Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Oodles of Good Music This Week...

Ladytron, Niki & the Dove, Get People topped with some Crystal Fighters and Creep remixed by Planningtorock...

I love this new one from pop's most melancholy; so much so, I will be making up words here, there and everywhere. Simply gorgeousness.

Having fallen out of love with Ladytron of late, I found the last two releases underwhelming to say the least; 'Ambulances', however, is just beatific, so not being one to hold a grudge, enjoy below.

Its spooked up beats, a touch of ' Creep', spine chillingly the closest pop comes to dystopia with the help of some angelic vocals to lift you out of devastation. Melodramatic? Me? Never! It's rather good so have a listen right now, it builds and builds to an unearthly climax...maybe gravity will seduce me after all?

And fingers crossed for a dubtron/ladystep remix please, anyone from Bristol reading? It probably won't happen as they seem to be the most universally ignored band in the mainstream of the last goodness knows how long. From Gravity the Seducer, due out September 2011 it seems, that could change though.

Niki & the Dove...again! It's lovefest for these Swedes.

The Niki & the Dove EP is finally with us and it's such a lovely teaser for any future album from the Swedish duo Malin Dahlstrom and Gustaf Karlof.

This is 'Kate Bushing' out in places, you can imagine Malin doing the bonkers wide eyed dancing in some sort of strange leotard while singing 'cross on your doorstep'.

Having seen Niki & the Dove live recently, Malin is working the Kate magic at times, although not in an irritating way. Soundclouding below is the perfection of 'Gentle Roar'.  Remixed by Mylo, it is the B-Side to the rather fab, 'The Fox', I much prefer this pure version, mostly as you can feel the drumming and magic of her unusual vocals.

My only criticism is, 'Where are the videos?' Let's see you please, or at least do something arty in the same vein as 'DJ Ease My Mind' which I can still put on repeat and be wowed at the trapeze bonkersness that looks so perfectly choreographed (decades before).

   Gentle Roar by subpop

Along with this gem another new one 'Somebody' has popped up on youtube, it's rather too retro for me but jumpy here to have a listen to its drum machine madness. It may transport you back to a Brat Pack film soundtrack, if you so wish. Maybe it will be a grower, 'The Fox' took a little while too and now I love it.

And now some new love for 'Get People' with a couple of tracks, 'Rain Tears' and 'Careless'...and a super cool Crystal Fighters remix.

Having toured with my other faves Crystal Fighters, I had to check them out really. Serendipitously, I heard them on the radio later that evening as a little prompt and then bumped into this Crystal Fighters remix online, happy happy days.

So they are a trio from London called Casper, Dom and Martin and they, very simply, Get People with their music. They push buttons, make rather nice noise and rain tears so have a little listen below. They fuse sounds in a similar way to the Crystals; indie womad style electro bangers with some dub, not afraid to mix things up a bit basically.

And the very lovely Crystal Fighters flawless remix is soundclouding now too, soooo much love for them.

   Get People - Rain Tears (Crystal Fighters Remix) by Crystal Fighters

As much as I like the whole idea of raining tears, Careless below from last year's double A-side with Odyssey makes me feel careless and I'm usually very careful; it's perfect, this lot are definitely worth keeping an eye for so go grab that EP on July 11th.

Click below for something beautiful and blissed out...

I love these girls too.

If you like some super weirded out electro, this is a Witch House collaboration of eeriness... those Creep girls need no help with the the strange and supernatural in their music, however this is worth a listen. 'You' originally featuring Nina Sky, remixed by the prosthetic wearing, gender trickster Planningtorock *shudder*.

Related Links: 


Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Japanese Popstars : Controlling Your Allegiance

So it seems Robert Smith is all about 'dance' again, first with the fab 'Not in Love' alongside Crystal Castles and now with the very cool Japanese Popstars (who are actually the trio of clever knob twiddlers, Gary Curran, Declin McLaughlin and Gareth Donoghue, from Northern Ireland)

There's now a full version available to listen so reblogging it along with some more information on The Popstars and their latest offering. 'Take Forever' has a foot stomping bass line and some reverberating chimes to pop it up and deliver something that will appeal to fans of electronic and indie music, and most likely the original Cure fans. It's that signature Smith melancholic tone with some dance beats which worked so well on the Castles track too.

