Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Johnny Foreigner

After releasing one of funfunfun's favourite albums of last year, Johnny Foreigner are back with a couple of new tracks. Apparently the leftovers after writing for their second album, Ghost The Festivals and Ohai, Sentinels carry on from where Waited Up Til It Was Night.
There's Alexei's yelping vocals interplaying with Kelly's sweet singing, there's fuzzed-up, twiddly guitar parts that burst into power chords at the drop of a hat, a sweeping synth moment, all underpinned by Junior's pin-point percussion.
The trio are off to the States soon to record with At The Drive-In and Meet Me In St Louis producer Alex Newport, which they are "super hper +1 excited" about and I can't wait to hear the result.
They're touring all over Europe and the UK in the next few months so you have no excuse not to catch their kinetic, energetic live shows.

Johnny Foreigner - Ghost The Festival
Johnny Foreigner - Ohai, Sentinels

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Favourite Gig

Weezer @ Brixton Academy (24/3/02)

To continue funfunfun's week of birthday celebrations I'm going to take you back to the spring of 2002 and one of the best gigs of my life.
Weezer became an obsession for me around this time. My best friend Tom and I bought tickets for their Brixton show in October '01 but due to certain events in September that year, the gig was postponed until March the following year. In the time between, the obsession grew. We couldn't stop talking about them, listening to their three albums of perfect pop punk. We even became regulars on the very geeky Weezer boards, making friends with other Weezer fans. It was pure teenage excitement and devotion.
By the time of the gig in March, a meet-up of all the London Weezer-board members was arranged before the gig. Me and Tom arrived at Brixton Academy early, around 1-2 in the afternoon, and met up with other fans, some I still occasionally speak to today. We had even made cakes. Getting there so early meant we were very close to the front of the queue and ended up chatting with everyone around us.
As the doors of Brixton opened, we sprinted to the front of the stage to get on the bar. I'd never been that close at a gig before. The excitement started to build. We had to stand through the support act, Remy Zero if I remember rightly, and we got through that by creating dance moves for each of their songs. And then it was time for The Weez.
From the look of the setlist below, you can see how good a selection of songs they played that night. It was just before the release of the much-underrated Maladroit and the set comprised of a equal pick of songs from their back catalogue. The crowd went ballistic, throwing the hands up in W shapes, as they took to the stage and crunched straight into Dope Nose. I've never heard a crowd sing so loud that it was a struggle to hear Rivers over them.
Rivers was sporting his bristling, full-on beard at the this stage and barely moved from the mic, instead making odd remarks between songs like 'We came to punish your ass' and 'Look out boy, you're gonna get steam-rolled'. Luckily the rest of band were in a more lively mood with Brian pulling some awesome guitar poses right in front of us and new bassist, at the time, Scott leaning so far back while playing that his head nearly touched the floor. We so how ended up make faces at Scott across the stage and him making them back. At the end of the show, he came up to us and gave his pick. It was incredible.
The crowd went crazy at the start of every song, so pleased that they were playing this one or that one. I was shocked that they played Tired Of Sex and Why Bother?, shocked but utterly overwhelmed. But the moment that makes this gig so special for me was at the end of the set. I know Only In Dreams is pretty damn epic on record but man, you have to see it live. As the bridge built to its climax and the roaring guitars kick in again, the entire room went crazy. Listen to the mp3 below and wait for the rampant elation. At that moment, the infamous Weezer =W= got lowered, all lights blazing and flashing. It was incredible and it still makes me tingle when I listen back on it today.
The encore of Happy Together and Buddy Holly, with its brooding opening and feedback fuelled finale, was the perfect end to an amazing gig and looking, and listening, back on it now, it was a day of youthful exuberance and a memory of some amazingly happy times.

Dope Nose
My Name Is Jonas
The Good Life
Island In The Sun
Surfwax America
Tired Of Sex
Burndt Jamb
Knock-Down Dragout
Undone (The Sweater Song)
Why Bother?
Modern Dukes
Don't Let Go
Say It Ain't So
Hash Pipe
Only in Dreams
Happy Together
Buddy Holly

Click here to download a zip of all the mp3s.
Photo not of Brixton show. Mp3s from Weezernation.com(RIP)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My First Album

