Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Music making me smile this week...

M83, Bjork and some Amy to remember...

Celebrate the return of M83 with the new single ‘Midnight City’, a sunshiny bundle of synth gorgeousness. Dreamy layers of summery pop perfection from the French band which will hopefully boot ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ off the radio playlists (please…I liked it, now if I hear it again, I may kill someone) with this ode to summery electro. It’s instant and lifting and indicates more good things to come from the forthcoming album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming in October.

Let’s not forget ‘We Own The Sky’ from 2008’s Saturdays = Youth with its lovely woozy ambience and this new single evokes the same feeling. Anthony Gonzalez has had a little help from friends Morgan Kibby and Zola Jesus for this album so it’s all looking surpassingly like a chilled indulgence for autumn.

Have a little listen below, light poppy beep with some super retro saxophone towards the end; for me the track could lose that bit but for many reminiscing the days of pop song sax, I reckon it could be the clincher, it even fades out…enjoy!

Bjork: new video for Crystalline...

Bjork’s ‘Crystalline’ now has a superbly bonkers animated video and the more you listen to this track the more it grows, the clearer the lyrics become as she conquers claustrophobia, anxiety and demands light all via the metaphor of rocks. She sings of the core of the earth, kissing quartz, yet for this video appears to be in a bubble in space surrounded by rocks, shooting stars, weird planets; who really knows where she is, planet Bjork could be a whole other galaxy.

This is surely why her uniqueness continues to gather love or sends people reeling in confusion as she creates more curious otherworldliness in her internal nebular. That drum machine towards the end certainly does make me feel claustrophobic.  Well, enough analysing, check out the video, Button Moon for grown ups.

Very muchly looking forward to seeing her at Bestival thanks to my mum, who I now call ‘My Miracle’.  *Mwah* for grabbing me one of the few remaining camper van tickets. Tent? Me? No way!  


Amy remembered: big voice, big hair, best eyeliner in the business.

And finally, farewell to Amy Winehouse, a brilliant song writer and performer when at her best. Rather than dwelling on her mistakes, remember her achievements which far outweigh them.  One of my faves below…a sad loss that happens too often in music. In her own light now.

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Night Watch: BBC2 drama (spoilers)

Based on the novel of the same name by Sarah Waters, finding this one off  drama was a happy accident as I perused iplayer for something decent to watch. I say ‘happy’ but actually, there’s nothing I like more than getting a bit cry baby watching something and this does have its moments.

Starting in 1947, this film has an interesting structure as it tells the stories of the four main characters, Kay, Viv, Duncan and Helen backwards, straying from the more traditional flashback methods. It works brilliantly especially as it ends with the line;

‘’Someone once said, a happy ending depends on where you decide to stop your story, then again, it could be when you realise your story is not yet over, then you are only at the end of the beginning.‘’

The immediate riddle of these four stories is why is Kay so unhappy and walking the streets of 1940’s London (grimly and wonderfully shot in my opinion) dressed androgynously and clearly too modern for her peers going by the reactions she gets. 

For me she is the most interesting character, the most in control of her emotions yet not and if there is one disappointment with this drama, it is that it’s a one off and probably could have been fleshed out into three parts.

So back to my point, the film starts in 1947, the end and the beginning and it continues to play around with the whole concept of time and question whether there are, if any, defining points other than what we make of them. Kay is traumatised, Viv is having an unsatisfactory affair, Duncan is living with a much older man and Helen is in a relationship with a vampish lady who clearly has some connection to Kay going by the quick flash to Julia’s new book in the newspaper. Four people that have survived a war externally but internally all seem to be fighting.


The second part to the riddles of these characters is Viv’s wedding finger ring and its connection to Kay who she sees walking the street. Why is she so desperate to find her and thank her?  Clever unravelling ensues as the four stories rewind and travel backwards and the threads of connection start to show especially with the teaser of tormented pasts within the relationship of Helen and Julia. 

 The time travelling elements to the stories were shown with a rewind button too,  it quite took me by surprise the first time, speeded up and after Duncan has been cleaning a clock dial, and Kay walks towards her old ambulance door, via an alleyway (yes, a bit Goodnight Sweetheart which due to the novel being rushed into 90 minutes, did give it that sitcom element of speed at times). However, this is soon overtaken with the harsh reality of the Blitz, the footage we all know of rubble never had the remains of children and mothers mixed in, but when thinking about it, of course it did.

Kay’s connection to Julia is revealed, as is the harsh reality, again, of a woman having an affair in these times; cut to early pregnancy vomiting, home made attempts at getting rid of the ‘inconvenience’ i.e. throwing yourself down the stairs (in footie match slow motion dive replay) and knitting needles. It all ends with the brutality of illegal back street abortion, via your dentist (yes I’m going to be looking at those instruments in a new and terrifying light from now on).

Not to make light of a serious issue, the film subtly hints at the horrors of the time for women as well as the political leaning of how to push women’s role; it’s a war so they can wear trousers and be brave, once it’s all over, they will urged to put the apron back on (50’s housewives).

The outcome of this abortion are predictably awful and shows us why the young Viv is so grateful to Kay and her snake ring, worn to imitate a wedding band for a young woman who has committed a crime. Stressed yet? Yes I was too especially as Reggie the offender ran off in Viv’s hour of need as she hemorrhaged all over a hotel room.

1944 was proving the year of trauma for them all, other than Duncan who is languishing in the Scrubs with his fine friend Robert Fraser at this point, crying and masturbation scenes afoot.  His trauma is 1941 where we land shortly…after Kay has thought Helen dead but then realised she’s been having a sneaky snog with the vamp Julia.

