Thursday, 31 December 2009
Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Had an interesting email through from old ShadowPlay friend and hip-hop fiend MC Lars, if you can help him out, get in touch...
As I'm sure many of you know, a song on my new record TWENTY-THREE details the life and tragic death of a best friend and Stanford roommate, Patrick Wood. You can read more about him on his blog. He was a brilliant friend who battled with depression and took his life in Berlin in early 2006:
We are making a video for this song, as it is the next single off of THIS GIGANTIC ROBOT KILLS.
To make this video be effective and raise awareness, we NEED YOUR HELP!
If you have any friends or family members who know or who have lost anyone to suicide, please get in touch with us. We want to feature photos of loved ones who have taken their own lives. The goal of this video is to help raise awareness that this is an issue that affects us all, and pay our respects to those who have passed on. One of the things that helps me get through losing Pat is having a song about him to sing and listen to. I hope that you will share this with me if you have gone through anything similar.
Please hit me up at - firstname.lastname@example.org with photos and stories if you have friends who haven taken their own lives.
Thank you for all of your help! Together we can help raise awareness and help prevent suicide. We are talking to non-profit organizations to have some promotional support and help change the world together.
Much love and Happy Holidays.
P.S. Just on a legal side-note - we will need signed waivers, so before you get in touch with us with photos of your friends, please hit up your friends' families first. We know this is a sensitive issue and just want to make sure everyone's on board.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Written by League of Gentlemen masterminds Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, rhe dark comedy thriller was centred on very different characters, who each received an anonymous mysterious letter claiming: "I know what you did..." in the last series.
Monday, 9 November 2009
The re-emergence of Anti-Pop Consortium has been one of the undisputed triumphs of the CBRA (Continual Bands Reforming Age) as the stream of consciousness hip-hop merchants delve back into the world of collective creativity. Individually, there were signs of brilliance. Since their split in 2002, Beans has been perhaps the most successful, releasing four generally well-received efforts while High Priest and M. Sayyid as Airborn Audio plied their trade on Ninja Tune but didn’t follow-up debut Good Fortune on the label.
So their reformation, in August 2007 – five years after the barn-storming Arrhythmia – was welcomed by band’n’fans alike. Two years on and the first release from this second phase, new record Flourescent Black, shows excellent, witty signs of a return of a hip-hop act who can genuinely refer to themselves as ‘fresh’. Full of the quirky, intelligent discharge that made oft inaccessible beats irrelevant with a flow sharper than a nerd’s pencil always in charge of each tune.
In London, the New York foursome show their classic vigour. Facing inwards towards a desk, concentrating on their collective whole rather than individual style, predictably white crowd and APC-alike know this is about the music rather than the style. A year earlier at Sonar in Barcelona, ShadowPlay say this as a sign of an act still getting back on their feet, now it looks like pure, brilliant arrogance. Beans does turn ringmaster on a couple of occasions, the glib Apparently initiates the biggest roar of the night while Born Electric, also from the new record, sees them change pace and take a slower, more considered approach as they intone “can’t take my powers”.
There’s little doubt APC offer a refreshing antidote to the bling, overly smooth side of American hip-hop, what’s more impressive is that they do it while remaining out of the more nerdy fringes of it, maintaining their calm coolness and a rare hip-hop characteristic: integrity. Viva la reformation.
Monday, 5 October 2009
Those Northwesterly people at Cherryade Records have been busy as ever. Firstly they’ve released The Lovely Eggs’ record If You Were Fruit which, if a little sickly, brings a smile to the face of twockers (twee rockers) everywhere with their naïve lyrics. Secondly they glorious entity that is the Bobby McGees have release record L’Appropration Bourgoise De La bobby McGees and are on top form with opener Tractus Logico-Musica talking about innocent girlfriends and pepper spray and setting the tone from then on. The Bobby McGees are one of those special bands with perfect self-perception and an equally perfect lack of ego – they right fun songs with too many horns and far, far too many great hooks. Set aside a frantic half-hour.
From folk to funk, Bugz in the Attic have brought out a remixes collection, Got the Bug, which goes some way to displaying their sleek, undoubted talent and souped up version of Roison Murphy, Amy Winehouse and Bunny Mack tunes are decent but perhaps a little mainstream to attract core Bugz fans into this purchase.
