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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Caribou @ Audio

Audio, Brighton, 15th November 2007

Written by Rich Hanscomb

Alex Gene Morrison’s art can’t help but attract attention. Despite being displayed on a backward-facing wall, mind purchase the second I walk into the ‘The Future Is Now’ show, website like this my eye is drawn straight to it. He is exhibiting three large canvases; each of a painted face, buy more about but it is the middle one that I find most conspicuous. The head, body and hair are hidden under a dense layer of matt black paint, leaving only a set of menacing eyes in the picture. The larger than life size does nothing to mask the unnatural peculiarity of Morrison’s portraits either. My walk around, champagne glass in hand, takes me past the odd inspiring piece. Somewhere on a balcony above me I spy a tower of precariously balanced teacups that look fairly beautiful from afar. Still on the ground floor, however, I stop to admire a row of miniature portraits, skilfully painted in muted colours. Each displays a varying degree of abnormality – none of the delicate faces are by any means normal.

David Hancock‘s enormous, hyper-real landscape is definitely something to be seen. Vaguely reminding me of one of those children’s T-shirts with unicorns, hills and fairy dust on, the canvas depicts a fantasy mountain scene, with wonderful skies and a dreamlike river. Hancock has chosen to makes certain parts of the canvas 3D, presumably using something lumpy like mod-rock to create an unsatisfying surface you want to reach out and touch.The piece that really stayed with me that evening though was by Alexis Milne.

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Whilst scanning some art on the other side of the room I caught sight of Amelia and the crew hovering around a small, darkly painted shack. On closer inspection I discover that inside the hut is the scariest clown I have ever seen, complete with tarot cards and a fake American accent. Pinned to the walls are various masks of animals and child-like paintings. The clown (perhaps Milne himself?) is reading Amelia’s ‘tarot cards’ in his loud,phoney, and frankly creepy voice. He tells her that she is a horny schizophrenic. I decide I must also have a go while we’re there. He wastes no time in telling me that I am to end up a chariot racing, lap dancer with a fondness of eating.

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Hmm. He also makes me wear a creepy cat mask whilst talking to him, so I understand this is to be taken with more than a pinch of salt. On the whole ‘The Future Is Now’ show displays an array of style, quality and substance in the pieces they have chosen to exhibit. I am left feeling overwhelmed (it really is quite a big exhibition) but more importantly inspired.

Photography: Amelia innit!
Photo 1: Sophie, Anna, James and Tim

After forgetting to RSVP to the Young KnivesRough Trade instore, case some of the A-Mag team and I were sitting outside nursing ciders wondering whether it was time to try and sweet talk the doorman. Funnily enough, approved munching on some food next to us was none other than the Young Knives manager, who took pity and kindly put us on the door. Thanks Duncan!

After trying to scull the rest of our cider – yes, all class we are – we walked into Rough Trade to the sounds of the song The Decision, and an epic, Phil Collins style drum fill. Oh yeaaah baby. I, not having the vertical advantage of my companion’s six foot four inches, had to crane my neck from mid-way through the crowd to glimpse the thick rimmed geek chic of Henry and Thomas “House Of Lords” Dartnell and Oliver Askew, garbed up in what Tall James described as conservative shirts and ties, looking like they’ve come fresh out of their nine to five jobs at a real estate agent.

With mature, well-crafted indie pop songs, the Young Knives are musically tight like tigers. As has happened in the past from what I gather, Razorlight got a mention – as they have a song called Up All Night as well…incidentally, as do Unwritten Law, Lionel Richie, Boomtown Rats and the Counting Crows. Their vocal harmonies are reminiscent of Crowded House. Repetitive guitar riffs ran under infectious hooks, getting heads bobbing and a warm reception from the crowd.

With their easy stage presence and self-deprecating banter that conveyed their confidence and self-assurance at the quality of their own music; and whether they were sartorially splendid or committing fashion faux pas in their outfits, they could convince me to rent a property any day. And then I’d ask them to play at the housewarming.

It was the most incestuous night of music ever – though apparently every night at the Brudenell Social in Leeds is a musical pit of incest…

Besides being an opportunity for solo music makers to take their bedroom brainstorms out onto the stage, visit web MAN ALIVE! borne of Leeds artist collective Nous Vous, pharmacy included a number of other artist collectives showcasing and selling various works and bits and bobs.

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First up was Dinosaur Pile-Up, recipe popping his gig cherry with a two song set. With a hand injury in play and the first rehearsal with a band backing him up that same afternoon, performance-wise it was much better than some could have done under the circumstances. It sounds like commercial success to me. Love is a Boat (And We’re Sinking) is an infectiously catchy anthem for frustrated heartbreak and confusion at relationships enough for an entire American teen series (enter Ryan and Marissa).

Glaciers, one Nic Burrows was up next with a bumbling Mr. Bean-like stage presence that really charmed, to many female exclamations of “Aw How sweet!” One of his mates actually commented “That slick bastard knows exactly what he’s doing.” Musically, he certainly does. Plaintive, earnest and warm, Glaciers is lovely. Guest appearances by the darling she-beast Katie Harkin of Sky Larkin fame and Mike Payne aka Mechanical Owl in Melamine made it an onstage pow wow.

Vest For Tysso is Will Edmonds and is a one, and occasionally, a two man band. Glaciers’ Nic Burrows popped in and out of the set on various instruments. Sweet, rich and multi-dimensional, just like a hearty carrot cake, this was, amazingly his first and last gig before jetting off to play at Canada’s Pop Montreal Festival.

