tasty taster for the new Micachu album Never, out Jul 23 on Rough Trade
A little shambolic, while the heavy sound didn't bring the best from Vile's DIY vibe.
19th May 2011Read more 3 star reviews
Queue at Rough Trade East has now lapped itself and I haven't moved. And all for 2 Radiohead songs that'll be on bittorrent in 5 mins
16th Apr 2011Read on Twitter
And I thought I was up early. Queue is round the block at Rough Trade East. #RSD11
16th Apr 2011Read on Twitter
28th Mar 2011Read on Twitter
Here's the start of Rough Trade's 2009 Top 60...
1. The XX – XX
2. The Low Anthem – Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
3. The Horrors – Primary Colours
4. Fever Ray – Fever Ray
5. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
6. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
7. The Leisure Society – The Sleeper And The Product Of The Ego Drain
8. Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport
9. Forest Fire – Survival
10. The Very Best – Warm Heart Of Africa
... here's the rest
Tribute to George Harrison
Well stone me! This is crazy My Morning Jacket front man Jim James. Who'd have thought it? Despite the pseudonym this short George Harrison tribute record does more in its first song than Evil Urges did in its entirety. I know it's wrong to put an artist in a cage but we've all seen what happens when Jim steps out of his, and I for one am glad to see him drenched in reverb, strumming an acoustic and displaying his vocal range in all its subtleties without a N.E.R.D. style hip hop beat in sight. Confined by Harrison's songs there's no mention of librarians or the interweb, and he more than does these songs justice. Love You To and Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) are instant highlights and his version of My Sweet Lord is ghostly and delicate. I wouldn't be surprised if we get a Hari Krishna line in a future MMJ song though, but until that time it sure is good to hear Jim do what he does best. It's just in time too as I haven't listened to a MMJ record for some time and now have renewed hope for the forthcoming Monsters Of Folk project.Read more 3 star reviews
Still no word on a fourth Strokes album, but lead singer Julian Casblancas is bridging the (possibly endless) gap with a solo record. Phrazes For The Young will arrive this autumn on Rough Trade, and you can hear a preview right now - over at julaincasablancas.com
Following on from Evil Urges, 'Monsters of Funk' might be a better name for a Jim James/Bright Eyes/M. Ward supergroup - and at the moment it's hard to decide who provides the most potential for disappointment from these three....
Cynicism aside, there's plenty of potential for retribution as the Monsters of Folk reform for a newly announced, self-titled album, out in September on Rough Trade. Bootleg from their 2004 tour online here.
After having seen Finn Andrews perform with his unassuming ensemble at a small east end pub not so long ago it's pretty hard not to get excited about a forthcoming release by The Veils. 2006's Nux Vomica came out of nowhere and blew my mind with its ferocious intensity. It was raw when it needed to be but as smooth as silk at other times and running through it all was such profound yet compellingly humble songwriting. Sun Gangs inevitably possesses all these qualities and is a worthy followup indeed.
Described by Finn as "a very modern mixture of prayers, love letters and personal record keeping," Sun Gangs is the natural progression after Nux Vomica. It's less wild definitely and more mature as a result. And yet with maturity can often come a bloated beast, but it has resisted the temptation to grow beyond all recognition of it's past. It is epic though, and more so than Nux. The Letter with its soaring central guitar chord hints at where this record could have gone, but it's the vision of Finn that one assumes keeps this from straying into dangerous Coldplay territory and instead it remains genuinely rousing.
The quote from Finn at the start of the last paragraph says much about this writer and the work he produces. It's real and honest and delivered with such humility. This can all be seen at the live shows - as Finn stands awkwardly at the front, profoundly flattered by the very presence of the crowd in front of him and then with the first note he recedes into a zone all his own and emerges as if in a room all alone. One of the elements that makes this band stand out form others that sit in a similar genre is the varied gradation of sonic tone that is covered throughout the record's progression. They can express such unsettling intimacy on songs like the title track - as Finn, accompanied only by a piano can drip his words from his mouth right into your ear, like it was only meant for you. He can then turn on you on songs like Killed By The Boom which recollects the nasty side of this band last seen on songs like Not Yet on Nux Vomica. Instead of dripping, Finn spits every word in your face on this song with screeching guitars and hard drum action. He also says of this song which tells the tale of a mysterious character of slightly ill repute that it is "possibly about The Wire's Omar Little." I think I can speak for my colleagues here at Chimpomatic when I say, that's all the information I need.
Three Sisters channels all this aggression into a slick and damn near perfect two and a half minutes of breakneck pop, with ukulele up front and bass and lead guitar in twin formation either side it's a formidable attack and is electrifying. As it slams on the breaks abruptly it makes room for The House She Lived In which shows Finn's undying romantic side. All of this is then thrown skyward when we hear Larkspur. This is by far the longest song here and shows a side of this band that is not only unlike any other we've seen in the other songs but one that hasn't shown its head in their whole career. This is where we see the maturity of Finn after the success of Nux Vomica. This song opens up the ribcage of his sound to expose a dauntingly cavernous and hollow interior that goes on for way further than your eyes or ears can fathom. With limited lyrics it simply sits back and watches you sweat in all this space as it slowly closes in around you. When you think it's all going to explode and launch into driving guitar bliss, it does the opposite, it recedes and reveals yet more hidden chambers. It's torturous in its resistance but utterly brilliant and enough evidence alone of Finns talent and the ground that he and his band have covered since Nux Vomica.
In short Sun Gangs may not have such stand alone gems as Advice For Young Mothers To Be or Jesus For The Jugular but as a whole plays out with consistent quality and maturity. It's got it all, love, faith, life death and the fear of all the above and is presented in a package that's impossible not to believe.Read more 3.5 star reviews
The Hazards Of Love
Since I first discovered this band I have been prepared to follow Captain Meloy and his magnificent vessel The Decemberists to anywhere they chose to take me. Particularly on their breakthrough album Picaresque and their (US) major label debut The Crane Wife the going wasn't always easy but endlessly rewarding. Having played the heart out of this latest offering I have arrived at a point beyond which I am not willing to follow.
