Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Likey Some Lykke Li?

There seems to have been a real buzz around the release of Lykke Li's new single this week and quite rightly so, as having listened to it, it is instantly infectious with a new edge to her dulcet yet powerful vocals.

'Get Some' is the first single from the soon to be released second album and it is every bit as good as tracks like 'I'm good, I'm gone' and 'Little Bit'  from her 2008 debut 'Youth Novels'.

Launching in to an unrestrained drumbeat and a clamoring chorus for this invigoratingly catchy track, Li exudes confidence and control in her bid to reclaim words like 'prostitute' in her lyrical attack on gender politics. Lykke is the authority in this with the dominating theme;

'Don't turn away, this is my time,
Don't make demands, I don't take none,'

And following this with a complete turning on its head of who is the prostitute and who is doing the 'giving and taking' in this musically charged confrontation with the line,

'I'm your prostitute, you gon' get some'

Without getting too fixated with the words though, this is a great come back from the Swedish songstress and I'm very muchly looking forward to adding this album to my ever growing Nordic biased collection of late. The feisty 'Get Some' contrasts well to the more chilled b-side 'Paris Blue' and both can be downloaded for free on her website...


It will be interesting to see the official video for this single when it comes out but for now, here's one that so far hasn't been taken down from Youtube, fingers crossed,  but if the label tight arses do remove it, you can hear it here...  NME's ten tracks you have to hear this week

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Latest band crush - Man Like Me

'Oh My Gosh', Man Like Me have been my ‘band crush’ since seeing them live a couple of weeks ago at Chazzstock. Front man Johnny Langer is such a bonkersly brilliant entertainer and these guys really stood out in the line up, if for nothing else than making an entrance on stage with Lidl shopping bags! 

Now becoming part of the commercial machine, they have done a quite fabulous poppy cover for the current Ikea advertisement.

There’s been some ‘handbags at dawn’ in the youtube comments as to whether it’s better or worse than the original 1980 Jona Lewie hit, but who care’s really? I don't know the original but the appearance of Lewie himself in the video validates it for me. An Ikea advertisement may not be the ‘height of cool’ but hopefully this will give them some exposure and get them signed to a record label, someone please?

These North London boys are just so brilliant and not really what I would normally listen to especially with the two tone trumpet thing going on in some tracks but this is such a hooky pop cover of the original Lewie track and all their songs are packed with dark humour. Also check out ‘Oh my Gosh’ and ‘London Town’ for some more Burberry baseball cap comedy genius mixed up with some brilliant synchronised dance moves. 

Anyone that can entertain me for four minutes singing about fruit has to be something special, 'Donut' and 'Single Dad' just oddly draw you into a newbie band who are definitely about to make some noise.  Man Like Me have to been seen live to fully appreciate them...Oh and more people need to hear their ‘These New Knights’ Ou Est Le Swimming Pool cover too if anyone’s looking.

'Roll up, roll up' for this live in session clip of 'Fruit'...lovelovelove them!


Image: Man Like Me: taken at Chazzstock by me

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

In many ways,’ Her Fearful Symmetry’ is a classic ghost story expressing the basic human need to stay in touch with deceased loved ones, alongside echoes of the horror of such tales as 'Frankenstein'.

All set around the majestically gothic Highgate Cemetery and the premature death of Elspeth, the fragility of two virginal twin girls' story in a strange country is interspersed with obsession on many levels. Martin and his fearful compulsive rituals, grieving lover Robert with his need to stay around Elspeth’s ghost and Julia’s dependency and control over the weaker twin Valentina are portrayed brilliantly.

There are hidden family secrets and the portrayal of the darker side of humanity within the basic need to continue to live/exist on some level after death at any cost. Jealousy and desperation for personal freedom from earthly and unearthly entrapment are familiar themes for Niffenegger, at her best known for pulling readers into quite ‘unbelievable’ stories woven in with every day experience and pressure of human relationships.

I enjoyed Niffenegger’s debut ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’, once I got over the American spelling of 'Traveler', how up tightly English of me; however, I was prepared for mixed feelings with her second novel as I found the ending to this first effort of hers dissatisfying. This book took on a similar feel, I loved parts and felt the pace became a little changeable with somewhat over sensational endings to some of the characters’ stories. However, the ultimate ending to this novel and Elspeth’s continued ‘existence’ was more satisfying on a karmic level and flawed the love that started the haunting.

It could just be me but the pace within Niffenegger’s novels seems too erratic with the story turning into a ‘mad rush’ towards the end, tying up loose ends of subplots at 100mph leaving me wondering if I missed something? I want to comment more on Valentina’s twice over ‘ending’ but can’t without a spoiler alert.

 The identical but mirrored twins, Julia and Valentina, seem to go on and mirror their mother and aunt, Elspeth and Edith, and fraught with the same struggles with dependency and interdependency. Many hints are given early on of a maternal confusion over the younger twins, this ‘muddle’ theme carries on from Niffenegger’s first novel. 


