LoudAndQuiet Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 12 / 100 percent retrospective
2009 Review Special featuring our albums, gigs & tracks of the year
Bat F or L ashes
Natasha Khanâ€™s hell of a year
I Like 2009 â€¢
There’s still one final issue of Loud And Quiet this year, but let’s get 2009 wrapped up and stacked next to that seminal year for music, 2008. ’08, aye? What a year! Still, ’09 wasn’t all quiffed electro girls and refunded O2 tickets. La Roux went ‘in for the kill’, and MJ’s doc followed suit, but elsewhere Speech Debelle nabbed the Mercury Prize, The Horrors masterfully slinked out of their ‘haircut band’ regard and HEALTH released not just a club banger but one that actually had a melody. Was there enough of this goodness to hold ’09 up there with ’67? No, probably not, although perhaps once our rose-tinted specs are fastened, in years to come we’ll think differently. 2009 will be the year JLS changed everything! For now, the very real highlights of the past 12 months are here, along with a celebration of ATP’s tenth year [page 14], an extended live review of our first UK tour with Crocodiles [page 38], a couple of new bands to look out for next year [pages 12 & 16] and our annual Tool List [page 46] Watch out ’08, you’ll soon have Tinchy Stryder to contend with.
C o n t e n ts
12 | 09 LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 12 / 100 PERCENT RETROSPECTIVE
2009 REVIEW SPECIAL FEATURING OUR ALBUMS, GIGS & TRACKS OF THE YEAR
BAT FOR LASHES
Natasha Khan’s hell of a year
Photography by Phil Sharp
07 .................. . Leather / Clad / Justice 08 .................. . Buy / Awful / Sex 10 .................. . Thou / Shalt / Fashion 12 .................. . My / Childish / Side 14 .................. . Bags / Of / Fun 19 .................. . Shock / The / Boss 20 .................. . Mickey / Mouse / Died 21 .................. . Wrong / Euro / Kids 22 .................. .Vampire / Bones / Albatross 25 .................. . He / Kissed / Me 29 .................. . Ego / For / Life 31 .................. . Relax / Sleep / Cry 37 .................. . Dinosaurs / Attack / Christmas 39 .................. . Crocodiles / Wrestle / Halloween 46 .................. . The / Tool / List 04
email@example.com Loud And Quiet 2 Loveridge Mews Kilburn London NW6 2DP Stuart Stubbs Alex Wilshire Art Director Lee Belcher film editor Dean Driscoll Editor
Chris Watkeys, Danny Canter Danielle Goldstien, Dean Driscoll Eleanor Dunk, Elinor Jones Edgar Smith, Elizabeth Dodd Frankie Nazardo, Kate Hutchinson Kate Parkin, Kelda Hole, Lisa Wright Mandy Drake, Martin Cordiner Matthias Scherer, Mike Burnell Nathan Westley, Owen Richards Polly Rappaport, Phil Sharp Reef Younis, Sam Little, Sam Walton Simon Leak,Tim Cochrane Tom Goodwyn,Tom Pinnock This Month L&Q Loves
Anna Mears, Keong Woo, Sonia Melot at Recession Studio, The Crocodiles The views expressed in Loud And Quiet are those of the respective contributors and do not necessari ly reflect the opini ons of the magazine or its staff. All rights reserved 2009 © Loud And Quiet.
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12 | 09
Daft Punk played at my house With DJ Hero hot on the heals of its guitar sibling, French house looks set to continue its reign in electro cool Wr i t e r : R e e f Yo u n i s
Since the robot-shaped beginnings of modern French electro in the early 1990’s, the genre has enjoyed a surging renaissance these last few years. From Daft Punk to Etienne De Crecy, Busy P to Alan Braxe – hell, let’s even throw chart limpet David Guetta in there – French house/dance/electro carries a contemporary, unrivalled va-va-voom. And while Daft Punk have deservedly achieved global, corporate branding to go with their pioneering sound, the advent of a new wave of DJs and labels carrying more than a tinge of the tricolour have been keeping indie kids dancing since it was decided dance music was cool again. After all, gargantuan LED pyramids and DJ Hero empires aren’t built overnight. Both Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo earned their spurs in a burgeoning French house party scene and were arguably as much the beneficiaries of an upturn in interest in the UK dance scene as they were supremely talented talismans for the current
halcyon era. Of course, the more intimate shindigs soon became a distant glint in a robot’s visor after ‘Homework’ hit the shelves, but as building blocks go, they really didn’t come much bigger. Fast forward through ‘Stardust’, ‘Discovery’ and endless commercial chart success, the founding of both the Kitsuné and Ed Banger labels, the underground techcool of Ivan Smagghe, the stellar work of Laurent Garnier and Cassius, and you arrive headlong into a contemporary wealth of DJs, producers and artists responsible for pushing boundaries and genres over the last four years. A quick collation of the two heavyweight labels and any half arsed visit to Beatport would throw up Justice, SebastiAn, DJ Mehdi, Feeds, Mr Ouzo and Vicarious Bliss…(sic). Grace any club night, music festival or warehouse party worth its exorbitant flyer costs, and there’s a high chance there’ll be some French fingers involved, even if it’s only heavy track rotation.
So, apart from the obvious Parisian cool of Kitsuné and the eternally eclectic Ed Banger flying the flag, just why is the current crop of French fancies flowing from the Seine’s catchment area so unremittingly cool? Well, it’s because French house has become the blanket term for discriminating guitar kids looking to get their rocks off. That might suggest that any arrondissement dweller could feasibly rake in the cultural and social kudos, but the real kicker lies in the fact that in over 10 years, the output hasn’t lost an iota of its progressive, ingenious brilliance. Sure some of the Ed Banger crew’s cut and thrust can sometimes reduce a dance floor to a perplexed, schizophrenic mess, but in a toss up between being inadvertently knocked unconscious to the soundtrack of obscure Euro disco or being knocked unconscious at your average Saturday night club, I’d choose pretension over piss ups anytime. Over a decade later, to its credit, French dance music
hasn’t had to trade on the name of its two favourite sons to sustain itself. Sure, the pomp and fanfare is amped up a few levels with the slightest mention of anything DP-related, but the genre itself carries a discerning seal of quality long passed over from the early 90’s. In the age of crossover, French house can evolve into electro for the superclub crowds and the abrasive, electro-house for any beer soaked warehouse party dance floor. Depending on the party, though, you might pick up Kavinsky’s phasersplicin’ homages to 80’s disco, Justice’s gnarly, leather clad electro cock-rock, the warped, twisted beats of Mr. Oizo, or the eternally safe house bounce of early Daft Punk and never be disappointed. With the current fascination for crashing guitars against BPM, skewing synths with strings, and giving disco a drum pummelling edge, it’s easy to compromise the simple things in the quest for the precocious. Well, it is unless you’ve got that je ne sais quoi.
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Books of the year By Janine & Lee Bullman
01 The Last Mad Surge of Youth
by Mark Hodkinson A beautifully crafted tale of the friendships that music carves. A must. 02 Bad Penny Blues
by Cathi Unsworth Unsworth’s third and best novel stalks the streets of 60’s west London. An ominous crime thriller with a genuinely spooky heart. 03 The Devil’s Paintbrush
by Jake Arnott Demonic goings on in turn of the century Paris as a chance encounter leads to a very long, very strange night. 04 The Death of Bunny Munro
by Nick Cave Cave’s ode to unfiltered male desire is both shocking and hilarious. Definitely not for the squeamish. Or feminists. 05 Blood’s a Rover
by James Ellroy The conclusion of Ellroy’s seminal Underworld America series is possibly the finest yet. Modern noir at its absolute best.
wallfly This Is Music present their first art exhibition celebrating flyer designs from London’s best DIY promoters Wr i t e r : S t u a r t s t u bb s
by Simon Goddard Exhaustive study of the man and his work from one of the countries most highly regarded journalists. 07 Will work for Drugs
Popular music and art have been bumping uglies forever. Andy Warhol – a man more of a rock star than most musicians in 1960’s New York – even spawned a movement with ‘pop’ in its title; Damien Hirst would slice up tiger sharks and various beasts to the sound of ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’, before going on to make Blur’s (admittedly awful) ‘Country House’ video. But art and alternative music have always been bedfellows on a far simpler, less-showy level. The most po-faced musicians will tell us otherwise, but it’s never been ‘all about the music, maaan’. Image matters, and as such so do album covers and – more prevalently in the UK than ever – poster/flyer artwork. It’s something we’ve inherited from America’s DIY ethos: we wanted self-releasing bands and truly independent record labels; gigs promoted by people who care, held in surroundings not covered in
health and safety stickers. And almost unbeknown to us, all of this comes with the bonus of lawless flyer art to help spread the word of next week’s semilegal warehouse party or subversive club night. Prime DIY promoters themselves, This Is Music have noted the recent insurgence of illustrated flyer art knocking about second hand shops and posted on Myspace pages, and are set to hold their own exhibition celebrating the talents on the ends of the felt tips. Launching on November 26th and open to all until December 10th, WallFly – in true DIY style – is a free exhibition at – in truer DIY style – WAH nail bar (the concept place for your digits, founded by Sharmandean Reid of WAH-Magazine – a hub of creativity for independent fashion designers and artists). There, festooning the walls (and on sale if you wish to buy the limited, hand printed posters
available), will be flyers from some of London’s best nights – Nights like Upset The Rhythm, No Pain In Pop, Sex Beat, Durrr and Twee As Fuck, embodied on paper by illustrators like Chris Tipton, Tobias Warwick Jones, Zac Ella, Gina Baber and Laura Bell, respectively. They’re the kind of designs that stand alone, regardless of what they promote – the type of poster art that you want to hang on your wall, even if you don’t like the bands scrawled over them. As curators, This Is Music note: “These flyers help to spawn the identity of each promoter, advertising the promise of the party to come, yet often end their lives stuck to the floor or washed away into the digital wasteland.” It’s about time we took notice…in an east London nail bar. --For more information go to www. wallflyexhibition.blogspot.com or cntact firstname.lastname@example.org
by Lydia Lunch A collection of short stories from one of the only real true outsiders left. The real voice of the underground. 08 Bicycle Diaries
by David Byrne The ex-Talking Head has bike and will travel. An engaging and entertaining travelogue. 09/10 Blowback
by Lee Bullman Punk Fiction
Ed. by Janine Bullman Mrs. Bullman and I are aware that it may be considered bad form to include our own books on this list, but fuck it, our books make great Christmas presents.
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ast month we recapped the first 25 of The Decade’s Top 100 Tracks of The Noughties. They’re still at it, posting one a day at thedecade.wordpress.com, recently cracking the halfway point. Here’s numbers 75-51 to almost bring you up to speed. 75. Calexico – Black Heart Calexico’s desert-noir soundworld has never had a better accompaniment than this. It’s pure cinema to its final breath, a finely crafted triumph of genre and texture. 74. Sugababes – Overload Nearly ten years on this still oozes cool – you almost wish the ex-/genuine Sugababes could put their differences aside and have another crack at something as sassy. 73. The Libertines – Time for Heroes “Dangerous” Dave Pearce, Stoke FC’s Tony Pulis, William bloody Hague – there really are fewer more distressing sights in life than that of an Englishman in a baseball cap. And that’s not the only great observation here, either: ‘Time for Heroes’ is absolutely classic Doherty – romantic, patriotic, world-weary and poetic, this sees him at his most charismatic. 72. Spiritualized – Won’t Get to Heaven (The State I’m In) BIG even by Spiritualized’s standards, this is not for the faint-hearted nor fans of brevity. Precisely because of its extravagance. 71. Bat for Lashes – Horse & I Elegant and perfectly formed, here Natasha Khan pulls the listener into her own twisted dream-world that becomes more intriguing with every listen. 70. Youthmovies – Archive it Everywhere It takes a certain kind of mind to write a love song about an asthma sufferer’s lungs, placing this squarely into the category of “how the hell did they come up with this?”. There’s much to admire about a song this unconventional appearing so effortless. 69. Aphex Twin – Vordhosbn The title of this track actually means “sailboat” in Cornish, and once the image of a little ship bobbing on the high seas is overlaid on it, the ripples and eddies that bob throughout take on an almost wistful character. 68. Radiohead – Motion Picture Soundtrack Radiohead have always majored in delicate album finales, but even among that group ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’ shines through – never in pop music has a song diffused its preceding album’s tension as gorgeously as this.
the decade Our favourite blog, thedecade.wordpress.com, continues its countdown of the Noughties’ best tracks Wr i t e r : Sa m WA LTON I l l u s t r a t o r : E l b o wd e s i g n s . c o . u k
67. Wilco – Handshake Drugs Always gathering momentum but never pace, ‘Handshake Drugs’ is a seamlessly well-crafted song. 66. LCD Soundsystem – Losing My Edge While the sarcasm of ‘Losing My Edge’ nails the modern hipster, it’s consistently witty and not remotely bitter. 65. Bloc Party – This Modern Love Kele Okereke’s romantic cynic crops up here, most touchingly in the gorgeous final lines “do you want to come over and kill some time/throw your arms around me” – without doubt the most poignant moment Bloc Party ever committed to tape. 64. Super Furry Animals – Slow Life The musical double helix of Byrdsian power pop and wibbly techno is a great foil for Gruff Rhys’ oblique collage of rolling-news buzzwords. 63. Grinderman – No Pussy Blues Grinderman are all in their
fifties, while the feral snarl, general obnoxiousness and downright libidinous sneer that pervades this song’s every second would be remarkable from a group half their age. 62. Boom Bip feat. Nina Nastasia – The Matter (Of Our Discussion) Hypnotic and cascading, ‘The Matter’ could happily double its running time without becoming boring. But even as it is, it’s a beautiful thing to experience. 61. Girls Aloud – Biology The decision to cram ‘Biology’’s three disparate sections together into some attentiondeficit shuffle-mode playlist is genius, and this tumbling, speedy feeling of Sunny D-esque sensory overload builds for two minutes before the chorus, at which point the track is so high on multi-flavoured spangly pop sherbet that the only option is a broad grin to acknowledge the nonsense. 60. Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – Thou Shalt Always Kill
Sure, there are inconsistencies and contradictions all over the track, but Pip’s sly delivery earns him the benefit of the doubt. And anyway, thou shalt not put musicians on ridiculous pedestals, remember? 59. The Chemical Brothers feat. Tim Burgess – The Boxer ‘The Boxer’ is a masterclass in keeping an open mind. When this collaboration was revealed, who’d have though that the Chemicals and Burgess could make such propulsive soul music? 58. The Strokes – Hard to Explain The fact that this track begins without any of the band actually playing is almost aggressively dismissive – a group at their most obnoxiously self-assured, cocky but very desirable all the same. 57. Sufjan Stevens – Chicago Stevens has written about plenty of one-horse towns in his career, but ‘Chicago’ shuns all that minutiae: this is his Mount Rushmore, his Statue of Liberty – it’s majestic but humble, and always unashamedly so. 56. Low – Laser Beam With its hallowed calm and broken chords, ‘Laser Beam’ feels like a distant relative of Jeff Buckley’s ‘Hallelujah’, but Low are as restrained here as Buckley is histrionic on his recording, and that sparseness makes ‘Laser Beam’ exquisite. 55. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – There She Goes, My Beautiful World Cave makes one of his greatest ever songs out of having crippling writer’s block, and although that’s as paradoxical as it gets, the sheer walloping force here renders it all perfectly natural. 54. CSS – Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above It’s tough to really nail a song about screwing – too much sass just gets irritating, too much approachability and it all becomes a bit dull. 53. Spiritualized – Hold On Maybe it’s 25 years of being a drug-fucked philosopher, but with ‘Hold On’, Jason Pierce collects truisms into a gorgeous secular hymn. 52. The White Stripes – Fell In Love With A Girl “I’ve said it once before but it bears repeating now”, sings Jack White several times throughout. He could almost be talking about his own tune. 51. Underworld – Two Months Off Listen to ‘Two Months Off’ and it doesn’t really matter what’s been before, or what’s en vogue – this is built of sterner stuff than fashion.
