music for the past, present and Future
EDITORIAL: Living in London, my relationship with this city, and I don’t think I’m alone in this, is one of absolute love and, at the same time, utter hatred. There can’t be any city in the world where you can alternate so easily and so often between those two emotions as you can in London. One minute, I’ll be full of glee for an ice cream van with a flat screen TV hooked to the top blaring out Robin S. at the top of Brixton’s Coldharbour Lane, the next I’ll be cussing out the Tube for being such a sweltering, claustrophobic pain in the ass that hasn’t yet mastered the art of being 24 hours [it works in New York, in Hamburg, in San Francisco, so why not here?!] But top of my ‘pros’ list for London is undoubtedly the vast, constant flow of music that streams through the city, with a tide stronger than the Thames could ever fathom. The blaze of treats for your ears to feed on is burning up the city and even trying to sum them up in the limited amount of pages this zine provides is impossible. Yeah, but guess what? We tried it anyway. And after the folly [so much fun] of last month’s Eurodance outing, we’ve actually decided to get down to some real journalism this time. I know, crazy, right? Getting out the contacts book, we set up interviews [how novel!] with some of our current favourites [who we’d like to thank now for sparing a moment for this humble publication], put together a little shortlist of other phenomenal acts and reviewed a few of the cities’ juiciest albums. We’ve probably missed out all your favourite artists, so any hate mail to the email address below please.
Editor in Chief: Francesca Ronai Art Director: Farouk Adegboyega Agoro Web Editor: Baba Olurin Contributors: Akinola Davies Jr Andie Walsh Katy Ideh Rachel Bate Illustrator: Ialonus Ronay Contact: email@example.com www.pub-lication.com www.myspace.com/pub_lication www.twitter.com/PUB_lication
Cut To The Tracks
sounds through the city
Man Like Me
the latest trend in weddings
songs about war and hope
My Toys Like Me
the maiden and the mad scientist
riding shotgun with our fave mercury nominee
Screaming Tea Party
a brief, silly interview
mpho/the big pink/electricity in our homes soundspecies/florence + the machine
Gurn crack stevensâ€™ singles round-up
Joana and the Wolf
To be honest, I haven’t really listened to anything else but ‘Natural Born Killer’ but I’m not sure I need to. It’s breathy and sexy, bringing the house down without a twiddly knob in sight.
Hands up if you were a garage head? Oh yeah, I’ve even got the Ayia Napa tshirt to prove it. So when I heard ‘Hyph Mngo’, I nearly peed in my pants. Get your skank out for this one.
Brixton we go hard! House so acidic you could burn the limescale off your kitchen sink for good and beats so satisfyingly chewy, they’re painful. Tune to watch out for: ‘Him Da Biz’.
Their buzz is so big, that before we’d heard them we really felt left out - like being at a school disco and not getting a snog. So on hearing ‘Cystalised’ we’re all kissed out and blissful.
Finding his voice as a songwriter/producer, he recently hooked up with Micachu for smashing and clattering mixtape Kwesachu vol. 1. It’s free, so no guilty downloading necessary.
We Have Band
Single ‘We Came Out’ is not only terrifyingly catchy but has a video of freakish genius. Still no record deal but apparently they’re gonna finish the album before letting others meddle. Yay.
WIth tracks like ‘Lagos Town’ and ‘Eba Eater’, Young Sunny Ade here is unashamedly Nigerian. So are half the staff on PUB, so now we have tunes to go with our pounded yam and egusi.
Warning: the following comparison is as unoriginal as an ‘I Love Mum’ tattoo. But ‘Pieces Of You’ is really the closest we’ll ever get to a Talking Heads comeback single. Seriously.
I Blame Coco
Miss Sumner here is rock ‘n’ roll royalty, her being Sting’s offspring and everything. But rather than getting wasted and becoming a ‘DJ’, she makes great tracks like ‘Darkstar’.
My Toys Like Me’s Frances Noon gave these guys a mention in our recent interview. Now they’ve been Mercury nominated. Maybe she’s more magical then we could’ve ever imagined.