The Hazards Of Love is a concept driven rock opera of sorts, inspired by a 60's recording by the same name and it's hard work to say the least. Don't get me wrong, Colin Meloy is incapable of writing anything that is devoid of rewards and there are plenty here but as a whole its sights are set way too firmly on ambition and not enough on song craft. Throughout its 17 tracks it attempts to tell the story of a fair maiden called Margaret who, after her abduction seems to be ravished by a shape-shifting demon. There's a jealous queen, a homicidal villain known as 'the rake' and a particularly disturbing tale where Meloy assumes the character of a child murderer taking out each of his kids one by one so he can be free again.
The Crane Wife marked a definite shift in the intentions of this band and I suppose an album such as this was always on the cards. After moving to a major label their sound grew to epic proportions and took their folk roots into rockier territory. This growth has come to a head with The Hazards Of Love. Running for just short of an hour each of the 17 songs blend seamlessly into one another creating a musical feel to the album. Melodies and choruses recur throughout the record which actually make you feel like you're listening to one huge bloated creation. Its ambition is beyond question but this continuous structure is tiresome.
The title track sets the scene of Margaret's temptation and subsequent abduction with typical Meloy delicacy. The first blend from this track into A Bower Scene marks the first indication that you are listening to something different from this band. Up tempo drums count it in and then after a vocal build you have the crunching weight of guitars. It's a hard rock belt in the face that you certainly weren't expecting and one that rears its mighty head more than once on this record. It makes room for the first guest spot on Won't Want For Love (Margaret In The Taiga), which features Lavender Diamond's Becky Stark. Playing the now pregnant Margaret, her sweet vocals breath blissful life and vulnerability into these hard riffs. The second of these guest appearance comes a little later with the riff-heavy The Wanting Comes In Waves. It features My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden playing the part of the Queen bartering for the soul of Margaret's beloved WIlliam. This crazy theme is the last thing you think about as the teaming of thee two voices is a delight. This is by no means the only moment of such delight, they are plentiful and none so great as on Annan Water, a tense affair built on taught strumming that builds ever so slowly and then opens up and lets Meloy's vocals expand on a gentle organ breeze then dive back into the tension once more with expert ease.
Narrative has always been at the forefront of Meloy's work. Never does his writing serve the role of mere love songs but are meticulously crafted out of antique language and expert turn of phrase. Picaresque's The Mariner's Revenge Song is one of Meloy's finest moments and shows his skill for telling a tale. The penultimate stroke on The Crane Wife lurched from one tempo to another with Led Zeppelin like confidence. In hindsight both these songs provide the blueprint for The Hazards Of Love and though many of these new songs stand equally as tall as these previous gems it's the album as a whole that I am critisising. I spend most of my time aching for a band to have the balls to stretch a song out beyond the 7 minute mark and after the first 3 songs of this record I thought my answer had come. But the constant musical stream and the convoluted and often utterly confusing narrative weigh this down and really start to grate after the half way mark. They always had a slightly fucked up Andrew Lloyd Webber feel to their creations but somehow managed to steer their ship away in time. This album embraces that side and it's infuriating as some songs in there own right are quite special, it's nearly impossible to find a fault to justify the mediocre score you see on the left. So on that note I stand here and watch this great ship sail off into the distance without me and quietly hope and pray that someday it will pass by here again and pick me up. I wish them well.Read more 2.5 star reviews
Rough Trade band the 1990's have a new single and video - 59 - while 4AD's new signings Camera Obscura are back with a new mobile-phone-commercial-friendly single - French Navy, out April 13th.
There's a documentary about Rough Trade airing next Friday on BBC4 at 9pm. Covering the history of the label from it's beginnings in a West London record store through bankruptcy to it's current successful state, the doc will feature contributions from such luminaries as Johnny Marr, Jarvis Cocker ...and Duffy.
The Crying Light
It's been nearly four years since the operatic tones of Antony & The Johnsons breakthrough album I Am Bird Now took the music world by storm - well, the Mercury Music loving crowd at least. The Crying Light is the belated follow up, building on that success with confidence and style and again pushing forward the boundaries of popular music.
In name alone, "The Crying Light" gives a pretty clear idea of what to expect. Openers Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground, Epilepsy Is Dancing and One Dove set the tone - with mournful, haunting vocals over piano and strings creating ethereal soundscapes reminiscent of the dreamy pop of the Cocteau Twins or This Mortal Coil. This is visual music, haunting and narrative - with suggestions of love, loss, life and death ...wait a minute, isn't that what everyone's talking about at the moment?
It's not all doom and gloom, and as early as Kiss My Name there's a chink of light at the end of the tunnel, as a more upbeat piano lifts the mood - accompanied by soaring strings and shuffling drums. It's back to the blues for the guitar-led title track, before lead single Another World brings the mood down again - as well as making for one of the more disappointing tracks here, plodding slowly along and highlighting the essentially straightforward method behind the magic of this album.
Thematically the songs are very consistent, giving a soundtrack feeling to the record - which seems built around centerpiece Daylight and The Sun, which by the time it arrives sound like a reprise itself, swelling beautifully and floating over piano and strings. Touching and melancholic, this record continues along the strikingly original path forged by the debut and should certainly cement the reputation of Anthony Hegarty as a creative force.Read more 3 star reviews
The end of the year 'Best Ofs' are starting to trickle in, with Rough Trade beating a fairly similar track to some Chimpo favourites - but the numbers don't lie, and Last FM's chart clocks Coldplay as the favourite album and single of the year, with MGMT taking the artist top spot. Top 50s from Uncut and Mojo here
Always The Bridesmaid: A Singles Series Volume I
As a rule we don't usually bother with singles reviews but this is a special case. Firstly, as it involves the next move from this Portland band since their awesome The Crane Wife and secondly, as this single's release, when put with the other two volumes that will follow it, will form a seven song EP of new songs that didn't quite make the final cut for the forthcoming LP.
Volume I consists of Valerie Plame and O New England. Both are exactly what you'd expect from this band with no surprises but the song to get excited about is definitely Valerie Plame. It's a jaunty little number consisting of brisk banjo, comedy backing vocals, an almost Hey Jude second half and a shameless use of the tuba that will make you link your thumbs into your braces and bob up and down to the rhythm. But what is typical of the work of Colin Meloy is that the song is an amorous tribute to the onetime CIA operative whose cover was blown in a newspaper column. As if continuing the story first explored in Picaresque's The Bagman's Gambit, this song is written from the point of view of one of Plame's inside contacts and is a tale of love found in the most unlikely of places. As is the B side O New England which floats on a much smoother breeze but while being a delightful song might get lost on a full length record.