Fair Ohs / Making afrobeat through a hardcore filter, fair ohs’ newest sound is their best yet P h o t o g r a p h e r : F r a n ki e Na z a r d o Wr i t e r : S t ua r t S t u bb s
Tropical punk trio Fair Ohs are not the band they once were. No longer are they The Pharaohs, nor The Mighty Pharaohs, nor the most recent Thee Fair Ohs. For a day they were The Mighty and Unquestionable Pharaohs, although only in the mind of singing guitarist Eddy. Most definitely though, they are no longer Big Fucking Deal, the speedy hardcore band that flobbed them out. “I think playing punk is a really great way to learn how to be with everybody in the band,” reasons Eddy “because you learn how to interact with everybody, because it’s so stop/start you have to really look at everybody and know when to stop… and start, and change riffs. It really taught us loads, but we’d had enough. It was becoming really boring playing punk.” As Big Fucking Deal, Eddy, bassist Matt and drummer Joe, along with a character called Steve Fessey (who brought the band together), played their first show together at a DIY warehouse party. They managed to play all 10 of their songs in 8 minutes – the fastest hardcore troupe in town. “I knew Fessey and he asked me to play bass,” remembers Matt. “It was between me and Conan from Graffiti Island, he said…” “And do you know why he chose you?” grins Eddy “because Conan can’t hold his alcohol.” In Rory Bratwell’s Dalston studio, where Fair Ohs are tonight mixing some new tracks, all three members burst into the kind of laughter that elevates feet. “Really?” says Matt. “Steve Fessey’s straight edge so that’s quite funny… So yeah, I came in and we were more of a hardcore thing called Big Fucking Deal. It was really fast and noisy. Fessey left – well, we sacked him – and then we did more of a garage thing at first, until we realised that we wanted to do
the thing that we’re doing now.” “I didn’t want to do it with Fessey anymore, he was racist,” chuckles Eddy to more roars. “You can print that,” he says. “But it wasn’t fun anymore so I didn’t know if we were going to continue – I just went, ‘fuck it, I don’t want to do this, if you want to be a band anymore then let’s do something different but we’re not going to be Big Fucking Deal.’ And then we really did stop trying to play fast all the time and started to be a bit more melodic. That’s when the name changed.” … And changed, and changed, and changed. The three ex-members of Big Fucking Deal also changed their sound. At first it was far less subtle than it is now. As Matt says, they became a garage band – a loud and heavy garage band, also inspired now by Billy Childish as well as Black Flag, most probably due to Matt’s chunk-on for the poet/artist/ solo musician (“I’m kinda obsessed with Billy Childish,” he confesses. “Half of my vinyl has ‘Childish’ written on the side of it.”). For a time, Fair Ohs still blurted louder than their DIY peers’n’pals (Male Bonding, Teen Sheikhs, Graffiti Island, Cold Pumas); for long enough, even, to release a super-limited tape EP via Matt’s own Suplex Cassettes label. But before truly wearing in their garage shoes, the band ‘went Afrobeat’, exploring euphoric island melodies, African influences and blissful, windy guitar riffs. This is the band Fair Ohs are now – a perfect hybrid of loose lo-fi and tropical pop, or, as they neatly put it, “Paul Simon… but…you know…punk.” “We realised that we’d all grown up listening to ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon,” says Eddy of what surfaced in the band’s first rehearsal post-Steve Fessey “and I’d been listening
to a lot of African music for about 5 months up to the point where we started, and we just thought, shall we try and do something that sounds like it’s off ‘Graceland’? That’s when we changed tack.” “It was also about being positive,” adds Joe. “We were positive hardcore anyway, but with this we can have a bit more of a party.” “We’re still going to have garage elements,” continues Matt “because we’re massive fans of garage, but there are so many
garage bands at the moment and we don’t want to be just another garage band. And besides, Billy Childish has done it,” he insists “and he’s done it a hundred times better than we ever could, so let’s try something a little bit different and a little bit new.” Eddy: “And whether we’re doing African-influenced stuff, or fucking Raga, it’ll always be through the filter of being hardcore kids. We’ll always play messily and loud, because we can’t be clean and pop.”
“I’m sure if we tried to do a brizilian tropicalia song it’d be ‘brazilian tropicalia meets black flag!’”
Matt: “I’m sure if we tried to do a Brazilian tropicalia song it’d be ‘Brazilian tropicalia…” [puts on a doomy voice] “…MEETS BLACK FLAG!” Only their friends now sulk about Fair Ohs’ new direction, because “they’re arseholes,” says Eddy. They’re also the only few who ever got to hear MK1 of the band. Fifty cassettes were released and the hardcore garage Fair Ohs played just a handful of live shows. Their early almost-60-seconds tracks – like ‘I’m Your Woman, I’m Your Wife’
– you might remember from their Myspace profile, but they’ve long gone the way of Steve Fessey, replaced by far more melodic, frankly better songs. There’s ‘Summer Lake’, which is released any day now on Sex Is Disgusting (and, as page 22 will tell you, has made our Tracks of The Year list), the equally limbo-ing ‘Almost Island’ and new beach party song ‘Hey Lizzy’, which loosely references post-punk singer Lizzy Mercier Descloux. All help make punk fun again by combining
a DIY ethos with something far more exotic – stained Converse All Stars are still allowed but also welcomed are grass skirts and flip flops. Or, better still, no shoes at all. “There’s a lot of dancing barefoot now,” notes Matt. “It got really cold when we played a gig the other week so I put my shoes on and it felt horrible. Even at practice we take our shoes off now, since playing this stuff.” Don’t believe a word they say, more than ever Fair Ohs are a BIG fucking deal.
1 0 y e a r s o f at p
ext month All Tomorrow’s Parties celebrate their tenth birthday. It’s a big deal because they put on what are without a doubt the best festivals in the UK, probably the world, and have been doing so since 1999, when they took on the running of Belle and Sebastian’s ‘Bowlie Weekender’ and turned it into an annual alternative knees-up. Since then they’ve expanded to incorporate three festivals a year (four this year with the birthday do), individual concerts, their Don’t Look Back shows, where classic albums are played in full (The Stooges playing ‘Raw Power’
supported by Suicide playing ‘Suicide’ next May, anyone?), and a label, ATP Recordings, which puts out the extraordinary likes of Deerhoof, Fuck Buttons and Alexander Tucker. Read back through the events archive on their website and you’ll be taken aback that such a thing can actually exist in a random, dispassionate universe and probably feel a little sick at the sheer amount of talent on display, not to mention the fact that you missed most of it. Anyhow, there’s still time to paraglide into December’s shows (the tickets are long sold out), or sign up to the returns list and we’d recommend that you do as, at ten years-old, ATP is still every bit the precocious musical genius and black sheep of the festival fold, making Glastonbury and Reading look like drooling nursing-home vegetables by comparison. We
caught up with Barry Hogan, who at 37 still runs the festivals with his wife Deborah, to find out how they’ve managed it. Loud and Quiet: 10 years, how have they been? And what has ATP achieved? Barry Hogan: “I would say on the whole they’ve been pretty good. We’ve had plenty of setbacks but been fortunate to have presented so many amazing artists. The list is pretty long but so rich. We’ve had acts such as Slint who were broken up before playing ATP to the likes of Iggy and the Stooges, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Portishead and Boards of Canada. When we started in late ‘99 there weren’t any other alternative festivals. All that existed was Reading, Glastonbury and Phoenix etc. I think we have done well to offer an alternative to those bigger events. I’d also say that we
were the first of our kind and we seem to have influenced lots of boutique festivals that exist now. I am just happy we have retained our integrity and remained true to the original concept of presenting music we believed in.” LQ: How have you been able to keep that integrity (ATP remains unsponsored), have the suits come knocking? BH: “We have had people offering us sponsorship but I don’t feel we need to introduce that after 10 years of not having it. We don’t go round making adverts like Hop Farm stating ‘we have no VIP areas or corporate branding.’ They were making out like this was some revolutionary idea of theirs, yet we have been doing all that stuff for 10 years. ATP belongs to the musicians and the fans so the bands and fans can hang out together as one, so everyone is
As ATP turns 10, we ask founder Barry Hogan how it feels to still be promoting the most credible festival and parties around Wo r d : Ed g a r S m i t h P h o t o g r a p h y : s h o t 2 bi t. n e t
A camera shy Yoko Ono in 2005
equal. If other promoters think it’s important to dilute their events with some shitty phone company underwriting it, then good luck to them, that’s not my bag. I just want to put on events where we present music we believe in without any compromises.” LQ: Where do you see it all going in the future? BH: “I think we will continue as long as we get stimulated by what we are presenting. If we lose that we will stop as we put 100% into each event, like it’s our last.” LQ: What do you think has happened to alternative music this decade? BH: “I think there’s a really healthy underground scene now. Bands have more opportunity than 10 years ago and it’s good that people are able to discover new music with the help of myspace etc. It means people are more
proactive and lots of good people are presenting nights and releasing records.” LQ: While the twin joys of filesharing and online streaming have made music more accessible and less localised, for a promoter who pioneered gigs in which classic records are played live (anyone who suspected ATP of indulgent, retrograde navelgazing here should’ve gone to see Sonic Youth doing ‘Daydream Nation’ at the Roundhouse in 2007 to be persuaded otherwise), has the digital age had negative implications for such a large unit of music? BH: “Don’t Look Back is celebrating the album as an artform because the downloading era means people are more and more going after individual tracks. But, saying that, I think it’s also encouraging artists to make solid albums that don’t have too many filler tracks on.” LQ: Any particularly solid albums you’ve come across this year? BH: “Yeah, I love the new OM record, ‘Wylt’ by Black Math Horseman and also that soundtrack compilation that Warren Ellis and Nick Cave did called ‘White Lunar’ - that’s insane how good that is. The tracks they composed for the forthcoming movie ‘The Road’ are also amazing. I know we released them and people will think I am biased but ‘Tarot Sport’ by Fuck Buttons and ‘Climb Up’ by Apse are also two of my favourite records this year. Other records I liked, old and new? ‘In Prism’ by Polvo, The Beak> [Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and his new, no-overdubs project who are playing the 10th Birthday shindig], Sleep’s ‘Holy Mountain’ and ‘Critical Beatdown’ by Ultramagnetic MC’s.” LQ: What criteria make a great band? BH: “I think the obvious
Peaches at ATP, 2005
Les Savy Fav at ATP’s second Christmas festival, 2005
criteria for bands is to make great records. Take a band like Built to Spill, they are on their 7th LP. I love ‘There is Nothing Wrong with Love’ which was made in the mid 90’s but they are still making great LP’s 5 albums later. They play great shows and are a pleasure to deal with, so to me that makes for a great band. There are plenty of bands who make great records but are complete assholes. We have a no assholes policy at ATP. You can play once but if you act like an asshole, then we won’t ask you back.” LQ: Slight diversion, but we’ve read you were quoted as saying Elliott Smith used to hate you. Why’s that, out of interest? BH: “It was over an email. My girlfriend at the time sent an email to Elliott’s girlfriend where she pretended to be me on my account and she was being harsh over something. We were friends with Elliott’s girlfriend and she got emotional over the context of the mail and Elliott came home to find her in tears. He then launched at me on email saying I had upset his lady – I hadn’t, my girlfriend had! So it was a weird situation. Months after the interview where I said that, I resolved the situation with Elliott. All was cool and he was scheduled to play at our ATP LA 2003 event but he never got to play as he tragically passed away.” LQ: What do you do apart from book bands? BH: “I collect vinyl toys by James Jarvis and Kaws, and art by Mark Ryden and Camille Rose Garcia, I love films by Wes Anderson and Jim Jarmusch and TV shows like The Wire, Seinfeld and The Sopranos but I work so much on ATP that I don’t get much time to do other stuff.” LQ: Great. Finally, what’s the value of ‘leftfield’ music? BH: “its between £6.50 and £6.99.”
Hor se an d Con dor / When guitars get boring, throw them out Wr i t e r : I a n r o e b u c k
Some bands apply their imagination to overblown production, others on overblown bowl cuts. Horse and Condor embrace it for what it’s worth and they even ask you to use yours. “We want to challenge people working in the office, make them question if they are happy with the everyday life they lead,” says Jamie in his lyrical Scottish accent. This sounds righteous but Jamie’s smile is as broad as his dialect. To be fair, these guys need all the imagination they’ve got. Still harnessing their grey matter, the band lie one step from fruition. Friends and foes have come and gone as the threesome fluctuates from one line-up to the next (most recently behind the live drums was Neils Children’s Brandon Jacobs), not that they consider this all bad. “We are only just addressing the line-up, we can choose where this is going in a fluid way, a great way,” remarks Dave, who, unlike Jamie, is clearly from London. Playing together now is both a pleasure and a formality. They met playing in Strange Idols, but soon grew tired of the band showing little sign of
progression. Horse and Condor seems a natural reaction to this. “Jamie and I left and decided we wanted to make dance music,” explains Dave “be like kids in a toy shop and not be precious with anything. To shy away from media influences was what we needed, at that time everyone was doing post punk so we decided to do away with guitars. We started writing with just the bass, making loads of mistakes. We weren’t familiar with it but it didn’t matter, we tried to make R’n’B stuff too.” From the dark jangle pop of Strange Idols to minimal dances grooves and rhythms, you have to hand it to them, it is a big step. “Yeah but banning the guitar is a hard thing to do, it’s easy to hide behind on stage if you know what I mean?” laughs Jamie “we just keep thinking for fucks sake we are trying to get away from all this”. “We use the guitar when nothing else will do the job better,” adds Dan. You’d be forgiven for not knowing there are in fact three members of Horse and Condor. Resembling a Daft Punk who’s upped sticks and headed down the Stoke Newington Road, Jamie
explains why the anonymity is paramount to the band. “When you open the NME, it’s just so obvious what everyone sounds like. We are a really new band so we don’t want to come out as if we are fucking amazing with a photo that took three hours to take. We try and record stuff spontaneously so to lean against a wall gazing out to space just wouldn’t work.” But will they always have their backs to the camera? It could be read as a bit, dare we say it, pretentious. “You joke, but we actually thought about masks. We won’t always be doing pictures like this but we’d rather come across as a band who likes to make people think more than the usual posers.” Dave steps in: “We consider the music we are making… I wouldn’t say it’s quirky, just a little different from the status quo. So the picture illustrates that’. If you think they are hard to pin down aesthetically, try explaining their sound. Somewhere between Brian Eno, Motown Records and a Scottish Flaming Lips, it’s a glorious sketchpad of ideas that sounds different every time you hear it. “One guy said we sound like
early Happy Mondays but I have no idea what he’s on about,” drawls Jamie before suddenly remembering another comparison “…and that review! My god, we had our second gig and someone came down to watch and wrote we were a cross between Roxy Music and King Creosote, just because I’m Scottish!” Dave and Dan erupt into laughter as Jamie strokes his beard. Being likened to the sounds that thwacked from Factory Records’ early stable – sinister yet danceable – we get; King Creosote, less so, but living in a lo-fi year, Horse and Condor manage to primarily sound big, producing soaring soundscapes opposed to the fashionable format of scuzzy guitars and washed out vocals. Still DIY, the band record everything at home. “We want to sound huge but you can still do that yourself,” explains David. “We aren’t going to sit around and wait for it to fall on our laps. Who is to say if you are recording yourself you can’t make brilliant soundscapes? Just ‘cos most of these bands are purposefully going for a lo-fi sound, we just want to try new things and do the opposite.”