? Man Like Me
The last time I saw Man Like Me was at Brix-
‘We thought we’d start a wedding DJ service as well as having the band.’
ton’s Hootananny for a storming set that couldn’t have lasted more than 30 minutes. Raging through the tracks off their recent self-titled debut, they caused a veritable flash-mob style dancefloor eruption and in a frenzied need for more props, almost brought the venue’s fire extinguisher on stage [before a disgruntled stage manager, in the upstanding name of health and safety, came rushing to its aid]. But besides the carnage of their explosive performance, perhaps more noteworthy, was their lack of band members. Their foursome that, at the beginning of the year, became a comfortable threesome was now further reduced to just
the two core members, and long-time school friends, Johnny and Pete. In a bid to woo them for what later turned into the following interview, I cornered the Moshino-clad and Camden lad Johnny, only to discover that their resident trombonist and third member, Jerome had just quit the band that same day. Yikes. No wonder they’d seemed to be releasing so much pent-up frustration on the excitable revellers of Brixton that night. And as the Brighton contingency of the PUB collective recently caught them at the Loop festival with a new trumpeter and even a lady in their performance line-up, I was now sitting in a pub on Broadway Market ready to find out what was happening to my favourite providers of this summer’s party tracks. ‘We’re looking for a third member. It’s been tough since we lost Jerome. He was great onstage and it’s hard to get that balance back.’ Johnny explains. So first Ed, and now Jerome; are they taking these losses personally? Johnny laughs: ‘No, it’s not personal. Ed came back and did the Madstock festival with us. It was good fun. He said to me the other day that if ever we want to do some live stuff with him, he’d be more than happy, so it’s not on bad terms or anything.’ Having seen some of the footage from the Loop festival performance in Brighton myself, the addition of a girl seems incongruous to a band that I’ve found hard to categorise but often relayed to people as lad-hop [yes it’s lame, answers on the back of a postcard if you can think of something better]. A factor that Johnny is aware of ‘She’s a friend who can sing really well, and she’s been doing the festivals with us really. But we just want one guy really, a proper bloke.’ During the day, Johnny works as a landscape gardener, Pete works at the Screen On The Green cinema but even though they say the plan was never to be a band, they both used to talk about working in the music industry from back when they were still at school. As it transpires, the original plan was to DJ, something that they can now, like many new
and old London bands do, indulge in. ‘I’m really depressed with the state of our DJing’, Johnny begins but is quickly interrupted by a much more upbeat Pete: ‘I’m quite positive, we’ve got Man Like Me but we’ve got a new thing going now. A friend of ours clocked recently that sooner or later our mates are gonna start getting married and they’ll need DJs, so we thought we’d start a wedding DJ service as well as having the band. I think one of them will make us money.’ ‘Probably the wedding DJing’, Johnny adds. ‘Yeah probably,’ agrees Pete. Being the same age as both band members, I’d say the idea’s not bad at all. In the last few months, the amount of friend’s engagements that have been announced is pretty impressive but presumably, MLM would have to figure out the right attire for such a gig. Dumb and Dumber tuxedos perhaps? Already been thought of, Johnny says: ‘Max who runs it has come up with loads of gimmicks for it. Everything has to be white - white decks, white headphones, white vinyls.’ Pete adds with a laughs: ‘The website for this, weddingsmashers.com, is better than our Man Like Me one’. Well there you go, Man Like Me, literally available for weddings, children’s parties and bar mitzvahs. But back to band business. The hunt for a third member is on and having just acquired an American agent, there’s a US tour coming up in October, but with no plans to release anymore singles off the album [that they describe as a ‘best of’ of the last three years], is there any fresh produce in the storage? Both band mates grin at one another before Johnny admits: ‘We need to write new material.’ Giggling like guilty teenagers, possibly caught with top shelf mags under their mattresses, he continues: ‘At the moment there are no new songs. The plan is to knuckle down and write but I keep on procrastinating. I do have a new computer now, which is my last ditch attempt to get started.’ Looks like we’ll be seeing them sooner in the pages of Modern Bride magazine then we thought. Francesca Ronai