Two beautifully packaged records in spray-painted wonderment reached ShadowPlay from Belle Records with Sol Gravy’s Sun Son proving a sombre affair with a beautiful harmonica and some nice lyrical touches adding to the jangly 70s dark folk feel of the record while labelmates Water were apparently one of THE Yorkshire bands of the end of the last century before their implosion through sex, drugs and ‘skullduggery’ fail to live up to the excitement of these pursuits with their flabby and meandering record Monkey Steps. Similarly attractively packaged, Bay of Islands’ Winter Vignettes, on Dizzy Records, provides a more soothing, intriguing record with the chirp of a scratched string and the sound of an undoubtedly talented pianist creating a sparse and beautiful record. Bear Driver’s Paws & Claws has a similarly lackadaisical rhythm to it with the Leeds-based psych-pop band displaying some promising signs with excellent vocals and an ear for when to make the tune go off on one, dancing into the woods without a cursory look back… Le Reno Amps return with their EP, the Stand Off, this month but, in all honesty, the grating lyrics and confusion over whether they want to be a straight up pop or kinda country-tinged indie band,a t least in the listener’s ears, is very off-putting.
Perhaps the prize for wild strangeness from a nutty duo this month goes to Misty Roses, the London/New York duo who, in their second album Villainess, create more mystery the Poirot puzzling over a particularly ripping Soduku. Singer Robert Conroy leads the tunes well and with ethereal backing and the skills of multi-instrumentalist Jonny Pearl, it’s definitely worth investigation.
A couple of harder releases come through TNS Records with the thrash of Revenge of the Psychotronic Man (and their barnstorming record Make Pigs Smoke, yep…) proving the custard shower effect, quite strange, fun once in a while but not for regular consumption. Meanwhile Halcyon Days are slightly lees all-out but provide some nice, threatening basslines and decent riffs, not to mention some quality boomed out harmonies. Good stuff.
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Thursday, 17 September 2009
Kids can’t sing. People who enter Eurovision generally can’t sing (Gina G, I apologise…). So here’s a perfect match. This “popumentary” follows a number of kids vying for the title of winner of Junior Eurovision 2007. Pitched at an interesting level, this neither takes the piss out of Eurovision in a Wogan-esque way, nor takes it as seriously as it clearly is by many of the “smaller” countries around the continent.
First off, this seemed the wrong approach to take, afterall what dramatic interest are a bunch of kids singing going to provide if it’s not comedy. But actually this film connects on a real emotional level as the viewer feels complete empathy with the junior contestants, some of which seem to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Perhaps the best example of this is Mariam, a 13-year-old Georgian who goes to the competition without her mother, who lives in a ramshackle tower block and vows to take tranquilisers before her daughter’s performance. Given free fruit and blessings on the street, Mariam carries the hopes of her country on her shoulders and stars in the live final, which receives no less than 23 million viewers before being caught up in the Russian offensive which took place in summer 2008.
There’s also plenty to laugh at though, perhaps the deadpan Belgian commentator who says “they are not singing very good” of three Dalton Sisters aged no more than nine or Belgian finalists Trust who have had a street in their native town of Ypres named after them, such is the measure of their success.
This documentary gave a real insight, perhaps for the first time for, as to just why people from so many, realistically, fairly unremarkable countries get so worked up by Eurovision. With over 14,000 entrants vying for the Rotterdam final it’s clear the stakes are high for a competition which says as much about fragmented European politics as it does about mini-camp entertainment. An interesting documentary, a DVD in front of the fire watch for sure.
Those glorious people over at Tru Thoughts have cooked up a storm for the autumn period, celebrating 10 years of the label that has boasted the kind of cutting edge music, in Quantic, TM Juke and the Bamboos in particular, that has marked it out as a forerunner in the UK funk and soul scene.
Earlier this month it hosted an excellent, hot and sticky night at Vibe Bar on Brick Lane, London where Alice Russell and Belleruche in particular gave the night the kind of swagger only 10 years of hard work and good times can bring. The label’s three disc anniversary release is a triumph in displaying the diversity and quality of the label. Thus the usual faces are joined by the likes of Kinny, Kylie Audist and Nirobi & Barakas. The main theme is of a label firmly focussed on taking life at its own pace, grab hold of it and saying “look, I’m gunna relax for a minute, ok?”