20 09 review
Wr i t e r s : D a n y Ca n t e r , Ed g a r S m i t h , I a n r o e b u c k , jac o b s h e p pa r d , K at e h u c hi n s o n , Li s a W r i g h t Nat ha n w e s t l e y, R e e f Yo u n i s , Sa m Li t t l e , Sa m wa lto n , S t ua r t s t u bb s , t o m Pi n n o c k
albu ms of th e year •
You D ig Th e Tu nne l I’ll H i d e Th e Soi l
Hatcham Social (Fierce Panda) Released on Mar 16 Of all the bands that got lumped in with the achingly cool new London school (Electricity In Our Homes, S.C.U.M, etc), Hatcham Social were always the ones that stood out. With their debut LP, the New Cross boys set about showing, in twelve succinct slices, that, if Orange Juice had found a couple of synths and upped the production values, the results would have been pretty awesome. At times recalling a (really) chirpy Pulp (‘So So Happy Making’), at others The Cure at their most hook-laden (‘In My Opinion’), with a bit of jagged disco Franz thrown in for good measure (‘Murder in the Dark’), the core of Hatcham Social is unashamedly pop: catchy, exuberant and infinitely struttable. But, rather than being vapid cuts of dancefloor fillers, these 80’s tinged gems come with a black heart. The apparent pop sheen is always undercut by a wry knowingness. LW
Balf Quar ry
(Trial & Error) Released on Feb 9
(Jagjaguwar) Released on May 4
(Upset The Rhythm) Released on Nov 16
In a year where fuzzy logic and Khan copiers reigned supreme, ‘It Rots’ was a refreshing slice of slacker fun that threatened to actually enjoy itself. You’d have thought an album that didn’t take itself seriously amongst the black clad crowd would be a hard sell but Wet Paint pulled it off with an idol charm. Out of tune and out of touch but who cares – every track crashes in with such verve and good humour that you can’t help but smile. Part alt country outfit Absentee, and part drone rock band Economy Wolf, it’s the sound of a new band letting rip. Free from the constraints of image and let’s be honest, trying to be cool, Wet Paint revel in their underdog status. Songs like ‘Don’t Shave’ and ‘By Myself’ lord up laziness with a dry wit, whilst album highlight ‘Save the Whale’ is a sofa bound anthem to celebrate. They don’t give a shit and neither should you – it’s alright you know just hug it out and grow that beard. IR
There’s certainly no shortage of dark or heavy albums in the world – just look at HEALTH’s ‘Get Color’ for a great example, or the demonic hardcore of Kong’s 2009 debut ‘Snake Magnet’ – but rarely is a record as artfully dark as Connecticut duo Magik Markers’ latest. Blending the fuzzed-up guitars and unhinged vocals of Elisa Ambrogio and the clattering drums and ominous keyboards of Pete Nolan, ‘Balf Quarry’ saw the band expand far beyond their previous long-player, ‘Boss’, into something far more varied, difficult, dangerous and cooler. Sure, the distorted ‘Risperdal’ and the aggressive ‘Jerks’ might have harked back to their past, but more keyboard-led songs like the piano dirge of ‘State Numbers’ and the android latin of ‘7/23’ were far more beautiful than
a noise-rock band ever has the right to be. ‘Psychosomatic’ was almost pop in its playfulness and teasing electric piano, while ‘The Ricercar Of Dr Clara Haber’ distilled the band’s frequent avant-garde free noise tapes into a handy two and a half minutes. Best of all, though, was ‘Shells’, a delicate near-eleven-minute opus of harmonium, scraping violin and piano infused with the creepy, freaky, fucked-up spirit of Nico circa 1969’s darker-thandark ‘The Marble Index’. This isn’t necessarily an album to love, it’s far too scary for that; it’s an album you bring out when you want to shock yourself out of your usual day-to-day existence. That the shocks aren’t all down to feedback and fuzz is what makes ‘Balf Quarry’ so stunning. TP
D i e S low
On one hand, they don’t make it easy. Gentle Friendly’s Buggle-esque vocals are, especially on first palpable track ‘Rip Static’, swamped in Casio organ chords and chorus effects; just another instrument to pick out from the constructed chaos of samples and beats. Sing-a-long fans shouldn’t look to the sleeve notes either, or at least not without a mirror to hand as most lyrics have been printed backwards. Pretentious? Certainly. But ‘Ride Slow’ earns that right by being wholly original in its combination of electronic sounds and those of a good old fashion band. And there is that other hand, on which this debut is continually emotional, beautiful even, like on lump-in-the-throat, dulcet glitch ballad ‘Lovers Rock’. Sounding like a sensitive Abe Vigoda, Gentle Friendly have softened since the A.D.D. blurt of their ‘Night Tapes’ EP, allowing the band to expand half ideas into more fullyformed songs than before. SS
Continued on page 23
Most m e morable mom e nt of th e year • 01
Th e Death of M ichae l Jackson And there we were, convinced that MJ might be a lot of things but mortal he ain’t. It’s probably what made Jackson’s sudden death such a shocker – we were sure he’d outlive us all, like Mickey Mouse, Keith Richards and Dot Cotton. The days – hours even – that followed The King of Pop’s end were almost as weird as his later life. By the time we’d run home to get to the bottom of what was surely just a vicious rumour (probably started by a bitter, lying parent who’d tried to claim lovely Mike had touched their kid up, right?), Jackson’s Wikipedia page had been updated with the news and he was already being referred to in the past tense. More than likely the work of a distraught super-fan, we couldn’t help but wonder what sad-case would reach for the web in their moment of severe loss, until it was pointed out that we were the morbidly curious losers looking at his page with Sky News on in the corner. It symbolised just how much it meant though, as did the out-pouring of grief from seemingly everyone (even all those who thought the man was a paedophile a day earlier), the following conspiracy theories and media-fuelled game of ‘pin the tale on the doctor’. We’ll always remember where we were when MJ died, and we dunno about you but we’ve always been mad fans… except for a day earlier.
Record labe ls of th e year • That title suggests companies releasing recorded sound on shiny black vinyl or shinier reflective CDs at the very least, but this year clunky tape cassettes returned, on them some of our favourite tracks of 2009. We even had a go at releasing our own analogue compilation (Loud And Quiet Cassettes’ ‘Crocodiles Tour Tape ’09’), inspired particularly by Suplex Cassettes, who’ve had a productive 12 months releasing debut EP’s for Spectrals and The Light Sleepers, as well as a shotgun album from Teen Sheikhs. Super limited at 50 copies, each Suplex release felt as lovingly cared for as pushing play and record for evenings on end. As we found out, it’s an arduous task, but
Bi g g e st d i sappo i ntm e nts
Arctic Monkeys When Arctic Monkeys managed to turn ‘My Favourite Worst Nightmare’ around within a year of releasing their debut album, they were rightly heaped with enough praise to retire on. It not only proved the band to be far from work-shy but that they could deliver under pressure, creating a beefier, darker, more dynamic record to rival their first. ‘Humbug’ took two years, and by simple logic should therefore be twice as good. It’s not. Save for the prowl of ‘My Propeller’ and the typically naughty ‘Cornerstone’ and ‘Crying Lightning’ – all of which are Arctic Monkeys delivering their cleverest personal tales yet – ‘Humbug’ is racked with non-tunes, giving the Monkeys the unfamiliar task of making a tricky fourth album.
Wavves Pot fiend Nathan Williams – aka Wavves – never knowingly promised a thing. Consumed by a smog of skunk fumes his lo-fi garage rock was meant for mates’ house parties, backyard skateboard ramps, and little else. But then tracks like ‘So Bored’ gave Pitchfork a massive boner for the young slacker, prompting the smarter-than-thou site to champion Williams far beyond his musical know how. More stupid than those stiff cocks that labelled Wavves a DIY saviour were those of us that believed it, which is why Williams’ debut – aka ‘So Bored’ plus 13 less audible, less exciting tracks – left us naïve hopefuls feeling really rather daft.
03 It’s Not Me, It’s You
Lily Allen while the end result is far hissier than Spotify, it’s also a lot more fun when encased in coloured, moulded plastic. Champions of vinyl though really were the less than chatty Captured Tracks. As last month’s interview with Brooklyn grump Mike Sniper proved, the man who records under the Blank Dogs moniker doesn’t like to yap about his lo-fi label. All that matters is what he releases, and, siphoning the best talents spotted by garage kings In The Red Records (Christmas Islands, Thee Oh Seas) and good friends Woodsist (Ganglians and The Bitters), Captured Tracks only release the good stuff. The 5-year-old Hyperdub meanwhile remains the one-stop-shop for 2 Step and smart grime.
That Klaxons’ second pop opus was promised in June and is yet still to arrive has been as disappointing as wanting a Wii and getting a bat’n’ball, but that Lily Allen’s latest wasn’t shelved was far more harrowing. Her popdone-cool debut, ‘Alright, Still’, has a lot to answer for, for all of the “I just love pop music” bleats that followed, but, ultimately, it was well worth it. Witty, eclectic and more melodious than a Paul McCartney penned nursery rhyme, it proved more than ever that pop stars could have their own opinions. In comparison, ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ just felt lazy, from its insipid songs about ‘eating Chinese and watching TV’ to a virtual cover of Take That’s ‘Shine’. A bonafide star, this year Lily forgot the music.
g igs of th e year •
Engine Rooms, Brighton August 23rd 2009
Pic: Owen Richards
How can any band truly break the shackles of being tied to a stage? Monotonix have the answer – leave it completely. These unconventionally thinking, Y-front-sporting Israelis do not care much for tradition and as their August tour of the UK proved with every gig they played. While others are content to redress the familiar standardised live show by adopting catwalk clothing, over-complex light shows, smoke machines and – when the budget allows – a series of grand fireworks to wow an audience (or to at least fathom some kind of positive reaction) and stop a sea of unhappy arms being crossed in front of them, Monotonix have realised that the best way to counter this is to fully engage. They unbuckle their harnesses and leap into the unknown, armed with the bare essentials of one mic and one guitar that are both fitted with extremely long cables, and one minimal, easily constructible drum kit. Wherever these items land they play and when things become too comfy they either move/are carried/crowd surf across the room to another part of the venue, only for the audience to follow in Pied Piperlike fashion. Knocking down the divide between audience and band members is nothing new (the past has given us The Clash and The Libertines, as well as bands we would all much rather forget, like The Others) and yet none of these have done it in quite the madcapped way as Montonix have, sweat dripping from their thatched chests. Bearing witness to it is an eye opening experience that will alter your perception of all that follows. NW
b lu r
MAle Bon d i ng
M STR KRFT
Be i r ut
Hyde Park, London
Offset Festival, Hainault
Melt Festival, Germany
The Forum, Kentish Town
July 2nd 2009
September 5th 2009
July 17th 2009
May 8th 2009
We should have seen it coming but when Blur belted out ‘Badhead’ as Black Tower wine sloshed from front row to back, Damon Albarn was accurately predicting London’s biggest hangover of the year. Practically the entire city descended on Hyde Park for two days of nostalgic lunacy as old friends were met with warm hearts, the crowd’s delirium only matched by the band themselves: Alex beamed whilst Damon choked - the homecoming clearly too much to bear for some. Even the now inescapable nobhead singing ‘Slide Away’ was met with cheers rather than jeers. A magical run of ‘Tracy Jacks’, ‘There’s No Other Way’ and ‘Jubilee’ announced that yes, this really was happening and the momentum continued right through to ‘The Universal’. Glastonbury was unforgettable but this was their true victory. IR
Yeah, it’s one we hosted ourselves, but we really can’t take any credit for Male Bonding’s triumphant set at true indie haven Offset Festival. They thrashed about the stage we hosted but whether the banner behind them was ours or had read ‘Ex-Lax’, the tent would have bulged regardless; the band soundtracked the good-natured, excitable stage invasion of the weekend with their visceral garage grunge. The flimsy security barriers lasted two songs at most before they were footed into the grass and fans rolled around on stage to the guitar slop-pop of ‘Years Not Long’ and ‘Stare At My Problems’. Crowd surfers bobbed about overhead and the band left their instruments for others to briefly play on their stepping down. In a year when worthwhile guitar music went DIY, Male Bonding were the ultimate party band. SL
You’ve recklessly navigated the Autobahn night drive from Berlin, convinced yourself you’re on the wrong side of the ride on countless occasions and have somehow found yourself overlooking an orgy of Transformers dominating a clear night sky. It’s the early hours and you’re wandering around a converted industrial mining site in rural Germany with three evil excavators and a whole troupe of crazy euro kids for company. To a backdrop of ominous machines straight from a Megatron wet dream, MSTRKRFT insistently pound a lakeside congregation with a rampaging set of thunderous, brutally unremitting bass slabs, filthy electro drops and a destructive frat party grind that has you by the throat and balls from the moment Jesse and Al-P step up to the decks. MSTRKRFT at Melt was definitely a gig of the year! RY
Gypsy bands may have flashed in and out of the pan quicker than Shane Ward’s career, but Beirut’s brass-fuelled Balkan beats have marched their way into our hearts for good. This show was a case in point. On stage, Zach Condon’s live band, among them trumpets, ukuleles and accordions, pumped warmth into his folk opuses – especially for his latest material, which dabbles dangerously with synth-pop. His rousing songs are worldly wise beyond his 23 years, quivering reedy croons, like that of a lovelorn Revolutionary War soldier. But his coy smirk also revealed his vulnerability and ballads like opener ‘Nantes’ recalled his intimate bedroom songwriter style too. In a word, Condon’s performance was otherworldly: each rolling oom-pah-pah whisking us onto a romantic Parisian street corner or a deserted Mexican frontier. KH
tracks of th e year •
D i e S low
Su m m e r Lake
Crystali se d
Leave Me Be
Sti llness i s Th e Move
(Sex Is Disgusting)
Amongst the year’s great comeback singles were The Horrors’ ‘Sea Within A Sea’ and Bat For Lashes’ ‘Daniel’, but none touched the metal cutting grind of HEALTH set to a club banger thud. Consistently melodious and widely accessible, it’s the experimental grindcore dudes once again being completely unpredictable and brilliant. SS
Having previously binged on hardcore and garage, Fair Ohs’ new diet of Paul Simon, Afrobeat and island rhythms was also a welcome surprise. Bored of thrashing around, this windy 7” showcased their other influences and intricacies. Played without socks on, it’s how we’ve always wanted Vampire Weekend to sound. DC
The effortlessness of ‘Crystalised’’s louche delivery and the laid back tone of its layered, breathy boy/girls vocals combine to create a heartfelt trip-hop dream not heard since Portishead wept out ‘Dummy’ 14 years ago. Dancing on a single bass string, its basic blueprint shows that technically thought out ways are not necessarily the winning formula. JS
A lament for loneliness, ‘Leave Me Be’ is punctured with sadness yet it rides a wave of surf-psych that has you reeling. A building wall of sound presents an open letter to leave our guy alone. Maybe he’s had enough of the missus, maybe it’s Leeds but the entire track gets turned on its head with a final line that makes you want to do it all over again. IR
(Domino) People warmed to Dirty Projectors’ skewed genius and progressive time signatures in ’09, but it was Amber Coffman’s diminutive diva soul on this track that characterised the wonderful ‘Bitte Orca’. In contrast to the band’s off beat, out of kilter aesthetic, ‘Stillness…’ shook with style, sass and class. RY
Don’t Touch Me (I’m S ick)
Fot I Hose
(Suplex Cassettes) Eventually it falls apart in typical dude culture fashion, but prior to its collapse ‘Don’t Touch Me (I’m Sick)’ scratches and booms along, and helped plonk Teen Sheikhs in the centre of the UK DIY scene. Recorded in one take and released on limited cassette, if you missed it you’ve seriously missed out. DC
The most important barometer to measure any good pop song against is whether it has the capability to reverberate in one’s head long after it has finished. ‘Fot I Hose’, with its leftfield, quirky pop centre, does this time and time again – a feat made even more admiral by the fact that the majority will have to make up their own lyrics to sing along. NW
When even X-factor judges acknowledge that sometimes we all want to “Rock out to the max” we’re living in worrying times. ‘Bone You’ is a stark two-minute post-punkadoring warning to them; a song that hurls acidic phlegm directly back at the idea that their recent rock night could ever be considered remotely dangerous. NW
Talk about dynamics, ‘Albatross’ goes from shredding, aggressive hardcore to the joyous, baggy sound of early Charlatans and back again in exactly 2 minutes. In 120 seconds it made us realise that Video Nasties aren’t the typical indie band we once thought, which can be largely accredited to James drawling about empty cans in his bedroom. DC
Pic: Tom Cockram / Pavla Kopecna
Egyptian Hip Hop
The aftermath of writing a faultless pop tune follows an inevitable pattern - hype, exposure, backlash. Only these days there’s hardly enough time to catch your breath between the rush of praise and slump of polite words. Like ‘Golden Skans’ before it, ‘Rad Pitt’ soared into sight, seduced and seemingly stayed at the party way too long. Despite this, we’d still like to take it out for another all-dayer, because like 2008’s ‘Time To Pretend’ it could well be a pop classic of our time. Bristling with hyperactive energy yet melancholy in the tradition of their Mancunian forefathers, EHH’s hotbed of lush lo-fi and lifting lyrics soundtracked our Indian summer. As the Hacienda shut its doors for the final time and dusk fell on Madchester, Alexander, Nick, Alex and Louis were yet to be born and still they encapsulate the kaleidoscope of colour that graced this period, throwing a bit of The Cure at it to keep us all grounded. Awash with provincial influence yet far-reaching and timeless, ‘Rad Pitt’ is British pop at its very best. IR
Albums of the year, continued from page 19
Tarot S port
B lackli st
Still Night, Still Light
Th e Pai ns Of Be i ng Pu r e At Heart
(ATP) Released on Oct 12
(Because) Released on June 1
There’s white noise; there’s glorious noise, and there’s Fuck Buttons - a duo hell bent on exploring expansion; on fastidiously building melody; on giving their music a pulsing, writhing, biological heartbeat. Both bleak and panoramic, ‘Tarot Sport’’s rangy masterpieces, ‘Space Mountain’ and ‘Surf Solar’, demanded their own gravitational pull – their insistent electronic pummel succeeding to orbital sound waves that energised the air around them, infinitely marching onwards into the next Solaris film score. So no, ‘Tarot Sport’ wasn’t just a clever amalgamation of noise; it was Fuck Buttons brutal punk ethos channelled into a transcendent, unremitting siren call of oblivion. What set this, and Fuck Buttons, apart from similarly grandiose contemporaries is that they dared drive tracks on more than just tsunamis of sound and colossal breakdowns. They instilled a surging beauty and harnessed a permeating, lucid power. RY
