June/July 2012 :)

Woo here it is!! I have been coughing and sneezing my way through the past few weeks, but I have some amazing memories blogging for Cornetto at the Isle of MTV Malta Special so all is kind of balanced, plus I’m back at home in London for the summer which is exciting.

Musical magical musings from Malta and too much alliteration as always

MTV & Cornetto teamed up for the second year running to put on a massive concert in Il Fossos Square in the capital, Valeta, (the local taxi driver who picked my friend Josephine and I up from the airport looked at me blankly as I said the name of the square – one thing that Lonely Planet will never tell you is that locals simply call it “Fossos”). I went to blog, and to soak up the Vitamin D.

Here’s our hotel, which was lovely but really, really near Fossos:

From our balcony where I watched France 24 and ate apples whilst staring out at the beautiful waterfront, I could hear every single note of the soundchecks!! About four hours after arriving in the beautiful, boiling Mediterranean I was being whisked away to interview Will.i.am. I’d hoped for a bit more time to ask him some questions on his future musical plans, his life, his cool jackets etc. but I only had about two/three minutes. They were some of the longest few minutes of my life however; I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed someone so well known, plus MTV News filmed it. Up to now I’ve only done a teeny bit of presenting, but it’s definitely something I’d love to do more of in the future 🙂 Here we are chilling on the balcony of his incredible hotel suite:

The video is on the Cornetto Facebook page under the ‘Summer of Music’ tab!

That evening, we had dinner with the PR peeps and Cornetto crew, plus my Italian counterparts who had come to blog – Giuliana and Denis from Style.it and Federica (Elle.it).  I had sushi for the first time in months, maybe a year, which was nice, and we got to see Malta at night. Without sounding like an infomercial from Malta’s tourism board it really wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Ageing population plus ancient attractions like the cathedral and Fossos…it doesn’t exactly sound like a typical teen hangout! That’s why I was so surprised to find the following evening that there are actually LOADS of teens in Malta (or perhaps the entire teen population were just all at Isle of MTV haha). On Tuesday 26th June there were crowds everywhere in the previously peaceful streets surrounding Fossos, where a huge stage had been constructed. As my photo shows, there were thousands of people in the square when things started at around 7…wish we had more free events like this in the UK…

We had an incredible view of proceedings from the VIP viewing platform with its red carpet…it also had an open bar (two best words in the English language right there!).

Eva Simons defied gravity/the Maltese wind to perform with her trademark mohawk standing to attention. She kicked off the action wearing a tartan skirt; this along with Kourtney Kardashian’s recent decision to name her daughter Penelope Scotland, Andy Murray’s journey to the Wimbledon final and the Caledonian party at the end of the last season of Made In Chelsea mean I should probably dig out my own well-loved tartan skirts…

Back to Malta, where Eva absolutely killed it. She also dueted on “This Is Love” with Will.i.am – it’s always nice to see a duet recreated properly rather than the awkward backing track technique (see: Professor Green stumbling through “Just Be Good To Green” without Lily Allen at last year’s Benicassim/any other festival). Her performance came after some weird warm up action from Maltese DJ Pierre Cordina (or, as Josephine quipped, was it Jason Statham? You can be the judge…)

Nelly Furtado continued the holy quadrinity of big name acts with an incredible set; for a 33 year old (with an 8 year old daughter no less) she looked not a day over 25! Highlights were “I’m Like A Bird”…it never fails to make me smile…and “Big Hoops (Bigger The Better)” which is nineties-themed nonsense but so dancy and upbeat.

The brash and inimitable Flo Rida was up next, simultaneously making us move and cringe with his in-your-face, sexually-charged lyrics on hits including “Low” and “Whistle”. He crowd-surfed, handed out roses during “Wild Ones” and waved a gigantic Maltese flag around (what a lovely gesture to all of those old Maltese folk, eh?)

Will.i.am proved that he was the hardest ever…his set featured pyrotechnics, blinding lights, circus performers from chic London hotspot Cirque Du Soir (note to self.: MUST get there sometime soon). He was also joined by Tyler James, one of his mentees on The Voice UK, and showed some skillful beatmatching (Gotye into Guetta??) during his DJ set.