Elsewhere on the label, Natural Self releases his second album My Heart Beats Like a Drum next month, full of the kind of minimal chirpiness that will see him open up top-end nights aplenty I suspect. Meanwhile, Domu, aka Dominic Stanton, has released a collection of One Offs, Remixes and B Sides but it does feel a little like that, not exactly rjects but not top-cuts, also his choice of vocalists seems a little dubious, some dodgy vocals/lyrics here. Overall, Tru Thoughts spoil their listeners beyond belief, a label of true class and style will leave you far from hiding under the Munka Moon. (AL)
Sunday, 6 September 2009
Back with the bizarrely-titled Shout at the Döner (advice on Glaswegian kebab shops is offered in the notes), released through glorious off-kilter visionaries Tigerbeat6, this is a surprising release just in how fresh it seems despite some tunes, such as the menacing Samhain California, sounding like they coulda come out of the Steel city in any time in the last two decades. There are heavy strokes of futuristic LFO here while other reference points like Mouse on Mars and more minimal acts (that don’t have agoraphobia and play out) are bang on the money. The record is split into four ‘movements’ with Kid606’s Mozart moments coming in the form of nice glitches, tapered high-hats and strange clips which, to be honest, can only have been recorded and subsequently re-used under the influence of something a bit stronger than a bottle of Calpol left out overnight. There’s plenty of moments here when ‘606 hits real top form and create music to go to a fucking good party to and that is so invigorating you probably won’t even cringe when your mate flashes at the complaining neighbours. Get it.
Monday, 31 August 2009
It would be unfair to describe Frenchman Julien ‘Lecube’ Barbagallo, architect of his debut From Here to Now, as fey but there’s a certain otherworldliness to the breathy, sidling pace of the record. Recorded in Toulouse, this eight-track offering shows some definite promise with Barbagallo presenting at times incredibly very intricate songs in a simple fashion – breaking down from tumultuous drumming into the kind of carefully plucked guitar-work which led Nick Drake to the forefront of those talented yet mellow musicians who preferred to shun any egocentric qualities in favour of an educated sound. That said, he does whack himself on the cover and grate a little vocally but on the whole, definitely worth a hop over the channel.
Monday, 24 August 2009
ShadowPlay teams up with Teddy Bones, aka long-time SP contributor and fiend on the ones and twos, Tom Bonnett (pictured right) for an early precursor to a long-time partnership. This episode we introduce top monthly Stoke Newington night Broken Yolk, conducting some pointed ramblings about music consumption (including the mysteries of spotify) and featuring some aural delights in the form of Lord Tanamo, Acoustic Ladyland and a certain familiar reggae face.
More info: http://www.myspace.com/brokenyolkuk
Get in touch: email@example.com
Sunday, 23 August 2009
Nottingham lads Neil "Nail" Tolliday and Simon Mills will always have a special place in ShadowPlay hearts not only for their origins in the fair Midlands but also for their debut, Programmed to Love, which was probably the best record the city has produced and certainly the most impressive in the field of cleverly-worked electronica. Accomplished DJs and superb musicians, Bent are due a Best Of and, having always kept a fairly low-key profile, it is nicely packaged as an introduction to the duo. Far from a flung together collection of their tunes, there’s a flow and control over this record which belies its status as a compilation – spreading the band’s work across two CDs.
The seven new songs here also serve to remind listeners that Bent are still fresh, coming up with a number of up-tempo, quite guitar led tunes to intersperse old favourites. But, in the end, long time listeners will enjoy a reprisal, Private Life and Magic Love still causing a tingle. Bent are a band who have often been under appreciated, their legacy starts here.
Sunday, 26 July 2009
Situated in Ferropolis, a complex created from an old quarry complete with a man-made lake and towering excavators, outside Dessau, an hour from Berlin, there’s plenty going for this cheap, large, three-day event.
