Thursday, 30 September 2010

october skinny

looks like this:

nice eh? it's been through a redesign this month, and it's looking pretty spiffing. the phantom band have been sticking their oar in here and there with various bits of content, as well as taking the editorial reigns on occassion. music-wise, there are interviews with grinderman, yeasayer, team ghost, ice cube, swans, fever ray and more.

PLUS stuff i wrote, namely:

- a teeny tiny preview of the eastern promise festival taking place this weekend
- doves live review (click here!)
- wilco live review (click here!)
- jonsi live review (click here!)
- kurt wagner and cortney tidwell present kort - 'invariable heartache' album review
- glasser - 'ring' album review

and in the film section:

- restrepo film review
- south of the border dvd review

anything not yet on the blog will make its way there over the next few weeks. in the meantime, pick up a physical copy from loooooadsa places.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

october poster

thanks again to alex for providing the source picturograph

Sunday, 26 September 2010

reviews: manic street preachers, the vaselines, pacific!

Manic Street Preachers - Postcard From A Young Man (***)

This is, according to Nicky Wire, the Manics’ “last chance to attempt to communicate on a mass level” – a peculiar statement, considering it follows the double punch of Send Away the Tigers’ streamlined pop and Journal For Plague Lovers’ abrasive yet widely-celebrated Richey-era throwback.

Postcards has some fine moments, but falls short of its immediate predecessors: not a fault of the period they’ve dusted off this time round (their late nineties, grandiose orchestral phase), but of the bloated execution. Most tracks come swamped in strings, while the arrival of a gospel choir on Some Kind of Nothingness overeggs an already stuffed pudding.

Why they felt such a move necessary is a mystery; their late renaissance has thus far birthed a top 3 hit and some of the best reviews of their career. It seems that in trying to second-guess what the massed classes want, they’ve ever-so-slightly taken their eye off the ball.

Out Now

The Vaselines - Sex With An X (****)

It’s not a record-breaker, but a twenty-year gap between albums warrants comment; to put it in context, a wall segmented Berlin last time The Vaselines had a new full-length in stores. Things change, in other words, and with Sex With An X’s arrival, two horrible possibilities suggest themselves: that they stubbornly haven’t developed at all (stagnation), or that they’ve changed absolutely (shedding the sound that posthumously made them cult indie heroes first time round).

Thankfully, their re-emergence occupies a glorious middle ground – recognisably the same band yet far fresher than might have been expected (and hornier too – where debut Dum Dum led with Sex Sux (Amen), this record’s title track cheerily proclaims “Feels so good… let’s do it again.”). I Hate the 80s mines irony lightly, rapping the knuckles of every revivalist with selective memory (“What do you know? You weren’t there - it wasn’t all Duran Duran Duran Duran” they chide), its wit helping to make it one highlight amongst many. Elsewhere, Overweight But Over You strides and stomps on an incessant Northern Soul-style beat, Ruined blasts its pop with copious feedback, while Whitechapel is dream-pop bliss, making the prospect of another double-decade hiatus hard to bear.

Out Now

Pacific! - Narcissus (****)

As synthetic harpsichord razors through Jean-Michelle Jarre futurism, the atmosphere conjured by Swedish duo Pacific! on opener Arcadia is so thick with ludicrous dramatics that you half expect Richard Burton to announce an impending Martian invasion. From the splendidly ridiculous new-age cover art to each track’s lengthy sub-titles (Halfheart – A Heartbroken Echo is Swallowed by the Rocks and Becomes a True Echo to offer one snappy example), Pacific! are boldly absurd.

Yet they navigate their retro final frontier with great finesse; although conceived to soundtrack a modern ballet, Narcissus works sans choreography, particularly if you harbour affection for Daft Punk (with the emphasis on Daft), Kate Bush (evoked on the delicate From Lips Divine) or aforementioned gallic electro-wizard Jarre. Even if those particular touchstones don’t tickle your fancy, give Venus Rising a try: echoing Goldfrapp’s calling card Lovely Head, its laid-back space-disco vibe constitutes the album’s finest interstellar segment.