Recently signed with Virgin, the second album 'Controlling Your Allegiance', due to be released June 21, is an array of guests including the aforementioned Cure frontman, Editors Tom Smith, Morgan Kibby of M83 and a rather hooky collaboration with Green Velvet.Tom Smith's big voice lends surprisingly well to a dance track too and comes with lush synths and an interesting, partially King Kong inspired animated video. I love these unexpected collaborations...The Japanese Popstars are successfully hanging on to established fans from 2008's debut, 'We Just Are' and picking up a few more along the way.

With some pretty cool club remixes including Editors 'Papillion' and Mode's 'Peace', their reworking of Daft Punk's 'Arena' for the 'Tron: Legacy Reconfigured' and the current album 'Controlling Your Allegiance', these guys have fingers in many pies so worth keeping an eye/ear/everything out for in future.

Just relax and let go...

Must Listens:

Take Forever
Let Go

Related link:

The Japanese Popstars official site 

Monday, 13 June 2011

Spring Awakening: UK Tour (spoilers)

So what to do on a Friday night in South East London? A few hundred years ago, I worked in Greenwich Theatre to subsidise my degree in debt, well English Literature really before becoming a grown up and teaching English. It was kind of odd going back there after all this time, especially as my stand out memory was the rather 'hands on'  manager, urgh, hopefully he was sentenced to compulsory removal of his hands for crimes against young bar staff.

Anyway, for local theatres, it's not a bad evening out, certainly not West End and the bar area does resemble a cellar (fine in a dimly lit nightclub but I did expect it to be a bit plusher, let's blame Tory cuts to Art funding) but an intimate atmosphere with friendly house staff.  I didn't really research the play that much, it was all a bit last minute and I may have thought twice if I'd know it was a rock musical (eeek) however, it was good and it was packed, with young people no less.

Melchior and Wendla

On thinking I was going to have a more highbrow evening than of late, there was loud music, masturbation, bare breasts, foul language and suicide, I may as well have been at festival!

So specifics, 'Spring Awakening' is a play about the coming of age, a revival of the hit Broadway musical from the company 'Sell a Door'. It is inspired by the German playwright Frank Wedekind's scandalous piece from 1891 about a group of teens bought up by extremely prudish parents. Yes 'Footloose' I hear you say, it was rather, but nowhere near as naff, it even had a touch of  'Dead Poet's Society' in it for me, which unfortunately meant in the interval I predicted the young wildheart's demise by shot gun after a domineering father's bark of 'failure'.

US Broadway poster

My only criticism is that the words were sometimes hard to decipher in the female lead's singing and due to late booking, a pair of opera glasses would have been useful (and not pretentious at all of course). I can't decide if the semi nudity of Wendla was gratuitous, maybe a little? The male lead Melchior, in contrast, had sex without even undoing his trousers. A love scene later between two men was sort of awkwardly directed and added to this inequality.

Having said that, some great acting, wonderfully directed overall, I  loved the young people depicted as headstones towards the end that gave it all a supernatural and tragic feel.  A true representation of the pitfalls of not being open with your children about sexuality and the urges that suddenly hit you and confuse, the dark side of  'Inbetweeners'. The original play of 1891 must have been very forward thinking and Wedekind's production was unsurprisingly highly censored back then. A definite tale of  the hazards of repression and ignorance backed by some erm? prog rock?

Cast featured Jonathon Elo ( Oh haha ELO, yes it was a bit) as Melchior and Victoria Serra  as Wendla with support from a brilliant young cast, Jill Armour, James Benn, Dan Buckley, Billy Cullum, Natalie Green, Jess Mack, Anna McGarahan, Zachary Morris, Dale Page and Jane Stanton. On Broadway, the musical won 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Direction, Best Book and Best Score. More tours to come I'm sure.