Largely centred upon the more funky side of electronica - your Erol Alkan, Diplo, Digitalism type acts – there is a good diversity in terms of music, if not food where sausage dominates to a degree never before seen, even the usual dog burger is a rarity. Day one kicks off with some scepticism, Foals and Metronomy proving big name pull outs but ShadowPlay checks out the tenacious La Roux, full of spirit and, more crucially, tunes. Elsewhere, Aphex Twin (pictured below), making a rare live appearance, arrives onstage in the giant concrete bowl which mascerades as a main stage, to put in an hour of glitches, churning fun and a performance to set your teeth on edge – legend. Simian Mobile Disco and MSTRKRFT also prove popular before the torrential rain cut proceedings short at a mere 5am with a soggy Melt! going to bed cold but happy. The switch up in set times, compared to the more reserved, license-bound, UK festivals is notable. Here, the music doesn’t start until 7pm, meaning peak sets are 1-4am, and the freezing nights and wankers-shouting-fueled late night anger of festival camping are replaced by a serene knackeredness which both breaks and energises those in attendance.
The second day continues in a similar vein, Diplo and Boyz Noise put in masterful displays on the ones and twos, the artificial builders merchant sand of the man-made beach adding to the Brazilian DJs best-bits set while searchlights add to the effect, sat atop the humungous cranes. Digitalism also impress, proving more than just bleep-pop also-rans as they dominate main stage activities. The final day is an odd affair, opposite to the previous days, the music starts relatively early with many people descending for the day, doubtless drawn in by Oasis’ name at the top of the bill. Patrick Wolf delivers an impressive display, his stocks (which do in fact exist, he’s backed by Band Stocks) rise as he poses, pounces and prances around the stage in giant black wigs and backed by his increasingly glorious catalogue of pop songs. Various DJs continue to capture the weekend’s spirit, everyone still in seemingly good mood as the only sun of the festival appears. Oasis, for their part, put in an excellent, strangely professional and incongruous display. Along with the usual jibes about Manchester and laddish stuff, Gallagher junior shouts something about playing at Legoland and the band deliver a tight, wide-ranging and ultimately satisfying set. Devoid of the crap that has made going to see them in the UK an unappetising prospect – the piss throwing, chav presence, massive waits to get a spot – this was the best place to see an ace who are, realistically, still capable of putting on a great, enjoyable show. Even if it does involve lots of loud, shouty Swedish blokes.
A truly international festival, Melt! is a gem of an event, full of fun, intrigue and individuality, it’s well worth a flight out. Next year promises to be even better, with the event looking to expand even further size and acts-wise. Pack your muddy dancing shoes in anticipation.
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Monday, 6 July 2009
Released on a label rumoured to be run by the charity shop vinyl-addicted spirits of Buddy Holly and various bearded sea monsters, the record bleeds passion, a sense of assurance and the ability to pull off wearing a flat cap in style.
Cockatoo kicks off with a fairground waltzer into before singer Angi Fletcher kicks into a vocal with flecks of Kim Deal and the ability to perfectly reflect the off-kilter, staccato rhythms of the song. Flipside Skit sees James Finlay take up the vocal reigns over a hypnotic, driving bassline. The band have received some excellent coverage from Steve Lamacq, our friends over at Stool Pigeon and the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage, and good luck to em.
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
This latest offering from the frankly pioneering jazzy funk label Tru Thoughts is almost too cool for school. Shapes featuring the likes of Quantic, Nostalgia 77 and Bonobo this collection is an earwatering array of aural delights taking a laid back approach to blowing the listener away. Starting off solidly with some soul diva type musings in the shape of The Bamboos, it’s really in the drifting offerings of the Unforescene (with the glorious Phil King, not the ginger ex-Wednesday player though), the shimmering Jint with Laura Vane offering beautiful vocals and Felvans whose tune, Mad Perks, that some serious talent is on show. A label this good shouldn’t rightfully exist, but we’re damn happy it does.
Elsewhere on the Tru Thoughts, Kylie Auldist offers an interesting proposition in old style funk on her new record Made of Stone but her vocal is a little staid and too strong to be enjoyable at times and some nice brassy backing is slightly marred by her dominance across every song. At the other end of the scale, displaying the label’s diversity, Lizzy Parks releases Phonica (one of London’s finest magical musical outlets) favourite This and That, a folksome effort full of faraway stares and breathless vocals. Sparse at times Parks has the personality to carry an album which could easily drift by and, despite lacking rhythm at times, it’s an accomplished and promising second album from Parks.