For the first of my birthday treats, I thought I'd go right back to where it all started for me: Parklife by Blur, my very first album. I got brought it on cassette as a present for being good by my mum. I don't know why I chose it, I just remember seeing an advert for it on the side of a bus and thinking that the black greyhound was staring at me.
I don't even think I'd heard any of their music before but to a 9-year-old who had only really listened to The Beatles and Chuck Berry, it was an inspiring experience and I was hooked immediately. I listened to it non-stop on a trip to Suffolk on my 'My First Sony Walkman'. I must have gone through it 8 or 9 times in that one car journey and I still wanted to listen to it more.
It's seeped in infectious energy. Every track catches and holds your attention, every one seems to be a different genre, every one has something special about it. Girls And Boys has the excellently easy keyboard part and sing-along-able chorus, End Of A Century is sincere and honest, London Loves with its grubby 80s bass-line. I love the tracks that have punk edge too. Bank Holiday and Jubilee may have been my gateway drug to heavier, fast music, even if they took 5 years to work.
Blur are really all about Albarn and Coxon. Damon's persona and lyrics create the exuberant atmosphere but Graham's guitar-work throughout Parklife is incredible. I don't think I appreciated it at the time but listening to the intro to This Is A Low now gives me chills. In fact, listening to Parklife now, at the rusty age of 23, still gives me the same intense excitement that it did when I was 9.
It was the perfect album for me at the perfect time and my life probably wouldn't have been the same without it.

Blur - This Is A Low (live)
Blur - Bank Holiday (live)
Blur - London Loves (live)

Thanks to no_cultureicons for the mp3s

Happy Birthday funfunfun

Funfunfun is 3 today! This old girl's celebrating.
Looking back to my first post, it's amazing what funfunfun has turned into. I'm very proud of it.
Over the past three years, I don't feel like I've opened up as much as I should have on this blog so in the next few days I will let you know things about me. Like my favourite gig, or my favourite albums from when I was younger. Just a bit of info so I can connect with you, my readers, a bit more. And remember you're more than welcome to let me know yours in return. Just leave a comment.

Also other exciting news!
I've started a new blog. Its called A Sonic Reaction and its an arts blog but each bit of art is inspired by a piece of music. It should be quite interesting and whatever happens it looks amazing. I'm going to try and update it quite regularly and if you fancy contributing to it, just give me an email. So go and take a look.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Screaming Maldini

I don't know the ex-Azzuri and AC Milan captain personally but to me, Paolo Maldini never looked a man who would scream. He looks too much of a man. So it must be another Maldini that the new Sheffield band Screaming Maldini are referencing in their name.
Formed from members of a few other bands (Situationists to one of them), Screaming Maldini spent the summer of 08 in a studio on the outskirts of the Steel City "surrounded by nothing but horses and trees."
The result is a sound that embraces as much of today's musical scene as it does as of yonderyears. The Extraordinary begins sounding like a Burt Bacarach loose end with its sweetly blow trumpet and cheery riff. It's a lush, sweeping pop tune that captures numerous genres in perfect detail. I'm impressed with the band's ability to change sound so easily and make it seem so natural, especially the part where they go from heavy guitar riffage to floating horns and choirs seemlessly.
It's ambitious music and it's very very good.

Screaming Maldini - The Extraordinary

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Fredrick Stanley Star @ The Wilmington Arms

Having developed a fair following around Cardiff, Fredrick Stanley Star are now venturing further afield to capture more victims, ...I mean fans, with their entrancing sounds. And London is their next stopping point.
The crowd at The Wilmington Arms are welcomed by seats, tables and fairy cakes which puts everyone in a comfortable and pleasant mood before the over-exciting and, frankly, annoyed compere ruins the atmosphere with nervous jokes but luckily he's gone quickly and FSS take to the stage.
Initially they're silent. Then gently brushed guitar strings are heard and the random, soft beat of a drum skin. The sounds almost seem to come from the air around me and the receptive crowd goes deadly silent. As the noises build and meander, the five-piece start harmonizing notes like a country village choir. It's beautiful. The music swells and bulges as bass notes are plucked and an electric guitar is sweetly picked. The vocals grow and suddenly everyone is shouting. The words aren't really words but their message is electric as is the atmosphere they create. I'm sure their double bass player is using two walkie-talkie to make squealing noises at one point, but the lush music seems to take my mind over and all I can think of now is the sound of leaves rustling and the chirp of a couple of birds.
Their music is very natural. It just seems to flow and the passion that each of the members puts into the performance is stunning, the lead singer's veins seem on the verge of bursting throughout the set. Each song climaxes in a flurry of crashing cymbals, bouncing double basses (literally) and visceral vocals that leave me breathless and euphoric.
Their final track, Devils Home, is even catchy with its chorus refrain of "The devil's home is not the only hell". They even make that line sound euphoric. And after such a tight and impressive set, they end that track on a blur of sprawling guitar noises and wooping, which just makes me like them even more. I love a bit of a messy raucousness.
So if you get a chance to catch Fredrick Stanley Star, DO IT. You won't be disappointed.

Fredrick Stanley Star - 500 Years

Photo by simonayre (not of the Wilmington gig but of their launch party at Clwb Ifor Bach)