I will definitely return to Greenwich Theatre in future, just call me luvvie. There's also a nice, friendly gay bar next door if you're a girl and want a drink after the play without getting any unwanted attention.

Sell a Door's Spring Awakening Tour INFO
Greenwich Theatre

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Kitty, Daisy and Lewis... and some Vek.

Kitty, Daisy and Lewis are siblings from North London and mostly stuck in rockabilly time. For this track, they have strayed into ska'dom and their latest offering 'I'm so sorry'... well basically I like it. Ska isn't something I normally get into but these girls vocals are pretty fabulous, perhaps that's won me over.They record everything using ribbon microphones and analogue tape formats to keep it all 'authentic', some might argue pretentious, I think they are pulling it off though.

Their album 'Smoking in Heaven' came out at the end of May, check it out if you haven't already. 'I'm so Sorry' is a double A-side single, jump here for the other track, be prepared to time travel back to the 1950's on listening and be impressed as they are all barely out of school.

Who the hell is Tom Vek?

It's been all about straying from the path I mostly take with music recently. Over the last few weeks, the name Tom Vek has been bandied about like he's' the second coming', so of course, I've ignored it stubbornly until I heard 'World of Doubt' and thought 'Oh what's this?' Damn, now I can't ignore him, the nerdy bespectacled, 'everything he touches is apparently cool' man. I can't decide if I like the video but  I do like the's reminding me of the Violent Femmes vocally from way, way back.

'We know that you are beautiful, we know that you are true'

And another from the current album Leisure Seizure is 'A Chore'. This is a better video despite the skinny fit yellow jeans that momentarily blinded me, let's hope they stay in the past. Apparently Tom was missing in musical action for a number of years, now he's back...enjoy!

The Girl and The Wolf

This short animation made by Button Films based on the fable by James Thurber is just charmingly creepy with a twist, maybe a predictable one, but morbidly cute.  Thurber an American humorist wrote fables until his death in the same style as Greek writer Aeosop illustrating human dilemmas.

Indeed the not so innocent Red Riding Hood changes into a hoodie and carries a lethal weapon in her bag. The only change James Button made from Thurber's fable is her choice of weapon.  I can't resist.The moral of this tale being; 'It is not as easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be'.

'Behind Closed Doors' is another animation nasty from Button Films that caught my eye. The little boy, Gregory, wrestles with the monster in his closet and the monster that is the drunk that beats his mother, again with a twist of what's within and the dilemma of  what's behind a closed door. Go to your room! 

Related Posts: 

Humanity and Nature in Animation
The Praying Machine

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Polly, People, Planning and Popstars...

I've been finding it hard to find the time to blog with other writing going on, teaching tiddlypeeps and life basically soooo going to merely share some tunes I lovelovelove this week. For those wondering and emailing me, 'A Room of Her Own' is now 'Melodee Writes' as this is how I get linked on most other sites and it matches the URL so for consistency reasons, I'm embracing 'Melodee'.

Seems a vague reference to Virginia Woolf is, well, too vague (an age old accusation for me and clearly I'm from another planet), plus I have pseudonyms online already to befuddle... I sort of like that.

So track number one from Polly.  She's a Queen.

 PJ Harvey has overwhelmingly amazed everyone with her latest album 'Let England Shake' and this is my personal fave. Only she could make a series of 12 short films with Seamus Murphy of every track on the album and get away with it. I don't want to be a superfan and blog every one so here's my choice 'In the Dark Places'...very old skool Polly so adore it.

'We got up early, washed our faces, walked the fields and put up crosses'

...simply genius snapshots of England, every day life and acceptance of war and violent imagery centred around institutionalised religions. It's quite an intense album with uncomfortable moments, you could write a dissertation but I'm not going to...listen and watch below.

Let's have a cheery 'Indie Cindy' moment with Foster The People.