And, to round it off, the label has released a summer special in the form of a covers album. Thus Alice Russell finally puts her Seven Nation Army cover to wax in astounding style, Quantic Soul Orchestra cover 4Hero and mix Mr Scruff classic Get a Move On; Jumbonics funk up the Strokes’ Last Nite hilariously and Nostalgia 77 forget about Dre in a cover of Eminem’s My Name Is… - it’s as funny as it is enjoyable, clever and a sign of label who can do no wrong it seems.
Sunday, 28 June 2009
Monday, 8 June 2009
ShadowPlay has a few long-term friends it likes to cross paths with, share staples and generally be traded for in the kind of free trade, papery agreement which would put the Doha round to shame.
Homelovin’, the decade-old brainchild of Amsterdam-dwelling Lancastrian artist Paul Haworth, is one such companion.
Paul has long written about offbeat music in a quirky style, usually in capitals. The tenth issue continues in the same rich vein musings on Kevin Rowland, Bruce Springsteen, the Replacements, the Music Tapes, Freddie Mercury, American Music Club, Josh T. Pearson, an essay by Bunny Poe, and a few drawings to accompany them.
Homelovin’ hasn’t changed much over the years: folded A4 pages, stapled together, a sky-blue cover, type-written, Paul talking about the records he's been listening to, shows he's seen and some of the unfinished thoughts that these have inspired.
The zine is personal, engaging, human –what fanzines are good for really – and in the writing it wishes to celebrate great artists who have put wonderful things into the world.
If you would like a copy it's €4/£3 + postage and you can pay through PayPal or bank transfer. For more details write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Tonight, Wolf is preceded by Yacht – a daunting, clever, strange and frustrating band from Portland. Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans make up the two piece which spent the entire set leaping up and down, enjoying impressively choreographed dance moves and shouting down their white microphones. In possession of, realistically, no more than three decent tunes Yacht go for the jugular, encouraging audience participation, constantly asking questions – there’s no way this was just an exercising in waiting for the main act with a presence in front of you. The force an opinion, one way or the other, and for this audience member it was nice attitude, live drummer please and learn to sing in tune.
Wolf himself enters the stage to an atmosphere not unlike that which a boyband might meet. Screaming girls jossle for position, men in gold sequined trousers (yes) vie to be seen by the figure in the middle of the stage dressed in a cape, jump suit and sporting what can only be termed a ‘Britney-mike’. The handsfree device causes Wolf problems throughout the set, constantly slipping but does not affect the sound and allows him to express himself in his unique, ostentatious manner. Rattle through hits from his most popular third record, The Magic Position and new album, The Bachelor out today that day on new label Bloody Chamber Music.
If Wolf is scarred by the inferences and jibes that have been made about his vast redirection in music (when first ShadowPlay reviewed him he was a lang-haired shy type who spoke through his stark violin) and bisexuality then he shrugs it off well. He mentions the media a couple of times and touchingly dedicates the rip-roaring set closer The Magic Position to ex-girlfriend Ingrid who used to live above the Camden Underworld just a few yards away from tonight’s venue, but he comes across as someone more than happy in their own skin and persona. Climbing up ladders, attacking his piano, praising his band (which includes Electric Soft Parade and Brakes guitarist Tom White sporting a dubious ‘tache) and gentle playing the dulcimer bathed in a spotlight Wolf is a multi-faceted, multi-talented chameleonic musical superstar of the type that Bolan or Bowie would be and are undoubtedly proud of. We’ll even forgive him for using the word ‘showbiz’.
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
Rock roadie and failed musician, Le Donk (Considine) has lived, loved and learned. Along the way he’s lost a girlfriend (Olivia Colman) and his life has turned to shit. But, he has found a new sidekick in up-and-coming Nottingham rap prodigy Scor-zay-zee (playing himself). With Meadows’ fly-on-the-wall crew in tow, Donk sets out to make Scor-zay-zee (and himself) a star…with a little help from the Arctic Monkeys… This low-budget rockumentary follows Le Donk and Scorz on their journey of a lifetime; it’s an unpredictable, irrepressible ode to spontaneous filmmaking – and to a burgeoning UK hip-hop talent.
Monday, 25 May 2009
From the moment you enter the tight, sweaty venue you can’t help but be inspired. The sheer volume of the zines, imported (and there are issues from all over Europe and beyond) or otherwise, is quite astonishing with some exhibitors carrying as many as 100 titles it seems.