Star of the night though was Mike Payne aka Mechanical Owl, who surprised with some genuine pop gems. After some technical mishaps including a core meltdown on his MACbook, and a badly placed mobile phone (which resulted in the tell-tale interference of an incoming SMS – though in this context, it may not have been totally out of place), Mechanical Owl impressed with the well rounded maturity of his varied and well thought out songs – smile inducing, strong and melancholic.

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Then came Napoleon IIIrd, who never disappoints, with his heady mix of strummed acoustics, undulating synth, full of cuts and clicks, a triumphant trumpet section, and impassioned and ragged vocals. His is a set full of choruses that will march around in your head, with a broody, somewhat troubled, but ever hopeful Napoleon IIIrd fully in command of his electronic brigade.

Whether you like it or not, the royal family themselves are a result of inbreeding; as are most sovereign clans. Generally, this sort of family tree results in at the very least, mildly cross-eyed, buck-toothed, hammy-eared dolts. On the other hand, the MAN ALIVE! bill saw everyone having some kind of finger in everyone else’s pie; and instead of the usual weak specimens, gave birth to the rather uncanny result of an unfairly talented line up, despite springing from a small (and refreshingly un-skinny) ‘jean’ pool.

Flier by The Nous Vous Collective
Napoleon IIIrd Photograph by Christel Escosa
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One of my favourite artists at the moment, illness and one of my favourite London venues…. surely Bat for Lashes (aka Natasha Khan and co) at Camden’s majestic Koko would be fabulous, approved right? Of course it was. I missed the support because I was running late: I simply couldn’t decide what Natasha would want me to wear. When I finally arrived, mid the Bjork-esque Trophy, the quiet crowd were already mesmerized by the sound of Khan and her band. I couldn’t fathom whether the eerie, sombre silence and general lack of movement was good or bad – until the raucous applause at the end of the opener. Clearly the room was full of Bat fans, and it was a struggle to find any spot in the whole venue where a good view was to be had. I weaved in and out of folk until I found myself at the highest balcony, which was surprisingly only half full.

From here, a clear view of the stage was to be had. Winter trees framed the singer and her band, whilst a mystic moon hung creepily over the ensemble featuring interesting projections – available as a post card set for you to treasure after the gig.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing this incredible act live, and instead have only read a syndicate of reviews, by now you will no doubt feel nauseous reading the following words: eerie, scary, spooky, haunting, chilling, magical, bewitching. I’m afraid, dear readers, that only this compendium of descriptions summarises a gig like this. But what most reviewers often omit is that, beyond the monstrous melodies, this is a stunning woman – musically, technically, physically.

Natasha, dazzling as ever in a bat-winged glittered smock, leggings, long boots and staple headband, moved effortlessly from track to track – presenting her svelte frame sometimes at front stage centre, bells and all; sometimes taking time at the piano, or on one occasion brandishing her recently acquired ‘wizard’s stick’ for a reworking of classic track Sarah. Natasha firmly has her feet on the ground, and spoke short, sweet sentences in between songs – her timid demeanour shining through on lines sung bashfully – such as Taste The Hands That Drink My Body.

Seeing the gig from the upper balcony was a true experience – the crowd wore their complimentary Bat For Lashes paper masks (featuring Khan’s original trademark feather head dress) and witnessing them all lined up, facing the stage, heads tilted upwards – was a little disturbing. Feeling like a prize pervert at a strange cult meeting was not what I expected, but nevertheless it was entertaining.

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Songs like the dazzling Horse and I and crowd favourite What’s a Girl To Do? were given an more interesting up-tempo flavour; it was a huge shame the latter was let down with weak backing vocals. These tracks were interspersed with softer choruses such as The Wizard and the poetic Saw A Light, which were kept at their spellbinding best. A sweeter cover of Tom Waits’ Lonely was an attractive interpretation and would have gone unnoticed to all bar revellers acutely familiar with Natasha’s music. New track Missing Time was also showcased; it sounded great but stuck out like Natasha’s outfit might do at a funeral.

Last night saw the end of the Fur and Gold tour, an album that has lauded critical acclaim internationally. Let’s raise a toast to Khan and Co, and keep everything crossed that the follow up album will be equally as affecting as the debut.

Photography by Matt Bramford
Nate Smith and Pete Cafarella met years ago at university and played in a lick of bands together, page during which time Pete also starred in Nate’s student films. After uni they were reunited in New York and started as a duo in Nate’s bedroom in Queens. Shy Child was born.

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They don’t discuss references or influences, order as it is too difficult. As Nate states, ‘ How many tracks are on our ipods?’ They would like to go down as a modern-day Chas and Dave, and currently listen to Metronomy, SMD, Black Sabbath and classic Wu Tang, amongst many others.

This new-wave/electronic/techno/punk pairing are going down well here in the UK and had made it their focus for this year, and after the festive season they’re heading back Stateside to pick up where they left off there.

Saturday saw their last date in London, at the Carling Academy in Islington. Nice little venue. I had been banging on about this band for a while, so I took two friends along as they were keen to offer a listen. What I failed to tell them was that it was a MySpace backed night, beginning very early, and featuring the youngest crowd I have ever seen at a gig. Ouch. Now I know it’s a little while ago now, but at 16 I do not remember skipping everywhere. Honestly. And I have no real qualm with skipping, but it is really all that necessary? Maybe skipping is the new black, or the new new-rave, maybe. Hopefully not.

Anyroad, we arrived and were asked for ID. With 80 years between the three of us, I’m hoping as we enter that this isn’t going to be the only pleasurable part of the night / late afternoon.