Volume II, featuring Days Of Elaine, Days Of Elaine (Long) and the curious I'm Sticking With You is released on November 4 and Volume III, consisting of Record Year and Raincoat Song will be with us on December 2. All come gloriously packaged as 12" vinyl and are sure to bridge the gap between now and the next album.Read more 3 star reviews
Springsteen-esque Husker Du fans The Hold Steady are playing in-store at Rough Trade East on Brick Lane next Monday 18th August at 7.30pm.
This will be the last opportunity for fans to see the band play London til their Roundhouse show in October. The in-store is part of a month of gigs to celebrate the first year in of an award-winning record shop Rough Trade East shop. WRISTBAND COLLECTION IS 1 HOUR PRIOR TO GIG, ON A FIRST-COME-FIRST-SERVED BASIS.
Time was when I would pool my baby-sitting proceeds and parental pocket money for a once fortnightly trip to the closest thing that a small provincial German town could muster to an equivalent of Rough Trade. Such hard won earnings would be sacrificed at the musical altar of the latest Seattle, Manchester or Boston Gods or perhaps invested in discs born a generation before in New York state country basements or conjured up in a downtown New York lofts. The sounds of yester-year were guaranteed a fair hearing as they would be on permanent rotation acting as a soundtrack to games of Nintendo, occasional teenage fumbles and 'what am I all about?' existential identity crises. Until another shopping trip a fortnight later that is. At least they had a whole two weeks to win me over. But oh, times have changed.
Unfortunately today's new kids on the block have a far tougher task in proving their worth. There is no two week rotation any longer, but in the days of 7000 downloaded songs in your back pocket and the limited airplay of journeys to and from work new sounds have a tougher task to dislodge that which is already tried and tested. Time is not on the side of newcomers. Such is the fate of one of the new generation – The Blakes, a band who (rather conveniently for this particular review) hail from Seattle but recorded their debut album in the same Fort Apache Studios once home to Boston Lemonheaded and Pixied indie darlings.
The self titled 'The Blakes' is an album that back in the day might well have been a slow-burning winner, but alas now it will probably turn out to be a 'life in the fast lane' loser. It is not that The Blakes are an outfit without merit, just that they now have far more competition. 'Modern Man' is all angular guitars and off kilter drumming that makes you want to clap your hands and say 'yeah', while the autistic wailing of 'Two Times' makes you want to climb Australian Vines. Sadly for the Blakes, there are acts firmly ensconced on my playlists that already serve these purposes, and I dare say on other Chimpomatic reader's lists too.
Ironically, the tunes that are most likely to be awarded playlist status - as opposed to cropping up on shuffle - arrive when The Blakes set themselves free of the template set by their Seattle predecessors 15 years before. There is a lack of coherence that counts against this being a great album but at least hints at things to come. With shared singing and writing duties there appears to be something of an identity crisis at the heart of this band. No doubt The Blakes consider themselves edgy outsiders, in the mould of all the other outsiders now in the mainstream, but when they let down their guard they actually churn out songs that demonstrate a talent for finding a groove ('Vampire') and an ear for a pop tune ('Lintwalk') that the sensibilities of their hoped for 'alternative' fanbase might rail against. If The Blakes can sort out their own version of the 'what are we all about' teenage existential identity crisis then they may just produce an album that finds itself permanently rotated rather than just making transient shuffle appearances that are as occasional as teenage fumblings.Read more 3 star reviews
With the festival calender close to morbid obesity this year, Concrete and Glass looks to be providing a slightly more slimline tonic. Based in and around Shoreditch ("within 9 minutes of Brick Lane"). Mixing music and art, the exhibition end of things has been organised by Flora Fairbairn and Paul Hitchman and includes the likes of Gavin Turk and Gerry Fox.
Tapping into the unique infrastructure of spaces in the east end, the art strand will feature over 30 projects in disused warehouses, outdoor spaces and empty shops in collaboration with curators, artists and galleries. Heart of Glass, a show of new, site-specific work by 25 artists in Shoreditch Town Hall’s basement, is the hub of the arts projects.
Only catch is, the music has yet to be announced - but Eat Your Own Your Own Ears are in charge, who have recently been responsible for the Field Day festival, as well as the recent Summer Sessions, which included the Justice show. Hosts for the music events include Rough Trade East, Young Turks, Drowned In Sound, Fence Collective and Wichita Records amongst others.
?C?mo Te Llama?
While The Strokes seem to have faltered in preparation for a follow up to 2006's excellent First Impressions Of Earth, guitarist Albert Hammond Jr has managed to put out debut solo album Yours To Keep in late 2006 and now followed it up with a second album - ¿Cómo Te Llama?
There are still echos of The Strokes sound - the rolling guitars of Victory At Monterey, the pounding bass line of Borrowed Time - but this is very much a solo album, and as such has a much more small-scale vibe than one of the band records. There's a bedroom-studio attitude thoughout, even if that bedroom might be lavishly kitted out, and the DIY vibe of bands like Guided By Voices even pops up here and there - which doesn't surprise me, star spotters, as I once spotted the man himself at one of the NYC shows of GBV's Electrifying Conclusion tour.
Having said all that, the record is infinitly more fleshed out than Yours To Keep, with Hammond backed by a more consistent band, as well as guest appearances from the likes of Sean Lennon. Moving beyond the ditties, things really have some meat on them with tracks like the Lennon-esqe, Bargain Of The Century (John, not Sean) or the crunching guitars of The Boss Americana. The releatively light-hearted sound of Hammond's solo work lifts some of the weight of expectation faced by the ever-hyped Strokes, and here we have the sound a productive songwriter getting a few things out of his system, working on ideas and generally letting things grow and develop. While Hammond doesn't have a classic voice as such, it has a character of his own and serves nicely to float over the wide range of musical ideas explored here - from the military drums of Rocket, to the reggae-tinged Miss Myrtle, or even the Miss Marple-tinged tinkles of charming instrumental Spooky Couch.