At the VIP afterparty around the corner at another hotel, we managed to stay up all night long, and there was even more free food and drink like at the concert! WIN! I think I might just become a celebrity so that I never have to go to Tesco again.

The pool looks SO gorgeous…I was one of a sober few who refrained form jumping in but I wish I had in hindsight!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got a cheeky snap with Eva Simons – she looks incredible for someone who had probably been awake for about 36 hours. This was taken at around 3am I reckon…

In the morning we had an extremely random breakfast from the biggest spread I’d ever seen in a hotel (ricotta? a fry up? exotic fruits? don’t mind if I do…) After a powernap (just kidding, we really did stay awake til the plane journey) it was time to bid a tearful goodbye to gorgeous Malta. Somewhere between 5am and breakfast one of the MTV guys had told me that Malta’s name was derived from the Greek for “honey” – looking out over the golden sunrise I really hoped that this etymological tale was true and not just traveller’s bullshit. I don’t think Lonely Planet has the answer, it’s probably something only the Fossos-dwelling locals would know…

Brainchild Festival, Wokingham

So, I’d barely been home a moment when I decided it would be a good idea to camp in a field in a two-man tent which was most definitely designed with very small people in mind in the middle of nowhere and write very long, sprawling sentences about my experiences. We didn’t even know the location of Brainchild Festival until the 11th hour, and on Google Maps it appeared to be completely isolated; was this in fact some spurious mafia plot? An ironic non-festival-festival like this year’s Glastonbury coverage ? It turned out to be cracking, however – you can read all about it here. 

Other mad festivals headed your way…

Zoo Project Festival – 14th-1th Sept, Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent: The best summer combo since Pimms and lemonade is surely EDM and wild animals. A spinoff of Ibiza’s Zoo Project event, this looks insane.
-Eurostar Traction, Granary Sq, London – 14th Jul: The best of Europe’s musical offerings offer 3,000 guests a chance to celebrate London 2012 without stepping foot in a velodrome (or indeed, on the Eurostar).

Gaggle, Village Underground

Here’s my review of Gaggle’s album launch show last Wednesday in Shoreditch for The Fly. It was one of the weirdest gigs I’ve ever been to, and made Incubus at Brixton Academy a mere few days later look like the height of corporate rock. Gaggle have no rules, no boundaries and no pretences.

Sisters are doin’ it for themselves…Gaggle, image from RockFeedback

 GIRLS are gone (as in the band, not women per se)

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Girls. Like LCD Soundsystem before them, they’ve gone before their time. I’ll miss them, although it’s probably better not to carry on with a new singer (they could end up sounding like a Kings Of Leon tribute band). What will C Owens do next?

Now, that I can’t rely on any new Girls tracks, here’s what I am listening to:

Angel Haze – New York: she’s not Azealia Banks…she’s even ruder.

Two Wounded Birds – To Be Young: It’s so jaunty yet britpop angsty…I love this Suede-influenced imagining of youth, as opposed to that which Tulisa peddles. Also, watch out for that almost-key change – that was a surprise, right?

http://soundcloud.com/workit/two-wounded-birds-to-be-young

Cat Power – Ruin: She’s been to a multitude of places as her lyrics confirm…and Chan Marshall has fought her personal demons to bounce back with this slice of Californian-inspired funk with an international spin. Worth a listen if only for her cool pronunciation. Someone’s been listening to Rosetta Stone…

SOUNDWAVE

Crap, Soundwave’s almost here and I don’t have the bikini I’m coveting yet. Can’t wait to head to gorgeous Croatia to cover it for Live Magazine! Roll on boat parties and incredible music from…

h xx

Massive blog recluse/”radio presenter”

…and that’s what my business cards will eventually read. I am a blog recluse in the sense that I hardly ever blog but I will shortly be resuming my normal end-of-the-month service 🙂

edit: the title is hugely misleading and makes little to no grammatical sense but whatever, I always write them first. Technically I’m an anti-recluse. Rant over.

I haven’t reviewed anything in a little while (although I have The Drums coming up in a few weeks, gah!) so here are some links to my reviews for a gig which I went to recently in my uni town…

Sam Brookes w/ George O’Brien & Anna Costello 

Purple Radio review

The Fly review 

How to be better than Fearne Cotton with a cherry on top* –  myths about student radio plus my first three late night playlists

...I really don't take myself very seriously...promise...