Out Now

Saturday, 25 September 2010

set list from hillhead bookclub

here's what we played at the hillhead bookclub on an orrible rainy wednesday (i.e. 22nd september). twas a spiffing mood-lifter through and through.

1. of montreal - the past is a grotesque animal
2. club 8 - western hospitality
3. irene - by your side
4. pocketbooks - fleeting moments
5. smith - baby it's you
6. the dirtbombs - sherlock holmes
7. sparks - this town aint big enough for the both of us
8. saint etienne - lose that girl
9. camera obscura - i don't do crowds
10. she and him - i was made for you
11. marnie stern - transparency is the new mystery
12. sky larkin - still windmills
13. dangermouse, sparklehorse and julian casablancas - little girl
14. otis redding and carla thomas - tramp
15. the velvettes - needle in a haystack
16. snow fairies - love affairs of a southern belle
17. toots and the maytals - 54 46 was my number
18. pizzicato five - sweet soul revue
19. caribou - odessa
20. the human league - fascination
21. au revoir simone - sad song
22. lene lovich - lucky number
23. grandaddy - am 180
24. santogold - lights out
25. frank alamo - hereux tout les deux
26. serge gainsbourg - le papillon noir
27. magnetic fields - when my boy walks down the street
28. rem - romance
29. tv on the radio - wolf like me
30. devo - satisfaction
31. the ruts - babylon's burning
32. tenpole tudor - swords of a thousand men
33. the smiths - sheila take a bow
34. the go-betweens - the house that jack kerouac built
35. gil scott-heron - the revolution will not be televised
36. de la soul - the magic number
37. the hollies - carrie ann
38. the beatles - daytripper
39. chris clark - love's gone bad
40. the primitives - way behind me
41. the royal we - two is company
42. the presidents of the united states of america - lump
43. the national - lit up
44. tom petty - won't back down
45. fleetwood mac - you make loving fun
46. belle and sebastian - too much love
47. abba - sos
48. altered images - don't talk to me about love
49. thelma houston - jumping jack flash
50. vince taylor and the playboys - brand new cadillac
51. meursault - a few kind words
52. the band - the weight
53. the penguins - earth angel

thinking about it, would have made an ace time to play dry the rain by beta band. next time...

Friday, 24 September 2010

mgmt @ barrowlands, 20th september

and here's another skinny live review for your perusal...

Scrutinise reactions tonight and a pattern emerges. Electric Feel – recorded for posterity on a sea of mobile phones. Siberian Breaks – chatter. The Youth – yelping and hollering. Song For Dan Treacy – trip to the bar. While the discrepancy between attention-grabbing debut and less-instant follow-up has been much discussed, it’s a shame that the respective enthusiasm from crowd and band is so polarised and conflicting this evening.

While the former explode to Time To Pretend, the latter seem eager to return to aping Syd Barrett; when they duly do so, they’re faced by a largely disinterested Barrowlands. There’s considerable movement towards exits after said breakthrough hit concludes, and the exodus would likely be larger if there weren’t hopes that Kids would make an appearance (never guaranteed). When it does it prompts near-hysteria, but at the cost of further unbalancing an already delicate equilibrium between MGMT’s aspirations and Glasgow’s expectations.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

wilco @ barrowlands, 16th september

here's another review penned for the skinny for the rather spiffing wilco gig last week:

There are presumably few more comfortable bed-rocks from which to launch a solo project than having Radiohead listed as a current employer. To make things simpler still, Philip Selway’s recent collaborations with members of Wilco likely facilitated tonight’s support slot. Radiohead have blurred band-roles for years (Jonny Greenwood’s increasingly-inaccurate ‘guitarist’ tag a case in point), so it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear such light percussion in the celebrated drummer’s solo venture. But it’s disappointing that his Grandaddy-lite creations never quite take off – until, ironically, the band abandon their instruments and take part in a mass-drumming finale.

