Sunday, May 31, 2009

White Collar Weapons

Having played around the London circuit for over a year, White Collar Weapons have definitely developed an ear for a good tune. Glad I Am That's Not Me is the sort of track that will have you bouncing joyfully around any room you hear it in with its punchy riff and glorious melody. Singer and songwriter Kieran definitely know his way round a song and from the evidence of the previews on their myspace, White Collar Weapons have a promising sounding ep, Four To Forget, up their sleeves. They produce a sound that is halfway between Vampire Weekend and Arctic Monkeys but the sum of the parts is far greater than the parts themselves.

White Collar Weapons - Glad I Am That's Not Me (live)

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

funfunfun zine issue #1.5

Just a quick note to say that funfunfun zine #1.5 is available to download. I started putting it together about a year ago but got a job and lost time and enthusiasm for it. Now, since I'm putting together the next issue which I assure you will see the light of day, I thought I should probably make this issue available.
Contents include an interview with Jetplane Landing, live reviews of Slow Club and Rolo Tomassi, features on Inlets and Ultcult and reviews of Johnny Foreigner and Little Boots. All great acts!

You can download it from here!!!!!!!

Issue #2 will be at the end of June and it looks real good so far.

Jetplane Landing - This Is Not Revolution Rock (acoustic)
Slow Club - Pirates
Rolo Tomassi - Scabs
Inlets - Your Good Arm
Ultcult - Five Bedrooms and Two Lounges
Little Boots - Meddle (acoustic)

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Johnny Foreigner @ Flowerpot

As I'm working on the next issue of the, seemingly annual, funfunfun zine, I don't have much time to scribe a detailed review of Johnny Foreigner's performance at Flowerpot. I'll just say that it was cochlea-crunching loud - my ears weren't the same for a good few days after -, the new tracks sound amazing and I still get mesmerized by Alexei's guitar playing, I couldn't take my eyes of his fretboard. I love the way he pushes his guitar to the limit. Highlights were probably new single Feels Like Summer, Suicide Pact and Salt, Peppa... I'll let photos do the talking now.

Johnny Foreigner - Feels Like Summer
Johnny Foreigner - Camp Kelly Calm

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Alessi's Ark @ Rough Trade East

I was up in London last Thursday, with not much to do and a whole day's travelcard to make use of so I popped over to Rough Trade East, near Brick Lane, to see Alessi's Ark. I hadn't really heard much of her stuff before this but had heard and read a lot of positive things about Alessi, so I was intrigued.
My intrigue turned into delight as Alessi performed 6 or 7 tracks of pure wonderment. Her simple guitar patterns were the perfect canvas for her to paint glorious pictures with a clever turn of phrase and imaginative imagery. This kind of lyrical storytelling reminded me of Joanna Newsom and Alessi also shares vocal similarities with Ms Newsom. Its an uncompromising voice but when the music and content of the songs are so caked in mystique and fantasy, it just works.
The set consists of some tracks from her debut album, Notes From The Treehouse, like the haunting The Horse and the lovely Over The Hill but she also aired some new songs, none I can remember the name of unfortunately, but all were mesmerizing.
When the power cut out mid-set, Alessi just step aside from the broken mic and performed a couple of tracks completely acoustically. It really showed the talent and confidence of this kooky young songwriter. Maybe kooky's not the spot on but Alessi has this cute, hippy thing going on.
She finished with full power and a rapturous applause from the small crowd that had formed and I left, in hope that the rest of my day would be filled with as much adventure and fantasy as one of Alessi's songs.

Alessi's Ark - Magic Weather

You can buy Notes From The Treehouse from Rough Trade and get a free ep

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Laura Marling @ Flowerpot

Well it was actually billed as More Alarming but the venue's listings actually told you it was a secret show and to work it out yourself. Unsurprisingly it seemed that most of North London did as when Laura Marling took to the stage, the small venue was filled to bursting point and as hot as the devil's armpit. Flowerpot is a new drinking, musical establishment in Kentish Town and over May, its first month of business, it has put on a different band every night for FREE. Hoorah!
Ms Marling, and her cellist friend, actually had to clamber over the bar to reach the stage, due to the anchovy-like state of the crowd but the scramble didn't effect the performance as she burst in Ghosts from her debut album Alas I Cannot Swim, straight off. Laura's voice was edged with a slight tremble, maybe a sign of nerves, and the constant feedback from her microphone and the background chatter of the fucking people at the back almost spoilt the first song, but when the whole crowd joined in with singing the chorus, you could see Laura swell in confidence.
She aired three new songs, none of which I can remember the names of, but all of which left me mesmerized. The accompaniment of the cello added a richness to Laura's simple guitar and vocal work which complimented the tracks incredibly well. It bodes well for future releases.
She finished off with Cross Your Fingers/Crawled Out Of The Sea, which prompted an almost pub-like singalong from the cramped, but probably very drunk, masses. Ended on Alas I Cannot Swim, Laura neglected the microphone that had persistantly caused her problems all set and stepped to the front of the stage to conduct the crowd in their singing, even willing us on with her arms. For a song that seems so personal, it worked well as a group singalong and was the highlight of the night.
And that was it. Laura climb back over the bar, the crowd subsided, spilling out into the dark streets of Kentish Town and as I walked back to Camden tube, I realised I just seen something special. Next stop for Laura is the Southbank Centre!!!! Fricking crazy.

