Sunday, August 31, 2008Get Seduced
I suppose it's possible to call The Faint cult legends. Forming in 1997, they've just released five albums, have a rabid fanbase, play blistering and unique live shows and have made no impact on the mainstream. They are one of my favourite bands and have been for longer than almost any other band, excluding No Doubt, of course. I first saw them playing live with Radio 4 at the Barfly in Glasgow in 2002. It was my first over 18 gig and I was absolutely terrified of getting turned away and having to go back to Edinburgh, unaccomplished.
Six years on The Faint are back with their fifth album Fasciinatiion. The Faint (or not so) quietly pioneered modern electro punk or indietronica or nu wave or no wave or electroclash or nu rave or indie rave or whatever you want to call it. Their 1999 album Blank Wave Arcade meshed the synthetic sounds of new wave with the energy of punk and the beats of dance music, and since then they've made some of the most dark and exhilerating music that's passed through my ears. Fasciinatiion sees them building on their blueprints, pushing their sound forward with even more advanced and experimental production, all the while showcasing pop songs of the highest vintage.
They played at Cargo in London on Friday night and it was WILD. Lately everything has been a bit folky on the gig front and generally very calm and civilised. The Faint were an injection of life, sex, danger. With strobe lighting pointing upwards, video projections, rrrrrrrraw energy and, oh yeah, amazing songs, they tore apart the sold out venue. Lead singer Todd Fink (he married Orenda Fink and took her surname - aw!) was all over the stage, wearing a white lab coat and goggles, while the rest of the band hammered on synths, spat out penetrating basslines and popped their bodies to the incendiary beats. By the end of the gig I was wet from the whole room's sweat. I'll be sure to see them when they're back in November. Meanwhile, check their tour dates and book yourself a date with the night when they hit your town.
Monday, August 25, 2008Not too late at the pier
I cannot get enough of Late of the Pier's debut album, Fantasy Black Channel. It is causing me to body-pop involuntarily every time I have it on. The sound is epic, immense, intense. TRASH hero (and fellow Holloway resident!) Erol Alkan produced the album and I think it is his genius touch which has made it the truckload of might that it is. Each belting glam-tinged anthem flows effortlessly into the next, leaving the listener gasping for breath by the time it closes with Bathroom Gurgle, which requires a whole new set of lungs. Phew...
I recommend that you buy this album NOW. You can hear lots of songs over at the LOTP MySpace page.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008Mercury nominated
I've written so many times now about Laura Marling that I don't think there's much left to say, other than I've seen her a couple more times (at St James Picadilly - above, and Field Day festival - below) and she's so still so understatedly, jaw-droppingly amazing. I can only encourage you to buy her album, Alas, I Cannot Swim.
In July I was asked by the Evening Standard to comment on the Mercury Music Prize nominations, and I told Londoners that Laura Marling was the best. I think it was published about three weeks ago - I never saw it in the paper, but a friend's mum did. Here's what I said:
The Mercury Music Prize nominations never cease to stir up a whirlwind of excitement, discovery and controversy. ‘Elitist! Populist! Tokenist! Obvious!’ shout the public, but most music fans have bought a nominated CD on the credibility of the nomination alone. This year will be no different, with such a solid list of nominees.
If the Klaxons’ win last year was a nod to an electronic future, this year’s nominations represent the distinctly earthy, organic character of some of Britain’s best new music. The Last Shadow Puppets and Elbow’s grandiose offerings are laden with sweeping strings, Plant and Kraus’ duets are heavily inspired by American folk, while Rachel Unthank’s album is classic British folk at its haunting best. Even Radiohead have switched off their synths!
Laura Marling’s Alas, I Cannot Swim is my favourite of the bunch. It is earnest, brooding, understated and flows perfectly as an entire work. Laura has accidentally become the figurehead of a young London-based folk scene, and albums from such peers as Johnny Flynn and the Wave Pictures deserve to be on this esteemed list. I wouldn’t be surprised if her friends Noah and the Whale, Slow Club and Mumford and Sons populate next year’s nominees.
Monday, August 18, 2008Adriatic waves to Wave Pictures
It's been too long again without an update. I am resigned to updating in flurries, and hope that's ok for you. I've been listening to lots of new music recently and going to lots of gigs, as well as settling in at my new job. I travelled around Montenegro and Croatia for a couple of weeks earlier in the summer and loved the Balkan and Gypsy Folk music. I will do some more research and discovery and share some gems with you in not too long.
One of the best bands to fall under my radar in the last few months is The Wave Pictures. They are three boys who make lo-fi music with poetic, intelligent lyrics. Singer and guitarist Dave Tattershall is an incredibly profilic songwriter, so profilfic, in fact, that the Wave Pictures just released a six-song EP a mere 4 months after they released a full length album on Moshi Moshi.
The music follows simple structures, with basic instrumentation; the production is minimal and bass, drums and guitar have an equal prominence live and on record. The sound is sometimes urgent, sometimes melancholic, sometimes playful. David Tattersall's expressive and powerful voice, with his soft Northern accent and his witty and sometimes strange lyrics take full prominence, give or take the occasional frantic guitar solo.
I first caught them live supporting Laura Marling at St James Picadilly, a vast church in the West End. The band had never before played in such grand surroundings and David sung most of the set unamped to make the most of the natural acoustics. Punters in the rear pews could hear the vocals clearly. Their stage manner was totally unassuming and they seemed a tad fazed by the size and granduer of the hall, but the crowd were won over by their original lyrics and raw, honest sound.
I fully recommend that you skip over to their MySpace to listen to some of their most bestest songs.