'Pumped up Kicks' has been knocking around online since last summer and finally it's on the radio constantly, well radio I listen to anyway...a summery anthem no less. The Los Angeles trio use a combination of guitar and electronics to produce some great tunes that resonate with the indie pop sound of bands like MGMT. It's instant and hooky and definitely a band to keep an eye out for.  Laze around with them and keep it filed next to indie poppits like The Naked and Famous or The Temper Trap. The video captures the energy of the song, lighthearted yet with the angst of teenage uncertainty in the lyrics. Let's hear you attempt that whistle.

Taken from the self titled EP released back in January, jump here to their website to listen to the other tracks and check out the forthcoming album, 'Torches'.

And now for weirdy electro, my favourite kind...

'Don't be surprised if I'm ripping out my eyes'. Watch this video and you might just join her but if you like something a little left field, frankly rather odd, you certainly won't be ripping your ears off too. 
Planningtorock is Janine Rostron, Bolton lass, now residing in Berlin and hanging out with The Knife, certainly an interesting concoction.

Casting minds back to early 2010, Planningtorock was collaborating with The Knife along with Mt Sims on the rather fab Darwinist Electro Opera 'Tomorrow, In a Year'; a mergence of art, theatre and electro and much love here for the bonkers brilliance of 'Colouring of Pigeons'. On her solo project, Planningtorock is unsurprisingly churning out more of this unique brand of fearless and forward thinking electronica on the mysteriously titled 'W'.

Not unlike the electro queen Karin Dreijer Andersson, she hides her face and physicality with strange masks and prosthetic, warps her voice making a pulsating track that is beautifully awkward and eccentric.

This lady likes to experiment with gender, vocally and visually her artistic approach seems to question specifics, leaving you wondering 'he or she?' at times. It seems she is taking away any pre conceived limitations surrounding issues of sexual identity and making music, not dissimilar to the work of AustraCreep and Fever Ray.

The album has moments where you question what you're listening to but cleverly draws you into the alternative existence of Planningtorock. Experimental, haunting, occasionally startling (ahem, saxophone), this is a collection of tracks with atmospheric instrumentation. Jump to soundcloud here where it's being streamed.

Finally some gothed up electro from The Japanese Popstars, kind of.

First it was Crystal Castles and now the present day cuddly Robert Smith has done guest vocals with the very cool Japanese Popstars who are actually Irish. I heard this over the weekend, it's not out until next week and this youtube link is a little, erm, jumpy in places but have a listen for a taster if you liked his earlier collaboration in the dancy electro scene with the 'Castles' (can no longer call them 'Crystals' as there are a million bands now with crystal in their name). This is working for me much as I want to take his hand and lead him in a make up and hair tutorial. Having said that, it just wouldn't be him then.

Jump here for more info on the forthcoming album from Japanese Popstars due out June 20th which also includes a collaboration with Editors 'teeny weeny frontman with a huge voice' Tom Smith. Definitely jumpy jump for this one, it's a goody and there's no wibbly wobbly, it's a real video and a music programme I don't know about, might help if I switched the TV on occasionally methinks.

So my last point, I'm pleasantly surprised at how many of you bother to read all this even though I'm not related to or emotionally blackmailing any of you (well maybe one or two) so thank you muchly. And yes it's been all reviews lately, when I can pause time, I will add some more of my own creativity but that takes up oodles more effort than reviewing other people's brilliance.  Blog Love x

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Doctor Who mid series finale: A Good Man Goes to War (spoilers)

‘Because this is it, this is the day he finds out who I am’

…except most of us had worked it out as far back as Day of the Moon.

As with most series of Doctor Who, some episodes I love, others I find unsatisfactory; too busy, confusing or just full of holes (that may or may not be filled in later). Despite this, the writers generally are still delivering what we all want in a family Sci Fi slot; something to scare the children, amuse the adults and satisfy the Whovian nerds.

