Tuesday, 27 September 2011
Monday, 26 September 2011
Now in these times of austerity at home, dictatorial crises abroad and the inevitability that we all will, one day (roundabout 2026), all be brutally murdered by the robots we've created, we need, of course, a slightly twee synth pop boy girl duo to come along and really shake things up. Oh but what a coincidence you say, I've heard of this super cool hip new act that totally fills that criteria called Elephant. Well do you know what? You're lying. Because we're super cool music bloggers you heard about them here first...
Filling that cavernous void until the next Beach House album turns up, Elephant are a really quite promising new band coming out of London whose dreamy three minuters are turning a few (and I mean a select few because you definitely heard it here first) heads. The link below is to the new track Actors which is slightly more intense, and I use that term in the loosest way possible, (maybe it's about a 2.5 out of 10 on the intensity scale) than their other tracks which you can find on their Myspace and are really quite good. Oh and that's supposedly a picture of the biggest elephant in the world above by the way, couldn't find one of the band.
Elephant - Actors by elephanttheband
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
I was lucky enough to catch Papa supporting Girls at the 9:30 Club in DC a couple of nights back, and they where the true show stealers of the night. Interestingly enough they also supply drums, guitar and keyboard for the guys from Girls, resulting in the trio performing twice in the evening. Papa and Girls where broken up by the more interesting then good NoBunny, an act that veered a little uncomfortably in the gimmicky direction (their lead singer wears a bunny mask, a leather jacket and a pair of y-fronts, and nothing else on stage), which is a pity because their material really isn't half bad, and was perfectly suited to their high velocity set. In any case defiantly worth check both acts out as they snake their away across the USA supporting Girls on their current tour.
Check out Papas bellow, hope you enjoy.
Saturday, 17 September 2011
Manges to exchange a word or two with a fellow purveyor of good music, and the man behind the lovely Labelled Independent, Mr. Steve Boniface. Hope you enjoy.... There is a free track at the end of it, thanks to Steve's recommendation.
In a twitter-worthy 140 characters, what would Labelled Independent's mission statement be?
Labelled Independent is a new music podcast dedicated to promoting the work of independent labels, artists and music events.
Starting at the very beginning, who's behind Labelled Independent?
The podcast is run solely by me, Steve Boniface. I started it to give independent labels and artists a chance to get heard by a select audience of music fans who are on the lookout for good new music.
Where are you based at the moment?
I’m currently based in Wales, working as a covers musician, though the job takes me around the country and beyond one contract at a time.
How did Labelled Indie start?
I’m a podcast listener myself, on anything from sport to film, and decided it would be a good way to promote new music. I started by setting up our homepage – labelledindependent.podbean.com – and then I started e-mailing record labels to see if they would send me tracks to be featured. Luckily, they did! We’re now working with over 60 record labels sending us tracks.
Why did you decide to do podcasts?
To collect together a group of music fans as listeners, and play them new tracks from artists and labels they might not otherwise hear.
What's your vision of the ultimate achievement for Labelled Independent?
Simply to keep growing. Our first episode was only released in July and in the last month we’ve had almost 1,000 episodes downloaded – I thought it might take a year or so to get that far! The support from the music fans and the labels has been fantastic. After all, the more people are listening, the more good we do everyone involved.
Your podcasts showcase a wide variety of music genres, are you interested in anything and everything or do you have specific tastes?
My personal favourite genres would probably be Indie/Folk/Rock, and I’m a fan of acoustic singer-songwriter type stuff too. But To be honest, I respect the work that goes into every genre, and I hope the podcast reflects that. I have my favourites, but my tastes are quite eclectic.
The inevitable guilty pleasures question; who are yours?
This is a genuinely difficult one. The first act that springs to mind is Girls Aloud. If you take away all the tabloid rubbish and hype, you’re actually left with some pretty well produced pop songs.
What would you like Labelled Indie to be doing in 5 years time?
Ideally I would like it to have been discovered by a very large group of people! At the moment, I’m working it around my job, but if I could find a way of making it my living that would be great too – but I’ve got to think of ways to do that while still keeping it free! I’d also like to start putting on live shows and tours featuring the acts we play on the show. We’re also starting special episodes soon called ‘Labelled Independent Live’ which will feature live acoustic performances and interviews with guest acts – kind of like an hour long, exclusive live lounge.
