September/October Goings On…

To all those dear people still reading my blog…sorry for the delay… Saturday marked the beginning of a crazy new adventure for me when I set off to university with too many clothes and nice notebooks and not enough pens or work ethic (just kidding for any Uni officials reading this. I’m a good girl, pinky promise). I’ll workout more often (workout my liver, that is), eat well (well, nothing) and watch high quality programmes (Doctors – for anyone with a job, it’s gone terribly raunchy of late *prude face*). I digress; September, the last month of my summer, has been a memorable one…

Bestival – 8th-11th Sept

Top 3:

3 – Public Enemy: I might have been swilling lager like a tramp in a Lidl carpark, but I know a good set when I hear one. The ideology behind old school rap and hip-hop remains current; Chuck D and Flavor Flav – taking time out from plugging his new autobiography with disturbing anecdotes and a Twitter competition – made a brief mention of recent events in London, adding a new dimension to lyrics like “power to the people no delay”. Arriving on stage to the sound of “Fuck The Police” from contemporaries NWA, the group showed themselves to be adept cultural chameleons, striking up an easy rapport with the iPhone-toting Bestival bourgeoisie whilst showing an understanding of the frustration, deprivation and consumer culture which have helped to foster the fragmented Britain of 2011. Public Enemy are proof that not all 50-somethings are in Tim Westwood territory, and that perhaps the oldies are the goodies. Cee Lo Green, of the coincidentally named Goodie Mob is another stellar example of an 80s rap star back on the map…there’s never been a better time for a world tour for the mellowed Public Enemy –  80% timid cautionary tale, 20% thorough call to arms.

2 – Missing Pendulum’s set: I’ve had enough of you for one summer, Pendulum-dum-dum-dum-dum-cue-a-loop-quickly-before-they-realise-we’re-mostly-recorded.

1 – Katy B: I’ve never really been on a mission before, although if I did I think I’d come dressed like Katy B. The sartorial wisdom of her bright red hair, tight pink jeans and hoodie would inspire me, bestow me with a ‘whatyalookinat’ swagger and probably make a perfect Vice Mag ‘Don’t’. What works for a credible Londoner like Katy, it seems, wouldn’t work on others. At times she is dangerously close to being an anachronistic parody of Catherine Tate’s Lauren (it’s mostly the hair and the fairly trivial chat in between songs) but mostly, she is fresh, exciting and credible. You don’t come to a Katy B concert, or likewise go to see her headlining a festival, because you want polished pop which The Saturdays can vomit out along with glitter, sparkles and world peace. Her grit is sexy and cheeky, and her status as more just another shining Brit school alumnus has long been confirmed. I bet her friend Olivia (namechecked both before and during ‘Easy Please Me’) is proud to be the subject of a track which is both stunningly sensual and ironically vapid). I think I’ll reintroduce ghettofabulous to my vernacular.

Also loved: The Cure (even though it wasn’t a Friday set I remained in love); the cool Unicef people who took this ravishing photo of me to send to the government as part of a climate change petition….

… The Guardian’s photobooth complete with a crazy dressing-up box; DJ Fresh’s packed-out Bollywood Tent set in which I sustained third degree burns to my back; surviving on lager and bread; Bjork’s beautiful ginger afro wig (basically a bastardised version of my own hair); the ethereal, almost 70s beauty and calm of the Tomorrow’s World field; Alice Glass’ moodiness (quickest CC set ever, perhaps?); Eating Tesco Value bread to the sound of Fatboy Slim’s Praise You in a scene which was more Trainspotting than a trance hipster 101; slipping in the mud at every possible moment; meeting some incredibly talented clothing and/or jewellery designers like Dot Your Teas And Cross Your Eyes (the jumper in the pic below at Crystal Fighters is one of those made by the lovely, quirky Chloe), Wolf and Moon and of course the beautiful boys and girls of Merrimaking who already left their mark on me at Underage when they gifted some fabulous hoods to Bombay Bicycle Club. It’s the little things like having incredible, up-and-coming brands on site which made Bestival feel so fresh and so different to more corporate affairs…that and the spacious (private) shower cubicles. Props to the Da Bank clan – despite the poor transport arrangements and rain at every possible second, Bestival was incredible and unique.