Some personal highlights were the thick little blue bueaty which is Shebang zine, a new un to the zine from the South West, covering loadsa of ShadowPlay-faves in an intricate, personal style. Beat Motel was there in force also, with the excellent latest issue spearheading a stall featuring plenty of US and Australian zines, some of the You letters and some prison writings. Dead Trees and Dye (http://www.deadtreesanddye.com/) distro carry some great stuff, largely of the arty variety and now some ShadowPlay issues so snap em up. Ricochet Richochet also offer up some excitement of the punky variety with the Anarchists Teapot supplying some tasty cakes too.
Thursday, 14 May 2009
It’s always worth the trip up to Kilburn to the charming Luminaire with its ‘sshhh, we didn’t come to hear you talk to your mates’ type signs and canny nack of snapping up the kinda mid-sized acts with enough of a name and plenty of intrigue to draw in plenty of punters.
Marissa Nadler is one such. Since she released her third album, Songs III: Bird on the Water, in 2007 her name has slow crept through folky-fingertips worldwide an, as the ethereal Nadler takes the stage it’s easy to see why. An instantly likeable character Nadler promptly commands the attention of the entire audience, putting them in instant silence, something they stay in – trance like for the rest of the set.
Playing largely from Bird... and her new album Little Hells the songs are undulating and interesting. Kicking off with Diamond Heart, sinking into her voice like pebble into sinking sand, and continuing to offer the kind of soaring, heartfelt saddened-tinged vocal that is so easy to get wrong but Nadler nails spot on. She’s not afraid have a little fun too have a ‘covers time’ featuring Neil Young’s hit Lonesome Me, which she adds a new, even more plaintive angle too. Marissa Nadler is incredible talented, sings beautiful songs and, unfortunately for us, won’t be playing venues of the Luminaire’s size forever.
Sunday, 10 May 2009
So, he bounds in with Being Happy Doesn’t Make You Stupid – something I totally agree with as cheerful prose can often come across as irritating when really, why not? I know it’s not very English though – Do the Indie Kid and It Only Works Because You’re Here. In true Hibbett style they’re great stories – French mid-90s discos, dancing at weddings and broken computers leading to romance, you know the score. Elsewhere we get the glorious My Boss Was in an Indie Band Once and One of the Walls of My House Fell In which are both as much for fans of a good story tape as a tune. Hibbett’s always adjustable, cheery vocal can sometimes get a little over the course of a whole record but some beautiful work from his Validators, namely Tom ‘Tiger’ McClure in particular make this as enjoyable, original and funny a record as the comic legend has produced so far.
[A book of all the lyrics and the story behind each song is also available and an engaging read]
Saturday, 9 May 2009
This is an interesting effort given the herd of singles that previous albums have offered, notably the success of All Night Disco Party and several other from debut Give Blood. Touchdown offers no less in terms of tune but, where before it was hammering the peddle with a hot trainer, it’s more of a leisurely summer ride in a regal carriage. Tracks such as Crush on You and Do You Feel the Same? steer the listener into a dreamier space than ever before offering something different from Brakes’ trademark swagger.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Plus One are a team of like minded, music enthusiasts, not connected to any group, organisation or venue headed by Pete & Faith who work tirelessly to keep the site interesting and updated. Reviewers, photographers, interviewers, gig goers, all the writers do it for the same reason - the love of music in all its forms.
If you wish to get in touch, just visit the site here.
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
Monday, 4 May 2009
Richards has renewed her feedback-friendly ties in teaming up with Rick Parker, producer for the Von Bondies and BRMC among others, though there is little sign of this in the clean, crisp presentation here. The singer-songwriter from San Francisco uses a mix of strings, piano and most evidently a softly played yet ever-present acoustic to create a the kind of misty, sunlit record which could easily drift by but thankfully gets caught on a rock. It’s true it would be very easy for Richards’ often fully-stretched vocal chords wash over you without impression but distinctive hooks on the likes of breathless, lifeboat and first single early November confirm her place as an intriguing and endearing songstress and I have the feeling the best is yet to come.