Finally, who are your bands of the moment?
I’d have to say six acts that have really come through during the course of doing the podcast. There’s an unsigned guy called Eric Ness who’s great (and just won our track of the episode for our latest episode). Then there are a few groups I’m really glad to have featured – The Correspondents are like a swing group using modern sounds, Cashier No.9 are an acoustic indie group, and there are a couple of rock groups from the same label (Alcopop Records) called Jumping Ships & LightGuides. Finally, Thom Cross is a great solo singer-songwriter who was on our third episode.
You can head over to their home page HERE, Find them on iTunes HERE, and for you twitchers out there follow their Twitter HERE.
Cashier No.9 - Lost At Sea by Bella Union
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Ahh Berlin: Home of all things weird, industrial metropolis of the alternative, haven for artists, freaks and dropouts alike... right enough of sounding like a twat but really, it there's one city where musical tastes should be expanded, it's Germany's capital. A place where nearly everyone you meet seems to be in some way musically involved, it's unsurprising that Berlin is one of Europe's most fertile producers of cutting edge bands. With a musical history firmly rooted in techno and minimal house though it might be surprising to hear that the city's Gothic scene is really fighting back and finding some rather large footholds, not quite diversifying but simply attracting a growing, ever more fervent following.
We were lucky enough to go to Drop Dead Festival ('showcase for the best original old and new post-punk, weird electro, mutant wave, deathrock, billy and related bands and DJs' so their website claims), currently in it's ninth year in Berlin, just on the bank of the Spree. While I must admit that the majority of what I saw was slighty more avant-garde than expected (thank you very much Velvet Condom) and often more average than genuinely interesting, there was one band who really stood out, Lebanon Hanover. Now I realise it's probably not a name many people will hear in the future as German Shoegaze might just about be the least accessible thing since The Chamber Of Secrets, but just listen to the song below and imagine how hypnotic it would be onstage, and then you know, buy their album when it comes out or pay to watch them live, or not, they're goths, they'll probably love it if you don't.
One of the most exciting acts coming from the continent, we managed to catch up with the stunning Foool, a band we fell in love with whilst in Berlin over the summer.
First and foremost, where did the name Foool come from?
Vince: The name is taken from the "Faith No More" album "King For a Day, Fool For a Lifetime" from ´95. I really liked that quote. For me it describes an issue of values. When I started producing a couple of years back I called myself "The Fool". Now "Foool" is not only me anymore. It's Fabian playing the e-drums and sometimes David playing the trombone. So we're kind of a band.
Fabian: When I started playing with Vince, the name already existed. I first thought of some kind of anti-hero. Someone who acts a Foool, because he is doing things the way he wants, although he knows that it's not gonna work out. Someone that might get lost in the city machinery, but also someone who might make a change to it.
For those who haven't heard you before, how would you describe the music you're making?
Vince: Although I'm studying musicology and I'm talking about music like all the time, it's really hard to describe the own stuff. I think it's kind of minimal melancholic guitar music with electronic influences like synths and e-drums.
Where do you draw the largest amount of your musical influence from?
Vince: I'm definitely influenced by everything I'm listening to. It's mostly music with a melancholic vibe. I like records that are produced in a minimalistic way, not so super fat and with not so much compression but a wide dynamic range. I like singers who keep it really plain and low. I like rough drum machines combined with soulful melodies. Well, I've been listening a lot to John Frusciante lately.
Fabian: When playing drums, I focus on playing only the notes, that are essential to the rhythm, at least for kick drum and snare. I also often try to add some crackling sounds to create some kind of sub-rhythm around the main beat that glues everything together. This way of playing drums is mostly inspired by listening to programmed beats, for example from Postal Service, Zoot Woman, Beastie Boys and especially The Notwist, but also minimalistic analogue drum playing like in The Whitest Boy Alive or some records from The Roots. Listening to those bands, I realized that rhythm itself is not only established by the notes themselves but also by the sound.
I caught you playing a stripped down set outside a convenience store in Görlitzer a couple of weeks back, how many of these stripped back shows do you play? And what inspires you to do them?