Crystal Fighters, Shepherd’s Bush, 14th Sept

There’s always a slightly awkward moment when someone pretending to be a music writer decides to drink at a gig instead of actually writing about music and consequently misses most of a band’s set because they were being twee and drinking white wine instead of listening. I’d already missed Crystal Fighters at Benicassim so I suppose my behaviour wasn’t entirely surprising…

Here’s me and my friend Soph looking suitably boozy:

The most memorable bits of Crystal Fighters’ Shepherd’s Bush gig on the 14th September were probably 1) being violently (accidentally) elbowed (standing tickets obvs), 2) almost choking on a Neurofen and 3) singing to their most memorable and popular ditty “I Love London” . Whilst I’m here, I might as well add that I have so much beef with venues like the Empire which decide to open their doors ridiculously early (e.g.: 2 hours before a headline act), leaving silly people like me to predrink half to death. Here’s an incredible review from someone more capable than myself.

The Guardian Young Writers

I was lucky enough to win a place on a two-day Young Writers workshop at The Guardian this September, where I learnt all about pitching and how to get into editors’ heads. Even though I’ve been writing for what seems like ages, like anyone, I find it difficult to condense my ideas and adapt them in order to get those all important commissions. The workshops were so helpful, and I’m so proud of my classmates who’ve since been commissioned like Hannah Slapper, who wrote this incredible piece on Roman Polanksi. Formulating ideas has never been so fun.

DOS and DONTS of filming your music video abroad

After the troubles in Ireland, it seems that Ri Ri’s a bad girl gone somewhat worse. Here are some simple tips for any chanteurs and chanteuses who don’t wish to cause offence in foreign lands. My advice if you see a prudish farmer? Just keep running.

DO:

–         Blend in: Britney Spears recently picked a deli in West Ealing as the location for her ‘Criminal’ video. Her secret appearance was later lauded, and a shrine made of Wilkinson magic mops and jay cloths erected in her honour on the pavement (I’m still working on that). Rihanna take note – not even Battersea Dogs Home will let you get out your puppies in public, so don’t do anything, ahem, flashy.

Get cultured: Adele’s new video for ‘Someone Like You’ is a black and white, Nouvelle Vague-influenced affair filmed in Paris. Plans are said to be underway for a Coach Trip special where she and Luc Besson moodily discuss Monster Munch in a layby.

DON’T:

Ignore the political: Uh oh. Unfortunately, after Britney left the aforementioned deli, she went to Stoke Newington Town Hall to film scenes. With a gun. It might have been a fake, but with the London Riots still a recent memory it was a little insensitive. Plus someone could’ve mistaken her crew for one of those gangs who steal highlighters and treasury tags instead of Armani jackets and BlackBerrys.

‘Borrow’ from your surroundings: Joe ‘Eyebrow’ Jonas used to be one third of the pre-Bieber trio famed for bringing purity rings and properly medicating your diabetes into the mainstream. Like Adele, he decided to get all grown up and film his new video in Paris. Unlike Adele, it seems he couldn’t think of his own ideas. I don’t know what’s more shocking – the fact that he may have ripped something off (we thought you had integrity in that eyebrow, Joe) or that the source material is a saucy French arthouse flick with the vomtastic title ‘For Lovers Only’..

The awkward moment when Joe Jonas didn't slip into the lava and is still alive several years later

…If in doubt, watch this for a masterclass in cultural cohesion:

HJ

xx

Advertisements

New albums: a hit and a maybe

Welcome to September. There are plenty of new albums out around this time of year, so as part of my civic duty I will now force my entirely subjective prose into your consciousness by giving you one pretty stellar new release…as well as warning you of one to avoid, thus leaving you with more pennies in your pocket and more time to sort out your pencil case, pack your bags for uni etc. Embrace this rare act of generosity, and feel free to fight your corner by commenting/emailing me via hannah [at] hannahjdavies.com.