‘We have a computer, where we put all the
data in,’ says Laurel Collective’s keyboardist Mark in response to my question as to how they go about writing songs. All six of them are now in complete hysterics as Bob, who together with Martin, makes up the lead vocals, adds: ‘Mark made it, he’s very clever.’ Rachel, PUB’s photographer on the day, points to an 80s Macintosh desktop sitting on a table behind the guitarist Olly and asks. ‘Is that it?’ More hysterics. It’s hard to get a straight answer out of the scrumpy-pompy pop sextet [I’ll explain later] Laurel Collective. We’re greeted by Charlie, LC’s drummer. He quickly throws everyone’s name at us: Bob, Martin, Al, Olly and Mark. Someone shouts: ‘Now let’s see how well you remembered that?’ Interviewing all of them at once is like walking in on one big in-joke. And even just trying to get to the bottom of how the band was formed and where they all met proves tricky. Amongst a lot of laughter, Bob begins: ‘Olly was living rough in my beard; my beard was a lot bigger at the time. It was a double whammy musical discovery. Olly was playing guitar in my beard and the music drew Martin in…’ ‘Wait, is this the official version?’ I ask, interrupting a story that judging from my experience of the last twenty minutes is probably only going to get sillier. It transpires that they originally met at university, all though not all at the same one. Split into two camps at first, they eventually joined forces to what is now the current Laurel Collective lineup. But oddly enough, on researching the band prior to this interview, I kept coming across the same little story that when they first started out there were nineteen of them, like the Blazing Squad of London’s indie-pop scene perhaps? Olly smirks: ‘That was a press release that went out of control. There was a time when all the press we were receiving kept saying there were nineteen of us. We kept wondering. ‘Where did that come from?’ ‘We did make this EP that had loads of people on it,’ Bob offers up but thankfully stops halfway
of trying to list everyone who’d made an appearance on the record. ‘There was probably about twelve of us,’ he concludes. It wouldn’t surprise me if they’d inadvertently started that rumour themselves. I’ve been in their tranquil East London rehearsal space for less than half an hour and my Dictaphone is already bursting with hilarious but ludicrous alternatives to the truth. With tall tales and oneliners practically bouncing off the walls, I imagine this is what Boy Scouts must be like except with guitars instead of Swiss army knifes. No one has been able to resist any chance to have a quick dig at whomever they see fit, all though it appears Bob and his beard take the brunt of most of it, either that or Mark’s mum. Actually Mark’s parents generally seem to get a lot of stick, and it seems the group’s knack for concocting stories and this haphazard interview technique is a practiced art form. ‘We did an interview for local radio somewhere in the southwest,’ LC bassist Al recalls. ‘We just went off on one about how Mark’s dad was our dealer. And then we found out afterwards that he’d been listening.’ Mark adds: ‘My dad had minutes, he’d been taking notes of the entire thing.’ His laughter suggests that by now he’s quite used to the regular parent-bashing. It’s not all raucous jibing though, we do eventually get round to their upcoming single ‘Flamethrower’ that’s being released through Pure Groove in September: ‘Have you heard? It’s like 10CC,’ Al says, before all six of them join in: ‘On 10 cc of valium!’ [We revert quickly back to the group giggling fits again…] Laurel Collective are continuously amused by how hard critics find it to neatly categorise their music and this ingenious 10CC line is the latest in bizarre descriptions to capture their imagination. Others include skrunky-pop, avant-folkpop, math-rock and generally a whole range of other hyphenated jargon that could possibly apply. In the umpteenth eruption of hysterics, they all begin reeling off the most ridiculous genre formations they can think of before Martin concludes with ‘scrumpy-pompy pop’. Well, that’s saved me a lot of bother.
Photo: Rachel Bate
‘We just went off on one about how Mark’s dad was our dealer. And then we found out afterwards that he’d been listening.’