There's a fast and loose vibe to this summery album - which focuses on the good times in life and makes for a refreshing change. Due to its marked difference in style, it would be misleading to suggest that this album will fill the gap while you wait for a new Strokes album - but it is a good listen in its own right and provides clear evidence that at least a certain percentage of the engine behind that band is still ticking over nicely.Read more 3 star reviews
Following 2005's stellar album Z, My Morning Jacket continue to forge forward, cutting their own path through modern music. From the opening song, this is an unusual album that will not fail to surprise any existing fan. With Joe Chiccarelli at the controls, many of the band's trademark sounds have been left behind and many more contemporary influences have been brought in, signaling an attempt to widen the band's appeal with a more 'modern' sound. Although here 'modern' seems to mean the 70's and 80's - rather than 60's.
Opener Evil Urges expands on some of the disco sounds that started to appear on Z, but with Jim James reverb heavy sound on the back burner the song opts for an unrecognisable vocal style, perhaps best described as 'Bee-Gees'. Touch Me I'm Going To Scream seems to unsuccessfully re-work the melody from Z's far superiors It Beats 4U, but the most unusual is yet to come.
There was a never a more apt song title than Highly Suspicious, as while the paranoid tale of 'British Bobbies' pounding down the door attempts to deal with the modern Big Brother society it unintentionally reduces the listener to a baffled state - with the multi-tracked vocals of "Highly Suspicious!" hollering over the pounding funk beat. As a band, My Morning Jacket have often been compared to Neil Young - and it's a comparison that is still apt here, but unfortunately the album in question would be Neil Young's misfiiring electronic effort of the early 80's - Trans. Like that record, the attempt to connect with a 'modern' audience has produced a record more out of touch than ever before.
It's hard to tell the reasoning behind this move, as Z was an outstanding improvement on an already outstanding sound. It was a huge step forward and in many ways a departure from their previous records, but there was a solid core to it that maintained everything there was to like about the band. Perhaps that record was such a success that the band saw no restrictions on moving even further forwards with this release - or that they were held back with Z and it was a record that didn't pay off. Only time will tell.
It doesn't all miss the target of course and even title song Evil Urges has the makings of a great track, let down by the affected vocals. Once you're past the bewildering few openers things do settle down, with the more familiar sound of I'm Amazed, Thank You Too or Look At You, although admittedly some of these tracks would only rate as standard fare on an album like It Still Moves. The Librarian is a pleasant enough song, but the lyrics are so screamingly cringe-worthy ("Take off those glasses and let down your hair for me") that it's hard to see past them - to what presumeably isn't just about Jim James falling for the plain jane who showed him how to use the 'interweb', but is in fact advice to be 'happy with the inner you'. And not end up like Karen Carpenter. While the bands lyrics have never been deep or profound, there was always a sense of something beneath the surface and the emotional delivery of songs like The Bear or Gideon left the listener with plenty to think about.
Things do get back to the level you would expect from this band towards the end, with Remnants and the prog rock vibe of Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Part 2. Smokin From Shootin' is the album's one truly spectaucular track, but it's too little too late, leaving a spotty success rate that is hardly equal to the numerous highlights of previous albums. This unique band have taken their music in a new direction and while it is still certainly a unique sound I'm afraid to say that at the moment it's a direction I'm unlikley to follow them down. In many ways this is still a good record, with plenty to reccomend it over much of the junk that passes for music these days, but next to much of the band's other work it pales in comparison. Maybe I'm just not ready for it yet, and my kids are going to love it.... but 25 listens in it still isn't clicking and I can't help but feel disappointed.Read more 3 star reviews
Rough Trade East are pleased announce another exclusive DJ set, this time from Seattle 5 piece Fleet Foxes. If you haven't heard of the Fleet Foxes yet its only a matter of time until you do, they've been turning heads in the industry for a while now. Their debut self titled album on Bella Union is released 9th May, they have a baroque harmonic pop folk sound that takes you back to the heady days of Crosby, Stills & Nash. It a great chance to meet the band whilst listening to them DJ some of their favourite tracks & influences, as if thats not enough you'll even have a chance to listen to their new album that comes complete with a Rough Trade exclusive bonus disc with unreleased tracks.
2006/7 favourites The Hold Steady are following in My Morning Jacket's footsteps and signing with Rough Trade for the U.K. Not resting on their laurels, they've already recorded a follow up to the Springsteen tinged Boys & Girls Of America - scheduled for release later this year.
Jason Molina is amongst the stars putting in an in-store performance at Rough Trade East next Saturday (19th), as part of Record Store Day. Support your (or mine in this case) local vinyl merchant and you'll be in with a chance of seeing the likes of Billy Bragg, Eugene McGuinness and a DJ set by Can's Irmin Schmidt...
Sixes & Sevens
Former Moldy Peach Adam Green makes a return with Sixes & Sevens, marking the prolific 26 year old's 5th solo album ...and as usual it's an eclectic, mixed bag spread over 20 songs.
The album covers pretty much every style you can imagine, whether it's the wakiki sounds of Tropical Island, the beatnik poety of That Sound Like A Pony or the Las Vegas lounge of single Morning After Midnight - which even goes so far as to stray from it's already unusual course and head into Rolf Harris outback territory with a touch of that bouncing spring sound. I'm sure there's a name for that instrument, but it's not one I've ever had to recall for a review before. When relative calm scales back the ambition, Green settles back into a relaxing groove and tracks like Twee Twee Dee have an unmistakable charm, while the seemingly superficial lyrics keep their meanings hidden away under deep, deep layers of pastiche.
Pan pipes are the wacky weapon of choice on You Get So Lucky, while the Hopalong Cassidy twang returns for Getting Led, along with some soulful backing singers. Not unlike letting a wide-eyed kid loose in the music room, Sixes & Sevens can best be described as like loading up a 1950's playlist on your iPod and hitting shuffle.
The female vocals mix things up again nicely on the country-tinged Drowning Feet First, while the lyrical rumblings of When A Pretty Face provide another one of the album's highlights, recalling the story-telling style of Louis Prima.