Quick time travel to 1941, which clears up Kay and Helen’s first meeting, confirms her relationship with the now needy Julia and tells Duncan’s story of assisted suicide, too rushed really.  I didn’t connect with him much at all or even feel a bit sorry for him when he realised his sister had bagged his beau from prison, I was too happy for Viv getting out of the affair with the spineless charmer.

So back to my previous point, brilliant but too condensed. Favourite character has to be the turmoil of Kay, a stand alone story of its own. It seemed Viv got the happy ending; the queers only had a hint of one, if you decide where the story ends that is? 

Sarah Waters of ‘Tipping the Velvet’ and ‘Fingersmith’ fame, yes she’s naughty isn’t she? But also brilliant, let’s have more lesbians with a story and not for titillation in the mainstream. Well done Beeb. Now I'm off to buy the book.


Author Sarah Waters
Kay Langrish Anna Maxwell-Martin
Helen Giniver Claire Foy
Vivian Pearce Jodie Whittaker
Julia Standing Anna Wilson-Jones
Duncan Pearce Harry Treadaway
Robert Fraser JJ Feild
Reggie Nigri Liam Garrigan
Nancy Carmichael Claudie Blakley
Horace Mundy Kenneth Cranham
Director Richard Laxton
Producer Ann Tricklebank
Writer Paula Milne
Jump here to watch, only four days left now.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b012mb0r 

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Austra live review: Cargo, London 7th July.

Not surprisingly Austra were simply marvelliiisimus at Cargo in Shoreditch last week; perfect sound, arresting atmosphere and impressive laser show.  The whole production was spellbinding in operatic proportions and from someone so tiny too; Katie Stelmanis big voice must surely start in the cyber goth platforms she performs in while she enchants with beckoning dance moves.

So with the building gig excitement, note taken that Shoreditch is pretty super trendy really. Amongst all the tired East End grimness, a hub of coolness spanning most musical genres and ages and this was reflected in an audience that were, well all types mostly,  which I personally like.   

While we wandered up Rivington Street, a rich mixture of bars and music venues, Katie and her very cute twin backing singers aka Tasseomancy were spotted chilling out and mingling before the gig. My special code for occasions like this is ‘I just need to reapply my lipstick’ which means ‘band are near, pause and look cool’.  

Having omitted to share this code though, my cohort's look of confusion and then his pointing and look it’s her, it’s her, look and the twins, woop’ plus a huge amount of pointing again as they scuttled away, scared or feeling paparazzi’d of course; all very amusing though.

Bright Light, Bright Light were supporting although to be honest the lure of the quite lovely courtyard was too appealing so admittedly waited there with some wine until Austra’s entrance. Venue wise, really very nice, a huge improvement on Eat Your Own Ears choice of Electrowerkz for Niki & the Dove which to be honest was plain horrid. 

Cargo is friendly, clean and intimate for watching bands; you might want to re-mortgage your house to pay for drinks if you hung out there regularly but that’s London for you. Click below for some 'Beat and the Pulse' live action...


So now for the setlist which couldn't possibly disappoint. The opening track ‘Darken Her Horse’  teased the crowd of a back to back album order, it being the opener for Feel It Break;  sadly this did not come to fruition but there was a good choice of tracks performed. The spine chilling moment when she started the line ‘Shoot into the darkness…’ is the point you know that  the bass is going to fill your being with dark electro beat. ‘Lose itas the latest single got the crowd moving as much as it could in a very ‘cosy’ venue, no room for serious dance shapes but still better than a half empty venue.

A lovely surprise was ‘Young & Gay’ which didn’t make the album but is such a strong track, along with ‘Beat and the Pulse’, ‘The Choke’, 'The Villain' and ‘Spellwork’ (biggest woooooop in the world from my fellow gig goer, scared the living daylights out of me) and ending with ‘The Future’. There was a teaser with a new track, title unclear, after much youtubing investigation,  watch below,  it's not too wibbly wobbly and gives an idea of more excellence to come from them.

So essentially, wherever you are in the world Austra inclined lovely readers, go see them, you won’t be disappointed by the bewitchingly electro front woman as she weaves her musical spell with the help of her glittery androgynies on keyboards and guitar and hugely bespectacled drummer. Eccentrically brilliant…my only criticism was the absence of ‘The Noise’ but there has to be some tough choices made on what to take from an album of ‘Feel It Break’s quality.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Band Focus This Week: Memory Tapes

First off, what a great band name! Take note musicians, it’s your metaphorical book cover, it’s important. I think it’s reminding me of the film ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ perhaps?

The band consist of Dayve Hawk aka Memory Tapes and Weird Cassette? Erm? Mysterious persona times…anyway the soundscapes now. ‘Yes I know’ is simply gorgeous, very chilled electro with a touch of Bat For LashesWhat’s A Girl To Do?' drum rolling beats around two and half minutes in. 

The video directed by Eric Epstein is wonderfully weird and suits it just perfectly in a surreal way.  There is lushly layered instrumentation and vocals, a little sombre in places, sometimes psychedelic; for just the second album, there is already a flurry of activity following the Tapes.

The album, Player Piano, is out today… listen below to my personal choice single from it; melancholic and beautiful so definitely worth checking out.

And then jump on this superb remix of Crystal Castles Suffocation from last year… I like it when my favourite people get it together and the remix is a hazy interpretation of one of the Castles more melodic efforts, chillarama then. They’ve also remixed Balearic popsters ‘Keep Shelley in Athens’; it’s so sunshiny around them, in a low key way.

Loving Memory Tapes. Google Player Piano away right now basically…float away in bubble music.

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