Vince: To be honest, it actually was the first set I've played like this: vocals, electric guitar and a drum machine. We just had this shitty P.A. and so we couldn't play a proper set with the band. So I decided to do some stuff on my own. During the last years, I was mostly playing in other people's projects and right now I just want to play my own songs. And if theres just a shitty P.A. then I just think, fuck it, let's make the best out of it. As long as I can do my own stuff, it's cool for me. Maybe I will play some drum machine shows in the future, but playing with the band is much more complex and more important for me.
What do you think of the music scene in Germany at the moment? Berlin has an incredible reputation as a live music city, do you think its living up to that reputation at the moment?
Vince: I think Berlin is O.K. or maybe good for live music, but it's a paradise for electronic dance music, especially house and techno. Berlin is not famous for its concert venues, Berlin is famous for its clubs and nightlife. Everything is focused on DJs and not so much on bands. I know a lot of people who go to clubs every weekend but never go to concerts. The Berlin crowd really seems a bit dogmatic when it comes to music genres. It's a shame, if you ask me.
Who is your favourite new emerging act coming out of Berlin at the moment?
Vince: There's a lot of good music happening in berlin. But it's not so easy to find 'fresh' artists who really do something new. Raz Ohara, Bodi Bill and Erlend Oye and The Whitest Boy Alive are the most important for me. I mean, a lot of amazing foreign artists move to Berlin and you never know who is actually living here at the moment. I think some guys from Chikinki are living here and I see Mocky and Chilly Gonzales on the street every once in a while.
Fabian: It's not new but i like Golden Disco Ship for her understatement and playful songs. To me, this is a good way of combining electronic and analogue sounds. Check it out.
Your involved in Radio Skateboards, a company anyone who has ever been to Kreuzberg will recognise from the stickers that are everywhere, what exactly is it you guys do?
Vince: Radio Skateboards is a company from Berlin Kreuzberg. We produce skateboards and some clothes. If you use music language you would call it a kind of indie-label. Its not so much about profit but about having a good time with the crew. All the teamriders, like me, are living in Berlin and we see each other every week. Sometimes we go on tour to other cities and of course we're doing a lot of skateboard related filming. I also think the company has a kind of a political touch. We are all street rats who grew up in the urban environment of Berlin. We're against yuppies and gentrification!
And finally do you have any plans for a coming tour?
Vince: I wish I could say yes. We just created our new live set and played the first shows. We definitely want to play a little tour, we'll see about that. For now, we just finished the last song of our 'Issues EP'. And there are already some new songs maybe for a new EP. You can check out the news on our facebook site.
The track bellow (Telling You Lies) was left of their recent EP, and is geting a rare public viewing.
Foool - Telling You Lies by Gruff Trade
Monday, 12 September 2011
On Saturday October 15th, the organisers of Dot-To-Dot are bringing
their one-day spectacular format to Oxford and damnit, Gruff is
excited. We might sound like a broken record but the level of talent
and brilliant new sounds coming out of Oxford at the moment is
incredible and Ley Lines is the perfect setting to spread the word as
far and wide as possible.
DHP promoter and festival organiser Isla Miskelly, the propeller
behind Ley Lines said in their latest press release: "We're really
excited to be bringing a new festival to the city, and we hope that
even in the current economical climate, people can still experience
the atmosphere of a festival and discover new acts as well as seeing
some great bands at an affordable price, all on their doorstep in OX4.
We'll be bringing a whole host of exciting national acts into the mix
with the best of Oxfords new emerging talent, there really will be
something for everyone!"
The beauty of Ley Lines? The local talent and smaller bands such as
London's trio Anothers Blood and Birmingham's Troumaca will be sharing
the stage with the likes of Jamie Woon and Toddla T. The festival will
be taking over both floors at the O2 Academy, the backroom at the
Bully (one of Gruff's favourites) and newly renovated arts venue The
Old Boot Factory.
We're excited, and if you are too, early bird tickets are now
available from www.alt-tickets.co.uk // www.ticketweb.co.uk // The O2
Academy Box Office. Tickets are just 15 quid, a real bargain for what
Ley Lines is offering.
We'll be updating our twitter @Gruff_Trade with new info about who's
playing at Ley Lines in the run up.
We'll leave you with somethings that will hopefully tickle your fancy
Altar (Rough Demo) by TROUMACA
Thursday, 8 September 2011
This is the first of what we hope will be many post coming out of DC. Bellow is a brilliant track from DC natives True Womanhood, and it is a free download to boot a real bargain, especially when you get to the 50 sec mark and this song becomes a true belter. Hope you enjoy.