Hells very own aerobics class - that’s what their gigs are like. One that has no panic alarm or escape route. Glorious, painful, relentless digital skull fuckery. Computer manipulator Orion Bouvier blinds your eyes as singer - we call her a singer, she’s more like a vulture with a microphone - Caroline Martial climbs up inside your spine and fondles your brain with her sharpened talons. Therefore, Kenny G fans, ‘Blacklist’ is not for you. It is the terrorpummel-techno-dance equivalent to running an army assault course with Phil Jupitus on your shoulders - exhausting. Twelve instalments of bludgeoning beats and orphan’s yelps. There’s even some scary slap bass. Nothing is cute about this French pairing, even the slow songs are about bat caves. Their third album proves they’re better than bedwetting contemporaries Crystal Castles: better songs, better spectacle, better name. And besides, they were there first. So nerrr. OM
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (Fortuna Pop) Released on Feb 9 Even though it was released at the beginning of the year - in the cold, damp depths of winter - this album brought a new affection to said season. Shoegaze? Lo-fi? Well, being influenced by these genres is true, but calling the album either one of them couldn’t be further from the truth. We all hear the My Bloody Valentine undertone’s don’t we? But these New Yorkers made nothing more than an uncomplicated, lovable indie pop long player. Nothing more than a group of Smiths-loving friends creating one of the most critically acclaimed, publically loved debuts of the year. Kip Berman’s heart wrenching lyrics paint a picture of angst, love, infidelity and grief underneath a coating of fuzzy bubbly sounds in songs such as ‘Everything With You’ and ‘Young Adult Friction’. JS
Au Revoir Simone (Moshi Moshi) Released on May 18 Part of the reason we liked Au Revoir Simone’s third album so much was because it is was a million miles better than anything they’d done before. It’s certainly reassuring to know that the music industry and its market two forces that gravitate towards bulldozing creativity - at least give some bands the time they need to hone their craft. Finally they sound as exciting as they do on paper (what part of ‘all-girl new york synth-pop band’ doesn’t turn you on?) and from the LP’s shimmering opening to ‘Another Likely Story’ you know you’re in for something rather special. The vocal lines run in and out of each other like wax projections and are complimented by gently driving, ornate keyboard patterns to create an almost trippy sense of sonic unity. It makes the record something of a tapestry, allowing them to draw very human emotions from a mechanical aesthetic. ES
12 alig ht of n ig ht
Crystal Stilts (Angular) Released on Mar 30
Women (Jagjaguwar) Released on Jan 26
For a brief period, having the word Crystal in your band name became almost de rigueur - for several months it was literally the new black when it came to monikers. Yet anyone mindless enough to close off their ears to a band purely down to such a little factor would have missed out on one of the discoveries of the year. Despite their name hinting at frailty, Crystal Stilts proved they were propped up on stern stuff by releasing ‘Alight of Night’. It’s the kind of record that has the capability to split the geeky workforce of traditional High Fidelity-lite independent record shops into two warring sections, one side fighting the other over its worth. And yes it is an album that looks very much to the
past (the influence of The Velvet Underground, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Phil Spector and countless C-86 bands can be found hidden away within the eleven tracks on parade), and yes, the vocals are very low in the mix, and no, it’s not pushing itself to impose any new boundaries. This is an album which very much has one foot and one leg firmly planted in the grave of other artists, but the common ground between the two sparring sides will be that both sides will pleasantly admit that there are few currently around that do this quite so well. In years to come ‘Alight of Night’ will be looked back on as an under-looked classic that never quite got the attention it deserved first time round. NW
Heralding the peak of lo-fi, tape toned recordings, Women’s debut typified the years trend for home spun material, this one recorded in Chad Vangaalen’s basement. Already a Sub Pop artist in his own right, Women saw Chad joined by three other...er... men. A synchronised Tai-Chi lesson adorns the sleeve but none of this regimentality finds its way into the music. Every track morphs loosely into another yet a weighty, structured feel to the record remains. ‘Instrumental Woodbine’ employs a long hiss throughout; it’s delicacy rich and simple. However, ‘Black Rice’ is the standout, its a beautiful noise that captured summer sun and a languid track that could theme The Graduate if they mistakenly remade it. A disorganised mess of rubble one side, the other a flowing melodious river, ‘Women’ is a thrilling, energizing listen that made us want to lie down next to the tapedeck on Chad’s basement floor. IB
Dance Moth e r
Cr i m e of Love
8. B itte Orca
7. B utte r
(V2) Released on Jan 26
(Merok) Released on Dec 7
(Domino) Released on June 8
(Warp) Released on Oct 26
The term “Avant-garde electronic group” being used to describe Telepathe gave the illusion ‘Dance Mother’ would be an album that the majority would find overly pretentious and near unlistenable. Instead, Brooklyn duo Busy Gangnes and Melissa Livaudis, under the watchful eye of producer David Sitek, factored together an album that looked towards both Timbaland’s and The Neptune’s strain of R&B pop for inspiration, resulting in an album which fizzled with Moroder-lite synths, stuttering drum machine beats and lyrics that occasionally swung towards becoming circling mantras. If music is supposed to reflect the beliefs, the fears and the hopes of society back to us, then ‘Dance Mother’ captures the essence of creative youth left confused in an uncertain ever changing world - an intelligent pop album that by its culmination will leave the listener pondering why more are not praising its magic. NW
Even if Comanechi were mute and without arms they’d have a lot going for them as a band. Two became the magic number in ’09, after all, and as well as a secret weapon in slender, shy guitar-churner Simon, they’re completed by total noise pinup Akiko: a tiny Japanese gal who looks, as we’ve already asserted this year, like a give-a-fuck i-D model. The pair are also well connected enough to not actually make any music and still be considered the coolest band in London. They have made music though, and a fine grungy din at that. ‘Crime of Love’ is a tear-a-way thrash metal debut, full of songs about doing rude things and causing destruction. And melodies are there too. Behind the overdriven guitars, cymbal-heavy drum parts and J-Pop vocals that border on psychotic there’s plenty of catchy shout-a-long moments, like Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ ‘Art Star’ day. It’s the perfect balance of aggression and sweetness. SS
Sometimes albums with novel sounds and peculiar production stun in the short-term, their quirks making them seem vital and full of life. But over time the idiosyncrasies loose their excitement, and an LP that was remembered as brilliant is revisited with indifference. Not ‘Bitte Orca’. Back in May, the opening of ‘Cannibal Resouce’, all wailed backing vocals and syncopated guitars, provoked WTF facials and many a repeat play. Now, though, its opening number feels like the overture, or maybe the midwife, to an album of beautifully fresh-sounding songs that hang together with poise and considerable musicianship. From the R’n’B Mariah-isms of ‘Stillness Is The Move’, through the surreal triumphalism of ‘Useful Chamber’ and the waltzing elegance of album finale ‘Fluorescent Half Dome’, Bitte Orca is a boggle-eyed, gorgeously dense record, and one that seriously repays the time and effort it commands. SW
In a year where Mars Volta and Busy P casually dropped his name, the driven (but relatively unassuming) Hudson Mohawke spent a little less time making everyone else sound good and released his own album, his precocious take on pop production, syrupy R’n’B beats and dreamy interludes earmarking the record as one capable of truly straddling genres. Drawing on some skills from his turntablist and hip hop backgrounds, ‘Butter’ not only had enough bass bump to rein in the homeboys but also enough experimental glitchery to underscore what is an undoubtedly progressive talent. A staunch refusal to purely make dance music in the conventional club sense, if you delved a little deeper, the UNKLE drum pummel of ‘Gluetooth’ and heavy, languid thud of ‘FUSE’ hinted at his ability to bring the noise, but Hud Mo’s debut was simply the fluid confirmation of his mellow genius. RY
03 Pr i mary Colou r s
4. Un d e r an d Un d e r
Blank Dogs (Captured Tracks) Release on May 25 Brooklyn’s camera-shy lo fi impresario, who we at least attempted to talk to in the last issue, has had a year that reminds us a little of Burial’s 2007. Like London’s ambient2stepper, Mike Sniper was a mysterious, prolific and brilliant prospect whose second album crystallised what was so good about him. Unless you have wired your veins into your laptop and sleep in a record shop, his extensive backlog of releases might’ve passed you by, but there’s plenty to be getting on with here. Like the Mary Chain all the songs sound the same (that’s to say that there’s something uniquely Blank Dogs-ish about each one) and are soaked-through with evocative melodies, hissing found sounds, dry guitar and tinny synths. Vocals sound like someone’s therapy sessions being relayed from a broken phonebox and on tracks like ‘Tin Birds’ and ‘No Compass’ it’s so good it makes us weep with joy for the state of modern music. ES
There’s little to be said about ‘Primary Colours’ that hasn’t already been penned a thousand times over during the last seven months - the monumental change from the ‘cartoon goths’ of old, the move towards epic My Bloody Valentine sonic territory, the dropping of the ridiculous pseudonyms, etc., etc., etc. If there’s one band that found themselves at the very epicentre of 2009’s hype machine, Faris Badwan and his motley crew were surely it. But the most oft-repeated phrase and, indeed, the biggest truism of them all was just how astonishingly good, hype or nay, The Horrors MK.II turned out to be. From the opening woozy drones of ‘Mirrors Image’ through to the glorious eightminute epic of ‘Sea Within a Sea’, ‘Primary Colours’ is an incredibly accomplished record. Charging through on a wave of distortion and a wall of noise, the band ditched the jagged edges of old in favour of layered soundscapes and textural caresses, with Badwan’s guttural snarl presiding over the haze like some kind of accursed preacher. And, where such a drastic shift in sound could easily seem contrived, the intricate blend of ‘I Can’t Control Myself’’s wurlitzer keyboards and the frankly beautiful crescendo effect of ‘Scarlet Fields’, for example, were far too intelligently executed to even question. In ‘Primary Colours’, The Horrors had finally found their true ones. LW
Pic: Owen Richards / Pavla Kopecna / Tim Cochrane
(XL) Released on May 4
6. Su m m e r of Hate
5. Th e XX
(Fat Possum) Released on June 8
(XL) Released on Aug 17
So taken by this debut album, we took Cali duo Crocodiles on tour last month. Now, having heard it played every night for a week, we like it even more. We like how ‘I Wanna Kill’ syncs perfectly with ‘And Then He Kissed Me’ by The Crystals and can have you beaming to the most murderous track of the year; how the drum machine sounds far more human than most real life sticks-men; how amongst tracks like ‘Soft Skull (In My Room)’ and ‘Refuse Angels’, which sound like The Rapture and ‘Evil Heat’ era Primal Scream, respectively, there’s the psychedelic (‘Here Comes The Sky’), the shoe-gazing (‘Sleeping With The Lord’) and the kraut-loving (‘Young Drugs’). Once people had heard the girl group chime of ‘I Wanna Kill’, many wrote them off as a twosome cashing in on 2009’s Mary Chain revival. But ‘Summer of Hate’ has a lot more to offer besides. It had us catching a bus to Glasgow on a Monday morning! SS
The xx didn’t come at you with all guns blazing. They didn’t shout. They didn’t even play their instruments particularly loud. Instead, they kissed and caressed and lulled you into that unrequited loving feeling, with the good grace to provide the disheartened dialogue for it all. From its Romeo and Juliet dynamic to its wallflower atmospheric, their debut album melded with a trembling resonance; the shivering call and response of vocalists Romy and Oliver gorgeous and imploring. Fleeting guitar reverb and lovingly created, minimal dead spaces of downbeat melody, it was a debut worthy of shouting down the buzz rumbling around it. Instead, it just let the whisping twin vocal echo around while the band held their fingers to their lips. That ‘The xx’ felt neither comfortable nor compelled enough to fill the slots of the hype machine that distantly underlined this album as a deep, dark, coolly restrained triumph. RY
Health (City Slang) Released on Sept 14 Thanks to that Crystal Castles rework, Health got a lot more attention than bands of such a whole-heartedly fucked up nature usually get. It’s a pretty safe bet that 2007’s self-titled debut got a fair few people into noise bands who were, until they met with tracks like ‘Crimewave’, unacquainted with grinding, discordant guitars, earth-shattering chunks of effects-pedal boom and electronic wiggingout; the kind of music that has critics scratching their heads for a new metaphor connecting ears and physical violation. Rather like Fuck Buttons, the Californians have a knack of putting an accessible spin on elements traditionally labelled ‘experimental’ or just ‘unlistenable’. With ‘Get Color’, they’ve ditched the cuddly neon hoodies look and shuffled further towards the double-doors marked ‘danceable and tuneful’. This has proved to be no bad thing as, far from cramping their manic energy, the focusing of
their material and the showing of more restraint has served to bring their moments of unhinged aggression into sharper relief, creating a cinematic album of incredible highs and lows. Drawing from dream-pop, industrial and hardcore influences, the band also have a mathrock-ish way with time signatures and drum patterns, abrupt gear changes managing to feel both wholly unpredictable and organic. ‘Severin’, for example, opens with the kind of brain-drilling that soundtracks Descent Into Madness scenes in Christian anti-drug flicks before dropping serenely into a hook-heavy sing-along, punctuated with monolithic halftime stabs. Many of the record’s standouts, the closer ‘In Violet’, the dirge-like lead single ‘Die Slow’ and ‘We Are Water’ are of a poppier slant but what is really impressive is how these disjointed, individual masterpieces are brought together to resemble something sculpted and beautiful. ES
01 Year of the Bat
A reluctant pop star, Natasha Khan released the most personal record of 2009, took ‘Two Suns’ around the world and picked up a second Mercury Prize nomination along the way. Reassuringly, she still loathes celebrity and loves nothing more than uncompromising creativity. So no, ‘Daniel’ was not Bat For Lashes swinging for the mainstream. P h o t o g r a p h e r : p hi l s ha r p Wr i t e r : s t ua r t s t u bb s
two su ns
Bat For Lashes (Parlophone) Released on Apr 6
look like a granny in the countryside today,” laughs Natasha Khan from within a peach knitted jumper and a sensible skirt. She could pass for 22 but the girl they call Bat For Lashes has now been 30 for two weeks – just another reason why 2009 will be a year for her to remember. The ‘rural nan’ look isn’t Natasha over-compensating for her recent birthday though, but rather, she says, because “it’s bloody freezing in Brighton.” Whitechapel, east London, isn’t much better. This photo shoot and interview has been a long time coming – the whole of 2009 in fact. After Natasha’s studio time stood in our way long before ‘Two Suns’’ April release, Dazed & Confused beat us to the prize with a shoot in California’s Joshua Tree Desert; the place where Natasha conceived her planetary second album – an idealistic landscape hardly for countryside grannies. Then there were the never-ending tours, which meant we’d have to wait until Bat For Lashes won the Mercury Prize in September. Only she didn’t win. “I suppose being nominated for the Mercury for the second time was a great highlight of the year,” she says “because I’d been quite heavily involved in the production of this record. That’s really important to me. It was a highlight being nominated but a disappointment not winning again, because I got disappointed both years, so it’s like, ‘Fine!’” She feigns a diva strop and lets out a short burst of laughter. She says her money was on Florence and The Machine to do the spoiling that night. Ours was on The Horrors, if anyone, but we both agree that while the Mercury Prize is something of an honour, its political agenda has become impossible to ignore. “It doesn’t upset me that Speech Debelle won,” she explains “because I really liked some of her tracks. It wasn’t about not winning but there’s definitely a feeling that they’re very tactical, instead of choosing who you actually think they might want to, and that upset me because I think you should just go with your heart, and it shouldn’t be political, it should be about the work. I
feel like each year they just award it to someone who’s controversial and subversive, which in a way is cool because…” Natasha pauses for thought. “I mean, I shouldn’t comment on it, being part of it, but the concept of an award in general, and marking art, doesn’t sit very well with me. I think that getting nominated is the prize, really, because your album is getting highlighted. Winning is a farce.” Natasha shouldn’t comment, and yet she does. It’s as if she can’t help herself. Her innermost secrets seem to inevitably wind up on record, and similarly her uncensored thoughts are voiced when discussing her music and all that surrounds it. Typical pop star etiquette is of no concern, simply because Natasha Khan hates the notion of being a pop star. “I think our obsession with celebrity is bullshit,” she says. “Don’t go for a job being a celebrity or famous. If I hadn’t done this I’d have been a marine biologist, or perhaps a filmmaker. “Earlier on I enjoyed having my picture taken – there is a little girl inside of me who loves that – but I wouldn’t say I’m a massive attention seeking, diva-ish person. I could easily have enjoyed life being a pearl diver or something. There are loads of things I could think to do,” she excites as if she might just do them “so it doesn’t matter what you do just as long as you’re not resentful once you have your midlife crisis. Hopefully kids growing up now will get interested in politics and the world and ecology. Like, David Attenborough I think is the coolest person in the world.” Perhaps it’s no wonder then that for ‘Two Suns’ – a record with a central theme of twos, be it two different landscapes, two conflicting emotions, two separate worlds – Natasha drafted in a second personality to play the attention seeking extrovert. The alter ego of Pearl is a peroxide anti-Khan, far less sincere than her creator and far more at ease with living her life in the public eye and partying nearer the gossip columns.