Whilst in the UK, Shy Child have performed a number of gigs, appeared on Jools Holland and more recently teamed up with Stella McCartney for Swarovski Fashion Rocks, which saw them enjoying a little musical chairs action with the models. “It was really fun and different for us,” says Nate. “And what we did together was a lot more exciting than some of the other pairings.” Agreed. Such a gig has brought their music to the fashion set, and their synth-styled, new-wave beats have hit the right market (it is no haphazard coincidence they have supported the Klaxons, amongst many others). The true measure of this band’s phenomenon, though, is that they can appeal to such diverse crowds – from Stella’s shmoozers to angst ridden teens, whose parents just, you know, don’t understand. That sort of thing.

I bumped into a friend of mine from Vogue there, who had a tale to tell. She’d gone into the toliets with a girlfriend, and a young girl had run out of the toilet, sssshing anyone who entered. Politely, my friend asked “Why do we need to be quiet in the toilet?” Naturally, the girl remarked, “Because Leanne is in that cubicle on the phone to her parents, and they think she’s in Pizza Hut.” Classy.

The duo that are Shy Child, on record and on stage, sound much more than two guys with a keytar and a drum kit. They are innovative, exciting and raw. They’ve stripped what was a heavy, electronic sound back to basics. Painfully catchy Drop The Phone is an immensly funky beat and is a pastiche of all sorts of tunes. Other favourite tracks of the night were Astronaut which has a distinct Giorgio Mororder disco flavour. The superb Good and Evil also floated my boat and has an incredible reggaeton influence. All enjoyed by a huddle of excited teens bouncing at the front – as well as everyone 18+ tapping their feet at the back.

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A great night had by all, not least the kids. So it was time to head home, and play muscial chairs.

Photography by Matt Bramford
It’s a brand new kletzmer world!

The new Rough Trade superstore is cavernous and full of trendy young things casually perusing the flyers and freebie magazines near the coffee shop, viagra many on their own like me, website due to the stringent ticket conditions of this in-demand gig. Yes, visit this this is a gig to be accompanied by coffee or fruit juice only – beers to be had later in the bar next door.

At the back under a sign saying Dance CDs, a small stage had been erected and the racks shunted out of the way. Beirut is a cute teddybear of a man accompanied by his scenester hoodie crew. Only here will you see what looks like a new raver playing double bass to a new wave kletzmer soundtrack.

Beirut is discombobulated…he’s got jet lag and the mikes are having feedback issues that mean I spend most of the gig with a hand over the ear nearest the speakers – but that doesn’t stop a rousing set. Accordians, multiple ukes, a man playing a funny drum thing on the floor next to the cds, mandolin, violin, trumpet – all musical bases are covered. This is the return of the rock orchestra – people are bored with the traditional guitar, bass, drums combo, and everywhere I turn I’m seeing a move towards the instruments of an orchestra or big band. This is music that wouldn’t be out of place in Red Square in Moscow, but suddenly it is being feted as the next big thing. Not a bad thing I say.

I met Nancy at Thermal Festival in September. She’s ace. Wearing a very fetching grey jersey dress – that I am sure had more than a few men drooling over some carefully revealed chest – she sat down between guitar and harp.

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In her hair were some artfully arranged buttons (tip: she sews them onto hair grips) and on her lap she placed her harp. Nancy sings songs that touch your heartstrings. It’s just her, more about her pure sweet voice and a harp or guitar, nothing else. She peppers her uniquely modern folk songs with funny little Nancy-isms and anecdotes. “You’ve cheered me up. I get all flustered when I come to London; I feel all weird. I stayed on my brother’s sofa in Hackney and he told me not to leave the house today cause I didn’t have a key. So I stayed in on the sofa watching daytime TV. Not good!” Down to earth and naturally talented, Nancy didn’t disappoint. Not many people seem to know of Nancy in London yet, but with a multi-album deal sorted her reputation is bound to grow. Catch her while the venues are still intimate, where she can leap off the stage to sell her merch as soon as she finishes playing. “There’s albums over there for sale. By the way…”
Three years young and buoyed by the glowing acclaim heaped upon their second LP, approved 2006′s Yellow House, try Brooklyn’s own Grizzly Bear offer up something of a celebration of their talents with the release of Friend – a ten track compilation of covers, nurse collaborations, new material and reworked favourites. Having invited the likes of Band Of Horses, CSS and Zach Condon (Beirut) to contribute, Grizzly Bear have managed to avoid notions of ‘shameless cash-in’ and produced an offering of merit. Indeed there is lots here to enjoy.

Brooding, dirty guitars help define opener Alligator, an alternate take on a cut from GB’s debut release. It features the first contribution from Zach Condon, and though it plods and outstays its welcome slightly, a glorious choral burst midway through manages to save it from being the drab opener it threatened to be. Things take an upturn with a brilliantly dark cover of The Crystals smash He Hit Me. It’s sinister tone is offset by a vocal that tips it hat to the late 80′s new romantics, and the sporadic sonic explosions serve to create an unforgettable slice of haunting pop.

The middle of the record then drifts along in a pleasant enough manner, without really exciting – which is a bit of a shame. The bizarrely titled Granny Diner exemplifies the problem. Positively, things are kick-started again with an energised, disco version of Knife courtesy of CSS. It begins, rather unfortunately, with a sample that appears lifted directly from StereophonicsDakota, but soon recovers itself. Punchy, choppy beats and a wave of synths dominate, and the upbeat tempo is just what the record needs. Band Of Horses then take us from disco to country and western with a banjo led take on Plans. It doesn’t quite work, but there are enough quirks – a lovely honky tonk piano solo outro being one – to engage. The record ends in a melancholic way, with a rather dreary Daniel Rossen home recording entitled ‘Deep Blue Sea’. It’s inclusion ill-judged.

Despite it’s flaws there are some lovely moments on Friend. It is diverse, sonically ambitious and at times captivating, which is no mean feat.

