Thursday, May 28, 2009
This was our first time going back to The Palladium after it's extensive refurbishment. The new facade certainly looks good, although I always wonder if it's worth spending loads of money to make something look as close as possible to the original... The foyer certainly looked better but the layout still feels awkward and confusing, although I did like the wooden ceiling. The venue itself looks the same - a flying saucer shaped room with a stage that appears to have been added as an afterthought. Apparently there is a new dance floor which looks much the same as the last one...
We caught most of The Glitch Boys, who were a little boring - crunk/two-step featuring three 'DJs' who were pushing button and throwing shapes. Switch on, switch off, switch on, switch off... Anyways, we were kept entertained by some (for want of a better word) dancing around the perimeter of the dance floor. At times it felt like we were standing in the middle of a bad audition for 'So you think you can dance'...
The Prodigy were excellent, their techno-punk having lost none of its ferocity since they were arguably one of the biggest bands in the middle 90's. The set was a collection of their best stuff including 'Their Law', 'Voodoo People' and 'Poison' from Music For The Jilted Generation; 'Smack My Bitch Up', 'Breathe' and 'Firestarter' from The Fat of the Land; some new stuff from 'Invaders Must Die' and the obligatory 'Out of Space' from Experience which closed the short but incendiary set!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Support band Great Northern were pretty good - the poppy goth of All About Eve meets the whimsical shoegaze of Mew. The singer looks like Robert Helpmann in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but I'm not sure that's exactly the look she is going for...
The Dears were predictably brilliant and the new lineup has improved over the last few months with the addition of a new bass player. The set started with a taped version of 'Saviour' - Murray Lightburn providing live vocals as he walked slowly through the audience towards the stage. It was a brilliant way to start the set, particularly as Murray stayed in the crowd for the whole song (11 mins) and was standing about 3 feet away from us for most of it, the rest of the band arriving on stage to sing the "I'll make it right" closing refrain... The Dears proceeded to play most of latest LP Missiles, along with few from 'No Cities Left' (including 'Lost in the plot' and final song '22: The Death of all romance') and a few from 'Gang of Losers' including the brilliant Lennon-esque 'There goes my outfit' and 'Hate then Love' which included an even more intense venture into the crowd by Lightburn...
Overall a brilliant show - the lineup doesn't quite match the 'Gang of Losers' lineup and the girls singing is still flat as a pancake at times but The Dears remain a great live band...
Friday, May 22, 2009
ExDetectives - Closing Bell EP:
The title track 'Closing Bell' sounds like it could have been the undiscovered diamond that never made it onto C86 - all jangly guitars and fragile vocals. It's also probably their most commercial (and I think their best) song. 'Won't Stop' starts with a wonderfully shimmering guitar phrase that almost make you feel woosy in it's stereophonic brilliance as the song kicks into a Radiohead type intro. The chorus has shades of My Bloody Valentine with the male/female vocal combination and this is a recurring theme on the EP. 'Crown' sounds like a cross between Radioheads 'No Surprises' and Bowie's 'Soul Love' but despite such lofty comparisons is a great song... Some ambient guitar colors and a catchy bassline introduce 'Golden', which sounds quite menacing and claustrophic in places - its oxymoronic title belying the dark nature of the song, which has some textured guitar fx that could have come right out of 'Unknown Pleasures'. The late 60's garage feel of 'Return' is a little at odds with the rest of the EP but there are some cool touches here too...
The ExDetectives EP is streaming at ExDetectives.com and will be available soon...
The Rhone Occupation - Would It Kill You To Talk This Out
'I Know I Did You Wrong' starts with some delay effects and leaps right into a jaunty toe-tapper that sounds like a cross between early REM and (strangely) The Jazz Butcher or The Woodentops, but with Thom Yorke on vocals... More Radiohead comparisons abound with the second track 'Would It Kill You To Talk This Out' which is a little too close to the feel of 'Exit Music (For A Film)' and being a slow song would have been better suited later in the EP. However, it is a great song and being compared to a song from one of the best LPs ever made can't be all bad. 'The Worst of Me' skips along like another Radiohead song 'Electioneering' (also from Ok Computer) and this leads us into the best song on the EP: 'A Place'. Singer Jacob Summers loses the Thom Yorke stylings and veers towards Death Cab for Cutie territory over a gorgeous and brilliantly produced backing track with some heavenly synths, shiny guitars and subtle percussion. Finally, the appropriately named 'Stop' closes the EP, another slow song with shades of The Jazz Butcher Conspiracys 'Still in the kitchen' and hints of the Trashcan Sinatras in the chorus harmonies.
