Thursday, 28 February 2008

Breaking Hearts & Bones

pic by Max Knight

Having waited what seems like an eternity to see this London based five-piece, I managed to catch them twice in this glorious month.

Had they supported approximately 97.3% of the other bands in the UK, Video Nasties would have blown their headliners away, however they have the good/mis-fortune of being pals with the ridiculously talented Late of the pier.

Recordings just don't seem to do Video Nasties justice. Not to say that they aren't very good, quite the opposite, but it's a whole different ball game when you can hear the raw, often mesmerising vocals and the deep, rasping guitars being thrashed like their lives depended on it.

I've read some blogs and publications that have just tossed Video Nasties on the "been done before, and better" pile, which is a big error on their part. Coming back with fresh tunes since their Karl Blau EP, it seems the band have grown and developed their sound to a more mature and experienced approach, without losing their essence or edge, something which should be commended.

As cliché as it is, both times, I found myself being swept away by the sheer emotion of their sound, losing myself in the band's brutal and unrelenting delivery, and by the time set-closer Teenage Celebration is at it's end, I felt a spine-tingling high that only a handful of bands can conjur.

Having the good fortune to get hold of one of their tour demos, which includes all four of the songs which presently reside on their myspace profile, I thought I'd share a few....


RUN DMCA = Links removed.


Monday, 18 February 2008

Interview: The Joy Formidable

I have always loved it when I chance upon an ace new band via the good old fashioned medium of late night radio...

This is how I first heard The Joy Formidable - a fantastically noisy pop band based in London. Championed by the likes of Steve Lamacq, they have been getting loads of positive press and message board attention of late and recently played a blinding BBC6music live session for George Lamb.

I threw them a few questions about how life as The Joy Formidable is treating them and here’s what they had to say for themselves....

IT: As a new band journalists will always make comparisons to other more established acts. Which names have been cropping up in reviews etc, and are these ever true/relevant?
TJF: We've all got quite eclectic taste, so lots of influences - generally anything melodically pleasing, with a good beat.. that makes us happy. Music journalists will always try and find a comparison, the favourite at the moment is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs... for obvious reasons.. 3 piece, bowl-headed girl! , but musically, I think we're quite different... they're a good band though. The weirdest comparison we've had is to Bruce Springsteen, which flattering though it is, isn’t the most obvious analogy!! Maybe its Rhyds' onstage poise that did it!!

IT: Although you have a very poppy sound, you don’t really seem to entertain the traditional pop structure that much, which I really like. Are you all fans of both pop and more diverse music or are you divided? Was it a conscious decision to shape the music in this way, or was it simply just how they turned out?
TJF: I like your questions, very insightful!! I don’t think POP is something to shy away from, so many people think it’s a dirty word, but what we do naturally embraces pop ethos and we're proud of it. Saying that, we do have a bit of an internal struggle sometimes, but the results are what they are, and the blend works.

IT: Were any of you involved in other musical projects before TJF, and are any of you involved in anything musically/artistically outside of the band at the moment?
TJF: We've all been in bands, Rhyds and I have worked together for quite a few years, and then we met Justin about 8 months ago. Outside of the band, we're launching our remix label, which is really exciting... so watch out for that. Working with a great act Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs... I mean the name alone makes you prick up your ears!

IT: At times you guys have a huge sound considering there are only three of you, particularly the epic ending to ‘Austere’. Do you build the tracks up in the studio or are the recordings a reasonably true representation of your live sound?
TJF: It’s always a tricky one... matching live and recorded sound, and obviously you're a bit more limited in a 3 piece. I think we manage it really well, and even if the recordings are slightly more layered, you can make that up by sheer rawness and energy when you're performing.

IT: The live radio session that you did for BBC6 sounds great, how did you find that whole experience? Did you get to go to the Maida Vale BBC studios?
TJF: Thank you. We didn’t go to Maida Vale, it was recorded at the BBC 6 studios. The engineer was shit-hot, so we were really pleased with how it turned out, we had a good day and George Lamb was lovely, massively tall.. he probably doesn’t fit on TV!

IT: How have you found your live shows since the recent positive attention to TJF? I’m guessing busier!? Which gigs stand out as memorable or favourites?
TJF: It’s very early days but it’s great when people come to your shows knowing the tunes and are into the band. When you're unsigned, a lot of the time you’re playing to a new audience, who you hope will leave as fans! The last gig we did at Norwich Art Centre was a buzz, great audience and we saw the most beautiful shooting star shower on the way home... i just had to pull the car over and the 3 of us had quite a touching moment! big softies that we are!

