Saturday, October 30, 2010

New Music 2010 #22 - Trash Kit - mayhem matters.

This may be one of the stranger posts of the year.  I've said before that I'm quite happy to buy new music without having previously heard any of it.  This falls in to that category. A few months ago I mentioned, and even posted about, Brighton's 'Help She Can't Swim' (HSCS) from a few years back. Further investigations lead me to the conclusion that it/they are no more - lost at sea, presumably? What is more, and perhaps even worse, is that fellow (former) Brightonians Electrelane seem to have disbanded too.  If you know something different about any of this then please just let me know!

Anyway, and for some reason, it came to my attention that Trash Kit's eponymous 2010 album might fix a gap and that were almost giving it away (£2.99 - with free delivery - but no longer it would seem). It arrived here this morning and it is destined to mess with Halloween quite gloriously!

I've got tomorrow's play list pretty much done but it is a bit heavy on long, brooding, and often largely instrumental, songs.  Rather like HSCS, Trash Kit doesn't do long drawn out songs but on the other hand is not quite so shouty (well just maybe). Be that as it may this takes some feat of précis - the album is composed of seventeen tracks but runs to just 27:48 in total.  Only five tracks exceed two minutes while track 9, the positively languid Natascha, exceeds three but not by much. Brevity can be a virtue and in this case, as with HSCS, it is.
Ros Murray (of Electrelane) plays bass throughout here whilst Verity Susman, also of Electrelane, plays saxophone on three tracks. Rachel Horwood sings and also plays drums throughout, while Rachel Aggs sings and plays either guitar or violin.
This is certainly no case of brevity for the sake of getting it over with. I like this album; in fact I like it a great deal.
It is Upset! The Rhythm UTR036.  They blog too:

The links below feature comment on Electrelane or members thereof:
I'm now reminded of another Brighton-based, at least in part, band that I feared may be no more. It is one that I have seen live and I now know that this is not true. Their third album is due in early 2011.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Music 2011 - Part 1 - Violet Cries

Hot off the press is the début album by Esben and The Witch: Violet Cries will be released in the UK/EU on January 31, 2011 and in the US/rest of the world on February 8, 2011.

The track listing is as follows:
  1. Argyria
  2. Marching Song
  3. Marine Fields Glow
  4. Light Streams
  5. Hexagons iv
  6. Chorea
  7. Warpath
  8. Battlecry/Mimicry
  9. Eumenides
  10. Swan
The most recent update is this (November, 18): Matador Records have now confirmed that the album will be released on vinyl (as well as CD and d/l) and just imagine how good will that look.
On the evening of the day of the UK release they are already confirmed as playing The Louisiana, Bristol. This is the first of eight dates around the UK which are then followed by eight in western parts of Europe, winding up at Point Ephemere, Paris on 21, February.

Sign up to the mailing list at and you can download the mp3 of 'Warpath' for nothing. It is Halloween this coming weekend and things are getting better already...
In that regard I think that I failed to mention that the sole track on the second side of recent 12" EP 'Marching Song' is spooky and also rather appropriate in these parts of Somerset bordering 'Hardy Country': it doesn't let you get away quickly either for 'Done Because We Are Too Menny' runs to well over eleven minutes of smouldering menace.  Never mind just scaring the kids...
For more about 'Esben and The Witch' see here:

Further posts on New Music 2011:
Part 2  --- Yuck
Part 3  --- Duke Spirit
Part 4  --- Low Anthem
Part 5  ---  Go!Team
Part 6  ---  Rhosyn
Part 7  ---  Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo
Part 8  ---  Those Dancing Days
Part 9  ---  Some things I am looking forward to.
Part 10  ---  More things I am looking forward to.
Part 11  ---  New Heads On Old Shoulders?
Part 12  ---  Snowglobe - Jesca Hoop
Part 13  ---  Queen of the Minor Key

Why music really matters (Part 3) - just because it does.

I've seen and heard a great deal of new music in 2010 and for that I am extremely thankful.  When it comes to taking stock, for the season of those end-of-year lists is fast approaching, it makes life challenging but also great fun.
What I find hardest to understand let alone to explain to others is why I like the music I do (and not that I don't) and why it changes.  On a day-by-day-basis I'm fine with it - just fits the mood or some other largely random trigger, such as hearing something played on the radio that brings back a particular time or memory.
It is the longer term trends, particularly the way I feel about music and the associated changes that I'm less certain about.  That is a shame because, in a deeper sense, I think this is the more fascinating aspect for it also begs the implicit question: "What is it about music, taken in all its forms, that makes it have such universal importance to human-kind?"  If it were simply an ephemeral pleasure I doubt it could invoke such passion and sometimes vehement disagreement.
The earlier posts are here:
Why Music Really Matters (Part 2)
Why Music Really Matters

I seem to have gone all philosophical on you, dear readers, but I am not going to apologise.  It also shows just how little, even now, we understand the detailed processes of the human brain that underlie culture in the broadest sense.
If this just sends you running for a copy of 'Steps - Gold' then it only serves to my illustrate my point but, equally, I must never judge you on your choices...