Gigs like this, no rx epic ones, medical are always daunting. You want to see all the bands but you’re clearly not going to. At ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES, pharmacy it works. It’s over a whole weekend and everyone is in the right mindset. So that is what made this gig kinda strange; as essentially it was all the same people you get at ATP looking slightly bemused.

With a line-up of bands like these, even though they are becoming big, you still like to think of them as your little secret. So when you see them playing at a venue like that of The Forum, the enchantment is somewhat lost, you wish you were seeing them at Barden’s or at a festival, or, most idealistically, your friends’ warehouse. Especially, ESPECIALLY, when at first you’re told you cannot leave the balcony (what is that all about?!) where I was confined to as I watched Black Lips. Who – besides being as far away as I could possibly be – were exciting. I missed Fuck Buttons and all but one song of Deerhunter, because I was putting my white face paint on. Which is a little unforgivable, as Fuck Buttons are one of the best dirty yet beautiful duos around of late. Though Black Lips, with their lo-fi garage punk and their sloppy vintage sound and sweaty little faces, was the perfect start for me. They did a very special cover of Thee Headcoats ‘Wildman’, which was the point when we got distinctly pissed off being stuck on the balcony so snuck downstairs, for Liars.

The Liars’ new album is strange. It is just really simple. Had it come first, before ‘They Threw Us In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top’ and two more equally as concept driven albums it would have made more sense. But ‘Liars’, self-titled as it is, is a key, not just as noise led or art like, like their set, which bar the old songs, resemble more of a 1970s garage band than that of the beautiful, sadistic nature of the Liars we have come to expect. Its like they’re doing everything backwards; digressing to a pared down, more simple punk sound. But they’re Liars, so in all probability just messing with us, so maybe we should just let them get on with it.

SO.

By Deerhoof I wanted to expect big things, a grand and innovative performance. It all began charmingly enough, but by this point and most of my friends were trapped outside because they smoke and I really wanted find two them to be there as Deerhoof are so magical you want to re-assure yourself its real. So I spent a good deal of time during Deerhoof’s set wondering around as a lost zombie, and the big venue meant I kept losing the sound and meeting more equally frustrated people who were leaving. So halfway though their set I did just that. Left. ATP do festivals best.

Gillan Edgar (yes, dosage that’s his real name) is a Scottish songsmith who has set up home in Manchester with his girlfriend, prostate their two dogs, rx and an cluster of instruments. His performances tend towards the retro; reliant on basic acoustic grooves, and he has a unique, happy-go-go-lucky sound. Imagine how today’s fix of troubled indie bands might sound if they actually had a smile on their face, and you’re half way there.

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On Monday, Gillan and his band put on a show at the Indigo2 – the new, lavish O2 arena’s cooler, alternative sister venue, housed in what was the Millennium Dome. Edgar is, at the moment, unsigned; but the clock is ticking for him to find his perfect match in the music industry. Bound for the pop charts with his boyish good looks, Gillan exudes confidence and is a completely natural show-off. I’m not usually one for crowd participation, but encouragement by Gillan to sing The Greatest Gift’s chorus (No no no no, no no no no) was met by myself and the crowd with excitement. This is exactly the kind of thing he promotes at his intimate gigs, which light-up the faces of his small but loyal following. In between marvellous melodies he connects with his audience with his laid back, witty persona and larger-than-life stage presence. I had been waiting for him to play in London for a while, so imagine my excitement when I heard the Bedford (the small Balham live music venue) were to host him here at the Indigo.

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Edgar’s music is exciting indeed – and can only be described as pop and rock sitting contiguously, providing heart warming lyrics and a musically ‘up yours’ to pretentious indie bands who have the attitude but not the substance. Gillan has the credentials to perform with his band in such a grand venue, and I’m sure seeing him play solo with his guitar at a cosy gig would be equally impressive.

It’s so refreshing to find a musician who combines honest music with good old-fashioned fun. Gillan knocks out quality tunes with a huge smile on his face. Hooks like Mr Inconsistent and The Eureka Song make you bounce with glee, whilst the more poetic The Greatest Gift and Victoria Has A Secret make the mind move instead.

Gillan’s music isn’t complicated, assuming or prescribing – it’s just effing good. I smile smugly at my compadres with a look of ‘I told you so’ as Gillan plays his last tune. A long awaited debut CD is in the pipeline (hurry up, man!) but until then, it’s back to his MySpace for a listen.

Photography by Matt Bramford
It’s the politest crowd of all time. People move out of the way without me asking them to. One skinny guy, site wearing glasses and a cardigan, sildenafil apologises for no discernable reason. This isn’t surprising. Nice people generally come to the Luminaire. Normally to watch nice men play quiet acoustic guitars, nicely. A bit like Gravenhurst’s first record Flashlight Seasons.

The first shock for anyone whose only involvement with Gravenhurst being Flashlight Seasons – an accessible, downbeat folk album – is that this is not just that one guy. It’s a four-piece ensemble onstage. Singer Nick Talbot wears earplugs, unnecessarily. He makes some Slint-y harmonics on his electric (!) guitar. Alex Wilkins on other guitar echoes it with warm swathes of gentle noise. The rhythm section is pounding, concise and unrelenting.

This is unsettling. Gravenhurst’s four excellent albums sound markedly singular, the product of one brain. But the band’s performance is crucial to their live sound; the instrumental moods build up, develop and fade. Talbot’s voice, when it finally arrives after a drawn-out jam, is fey and resigned. His voice is often the band’s main draw on record, but live it’s not quite translating. On The Velvet Cell, Talbot’s a pissed off computer techie, singing about murder “lying dormant in the heart of every man” with a touch too much passive relish. It’s great, but the harmonic guitar stuff at the beginning of the set led the songs better than his paper-thin voice, which was weedier and shyer than it should be.

