❥ I am now in NW Spain to get better at Spanish and breaking my selfie ban. The skirt cost five euros on sale at Zara which – aside from surviving absinthe – is my biggest achievement of the year so far.
Here’s the first bit of graffiti I found in Spain, on the back of the toilet door in the bus station. After no sleep for a full twenty four hours it seemed intensely poetic. “We’re the Eiffel Tower lit up on the 14th of February”. Oh, it was a little piece of Paris, I thought, as I finally got to have a wee after my near three-hour coach journey. Alas, it turned out to be a lyric from a song by some sub-Jonas Brothers Spanish boyband called Melocos (and here I was thinking it was a 17th century poet). Will be interesting to see what other musical offerings I can find out here, preferably not scrawled in the bog.
Anyhow, here’s what I did in the latter part of 2013 whilst living in Montmartre/Pigalle and finding out about life under various guises (student, journo, translator , professional hide and seek champion, actual twenty-one year old human being etc).
❥ Rock En Seine Festival. SEEN TRENT REZNOR LIVE ☑
Phoenix were amazing, although on home turf in France I suppose the crazy reaction was no surprise. They are France’s great indie hope and Bankrupt was amongst the best releases of the year. Likewise Laura Mvula, although she didn’t draw a large crowd 😦
❥ Bought my fave albums of the year (Shulamith by Poliça and Kurt Vile’s Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze) from a great record store called Balades Sonores in Paris’ 9th arrondissement – will 2014 be the year I properly get into vinyl?! Started shopping in a little vintage store with great music which made me appreciate the Stones more.
❥ Gained an obsession with bullet points and Boursin, and went to Disneyland where I realised that the golden age of Disney is definitely over.
I walk past an Elton John poster on our way into the Olympia. Now there’s an artist you can rely on to still be standing! (shitty pun very much intended) As for Jake Bugg…in ten years time will he just morph into a morose version of Frank Turner? Or will he age backwards, headlining Glastonbury 2024 as a five year old child? Whilst I jest, so much of THE BUGG FACTOR comes from his age (19). Weirdly, the French promoters have decided to almost fetishise this – three days after the release of his second album they’ve billed him as a “British Justin Bieber”, which as well as being hilariously inaccurate is quite offensive to pauvre Jake who is rather established in his own right. Once he starts playing, however, his age just isn’t relevant. A few things get a little loss with a French crowd, notably new track “Two Fingers”, which historically wasn’t really the Gaellic insult of choice. The crowd here flick their peace signs at Jake like wannabe harijuku girls in accidentally benign fashion.
Shangri La, that aforementioned second album, means lots of new material, with lead single “Lightening Bolt” getting a great reaction. Ultimately though it’s tracks from his debut album like “I Can Taste It” that get the best reception. Has he already peaked? Unlikely, but if he wants to hang onto fans the media and PR machine which surrounds him should start focusing on his pitch-perfect voice and quality songwriting, not the fact that he would definitely get ID-ed buying vodka at Sainsbury’s.
❥ Suede at La Cigale, Paris, 11/11/13 (part of Les Inrockuptibles Fest).
Ever drunk slightly warm Heineken in a room full of people double your age? When the room in question is La Cigale and Paris-loving Britpop pioneers Suede are playing and the cups have Debbie Harry’s face on them it’s quite enjoyable. Temples are support, not that their Seventies-inspired look/sound is given much attention. (Toy, moody band du jour and recently hyped on BBC 6 music by Brett Anderson himself, would have possibly been a better choice).
Suede kick off with Still Life from Dog Star Man – it’s weird hearing it without the strings but poignant nonetheless. Next up are two tracks from 2013 ‘comeback’ Bloodsports: Barriers and It Starts and Ends with You. Still unmistakably Suede, but nicely matured like good cheese or wine or Brett himself, who has the same magnetic quality but a little more wisened. Trash, from my favourite Suede album – Coming Up – is riotous as ever, the crowd joining a sweaty Bretty for anthemic chanting on the chorus. Animal Nitrate is next. This song encapsulates Suede – the band, the brand – at that crucial moment where everything grew from in 1993. It’s as dark and ambiguous as it must have been at time (I’m not too sure however, being in the new wave of Suede fans and having been born in 1992).
They dash from the old – We Are The Pigs – straight back to the new, but nothing ever feels jarring or outdated. The Drowners – one of my favourite Suede songs from their debut feels so powerful and hopeless, with Brett ensconced by fans in a rather surreal scene (see below) yet also detached from everything around him.
Back to the future for more Bloodsports before a few classics that no quality Suede set would be without: So Young and Beautiful Ones. The latter is my all-time Suede fave track and singing along, wildly off key, was the highlight of the night. A little encore ending in acoustic mode rounds off an amazing set from a band who somehow are both effortlessly nostalgic and always, erm, In Fashion.
STUFF IVE WRITTEN SINCE I LAST POSTED HERE APPROX 1,000,000 YEARS AGO:
– I now write telly previews for Saturday’s Guardian Guide which are neatly organised over here.
…I think the last time I posted was between two very interesting (by that I mean interesting to write but yes, also hopefully to read!) Guardian pieces which I wrote on Made In Chelsea and My Mad Fat Diary.
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
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.
– 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.
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’..
…If in doubt, watch this for a masterclass in cultural cohesion:
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
W 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:
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
– 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.