“Don’t go for a job being famous. If I hadn’t done this I’d have been a marine biologist... or a pearl diver” In a taxi from photography studio to coffee shop, Natasha says how she’d like to accept certain invitations to art exhibitions and fashion shows (and she receives a lot of RSVPs), were it not for the red carpets that accompany them. Her spare time – especially throughout this year – is thin on the ground, so she prefers to spend it with old friends, not draped around a Little Boots as she leaves the launch party of Guitar Hero 5. Natasha glances over a cup of mint tea. “I find [‘being famous’] harder now, actually,” she says. “The more successful you are, the more you invite backlashes and the more people have ideas about you. I feel more vulnerable the more I get known. There are more opportunities there, and I’d like to take some of them for enjoyment. Y’know, I’d love to get to a point where I can meet Spike Jonze or something. That would be so exciting to meet artistic, amazing people – that would be a great perk to my job, but in terms of interacting with trendy, cool people and going out for nights, it doesn’t sit well with me because I don’t believe it. I’ve got really great friends who are artists and musicians in their own right but don’t parade it around. I’ve got people who mean a lot to me and they’re the people I like to spend time with, because I don’t get much time anyway. If I am going to lose the plot and party really hard I do it in my own private way. The idea of being an exhibitionist about it just seems a bit weird. I love to stay up all night, dance and be wild but that’s my secret, that’s nothing to do with the album or music.”
igging around in a bulging suitcase, Natasha pulls out various garments and proposes different shots to our photographer. Red, we agree, is quite Christmas-y and apt for the temperature if not the month of November. She then toys with some white eye makeup and is ready, having arrived ten
minutes ago. Like she says, she’s not “a diva-ish person”. At any one time there’s just six of us (including Natasha) present – no stylists, makeup artists, life gurus or swarms of assistants and assistants to the assistants. “I much prefer it like this,” she says. “It’s a lot more relaxed and personal; I don’t like it when there’s hundreds of people running around.” Although I now doubt it, she could have been being polite. Either way, all six of us (excluding, perhaps, her press officer and Natasha herself) have our Natasha Khan crushes confirmed. Apart from looking like she does, her hushed speaking voice is as alluring as you might hope it to be. She’s not shy but quietly confident, rather angelic and completely magnetic. Somehow she’s also totally normal; the famous singer who insists her job doesn’t prevent her from “going down to Waitrose in my slippers or walking around town without makeup on.” Her calm, self-assured confidence isn’t a result of the Mercury-nominated ‘Two Suns’, but rather a reason for the album’s success. She did, after all, write and record it behind doors closed to even her record label. “I started this album deciding that I wasn’t going to compromise anything and went completely with my own vision,” she explains. “I went to the recording studio and told the record company that they weren’t allowed to come. I got one email about feedback, asking me to drop certain tracks, and I said no. So I started off with a little bit of a thing thinking, well, this had better work because the record company were like, ‘well, you’ve been so stubborn,’ so it was all on my head.” And what did they think when you first played them the finished album? “I wasn’t there, but I got some texts. They said, ‘Natasha, you’ve made a great album.’ But there were a few mutterings around like, ‘Natasha you’ve made a great album, but what are we going to do with it? Radio aren’t going to play it, y’know?’ They were happy for me on an artistic level, but I made their job a lot harder.” The label [Parlophone], it seemed, must have missed track
4, ‘Daniel’. But not for long. A rich and flourishing pop song of ghostly wails and Fleetwood Mac melodies, it was (and is) Bat For Lashes at her most electronic yet. And her most accessible. And her most ready for the radio. But while ‘Daniel’ swooned on the surface as if in a 1975 carefree disco, its undercurrent – true to ‘Two Suns’’ ying/yang, light/dark core – remained sombre and ambiguous, the perfect single to invade the mainstream with while keeping Bat For Lashes’ credibility in tact. “I was a little bit concerned that people might think I’d sold out,” remembers Natasha now “but in the context of the album I felt like that song really had its place, and it’s really special to me. Even though a lot of the artists that I like are quite underground, I have a song-writing sensibility – I like to write a good chorus. And I didn’t want to shy away from that just to be cool on purpose. I thought, well, if I’m going to write a pop song, put a beat on it and make it lush. I could have dumbed it down and done it on a one string violin, or something, but it would have been wasted, and to be totally honest the record company did say, ‘Natasha, we need to use this single to hopefully get you on the radio, because otherwise this campaign could fall flat on its face and you’ve done all that hard work’. And it’s by no means a cheesy pop song – it’s quite dark. I’m glad. I tried to write a song that teenage girls could sing into their hair brushes, and I did that.” Along with ‘Daniel’, the rest of ‘Two Suns’ plays like a personal diary, set to often beautiful and poignant music, because that’s exactly what it is. With the exception of ‘Pearl’s Dream’ (which scans opposing landscapes to rising, semi-euphoric synthesisers), nothing quite touches the driving pop sensibilities of ‘Daniel’ but no track feels less autobiographical or ‘lived in’ than the next. Perhaps that’s why Natasha Khan has no problem discussing all things ‘Two Suns’ as openly and passionately as she does, holding your gaze with her big brown eyes. As Bat For Lashes, she’s played over 200 shows this year, to audiences in their thousands around the world
– what’s one more person in an east London coffee shop? As with all great albums though, questions about them are pretty pointless. Thankfully, Natasha Khan is everything I hoped the creator of our album of the year to be – modest, funny, passionate, honest. And if she had turned up snapping at an entourage that couldn’t move quick enough, boasting how she wrote this record “for a laugh”, it would have certainly been a huge disappointment, but ‘Two Suns’ could probably weather that. It really is that good.
ny criticism that followed ‘Daniel’ largely towed the line of “why aren’t there more songs on the album like that one?”. But to want ten more instant pop hits was to miss the point of ‘Two Suns’, and indeed of Bat For Lashes. “When I started, I set out to make an album that was vocally stronger than the first,” Natasha explains “with more lush electronic sounds and tribal rhythms.” The opening ‘Glass’ almost crams all of that in within four and a half minutes. Beginning with an a cappella, ethereal reading from the Hebrew Bible, it quickly brags Bat For Lashes’ vocal range, from low and breathy to a high falsetto that has had critics banding a Kate Bush comparison around more than ever this year. African drums – attributed to Yeasayer who helped develop ‘Two Sun’’s bass and beats throughout Natasha’s time spent in Brooklyn – then seem to rumble and tumble as they wish, neither playing the same tune nor a completely different one. It’s world music meets icy ghost story about watchmen and emerald cities. The following ‘Sleep Alone’ first taps into a desire to introduce electronics. Held together with a deep, synth bassline that’s soon joined by electronic drum clasps and fleeting keyboard chords, it also features maracas, the occasional flurry of piano and continual string plucks. Initially you’d be forgiven for mistaking its melodies as a close relative to ‘Fur & Gold’’s ‘Trophy’, but on
closer inspection it’s a far more complicated beast. ‘Daniel’ didn’t so much promise a new populist Bat For Lashes, but rather a more ambitious one, and, in straight piano ballad ‘Travelling Woman’ and the extra-sad ‘Siren Song’, a record that can at times be uncomfortably personal to its creator. “For me, personally, it’s been a year which has drawn to a close a period of time that’s been quite hard on a personal level, and quite unhappy,” Natasha confesses. “People are like, ‘you’ve had the most amazing year,’ and I am thankful for all of the success and support I’ve had, but on a personal level it’s been quite hard. I’ve had to fight my way through certain things, and been feeling quite vulnerable a lot of the time, but in terms of the success of the record, it
couldn’t have gone better, because I didn’t play the game really. People might think that I did, but I just did what was fun.” And once you’d made ‘Two Suns’, can you remember how you felt releasing it? “I was actually excited. I was proud… you definitely go through ups and downs in terms of self doubt, and I think all artists go through bouts of nervous attacks of worry and sleepless nights, but by the time it’s done you’ve bloody worked on it for so long you just have to let it go. For me there was an element of excitement and ‘I’m so over it I don’t care’, and then there’s other bits of, ‘oh God, what if people think I’m rubbish or have sold out or whatever?’. “I find it interesting with music because with all the blogs and Internet stuff, and Twitter,
and newspapers, and magazines, there’s so much judgement that is happening continually throughout your career and I think for me to just get through this year without being a nervous wreck, I feel quite proud of that. I’ve felt quite hurt sometimes and bombarded, but I think you need to build a protection against that, because we’re the artists that spend all year touring and taking our work to people and trying to make the world a better place, if you’re doing it properly, but every five minutes you’ve got a review, like this out of live, ten people reviewing every show you do, then you release a single and that’s judged, then they review the special edition. So it’s not like you put an album out and if it gets good reviews then phew you can relax, it’s constant, and for me the work comes from my heart. It’s me!”
esterday was Natasha Khan’s first day off in as long as she can remember, and tomorrow she’ll have her life back once again for an unthinkable two months. After that she’ll scratch an itch of Chris Martin’s when she’ll tour South America with Coldplay. The millionaire frontman has been personally telephoning Natasha – also for as long as she can remember – but her own touring commitments have until now prevented her from sharing a stage with one of the world’s biggest bands. After that, she’ll be able to finally get back to where she’s happiest. “The bit for me is the conception of the record and the writing and recording. I’m in heaven. It’s hard but I love it. And then you have to do what is kinda the antithesis of creativity, which is selling your wears, wheeling yourself out every night and doing the same thing. Saying that, this year I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve felt like I’m going through the motions because I’m so tired, and we’ve done over 200 shows. But it is hard. You can’t pretend that being on tour for 9 months isn’t gruelling because it is. Sometimes on the bus I’d cry myself to sleep because I missed home and I wanted to make new work. I want to write, I want to feel passionate and inspired, I want to research things in books. That for me – studying and knowledge and feeling my brain working – is what being alive is all about.” I’ve never met anyone quite like Natasha Khan before. Her reluctance to be ‘a star’ is refreshingly rare in itself, but she also talks about her music like all musicians should. She refers to it as her ‘art’ or ‘work’ and steers clear of acting unimpressed or effortless at what she does. It’s not as if she bounces off the walls screaming her excitement, but you can tell that inside that peach knitted jumper she’s quietly slogged away to get where she is today, and she’s proud of that. Perhaps that’s the key to ‘Two Suns’ being our favourite record of the year – because nothing gets the job done like good old fashion hard work.
re DEC vi 09 ews Al bums 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
A Grave With No Name Beaten Awake Brilliant Colors Christmas Island Digital Leather Glass Rock Hello = Fire Lawrence Arabia Local Natives Memory Tapes Pants Yell! Pylon Sheild Your Eyes So So Glos The Dutchess & The Duke Thomas Function Tuneyards Turbo Fruits Wetdog
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Atlas Sound Cold Cave Crocodiles Cymbals Eat Guitars Daniel Johnston Foot Village Fuck Buttons Grizzly Bear Japandroids Morrissey No Age No Pain In Pop The Drums We Were Promised Jetpacks
A Grave With No Name Mountain Debris (No Pain In Pop) By Nathan Westley. In stores Dec 7
There is a rather piffy argument that art can not be great unless it is loved by the masses, but as the year steadies itself for another X-factor winner roll out, consisting of GMTV appearances and headline news stories, the gulf between reality star and traditional artist forging forward on their own steam is now more apparent than ever.The masses will not like Alex Sheilds’ brain-child A Grave With No Name (a solo effort on record and that of three on the live stage) – does that make what they do any less worthwhile? Well, several spins of ‘Mountain Debris’ alludes that the answer should be a loud and definitive No! There are other albums out there that will gain more column inches, and will be talked about at water coolers, but there are not many that will resonate with those it touches quite so well. Overall contemplative and haunting, it takes
several spins before the album’s full depths and stark beauty can be fully discovered. Opener ‘The Sun Rises’ sets the mood; an icy Sigur Ros style sound bed, rich in atmospheric percussion and swooshing guitars, it should have BBC soundtrack selectors for Top Gear foaming at the ears.Yet though this track closely embraces the hallmarks of another artist, Shields is not merely content with replicating the past glories of other and presenting them afresh in slightly different packaging. Instead he has searched through the rubble of yesterday and pulled out the worthwhile, turning these parts into building blocks and melting them together with his own distinctive blend of concrete. ‘And We Parted at Mount Jade’ sees him dramatically shift track, pull out the distortion pedals, turn everything up a notch and fully embrace the spirit of shoe-gaze. The influence of the genre’s most high profile and now once again hip exponent, My Bloody Valentine, is there on full parade during ‘Silver’ where melodic gliding vocals dive under a sea of driving fuzzed up guitar.