The new single ‘Flamethrower’ follows an LC trend I’ve noticed for songs referencing war and weaponry, and not surprisingly ‘disaster and death’ gets jovially put forward as to what inspires most of their songs. Bob, the band’s lyricist steps up to defend himself: ‘Not in a Radiohead way. They’re quite light-hearted, y’know I just like light-hearted pop songs about disaster.’ ‘You could say there’s a lot of imagery about office equipment as well though’ says Olly. The group murmur in agreement, printers and fax machines get mentioned. Yeah, fax machine of DEATH!’ Lee exclaims,
referring to the recent EP released for free in conjuction with Clash magazine. This, as you can by now imagine, sets them all off again before Olly sweetly mentions that there is also a lot of hope in their music. And now it’s all over, there’s uncontrollable laughter as they realise they’ve been rumbled: Laurel Collective write songs about death, disaster, kalashnikovs, World War II and office equipment but all with a healthy side serving of hope. Bob steps in for damage control: ‘This all going to sound really terrible now!’ Andie Walsh
Last time I saw Frances Noon, the lead singer
of My Toys Like Me, she was wearing the most incredible waist-hugging blue and white check Versace jeans, a few weeks later at a live session at Pure Groove record store in Farringdon, she’s equally as incredible in Moschino. Unlike Lily Allen in a K hole (an unfortunate comparison circulating in the music press) Frances Noon is attractive and talented, and rolling her eyes when the L word comes up, ‘doesn’t even take drugs’. The four-piece band consisting of Frances Noon, Lazlo Legezer, Charlie Boud and Alfonso Pisanelli released their debut albumWhere We Are in May. Frances is undoubtedly the glamour ingredient to the MTLM recipe, although Lazlo, affectionately dubbed ‘the mad scientist’ by Frances is not the geeky knob twiddler he self-depreciatingly makes himself out to be. Talking about his depressing search for the perfect vocalist after a gig in Prague ended up as a three-year stint (I’ll get to that bit in a minute) he says: ‘I’d feel kind of guilty because I had all this equipment set up that wasn’t being used. I felt like one of those middle-aged guys who have one of those giant train sets running through their kitchen. And you think ‘Oh that’s a bit sad…’’ He’s right, those giant train sets are a bit sad but the ‘equipment’ he’s talking about has nothing to do with men who still live with their mothers and spend most of their time at Games Workshop. Listening to Lazlo chat animatedly about his various gizmos and gadgets, I have little to no idea what he’s talking about; it’s all a bit technical for me, so he explains in layman’s terms and I nod enthusiastically while he makes twangy electronic sounds and talks about: ‘A mad old synthesizer that Pink Floyd used for The Dark Side of the Moon. The thing you stick pins in like Battleships. It’s from the same sort of time as the mini moog.’ Whatever it is, it works. My music taste is modestly eclectic, but like a lot of hip hop heads, I’m stuck somewhere in the 90s, secretly listening to the same five albums on repeat when left to my own devices. Hearing tracks like ‘Barnaby’ and ‘Sick Couple’, the former,
bouncy, filthy 80s electro, the latter breathy and hypnotic, I felt a bit like my Grandpa who insists that his one Frank Sinatra album is enough to get him through retirement. So I relegated Illmatic and Things Fall Apart for the week and jiggled around my room, digging out Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lamb and Portishead, but mostly, I just had ‘Barnaby’ on repeat. With such an addictive sound, it’s no wonder MTLM just opened for Aphex Twin and Kraftwerk in Italy, played this year’s Glastonbury and almost played Bestival last year (if they hadn’t been rained off like everyone else - apart from Will Young that is). Talking about the British festival circuit Lazlo is pretty unimpressed: ‘I just look at every other festival as a field with some stages and lots of bad catering. Glastonbury is the only thing that deserves the title festival’. He should know, having spent most of the 90s organising free raves and living in a squat with
Photo: Francesca Ronai
a party hotline for an answer phone. Then, marches and raves were held in protest of the 1994 Criminal Justice Act, an attempt at stopping undesirables congregating to rave with a specific clause against ‘sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats’. Right. Luckily for Lazlo, when the police turned up to confiscate materials that may have facilitated raving (computers, glow sticks maybe?) he wasn’t there: ‘I was in a camper van I’d just bought. So I went out to Czech, just to DJ out there and really it was easy not to come back to England’. He shrugs and grins in a way that reminds me of my loveable rogue step brother who lives in a horsebox on Brighton beach, and tours the country with a papier mache monster sound system. I’m jealous. I spent most of the 90s living in Shoreham-By-Sea, saving up for a Kappa