Wilco (the band) kick off with Wilco (the gig) with Wilco (the song): a cubed introduction to their overdue return to Glasgow. When a deprived fan corrects the claim they last visited two years ago (it’s been three years since Indian Summer, Jeff – we’ve been counting), Tweedy gravely intones “that is unacceptable”. By the close, no-one’s holding a grudge, with two cherry-picked hours more than sufficient compensation. Highlights are plentiful, and not always from anticipated sources: the epic I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Via Chicago’s cacophonic meltdown and a breezy California Stars all feel like foregone conclusions, but less pre-assured are the likes of One Wing, which feels bigger and brighter than on record.

Conversely, Jesus Etc – too poignant to be left to the congregation – underwhelms due to the decision to cede vocals to the crowd. But such a minor blip can’t detract from an iron-clad victory for the Illinois alt-stars.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

hillhead book club tonight, 9pm - midnight

as i mentioned t'other day, bottle rocket will be playing some tunes tonight at the hillhead book club (just off byres road). should be from nine till midnight, and there are various drinks promotions so if you fancy coming along to say hi it'll be nice n light on the coffers.

it's billed as a 'house party', which is a pretty apt summation of bottle rocket's general modus operandi. since it's a bar rather than a club-space, and since it's a heck of a lot earlier than the usual nice n sleazys night, we may mix things up a little bit - it'll still be bottle rocket, but we might incorporate things we wouldn't otherwise be able to play (alongside a few trusty stalwarts of course).

in all likelihood it'll make your face smile. see you there!


Monday, 20 September 2010

september playlist!

get a load of this:

1. wolf parade – what did my lover say?
2. of montreal – she’s a rejector
3. sleater kinney – entertain
4. le tigre – what’s yr take on cassavettes?
5. cats on fire – your woman
6. pulp – acrylic afternoons
7. apples in stereo – signal’s in the sky (let’s go)
8. edwyn collins – losing sleep
9. surfer blood – swim
10. the angels – my boyfriend’s back
11. jackie wilson – higher
12. andrew wk – let’s go on a date
13. ted leo and the pharmacists – tell balgeary balgury is dead
14. les savy fav – let’s get out of here
15. someone still loves you boris yeltsin – let it sway
16. the thermals – I don’t believe you
17. arcade fire – antichrist television blues
18. josef k – sorry for laughing
19. allo darlin’ – polaroid song
20. wild nothing – summer holiday
21. hello saferide – if I don’t write this song someone I love will die
22. rilo kiley – wires and waves
23. the primitives – spacehead
24. the supremes – you can’t hurry love
25. kate bush – running up that hill
26. china crisis – king in a catholic style
27. the drums – forever and ever amen
28. idlewild – I’m a message
29. team band – black cab
30. sleigh bells – tell em
31. mia – xxxo
32. lcd soundsystem – I can change
33. outkast – hey ya
34. marvin gaye – can I get a witness
35. elvis presley – burning love
36. hall and oates – you make my dreams come true
37. roxy music – more than this
38. secret affair – time for action
39. the pretenders – don’t get me wrong
40. belle and sebastian – write about love
41. men without hats – the safety dance
42. lloyd cole – rattlesnakes
43. best coast – crazy for you
44. julian casablancas – 11th dimension
45. the pains of being pure at heart – everything with you
46. tears for fears – head over heels
47. css – rat is dead (rage)
48. cyndi lauper – money changes everything
49. the strokes – last nite
50. david bowie – suffragette city
51. franz ferdinand – take me out
52. foo fighters – monkey wrench
53. frank alamo – non ne dis pas adieu
54. joe jackson – is she really going out with him?
55. abba – sos
56. suede – I can’t get enough
57. abba – lay all your love on me
58. prince – when doves cry
59. salt n pepa – none of your business
60. billy joel – we didn’t start the fire
61. the associates – club country
62. the clash – train in vain
63. fleetwood mac – little lies