The disjointed ‘Stone Setting’ then sees the delay pedals being confiscated and AGWNN revert to a more traditional song structure that results in Shields’ debut start to sound like that of a charmingly ramshackle Times New Viking on downers, while the basis of ‘Horses’ carries on down a similar route but piles one distinctive reverb-laden, psychedelic-flavoured texture on top of another. The guitars are temporarily packed away for the stripped down, piano-led ‘The Underpass’, which is a major diversion away from the rest of the album and apes Death Cab For Cutie at their most suicidal.Yet what makes this album flow and bind together so well is that it both sounds and feels like an album that has been constructed with patience and not hastily rushed out. Those buried with no tombstone are usually forgotten, turned away by society before they reach their final end; with this album A Grave With No Name have cemented that they’ll be remembered, if not by the masses then at least by those that really matter.
Pic: PHIL SHARP
So So Glos
(Slumberland) By Matthias Scherer. In stores now
(Fat Possum) By Polly Rappaport. In stores now
(Infectious) By Reef Younis. In stores now
(Ark) By Edgar Smith. In stores now
(Green Owl) By Tom Goodwyn. In stores now
Is playing shoddy, poorly recorded 2-minute guitar pop songs still refreshing or even fresh? Sometimes, certainly, but saddly not here. Jess Scott seems to think otherwise, proudly displaying her wares like a child at a garage sale. ‘Introducing’ is her take on the trusty formula of jangly guitars, clunky drumming and slightly distorted vocals. In her case, it produces a variety of noise pop that, unlike some other efforts by other bands (Vivian Girls, Best Coast), is nothing more than the sum of its parts. ‘Absolutely Anything’ does have a honey-sweet hook, but the rest of the record is just so uneventful and sometimes even joyless – and Scott’s timbre so irritatingly blasé – that the few decent melodies and the understated, clever bass lines can’t hide the fact that there’s nothing on here that hasn’t been done better before.
Digital Leather (aka Shawn Foree) has all the energetic key prodding style, morose disposition and cold sarcasm of Gary Numan, but ups the ante with sinister vintage synth jabs, simple mechanical beats and lyrics so unabashedly dark it’s hard to tell how seriously to take them – but then nothing says ‘twisted tongue-in-cheek’ like a Nazi slang album title. Foree’s stiff-jointed vocals are almost expressionless throughout, while the music conveys ‘Warm Brother’’s fraught, manic-depressive trajectory, from the vicious, pounding momentum of ‘Bugs On Glue’, past some upbeat acoustic noodling, complete with cheerful whistling on ‘Hurts So Bad’, right down to the bleakness of ‘My Fame’, a track of nauseous guitar wooziness and monotonous, bitter ranting about a screwed-up relationship.This should be a tough listen but is somehow strangely accessible.
LA’s Local Natives entreat you to fall in love with them before a single harmony-laden note has been strummed.With self-penned show posters and album artwork, and a self-funded, co-produced LP, the band’s commitment lies in their pensive craft. An album awash with towering melodies and a whole lotta affection, from the tumbling guitar outset of opener ‘Wide Eyes’, it’s quickly apparent Local Natives aren’t about to go as feral as the name suggests. Easing together the orchestral pomp of ‘Who Knows,Who Cares’, and the galloping, Modest Mouse style breakdowns of ‘Sun Hands’ and ‘Warning Signs’, it’s an album capable of unexpectedly changing pace at any given moment. And with tracks as gloriously uplifting as ‘Shape Shifter’, don’t be too surprised if ‘Gorilla Manor’ manages to sneak onto a few end of year lists.
Hopefully you’re not, but if you are one of those wacky, lay-about twenty-somethings from the old Twister adverts that plays it in the living room with your cool friends and you want a cool soundtrack, lets say knowingly retro garage rawk that’s (slightly) better than this summer’s disappointing Strange Boys debut and the increasingly disappointing Black Lips, here’s the album you’ve been looking for. Having released a selftitled debut with great seven inch ‘Volcano’, about bong hits or something in 2007, the Be Your Own Pet side-project are back for some good, clean (judging from stomp-athon ‘Sober is my New High’) and light-hearted rock’n’roll fun. It’s alright, and great on lead single ‘Mama’s Mad ‘cause I Fried my Brain’, but ultimately as vacuous as your louche, living room-bound existence.
Brooklyn’s So So Glos - a band who live in their own, self-built venue - describe themselves as the world’s best bar band, and whereas delusional musicians usually throw in words like “groundbreaking” and “daring”, the quintet have actually got themselves spot on. Every note of their debut UK release feels like it’s come direct from a sticky bar floor, been soaked in beer and hurled into the street by a bouncer.Thing is, the bands that tend to do well in bars are cover bands, and so it proves with ‘Tourism/Terrorism’. Every sound is borrowed, whether it’s from The Smiths on ‘My Block’,The Clash on ‘Execution’ or classic Beatles on ‘Isn’t It A Shame’. Doubtless that if you’d consumed your body weight in lager and just want to hear some standards then you’ll probably love So So Glos, but even the most hardened drinkers can’t be drunk all time.
Wetdog Frauhaus (Angular) By Danielle Goldstein. In stores Nov 30
Three girls plus lo-fi equals Riot Grrrl, right? Well, if you’re expecting Bikini Kill you ain’t getting it.Turn your mind to female harmonies of Vivian Girls plus the droll organ/cow bell/rim snaps stripped from the B52’s and wrapped around the leading bass of Talking Heads.Take some time to absorb it and you may just have an idea of Wetdog’s second record. Unlike their debut, ‘Enterprise Reversal’, there aren’t 20 songs to contend with, but there’re still a hefty 14, kicked off by forthcoming single ‘Lower Leg’. It’s the liveliest track, flicking between a monotonous beat, paired with arid Fall-esque vocals, and a shrill chorus to agile instrumentation. ‘Night Comes Down’ is a middle filler that couldn’t excite a randy teenager if the notes were tickling his scrotum, but there are plenty of gems to make you tingle.There’s a carnival with too many sounds to distinguish in ‘Snapper’, a ’50’s-tempo bass line and choral harmonies that carry an innocence in ‘Round Vox’ while Rivka Gillieron belches Elvissmeared ‘huh’s through ‘Women’s Final’ with gusto. www.loudandquiet.com
Al bums 07/10
Shield Your Eyes
In The Valley of Sickness
Hello = Fire
(Fat Possum) By Polly Rappaport. In stores Nov 23
(Saddam Hussein Records) By Tom Goodwyn. In stores now
(Something In Construction) By Chris Watkeys. In stores now
(Fat Possum) By Sam Walton. In stores now
(Schnitzel) By Edgar Smith. In stores now
Clearly, when the American Deep South breeds punks, it breeds ‘em just right; with a bit of redneck thrown in for extra kick.Take Georgia’s psych-punk renegades, Black Lips for example or, the next state over, Alabama punkers Thomas Function.They’ve taken the vintage country route, incorporating veins of old-style R’n’B, psych-tinged organ quiver and flippant garage swagger, all the while keeping things bouncy with a backbone of wild-eyed 70’s punk. This album is heaps of fun, full of stomping bluegrass beats sliced neatly by buzz saw guitars and healthy, holler-along numbers like the classically kitsch ‘Belly Of The Beast’.The unimaginative would have you believe that , essentially, these guys make pop music, but then, how often do you encounter pop tunes you could just as easily line dance to as pogo about your room?
London trio Shield Your Eyes are the embodiment of the DIY ethic. They finance their own records and tour stupidly hard, backed by nothing more than a leaky transit van.This release is their first full length album and as the second opener ‘Oranges’ stumbles out of the speaker you can practically smell the gig sweat and stale beer. The influences are obvious, Cribs, Sonic Youth, Pixies, anything Steve Albini has ever recorded in fact, drums constantly clatter, guitars whirl away and the tracks are about as polished as a brand new sheet of sandpaper. It’s fine, occasionally it’s good, but the tracks never go anywhere, with frenzied instrumental sections giving way to snatches of vocal, but nothing that you can hold on to. ‘Sheild Em’ simply adds to the growing evidence that the DIY ethic ain’t worth a thing without tunes. Disappointing.
Memory Tapes is the pseudonym of another of the one-man bedroom knob-twiddlers - in this case New Jersey’s Dayve Hawke and ‘Seek Music’ marks his UK debut. ‘Swimming Fields’ is the aptly named opening track, and sets the tone for the record with its floaty, underwater feel.To reel out the clichéd but accurate adjectives, this is hazy, hypnotic and enveloping stuff. ‘Bicycle’’s buzzy passages touch on Hot Chip and will sound awesome at three a.m. under lights, while the album’s high point, ‘Green Knight’, is like New Order slowed to thirty-three rpm and laced with a funk guitar line... plus a melancholy piano ending. Largely though, ‘Seek Music’ is clearly pretty generic stuff, however excellently produced. Highly listenable, admirably inventive in places, but a little too conformist to quicken the pulse.
Beaten Awake are a bunch of bluecollar indie-schmindiers from somewhere in middle America who make mid-paced, mid-range, alternately jangly and distorted rock music that is, based on the evidence of ‘Thunder$troke’, largely forgettable. Produced by Patrick Carney from the Black Keys, their sophomore LP recalls, variously, IRS-era REM,The National, and non-triumphalism period Springsteen, but lacks much of the excitement, intensity or melody that those three acts thrive on.The most frustrating element of this record is Beaten Awake’s studious rejecting of any ambition – plenty of the tracks here contain kernels of epic brilliance, but are never given the space or attention to bloom. Only on the album’s closer, ‘I shot the Mayor, not the Deputy Mayor’, do things really begin to take off, but in truth it’s too little too late.
Having pitched-in for Jack White’s trendier-than-good Dead Weather project earlier this year, Dean Fertita – that’s the Queens of The Stone Age rhythm guitarist, dudes – releases this much better solo effort upon the world. In a futuroBeatles, Faces and Sabbath mesh of riffs, cowbells and biiig choruses, he’s crafted a late contender for best guitar party album of the year. Of particular note are ‘Mine in Sorrow’ (“She likes to think that she is more modern than tomorrow/but she’s mine in sorrow”!), ‘Faint Notion’ and ‘Far From It’. Detached acoustic ballad ‘Nature of our Minds’ sounds like Sean Lennon trying hard, but almost everything else here is groovy-hair-swinging brilliance and it’s nice to see big-time rock stars digging up post-British invasion sounds rather than the 80’s, which must this year be feeling as fucked-out as Lil’ Kim.
Tune-Yards Bird-Brains (4ad) By Sam Walton. In stores now
‘Bird-Brains’ is the work of lone songstress Merrill Garbus, recording her extraordinarily rich and untamed voice onto a digital Dictaphone while piecing the rest of her beats’n’ukelele music together with free-to-download software. For the most part, it’s an intense and dizzyingly exciting listen.The record revolves around Garbus’ voice, which recalls a feral Regina Spektor fighting with early Nina Simone, and, at its best, is some of the warmest and most sensual singing you’ll hear all year.The vocal performances on ‘Hatari’ and ‘Fiya’, in particular, command instant attention – the former for its guttural nonsense syllables and looped, chain-gang sounding chant, the latter for its soulful, heartfelt tenderness. Elsewhere, ‘Sunlight’ feels like a great lost Beck record, all cut-up hip-hop beats and swaying grooves, and ‘News’’s melody is full of head-fuck chromatics that are stomach-churningly deviant and satisfying all at once. Endlessly original and addictive, ‘Bird-Brains’ is a gorgeously alien, furiously independent sound.
The Dutchess & TheDuke
Tall Firs Meet Soft Location
Sunset/Sunrise (Hardly Art) By Mathias Scherer. In stores Nov 23
(Bella Union) By Jacob Sheppard. In stores Dec 14
(Ecstatic Peace!) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores now
(DFA) By Mandy Drake. In stores now
(Slumberland) By Sam Little. In stores now
Using the movement of the sun as a metaphor for life and death most certainly isn’t a novel approach, but Seattle duo The Dutchess & The Duke have decided that it is the one that works best for telling their slightly whimsical, melancholic stories. Having moved on from the upbeat country-folk of their first album, Jesse Lortz and Kimberley Morrison are now looking at the bigger picture, both lyrically and musically, and it works, despite the odd moment of derivative 60’s pastiche.The lovely, slender paced ‘Hands’ adds a subtle organ line, while ‘Never Had A Chance’ is Slow Club with a wistful, whiskeyfuelled kick.The piano-led closer ‘The River’ looks back at times gone by and picks up on the life/ death theme one last time, and too their credit,The Dutchess & The Duke largely manage to steer clear of sounding melodramatic or pompous.
He was once a touring member of Okkervil River, he wrote the score for cult flick Eagle Vs Shark and this is his UK debut album. New Zealand’s James Milne – aka Lawrence Arabia – graces these shores with the blissful ‘Chant Darling’. Lead single ‘The Beautiful Young Crew’ sounds like something you would have heard on John Lennon’s ‘Plastic Ono Band’, and this nod to the legendary Beatle continues throughout the entire album. Hints of folk psychedelia play strong in opening tracks such as ‘The Undesirables’ and the heartening, melodious ‘Apple Pie Bed’.This does, however, give a feel of a man just trying to re-create an obvious ideal, and leaves you with one burning question:Why would I buy this over one of the all-time greats? That said, his compositions do leave you with an annoying hum.
This isn’t any Ecstatic Peace! release, this is the sumptuous and soulful tones of Brooklyn’s Glass Rock, filled with a warm sauce of female-fronted lounge on a bed of dulcet half ballads.That’s how ‘Tall Firs…’ instantly feels: like a posh M&S ad gleaming through your TV set. And like all things Marks’, it’s fit and knows it, but somehow remains the right side of smug. In a barefaced case of ‘telling it like it is’, this ‘super group’ is made up of one key Tall Fir and, yes, members of Soft Location, and sounds far better than both individual bands. It’s singer Kathy Leisen who is really to thank for this – she seduces with her less cold, Fiestlike vocals, even if they are delivered at one continual safe pace, to safer, minimal drums and guitars.You may not need a whole album of Glass Rock, but like those goddamn sexy ads tell us, you will want a taste.
Signed to the ever-credible DFA label and flogging an album with a giant model of a T-Rex on it, Pylon – a band with one of those why-didn’t-our-band-think-ofthat-name monikers – should be an exciting prospect. And, for all of the above, they are…until you play ‘Chomp More’. Largely a rerelease of the band’s 1983 album, their disco post-punk, blurted rather tryingly by Vanessa Briscoe Hay, sounds more than a little dated today, and yet it’s hard to believe that this album ever sounded more maddening and less innovative. If you play ‘K’ enough, the winding 3-note guitar riff will eventually bore into your head and convince you that Pylon are the great lost alt. band some say they are, but the kiddy ‘Yo Yo’ will forever be plain annoying.There’s just nothing likable here, let alone something you can cherish more than the kitsch artwork.
Since Belle & Sebastian swiped the Best Newcomer Brit Award from under the button noses of Steps and 5ive ten years ago, twee has been on the rise. Largely, this has been no good thing. Club nights with crustless sandwiches, girls in polka dots and boys in braces are just the sickening side effect of jangly songs about he-meets-she and wins her thanks to his until now underappreciated homemade cupcakes.Yuk! As The Pains For Being Pure At Heart have proven this year, when twee pop is fuzzed up it can be swooning with brilliance, but, as ‘Received Pronunciation’ counters, clean guitars, joined by flat, endlesslylamenting vocals, too often make for an indifferent listening experience.You half want this Boston trio to grow a backbone, but, then, the samey picked out chord shapes don’t even invoke that simple sense of longing.