Hit

American Goldwing – Blitzen Trapper (Sub Pop) – out Sept 12th

As much as I hate to paraphrase a press release, Blitzen Trapper’s Eric Earley proved that sometimes an artist’s own perception of their work needs little further analysis. Earley recently mused that “the earthiness of these songs will make you want to get loaded and get in a fight, or find a girl and fall in love forever, simultaneously” and it seems that Blitzen have achieved this feat, creating a multi-faceted rock album with appeal for both the lovers and the fighters. The sixth studio release from the Portland, Oregon-based quintet is a diverse collection which brings together classic country (complete with harmonicas and Dylan-style vocals) and twangy pop with more than a nod to Tom Petty. Squeezing decades of rock into a pulp of nostalgic americana, it’s compulsory listening in full for those who need an entry level country rock album. To everyone else: a few key downloads to mix and match – plus an obligatory Jack Daniels – is enough to get the idea without turning into a SXSW groupie. The idea being that this is the faux-vintage ‘record’ that works in the same way as your pre-grunged Abercrombie jeans – perfectly engineered with high production values to help you party like it’s 1971. Without any dust or broken LPs in sight.

4/5

Go and download: “Street Fighting Sun” – a forgotten White Stripes B-Side produced by Motorhead?! “Might Find It Cheap” – gutsy Western grooves permeated by a compulsive, stirring, ‘Gimme Shelter’-esque bassline. (Stream the album in it’s entirety here).

Maybe

I’m With You – Red Hot Chili Peppers (Warner)

Red Hot Chili Peppers have survived a fair few changes throughout the years, but has John Frusciante’s latest departure irrevocably damaged the band? This writer would be inclined to think so. Oddly enough, the queasy didn’t-get-a-bike-for-Christmas brand of disappointment I felt on the first play of “I’m With You”was the same feeling I had when Stadium Arcadium landed five long years ago. That album did, admittedly, become a grower, but I’m not sure I’m With You will sustain my attention long enough so I can find out whether, like a fine wine, it will get better with age. Unfortunately – please do ignore my mixed metaphors and alcoholic analogies – fine wine is not supposed to be mixed with new blood. Josh Klinghoffer (he who sounds like a Smashing Pumpkin in Dot Hacker/Frusciante’s Ataxia contemporary) is a worthy musician, but his inclusion in the Chili roster is incongrous. He was just five when the band released their first album, and I fear that rather than continuing the band’s legacy alongside his ageing confreres he will be forced to imitate pal Frusciante for as long as possible in order to survive the murky waters of cult band land, where fans congregate on forums and ignite faceless vendettas at the mere mention of a lousy chord progression. I doubt that anyone will be chasing Josh with a torch in hand, however. Whereas Stadium Arcadium was a mix of concepts and styles (Frusciante seemingly paid homage to every guitarist he’d ever admired) tightly packed together in multiple tempos, and arranged over two planetary-named CDs with copious B-sides on a third, I’m With You is 14 safe and familiar failsafes with little deviation from by-numbers funk and Kiedis’ trademark weird lyricism. Rather than being an organisational mess like it’s predecessor, it’s a stylistic bore of idly peddled beats with little dimension. “Monarchy Of Roses” demonstrates this most pointedly – repetitive and nonsensical, but not in the genius way that characterised classics like The Zephyr Song. What was it I said earlier about surviving changes…one of the reasons why Jane’s Addiction’s Dave Navarro was able to replace John Frusciante in the mid 90s was his ability to reprise and reinterpret the groove as John himself had had to do at the beginning of his first dynasty (he was drafted in following the death of original RHCP guitarist Hillel Slovak).

New Kid On The Block: he might be lunching with the cool kids, but Josh Klinghoffer needs to bring more than a half-eaten ham sandwich if he wants to survive in a huge band like RHCP

Klinghoffer’s attempt is far from complacent, but whether he can stamp his mark on such an established outfit is indeterminable from this forgettable debut. “Annie Wants A Baby” is the nearest that the band gets to their “By The Way” glory, but overall it’s overproduced and predictable fare. In short, diehards will love “I’m With You” for those simple bedroom jam moments where Anthony and Flea reprise their usual roles, and those too young to remember Californication (e.g.: the profitable tween market) will treat it as a stepping stone into rock/a counterpoint to Bieber et al. Invariably, it will be a hit – I’ll just have to let you know whether I’m With You on that in due course.

3/5

Go and download: “Brendan’s Death Song” – Kiedis stands out on a touching tribute to a late friend. The only song with staying power on the album in my opinion. “The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie” – it’s not big and it’s not clever, but it is fun and the trippy title sounds like it’s been lifted from a Dr Seuss book.

Coming up this month: Bestival coverage (!!!) and more (gosh that sounds ominous)…

HJ x