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Originally a duo, F&M are a four-piece live band backed, throughout the set, by a big screen displaying patterns, words and pictures made up of dice. It’s all very impressive, and quite engaging, and makes up for the band’s lack of stage presence. It is this which holds the key to a gig full of little hooks and signs of greatness which faded away as lead singer David Best continued to stare at the floor. Either extremely shy or extremely arrogant (one suspects the former) the band’s refusal to acknowledge the crowd or create anything that the clearly partisan audience can up the gears with is incredibly disappointing.
There’s no doubt Fujiya & Miyagi have some tunes. Ankle Injury, Photocopier and Cassettesingle present some of the finest moments tonight with the krautrock element coming to the fore. F&M are true builders (ok, well not in a bum’n’The Sun way no) – they lay the foundations, bring in some heavy drumbeat - then accelerate picking up a well-known phrase or rhyme (including the Funny Bones headbone connecting to the neckbone one…) along the way. There’s no way they’re not good enough for a venue of Cargo’s size, or equally the adoring following, put if you’re gunna throw a party don’t forget to enjoy it yourself.
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
Hillsborough, Sheffield Wednesday
A spiritual home of sorts some of the best afternoons of my life have been spent in the blue plastic seats of S6. All those names, few of quality calibre, to pass before my eyes on the programme – some heroes Carbone, Di Canio, Hirsty, Pressman, Brunt, McGovern, MacLean and some error-ridden but loveable – Bullen, Peaks, Di Piedi. A few times I’ve looked at the Leppings Lane end from the Kop and thought about all those people gasping for air down there and I’m appalled at myself for coming to this place for something so futile. But it’s an age gone by and soon I’m up and complaining about a foul throw or a bad pass and I realise it’s just a place of passion.
Offhand comment you may think but really, as with many disasters, some bad decisions, some indecisive ones, and the passion, which allows football to be the great game it is, prove some of the causes. Rest in peace to those who lost their lives.
Sunday, 12 April 2009
Ok, so not a great piece of photography but it nicely encapsulates Mariam Wallentins' passion during The Wildbirds and the Peacedrums' glorious sweaty set at the Luminaire in Kilburn on Tuesday. An excellent mix of steel drums, Swedish shouting and heartfelt, endearing. Investigate.
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Morecambe and Wise, Mark and Jez, Cannon and Ball, Richard and Judy – seminal combinations I’m sure you’ll agree and some of them you wouldn’t really have imagined (though a twitchy shoplifter and a boozy flasher were always a decent bet for union) – tonight is one such. Touched, as I’m sure many a listener in this country has been, by the pure rhythmic beauty of Tinariwen, the scale at which words which I’m the first to admit I don’t understand at all, can affect you so much was probably what drew Tunng to this glorious meeting.
As previously documented in ShadowPlay Tinariwen were a group of travelling nomads in Saharan Africa with many of their songs, including those on the beautiful Radio Tisdas Sessions, birthed in these dusty surroundings. Championed in the UK by dubious genius Andy Kershaw Tinariwen have built quite a following over here and could doubtless have sold tonight’s gig at the impressive Koko in Camden out alone. But their partnership with folktronica darlings Tunng confirmed the gig’s place in the hearts and buzz of all the self-respecting pretentious vaguely arty nerds (I’m nothing if not modest) of the time.
And it doesn’t disappoint, with the first few songs played by Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni (guitar, vocals), Eyadou Ag Leche (guitars, bass guitar, vocals) and Said Ag Ayad (percussion, vocals) alone you start to panic, maybe I misread the poster? Maybe they’re not playing together afterall? But then Tunng bounce on to the stage, clearly excited at the end of a tour which has seen them wow nationwide. Tinariwen largely oblige on lead guitar and percussion while Tunng offer up backing vocals and, well twiddly bits, on the former’s songs. For the most part it’s the Algerians who dominate the set (incidentally fine by me, I very much like Tunng but they’re capable of washing over in a way their stage-mates seem incapable of) with some choice cuts from their last outing Aman Iman: Water Is Life with Mano Dayek and Matadjem Tinmixan proving particularly incredible with Tunng’s Becky Jacob’s providing surprisingly accurate (to the record) backing vocals. It’s an experiment for sure, sometimes songs trail on a little too long, sometimes Alhousseyni becomes obsolete and goes offstage but Mike Lindsay, Tunng’s frontman shows such exuberance and excitement about the night that permeates through the crowd. The highlight has to be Lindsay’s interpretation of Tinariwen’s love of listening to metal – a two minute rock-out pretending to hit screaming solos on his acoustic guitar providing laughs all round. An adventurous project, fully pulled off, let’s hope they get something down on record.