"Austere" live on Channel M

IT: I suppse next up is the ‘Support Tour’, is there any particular band you’d like to tour with or think would be fun, or are you not too fussed?
TJF: Yeah, a tour support would be a treat... I love being on the road and I'd love to be gigging every night. If we had our pick, if only! A tour with The Flaming Lips would be a dream... how much fun would that be?! So Wayne, if you're reading this....

IT: Are you as a band at your happiest creating in the studio or chugging up the M1 in the back of a transit van?
TJF: No complaints here, both are very different but very lucky places to be.

IT: What do you enjoy when you aren’t doing band stuff? What are you reading/watching? Been to any good gigs of late
TJF: Lots of reading, I like biographies... reading Lorca's at the moment... films, good telly and lots of going out.
I went to see American Music Club last week, got a lot of respect for Mark Eitzel... very weird gig though, a bit crazy, great song writing though.

IT: Last month saw endless lists of hotly tipped and uber hyped ‘Bands For 2008’ etc. Are you into any of the new crop of new bands?
TJF: Always a funny one those hotly tipped lists, never go off what the "experts" say! I think Vampire Weekend will do well and MGMT. my tip... Sam Sparro I reckon.

IT: I understand you guys have re-located to London, was this for band related activities or did you just fancy a change? How are you finding it there?
TJF: It was a logistical decision really because Justin was living here and we were in Wales, so moving has made things a lot easier. We're having a good time, London’s being kind to us so far!

IT: Finally, what are your plans for the first TJF release, and indeed the rest of 2008?
TJF: We'll have a single out in April/May, we've got some touring planned and then a few festivals. Gonna just keep on doing what we do best!

The Joy Formidable have shows coming up in Lincoln and London this month, further details can be found on their myspace as well as three downloadable tracks which include the previously mentioned "Austere".


Wednesday, 6 February 2008

21 And 2 Days

So I've reached the ripe old age of twenty one years. Fresh from catching Late of the Pier on the start of their tour in Southampton, I'm back and raring to go. In reality, it's ten to eight in the morning on time of writing and I still haven't been to sleep from the night before. Hardcore or insomniac, you decide.

So here's what's been going on in my world...

I'm Not The Complaint Department

Previously mentioned in Liam's tips for 2008, Lykke Li's debut Youth Novels is a more understated affair than first thought.

While Little Bit is undoubtedly the stand out track, the rest of the album is hard to pin down in terms of sound. Flitting from the bubble-gum pop of fellow Swede, Annie to the sultry, seductive whispers of Jennifer Charles on Window Blues.

Whilst I still stand firm on the opinion that the current hype is out-weighing the goods, Lykke could have done a lot worse, and Youth Novels shows she has more strings to her bow than most have so far given her credit.

Lykke Li - Window Blues
Lykke Li on iTunes

Susan, The Truth Is...

Another album that's been on repeat during the ridiculous ammount of train journeys I undertake each month is Trouble In Dream by Vancouver artist Destroyer.

The main project of occasional The New Pornographers collaborator Dan Bejar. He has released eight albums under the Destroyer moniker, just over half of which have been through Merge Records.

Despite having proclaimed his own style as being "European Blues", it's obvious when listening, that Bejar takes influence from more indie/shogaze roots than that of blues.

Also noteworthy is Bejar's other project Swan Lake, a sort of Canadian uber indie menage-a-trois consisting of himself, Carey Mercer of Frog Eyes and Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, and Frog Eyes.

Destroyer - Dark Leaves From A Thread
Pre-order Trouble In Dream on Amazon

Some Like It Hot

It's now almost fourteen hours later and I've found the time to finish this post. I'll end on a weird and wonderful note as I came across this album at random and it's one of the most strange albums I've ever heard. Let's Go Everywhere by Medeski Martin and Wood (aka MMW).

Starting out their careers in 1991 as an acoustic jazz outfit, New York trio John Medeski, Billy Martin and Chris Wood have come a long way in terms of style and experimentation.

Let's Go Everywhere is more experimental and less jazz than previous works, sampling children reciting nursery rhymes and providing vocals for some of the other songs.

It takes a particularly lighthearted turn from it's dark and more accessible predocessor, 2004's End of the World Party (Just in Case). Of which the title track was featured on US tv show Grey's Anatomy according to Wikipedia.

Featuring songs about pirates, cats, cakes and trains, this is full of nostalgia and could almost be the soundtrack to a new Pixar film. It's all about fun and childhood adventure, each track calls upon an individual fond memory or experience. Well worth a listen, even if it's just out of curiosity.

Medeski Martin and Wood - Pirates Don't Take Baths
MMW Store