The biggest failing for me in this series was that the big twist was hinted at too early. Revealing Amy's  pregnancy as she went into labour would have worked better and given less time for speculation and theories about 'the girl'. Amy never looked visibly pregnant anyway due to physically being on Demon’s Run while leaving her heart, soul and mind on the Tardis with the odd bleeding of reality to fuel intrigue. The doctor’s scanning alone would have subtly implied it, raising questions over why he was scanning her and resulted in so much more imaginative speculation.

It was far too easily seen through for a pregnancy to be announced and a mysterious child to appear from the future too. And a child that can ‘break out’ of a space suit, again points too much at the great escapee River Song.

The most interesting part of this series for me has been the dynamics of The Doctor, Amy and Rory. With hints of intimacy between the Doctor and Amy contrasting to her constant joshing with Rory, her beloved ‘stupid face’ from a girl that seems emotionally stunted at times was the big tease.

Over the half series there has been lots of clever word play where the viewer may not have been sure whether Amy was referring to the Doctor or Rory. This ambiguity was continued with the revelation of human plus Timelord DNA in the baby Melody, especially around the cot scene when Rory pleads;

 ‘Are you sure there’s not something you’re not telling us?’.

This revealed Rory's own uncertainty and questions the relationship of Amy and the Doctor, especially at his startled face at the Doctor declaring,  ‘It’s mine’...meaning the cot of course.

The episode, particularly the opening scenes had an epic feel, very Star Wars in places alongside the assembling of some of the Doctor's friends and foes.

Glimpses of some of the favourite monsters past and present kept viewers attention as music built up the battle cry with a  big sound not unlike that of the Imperial March; quite something to pull off in a mere 50 minutes.

River Song’s birthday in 1814 was another hint at the revelation but more subtle than the obvious ‘Timehead’ of previous. In this scene River takes on the mannerisms of a little girl rather than the ‘flirty’ Doctor Song we have grown used to, again planting ideas of her childhood in your mind as she talks of ice skating at the last frost fair and jokes of Stevie Wonder singing for her.

The identity of Melody is further suggested as Amy walks away from the Tardis saying she doesn’t like the noise, again pointing to River’s insistence that the noise is horrid as the Doctor keeps the breaks on when landing her.

Moffat managed to get in some 'adult' jokes, probably in bad taste to some minds with the Stevie Wonder gag and  implied lesbian relationship between the Silurian and her maid, most notably the very provocative,

I don’t know why you put up with me’, cue to shot of very big tongue…hmmm if the blind and gays are fair game, imagine how many Moffat could squeeze into the next strangely named ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’?

This episode also gave us some of the more touching scenes from the series; the unconditional love of new parents Amy and Rory, the Doctor holding a new born  and placing it in his cot, the death of the turned goody Sontarin, 'the nurse', the tears of joy at seeing the Doctor again  from the lost girl 'Lorna'.

Ultimately affecting was watching the birth of River Song when we have already witnessed her eventual physical death in the library to be saved on a hard drive by her heroic Doctor; an emotional conundrum of time and events out of order. There has been a trend in recent times to bring people back though.

So for next series; this ‘sort of’ finale answered enough but has still left us dangling impatiently and in hope the impressive baddie ‘Eye Patch Woman’ turns up again along with the headless monks and their eerie prayers. (By the way, how did the Doctor get a monk’s robe?).

Questions like where has Melody been taken? Will Amy and Rory get her back? Will that then be the end of their journeys with the Doctor? Are the Doctors actions raising questions about universal fear? Why did Melody/River shoot the doctor on the beach? Was it her in the spacesuit and was it the real Doctor?

There was another teasing line hidden away in earlier dialogue between Rory and River Unless there’s two of them’ meaning doctors and points in time, her reply being ‘ Now, that’s a whole different birthday’.

Enough to keep us waiting in time and space anticipation…great performance from Matt Smith and Karen Gillan and as Rory (Arthur Darvill) demands 'Would you like me to repeat the question?' finally he's a man and not merely a stupid face.

Related Posts: 
The Impossible Astronaut
Day of the Moon
The Doctor's Wife

Related Links:
Watch on iplayer :A Good Man Goes to War