I’m not convinced that this writing tool of hers adds suspense or rather frustrating vagueness, I’m pretty sure some would have given up in the first few pages through sheer frustration at said ‘time and place’ confusion in 'The Time Traveler’s Wife', and with this one the ‘identity’ muddle and merging of essentially two humans locked in a battle striving for separation and ‘uniqueness’. I suppose it depends on the patience of the reader in that pull into these characters' stories.

The depiction of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and the pressure that puts on loved ones was very moving in the story of Martin and Marijke. Again, their ending seemed pulled together too swiftly, however their love story was the one I found the most sympathetic and real. The gothic melodrama of Valentina’s desperate measure to rid herself of her domineering twin Julia comes too late in comparison.

I found Elspeth and Edith’s estrangement a little unconvincing and was relieved that the ‘big’ secret was revealed as ‘not so buried’ towards the end. I was surprised, Niffenegger’s novels are hardly predictable, however I thought this part of the story would be much darker and chilling; where was the ‘fearful’ in the book's title?

Some of the deepening feelings amongst the main characters seem to be too rapid again, in particular Robert and Valentina. The horror of Valentina’s request and demise was suitably chilling and, call me cynical, would lend very well to another film adaptation and I did wonder if this was a consideration for the sudden ‘action’ at the expense of more detailed atmosphere in the final chapters.

Elspeth’s dark side is convincing and the possible explanations for her demise into it on the ‘other side’ were quite interesting if hard to digest from any sort of spiritual perspective. All in all, I liked the book but felt more aware of some of the details in this that didn’t ring true in comparison to 'The Time Traveler’s Wife'. I think to sum up completely, I liked both books equally but had the same minor criticisms with both at different points in each, mostly with the pace of the stories.

What I did absolutely love about the novel was the warmth in the description of  Highgate Cemetery.  In its detailed portrayal of the gothic Victorian beauty of one of London’s most famous places of the dead, this was told as a love affair in itself. The gaunt grief stricken Robert’s thesis and passion for telling the stories of those laid to rest within its gates were fascinating and could be a book in itself. The pre-Raphaelite Gabriel Rossetti and the story of the exhuming of Lizzie Siddal's grave strangely hints at the macabre twisted body ‘snatching’ from the Noble Mausoleum towards the end of the novel.

‘Her Fearful Symmetry’ is an enjoyable read, but does it have longetivity?  I'm not so sure... in comparison to Niffenegger's first acclaimed novel, I think it's on the same level if overlooking the sci-fi for the ghost story, the compelling element coming a little too late for me and taking on the speed of a soap opera for the final chapters.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Esben and the Witch, Our Broken Garden, Man Like Me

This week's main event has been a trip down memory lane to Camden and a night out at KOKO formerly Camden Palace. A great charity event night for the late Charlie Haddon was had at this fabulous London venue. I've already reviewed it here so won't go in to too much detail but for the final time, just go buy Ou Est Le Swimming Pool's fantastic debut 'The Golden Year', trust me on this!

This isn't just a music blog even though it's looking that way recently so do hunt around a bit on here...but for now, back to sounds again! I was so impressed with Man Like Me at this event, another promising band from Camden Town. I'm not sure I would buy the album, but 'live' they were very entertaining. Check out this in session youtube video. Their official videos are a bit cheap looking and don't do them justice them really...but newbies and unsigned, you kind of expect that. Keep an eye out for them.

I was also very impressed by KOKO, nicely red and black so aesthetically pleasing for me, they didn't over fill it for this charity gig, which was a relief after being almost squished to death watching Fever Ray at Bestival. Flashbacks to university days added to the nostalgia of remembering the indie club nights there, further enhanced by the annoying squeezy plastic pint glasses...classy! And I'm so 'un rock n roll' these days, I was just so happy to see bins for them!

Flicking through NME earlier, Esben and the Witch sprang out,  I wonder why this band have eluded me so far? Sounding very Siouxsie ish and kind of dark, I likey like them. Not the prettiest video in the world but making a point, their new single 'Marching Song' is a goody. Check it out...released on 11th October.


Another new discovery are Our Broken Garden, absolute gorgeousness and on my ever growing list of 'must have' albums...will be getting this along with Jonsi to overdose on the dreamy whimsy...enjoy!

Finally,  I was so pleased to get a tweet from Eddy Temple-Morris to say he liked my Chazzstock review.  Lots of tweet love for him for bothering to read it!

Good times!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Chazzstock - KOKO, 4th October


I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this night, a celebration, some difficult messages or a straightforward album launch for ‘The Golden Year’? 

All in all, it was all of that, a true Camden ‘knees up’ with celebratory euphoria intermingled with sadder moments; a real rollercoaster of emotions from the compare Eddy Temple-Morris and the artists on the bill. Without being overly melancholic, it was all in keeping with the fun loving side of Charles.

Joe Hutchison made it to the event and played keyboards for some of the records, albeit looking like he was struggling a bit. The other Ou Est band member Caan Capan, sadly but understandably didn’t put in an appearance.