Friday, 17 September 2010


extra! extra! bottle rocket's 27th edition is but a day away!

same as usual: 11:30pm - 3:00am, nice n sleazys. requests can go here thankyouverymuch


Saturday, 11 September 2010

£2 house party at the hillhead bookclub!

what? bottle rocket is gonna rock the hillhead bookclub!

where? that new venue on vinicombe street in the west end of glasgow (just off byres road). it's one helluva sweet bar.

ooooh, i like that place! yeah us too!

when? 22nd september, 9pm till midnight.

this is what HHBC say:

2 pound house party with bottle rocket, 22nd September!

With a monthly residency at nice'n'sleazy, bottle rocket know a thing or two about keeping a room dancing. A special party at bookclub to celebrate the return to class for our local student brigade is washed down with great drinks at 2 pounds and an eclectic soundtrack from the bottle rocket vaults. From Caribou to Roxy Music, via Toots and the Maytals...the music is guaranteed to be more than a little good too. From 9pm to midnight, then it's up to you...

So students: if you'll be three days into the semester by then, you probably deserve a wee drink or five in earshot of some top tunes. and non-students: you probably deserve a wee drink full stop.

oh, and the £2 bit refers to the drink deals - there won't be a entry charge, so you've no excuse.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

jonsi @ O2 academy, 5th september

Tonight’s backdrop animations – woodland creatures; a wolf prowling the forest – make compelling viewing, affirming what television producers have long known: Jónsi’s voice and the timeless beauty of nature make apposite companions.

Then the woodland combusts and the wolf explodes into paint, and it’s clear solo Jónsi is a more unusual creation than Sigur Rós have (so far) allowed themselves to be. Despite Goblin King garb, Jónsi opens low-key, but when the likes of Animal Arithmitic spread Technicolor wings, it’s clear how wide his horizons have grown.

Later he’s alone on stage, foetal and wailing glitches and noise, transformed from Gaian entity to ghost in the machine. As finale Grow Till Tall builds, the screens fill with rain and the band flail as if buffeted by the winds. And for a moment you feel it too, till you realise the only tempest is the one swirling in your chest.


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

doves @ oran mor, 2nd september

Back in April, off-hand comments from Jimi Goodwin suggested Doves’ then impending Greatest Hits tour would be their last. Though apparently misquoted, not every mind’s at ease tonight. “You’re too fucking good to split up!” cries one anxious fan, prompting protest from the stage. “No one said we’re splitting up!” Goodwin protests. “We still get on great – now can you tell the guitarist to turn it down; I’d tell him myself but we’re not fucking talking.”

It would be a shame if tonight's stripped back set did prove their Scottish swansong. The opening run, despite featuring classics such as Sea Song, is peculiarly unremarkable, the set only kicking into gear when Black and White Town strikes up – though this too feels drained by the slackened pace and absent drums. Certainly, The Cedar Room scintillates regardless in this set-up, while Northenden excites long-term fans, but overall an uncharacteristic patchiness besets tonight.

Let’s hope the banter doesn’t mask a cancer: tonight’s disappointments aside, another chance to see a plugged-in Doves at their most rousing and magnificent would be highly appreciated. Exiting the stage pre-encore they joke “you’ve been wonderful, we’ve been skin of our teeth,” but the self-effacement is awkwardly on the button.


Monday, 6 September 2010

bottle rocket, 18th september x x x x x x x

"do you like good music?" asked arthur conley and bottle rocket said: yep.

"say baby will you take a chance? Say that you will let me have this dance, oh let's dance" asked the ramones and bottle rocket said: sure thing ramones.