If I wasn’t boring I’d be at the Camden Crawl blogging with Vice, enjoying fringe events such as the Nightjar (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, Cumberbitches take note) and the film festival curated by Guillemots, as well as obviously listening to music from the likes of Tom Williams and The Boat, Little Comets and Beth Jeans Houghton. Except I’m cripplingly boring and my A Levels (officially) start this week.
Instead I’ll just churn out five of these babies:
“You never review new singles!” “Done” (Apr/May)
The Shoes – Cover Your Eyes (Crack My Bones LP released March, single TBC on Southern Fried)
Late night French radio is good for two things as far as I’m concerned. Besides the super-detailed meteo, sometimes a gem slips through the wireless with all the ease of a Parisian breeze. They’ve mixed for a menagerie of indie bands and had their music featured on Gossip Girl but that’s where the comparisons with serial remixers Justice, samplers Daft Punk and advert song duo Air respectively should end. As brilliant and French as those acts are, Cover Your Eyes is a brooding, dramatic slice of indie which leans more towards the pop than the electro. Seemingly taking its lead from Gaelic influences as well as British indie, its main hook and lyrics (e.g.: the “mathematics of a heart laid bare”) could have been plucked from 80s new romanticism…but how fresh it sounds. I think the whole album could be a winner, as long as I don’t hear “Cliche” on a cliche-d Toyota advert before 2016.
For fans of: Delphic, Zach Hill, Sebastien Tellier.
Japanese Voyeurs – Get Hole (was released 18th April on Fiction)
It’s not very often that I get ridiculously excited about a band who were formed before about 1997, or a band like Japanese Voyeurs who are possibly all talk. Question: is it possible to be a grunge band in 2011? Question: is it possible to have a pain-inducing riot grrrrl wail when the only Veruca Salt of your childhood probably courtesy of Roald Dahl? I’m going to stop asking questions because its ruining the crazy contrast between Exorcist-girl vocals and irregular Pantera-esque chords. Japanese Voyeurs aren’t Japanese but they’ve definitely been doing some voyeurism into Courtney Love’s back catalogue (is “Get Hole” actually a ridiculously obvious ref?!) … and, coupled with even more angry postmodernism, it works. Question: is this for real? Answer: I stopped caring after the first 30 seconds. Memo to Taylor Momsen: watch and learn from Romily Alice, Little J.
For fans of: the 90s, Rolo Tomassi.
The Sound of Arrows – Nova (was released 25th April on Geffen)
Winner of the most self-indulgent video ever award (they made it themselves), this is most certainly a guilty pleasure from the Swedish pair. This is Basshunter and MGMT collaborating at a party hosted by a porn baron, and it fails to conjure up the 80s vibe of Hurts because its a join-the-dots attempt at mainstream electronica with a homoerotic vid I think was intended to go viral. Controversial its really not, however it is strangely compulsive thanks to their Scandinavian pronunciation and predictable themes of stalking (“I’ll never stop following you”). The Top comments on the video sum it up…at the tenth play, I think I have Stockholm Syndrome.
For fans of: Saint Etienne, Pet Shop Boys, The Teenagers
Barbara Panther – Empire (Album to be released 16th May on City Slang)
Barbara Panther is a Rwandan singer from Brussels via Berlin, mixing potent electronic beats with poetically gothic lyrics, however because she is black she will ultimately draw superficial comparisons with that other black electronic pop singer, Santigold. I personally think any such comparisons would be a waste of time…Barbara Panther sounds like she’d be far more at home among the 70s and 80s artists on my favourite leftfield compilation ever, Disco Not Disco from Strut (which I’m lucky enough to own in physical form). She is vintage and trance-like without wearing her influences too obviously. The Lom remix of Empire deconstructs and reassembles this colonialist anthem (just kidding) with ease, and it is possibly better than the (utterly crazy) original.
For fans of: Flykkiller, Bjork, Summer Camp
Frankmusik – Do It In The AM (released May 3rd on Cherrytree/Interscope)
Club 18-30 choon which is the wrong side of electronic. Frankmusik’s polished-up vocals plus an appearance from Far East Movement (“who?” I hear you cry) can’t save this turgid cross between an X Factor winner’s third single and the theme tune of a BBC3 documentary on safe sex. Do it the morning kids, in the AM, before your parents find out or you fail your GCSEs! Oh, how the (relatively) mighty have fallen. On the subject of this vacuous piece of Americana, Mr Frank told some kind of Far East Movement fansite that “this new record has got a bit more finesse to it”, which I’m assuming he thinks is the French word for overproduced. “I’ve finessed the songwriting, the songs are a lot more punchy”, he continued, before defensively adding that his critics could “suck a dick”. FYI that would be in the PM because the AM is far too jam packed with bitches and hoes and Facetime with the lads back in East London. Pitbull circa 2009 he ain’t.
Watch!! There are royalists and republicans alike in VBS’ latest production Rule Britannia: Royal Wedding. I loved the wedding myself (softy at heart), as well as tat like this , but this vid shows the crazy extremism of some and the anger at what is seemingly a symbol of conspicuous consumption by the firm during crazy austerity era 101, as well as the view from the Kings Road and the set of a porn film which really does have the crown jewels. Another great doc which explores the politically sensitive relationship from the point of view of the great unwashed and beyond – some royalists, others ready to burn the palace.
*For what its worth, I love them, and genuinely wouldn’t have had any objection to them shredding quantitively-eased money into beautiful confetti and endless rainbows.