With your preconceptions set aside this is an album that adds up to considerably more than the sum of it's parts. Green's voice is his secret weapon and along with his lyrics style it's strong sound provides consistency that really ties this album together into a remarkably cohesive listen. Perfect, in fact, for that Aloha!-themed-kabuki-Halloween party you were planning.Read more 3 star reviews
Information on My Morning Jacket's upcoming album Evil Urges is filling out, with the tracklisting as follows:
01 "Evil Urges"
02 "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Part 1"
03 "Highly Suspicious"
04 "I'm Amazed"
05 "Thank You Too"
06 "Sec Walkin'"
07 "Two Halves"
09 "Look At You"
10 "Aluminum Park"
12 "Smokin' From Shootin'"
13 "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Part 2"
14 "Good Intentions"
The band previewed some of the tracks at a recent Houston gig ....Stereogum has the videos.
message in from our friends over at accidental records
Greetings from our new home in New Cross. We hope this email finds you well.
So, a few new bits of news for your aural tantalisation:
Our new favourite band and recent signing, The Invisible, have released their inaugural 7" and download 'Constant' b/w 'Passion' (Kwes rework) (AC 28).
It's a blistering ride through the band's sonic scale, available from Boomkat, Phonica, Rough Trade, Sounds of the Universe, Piccadilly and all other good record shops in the UK as well as iTunes and most of the digital platforms. Or buy one from the band at a gig! They're set to tour across the UK in April, and will be playing in London in March-more details on their myspace: The Invisible
Micachu, and her band, the Shapes are on everyone's lips here in the UK, and rightly so as their sound gathers fans and plaudits alike. There will be a single out shortly and Mica releases a free-downloadable mixtape at the end of the month, available from her myspace page.
She's just been announced as the main support band on the upcoming sold-out Foals tour, so if you're unfortunately without a ticket you should get over to her page sharpish and find out where else you'll be able to catch her before she's conquering the charts.
Setsubun Bean Unit.
Our intrepid jazz-electro-bon dancing unit will be gracing the next issue of The Wire magazine, featuring on its celebrated Wire Tapper cover mount. Order your copy from your newsagent today!
And finally... we're having a party! To celebrate all of our new exciting releases in the upcoming year and to say hi to our new neighbours in New Cross, we'll be having an Accidental party in a South London location on April 25th-book it in your diaries now and we'll keep you posted!
Rough Trade Shops - Counter Culture 07
In this new dawn of flagging record sales and mass closures of your favorite music shops it seemed a strange time for Rough Trade to expand its empire and open the impressive uber-shop that is Rough Trade East, but I guess if anyone can do it thy can and now that it has its own cafe at the front this new Counter Culture compilation is what you'd likely endure if you closed your office for a day and set up camp in the Rough Trade cafe. Needless to say it wouldn't all be what you were looking for. Having ditched the assistance of some of the major labels that aided the release of the previous Counter Culture series this one has been put together independently by the Rough Trade shops themselves. This is quite evident from the tracklist as some of the selections you just know are the choices of a minority nerd group that really doesn't give a monkeys if the customers don't like it, they're ignorant so why should they be trusted? But then there are some really big hitters that never fail to deliver.
Over the years I have often used these Rough Trade compilations as a way of discovering new musical territory previously untrodden by my delicate and sheltered ears. I first came across Sufjan Stevens on a Counter Culture CD and have looked forward to similar discoveries ever since. Though expertly compiled and a darn good listen throughout this outing unfortunately serves up little in the way of surprises. A quick glance at the tracklist will hint at some immediate stand out moments of last year like Battles' unrivaled and mighty Atlas or Of Montreal's avant-pop gem Gronlandic Edit. Pete And The Pirates provide some ramshackled indie-punk magic from their album Little Death with Come On Feet and Dan Deacon's d.i.y roadrunner-rave is perfectly expressed in The Crystal Cat. But at a glance I would have expected these to be some obvious high points and was slightly disappointed not to be proved wrong. There were exceptions however with Julian Cope and the dirty rock tornado of No Age pricking up my ears but the prize would have to go to Dan Le Sac Versus Scroobius Pip for Thou Shalt Always Kill. This is a razor-sharp pop-culture critique that providing you can keep up is a lesson to us all. Lessons like never to question Steven Fry or watch Hollyoaks are of course a given but the line, "Thou shalt not judge a book by its cover, thou shalt not judge Lethal Weapon by Danny Glover," is really something else.
So as the stand out song on this exceedingly mixed bag its wisdom casts a new light on the compilation itself. After being told repeatedly not set up bands as false idols and to think for yourselves you do start to look over these choices as just someone's opinion. But on a brighter note the whole thing comes impeccably presented in a 2 CD set with 20 page colour fold-out booklet and full sleeve notes and just serves to prove that the supposedly lifeless corpse of the record shop has some breath left in it after all.Read more 2.5 star reviews
For anyone who didn't manage to get into the Radiohead show at
Rough Trade 93 Feet East (er, like everyone) it's all online over at YouTube. 'No Surprises' there.
So, we've got a small gig tonight.
It's in London at the Rough Trade East shop on Brick Lane, and we're planning to play a short set of in rainbows material. It's very limited free entry, first come first served. Also, as it might be a little uncomfortable for anyone queuing early, they're planning a numbering system so people at the front of any queue can get snacks and toilet breaks in the store. Good bagels round there. But dress warm...doors won't open until 7, and we'll play at about 8.
For those who can't get in - and it's pretty small in there - we'll have some screens and speakers outside, if we're allowed. I think we are. And we'll also webcast it. I'll put the link up here, as well as any other info, later today.
Hope you can make it - should be....interesting. Us being us, we're taking far too many instruments.....
Time For Heroes - The Best Of The Libertines
I confess. The Libertines passed me by. I'm not sure if I was just not reading NME at the time, but they literally passed me by to the point where I couldn't tell you a single one of their songs. Their influence can (apparently) be seen in the more recent crop of British bands who seem to have taken the band's style and applied it to good music. I'm talking about the Arctic Monkeys and The View amongst others, who of course both have obvious roots and influences, but bring a bucketload of originality with it.
A quick iTunes search tells me that as far as new music goes, 2002-2004 was defined for me by Arcade Fire, Beastie Boys, Flaming Lips, Foo Fighters, Grandaddy, Interpol, John Frusciante, Kings of Leon, My Morning Jacket, Red Hot Chili Chili Peppers, Steven Malkmus and Weezer. In alphabetical order. Come to think of it, 2004 is barely a whisper away - but looking back at my list it is certainly dominated by American bands and The Libertines must have presented a tangible alternative to that.
