Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Old I Was A Cub Scout

Back from a weekend, relaxing by the sea, in St Ives and after a raucous night in the company of Les Savy Fav on Monday - review coming shortly - i'm back blogging.
I found this little gem waiting for me in my inbox. An early recording by Nottingham electro rapscallions I Was A Cub Scout, The View, is a 4 minute blissful meander. Never really breaking into full stride, it just saunters along like a daydreamer on a beach and shows signs of early promise that they fulfilled with Pink Squares and Our Smallest Adventure.
I also forgot to post the last track they emailled me. Holiday is more of the same really, with melodic synths, thumping bass and emotive vocals.
The band are in the process of writing and recording their debut album which should hopefully be out next year sometime.

I Was A Cub Scout - The View

I Was A Cub Scout - Holiday

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cats x3/This Town Needs Guns Session

Having recently released a split ep on Big Scary Monsters - my apparent label of choice at the moment - Cats And Cats And Cats (Cats x3 if you will) and This Town Needs Guns crammed into the hallowed Maida Vale studios to record a session for Huw Stevens' Introducing show on Radio
Cats x3 were as playful, intricate and passionate as ever, although i'm not sure Ben had done his vocal warm-ups beforehand as he's a bit off key throughout. TTNG's peformance was intense and beautifully complex. I hadn't heard much from them before this but they really impressed with their evocative vocals and inventive guitar lines. Can't wait to get my hands on the split.

Cats And Cats And Cats - Brilliant the Brilli Ant
Cats And Cats And Cats - Fight Fight With Fight

Cats And Cats And Cats - Sweet Drunk Everyone
This Town Needs Guns - And I'll Tell You For Why

This Town Needs Guns - If I Sit Still Maybe I'll Get Out Of Here
This Town Needs Guns - 26 Is Dancier Than 4

You can purchase their split ep and separate reordings from BSM

Monday, October 15, 2007

White Mice + Parts & Labor + DJ Scotch Egg + Pleasurehorse @ Barden's Boudoir

To be honest, if i was feeling lazy, i could desribe this gig in three words. And those words would be noise, wires and distortion. All three were in wild abundance on this cold night in Dalston's somewhat hidden underground-lair of a venue.

The night began by being lured away from the bar by the sound of a Boeing-747 taking off and then crashing in a fireball of crunching metal and whirling glass. What waited for me on the stage was the sight of a bald, bearded man, named Shawn Greenlee aka Pleasurehorse, trying to gyrate two spinning tops at a crazy frequency before using sticks on a touch sensitive mat to create a cochlea-cracking cacophony. At times it was messy, sporadic and unlistenable but then subtlety the sound of helicopter blades would morph into a beat and from the midst of the racket, industrial buzzings and glitches would weave an ugly but compelling fabric of noise. Using programs and technology that boggled my mind, this membrane of sound ebbed and pulsed, fusing with the air particles until Shawn had had enough and, by scratching his weird spinning tops, would tear it all apart.

DJ Scotch Egg was a completely different animal all together. Armed with three Nintendo Gameboys, a Casio keyboard and a microphone wired up to a distortion pedal, DJSE delivered a welcome, party atmosphere to the venue. Backed by the sound of Mario on a night out in Manchester in the early 90s, this little Japanese fella bounced around the stage like a paragoomba with heaps of energy and enthusiasm, until he slammed down the pedal and mangled the fuck out of the vibrations with his screaming and yelping. Even with his sound not being top quality which he, endearingly, kept apologising for, DJ Scotch Egg's 8-bit rave was a real enjoyment to behold. I could find any DJSE tunes but you can stream some from his myspace.

Finally the first sign of actual, recognisable instruments were visible. A hi-hat here, a stringed fretboard there, all plugged in and wired to strange gizmos but instruments nonetheless. When i first heard Parts & Labor earlier this year, i was blown away by the intensity and creativity of their current record Mapmaker. Live, they totally live up to on-record promise. It may have just been the presence of live instruments but compared to the previous two acts, this felt personal, almost intimate. Even when the beat of the bass drum was blasting you in the face and the keyboard squealing under the weight of effects, this set felt organic. Starting with The Gold We're Digging, its military drumming, evocatic vocals and cybonic murmurs setting the tone for the whole performance. The drumming really is the focus of this band, keeping songs lightning-paced and loud, while technically being unbelievable when everything else sounds chaotic. Ending on album opener Fractured Skies, its soaring trumpet part played on a 5-string electric guitar and the frantic pounding of stick on skin, the band look exhausted, having put their all into playing, but after calls for "More!" begin a later self-prolaimed "worst encore ever!" as bassist BJ Warshaw forgot to tune up but to me it still sounded amazing, as did everything they played tonight.