*it’s fairly easy tbh

So, you may well ask, what have I been doing with myself? I’m a recent convert to student radio since coming to uni, having previously thought of it in fairly pejorative terms. Some myths to clear up on that one…

Myth number 1 – you don’t have to say anything relevant because hardly anyone is listening, and if they are then they won’t be relying on you as a major news outlet.

Mythbusting – yes and no. It’s true that audience figures probably won’t be anything higher than the number of hot dinners you’ve had this week divided by the number of drunk Dominos orders you wish you hadn’t. That said, there is still a sense of responsibility to the listener, so aimlessly rambling on about your week probably isn’t going to get you that Sony award. Conversely, sounding like a self-important LBC compere is just as pointless. So I’m straddling somewhere in the middle, and trying to convey how  passionate I actually am about music.

Myth number 2 – you have to play commercial music all of the time. 

Mythbusting – if you’re in a daytime slot then perhaps it may be the case that you are asked to play a specific amount of tracks from A/B/C lists, but that means that there is still some room to manoeuvre. I applied for, and was given, a late night slot which fits my night owl personality as well as allowing me to play whatever I want, e.g.: an eclectic mix of 70s, 80s and 90s gems, new indie music and electronic bits and bobs.

Myth number 3 – student radio isn’t professional standard.

MythbustingObviously the training provided by student stations won’t be the same depth as commercial training or accredited certificates, however it is often hugely relevant and high quality. Learning about how to use a mixing desk and operate programmes, even if they’re inferior/different to those which you may find in a work environment, is always going to provide you with transferable knowledge anyway… As for the standard of output, that depends on the presenter and their own knowledge and commitment I suppose. No pressure for a self-titled teen freelance music journalist then…

Now for my first three playlists…

Week one’s Spotify playlist 

Norgaard - The Vaccines 
My Everything - The Thirst 
Video Games - Lana Del Rey 
Come As You Are - Little Roy 
7th Date - Spectrals 
Punching In a Dream - The Naked and Famous 
Avenging Angels - Space 
So Far So Long - BB Brunes 
Ain't Nobody - Clare Maguire 
Lipgloss - Pulp 
Either / Or - Elliott Smith 
Don't Rush - Tegan and Sara
Lullaby - The Cure 
 

Week two’s Spotify playlist 

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me - U2	

Wake Up	- O. Chapman	

Follaton Wood	- Ben Howard	

Dna - The Kills	

Hotel California - The Cat Empire	

Hounds Of Love	- Kate Bush	

Bad Feeling - Veronica Falls	

You Do Something To Me	- The Kinks	

Duck Egg Blue	- The Kabeedies	

Somewhere In My Heart	- Aztec Camera	

Shady Lane - Pavement	

Once Around the Block - Badly Drawn Boy
 

Week three ‘s Spotify playlist 

Cavern	- Liquid Liquid	

Road to Recovery - Midnight Juggernauts	

Breathe Me In - Sam Brookes	

Heart Cooks Brain - Modest Mouse	

Sentinal Bloom	- SCUM 

Phantom Limb - The Shins	

Forget You All the Time	- Cloud Nothings	

Get Lost - Tom Waits	

You Make My Dreams - Hall & Oates

Bottle Up and Explode! - Elliott Smith	

So Light Is Her Footfall - AIR	

69 Fanny Street - The Peth	

This Is the Day	- The The
 
Recommendations are welcome for my show, which is on purpleradio.co.uk on Thursdays from 11pm to midnight 🙂 
 

Vice mag gets geeky *guffaw*

That looks like it says gruffalo doesn’t it? Anyhow… it’s been a while since I tuned into Vice’s vids, but here’s something which caught my eye, probably because I’m a huge anime nerd at heart…

A Dragon Con Odyssey – now on Motherboard 

Do you know what Dragon Con is? Nor me. But Vice do. Cosplayers are usually more likely to fit into a “Don’t” page in the mag, but on their shiny Motherboard video site you can find out about the intriguing traditions and heartwarming stories behind the ridiculous masks, silly wigs and awe-inspiring accessories courtesy of Vice’s comics editor Nick Gazin, who visited Atlanta’s annual comic convention. As with all Vice documentaries, there are the usual suspects (strange paedos and socially inept obsessives do feature) which are offset by oddities such as a goth band with an obvious Depeche Mode influence and a run in with Carrie Fisher which is more than a little Borat-esque. A must watch for nerds and jocks alike, which can be seen here. 