To lighten proceedings I'll add a few more pictures and thoughts from the last couple of years.  They will, of couse, be subject to my own bias in such matters...

This first artist, who I saw at EOTR 2010 (by the way the remainder of the tickets for EOTR 2011 are now on sale) has already been mentioned here.

Just testing: Jessica Lea Mayfield had to put her guitar back in tune and, as she was playing solo, bantered with the audience to fill the void in the performance.
I have found myself listening to the album 'With Blasphemy So Heartfelt' more and more in the last couple of months.  Her second album, slated for release in spring 2011, will be interesting indeed and she played a couple of tracks from it in this set.

One of the first artists I saw at Latitude 2007, on the Lake Stage on the Friday, was Cate Le Bon (no relation to Duran Duran's Simon, by the way).  It was her first festival performance and, to all intents and purposes, my first as a member of the crowd.  I have pictures that I took then and the crowd was numbered in dozens.  We crossed paths again at EOTR 2010 and it made me realise that I should have included (the much delayed) album 'Me Oh My' in my 2009 ' best-of' list.
Cate Le Bon played the (main) Garden Stage at EOTR 2010 on Friday afternoon.
Her first attempt at an album, 'Pet Deaths' was abandoned. In the meantime she released a 7" single, 'Can't Drag Me Down' and Welsh language 10" EP ' Edrych Yn Llygaid Ceffyl Benthyg'.
No complaints from the crowd of, I estimate, well the right side of a thousand.

If we can't work out the science it does not detract from the experience. Music matters because it does and why should we feel the need to justify that?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My day has just been made...

Listening to BBC Radio 1 just now, on a Sunday afternoon after a bit of gardening, Jo Whiley played 'Be My Animal', by Newbury's  The Good Natured and deserves recognition for that:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Not gone away; just taking stock of 2010.

Well I intend to write more this weekend but I haven't been idle in the meantime.  I've been trawling through all those mostly useless photos that I have taken during 2010 and also some of those from earlier festivals if and when they are still of relevance.  Sometimes I miss worthwhile ones by mistake and others become more (or less) relevant with the passage of time.
This is a recent one, taken at Latitude 2010, of a band that is of ever increasing prominence and one that is coming towards the end of a month touring the US.  This is Esben and The Witch.  The EP, available now, is Marching Song.

More live pictures to follow soon and, hopefully, also plenty more thoughts on new and/or upcoming music too.  Returning UK artists include several that I have mentioned before, including The Duke Spirit.
If there is one grain of comfort in today's 'Spending Review' it is that the London Crossrail project goes ahead: it has already resulted in the demise of the 'Astoria'.  It was a venue of Great British character - all sticky floors and heritage facilities.  You can decide which was to be found where but to be honest you'll almost certainly be right regardless, and the essence of long-faded grandeur pervaded all parts of it. The last band I saw play there was 'The Duke Spirit' and that was back in May 2005.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Music 2010 #21 - Youth is the future of music

The reason I started this post is more 'Thoughts On Music' than you might suspect.

At the end of the week just gone Rob Dickins, former head of Warner music UK, suggested one possible solution to the complex problems that have resulted in rampant illegal downloading.  It is a very divisive suggestion, but I don't think that it makes it any less worthy of consideration.  That he presided over the rip-off years, when new CDs were £13+, is a fair criticism indeed: on the other hand the converted can become the most evangelical and also the most successfully so.
The fact of the matter is that, whatever I think in the week that Sir Cliff Richard turned 70, we are not the ones that dictate the future direction of music.  To be quite honest I'm fine about that: I am happy listening and doing some inconsequential reportage. The future is more like this and it belongs to the young.

Amplified Silence - Acoustic+, Frome, 15 October 2010.

Nancy Black, Acoustic+, Frome, 17 September 2010

Everyone is just going to have to become used to it but that is not to say that it will come as a nasty shock.  They may never sign to a major label - for there may no longer even be such things - but there will still be music; of that I'm pretty sure.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Warpaint & Marching Songs - New Music 2010 #20

If the title appears a little bellicose then fear not; all they have in mind is to take your heart and soul by virtue of their music alone. In these shortening days and colder nights, how could you not want that?
This is music for dark nights, warm sustenance and, perchance, much of what follows might well be amongst my listening suggestion for Halloween. I saw Esben and The Witch live on a sunny summer's afternoon in Suffolk and even then the laid-back festival vibe could not detract from the fact that this is essentially slightly menacing music. The band name is taken from a rather dark Danish folk tale... They have been signed to Matador Records since then and the Marching Song EP is their first true label release.