The second shock is the music. It’s hard to think of a neater, more comfortable niche than “that band on Warp who do the quiet folk thing,” but to their credit Gravenhurst have moved closer and closer to total psych noise mania with every release. Hollow Men from new album The Western Lands is total Dinosaur Jr territory, without the solos. Talbot strums his guitar manically, making his right arm look like a crazed, live side of ham.

They get called “post rock” a lot. I guess that’s fair. The quiet parts are inventive and fluid. The loud bits are rocking, not revolutionary, but totally worth the wait when they arrive. That’s about the biggest plaudit I’m ever likely to give “post rock”. But it sounds more like bastard Kraut to me, anyway.

Occasionally the strumming, feedback, fragile voice and layered drums catch alight and it feels like everything is beautifully interlocking. Except, you know, in a non-stoned way. Talbot’s voice warms up and becomes the beautiful counter to the instruments’ tired, reliable funeral song. It’s weirdly welcoming, but it wasn’t what I expected.

When music editor Christel told me I was on the guest list for this gig, patient she was greeted with a week of agitated over-enthusiasm and stupid Devendra-related questions. Not only was I smitten for the Banhart, I was a recently converted Laura enthusiast too, after weeks of listening to her soothing melodic tones in Amelia’s kitchen. To say that she has featured on every one of my recent mix tapes is an understatement. (She’s made it on to each one twice.)

So finally the evening arrived, and with my floral maxi-dress and lace headband in place I met up with my +1 (boyfriend Jake) for a pre-gig beer in Camden.
I thought I might be a teensy bit jealous of Laura Marling before the gig – (she’s a 17-year-old singer/songwriter extraordinaire who gets to support folk legends for god’s sake!) but after watching her I was absolutely green. How dare she be so unfailingly talented and successful at her age! And her attributes didn’t even seem to end there: to watch, she was the cutest of urban nymphs: tiny, with somewhat scene (click on this, no really) peroxide hair, an oversized hoodie slung off the shoulder and an unassuming manner that found her mumbling graciously between songs. Though she looked like she might not be enjoying herself, she was making a lot of us in the audience happy. I sang along fanatically to the ones I knew, and enjoyed hearing some new tales from her latest repertoire. Unfortunately the set was pretty much over before it began – she slunk off stage after five prettily concise tunes (alas without playing my favourite New Romantic) but left me in high spirits.

Devendra kept an impatient audience waiting for half an hour after Laura’s set, while he probably did something cool like smoke a joint backstage with his bohemian friends. We were pretty heated up by the time he stepped out from the shadows (hey just ‘cos it’s folk doesn’t mean the audience don’t push and shove a little) but oh my god did he make up for it! The most beautifully enchanting man I have ever seen, Devendra practically seemed to shine in the light of his own velvet clad aura. He opened the set with a joke song that he deliberately mimed, and just kept the skillz coming and coming, somehow managing to be funny, talented and entertaining the whole way through.

His voice sounded quite different live, and I mean that in a good way. Maybe it was just to do with getting the whole Devendra Banhart experience. It would be unfair not to mention his band while reviewing the gig because they obviously play a big part in his live performances. I couldn’t stop looking at the guitarist to his left. I swear he had actually stepped right out of ’69, complete with a shoulder-length mat of centre-parted hair and three piece flared suit. Together they made a pretty marvellous bunch.

I left the gig with an even bigger crush than I’d arrived with and a desire to pick up the guitar and learn a few tunes… perhaps next time I’ll be the supporting act.

Aaaargh UPSET THE RHYTHM. What would I do without them? They make seeing the noisy and alternative acts so easy for me. Just pick up a long orange flyer from your local east end haunt and you’re pretty set for your spiky, here choice, information pills and intercontinental for most part of the month. I got to 93 FEET EAST, a relatively new venue for UPSET THE RHYTHM, (which sound wise I am fine with, but in terms of character I’m not so sure) in time for YACHT. Active is definitely the word. Bouncy, fun, epileptic dance moves bordering on ADHD. Formerly the second half of THE BLOW it is the best music for indie kids to dance to. Jona Bechtolt’s percussion is infectious with jerky legs and shoulder thrusting all over the show. I am willing to forget the Michael Jackson sample used as an intro and his public school boy style rambling, as he was much fun.

Then NUMBERS. Trios really work! CELEBRATION, GET HUSTLE, PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED. NUMBERS are a no-wave-art-punk band of relentless drumming. They are coarse but ultimately captivating. They make a powerful noise, which, although better in previous recordings, makes you stop and fucking pay attention. Indra Dunis on drums and lead vocals is scratchy and piercing in the best possible sense. NUMBERS claw away at you, drawing you down and throwing you away. And there is a synthesizer. Need I say more?

Oh the anticipation! Toe twinkling, recipe shoulder shivering, check hand tingling excitement; the kind that reminds you of waiting for Christmas, or going on a ride in a hot air balloon. Though my evening shuddered to a start by being in a decidedly bad mood, the infectious promise of the night ahead soon took over, imbuing the pilgrimage to The Roundhouse with impatience at all manner of minor public transport issues (like waiting nine extra minutes for the tube – well I never!).

The crowd at the Roundhouse was eclectic, and as excited as I was; waiting anxiously for Beirut to get onstage with the boy wonder Zach Condon at the lead. When they ambled on, there was a warm roar of approval as the raggle-taggle gypsy mob began to play.

Zach has the quiet self-assured confidence of one having been around for a little while and knowing what he’s doing. With his brass (a flugelhorn to be precise) slung over his shoulder, baggy white tee-shirt and tousled hair, he is a rather unassuming figure…until he begins to sing. Condon’s undulating voice soars over the joyful raucous of the other nine musicians who make up the collective that is Beirut.