HJ

x

This month I’ve been…
Watching: Top Boy (as was half of the free world I’m sure)
Reading: The Sealed Letter – Emma Donoghue 
Eating: too much, all of the time 

Benicassim 2011: I Bet You Look Good On The Hispanic Dancefloor

The only monster FIB review in the blogosphere… it’s taken me a while to sit down and write, but now that I’m no longer employed for the summer here you go! Also heading to Underage this Friday with The Fly so keep your eyes peeled. HJ x

hat would make a self-confessed camping virgin travel hundreds of miles to do battle with insects and pop-up tents (or slow cookers, as they should be known)? The 16th outing of FIB, of course. Known simply as Benicassim to most of us lazy Brits, this is one annual festival that isn’t really worth a comparison with the UK circuit. The holiday vibe at the site in Southern Spain is a million miles away from the mud and orienteering of Worthy Farm, and rather than being cooped up like livestock we had a town to explore, beaches to visit, and supermarkets to raid for chorizo, horchata and, erm, deodorant.

Besides the music, there were also film screenings (missed as was at the beach), a fashion show (again, at the beach) and even the chance to take part in university-accredited courses such as music journalism (should’ve left the beach for that one). The main USP of travelling hundreds of miles is that there are warmer climes to enjoy until about 7pm, before returning to the campsite and inducing artificial insomnia via cheap sangria in preparation for the 2am headliners. Lovely organiser Vince Power even chucks in a eight free days of camping. This year, the 4 day event went something like this:

Jueves/Thursday

After a day spent exploring cultural sites (the beach and the supermarket bread aisle, respectively) we headed back for Paolo Nutini’s set on the main (Maravillas) stage. Seemingly tipsy (please don’t sue me for libel!) as he stepped onto stage, the Scottish crooner’s set was not only 1940s OAP but also decidedly DOA. With two multi-platinum albums behind him, the bar was high for Paolo who peaked early with crowd-pleasers ‘Jenny Don’t Be Hasty’ and ‘These Streets’. Seemingly going through the motions for the mostly British crowd, he deviated from tried and tested material just once for a quick flirtation with ‘Over and Over’, a Hot Chip cover. Overall, Nutini brought the foot-tapping and limb-shaking music we all expected and delivered it with soul, but there was something repetitive and spent about the set that only a true groupies, sorry fans, could ignore.

Paolo Nutini onstage at FIB (image copyright of Fiberfib)

Drum and bass devotees came together for Chase and Status, who were headlining the Fiberfib.com stage. Touchingly, MC Rage catered for the amnesiacs among us by screaming “Chase and FUCKING Status” between numbers. From the first African-accented word of opener ‘No Problem’, to the Asiatic scarefest Eastern Jam and intermittent commands to ‘bounce’, right through to closing track ‘Fool Yourself’, the pair’s reputation for delivering an energy-packed and unpredictable live experience was sealed. Twenty years on and boasting another Liam, I think we’ve found an act who will become as definitive as The Prodigy (whose seminal hit ‘Firestarter’ still rocked the dance stage during a DJ set some 15 years on…).

Continuing the dubstep mood of Thursday night we went back to the Maravillas for Pendulum, who pleased a mostly Antipodean and British crowd with the material which everyone wanted to hear. Closing with Watercolour from last album Immersion, they declared the crowd to have been “fucking brilliant” (oh we were).

This look is the definitive "our mood swings are more swingy than a swingy thing, like a Pendulum" and explains how one of the worst names ever was conceived

On the Fibclub stage, I caught a negligable amount of Crystal Fighters’ set, which is a shame because watching happy people dance to “we were born to be alone, everybody all alone” would have totally smacked of postmodernist irony and would have made writing a blog so much easier. Still, I’m seeing them later in the year so I can dance/write polemics then.