tracksuit and stealing my sisters mixtapes recorded from the Trevor Nelson show on Radio One. Perhaps in some ways similar to Frances’ modest beginnings in St Albans, because I know exactly what she means when she says, ‘For me personally, I lived in a very, very limited society. Very middle class, very non-cultural. So for me coming to London, was the beginning of me being creative’. Watching her strut around the Pure Groove stage, long arms flying, hips undulating, killing it on a speeded, mashed and electrofied Diana Ross cover, it’s quite hard to imagine her in St Albans. It’s much easier in fact to see how she clicked with the ‘mad scientist’ on the set of a soft porno starring Luke Bros of Bros fame, moved to a London squat in Willesden Green with a neighbour resembling the monster from The Goonies and started to make some very interesting music. Katy Ideh
‘All I need to do now is win’
One week before the Mercury’s are announced
the musical school of life that has led to the acclaimed and now Mercury Prize nominated album. I’m intrigued when the first name off Speech’s role call is much-underappreciated soul artist and bassist Me’Shell Ndegeocello. As one of my all time faves, Speech Debelle now has my full, sweaty attention: ‘I discovered her album called Bitter, it was the first time I’d heard a concept album. It made me realise what a concept album is, taking a whole lot of songs all based around the same subject and it’s what made me do Speech Therapy in that way’ says the 26-year-old emcee. Since Speech Therapy, came out at the beginning of June, there’s been a lot of talk about the deeply personal content of its tracks, specifically Speech’s broken relationship with her father on ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’. Revelling in the ‘rags to riches’ angle, the media were quick to
Photo: Juliette Dalton
and I’m sitting in Speech Debelle’s car in what may or may not be a proper parking space outside Brixton’s Jamm pub. It’s a veritable sweatbox but we’re staying put for fear of over-zealous parking inspectors. It doesn’t help that I’m already hot and out-ofbreath from a quick dash down Brixton Road on an uncharacteristically sunny day; having had to run around an overturned cement mixer that decided to roll its way between the two of us. And so rather than a casual chat over a muchneeded cool drink in a nice central location, we’re awkwardly facing each other as I sit shotgun in Speech’s new ride. On top of all this, Speech is recovering from the flu and I can’t help myself thinking that it better not be a case of the swine’s. But, shoving my media-hyped fears to the boot, we get down to a chat about her background, influences and
hone in on her past. But Speech has no interest in the fairytale. On her Twitter stream, she stresses: ‘I DIDN’T have a tough childhood and I DIDN’T grow up on any ‘tough streets’, I come from a middle class background and was actually a spoilt brat. I got anything I asked! I spent time in hostels this is true but please… leave the black stereotypes in the devious cracks of your minds!’ It’s an ignorant trap to fall into because her merits are more than just a media wet dream. Touching and realistic lyrics are rooted over classic, jazzy instrumentals that hark back to the best hip hop from over a decade ago. Reminding me of the golden era of the 90s with artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Bahamadia and Digable Planets. Speech concurs: ‘I think it is definitely the old school. On my journey I was listening to old music. So even now, if I were to turn on the radio the majority of the artists coming out just wouldn’t have the same effect on me, in terms of the lyrical content and the musical showmanship.’ But another names that crops up on her role call of influences is the inimitable Mary J. Blige. Speech has been quoted as saying that she has to be upset about something to be able to sit down and write about it. But do we now have another Mary situation on are hands, where fans selfishly seek sadness and anger from the artist to believe the music is good? ‘I’m very much a Mary kind of writer, I do a lot of complaining, I won’t lie. But I was watching this stand up comedian who said, if you have a career don’t complain about it to people who just have a job. So I have to remember that,’ Speech laughs. ‘I’m a moaner, I’m very much a Piscean, through and through but I have to remember not to moan. And maybe that will change the songs. We’re doing a mixtape at the moment and I’m attempting to make happy songs so we’ll see how that goes. Having said that, the latest single to be
