Tuesday, August 29, 2006They were pounds and ounces
Yes yes yes. Another excellent Canadian band. Metric are from Toronto and have been going for ages. I remember seeing them advertised to play at the Metro in London in 2004 and being too boring (or studious) to go. They played Hamburg when I was in Berlin and Berlin when I was in Hamburg. But last week I finally pinned them down at KCLSU for a triumphant sold out show. When they started out they were arguably a meeker versions of themselves. One might have compared them to The Cardigans and they were popular in France and Scandanavia before they were in Britain (a sure sign of kitschy-popness). But they played a show with Yeah Yeah Yeahs, they learnt to make excellent floor cutting angular anthems and they met fellow Torontonians, MSTRKRFT, who are pretty much the hottest remixing team in the world right now. Such is the demand for their services, they are having to turn down most offers coming their way. ANYWAY. Monster Hospital got the MSTRKRFT touch of gold and made it staple indieclub dancefloor-filler, which was a big help in getting Metric where they are now.
But the dancey direction was more than a superficial makeover. Singer, Emily Haines, took to the stage in a sparkly one-piece, and with her yellowy blone hair, dark eyebrows and angular cheek bones, she looked akin to Confessions-era Madonna. She danced with a firey passion, feeling every lash and lick of the guitar. She announced coyly before Death Disco "this is a dance song", smirking a little in knowledge of the undeniable body-jerking power of the song. In one of their more electronic-based songs, she laughed at the end, remarking that it was a bit "clubby". They were absolutely enthralling live and also the kind of band that has a really intense bond with their fans. As they played a meltdown at the end of their set, Emily bent down to two young girls in the front row and smothered them and kissed their heads, tears in her eyes. I felt amazing for those two girls, you never forget things like that. And it warms me so much to see when a band appreciates their fans so much. Metric are back in November for a huge tour, which is on sale now.
Go here for the MSTRKRFT remix of Monster Hospital
And a free download of Glass Ceiling
And if you are interested, a Yeah Yeah Yeahs acoustic session:
The party's on at marsneedsguitars.com
Monday, August 28, 2006I heart the nineties
Supporting Tapes'n'Tapes last week were 1990s, from Glasgow. They seem to be supporting every on-the-up band at the moment, or at least The Long Blondes on their upcoming nationwide tour and Brazilian electro-riotgrrrl band Cansei de Ser Sexy who are playing their debut UK shows next week. Their music is classic, sexy Rolling Stones-esque rock music you can shimmy and bop to and their single, You Made Me Like It is a perfect summer tune, sung in a swooning mid-Atlantic drawl, complete with some obligatory high-pitched yelping. There's something romantically retro about this band. It should also be noted that two of the members were in the seminal Glasgow band, The Yummy Furs, along with Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand. I should also say how much I love their name. 1990s. It says so much in such 5 characters. I was day-dreaming the other day and wondered what I'd call a band if I were to set one up...The Early 90s? Or The Mid 90s? Which was better? It certainly wasn't the post-Brit-pop-pre-millenium-angst of the late nineties, that's for sure.
Sunday, August 27, 2006I'll be your badger
On Tuesday last week the hype train rolled into London. The occasion was Tapes'n'Tapes' second visit to London, playing hipper than hipflasks White Heat. You could tell the anticipation levels were high. By 7pm the queue was round the block and past all the neighbouring Soho sex shops. At 9.30pm we were still waiting outside, having seen members of Franz Ferdinand, the Horrors and Bernard Butler already enter. Mental note: buy advance tickets next time. Rough Trade's other latest signing, 1990s were on first, but that's another blog entry for another day. I'll tell you now though, Kate Jackson of The Long Blondes was dancing next to me and cheering for her labelmates.
Tapes'n'Tapes entered the tiny Madame Jojos stage to a rapturous applause. They looked like four very normal American young men, which was a funny contrast with their dressed-up coolcat crowd of zeitgeist spotters. Their music is a dark, passionate alt-country which is sometimes more folky and sometimes more rocky. The set started off well with some of their faster, polka-inspired numbers, but the poor sound in the club meant that the intricacies of their songs were lost in the acoustics. They saved their single, Insistor, for second last and it made everything better. That song could save any set from shit creek. It's like a fucked-up, black magic barn dance with Sons and Daughters and Wolf Parade with a soaring chorus which teeters the edge between bliss and desparation and even features the line "and know that I will be your badger"...which is just excellent really. They also sing about "fighting for lovers' rights" which is a romantic and inexplicable proposition. The last song is also good and ends with a cruscendo of noise and solos and all that. The aftershow consensus is that they were good, they have some excellent songs, but this wasn't their best show for various reasons. I hope to see them again at Kings College in November to be convinced further of their greatness.
