Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Made in Sheffield (2004)

'Made in Sheffield' is an interesting documentary about the post-punk music scene in Sheffield from 1978 to 1982 and how the industrial electronics of Cabaret Voltaire, Vice Versa and The Human League (Part I) evolved into an international pop phenomenon of ABC, The Human League (part II) and Heaven 17... There are interesting interviews with the protagonists of the scene, as well as John Peel and Jarvis Cocker.

One thing I enjoy about these type of documentaries is the features on the bands who never made it outside of the local scene - bands like The Extras (who left Sheffield for the bright lights of London just as all the music journalists were traveling in the opposite direction!) along with 2.3 (marks out of 10?) and Artery (who seem to be injecting theirs with smack). Artery were by far the most interesting and had a singer whose live performances matched the intensity of Ian Curtis.

Monday, September 29, 2008

RIP Bryan Morrison

One time manager of Pink Floyd and The Pretty Things. Apparently Syd Barrett bit his finger drawing blood at the late payment of a royalty check...

Bryan actually cost me a few quid back in the 90's. He was managing director of a streaming media company (Arthur Shaw & Co) during the internet start-up boom that I invested some money in. As with so many of those companies the shares became worthless...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

RIP Paul Newman

Paul Newman died yesterday aged 83...

Great picture from the set of 'Somebody up there likes me':

Friday, September 26, 2008

Stroboscopic vs Unknown Theater

I promised a night of music and mayhem at The Unknown Theater and it was a classic night! The mayhem was provided by a pimp who was a (ahem) dead ringer for Jimi Hendrix who had been talking to Faris outside and brought in one of his hookers to watch Brookline. The rest of the mayhem was caused by a drunk middle aged couple of indeterminate nationality (possibly Brazilian or Italian) who spent the evening dancing and groping each other... A surreal moment occurred when Sean hobbled out from behind his keyboard and danced with aforementioned drunk middle aged woman mid-song... Best line of the night was when he thanked his 'Mom' for coming to the show...

Anyways, back to business - Brookline sounded great! Best time I've seen them by far and the excellent PA at the Unknown Theater sounded awesome... At one point they trod on some dangerous ground by throwing in a Beatles cover (I want you/She's so heavy) but they more than did it justice... Covering The Beatles can be a lose/lose situation - you either murder the song and end up sounding like a shit covers band or do a great job and everyone thinks 'muso cunts - why can't they write their own stuff like that'. Anyway, they did a good job and certainly know their chops...

STANLEYLUCASREVOLUTION battled through sound problems in the lounge area but it was an entertaining set. We were promised a second PA for the lounge but it never showed up so Sean played everything, including vocals, through his guitar amp. He played songs from the new CD plus crowd pleaser 'Gods Don't Worry' and the Spiritualized freak out of new song 'Is a with dubs'...

ExDetectives closed the main stage and again the sound was brilliant. With Faris having been away in Hamburg for three months and only having had one rehearsal, one might have expected some rust but there was none. Again I think it's the best time I've seen them...

Merz - Lotus

Thursday, September 25, 2008

CSS at The Glasshouse

I'm not sure if this phrase is in Oblique Strategies but it should be - 'when faced with a choice do both!' And so, last night I had to choose between Merz and CSS. It was no competition really - I've been waiting 9 years to see Merz although it was only an acoustic show... Fortunately, the Hotel Cafe chose (in their ultimate wisdom) to put Conrad on at 7pm so I was able to make it over to Pomona to see CSS.

The brazilian girls (and boys) put on a fun show, featuring the most joyous stage(d) invasion I've ever seen as the encore morphed from fractured dance-pop to full scale rave...

Merz at Hotel Cafe

Merz played an early 7pm show at Hotel Cafe last night. I've been waiting to see Conrad live since the debut CD came out in 1999 and it was no disappointment as he mixed songs from his new album 'Moi Et Mon Camion' with a few oldies. It was a stripped down solo affair but Conrad's excellent acoustic guitar work and unique Sheffield via Jamaica vocal style, along with some subtle backing tracks made the show an intimate joy! For 'Lotus' Conrad ventured over to the piano and with the salvation army band horns accompanying him via backing track this was my song of the night, along with the sublime 'Silver Moon Ladders' from the new album. I spoke to Conrad after the show and what a nice guy too!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Stereolab at The Glasshouse

I think the Glasshouse in Pomona is my favorite venue! I've seen some great bands there (Gene, The Go!Team, Supergrass) and there's never more than 300 people there. A nice little venue and only 20 miles east of LA...

Stereolab were mostly excellent - playing a mix of oldies ('Ping Pong' etc) along with the (minor 7th) heaven that is new cd 'Chemical Chords'... My only complaint was the 3 prog jams, escpecially the 20 minute final song, the last 15 of which chugged along on one chord - paradoxically from a band that specializes in unusual and inventive chord sequences...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Beck/Spoon/MGMT at the Hollywood Bowl

About a minute into MGMT I realised the singer sounds like the guy from Rush! Maybe it was the fact that the rest of the band look like heavy rock kids, all long hair, jeans and black t-shirts. Live, there are also shades of Pink Floyd, ELO and even Supertramp for gods sake! Even on the New Radicals flavored 'Electric Feel' the lumpy drums sounded like Floyd's money... Only on the final track did the 'duo' ditch the backing band and karaoked their way through one of their party pop hits, although the bemused look on their faces indicated they had revealed their true colors much earlier in the set.