 From the outset, this seemed an event that was so close to Charles’ death, when people would still be in the early days of grief; knocked together quickly with bands using lyric sheets for some of the performances, it was obvious there was a lot of love for Charles personally as well as for his song writing talent. Each band played one song from the fantastic album in track order at the great venue KOKO, formerly Camden Palace and a favourite nostalgic haunt for me.

The Golden Year's first track is fantastic but unfortunately  Mister Spandau Ballet, Tony Hadley, had stage fright for the opening song. Grumble, grumble from me as ‘You Started’ is one of my favourites and ‘ballad belter’ Tony could have pulled it off beautifully. He did manage ‘True’ and ‘Gold’ at the end but was the only artist that night not to do an Ou Est track which was a great shame!

Anyway, moving on from the shaky start, next up were The Kooks cue earth shattering squeals from the girls in the audience. Front man Kook was a good friend of Charles, they jammed together and their acoustic rendition of ‘The Key’ was really fabulous and very moving.

A lot of these bands did slower, more acoustic versions of the tracks which seemed to fit the occasion perfectly. The amount of artists playing really gave this four hour gig a festival atmosphere, and bands were moved on and off swiftly with the sounds of Kissy Sell Out’s expertise DJ set which included a lot of Florence.. hooray!

Next up were Man Like Me… school friends of Joe and Caan. There has been some  Camden band feuding through interview spats in the recent year between them and Ou Est, so how cool they turned up…and how good were they? Brilliant! What a fabulously bonkers frontman and I will be keeping an eye out for them now especially after their cover of ’These New Knights’ with synchronised dancing…genius!

Next up was Nat Jenkins and the reappearance of ‘kooky’ Luke Pritchard on stage. A bit of me was relieved it wasn’t Frankmusik with 'Dance The Way I Feel' at this point as that would have been a misty eyed nightmare and too sad.

Alex Starling, the lesser known fourth member of Ou Est came on for the next two tracks and did a wonderfully touching performance of ‘Outside’, piano and voice was all that was needed and for me showed Charles’ talent for song writing that these tracks sound great electronically, acoustically and for some of this tribute with heavy guitars.

 The next artist MPHO was bought on stage with the an ‘emotional alert warning’, this lady with the fantastic voice seemed close to Ou Est and before starting her tribute to Charlie, expressed her love for the boys and how much she missed them. She then went into ‘Running Up That Hill’ to the crowd's surprise but at Ou Est's request.

Such a great cover of a classic Kate Bush track and again just fitted in with the proceedings. And being a huge Kate Bush fan, happy happy me but again mixed with that sadness, the lyrics taking on yet more meaning. MPHO’s performance of ‘Jackson’s Last Stand’ was perfect and along with the hugely entertaining Man Like Me was a highlight of the evening.

Artist up next on the bill was Daisy Dares You doing a guitar heavy ‘Answers'. This is another favourite off of 'The Golden Year' for me and she did a great job. Being the only track on the album with main vocals from Caan, I was hoping he might do it, but sadly no.

 Ollie Wride did his eccentric glam rock interpretation of ‘Get Along’ to a pulsating crowd. Tribes and a special guest appearance of a mix up of The Vaccines and The Horrors came on stage before Mr Hudson, who got the crowd going again with his hit ‘Forever Young.

It was a fittingly 'Camden Town' party for these local boys and ended the night on a high intermingled with some poignant words from compare Eddy urging everyone to ‘talk’ more, particularly young men who currently are the most likely to take their own lives.

Stage fright less now, Tony Hadley came on to close, looking a bit lost without his Kemp brothers but managed to belt out ‘ True’ and ‘Gold’ to a happily high crowd. If Charlie was looking down, I’m sure he was dancing.

The night successfully and sensitively launched the Ou Est album and talent of Charles Haddon. Out of every tragedy, there can be some positivity and if pushing awareness forward of this new epidemic in young men for depression coupled with a celebration of creative talent, then that is the silver lining in all this. With wise words during the evening from compare and good friend of Charlie's, Eddy Temple-Morris, if just one life is saved with this plea for men to 'talk' more, then this tribute to a troubled musician has done its most important job.

To not release ‘The Golden Year’ would only have added to the tragedy. And so, with that in mind, I am looking forward to whatever Joe and Caan go on to do in their futures.

A tribute to the life of Charles Haddon who sadly died August 20th 2010…all proceeds going to the mental health charity MIND.


Images: taken by me at Chazzstock 2010

Friday, 1 October 2010

Fluffy goth kitties...

Well this week has been mostly centred around the arrival of 'Spooky' and 'Shadow'; they may look like beautiful accessories but honestly the rescue centre only had black kittens, I promise I won't make them into fluffy earrings! Of course they won't keep still for the camera and holding them whilst wearing black isn't helpful, look closely and you will see some little green eyes!

There's been no time for anything else...blog love x