released is in similar heartfelt vein to its album mates but does hint at Speech’s positive vibes. ‘Better Days’ marks out the change in Speech’s life from being out of house to knuckling down in her life and becoming serious about her music career. Lyrics like ‘I got a half cup of hope and I’m sippin’ slow, No more standing on the road cause that shit is old’ exercise exactly the emotions and honesty that has attracted many people to her music. But it’s her hook up with ‘the artist’s artist’ and PUB.lication favourite, Micachu [why is she not Mercury nominated?] that really adds the cream to this cup of tea. ‘That was straight from the label. I had chorus already but I thought it needed a real singer, so I did an impression of how the lyrics should be sung and we decided it would be better to have a singer with a British accent. That’s when Micachu came up’ Up until then Speech Debelle hadn’t heard of Micachu, having spent six weeks away in Australia recording her album with producer of Roots Manuva fame, Wayne Lotek. She came back feeling quite out of touch with the everchanging London scene, but now Speech calls Mica her favourite person in he industry. The recording process took over two years, as after leaving the land down under the tracks had to be painstakingly perfected back and forth via email. Even though some of the lyrics were written almost ten years ago, Speech says the addition of music has revived and refreshed them for her but she admits that she can’t wait to move forward: ‘I’m ready for the next one. I think I’m gonna keep the structure of this one but they’re stories that were told a long time ago that have new chapters now – ‘Better Days’ has a new chapter, ‘Bad Boy’, he’s a man now. He’s not a boy anymore.’ We briefly mourn Michael Jackson who Speech undoubtedly mentions as an influence before we wrap up our conversation. With her sights firmly set on her own record label and perhaps a P. Diddy style empire, my fingers are crossed as I watch a week later on her BBC1 Breakfast News’ interview when she says in respect of the Mercury’s: ‘All I need to do now is win’. Francesca Ronai
recently caught Screaming Tea Party warming up for Japanese girl-punk band Shonen Knife. I say caught, but really when you see STP without prior warning, it’s more like being lashed across the face. All raucous noise and fingernails-on-chalkboard feedback at first, it eventually dawns on you that this is some of the most melodious garage rock you’ve had the pleasure of hearing. And then they throw in a cover of Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’ and you’re in love. Seeing as it’s a year since the brilliant Golden Blue EP, we really wanted to find out when there’ll be new music. But as that was basically all we wanted to know, we let Wikianswers help us come up with some other good questions to bulk up our notepad. I’m pretty sure no one will notice...
Why did you choose Madonna’s Material Girl to cover? Koichi: Because it’s a really good song and I think her early stuff is quite pissed off and fun. If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be? Koichi: I want Joe Meek to record a few songs, and then I want Roy Orbison to smile at us. How much toilet tissue from the roll should you use each time? Nell: Three on average, that way it covers Number One or a Number Two, but not Number Three - which is iced tea. [Ed’s note: Eh?] The video to I’d Rather Be Stuck On The Stair Rail is a quite twisted, what was the idea behind it? Nell: Nightmares - each of us see ourselves being trapped in one when we look through the keyhole of the door up the stairs. The weird thing was that when we were shooting it at Koichi’s house, the door we used was his neighbour’s door. We kept knocking to ask for permission to use it but no one would answer. When we looked under the gap of the door, we could see two feet by the foot of a chair, not moving at all, creepy! Koichi: Yeah that was fucked up. Why do socks always disappear? Nell: Because washing machines eat socks to get more energy And finally, when do we get new music? Nell: We have a covers cassette coming out, split with Twin Lion from California, and we’re working towards an album as well. Koichi: We recorded the single called ‘Impression’ the other day as well. It’s a song about Michael Jackson, and he died the next day. Weird! Andie Walsh
Screaming Tea Party
Photo: Klaus Blumenrath
How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard you before and is possibly deaf? Koichi: Like a road movie, disappearing on stage, a triangle, a white ship on fire, many children destroying a chair in the woods, laughing and walking in the air, good fun in the sun, a gigantic Ferris wheel and people’s faces. Where do snowmen go to dance? Koichi: In North Korea. He should do the twist there. I like snowmen myself.