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It is a gorgeous din they make, warm and fresh. Their music manages to make the most jaded cynic feel like there’s still the endless possibility of many journeys to be had. Incongruously mature, yet still curiously innocent, the atmosphere that Beirut creates is simply a happy one. Uplifting and beautiful, the wide-eyed optimism of youth conveyed with well-travelled worldliness that is addictive to listen to. You just don’t want them to stop playing; even though the whole set sounds sort of like one long song with different variations on the theme – this is irrelevant, just like their image or whether they ‘put on a show’. Because it’s simply their sound, the purity of the music that absolutely holds you in rapt attention. Beirut is robust and swirling, just like snow and makes you feel like you’re seeing such a phenomena for the first time. Every song is epic, the soundtrack to the homecoming scene after the kind of adventure told in folktales, with a kind of refreshing joy and resolution that is ultimately satisfying.

For my virgin experience at the Roundhouse, I couldn’t have asked for a nicer time. And then came the after party in central Camden. The free bar made this buoyant Beirut fan a little more buoyant. The only vaguely eye-rolling thing was the opening few songs from the Djs – who I observed had a little trouble getting in at the door –making Liz (yet another tall companion of mine, who has the advantage of not having to crane to see ANYthing ANYwhere) and I raise our eyebrows. Ambient house at the Beirut after party? Hmmkay.

So we decided to make an exit a little while after the free bar dried up. Our timing was canny, as Beirut decided to make like trees (and leave) also. I caught Nick, the Beirut drummer, on the way out the door to tell him – like countless others had in the past no doubt of course – how much I enjoyed the gig. After a happily tipsy chat that I can’t actually recall very much of besides the fact that I flashed some blood (TRUST, click this) at him, my stomach grumbled and the best egg and bacon baps in London called my name. These are so good in fact, that Liz broke FOUR YEARS of vegetarianism to scoff a bit of my bacon a week ago. OH YES.

Nick decided that he too, could hear bacon calling him, and came with us. The lovely chap then proceeded to buy me an egg and bacon bap with BARBEQUE SAUCE! I had lost all hope that this condiment existed in the UK, and this event restored my faith in both rock stars and British condimentation. On that note, it was the perfect night…

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…And the bus ride back into East London was free too, innit. Hollaaaa.

{Somewhat dodgy) Photography by Christel Escosa
Despite their credentials and that Robot Man song, sickness the Aliens just aren’t cutting it. Black Affair, cialis 40mg Steve Mason’s new incarnation, doctor is at once audacious and amazing but probably won’t please the faithful. So what are those once enamored with and still lamenting the demise of perhaps the only British band of the last decade to actually be any, er, good, to do? I’m mean fans of the Beta Band, of course. Easy now. You’d do well to investigate this stone cold gem of an EP by Peter Hedley a.k.a. Beneath Fire and Smoke.

Sounding not unlike a Romanian folk band free-styling over the best bits of the Beta’s first three EPs, this has much to commend. No surprise then that Hedley is a sometime collaborator with whacked-out-folk genius, Voice of the Seven Woods. His music is shot through with the same rustic romance and bleary eyed wooziness…but it’s so much more. Opener, Smoke and Flames, is the finest cut. It uncurls, ebbs and flows over euphoric flutes and strings, electro-acoustic beats, monastic, loved-up vocals and down right cheeky Fairport’s style bass. Hot damn! Songs from a Slipway is how A Hawk and A Hacksaw wish they’d sound whilst The Iceberg Waltz deals in the same desolate and disconcerting piano led melancholia last heard on a Beach Boys Smile bootleg circa December 1966. Closer, So It Came To Pass, contorts celestial psychedelic string parts over minimalist bass and heart broken lyrics of unrequited love: So it came to be/That you and me will always be/Apart

Beautifully packaged vinyl courtesy of the bespoke Battered Ornaments label, this is what it’s all about. No downloads. No guerilla PR campaign. No hype. Music for music’s sake. And don’t doubt it, pal – this is fucking music.
Dearest Anarcho-Hillbilly Barn Dance Compadres, visit this

Cut-a-Shine are at it again, viagra buy hosting another rip roarer at the glorious Finsbury Town Hall. It’s going to be a bonafide hoe-down; themed as a Barn Dating night, click with plenty of lil dawgie roping, partner swapping, do-si-do-ing, gingham neckerchiefs and yeehaw-ing.

Couples, trios, doubles, groups, gay straight bi, tri, or try anything, come on down. Single as sliced cheese? You might just meet a sweet thing to take you off to the love parlour for a roll in the hay. If you’re feeling really lucky, you might receive a gingham beard (for the girls) or a pretty bow (for the boys), with a saucy love note attached. If you’re from the house of jealous lovers though, maybe stay at home, as it’s gonna be a mixing and mingling good old fashioned time, and we don’t want no fighting shenanigans going on.

Opening up the evening will be The Bona Fide Family Band, promising some hillbilly mountain music on a wealth of odd instruments like mandolins and banjos.

Cut-a-Shine are on 9pm-11pm with Amelia calling some dances, if you fancy meeting the lady herself.

After all that there’s Fat 45. Jump jivin’, jitter buggin’, rock’n’rollin 11-piece swing band.

Can’t get any cooler than a shindig like this one. And whilst you’re cutting a rug out there on the barn dancing floor, spare a thought for the poor old band stuck up there on the stage, and send us some love too (cider will do).

So long now, see you at the shindig this here Friday!