The band is currently mid-way through a month-long tour of the US , including and a quick trip north of the 49th to Vancouver with Cassandra (that is their trusty tour van - 6000 miles and counting), in support of Foals.  The EP is readily available on legal d/l from the usual sources.  There are also 300 12" vinyl copies out there, available from independent stores; if you want one try Rough Trade.

There is a certain irony in that while Esben and The Witch is doing this Warpaint, that hail from Los Angeles, is in the UK doing pretty much the same kind of thing. The distances are far smaller, of course, but the idea behind it is much the same.  This, I think, just goes to show the remarkable synergy that now exists between UK and North American music and long may it continue.
This is the vinyl EP 'Exquite Corpse', although you can also have it in other formats too.

Warpaint is a psych-rock four-piece that has been flicking tantalizing sparks into the wind for a long time now  - any number of line up changes and very few gigs - but it is starting to become clear that this long apprenticeship is about to reap a just reward.
The release of their début album 'The Fool' is imminent - it is expected to be 25 October in the UK - and this too is available on vinyl, CD and d/l.
     If you want an alternative take on Halloween 2010 then please do consider all these as contenders.
Warpaint are in fact signed to Rough Trade Records (in the UK at least) so I expect that there might well be a bonus disc if you buy from Rough Trade (their stores or on-line) once it is released. I can't make any promises but they do however have a solid history in this regard: support independent artists, labels and stores - your music needs you just as much as you need it!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Ain't Nobody - Clare Maguire

It is time to tackle lyrics again and this is one that has proven to be harder than most.  It is also one that I have wanted to do more than most; ever since I saw it performed live in front of a public audience for the very first time almost three months ago.  The usual caveats apply but here goes regardless.

Ain't Nobody
Ain't nobody, hey,
can love me like you do (x4)

Meet me in the red sky
And dance with me
Let the valley change you
And the night set you free
It's dusk in the desert
It's heaven at the gates
You are my desire
You are my escape.

Ain't nobody, hey,
can love me like you do (x4)

Open up your torment
And bury me inside
I can see us changing
Like the seasons over time
The silver old river
Reflections of your love
Tell me in the silence
You'll never come undone.

Ain't nobody, hey,
can love me like you do (x4)

The shadows are falling
Tomorrow's closing in
Stay with me till morning
And open up your wings
I can hear your whispers
Calling out my name
Will you promise me that
We'll steal the night again?

Ain't nobody, hey,
can love me like you do (x4)

Meet me in the red sky
And dance with me
Let the valley change you
And the night set you free
It's dusk in the desert
It's heaven at the gates
You are my desire
You are my escape.

For what I have gotten wrong I am sorry.  On the up-side, I hope at least something is better than nothing!  These lyrics are the best that I can divine from her live performance of it, as recorded in the BBC Maida Vale studios today. It is released as a single on 18 October in the UK.

For more pictures of Clare Maguire, live at Latitude 2010, see here:

The album 'Light After Dark' is released (UK) on February 28, 2011.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Whither next? New Music 2010 - Part 19

After a week away from posting, but certainly not listening or reading, this will likely be a rather hybrid post.  It is in some ways driven by my ongoing infatuation with the music that has made 2010 worthwhile for me. I can and will mention much more of that but, while thinking about it, I have started to think a bit more about what the next twelve months might bring.  These are just very first thoughts and they may quite likely change, and possibly more than once, before I feel that I am willing to comment decisively as the year-end approaches. That said, and however it develops between now and then, the prospect does not depress me at all...
It will, I think, continue to be a very interesting ride and here are a couple of tracks, making the rounds now, that hint at just some of what might be in store.

  • James Blake  - 'Limit To Your Love'.   This is in fact a cover version - of a song by Canadian artist Feist who I really rate in any case.  The spare beauty of this interpretation is quite astounding --- not least for the haunting silences.  It is another that I must add to my list of astonishing cover versions, and dangerously risky ones at that, but again it is one that works beautifully.
  • Sleigh Bells - continuing the Brooklyn electro-whatever theme of the last few years  - will make an impact with their album 'Treats' (already released) and I expect to see them on the bill at Latitude 2011. Where you get into this really depends on your current perspective, which will also be a theme in 2011 I believe. If you want the rock-influenced, and it is little more than that, then Infinity Guitars, the current single, would be no bad place to start. On the other hand you would never have imagined that they would ever become Sleigh Bells, given the members' utterly disparate previous band history.  On careful listening, and even then perhaps only if you already know, it is just possibly less difficult to comprehend!
  • Rock music - well surely, in some or all of its variety, it is due something of a come-back? It might not be on my terms, or yours, but sooner or later it will return.  I'm fascinated by two apparently different bands, both of which however share something derived from Seattle grunge even if it is used in different ways.  In other ways they could hardly appear to have less in common - Dinosaur Pile-up is four lads from Leeds and Los Angeles' Warpaint is an all-female four-piece - but you should never pay much attention to detail such as that...
I suspect that this is not even going to be a fraction of one half-of-it!