our london album of choice: Pop Art [Wall of Sound/Parlaphone]
I have a very good friend called James who is unashamed in his love of pop music. Because I don’t have enough mates who like or admit to liking some of the juicy and perfectly produced fluff that runs its way up and down the charts, I cherish our little get-togethers. The last time we met up for a beer on a sunny day, we spent a good couple of hours agonizing over what we thought were the best Britney, Madonna, Kylie and Christina tunes. And the time before that, I ended up in his room strutting around with a paper lampshade on my head to ‘Womanizer’. Don’t ask. And so now I can’t wait to get his expert opinion on Mpho, to let his impeccable pop ears wrap themselves around this plastic-fantastic album. Personally I want to get out a glittery drinking straw, bend it around my ear like a microphone and lip-sync to ‘All Change’ with it’s train-speak as a metaphor for taking hold of a relationship. Or ‘Fix Ya Face’ that has a Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde interchange between patois chat and angel voiced singsong that although it reminds me of Mis-Teeq, doesn’t make me jump out of my skin as much. When Mpho Skeef first came to my attention a couple of years back, I thought we were waiting for her to step out from behind the mic stands reserved for background singers and drop some neo-soul on us. And so it seems, did most record execs - much to Mpho’s dismay. But with the skill of a thousand Houdini’s, the locks have been firmly broken off that box. And let’s be grateful, because I think the glory days of neo-soul are firmly stuck at the start of this decade and no amounts of green tea or incense are going to bring them back. Instead Mpho’s referencing 90s one-hitters Babylon Zoo on ‘S.P.A.C.E. Man’, squeezing an easy dance-off between reggae and house out of ‘Last Supper’ or creating the perfect psychotic electro on ‘Paranoid Type’. The tracks are so hot, they better keep them away from that five album deal contract that Mpho’s just signed with Parlaphone or it’ll be burnt to a crisp. FR
recorded music: london albums
The Big Pink
A Brief History of Love [4ad] Hey, does anyone know what ‘gun love’ is? No? Yeah, neither did we, and then we heard The Big Pink mention it on ‘Velvet’ and we thought we should investigate. And according to the masters of all beards ZZ Top and their song of the same name from the ‘92 Greatest Hits album, it’s a straightforward love of guns. The same goes for Prodigy of Mobb Deep’s version; although he’d tried to fool us for a minute into thinking he’s talking about a lady-friend. Cunning. But I’m pretty sure that The Big Pink are actually talking about a lady-friend, and thus I’m not sure what ‘gun love’ refers to on this occasion. But it seems, not surprisingly given its title, that their debut album is actually a collection of 11 tracks all about love, in one way or another. But when Milo Cordello says that the ultimate song on the subject is Sam Cooke’s ‘Lost and Lookin’, well don’t expect that to reflect on the nature of their tunes. Whereas with Cooke’s dulcet tones, you could romance any prospective affair without even a repeat play of it’s barely two-minute long serenade, you’d be lucky to get so much as a titty out of your date if you played them A Brief History of Love. Not that it’s bad, but it probably won’t be a contender for school disco slow dances, if you see what I mean. AW
Electricity In Our Homes
We Agree Completely [Parlour] In some parts of the world the words, ‘electricity in your home’ would be very welcome indeed. Celebrated with joy and jubilation, even a disco or a breakout street party. Ask my sister-in-law, currently visiting Nigeria for the first time with my niece in tow, she’ll tell you about the on-off supply of that much-loved commodity. 12 hours of power in 20 days, anyone? We Agree Completely could definitely go down as the soundtrack to one of those ON moments. Imagine Electricity In Our Homes, frenzied and shouting: ‘Quick! Plug in the mic, the amp, set up the drums - let’s jam.’ Heavy bass, the grinding riffs echoing through the sporadically be-watered, be-lit and beloved throng of high-voltage attendees. ‘Message of Joy’ and ‘Hooves’ are quite cinematic - 70s style. Like strolling through Van Peebles’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, with less violence and tragedy but the same amount of spark. I can just see Sweetback getting down to business, with that ghetto stroll, loudly and clearly spreading his sweet message of joy and sex. And if he won’t, I will! But like those treasured flashes of supplied energy that leave populations in sweats for more, this concise EP has us craving for the full experience. FA
Florence + The Machine