Their debut album, The Loon, is out now on XL Recordings. You can listen to Insistor on their MySpace.
On a White Heat note, The Low Miffs will be releasing their first single through White Heat Records. They play their second ever London show on 15th September at the Barfly. Tickets here
Thursday, August 10, 2006Auf Wiedersehen
Well, well. This here post is my last blog update as a resident of Berlin. As of 12th August I will be a Londoner again, although I'd like to think a) I've always been a Londoner, and b) I'll always be a Berliner, but not ein Berliner. I can only say that this has been the best year of my life. I've achieved things I'd never thought I'd achieve, I've met so many excellent people, been to so many excellent gigs, bars, clubs, cafes, restaurants, parties (etc). I would recommend Berlin as a holiday destination or for a much longer stay to anyone. You could stay here forever and never tire of it. It's so relaxed, fun and mostly friendly. If you do find yourself inclined to go, get in touch and I can send you some tips.
What awaits me in London is both exciting and daunting. I will be starting a very impressive internship on 14th August, going to lots of gigs and seeing smaller bands that haven't yet made it to Berlin, I'll be flathunting, finishing my dissertation and starting my final year at UCL. I'm nervous about re-establishing myself on the London gig-scene; in Berlin there's not too many people blogging and photographing so it's a small and nice community, while in London I'll be another cog in a big, big wheel. I hope that German readers of my blog will continue reading and I will be sure to be back in Berlin every few months for gigs and parties and second-hand clothes shopping. I will definitely be reading my good friend Elizabeth's blog to keep up-to-date on the Berlin gig scene and I recommend you do too.
So Aufwiedersehen, and please mind the gap (harhar) in blogging while I wind things down here and set things up in London.
Saturday, August 05, 2006Leave Before The Lights Come On
Domino Records have just put up the video for the Arctic Monkeys' new single, Leave Before The Lights Come On on YouTube. It's an amazing, dark and powerful video for one of the band's murkiest songs to date. It stars Paddy Considine and Kate Ashfield and only features a cameo from one band member towards the end. I particularly like this about the Arctic Monkeys - they write songs with characters, each one is like a short story. And so they make videos which are like short films, as gritty as their subject matters. I won't say any more, but I implore you to give the video a viewing. In case you missed them, my photos from their June gig in Berlin can be seen here.
Thursday, August 03, 2006Islands in the Sun
Sometimes I take for granted all the gigs I go to, but Islands last night at Bastard Club really made me realise what an amazing time for music this is. I can't ever remember a time ever when there were so many genius, inventive, creative bands making music, playing inspiring live shows. I know, I know...the 50s, or the 60s, or the 70s blah blah blah, but not on the same scale as now. I do think it's something about the year 2001. Before then indie was a dirgy, whiney, very conventional genre. I can't even remember what most of the bands sound like...the Big Yoga Muffins, Fifth Amendment, whatever, I can't even remember. I picked up a Melody Maker from 2000 a year ago and I couldn't even imagine what any of the bands sounded like.
Anyway! Islands were born out of the Unicorns, an amazing short-lived three-piece who imploded at the end of 2004. They only played three UK shows, all of which in London. Two of my friends saw them at the Barfly and left disappointed. I was lucky enough to catch them supporting Yeah Yeah Yeahs and it apparently was the best of the three shows. I'd never heard anything like them before, they were noisy, young, but had that same whispy, optimistic, utopian charm that Islands have. They brought people on-stage and nobody knew what was going on. Some poor photos!. Anyway, all was quiet. And then there were Islands, who originally featured Nick and Jamie from Unicorns, but on 28th May 2006, Jamie left. So there's only one unicorn on the island. But he's a pretty one.
Islands were amazing. There was seven of them on Bastard Club's tiny stage, so the drummer, Aaron Harris, was hidden behind two amps. They were constantly running around, swapping instruments. They played most of the songs from their debut album, Swans, but really brought it to life with the live instrumentation. The warm strings and the country twangs shattered so many hearts in that room, there's something so perfect about those chord changes that you can't help but weaken at the knees. You can tell they feel it too, they all sing their hearts out and play their instruments with smiles on their faces. There are lots of life and death references, and singer, Nick Diamond, wears bones around his neck. Like fellow Montrealites, Arcade Fire, mortality fascinates them, it's like an exhilerating rush of possibility and realisation. To finish their encore they played the first track of their album, Swans (Life After Death), a 9 minute cacophony, the energy coming in and out and sounding on the edge of something crazy. It was the highpoint of their set, appropriately, uncontrollable seizures, passion. I didn't know what to say when it finished, I was speechless. If it's so powerful listening to this music I can't imagine how it must feel to write it and perform it.
Soooooo...I really think you should listen to Islands if you haven't yet. Catch them if you can, you never know how long they'll be together. Listen to their music on their MySpace.