Laura Marling - Alas I Cannot Swim (Black Cab Session)

You can view more photos of the gig on my flickr

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mutiny On The Bounty

I'm not sure what else comes from Luxembourg but Mutiny On The Bounty are by far the best export the country has created in years. The four piece pick up sort of where Meet Me In St Louis left, they've recently signed to Big Scary Monsters to release their debut album Dangermouth, they create frantic, incessant, bruising guitar music and they have a perchance for long, and awesome, song titles. But MOTB are not just MMISL pretenders.
The intense passion and enjoyment you can hear on tracks like 1,2,3,4, I Declare A Thumb War and Cruz Canerlaria is a measure of their commitment to making technical, fierce and crunching music. You can hear any number of influences in their sound from At The Drive-In, This Town Needs Guns, Refused, These Arms Are Snakes. Pretty much any guitar band who really mean what they do.Cruz Canerlaria actually sounds like a beefed up version of Fang Island's Curanga which I blogged about last year.
Their album comes out in June on BSM and they're touring the UK in May and August.

Mutiny On The Bounty - 1,2,3,4, I Declare A Thumb War

Mutiny On The Bounty - Crus Canerlaria

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fanfarlo + Kill It Kid @ Northampton Square Bandstand

Another great event from the Bandstand Busking team on another glorious Sunday afternoon. Both acts were on top form. Fanfarlo brought the epicness with their Arcade Fire-esque melodies and multi-instrumentation. They played a number of tracks off their new album, Reservoir, like Harold T Wilkins and Comets and by the sounds of it, its going to be excellent.
Kill It Kid, who I'd never heard of before, were a surprise. Their singer had a Anthony Hegarty like, bluesy growl of a voice which sounded very put-on to begin
with but by the end of their four songs had the whole crowd hanging on his every note. The music was similarly bluesy and a bit folky with banjos and bongos complimenting expertly played 6-strings and hushed harmonies. They have an single coming out later this month on One Little Indian records, which was produced by John Parish, so will definitely be causing a stir.
Lets let some photos do the talking though:


Kill It Kid

Fanfarlo - I Am Pilot
Kill It Kid - Date It The Day

There's more photos of the afternoon on my flickr and I'll let you know when the videos of the bands go up on the Bandstand Busking site

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Toddla T

Following on from my last blog about the demise of one Sheffield based band, I feel I should talk about an up-and-coming artist who's hails from the Steel city. The Circle of Life and all that...
Toddla T first came to my attention at the end of last year with his belter of a tune Manabadman. It's the best jungle track I've heard in years. The insistent beat, the squelchy bass, the incoherent chatting all work together to work me into a frenzy. I couldn't stop listening to it for weeks.
Toddla, real name Tom Bell, is starting to make a big name for himself due to his monthly residence at Fabric nightclub, regular mixes on Radio 1, constant touring and by producing some of the freshest dance music and mixtapes I've heard for yonks. Its dancehall for the digital age. The nicest thing about Toddla T is that he seems like the most down-to-earth in person. Honest, passionate and happy to be where he is.
His debut album 'Skanky Skanky' is out later this year and on it he has collaborated with Roots Manuva, Tinchy Strider, Joe Goddard (from Hot Chip), Benjamin Zephaniah along with his regular MCs Mr Versatile and Serocee. With that line up, I'm struggling to see a weak link (although eyes are on you, Tinchy).

Toddla T - Backchatter (Mica's Version)
Toddla T - Manabadman feat. Serocee

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Situationists RIP

Sad times. My favourite wooping, Sheffield, angular guitar and pointier vocals band have decided to part ways after 3ish years together. Situationists have grown alongside this blog. We highlighted them as Ones To Watch back in 2007 and they were featured in the first, and only, issue of funfunfun zine so their demise is like losing a close friend or a pet. In their short time together, they released some of the nicest-looking vinyl eps, which always cam complete with a cd version, and always sounding excellent. They just had some much energy about their playing.
They played their final London show on Friday, but unfortunately I missed it. Their final final show is in Sheffield sometime in the near future and there is talk of a swansong release of new material. Fingers crossed but to keep you going til then they're giving away a couple of tracks: their superb, rocking version of Daft Punk's Digital Love and a remix of Whiskey & Water by ASPX. I hope they soothe the pain of this loss and I look forward to hear future projects from the band members.

Situationists - Digital Love
Situationists - Whiskey And Water (ASPX remix)

All Situationist cds/vinyls/tees etc. are available from Tough Love Records.

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