The Rhone Occupation EP is available for free download from their website...
Overall two great EP's full of promise. Both bands are obviously influenced by Radiohead but I think ExDetectives get away with this more as singer Faris McReynolds sounds nothing like Thom Yorke. Both EP's are excellently produced and the musicianship is first class. The Rhone Occupation sound more like the finished article in terms of studio sound and experience but sometimes the journey is as interesting as the destination. Also, the ExDetectives cover is a lot better...
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Her final role will be as Jane Birkin in the eagerly awaited French film 'Je t'Aime Moi Non Plus' (originally titled 'Gainsbourg - Vie Héroïque') which is scheduled for release in 2010. The movie is a biopic of legendary gallic singer Serge Gainsbourg,
Gordon as Birkin:
Saturday, May 16, 2009
ExDetectives played a good set - the initimate venue suiting their intense angular post-punk shoegaze very well thank you... Next band up was Magic Mirror, whose swampy psychedelic blues wasn't really my thing and finally The Lovetones, who sounded like an Aussie Brian Jonestown Massacre.
Friday, May 15, 2009
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At the end of 2008 I included The Happy Hollows and Warpaint in my post Top 10 bands on the LA scene to look out for in 2009. Five months into 2009 The Happy Hollows have just completed a successful SXSW and Warpaint released their first EP 'Exquisite Corpse' in February...
Both bands were excellent last night. Warpaint's ethereal post-punk groove got the evening started and the highlights of their set were 'Elephants' and 'Beetles' (do I detect an animal theme here?) Their rhythm section is one of my favorites (imagine Jah Wobble playing with Tony Allen) and is their advantage over bands like Bat for Lashes who tread the same ethereal path in the vocal department...
Powerpop/punk three-piece The Happy Hollows played a storming set of which the highlights were 'Tambourine' and a stunning version of the glam-rock tinged 'Lieutenant', which proved Sarah Negahdari is a great guitarist and not just a slightly batty singer who plays a bit of guitar.
The Happy Hollows
I didn't stick around for headline band Afternoons, a brief visit to their MySpace page earlier in the day showed they aspire to look and sound like Arcade Fire. Perhaps they should lower their expectations a little - if they try really hard they could be the next Bodies of Water...
Friday, May 8, 2009
Edwards disappeared shortly after the release of the third Manic's album: 'The Holy Bible' which also featured a Jenny Saville painting: 'Strategy'...
Thursday, May 7, 2009
'The Analogist' is less a podcast, more of a sound collage/aural experiment by David Shane Smith...
'One minute with SG' is quite funny - the dulcet-toned SG (Sasha Gransjean) interviewing an alien. Next is 'Economic Glossolalia', which is some political soundbytes mixed with some sort of muslim-extremist chanting, along with a few snippets of a ranting Christian Bale. Next (and the highlight of the podcast) is some poetry by Ariell Hartwell. The reading sounds like a phone call from a another era - the crackling and distortion giving the poetry an intimate feel. The poem itself sounds like something by Jim Morrison from An American Prayer...
Next is 'Ambience' - more sampled soundbytes, and is that DSS rapping over some beats in the background? Another of my favorite segments from the podcast is 'Street Beat' - where David interviews people on the streets of LA. The first interview is a guy picking out Disney Hall when asked about what he dislikes about downtown LA. The same guy (I think) likes the fact downtown is car-driven and therefore it is difficult to cross the street! Next, is the first of a couple of songs by the strange but wonderful Robert James - recorded live at the Rainbow Bar and Grill. After a short snippet of Iron Maiden (?!) is another 'Street Beat' followed by another Robert James song, which I think is called 'Fuckers'. More soundbytes follow - the segment appropriately called 'PsychoBabble' and we finish with some lo-fi bleeps and clicks.