Viernes/Friday

Friday night was spent exclusively at the Maravillas, where Brandon Flowers, Elbow, The Strokes and Friendly Fires were top of the bill. I chose the showers over Flowers, but three out of four ain’t bad and I heard most of his set from the campsite. Unfortunately for the Killers’ man, the unanimous highpoint was ‘Mr Brightside’ (a track which his band played at last year’s FIB) rather than anything from his own foray into solo artistry, Flamingo.

Illustrative purposes only

Elbow provided  a high point of the weekend, delivering their music with passion as well as a high level concern for the wellbeing of fans that was often absent elsewhere. Whilst kicking, beer-spilling and even cartwheeling in crowds is commonplace, frontman Guy Garvey was having none of it, instructing fans to move back to prevent a crush. Although there was none of the tomfoolery seen at their Glasto performance (backwards Mexican wave, anybody?), tracks like ‘Grounds For Divorce’ and epic closer ‘One Day Like This’ were raw Mancunian slices of indie rock ‘n’roll. The relationship between the North West of England and Eastern Spain is surely back up to par, after fellow Mancs Oasis caused a furor over sound problems  at the fest in 09.

Fresh from work on their latest LP, ‘Angles’, The Strokes had six new tracks in their roster alongside higher octane classics such as ‘Juicebox’ and ‘You Only Live Once’. Their set was well-received, although the loudest cheers were heard (rather predictably) for ‘Last Nite’. Ten years on and its still causing a commotion,  with ‘Under Cover of Darkness’ and ‘Machu Picchu’ falling short of such appreciation. I can only analogise this situation to playing Strokes Top Trumps – would a Julian beat an Albert? Subjective.

Topping off Friday were the boys from Friendly Fires, who lived up to their agreeable moniker. Returning to the festival with a higher profile (the band played the FiberFib.com stage two years ago),  they attracted fans in their droves with their early hours set. Swishing and trying out fancy footwork to ‘Hawaiian Air’, the atmosphere was as magical and jaunty as current album Pala, although much like The Strokes it was an older favourite (‘Paris’) which brought out the best in the crowd. Still, they got to show off their creativity and charm which has ensnared the mainstream and permeated the charts of late, much as they did here  a few days later.

Sábado/Saturday

Saturday was a bit of a blur, probably due to the phrase “uno Heineken por favor”. Hours of beach and a snack or two later, it was time for some cutesy folkpop-by-numbers from ukulele-wiedling Mumford and Sons, who paved the way for Arctic Monkeys, giving Benicassim their all. Mumfords were one of many acts who attempted to engage with the crowds in both Spanish and English (n’aww). Luckily we could rely on the artists in showing gratitude towards the locality which – let’s face it – isn’t always the top priority for us (litter-dropping, beer-swigging) fans…

Anyway, I digress… After a few years out on the road regurgitating their first three records, it was time to bring ‘Suck It And See’ into the mix on the Maravillas. Arriving on stage to the unmistakable sound of ‘You Sexy Thing’ by Hot Chocolate, the band played a catalogue of hits including ‘Brianstorm’, ‘The View From The Afternoon’ and ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ as well as new tracks including ‘Don’t Sit Down Cos I’ve Moved Your Chair’ and ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala”. A vibrant and sometimes brooding atmosphere, coupled with chanting of well-known, quasi-misogynist lyrics such as “oh, you know nothing, but I’ll still take you home!” and some RIP-to-romance numbers like ‘505’ (for Alexa?) combined to make an exciting set.

What A Scummy Man: Jk Benicassim loved Alex and his Lego-esque hairdo

Stuggling to stay awake during Primal Scream’s ‘Screamadelica’ is a bit like passing out on your own birthday, but unfortunately that was this writer’s fate (do excuse the crap analogy, it was more like passing out on Christmas and being poked in the eyes by stray pine needles). By the time that Bobby Gillespie and co. took to the stage at an ungodly hour to bring us classics like “Movin’ On Up” and “Come Together”, I may or may not have been sitting on the ground, craning my neck like some kind of wounded giraffe. A treat for fans of the Scream boys/Denise Johnson but it was the inclusion of ‘Country Girl’ (from 2006’s Riot City Blues) that brought the set from a retrospective to a collection of modern classics; ultimately it was an epic celebration of the band’s work since their rise to fame/notoriety circa 1991.