I had no idea what to expect from White Mice. As three deranged man-sized laboratory rodents took to the stage, two of them wearing blood-soaked lab coats, one with a spinning eye and one with flashing ears, the cold sweat of terror swept down my back. What had i let myself in for? The wall of noise they produced was immense, a grinding bassline repeating over and over, an oscillator creating unheard of noises and blemishes, backed by raucous, relentless pounding of drum skins while expletives and orders were barked somewhere in the belly of it all, but like in the episode of South Park about the secret of Easter, men dressed as animals, no matter how deranged, can't really be taken seriously. After half an hour, the novelty of the costumes wore off and the music became monotonous so i left early and as i climbed the stairs to the high street, leaving the cacophonous mice behind, i felt a ringing in my ears...or was that a squeaking.

Pleasurehorse - Tighter [3 Maneuvers]

Parts & Labor - Fractured Skies
Parts & Labor - Long Way Down
White Mice - DieaBeastTiTTy

To see more photos of this gig, check out my flickr

Thursday, October 11, 2007


This is the title of the debut ep from former The Murder Of Rosa Luxemburg member, Andrew Jackson. Now under the guise of House Of Brothers, Jackson's music takes on a more gentle form compared to the fiery menace that was TMORL. Title track Deadman is an excellent statement of intent with its plucky guitar parts, lush strings and quiet but passionate vocals. It feels like a traditional standard that has been filter of all traces of antiquity and been taught all about the present, a bit like Leeloo in The Fifth Element. Lose Yourself contains a lovely piano melody and is comparable to Mercury Prize nominee Fionn Regan in its sincerity and beauty.
The ep is released on 26th November on Big Scary Monsters and is limited to 1000 copies so if you like what you hear, you'd better get ordering quickly.

House Of Brothers - Deadman

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Antelope are from Washington DC and are signed to the legendary DC label, Dischord. Although similar in sound to many bands on the Dischord roster, riff-driven bassy punk, their stripped down, repetitive style is a refreshing break from the norm. There are familiar tones to Ian McKaye's two-piece The Evens, so its no surprise that he recorded their debut album Reflector. Its a impressive collection of bouncy, deep guitars, driving.,squashy bass, technically simplistic drums and impassionate and melodic vocal lines which mixed together gives the music a warm, round, almost funky feel. I've heard complaints that its all too monotonous but the repetition adds to the familiarity tunes exude and to be honest its a helluva lot more varied than lot of the music out at the moment.
I'll end with a quote from Georgie James, whose blog was the place i discovered Antelope, which i think sums up their sound better than i ever could.
"Reflector is not a mirror to me as much as what I might imagine a window on an endlessly ascendant aircraft might stare out upon. The wonder you feel at the beauty streaking by you mingles with the unease of your ceaseless journey."

Catch Antelope when the tour the UK in early November. All tour dates are on their myspace.

Antelope - Mirroring

Antelope - The Demon

Monday, October 01, 2007

Noah And The Whale Session

Noah And The Whale have this overwhelming knack off making me smile everytime i hear their music. Its not even inheritantly happy, there's an undercurrent of glumness that runs through every note but that can't stop my teeth showing. They make me smile like you do when you see a baby make a funny face or when you see kittens playing with a ball of wool. Its very treacley music, sweet, naive and viscous with hopefulness and maybe its that childish optimism and playfulness which seeps through the melancholy, like the sun on a gloomy day, that makes me smile .Maybe i'm just a sucker for a good tune and a soppy lyric but i know that right at this very moment there's a beaming grin on my face that wasn't there a few minutes ago and i suppose that all that matters
Noah And The Whale brought their sunshine indie-pop to Huw Stephens Radio1 show a couple of weeks ago to promote their debut single 5 Years Time and here it is for your smile-inducing pleasure.

Noah And The Whale - Jocasta (Radio 1 Session)

Noah And The Whale - Two Bodies, One Heart (Radio 1 Session)

Noah And The Whale - 5 Years Time (Radio 1 Session)