Christmas Island Blackout Summer (In The Red) By Danny Canter. In stores now
Named after the North Pacific island that became Uncle Sam’s nuclear test field in the 1950s, Christmas Island are keen to let us know how their lo-fi pop is sweet on the surface but as sinister as a mushroom cloud at its core.What ‘Blackout Summer’ really suggests though, is something far simpler – that this San Diego duo can be brilliantly melodious in their sun-baked rock’n’roll and equally as forgettable. They’re The Beach Boys’ slacker cousin, shouting love songs instead of singing them, but penning tracks like the twee ‘Dinosaurs’ from the same unquestionably talented gene pool. And that’s what wins out here. Tracks like the frantic ‘Anxiety Attack’ are neither well played nor well crafted, simply songs that you learn to accept wading through to get to the decent sized booty, decorated with sweet douchebag confession ‘It’s True’, the album’s title track and ‘Egypt’, which sounds like our own Graffiti Island, all of which are deadly infectious, y’know, like radiation mince pies. www.loudandquiet.com
DBvsLQ Tour ’09 ▼
Glasgow Stereo / Sheffield Plug, Manchester Night & Day Cafe / Brighton Audio / The Victoria London 19-23.10.2009 By Danny Canter Pics by Owen Richards
As any Oasis fan won’t tell you, there’s nothing quite like attending every date of a tour to realise just how much bands ‘go through the motions’ on the road. ‘Rockstar’ may be the best job in the world, but a job it is, nonetheless, and one that autopilot was really made for. Before long, gigs simply get in the way of drinking and doing very little. Long before the end, Oasis had gotten so bad at disguising such a fact that one sluggish show per album tour would suffice in dispelling the myth that the band wanted anything from you but your money. And so, it was with a certain amount of trepidation that we hosted Crocodiles’ debut UK tour. “You can move forward if you like,” offers singer Brandon Welchez at Plug, Sheffield. Opening lines like that are not for the ears of promoters - Why can people move forward? How comes there’s room for that sort of behaviour? This place should be rammed!!! Etc. So Plug’s a little spacey tonight (despite a bill that also boasts Leeds buzz-kid Spectrals, who bobs to his brilliant surf doo-wop, mutes his
twangy guitar strings and sings like an unaffected, sweet Alex Turner, and The Hipshakes who tear through their garage noise set to machinegun drum raps); Crocodiles don’t seem to care: autopilot wasn’t for them last night at Glasgow’s Stereo and it won’t be tonight, or for the rest of the week. Having ditched the backing track,Welchez and partner Charles Rowland are these days joined by two Marcos.They drum and play bass, in a leather jacket and a pair of leather trousers, respectively.They look good, but more importantly the sound they make is a vast improvement on that of Crocodiles’ previous twosome setup.The bass is extra overdriven and scuzzy, the drums less cold and more classically 60’s, especially on ‘Hollow Hollow Eyes’, which sees Marco No. 1 raise a stick on the offbeat while louche-ly bashing about like Charlie Watts in 1964 – not bad for a man who is a primary school teacher back home in Italy and hasn’t been behind a kit since being in a hardcore band, aged 12.
Whether in front of 20 people or 200 (and believe me, by the end of the week we can vouch for both extremes), Brandon is not only a visibly passionate frontman but also something of a thin-legged, black-clad star.Within a year, younger fans will no doubt curse their straight hair, wishing for a tight Bob Dylan bouf, and emulate his jerky, twitching dance moves. Tonight it’s not quite as desperate as 20 people, but lest we not forget the “move forward” request. Still, the singer repeatedly pounces at his mic stand throughout limited, Primal Scream-esque single ‘Neon Jesus’, thrusts his hips like an 21-year-old Tom Jones to ‘Soft Skull (In My Room)’ and drops to his knees for the closing ‘I Wanna Kill’, which ends differently every night, this time with a couplet from The Crystals’ ‘And Then He Kissed Me’.Vocally, his reverb-heavy Californian whine sits most perfectly in the mix in Sheffield, as we fully appreciate the following night at Manchester’s Night & Day Café. Support there comes from Egyptian Hip
No Pain In Pop Halloween party Goldsmiths, New Cross, London 30.10.2009 By Stuart Stubbs ▼
Feeling like a twat on Halloween really is as simple as dressing in your everyday clothes. Not even the Mario Bros. or Zelda will talk to us.The rugby team – who’ve fashioned costumes out of short shorts and little else, naturally – certainly won’t. But while even the less-than-half-arsed with meek splatters of fake blood on their civvies ignore us, it’s probably for the best. It exempts us from the ‘what are you studying?’ mating call of the wild fresher. Less unsociable are No Pain In Pop. This spook-fest is theirs, most frightening in its awesome lineup. Deep Sht – showing us right up in black hooded capes and green body paint – play their bitter, garage-gaze to just a cluster of straight faces, not because their wall of sound and slurring vocals are unconvincing (far from it, as Radio Dept.-esque ‘Hector’’s druggy, doss melody shows) but rather due to their early stage time clashing with grub-up in the nearby halls of residence. An hour later a few more (only a few, initially, mind) congregate for Gold Panda’s last London gig before his debut album is completed. Flicking switches and twisting dials that poke through a tabletop of wires and fx boxes, his trip-hop-py instrumentals click
Hop and Mazes.The latter we know well from their lo-fi transistor indie, mixed through TV’s to produce their brilliantly swaggering debut single ‘Bowie Knives’, but from the former we expect something different to what we get.Their buzzgenerating demo ‘Rad Pitt’ is perfect, forlorn electro pop – Metronomy meets The Cure – and is thus, unsurprisingly, the best track we hear played live all week. But the young four-piece also have a brasher side that makes their set one part foppish, new romantic and at least two parts crunchy grunge. However masterful their pop melodies are, we thought they’d be predictable in their sound; turns out they only are in their undeniable potential. For Crocodiles, low vocals do slightly hinder tonight’s set, but Charles’ sharp guitars make up the deficit. He loops through echo decks, delay pedals and reverb switches, rarely playing chords but rather striking odd notes and attractive shapes, screwing his amp with
his stringed thing to recreate the sound of a dozen multi-tracked Telecasters. He’s also the sharpest looking Crocodile, capable of shortening Brandon’s queue of female fans if he wasn’t happily courting Hollie Cook of the new Slits lineup. Brighton will be remembered for its unforeseen nightgrub venue (Audio) and Crocodiles’ tour van breaking down en route, but also for a shambolic and wonky, but ultimately charming, clatter punk set by DIY girl trio La La Vasquez. London, then saved by last minute substitution Not Cool will be the night that Brandon was unable to say “move forward” for bodies pushed up against the stage; the night Crocodiles’ encored with Joy Division’s ‘Warsaw’, crowd surfed, wrestled others to the floor and proved that ‘going through the motions’ really is for those with dwindling passion and little patience. Either that or for those who are very, very good at pretending they’re having the time of their lives.
and glitch, ambient and flirting with mellow club thumps, suggesting that his record will be on our Albums of the Year list in twelve months time. Various zombies drift in from the rammed bar, as do the token girls-dressed-as-cats (y’know, if cats wore stockings and lingerie to parties) and are slowly lulled out of their end-of-week chit-chat and into a rhythmic bob. (Although, it must be said that Colonel Sanders and a pirated Pikachu ‘get windy’ from the Oriental ‘Quitter’s Raga’ and remain that way throughout). Finally, the population of Goldsmiths seems to have mopped their mouths and consumed enough Grant’s Vodka at home to make it to the SU in time to see not one, but two people stand behind a table of anonymous leads. Teengirl Fantasy though, unlike Gold Panda, fail to compensate being nothing much to look at by delivering music as interesting as it is repetitive. Their set drags its heels as it stretches endlessly on.The chitchat soon takes priority over paying attention once again; catgirls now stumbling around with whole bottles of wine (y’know, like attention-seeking cats do).What we were expecting was for Teengirls Fantasy’s bubblegum squelches to be far beefier when played live, like how Crystal Castles’ album is little more than a pleasant background buzz until put on stage and turned into a ravey party monster. And it’s not Halloween without a monster.
Pic: Joe Perez / eyebodega.com
Grizzly Bear Manchester Cathedral, Manchester 04.11.2009 By Kate Parkin ▼
Atlas Sound. Pic: ELINOR JONES
Foot Village. Pic: OWEN RICHARDS
Surrounded by a halo of glowing light, Grizzly Bear project their swelling harmonies into the darkest corners of Manchester Cathedral. In these surroundings it’s easy to get carried away, as the sea of faces immerse themselves in the dreamy psychadelia of ‘Lullaby’ bathed in blue light, peering out from behind pillars with a rash of camera phones in hand. Others are content to stand and stare as the Jesus and Mary Chain distortions of ‘Knife’ sound as if they echo up from a distant underwater jukebox. Insistent keyboards chime back from the vastness above as singer Edward Droste rocks back his heels, steadying himself for impact. ‘Two Weeks’ provide the moment of pure unadulterated bliss the crowd are longing for though, eyes closed in rapture. ‘While You Wait For The Others’ then shoots warm rays to carry out into the dark winter night, singer Daniel Rossen seeming unabashedly joyful as their voices play off each other. Covering The Crystals’ ‘He Hit Me’, the band give it an added ethereal quality, piling on layers of harmonic distortion, making domestic violence sound oddly beautiful. And yet while Grizzly Bear are unquestionably touching, they do seem to be holding something back.We’re just don’t know what.
Fuck Buttons Heaven, London 27.10.2009 By Sam Little ▼
No Age. Pic: DANIELLE GOLDSTEIN
Minus one cartoon dance loon ‘getting ravey’ in neon gloves, tonight further proves just how reluctant London audiences are to move, harsh house pummelling against our resolutely static bodies. In our defence, it is a Tuesday night, and Fuck Buttons are yet to arrive.When they do, save from a relentless mass throb to their crushingly loud, demonic shoegaze, little changes. Cheers go up to the various drops of the glitchy ‘Surf Solar’, but even ol’ yellow hands soon turns into a gently vibrating blob under the
spell of this duo.There is of course nothing to look at – just two figures at a table of wires, not even in front of a light show – but that doesn’t stop us facing forward like a sonic-worshiping cult, because however loud your home speakers can go, there’s no recreating Fuck Buttons’ live sound. As well as being borderline uncomfortably deafening, the walls of static the band produce are Artexed far thicker with anticipation than recent album‘Tarot Sport’. It’s a game that rewards the patient, as tracks soar past their 10-minute marks, roaring like fighter jets overhead. And, seemingly, everyone here has their assaulted ears on the prize.We’re not dancing but Fuck Buttons have our undivided attention until the very last rush of distortion has stopped buzzing around our brains.That’ll be some time next week then.
No Age The Scala, Kings Cross, London 21.10.2009 By Danielle Goldstein ▼
“Let’s not stage dive, man, that’s like so fucking ’90’s,” announces Spunt – drummer/singer of LA art-punk duo, No Age.They’re one song in and already the boys in black have had to infiltrate the audience to stop the crowd surfing because the security guard on stage can’t stave them off alone. Armed with a new EP (‘Losing Feeling’) and construction site-worthy moustaches, the boys mix up old and new and there’s not a moment of peace until they leave the stage. ‘Teen Creeps’ catches the ears of all with sharp pop-filtered riffs, and through the fuzz of Randall’s guitar you can hear Spunt’s masculine whine.With a similar format, they mirror Matt & Kim sans the irritating synths – with pop-hooks fused with the punching sound wave of And You Will Know Us… ‘Every Artist…’ takes a slower pace, but Spunt flings beads of sweat from his face and bounces in his seat as you’ll be hard-pressed to find a No Age track that doesn’t still have a thrust-worthy beat. Cymbal-heavy ‘Boy Void’, along with its feedback-inducing, thrashing guitar, ensures this show ends the way it started – kids resisting authority, dancing their arses off.
We Were promised Jetpacks Jericho Tavern, Oxford 12.11.2009 By Tom Goodywn ▼
When it comes to playing live well, bands have two choices: they can either adapt to their surroundings or imagine that they are playing in their dream venue and try to take the crowd with them. Right from the off, Edinburgh’s We Were Promised Jetpacks don’t so much as take the crowd with them as rocket blast them skyward. Like the much maligned Angels and Airwaves, Jetpacks mix an earnest vocal style with a colossal sonic wall of guitar. Opener ‘It’s Thunder and Lightning’ sets the tone; frenzied playing builds, bringing to mind a less pompous Muse or Sonic Youth at their most potent before vocalist Adam Thompson yelps into life. From then on, Jetpacks have Oxford in rapture; to such an extent in fact that Thompson can afford to go without a microphone to sing the openings of ‘Conductor’ and ‘This Is My House,This Is My Home.’ The fifty minutes they get tonight whips by in a flurry of stargazing instrumentals and hyperactive choruses. Powerful, passionate and worthy of much bigger stages.
Cymbals Eat Guitars The Lexington, Angel, London 12.11.2009 By Matthias Scherer ▼
What starts with an explosion ends with a drony, drawn-out whimper that in its aimlessness leaves us disappointed, because it all began so well. ‘And The Hazy Sea’ displays all the characteristics that have people drooling over New York’s indie rockers Cymbals Eat Guitars – urgent, youthful vocals coupled with arrangements and guitar riffs built together from a bulky toolbox covered in Pavement, Grandaddy and Deerhunter stickers. “Will you take the wheel for a while/ I’m suddenly real tired,” singer and guitarist Joseph D’Agostino sweetly pleads, and you just want to get into your Nissan Micra and ride it down the nearest deserted highway. D’Agostino’s face is
coated with sweat after a couple of songs, and no wonder – he jerks himself from a squat to a stiff salute to the microphone and back again, and handles his guitar the way a butcher handles stray bones.The rest of the band go about their business with a knowing smirk, and sometime after the lovely, meandering Jonny Greenwod jangle of ‘Indiana’, the melodies become a bit too derivative and the jamming too directionless to stand up to the initial bang. Spread the dynamite more evenly boys and you’ll have us in the palm of your hand.
Cold Cave Madam Jojo’s, Soho, London 04.11.2009 By Edgar Smith ▼
People throw the term ‘pretentious’ around, applying it defensively when what they mean to say is ‘those book-reading wankers are talking about something I don’t understand’.You could picture someone going home from Madame Jojo’s and calling Cold Cave pretentious, which would be a bit unfair; what they are, or what they emanate, is a slightly awkward sense of selfconscious cool.Tonight though, this is shattered by a truly pretentious or maybe deluded member of the audience (a very drunk, lost-looking man pretending, very loudly, to be a fire engine), who makes the serious stage-look hard to take seriously. They don’t do a bad job musicwise, kicking off with tracks from ‘Love Comes Close’ then diverting to older songs and a few from new EP ‘Death Comes Close’ before returning to the LP and its title track, which draws a welcoming cheer. Something is lacking though. Songs on the album where the vocal is satisfyingly cut into ribbons seem beyond their current live set up and so go unplayed or uncomfortably rehoused. ‘Laurels of Erotomania’ in particular feels in need of an overhaul, as Wesley Eisold is unable to reach the lows of the vocal and so sings it an octave higher in an emo whine and its synth and drum tracks come over a little euro-house. Unfortunately the show serves to poke-wider the holes you thought you could hear on record.