Fresh from Kate Moss' star-studded nuptials, Bobby Gillespie goes back to the day job as he poses backstage at FIB (image copyright of Fiberfib)

After the kitsch kerfuffle caused by Fake Blood’s (the Brit DJ best known for ‘I Think I Like It’) set on the Fiberfib.com stage, it was time for bed (how he managed to mix in tacky house classic ‘Get Down’ by Paul Johnson into his most aforesaid hit I have no idea). After that, I have clear memories of losing my torch and the girl in the tent next to us insisted on talking as though she was devising a parody of ‘Homecoming’ by The Teenagers for half of the night.

Domingo/Sunday

Officially burnt, I skipped the sun in favour of reading the official festival programme under a parasol. It was a pretty interesting programme too – a bilingual booklet full of interviews and info on the acts. Shame I hadn’t read it on the first day…

Professor Green took the festival by storm, playing all of his singles with the kind of gusto I haven’t seen him deploy in the daytime. Predictably, everyone besides the most diehard INXS fans went wild for ‘I Need You Tonight’, and the reaction to ‘Jungle’ was huge (two girls in particular, seemingly dressed as spandex cowgirls from the future, complete with Cher Lloyd-style baseball caps and fairylights adorning their jackets appeared to be having some kind of religious expeience). Pro even seamlessly slipped in a cheeky Chase and Status sample (‘Eastern Jam’) on the aforementioned track, turning his ‘Norf Lundun’ sound up to 11. My personal highlight, however, was the plug shout out to Radio 1 before ‘Just Be Good To Green’. Keeping it real (and tethered to the BBC) has never been easier.

Portishead played the Maravillas at 11pm, providing one of the most haunting experiences of the festival. On a darkened stage, surrounded by screens showing the surreal animated videos commissioned for their music, the band played a set which was both uplifting and heartwrenching. Currently staging a comeback, they opened with ‘Silence’, perfect for the festival due to its spoken Spanish first verse. This was followed by a veritable ‘best-of’ including Mysterons, Sour Times and Glory Box. Beth Gibbons gave an inimitable vocal performance throughout, despite the somewhat ‘early’ set time.

(Apologies for sound quality – not my upload)

Closing the festival were Arcade Fire, who played a breathtaking

(just breathing out)

set. The Canadian septet provided the Win-ning (sorry) end to the festivities, reprising hits from across their career. Faster tunes like ‘Ready To Start’ and ‘Keep The Car Running’ were perfect for high energy dancing, with more mellow ones like ‘The Suburbs’ providing a chance to cool off and just sway. The generous group even took the opportunity to raise some funds for (singer Regine’s crisis-stricken home country) Haiti during the show. A two-part encore comprising arena-worthy ‘Wake Up’ and tearjeaker ‘Sprawl II’ was also well received. Whilst this writer can’t speak for all present, I felt invigorated with hope for all mankind, and imbued with peace and love. Sponsored by Heineken.

– My verdict: Go amigo! The upbeat Spanish affair gets a stellar 4/5.

What did I miss?

Anna Calvi – does listening to ‘Suzanne and I’ on the plane count? Kate Bush 2.0 would have been a magical addition to my weekend.

Art Brut – added to the bill at the nth hour, Art Brut weren’t even in the programme. Clumsier than The Libertines and cuter than Pulp (see: stalky ‘ode to luv’ Emily Kane): if only I’d known.

Bombay Bicycle Club – heard most of their set from inside my tent. Still wish I’d been there to hear ‘The Hill’ (insert secret reason for significance here).

Beirut – and the award for the act I am most devastated about missing goes to Zach Condon and co. How can I build a time machine? Answers on a postcard (from Italy) please.

Insider tips:

– Be an earlybird: Act erm ‘pronto’ and get your 2012 ticket for £40 off the normal price (£125 for the 4 day event, 8 day camping included).

– Get a room: A hotel. hostel or apartment is advisable in the heat.

– Become an insomniac in advance: seriously.