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Huw Stephens – Radio 1 DJ (and all round good egg) have afforded the gig going hordes of the Welsh capital a real treat this weekend in the shape of a three day musical feast. It’s simple title (‘swn‘) belying the riches on offer. Aside from Sons and Daughters, more about tonight features the likes of The Cribs, stomach Beirut and The Duke Spirit scattered amongst a host of venues throughout the city. Over the course of the weekend there will also be the opportunity to catch anything from Two Gallants, viagra 40mg to DJ sets by Annie Mac and Steve Lamacq – these being just a handful of acts from the impressive 120 plus assembled by Stephens for the inaugural event.

The Scottish quintet arrive in Cardiff midway through a tour in support of new album This Gift, due early next year. Rather unusually, the bands online tour blog boasts of the pre gig joys of consuming Chinese green tea in Cambridge. So much for the Rock ‘n’ Roll excess then. But in the flesh they do a stellar job of presenting themselves as strangely stylish, sexy and diverse outfit. The striking presence is most welcome.

Style aside, so to the substance – and the songs. Or rather ‘song’ as it turns out. Tonight’s performance is so repetitive in nature that it almost feels like the set is one big song. From a very early stage in the set, songs blend into one another, and the absence of differentiation is stark with the overriding effect being one of tedium for long periods.

As a unit, the band kick and splutter without really going anywhere – even if at times they manage to create a surprisingly big sound. The lack of craft however often relegates this to mere ‘noise’. But, on occasion everything does fall into place. Cathy Come Home (a homage to socialist stalwart film director Ken Loach) has the necessary chorus, and said big sound (not noise in this instance) to resonate somewhat. Whilst new single Gilt Complex – which we are reliably informed is ‘about c*nts’ – recalls the wilder moments of Echo and The Bunnymen with some zest.

It’s all a little too late, but there are glimpses of excellence right at the end of the set. Chains is definitely the best new song on offer, it’s defiant energy and bite offering hope for the new record, and they end on Johnny Cash – with a bit of Iggy and The Stooges thrown in for good measure.

So much for the green tea eh.

It’s a Friday night and I’m in the SEOne club situated beneath London Bridge Station for an Evening with The Rakes. An interesting line up of new musical ‘talent’ including the likes of The Metros, sale We Start Fires, page Ghost Frequency and various DJ sets seems to have drawn in a mixed crowd for a Friday night knees-up south of the river.

Strolling between the two stages/bars (separated by a DJ room in which I thoroughly enjoyed some old school reggae) I caught bits and pieces of the support acts; none of which left a real impression on me – they weren’t bad, seek just not quite my cup of tea.

Not massively impressed at the new music on display, my ears pricked up when I heard the rumor that the special guests had “good shoes”. True enough half an hour later the Morden boys made an appearance on the second stage and ripped through the majority of their debut album Think Before You Speak as well as a new song for good measure. The fact that not only were they on top form but that all the scene kids were at the other stage awaiting The Rakes and guarding their “spot” only widened the grin on my face. That was more like it. With my clothes suitably ruined and my beer everywhere it was time for the main event (via the bar of course!).

Having been a fan of The Rakes first offering Capture/Release and a critic of their second, far more commercial album, Ten New Messages, I was both excited and apprehensive to see what was on offer. Opening with lesser-known songs from the second album and a few new ones left the crowd somewhat bemused. However, The Rakes soon riled us all into frenzy performing riotous renditions of Strasbourg, 22 Grand Job and Retreat. The front of the room seemed to erupt into chaos as tune after tune from Capture/Release got a much-deserved airing. With Alan Donohoe twitching and jerking around the stage like he’s the secret love child of Ian Curtis on speed and the band drilling through their best material, I stumbled home with my grin still firmly in place…

It’s the end of the show already and the stage is dripping in red light. From where I’m standing, what is ed the perspiration in the room looks like blood. Two Gallants have just been on for over an hour, so the perspiration on the walls feels like blood too.

They have wrecked this place. Their blues, rock, folk, punk, loud, quiet, angry, sad mayhem has blown the place to smithereens. Adam Stephens‘ voice is cracked, rasped and broken. His heart is heavy, his songs are long, his words are laced with the worn down dejection of a hard life. The mouth organ can barely hold up for the rust and rot.

Tyson Vogel bashes his drums like he’s making up for a past deed. He has no crash cymbal, just high hat and ride. He provides the drama, the beard, and the mystery. There’s just the two of them. Named after a James Joyce short story, as you know, they are literate. They tell tales: “I shot my wife today/Hid her body in the ‘frisco bay”. That’s a tough gig. They repent: “If you got a throat/I got a knife”.

But they’re not depressing. They’re painting a picture, writing a novel, making you think. Amidst the almost White Stripe-y rock-outs and the down beat Americana they’re doing rustic graffiti on the side of an old wooden cabin. They’re drinking whisky and opening their heart to a best friend because things haven’t worked out how they planned and they don’t know what to do about it. And they do it every single song.

Long Summer Day is as controversial and opinion-splitting as ever, the Gallants belting out Moses Platt’s lyrics as if they were their own: “And the summer day make a white man lazy/He sits on his porch killing time/But the summer day make a nigger feel crazy/Might make me do something out of line.” It raises an eyebrow, provokes, and stretches boundaries. But as reckless and offensive as some might see it, that, compadres, is what it’s all about.

The five piece – three scrawny men, abortion one portly man and one petite woman – clamber onto the stage. Fashion doesn’t trouble them. It’s five-years-too-late skinny jean/tie combos for the men (great for squeezing the tunes out presumably) and a trashy silver cocktail dress for the girl. They pick up their instruments and play a pick ‘n’ mix selection of all the pop you’ve grown to hate (Wham!, pills Katrina and The Waves, Aha), but somehow they’ve jumbled, mashed, stretched and twisted it into something kind of… well…good.