Sunday, 5 April 2009
As an outsider in London sometimes I forget quite how diverse its population is, which I know the majority of people are and that’s kinda the point. What I hadn’t really thought about is the subsequent affect on the city’s music scene which can happily host a two-day festival of French music at Cargo with an enraptured and good-sized audience in attendance.
Titi Robin kick-off in the opening night in the shape of an accordion player, Titi Robin himself playing every string from mandolin to guitar, and his ab-fab drummer. The ponytailed percussionist spends the hour-long set thumping the box he’s sitting on, attacking the skins with his elbows, kneading the bongos – it feels like a struggle and a fight with the instrument but sounds like the opposite. It’s a sight to behold and one that is only distracted from by the perfect interplay between the gypsy-ish twinges of the guitar and accordion’s mini-duel (literally, at one point they mimics each other’s tones and try to better them).
Enter singer Maria into the fray, full of evangelical charm (she crosses herself on alighting the stage), imploring the listener (unfortunately ShadowPlay is in the ten per cent in attendance who do not understand her words) and dancing. But not just swaying, it’s stylised, full speed and, as she chases her hands across the stage back and forth, undeniably Indian-influenced. An unexpected wonder.
Soha may already be known to you. Savvy, chique, sexy and soulful she’s a PR man’s dream, her sultry tones offering nothing if not passion, verve and, most importantly, a versatility that’s astonishing. One minute she’s relaxing into her smooth tones, pulling the audience, literally, forward with her brown eyes. The next she’s skanking, full of reggae empowerment, putting hands in the air and shouting “the show is for you, enjoy”. An incredible spectacle that breaks far beyond the clumsy, patronising term of ‘world music’ which I doubt will be shaken off for some years to come. Luckily, neither will Soha.
Anyway, I don’t usually do this, but don’t just take my words for it listen here.
You can thank me later…
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
The advent of the so-called ‘summit’ brings mixed feelings to ShadowPlay towers. On a personal note I have family who work in the City (who aren’t greedy wankers but hard-working people by the by) and do not, as you or I do not, deserve to have to face possible violence merely to journey to work and return.
But really the protests, and the boarding up of every building in sight in the City, are indicative of how wrong it is possible to get things. To make things clear I agree with many of the issues being raised by the protestors on an incredibly large range of issues from human rights, nuclear disarmament, anti-war and even the pretext the summit is based upon – fiscal policy. The idea of protestors playing a giant game of Monopoly outside the London Stock Exchange is perfect, smashing windows, attacking people and getting involved in altercations, however innocently, with police is not. The line between protestors and anarchists is a thin one easily crossed and, although it proved ultimately ignored, the fact one million people marched to try to stop the UK entering Iraq in 2003 showed how to protest in a way that was universally noticed and astonishingly disregarded. To put it into context as a young man from Nottingham it’s not too hard to imagine a scenario where a drunk bloke in a short-sleeved shirt is drunkenly shouting at me outside a Yates’ and then smashes something. Now, am I more or less likely to listen to him than the still drunk but talkative bloke at the bus stop causing no harm? Transpose the boozers with the protestors and you see that smashing up the Starbucks opposite the RBS building near Liverpool Street (that’s my bet for taking a beating) is of little use.
With more than 2,000 protestors set to march on the Square Mile tomorrow I would just say that direct action does not necessarily lead to direct action – given the barrage of words Those of the Overblown Egos in the G20 are used to dealing with – maybe fight them at their own game. That soapbox is quite unsightly, let’s get back to the music…
Thursday, 26 March 2009
Material tonight comes largely from last year’s The Camel’s Back and 2006’s The Only Thing I Ever Wanted with delights such as Tricycle and The Monster Song enriching the quirky verve of the set. Typical eletronica style soundscapes are added to by much more natural sounds with Psapp – the two violin approach adds an immediacy to the tracks not found on record while made up instruments such as the boneafone, made up of bones procured from butchers by bluffing about non-existent dogs, add a 'unique' element to the night.
Love & Rockets,