Lungs [Island] I don’t usually sit around at bus stops waiting to get on the bandwagon but I bought a first class ticket for this one. Green with motion sickness, Lungs is begging to get off my playlist merry-go-round. While some songs have merely been sitting on the teacup ride for too long, a few have been getting multiple goes on the triple-loop rollercoaster with a 90 degree angle drop-off. Goth-children ‘Cosmic Love’ and ‘My Boy Builds Coffins’ got so dizzy, they threw up on ‘Hurricane Drunk’, who in turn is living proof that you shouldn’t binge-drink before going anywhere near the fairground. At least adrenaline-junkie ‘Blinding’ seems to be keeping it together but then again, it has no fear of the afterlife. Wielding a toffee apple, Candi Staton cover ‘You Got The Love’ is dancing through the party tent dragging ‘Rabbit Heart’ behind it. Plastic flowers firmly strapped to its head, this ethereal track wistfully watches the dancefloor from the periphery. But all it takes is a remix with a Balearic breakdown (that appeals so much to my Eurodance sensibilities) to push it into the crowd. Florence’s funfair is darkly whimsical, her songs like wooden rides that creak at the seams, beautiful but always flirting with death. FR
SoundSpecies [Burn Progress] Soundspecies has been designed for a ‘sexy times’ musical voyage. Honestly. ‘Star Wars’, the opening track says ‘I own many leather bound books,’ in a Giles Peterson kind of way. It’s bouncy and electronic; a good place to start because it doesn’t say ‘I wanna be on you’. So you have four minutes and forty four seconds to get some wine and strike a nonchalant yet sexy pose on the bed/sofa/floor before ‘Something New’ kicks in, which will definitely make your intentions clear if you haven’t already. Think face stroking, lingering tongue music. Ideally there should be a cityscape in the background, the gherkin phallus for example. ‘Purple Halo’ is all high hats, soulful vocals and warpy trip hop, so by the time ‘CDR People’ with that dirty, bubbling Foreign Beggars sound begins; things should be well on their way to finale. Twenty-one minutes and twenty-nine seconds in and it’s probably all over (let’s be honest). Black Spade’s ‘Beautiful not Suitable’ is one of the best on the album and there’s still thirty six minutes and sixty five seconds to reflect, have a smoke, play some jazz flute and start all over again, ending on the perfectly post coital ‘Waiting For the Sun to Come Up’, which is obviously what you’ll be doing. KI
crack stevens’ singles round-up
Crystal Fighters - Xtatic Truth Didn’t think I’d like this whingy, electronic tosh but the tune holds its own on two points: the chanting and the dancehall breakdown that accompanies it. Other than that it’s just repetitive but I figure this would be a pretty good rump shaker. It’s the only tune I’ve heard from these dudes and as I am being forced to write these reviews against my will, it’s just above average. If you disagree life goes on. 3/5 The Illersapiens - Ina Daze I can dig my teeth into this one a bit more. Jazzy hip hop that sounds clean and funky. Though he’s not saying anything too serious, the emcee is pretty decent, But they do have a tune called ‘Brixton’, which is a pleasant salute to south London. I‘m into his chat about how he loves smoking weed as that’s something I can relate too. Mainly because I haven’t left the house for about five days, I’ve been half naked in my pants for the whole duration playing video games, so I would consider myself in a daze. 4/5
Mafia Lights - Modern Warfare I don’t like it. Sounds like my ears are taking a shit. Is chanting really in these days? Are they trying to use subconscious methods to make me take to them? You’ve got an alright guitarist and drummer, the rest should just be sacked because they make you look and sound stupid. I’m putting this all down to one pre-ejaculated stink of a song. The rest of their stuff is bearable. 1/5 An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump Lights Out Take three Ditto look-alikes: one fat, one skinny and one medium. Make one of the look-alikes sing like lan Curtis over a soft-hitting punk track. Then give the band the most stupid name you ever heard - something you could only come up with under the influence of ketamine. Now I’m all up for women’s rights so take all the negative things I just wrote, turn them into something positive and you’ll have An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump. Sadly enough I do actually like them. 3/5 - It’d be a 4 if they sent me naked pictures. Yours Truly, Uncle Crack
ialonus ronay: the day job series
Published on Aug 11, 2009
Music for the past, present and future: The London Town Is Burning Up Issue: sampling some of the capital's best music currently blazing thr...