The Drums Camden Barfly, London 27.10.2009 By Chris Watkeys ▼
Brooklyn’s latest export,The Drums, hit Camden, and, as it always seems at these occasionally ultra-buzzed Barfly gigs, the venue is fuller than a Led Zep show in a phone box. Standing next to me is none other than indie warhorse Steve Lamacq, whom I’m sure lives in this venue, but nonetheless lends weight to the notion that everybody who counts wants to see this band. Local gloom-sters Lion Club are impressive in support, dishing out a set of moody strings and organ augmented tunes, like Interpol on downers with added swathes of melody.The Drums kick off with ‘Best Friend’, and while singer Jonathan Pierce dances like an extra on Neighbours in a chunky sports sweater, intermittently throwing his arms around like an unhinged evangelist, the music – a poppy, stoopid, melody-driven concoction – feels a little flimsy. There are traces of the yelpy majesty of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, but there is something cutesy in the mix too, like saccharine sixties pop set to a punk-funk beat. The crowd seem to quietly enjoy it, but raucous this is not. Maybe at their sweaty NY club residencies this energy transfers over, but here it falls a little flat.The Drums will have to beat harder than this to get us coming back.
Atlas Sound Cargo, Shoreditch, London 15.11.2009 By Phil Dixon ▼
Those familiar with Bradford Cox’s first solo LP ‘Let the Blind…’ may be curious how that record’s blissfully ambient shoegaze would translate to the live stage – pure bedroom introspection and melancholy as it is, fitted better to lonely, contemplative nights alone – but tonight’s sold-out show proves that plenty find it an interesting prospect.Those unfamiliar with his Deerhunter origins are immediately surprised to find him affable and engaging, and the haphazard approach to his set creates intimacy, as if he’s
invited a couple-hundred of his closest friends into his bedroom. Meanwhile tracks from recent album ‘Logos’ show he has moved his sound toward a more country folk feel. And so incredible multilayered dreamscapes of ‘Recent Bedroom’ are immediately juxtaposed with the upbeat folk pop of ‘Criminals’. A new twist on ‘Quarantine’ is still as emotive and breathtaking, while ‘Attic Light’ starts off stripped down, bare and honest, before the loops and Cox’s harmonious vocals – reminiscent of ‘Mojo Pin’ era Jeff Buckley – build to a soaring melodic high before landing safely back down to earth. It enraptures the crowd, and save the odd blissful sigh all is hushed reverie, with only knowing “told-you-so” nods passing between established fans and newly won converts.
Daniel Johnston Brudenell Social Club, Lees 06.11.2009 By Kate Parkin ▼
There is a feeling of quiet celebration in the air, stretching out from the crowd to backing band,The Wave Pictures, pinching themselves that they are here. Hush descends as Daniel Johnston slips into ‘Life in Vain’. Plagued by ill health he softly trembles as he delivers each line. Covers of Beatles songs are scattered throughout the set in tribute to his love of pop culture; ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ culminating in an emotional sing-along. Ranging from stripped down, delivered with a Bob Dylan drawl, to the dysfunctional squall of ‘Rock N’ Roll’, he happily banters with the crowd as they shout out song choices, breaking off to tell stories in the words they already know. Songs from his new album are as sweetly shambolic as ever; ‘High Horse’ wouldn’t sound too out of place on a Randy Newman soundtrack and bringing together all these scattered ramblings into something truly beautiful, Johnston has a unique gift.This shines through on final encore ‘True Love Will Find You In The End’, which builds flurries of sound around his gently vibrating voice.Three years after that fateful documentary, maybe he is finally laying some of his demons to rest.
Japandroids Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, London 29.10.2009 By Matthias Scherer ▼
Japandroids are in a hurry, it seems. “We’re ready to go wild, I hope you are too,” a breathless Brian King (guitars & vocals) blabbers into the mic before throwing himself into the first of many gargantuan riffs.Tonight he and his drummer buddy David Prowse are restricted to a support slot, but are determined to make the most of it. They yelp, chug and pound their way through the super-chunky guitar pop of their acclaimed debut ‘Post-Nothing’ with a likable abandon, but also with a slightly deflating sluggishness.The joy of songs like ‘Young Hearts Speak Fire’ and ‘Rockers East Vancouver’, on top of being baggage-free slabs of rock fun, have tunes to lift themselves above the somewhat tedious majority of the new noise brigade (Titus Andronicus, we’re looking at you here). So when King and Prowse miss the right note by half a tone or cop out of singing a hook properly, it is a tad frustrating, even though King’s guitar is satisfyingly meaty and fills out most of the cracks that become apparent during the course of the set. But then, that is only 30 minutes long anyway, and most of it is very enjoyable indeed.
Foot Village Barden’s Boudoir, Dalston, London 06.11.2009 By Polly Rappaport ▼
The stage looks like gridlocked traffic at rush hour, only with drum kits instead of cars, and no sooner do the members of Foot Village gather (three big guys and a gorgeous, petite woman in a frilly skirt) the audience are requested, via megaphone, to gather round the four inward-facing kits while the band take their places.Those of us who can’t fit on stage find chairs and tables to stand on to see into the centre of the crowd.There is an almost imperceptible nod and suddenly all four have begun a rolling, perfectly synchronised rhythm that disperses and re-forms with precise fluidity.The tiny woman, one Grace Lee, belts out feral screams, like savage war-cries,
into the megaphone, passing it to the other members for call-andrepeat rants, all the while keeping to their visceral beats, tighter than the skins they are so systematically pulverising. Ms Lee shrieks into the megaphone and falls back into the wall of bodies behind her, being lifted and passed around as she barks wild phrases that her band mates repeat in varying sequences. Everyone is seemingly hypnotised by the tribal percussion patterns and thrilled by the band’s urgent shouts. “The second we start this song, everyone scream as crazy as possible, that’s the perfect effect for this song,” instructs a Foot Villager, “Or sit down.” No one sits down, everyone in Barden’s screams, crazy as they can, and it is the perfect effect for the night that culminates in one Villager breaking the pattern and overturning his kit. Silence... but for the whooping and stomping.
Morrissey Alexandra Palace, London 05.11.2009 By Stuart Stubbs ▼
Ally Pally is meant for Morrissey. Faux regal and grand, it stands arrogantly proud, surrounded by lesser versions of itself, and it’s also a venue that is only reached after a pilgrimage for only the seriously bothered; something Mozzites are skilled in.The man himself is fully aware of this and has always rewarded his loyal followers with nothing less than genuine and heartfelt live shows, but what sorts these performances into good and sublime are the quick-witted quips and ever-changing set lists.Tonight Morrissey cuts Michael Buble and serves David Cameron, but his tracks, inevitably due to his Smiths choices, are particularly wonderful. To start: ‘This Charming Man’. Sure, it’s so chunking it sounds like Death Cab For Cutie’s emo version, but c’mon, it’s ‘This Charming Man’! And it’s later kept warm by the sinister chug of ‘How Soon Is Now?’ and ‘Ask’, and the less-than-obvious ‘Is It Really So Strange?’, and ‘Shakespeare Sister’ and, wait for it, ‘Cemetry Gates’. As long as we get ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’ Morrissey can fill the rest of his set with new dross from latest ‘Swords’ for all we care, which is exactly what he does. www.loudandquiet.com
film By DEAN DRISCOLL
01 Gran Torino It’s not perfect – the story’s been told before, and some of the acting is a mite cringey - but it’s such an enjoyable overall experience you simply don’t care. Touching, easy-going and frequently hilarious, Clint Eastwood’s movie might have been overlooked in awards season, but it still effortlessly wipes the floor with many of the efforts feted back in February. If it really is Eastwood’s acting swansong then it’s a hell of a way to go – his racist but redeemable war vet Walt Kowalski may be a play on the persona he’s spent nigh on six decades on screen cultivating, but he’s never less than immensely enjoyable company, even when throwing around racially insensitive insults. And as a director, Eastwood’s still working at a rate men 60 years his junior can’t cope with – he also applied his effortless style to the creepily effective Changeling starring Angelina Jolie this year, and has Invictus, starring Matt Damon alongside Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, due out in early 2010. The word legend has never been more appropriate.
Films of 2009 There was something of a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ to 2009’s cinema year. 2008 had been of a particularly fine vintage, with an awards season that had There Will Be Blood, No Country For Old Men, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Juno, Michael Clayton, Eastern Promises and Gone Baby Gone among the movies to choose from. This year’s was a notably weaker selection, and Slumdog’s hoovering up of awards was fully justified in a year that saw the limp Benjamin Button as its main rival. At the box office there was no Dark Knight success story either, with this year’s wannabes not having the necessary punch to deliver both the critical and commercial success that Christopher Nolan’s movie so deservedly achieved. Transformers 2 may have made a small country’s GDP during its run, but it’s unlikely to be remembered with much fondness in years to come. That’s not to say this year was bad at all – rather, the movies worth catching were generally not blockbusters, nor were they fawned over in awards season. Honourable mentions must go to the excellent Coraline – wonderfully animated in stop-motion by Henry Selick and even scarier than Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell – and District 9, which featured some of the year’s best special effects on a budget that wouldn’t cover Michael Bay’s outgoing on hair products. Here though are our Top 5 movies of 2009 (so far):
Though it resides on that second tier of Pixar’s movies – alongside Monster’s Inc, not quite on the level of Toy Story 2 – UP is still so far ahead of every other family movie released it’s frankly embarrassing. This was the first film we’d seen in both 2D and 3D format: it all comes back to the same argument we had at the emergence of DVDs and Blu-Ray: No, you don’t need to see it in 3D – a great film is a great film whatever.
As it’s only November, there is still time for that Top 5 to change, and between now and Christmas, there are four movies with a real chance of making their own impact. Out now, there’s Steven Soderberg’s The Informant!, which includes Matt Damon in what’s said to be one of the best performances of the year, and the new Coen Brothers movie A Serious Man, which – after the frivolous Burn After Reading – sees the brothers make a long-awaited return to Fargo / Barton Fink territory, with their 60’s Minnesota-set tale of a Jewish husband and father who’s life is coming apart all around him. With a mainly star-free cast and a setting that’s perhaps closest to the Coen’s own life of anything they’ve done before, it could just be one of their best yet. December will see two more of the most talkedabout releases of the year finally reach the UK public: Where The Wild Things Are (December 11th) is the return of Spike Jonze, adapting Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic, and Avatar is the return of James Cameron. Described as a ‘game-changer’, it could well be a landmark movie whether it’s actually any good or not. Ultimately it’s not the story that people will be going to see – it’s whether Cameron – with his 3D motion capture techniques - has managed to create a new way of experiencing film. You’ll have to wait until December 17th to find out.
03 The Hurt Locker Point Break director Kathryn Bigalow’s tale of bomb disposal experts managed to say more about the Iraq conflict than a dozen movies that came before, mainly by not overtly saying anything about it at all. It avoided the soapbox and focused on Jeremy Renner’s risk-taker, and provided some of the tensest moments audiences will have experienced all year. 04 In The Loop Inevitably the best British film of the year, and probably the funniest too. Armando Ianucci’s big screen transfer for Malcolm Tucker promised all the rapid-fire insults you could wish for, and the exciting prospect of the fearsome Tucker squaring off against Tony Soprano: It delivered. 05 Star trek The best blockbuster of the year, JJ Abrams’ witty reboot of the series featured sly in-jokes for the fans and charismatic turns from its leads, with Zachary Quinto’s Spock particularly deserving of praise.
Other movies to catch between now and Christmas...
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party wolf’s 2009 tool list
A man who’ll drink his own piss to survive a long queue in Tesco, it’s Grylls’ camera man who’s the real born survivor, also trekking through swamps and rubbing off tree frogs for nutrients, but carrying a massive camera as well to catch the sorry cock-fest on film.
You know, that dwarf who wears clothes that look like the Wacky Hat Stall at Glastonbury has vomited all over him.
Top of her class at the Davina McCall School of Gurning, Winkleman is a cock… man.
Kirsty & Phil
Partly for befriending ultimate bore Calvin Harris, but mainly for ‘Bonkers’.
It’s hard to say at what point the northern mutt that can only smugly say “oh yes” became unbearable, but a safe bet would be when we saw Melanie Sykes tickling his balls in front of the Eiffel Tower.
A far less competent, far more wretched human being than Peter ‘I’m a big fat slug who farts more sense than I speak’ Griffin from Family Guy.
Doing nothing for the reputation of estate agents, she’s proof that the devil wears Dorothy Perkins, and you’d rather have Terry from Foxton’s tell you, “We’ve ’ad a lot of interest in this one” than spend any time with him.
“You see it as mud, I see it as a million meals.”
Of course it’s Katie Price these days. ‘Jordan’ was just a big ‘ol pair of tits. Miss Price is a refined lady…who only gobbles off blokes she’s publicly humiliated in the press. Peter Andre Heather Mills could have learnt a lot from the former Mr Jordan. How to win favour in a public divorce case? Be ever so slightly less of a c*nt than your exspouse. Only ever so slightly less, mind. Liam Gallagher Well done Liam, you’ve really gone and done it this time. How dare you start a clothing line? You’ll be wanting to wipe your own arse next. Noel was never going to stand for it and now you’re just a market trader with slightly better hair than Roy on veg. Danni Minougue
Ramsay: “Yeah, well velcro is quicker to fasten!”
If there’s one thing more humiliating than being told you’re talentless by Louis Walsh it’s being told it by the lady on his left. Amanda Holden Britain does not have talent. Piers Morgan The king snake; Morgan is at his most aggravating when interviewing someone on telly and prefixing questions with lines like, “Let’s get real here…” What a cock. Robbie Williams Blobby ‘Love Me’ Williams will forever be in our tool list. There are 3 guarantees in life: death, taxes and the fact that Williams will always be too tragic for words but too much of a dick for us to feel sorry for him. Dermot O’Leary
“Look mum, I got my ear all pierced!”
From BBLB to The X Factor, Dermot O’Leary has only proved to be a slightly more competent human being than the truly wretched Patrick Kielty. But a pile of puke could do that.
Richard Hammond King of the xenophobes Clarkson (yes, king to Nick Griffin’s wanky jester) is still the biggest turd on Top Gear, but ‘The Hamster’ bows to him, which makes him far more stupid. The Top Gear Studio Audience You bow to them all and quaff at their smug ‘jokes’ on cue. An example: “It handles like an Audi A5 for Churchill’s sake!” Audience: “Ha Haaaa, well done Jez. Say you hate the French again!” Anton Du Beke
James Nesbitt Never a trust a man with a crooked smile…or shits for brains. Charlie Boorman What? Who? Oh, sorry, he’s that guy who travels everywhere on a motorbike and films it for TV. Used to be friends with Ewan McGregor? Looks like a simple lion? Forget it. Derren Brown And for my next trick I will make you buy a lemon. Now go lemon into lemon that lemon lemon shop lemon and lemon buy lemon a lemon… lemon.
His racial slurs are obviously not on, but the fact that this Bruce Forsyth wannabe’s real name is Tony Beke makes him either brilliantly audacious or a massive nob. Let’s mark it down as massive nob for now.
A programme that has contestants competing – nay, begging – to be friends with Paris Hilton. Obama, shut it down!
How do you make a man playing crap ska in a porkpie hat even more annoying? Kanye, give us a hand, mate. Matt Horne Fair enough, he’s done well to avoid being eaten by his fat mate, but Horne’s desperate attempts to be ‘indie’ are inexcusable. Yeah, yeah, we know you love We Have Band, what Topman mannequin doesn’t? David Cameron What a snake. George Lamb You know that joke, ‘Why does George Lamb wear a bowtie? So even deaf people know he’s a c*nt’? Yeah, it’s true. Gordon RamsAy Looking more and more like Antony Worrall Thompson every day. Noel Edmonds It wouldn’t be a tool list without Noel ‘still less charming than a flatulent Mr Blobby’ Edmonds. Kerry Katona Still flogging roast dinners in a can, which may cost £1.49 but are about as tasty as those crocodile nut-sacks from her queen of the contrived jungle days.
Aka Eddy Munster from X Factor a while back, now Grease’s Danny Zuko. He’ll always be Doodie to me though. (One for the Grease fans, there). Paris Hilton’s BFF
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Bat For Lashes / 2009 Review Special