The comeback of the English guitar band is certainly indisputible, with dance music being the most obvious loser, but coming at The Libertines now with hindsight but a distinct lack of sentimentality it's still hard for me to see what all the fuss is about. At least Oasis were huge, loutish, hotel-trashing superstars who would literally walk out of a US stadium tour waving their fingers. Can't Stand Me Now does come across as a melacholic anthem but the songs just seem to be mostly repetitive chorus, which could at least make for a singalong live. In this day and age, there's little excuse for poor production. But The Libertines just seem to make dull, derivative music with very little genuine impact. The band are clearly derivative of many British bands, but strangely the band they remind me of most is So-Cal punkers Seven Seconds. Go figure.
It's not saying much when a band has to cull a 'Best Of' from only two original albums and a few singles and it's saying even less when half those tracks still put themselves forward as skippable. Sorry, I honestly tried.
Beirut are playing a free in-store at the Rough Trade East megastore on Brick Lane on November 5th..... for anyone who isn't seeing Wilco (again) that night. Email instores(at)roughtrade.com for guestlist.
Staying true to their name, SFA’s 8th studio album and first for new label Rough Trade, Hey Venus!, is a collection of warm, fuzzy and reliable tracks from these Welsh indie stalwarts.
Recorded by Broken Social Scene producer David Newfield, it comprises 12 multi-layered tracks, that range from the Primal Screamish rock stomp opening of The Gateway Song, more than a hint of epic Elvis Costello (Run-Away), the almost horizontally laidback and beautiful (The Gift That Keeps Giving), a gaggle of funky fuzzed up rockers (Noo Consumer, Into The Night, Baby Ate My Eightball) to Carbon Dating, which wouldn’t be out of place on a 60’s UK Film soundtrack (probably Get Carter).
All these are tied loosely around a single concept, explained by the band themelves in their open-lettered brief to Japanese artist Keiichi Tanaami, as they sought his services for the album’s artwork.(see comments). Whilst varied, no song strays too far from the pyschedelic-pop flock, resulting in an album that sounds like a well-behaved and focussed Flaming Lips.
It's no coincidence that the release of Miracle Fortress' debut album happens to coincide with the belated start of the british summertime. Montreal based multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Graham Van Pelt must be a powerful man indeed to keep the sunshine at bay until he felt fit to offer this album to the world as one play of this idyllic piece of work will tell you where the nice whether has been for all this time. Listening to Five Roses is like lying on your back looking up at the sun, shimmering and dancing between the branches of a sheltering tree. As it blows gently in the breeze shards of light make their way through the foliage to intermittently soak you in their warmth. I include the tree in this analogy because this isn't just your sun bleached, airy-fairy pop record, it's much more varied than that. Van Pelt's vocals drift effortlessly on soaring thermals of delicate synths but also march triumphantly alongside pounding drums and joyous guitars.
Records of this type can often stay out too long in the sun and end up with no real focus to punctuate the breezy soundscapes. Opening track Whirrs puts that to right straight away with it's stomping rhythm and driving guitars. It's not the rising warmth of the rest of the record but it tells us unequivocally to feel free to plan the barbecue cos it's gonna be blue sky's from here on in. Debut single Have You Seen Her In Your Dreams is pure bliss with its soft melodies that will melt any heart and dispel any recollection of winter. Maybe Lately takes a slightly different path to your affection with it's Brian Wilson harmonies and jaunty baselines while Hold Your Secrets To Your Heart is a gently progressing but ultimately triumphant pop master stroke.
The album has a definite progressive structure as it steadily enlarges on this hopefulness throughout the forty three minutes. From the delicate droplets of warmth of the first half songs like Blasphemy with its midway gear shift slowly increase the downpour until the finale of This Thing About You provides us with the full panoramic view of the glorious ocean spread out before us. Granted, this song could evoke images of a T Mobile advert where a guy smugly struts around town on his phone without a care in the world purely cos he's got 400 free minutes, but stick with it and these appalling images will soon melt away. It's a triumphant end to a beautiful day.
Not since I discovered the highs of Loney, Dear's Sologne have I been this satisfied with a record. This is pure comfort without being easy listening. It's blissfully engaging and shimmers and shines as if soaked in light. Highly recommended.
In what seems like a good move for everybody, Rough Trade records has joined forces with the Beggars group - already home to 4AD, Matador, XL and others. Hopefully that means we'll have a few more reviews from Rough Trade coming down the pipe....
Rough Trade, the seminal UK Independent label founded and run by Geoff Travis and Jeannette Lee, have today joined the existing labels within the Beggars Group, following the purchase by Beggars of Sanctuary's interest in the company.
Following the sacrifice of the old Neal's Yard shop, the new Rough Trade East opens this Friday in the Truman Brewery, just off Brick Lane.
Record shops, Truman Brewery - so 90's!
Eamon from Brakes lost his guitar at the Glastonbury festival and is issuing a plea to anyone who may have found it, lying in the mud outside the Leftfield Tent at Glastonbury, sometime between 3am and 7am on Sunday morning. It was a Gewa Tennesee Bluesbird, not worth very much monetarily (£120), but of priceless sentimental value (most of Brakes' two albums were composed on it). Anyone who knows of its whereabouts, please contact Rough Trade Records on 020 8960 9888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with a photo, and Eamon will come and collect it and play you a gig in your front room. It was in a black case and had a 'Bronze Ace' wooden mic pick up, with the 'Bronze' wording rubbed off.
Eamon had played at 2.30am and was a bit worse for wear.
After serving for 11 years as the voice of Swedish indie popsters The Concretes - as well as contributing unmistakable vocals to last years Young Folks single from Peter, Bjorn & John - Victoria Bergsman decided to leave The Concretes behind to go solo, taking her love of trees to conjure up the name Taken By Trees.