Spoon were about as exciting as, well, a spoon... I like some of the songs I've heard but live they were a little boring...

The first half of Beck was like his greatest hits on speed and although he played the iconic 'Loser' and 'Devil's Haircut' everything seemed a little half-hearted and rushed. For me it was just another reminder that how ever inventive his recordings are, Beck isn't the greatest showman. After an entertaining 'interlude' where the band ditched their regular instruments and played a couple of songs using mini-keyboards and beat boxes, the Hollywood strings joined the band. If the first part was Beck on speed the second half was a smacked out orchestral self-indulgence and even the Gainsbourg-esque 'Paper Tiger' failed to get the pulse racing. Only during the encore (Where it's at and E-Pro) did Mr Hanson (and the crowd) come to life and demonstrate what a Beck concert should be like - a hip shaking, sing-a-long celebration of an iconic genius...

MGMT about to launch into Tom Sawyer or Breakfast in America!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

RIP Norman Whitfield

Motown writer and producer who died aged 67. Guided The Temptations to no less than two dozen top 10 R&B hits, including 11 gold and five platinum-selling singles, including:

Ain't Too Proud To Beg
Beauty Is Only Skin Deep
(I Know) I'm Losing You
You're My Everything
Cloud Nine
I Can't Get Next To You
Ball Of Confusion
Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Stereophonics at Music Box

I might have enjoyed Stereophonics more if it hadn't been 200 degrees inside the Henry Fonda theater... I might have, but after the first 30 minute barrage of sub-Oasis wall of sound I was begging for some light refreshment, albeit coming from the lyrically impoverished 'Have a nice day'. I preferred Stereophonics as a three piece - the additional guitarist just turned everything into a metallic swirl and how fitting when Kelly Jones dropped a few lines from Motorhead's 'Ace of Spades' into the opening 'Bartender and the thief.'

The second half of the show was better although heat exhaustion drove me to the rooftop bar to watch part of it, although even that was interrupted by a guy who was telling me how great Chris Cornell is! You can stick that opinion up your black hole son!

Monday, September 15, 2008

RIP Rick Wright

Pink Floyd keyboard wizard Richard aka Rick Wright has died age 65 after a short battle with cancer. Presumably off to play the great gig in the sky with Syd...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Pigeon Detectives at Spaceland

First band were a very poor Magic Numbers imitation called Free Lions... Free is supposed to be a magic number but there was precious little magic in evidence, except for wanting them to disappear. Marks out of ten? Is zero a number? Lemon Sun however were excellent - the swampy rock and roll of Head combined with the pop sensibilities of the New Radicals. My only criticism was the southern rock/70's porn star image portrayed by three of the band - they should take a leaf out of the rockabilly image of the Boz Boorer look-a-like guitarist...

The Pigeon Detectives were very good... Obviously a close musical relative of fellow Yorkshiremen Arctic Monkeys but whatever they lack in clever lyrics (they are more Wedding Present than Arctic Monkeys in this department...) they make up for in energy, with vocalist Matt Bowman running around like the energizer bunny and swinging the microphone like a crazed Roger Daltry. Didn't he have a dodgy perm at one point too?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rockin to a new beat?

The Guardian, a well respected UK newspaper, recently published an article on the LA music scene: LA rocks to a new beat!

Both Babcock and Spunt have some valid points but I tend to be more sympathetic with the former's opinion... Hype alone does not a scene make... If I want to be part of a shit scene I will grow a 70's porn-star moustache and join the folky southern rocksters of the alleged Highland Park scene...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


If you haven't seen this documentary yet I highly recommend it...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

RIP Hector Zazou

French composer Hector Zazou died yesterday, aged 60.

Zazou fused classical and electronica and collaborated with the likes of John Cale, Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Sylvian, Bjork and Siouxsie Sioux on his albums Sahara Blue and Chansons des mers froides (Songs from the Cold Seas)...


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Santogold at KOKO...

Santogold live didn't really work for me... Their set started with a 20 minute DJ mash-up which included a couple of tracks by The Cure and some Smiths and Police... This was presumably to remind all the kids that Santogold are 'oh so heavily' influenced by 80's new wave. The backing band continued the 80's theme, looking like Blondie (including a Debbie Harry look-a-like on bass) and all dressed in matching trousers, shirts and bow ties... The front of the stage, however, had Santi White and her two backing singers wearing enough gold lamé to cloth a couple of Martin Fry's. And so, here was Santogold wearing their true colors, a hip-hop gold rather than any ska or new wave black and white. The music reflected this and even the more indie tinged songs on the album sounded like also-ran hip-hop with the choreographed moves by the backing singers, and the parts where Santi and the girls shake their booty just so...

I'll stick to the Santogold mix-tapes...