Looking forward to hearing further episodes!!
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Zahra made us some wonderful cocktails when we arrived - I had a Sicilian which was excellent. After sitting for our meal we were brought some plates of Amuse Bouche - the first of which were cocktail spheres (chilled gelee versions of traditional cocktails.) The three spheres were mojito, gin and tonic and Greyhound.
The next Amuse Bouche was a savoury plate featuring some sort of cream pastry and carrot soup. For appetizer, I had the delicious Maine lobster risotto, with Laura and Ben both opting for the sweet pea ravioli. For my main course I had the air-chilled muscovy duck which was amazing, Laura had salmon, and Ben had the Santa Barbara spot prawns, which were prepared at the table - the giant shrimp appearing from under a bed of sea salt before being shelled by the waiter.
For dessert, Laura and I shared some exotically flavored ice-creams - the highlight of which was the cream cheese flavor. Ben had the milk chocolate whisky panna cotta which was also wonderful. Finally, we were brought some Petit Fours: Olive Oil Pate de Fruit, Coconut Green Tea Chocolate Truffle, and Black Olive Caramel.
Providence was not only great food but a wonderful dining experience!
Monday, May 4, 2009
2009 marks the 30th birthday of 2 Tone Records, the iconic UK ska revival label that was home to The Specials AKA, The Selecter and briefly Madness and The Beat... The success of the label was phenominal for a short period from 1979 through 1982 and cast a huge shadow not only over the music of the times but also the fashions... The Specials AKA, in particular, did much (along with The Jam) to introduce social or political commentary into pop music, whether it be the perils of teenage pregnancy (Too Much Too Young), inner-city violence (Concrete Jungle) or other important themes of the day such as unemployment and race relations.
2 Tone was started by The Specials AKA in order to release their single 'Gangsters' after rejection by a number of record companies. The single was distributed by Rough Trade and its success lead to Chrysalis not only signing The Specials, but also the 2 Tone imprint - future releases having the catalog number CHS TT3 etc. CHS TT3 was actually the only release by Madness on 2 Tone - the spritely single 'Prince'...
Another band closely associated with the ska revival scene, The Beat, also only released one single on the label - 'Tears of a clown', a cover of The Smokey Robinson classic... The Beat swiftly signed with Arista, who gave them their own label: Go-Feet!
Another important 2 Tone band was The Selecter. The group was rumoured to have been put together in 3 weeks by Lynval Golding (of The Specials) and Noel Davies. Singer Pauline Vickers used the stage name Pauline Black to stop her work becoming suspicious when she disappeared to play gigs.
Although releases on 2 Tone dwindled as the 80's went on, there were still some significant releases, such as a reunited The Special AKA's 'Nelson Mandela' in 1984. Jerry Dammers was directly involved in the Artist Against Aparthied concert in Wembley statium in 1988 which continued to raise Mandela's profile and he was eventually released from prison in 1990.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Anyways, Starsailor were very good and 'Good Souls' was as usual the highlight. My only criticism was when they veer into U2 territory by breaking off mid-song into 'Tomorrow Never Knows', 'Suspicious Minds' and one or two things. U2 again come to mind during 'Silence is Easy' - which is a little too close to U2's 'Bad'...
Friday, May 1, 2009
Episode 21 of Deconstruction features:
02 French Kicks - Abandon
03 Papercuts - Future Primative
04 Lowry - Whisky
05 Stanleylucasrevolution - Demolition 45
06 Bat for Lashes - Good Love
07 David Shane Smith - Eyes
08 Spinto Band - Oh Mandy
09 Dan Deacon - Snookered
10 Animal Collective - My Girls
11 Lymbyc Systym - Astrology Days
12 Aphex Twin - Logan Rock Witch
13 The Walker Brothers - The Electrician
Available on iTunes now!
For your ears only!
Probing the anatomy of human reality...
For your ears only...