The acoustic guitar and single drum of Tell Me set the pace for the album, which is minimal melodic pop. Like a Scandinavian Camera Obscura, or a regular Stina Nordenstam, the album is built almost entirely around Victoria's attractive voice. There's not much suggestion of depth to the lyrics, just breezy pop that ambles along without causing any offense. Songs are often story-telling tales in the third person, with some minimal instrumental tracks making nice use of pipes and atmospheric effects. Lost And Found sounds like an ideal choice for a single, with the lovesick delivery sounding more than a little like fellow Swedes The Cardigans.
It's all pleasant enough, but lacking the heart or emotion to make it powerful. It ends up as nothing more than pleasant pop that provides nothing new, and you may feel like you have heard it all before.
The back up vocals of Hours Pass Like Centurys beef things up a bit, and the effects and xylophone of Ceder Trees starts to offer something a little different, but it's not really enough and is definitely a case of too little too late. It's all at the same level and is very conventionally structured, with verse / chorus / verse all the way through - but that's pop I guess. It's all pretty much reliant on you falling for her sexy voice and if you just go with the flow that might well be enough.
Imagine Our Love
Hot on the heels of February's Cavalry Of Light EP comes this debut album from LA based Lavender Diamond.
Things start well with opening track Oh No taking a simple lyric "When will I love again" and repeating it over and over - pounding it home and giving the words untold emotion and power. Lead single Open Your Heart is also highlight and it comes as little surprise that Decemberists vocalist Colin Meloy is a big fan (providing a cover of the same track as a b-side on the single) as is Devendra Banhart The eclectic styles of those two references provide some idea of the scenes this band have come out of. The band is most clearly defined in that ever expanding genre of undefinable. Becky Stark's vocals are the focus of the entire album and they are surrounded by a multitude of style and influences.
The bass and piano of Open Your Heart have a near showtune sound ("Downtown!"), there are touches of opera, musicals, and a hefty dose of Carole King and Brill Building nostalgia (wait, didn't I say all this last time? Maybe they're not so hard to define after all). Like An Arrow uses the old repeating lyrics game again, but this time with a more low-key effect, and things pick up again with the catchy pop of Here Comes One - another highlight.
Starks' vocals are undoubtedly fantastic, and the album makes a very pleasant listen that would be perfect dinner party sound-tracking. Unfortunately that's not enough, and the EP having stolen away some of the better tracks. They don't do anything wrong here, it's just that the excitement and originality of the EP is lost and the tracks here already seem less ambitious and slightly stale. After 51 minutes the undefinable just starts to sound a little too familiar.
You can listen to 4 tracks here (all in Windows Media format):
Open Your Heart
Like An Arrow
Here Comes One
The Cavalry Of Light
This EP from Los Angeles based Lavender Diamond seems to be creating a frenzy at the moment, first with Matador snapping up the North American rights and then Rough Trade taking Europe. It's not hard to see why - with the band acting as a "a vehicle for the astonishing vocals and buoyant worldview of Becky Stark."
Stark's superb classical vocals give the record a timeless quality that is best compared to something out of NYC's Brill Building in the sixties, probably penned by Carole King. The crisp production and piano-led sound are familiar and engaging, but strangely unlike much of the music around at the moment.
You Broke My Heart (Listen here - Windows Media) is a tight, highly strung number - gently increasing the pressure as it builds up and up, with it's gentle sound hiding the heart-breaking undertone of it's message.
Ballad Please (Listen here - Windows Media) iis the most Carole King-esque of the tracks, with it's distinct, sad nostalgia. Lavender Diamond tread a careful line between the singer-songwriter side of seventies LA and the problem-solving of Andrew Lloyd Webber, but In Heaven There Is No Heat (Listen here - Windows Media) ilands things on the CSNY side of the fence.
Currently supporting the Decemberists on their European tour, the band will have a full length album out in May which I eagerly look forward to.
In 2005 the Arcade Fire gave us Funeral - and with it music was exciting again. No sooner had the music industry heard all 10 songs that it set about desperately trying to find the next source of this feeling. The well timed release of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah saw that band ride this wave with another stunningly exciting debut. So it's 2 years on and Clap Your Hands got in there first with their reply, so what of Neon Bible? Is this a one trick pony? Well, what do you do after such a powerful debut? As we are seeing with Some Loud Thunder, the answer is to play it cool and take it all down a notch. No such idea ever crossed the mind of Win Butler and co. when making Neon Bible. The agenda is clear here, take everything great about Funeral and times it by ten - reveal the iceberg. It's the sound of a band who know full well that they make big music. The best word to describe Neon Bible is massive. If you intend to listen to this album you will need to brush up on 'The Platoon Position', as mid way through the opening track Black Mirror you'll find yourself in need of a suitable body position to justify such grandiosity. It's triumphant music which is surprising considering all the previous themes of death, resentment and wasted life are at its heart and the inclusion of war and the demise of America it's thematically pretty bleak. Musically and stylistically it hasn't changed much from Funeral although it seems quite obvious that someone's been listening to Bruce Springsteen. So with the immortal words of The Boss "Just wrap your legs round these velvet ribs and strap your hands across my engines," I will begin with what will undoubtedly become a tired and over-used driving/cars metaphor to describe this album.
If the opening track with its rumble of thunder and deep, pounding drums is akin to the feeling of getting behind the wheel of a high performance vehicle then Keep The Car Running is the point where you come over the brow of a hill and see the open road ahead. The delicate guitar strum at the start hints at the pace ahead and makes your heart flutter with impending excitement.
Title track Neon Bible is the early stop at the service station to refuel when all women and children hear the words they dread. "Get what you need cos we're not stopping again." And with Intervention we are most certainly back at full speed. It's the grandest song on the album, shit it's the fucking grandest song this side of God Save The Queen (National Anthem not Sex Pistols.) Anyone frowning at my use of cuss words will see that they certainly are justified. Starting with a chapel organ the size of St Pauls Cathedral if every hair on your body doesn't stand on end consider yourself paralyzed. I don't know how this song will be played live as no building with a roof could possibly contain it.
Black Wave is pure Blondie with it's sublime melodies courtesy of Regine Chassagne, who until now has been the power house behind the backing vocals. Ocean Of Noise brings things down a notch with it's washes of strings and soft vocals but the driver of this car wasn't joking when he said we wouldn't be stopping again. This was merely a momentary drop in intensity before the full mariachi band bring this song to a glorious close.
