local community centre later and the 1234s are on their way to fame and fortune - sort of. Borg’s first-hand familiarity with the trials and triumphs of a young band chasing an elusive record deal ensures an authenticity all too often lacking in such stories. “It always annoys me when I watch films with bands playing the smaller gig circuit and the place is mobbed, because I don’t believe that’s the experience of 99% of bands or people who regularly go to gigs”, says Borg. “From the word go, we were determined to show things how they really were.” The result is a charming, funny and romantic take on the music industry that doesn’t sugar-coat the disappointments.
A passion for music drives both 1234 the film and its eponymous protagonists. The quartet’s sound is pitched as having “that kind of Scottish thing going on”, so Glasgow seems the perfect place to premiere the jock-rock love affair. “I've always loved the Scottish music scene”, agrees Borg. “It's produced so many of my favourite bands and continues to do so. Making it Stevie’s main influence was a great way to choose bands who were both influential and yet proper indie.”
In the film, said scene is identified as “a bit Postcard, a bit Jeepster, a bit Chemikal Underground, if you know what I mean”, and if you don’t happen to know your Yummy Fur from your Pastels, the avalanche of name-checks might seem off-putting. But beneath the scenester-sheen a conventional boy-meets-girl heart beats, making the film accessible to those who couldn’t give two hoots about a band like Comet Gain (who appear in the film performing onstage). “While I hope that the initial audience will be people who love the music, laugh at the references, and recognise something of themselves in the characters, I also hope there’s an audience that responds to the underlying story”, considers Borg. “For me it’s a film about choices - work/passion, love/money, things that everyone has to face every day, and I hope that strikes a chord with a wider audience. I don’t think it matters what music you like; the film is supposed to be an honest account of what it’s like trying to make some of those decisions.”
If you do happen to be a badge-wearing aficionado, however, the film is an indie-pop treasure-trove - from a soundtrack stuffed with Belle and Sebastian and Bikini Kill to the music of the 1234s themselves, written by Borg especially for the film. “We put a small band together and spent a few sessions in the rehearsal room trying to write something that had all the same influences that the band talk about in the film. I thought it’d be easy - I was very wrong. But after a while we came up with a few bits and pieces we liked and mixed them all together. By the time we’d finished we’d ended up with three tracks, one of which we really liked, but it never really came to life until Ian Bonar added his lyrics.”
Bonar wasn’t the only cast member to become musically involved. “Originally the idea was to have the band mime all the songs, for ease of shooting if for nothing else. Everyone bar Lyndsey already played an instrument, so we gave her a few lessons and some videos of Kim Gordon to watch and soon she looked the part. Then, on the day of shooting, Kieran came up to me and said that they’d learnt the songs and would really like to try playing them live. Looking back I can’t imagine doing it any other way now. It just wouldn’t have felt the same if they were miming.”
Working with a limited budget raised through private channels (accompanied by all the frustrations that inevitably beset the filmmaker of modest means), it’s easy to draw underdog parallels between the film’s genesis and that of the band whose progress it narrates. It’s a similarity not lost on Borg. “I think that filmmaking and song writing are very analogous.” he observes. “I’ve always thought film and music are closer than any of the other art forms.” And, of course, “they’re both full of struggling artists trying to make their dream.” You can enjoy the fruits of one of those dreams on the 24th.
Friday, 5 March 2010
it sounds like:
- trips and falls - prelude to a shark attack
- rm hubbert - for maria
- two door cinema club - come back home
- solex vs cristina martinez and jon spencer - bon bon
- phenomenal handclap band - 15 to 20
- passion pit - sleepy head
- grizzly bear - southern point
- cold cave - heaven was full
- dirty projectors - stillness is the move
- broken social scene - lover's spit
- the strokes - ask me anything
- soulwax - too many djs
- vitalic - poney part 1
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
BERGFEST (Florian Eichinger, 2009)
With just four actors, one isolated location and a subtext laden with unspoken resentment, Florian Eichinger’s intense, theatrical chamber piece impresses on a tight budget. The cast bring convincing gravitas to their slow-burn emotional tussling: Martin Schleiss, in his feature debut, is quietly temperamental as a young actor forced to acknowledge past suffering when his girlfriend (Anna Bruggemann) dupes him into spending the weekend with his estranged father Hans-Gert (Peter Kurth) and his youthful partner Lavinia (Rosalie Thomass) in a remote Alpine hut. It’s an economical and familiar set-up - stock a pressured scenario with bottled-up protagonists and let the sparks fly - but Eichinger exerts admirable restraint, downplaying distressing revelations yet retaining a tense unpredictability. It’s only let down by occasionally unconvincing behaviour from certain characters, whose actions create dramatic tidiness at the expense of psychological plausibility. Otherwise it’s a strong study of parental guilt and childhood trauma as chilly as the icy vistas it occupies. (****)
KANDAHAR BREAK (David Whitney, 2009)
“They’ve been fighting in Afghanistan since Alexander the Great - it’ll never change, so leave the fuckers to it” shrugs an apathetic minesweeper near the beginning of Kandahar Break. If you’re looking for further socio-political insight, you’ll be disappointed: after introducing such promising themes as the amorality of Western capitalism and the ethics of British companies accepting Taliban contracts, the script takes a sharp downturn. While countless films have framed the suffering of others through that of a detached outsider receiving a crash-course in foreign woes, here it feels particularly superficial. The simplistic ‘escape from Afghanistan’ structure is topped with an implausibly neat post-9/11 denouement that offers unconvincing closure in a political situation still awaiting its own resolution. Fluffed potential aside, the film is sporadically successful, particularly in evoking the early fear and confusion prompted by a combination of gun-waving local intolerance and the protagonist’s own ignorance. Yet such minor accomplishments fail to redeem Kandahar Break’s more deep-rooted flaws. (**)
i saw a bunch of other movies too, reviews of which will dribble online over the coming months when the films (hopefully) get wider releases. one film that has already got full distribution sorted is 1234, and i'll have my interview with director giles borg up on the site later in the week.
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
this week on bottle rocket radio i will explore the recently announced t in the park lineup and the kinda recently announced rockness lineup. but only the good stuff, none of that kasabian malarky. think dirty projectors, broken social scene and soulwax...
in addition, there'll be new music from frightened rabbit and rm hubbert and tour-related stuff from passion pit and grizzly bear.
LISTEN TO ME.
thursday, noon till one.