Sympathy by truewomanhood
Monday, 5 September 2011
We got an email here the other day asking us to write a little post telling you all about the BBC's fast approaching Music Video Festival, and we couldn't be more delighted to bring this event to the attention of as many people as possible. BBC where we are The BBC will be running its (now annual) Music Video Festival from the 19th September to the 1st October. The Festival will have its home at the The Forum in Norwich as well as broadcasting out across the UK on its network of Big Screens.
Its probably best to let the beeb describe it - 'We are committed to enhancing and providing a platform for new and unsigned music as well as appreciating the work of established artists and directors, and this time have received submissions from all around the world. For two weeks, right across the UK, we will be screening music videos on the network of Big Screens in 20 town and city centres, giving the public access to work they might never otherwise get to see. Alongside the music video screening in Norwich, we have a number of high profile events and speakers. Jamal Edwards, founder of SBTV, the UK’s leading online youth broadcaster. Jamie Thraves, director of videos for Radiohead and Coldplay. Ashley Dean of Broken Pixel, director of animations for artists such as I Like Trains.'
Head over to the official tumbler of the festival HERE, and check out just how much talent its helping to promote.
Here is just one example of the entries (and yeah the intro is near identical to a certain track by LCD)
We are more then delighted to present you with a (brief) interview with the ever wonderful Pocket House, yet another of the swarm of talent which is flooding out from Oxford's dreaming spires. Hope you enjoy.
First and foremost, where did the name Pocket House come from?
Stravinsky talked about his music becoming an object and occupying a physical space. We felt our music should belong in a house that can be carried by anyone.
Who or what is Pocket House?
A lot of it has to do with experimenting and exploring possibilities within a recording studio. It's more or less a creative outlet for trying new ideas between getting high and looking through a telescope.
For those who haven't heard your before, how would you describe the music you're making?
Seriously cosmic. We pretty much just try to rewrite the backing music to old Carl Sagan videos.
Where do you draw the largest amount of your musical influence from?
Mostly old tape cassettes found around the house.
Who is your biggest guilty pleasure?
Babylon Zoo and Jim Davidson. We love to hate. (Jim Davidson that is)
What is Pocket House plan for the next 12 months, where do you see yourself standing this time next year?
Hopefully with an album out and performing live. We're also planning to do our first remix soon, and eat a pot noodle with Gary Barlow along the way.
What has been the greatest highlight so far from being in Pocket House?
Making a squealing virtuoso melody by swinging microphones from the ceiling in front of an amp.
What would be your dream collaboration?
A twenty-four hour tribal jam / mescaline trip with Prince and Arthur Russell
Oxford is such a hot bed of musical talent at the moment, Who is your favourite new emerging act coming out of the city?
Blessing Force has a sweet crop of forward-thinking bands. Our favourite being solid-state Oxford hard-man Sam Scott with Solid Gold Dragons. He's got a nice trumpet.
Collected Brass by Pocket House
Thursday, 1 September 2011
So who remembers Willy Mason? If you can just about recall the name and remember the one song, 'Oxygen', you will have been in the same boat we were in going to watch him play at the Oxford Glee Club last night. Ignorance leads to surprises though, and this was a pleasantly surprising set.
Now the Glee Club isn't normally a music venue, it's a comedy club with comfortable chairs and tables to put your drinks down on, basically you couldn't see anyone with an inclination towards distortion picking up a guitar there. For Mason however the intimate atmosphere played right into his hands and he spent the set playing on the proximity of the crowd to great effect, taking requests and and even to stopping a song to check an audience member was unharmed after a loud bang. After the gig he told us that 'tonight felt really good, it was a really nice sized room with everyone sitting down, it felt like we were all in it together'.
The music itself though is of course the most important thing, he could've run into the crowd and performed cpr on a choking man whilst disclosing the location of King Soloman's mines and if the songs were shit then we go home disappointed. However, now equipped with an electric guitar, Mason is in top form. His voice has an intensely mesmerising richness and combined with the earthy twang of Texas from the guitar (think BRMC in their calmer moments) he sounds like a man who has finally found his sound. Now we won't pretend we knew any bar a couple of the songs on the setlist but his new tracks sound like they could be a real step forward and we look forward to the album he promised in an interview with us afterwards would be out early next year.