The Well And The Lighthouse comes in with rapid pounding drums and Butler's frenzied vocals forever building and with Antichrist Television Blues The Boss really comes to the forefront. With it's strumming acoustic structure, passion fueled tales of working for the minimum wage and unstoppable tempo this would make Bruce wish he'd written it. As do many of these songs this one builds and builds to such tremendous heights then suddenly stops and makes you think that had it not stopped so suddenly you could very easily have shit yourself with joy. Windowsill is more of a slow builder but guess what, it lifts you up on yet another earth shattering wave of sound and rings you out at the end.
The inclusion of No Cars Go is the only questionable element to this album. Having heard its original form on the early EP this feels like all too familiar territory and even though it's been working out since its first appearance its inclusion here still feels a bit unnecessary.
Things are brought to an exhaustive close with My Body Is A Cage and please welcome back on to the stage, the huge fucking chapel organ. "My body is a cage that keeps me from dancing with the one I love, but my mind holds the key," sings Butler "Set my body free." This song is the end of a movie, it's the unfeasible tracking-crane-shot that lifts from close proximity and keeps on lifting, encompassing everything, showing us the whole picture. And with it's climax your body drops from the Platoon Position and though all your senses try to stop you, you press play again.
So to put this tired metaphor to rest, this is an awesome journey that covers a lot of ground. It never hits traffic, it sometimes slows down for safety reasons while passing through small villages but never opts for monotonous motorway driving and always takes the scenic route.
Hotsy Totsy Nagasaki
It's always a delight to put on a new album by a band you've never heard of and get some instant satisfaction, and it's a surprising uncommon situation.
I can openly admit that I had never heard of Desert Hearts before, and certainly never heard their 2002 debut album - Let's Get Worse. Released through Rough Trade in 2002, that album got some good reviews from the likes of Mojo and Uncut, but never really broke through... instead settling for 'cult classic' status - apparently evident my the number of myspace users using it's track titles as their moniker. This is certainly not a band that you would associate with myspace however, and what is even more surprising is the news that the band is from Belfast. Not that there's anything wrong with that of course, just that their sound is so American, with it's blend of Pavement/Fugazi/Misc American Indie.
Opener D Moon Pilot's version of a slow Fugazi shuffle quickly dispenses with the vocals to power up some extra hardware and get this party started. Sea Punk is pure Pavement with it's instrumental licks and arrangements, overlaid with Charlie Mooney's deceptively pleasant vocals ...but again with this track and the next vocals often play second fiddle to the guitars.
This three piece can unleash when necessary and they often do. While it's title might suggest one thing, the furious groove of Central Line suggests nothing of the sort.
Roisin Stewarts vocals add another element to their sound in power pop jam Ocean - beefed up by Mooney's back up vocals. Once again the guitars show they really know how to rock, and perhaps the Andy Miller production credit can offer some explanation. As well as showing some of the roots of the band's sound, his previous credits of Arab Strap and Mogwai do give the album some non-American reference points - particularly Mogwai's slow building rhythms and lines. Goodbye Everything's strong bass line builds slowly, with slight lyrics build around an instrumental esque jam that would site happily on a Tortoise or Mogwai album.
This is a surprising record, and one that will hopefully keep expanding as I spend more time with it.... hopefully cementing it's current place as one of this year's early favourites.
Songs for Christmas
Even though a fan, I let out a slight groan at the prospect of a five CD Christmas boxset. Rather suprisingly this is a fascinating window into Mr. Steven's progression over the last five years. Presented chroniclogically, it showcases his growing strength as a songwriter and progression in his sound. There are some great songs here to boot: 'Come On! Let's Bogey to the Elf Dance!', 'That was the Worst Christmas Ever!', 'Get behind Me Santa!' and 'Christmas in July' are all up there with his strongest work.Read more 4 star reviews
Rough Trade is going digital with a new mp3 store, launching soon.
A feature of the site will be a counter-to-digital service for unsigned bands wishing to sell their music digitally. Bands can sell it on the website complete with Rough Trade's potential endorsement.
Sounds good, but no details on price or anything yet. Pretty sure you won't be able to use your Zune credits though.
These days a record label is not complete until it has a David Byrne inspired vocalist on their books. Rough Trade got theirs with The Arcade Fire, Wichita with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and now Domino have found theirs. Hailing from the West Country, Archie Bronson Outfit are not something you would want to listen to if you were of a nervous disposition, or in the least bit on edge. This is not a criticism, it’s just a pretty stressful experience listening to Derdang Derdang, the groups second album. They have managed to create a real sense of urgency that except for the final track is pretty much unrelenting. The whole album can be summed up in the stand out track Dart For My Sweetheart. On the whole, I frown upon songs that use counting, or days of the week as their structure - but this one is an exception. It starts “One is a gun with a dart for my sweetheart,” and continues up to twelve. All this over methodical, driving and jangling guitar and drums. Arp, the drummer and lyricist says, “There’s a nursery rhyme feel to the lyric, the counting stuff.” His kids ain't getting no sleep tonight.
The band claim this album was written and recorded in a very short space of time while they were all living together - and this comes as no surprise to me. It has a captivating sense of immediacy and the ever building tempo in each song threatens an approaching explosion, but rarely gives in. The tension comes from a combination of repetitive guitar rhythms, screeching free jazz saxophone and distinctive, paranoia filled vocals - delivered with such energy and force you have to either switch off or sit up and take notice. On Dead Funny he orders us, “don’t worry just get your head down.” Sound advice I think.
Welcome Home Losers
This band is great and they really shouldnt be. They just dont stick to the rules and that pisses me off. I first discovered them on a Rough Trade Country compilation and thats where you would expect to find them, not in Cambridge which is where they are from. But they sound so damn country, and what pisses me off more is that they make great country music. This record is packed full of sadness and bitterness and delivered with such irony that it is surprisingly upbeat. It is tongue-in-cheek like The Hansome Family and sounds like the secret diary musings of a man who has had so much crap dumped on him from various relationships that he is left with no other option than to see the funny side of life. I suppose this is their English side coming out. Bravo.Read more 3.5 star reviews
number 5 in rough trade's counter culture series is out: £9.99 for 2cds w 50 tracks from the fall, clap your hands, herbert, king creosote, the pipettes etc etc