"oh nothing matters when we're dancing" observed the magnetic fields and bottle rocket replied: that's a good observation magnetic fields.
"i'm just a hunk, a hunk of burning love" mumbled elvis and bottle rocket was all, like: ewww elvis, cut it out.

"IT'S TIME TO PARTY" yelled andrew wk and bottle rocket corrected: no andrew, you'll have to wait until the 18th september, 11:30pm.

"pull shapes" suggested the pipettes and bottle rocket thought: not a bad idea...

11:30PM - 03:00AM

if you've any requests stick em on the facebook event's wall - we'll only forget em if you ask on the night...

Thursday, 2 September 2010

special moves + burning: an interview with mogwai's stuart braithwaite

here's a review of mogwai's new live album/film with interviewy bits courtesy of mr stuart braithwaite. written for this month's the skinny...

“How’re you doing? We’re Mogwai from Glasgow, Scotland. It’s nice to be here.” As they introduce a scorching Mogwai Fear Satan to the Music Hall of Williamsburg, it’s tempting to interpret the band's conviviality as introspective, ‘here’ referring not just to the Brooklyn venue in which live compilation Special Moves was recorded, but to now, with Mogwai still hitting fresh peaks more than a decade after Like Herod first caused complacent listeners to spill their tea (particularly those that foolishly adjusted the volume ahead of the finale).

Not that the band’s first official live release should be seen as an attempt to define the Mogwai canon. The way Stuart Braithwaite explains it, chopping up the recordings of the three-night residency and reassembling the track-listing involved zero concessions to posterity: “We just listened to the recordings and chose the songs that sounded the best. Depending on how well (or badly) we'd played, the songs on the live record could have been completely different.”

It’s probably as good a selection method as any other when you consider the wealth they had to choose from. Ask fans to list their own contenders and you’ll likely end up with as many combinations as there are songs in the band’s repertoire, depending on whether the compilers attempt to representatively distil Mogwai’s career-to-date, or just go with their gut (incidentally, the organ with which many of their more explosive moments first register). Mogwai’s own choices incorporate tender cuts from Rock Action (2 Rights Make 1 Wrong, You Don’t Know Jesus) and early calling cards (Herod, Satan) alongside more recent set-staples (Hunted By A Freak, Glasgow Megasnake).

Packaged together with Special Moves is Burning, a concert flick filmed over the same three nights. Directors Vincent Moon and Nat Le Scouarnec were more proactive in constructing the finished film’s set-list, with its eight tracks designed beforehand to flow from a scene-setting The Precipice to a climactic Batcat. The results are lensed in suitably moody monochrome, with between-song chat excised from the mix to keep the atmosphere unbroken. The shots of fans lost in rapture make the biggest impact, their closed eyes and utter absorption a reflection of the armchair-viewer’s own delight.

Despite Braithwaite’s assessment that “if you want to be visually stimulated by a concert film then you’re watching the wrong band”, Moon and Scouarnec do a sterling job of rendering the performances in a style both low-key – admittedly, it’s not exactly Stop Making Sense, but nor should it be – and compelling. To an extent, the directors had a gift of a subject: chances are any old footage could be made striking with Mogwai on the soundtrack (proof: Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait’s tunnel-vision football-repeat, transformed into a memorably cinematic experience by their score). Not that everyone has woken up to this fact: “We’d love to do more soundtrack work,” says Braithwaite. “The problem lies with fitting it into our schedule and the reticence of the moneymen in the movie industry to entrust scamps like us to make their expensive films sound beautiful.”

As is the nature of such releases, neither Burning nor Special Moves will exert huge appeal beyond existing fans, but they’re hardly meant to. These aren’t legacy-toppers or nostalgic goodbyes, just two more steps along the road. As Braithwaite reveals, the next full-length already looms large.

“The recording’s going really well. We’re into our third week and have the bare bones of twenty-one songs. We should be finished sometime in October and it should be out in February. Lots of ‘shoulds’ in that last sentence…” Should be awesome.