Really good actually. These geeky kids can play. And for all the cruise ship Europop melodies (they’re from Denmark) and synchronised shimmying you can’t help but move your feet with them. Your poor old heart – smacked around by dull jobs, worn-out worrying over neglected friendships and Kasabian on the radio – starts to really kick again. A weird craving for Nerdz and Curlywurly’s and Dib-dabs creeps up on you. Suddenly you want The Beano and Live and Kicking on a Saturday morning. Look around and see a dark room above a pub in North London half-full of thirty-somethings dripping from the miserable weather all lost in similar reverie.

Before you know it lead singer Anders SG is introducing the final song of a far too short set. Alphabeat scamper into a note-perfect performance of their flagship hit Fascination – sample lyric: “fashion is OUR fashion” (that’ll explain the wardrobe then). Andres whoops, spins, shakes and slams his tambourine against his chest. His band skip around the stage bellowing “Super-duper!” in unison and beaming at each other with undisguised affection. Alphabeat are making that kind of giddy pop that makes you want to run all the way home and yell: “Mum MUM, I found this brilliant new band and they made me dance until my feet were sore and they sound like S Club 7 smacking the snobbery out of Arcade Fire and let me sing you their songs and I want to BE in their band and can I go and see Alphabeat again tomorrow night please please PLEASE!?”

And if she’s seen them, she wouldn’t be able to say no.

The way into our hearts here at Amelia’s Magazine, link is through our stomachs. Faye Skinner, treatment the clever little muffin, wooed us with cupcakes hand delivered to our door – these ones in fact:

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After worrying about whether they were actually meant to be eaten or not (admittedly, we were only briefly torn about it) and whether we wanted to digest the lovely little things, leaving only crumbs and paper cupcake wrappers as evidence that they ever existed, these three piglets couldn’t help but scoff the lot (with Amelia’s help).

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In one fell inhalation, all the cupcakes were gone, so we thought we might ask Faye a few questions…

Who were the illustrations of on the cupcakes?
They were a little bit of everything that influences me, queens, victorian children, dolly birds and female musicians.

Were the illustrations actually edible?
Yes, entirely edible. I painted them onto wafer paper using food colouring which work just like watercolours. I then stuck them on with the pink icing.

How do you feel about people eating your illustrations and them disappearing into the bowels of their stomachs?
I quite like the idea of eating very pretty food, like sugared rose petals! Mary Pickford used to eat flowers when she was a little girl in the hope that she would be beautiful when she grew up. It must be very good for the soul.

Can you tell us the recipe for the cupcakes?

Right:

5 oz (150g) Butter – softened
5 oz (150g) superfine (castor) sugar
6 oz (175g) self-raising flour
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
drops of pink food colouring

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350oF (180oC).
2. Line a 12 cup cake pan, with cup cake papers.
3. Crack the eggs into a cup and beat lightly with a fork.
4. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl.
5. Beat with a whisk for 2 minutes, until light and creamy.
6. Divide the mixture evenly between the cake cases.
7. Bake for 18-20 minutes until risen and firm to touch.
8. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.
9. Allow to cool fully before icing.

For the icing whisk together water and icing sugar and a drop of food colouring until slightly thick and runny, then dribble onto the cupcakes, stick on the wafers while the icing is still sticky.

You can buy packs of wafer paper which you can then directly paint onto with the food colouring and then cut out with kitchen scissors ready to decorate the cakes with.

Do you bake other things? Like what?
I do make a lot of chocolate cupcakes for my flatmates when I am having a domestic housewife kind of day. When I was younger I was obsessed with baking salt-dough fat mermaids.

Tell us some of your favourite things.
Some of my favourite things include Vivien Leigh, The National Portrait Gallery, The Electric Ballroom, pub quiz and kareoke on a tuesday, Katie Jane Garside, classic children’s novels, and shopping in and around Dalston’s £1 emporiums with my friend Victoria.

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Scrumptious. Find out more about Faye at www.myspace.com/fayedoll

Photography by Amelia
Photo 2, L-R: Jess Jayne and Christel
Photo 3: Jess

He’s come a long way has Dan Snaith aka Caribou. From the purer electronic instrumental cut’n’paste soundscapes of his Manitoba guise to this: the Odyssey and Oracle goes Pro-Tools psychedelic pop of his Caribou incarnation. Summer’s Andorra long player exemplifies just how a musician, medications given time to grow and develop creatively, can create beautiful art. That’s not to negate his previous works but Snaith’s most recent album is fucking light years ahead, marrying choral song-structures with a left-foot sensibility.

So, how to rock this complex and multi-layered beast in a live context. Get a bad-ass band together. Lap-tops, two drummers, vintage guitars, neck-ties, wigged out projections, Electric Prunes circa ’66 haircuts…Check, check, check….Oh man, it’s gonna so fucking rule. In truth, it nearly didn’t. Squandering triumphant nugget, Sandy, as first number was a shame. You could hear the band finding their feet and acclimatizing to the stage as the song thundered on in cack-handed fashion. No bad thing of course, but when it’s such an unabashed turntable hit as Sandy it kinda grates. Still, with Snaith finding his voice and his beautiful boys kicking up a psych-storm they lay waste to Brighton’s Audio with aplomb. Melody Day does that whole scorched earth thang leaving the audience mouths agape whilst She’s The One is just sublime, like Kieren Hebden producing the Beach Boys today. Desiree is heartbreaking; with soulfully strained harmonies seeping into our ears, glooping down like wild honey over a Midi-orchestra backing. Sweetness personified.

You rarely get to hear such celestial orch-pop made flesh. Vibrant, human…alive. Dan Snaith and friends know how to do retro and make it so fucking fresh. Tell that to the hordes of dim guitar slingers taking up space in this town or in the pages of the NME. This is how you do it, boys. Class dis-fucking-missed.

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