From the moment Tom Smith’s dark brooding vocals echo through the darkness and launch into “An End Has A Start” you just know this is going to be a special night. This is my first experience of an Editors gig and I wondered if they would live up to their reputation of being one of the best live acts around. Smith doesn’t really indulge in a lot of banter between songs other then the perfunctory “thanks” “how are you?”, polite and to the point… but what he lacks in repartee he makes up for in terms of his performance. He gives absolutely everything , heart and soul, sounding at times like the long lost son of Andrew Eldritch, and lets face it we’ve come here for the music not witty banter. When he isn’t prowling the stage like a caged tiger guitar in hand, full of nervous energy, he’s clambering onto drum kits and piano’s like a rangy mountain goat with ADHD ! At one point I thought he might actually attempt to clamber up the industrial structure which was used as the stage backdrop, a difficult task given that its in 2D.
The band mix melancholy with hope, joy with despair and the show crackled a long at a blistering pace, the live sound being one of the best I’ve ever heard. Tom’s growing his hair these days , and, well, to be honest- the gel ain’t working- the more energy he expends the more unkempt his hair becomes, it appeared to be expanding at such an alarming rate that at one point he started to resemble Side Show Bob crossed with Art Garfunkel. This is a band who certainly give it their all, the energy levels never once dropping as Smith span around the stage playing the guitar on his head or hurtling around like a demented marionette, switching between fast paced classics like “Blood” to their slower, more reflective numbers with consummate ease. By the time “Munich” is played the crowd are eating out of the palm of his hand as a huge great burly shaven headed scouser next to me, sings with genuine emotion, about people being “fragile things.” Editors proved that they truly are one of the best live acts you’re likely to see , and this was a gig that will live long in the memory. To quote them “I’m so glad I’ve found this, I’m so glad I did.”
Girls with attitude and guitars ? 60’s influenced vibes ? On the VPME ? Surely not. There seems to be a bit of a theme here! Well the She-Beats seem to pass the VPME quality check :- attitude, talent and a helping of sixties tinged songs that recall the Bangles the Go-Gos and The Kinks – I mean whats not to like? Mix that with lead singer Holly’s sassy Rock n Roll vocals and you have a sure fire recipe for success……heck I mean they’ve even lived on a barge and you cant get more beat movie than that, other than being a young Cliff Richard and showing the kids how to “darnce” whilst winning the heart of Una Stubbs ….After many missed phone calls, and lack of internet connection due to living on the said boat, Mr VP finally caught up with lead singer Holly Beat to ask her about music, boats, iconic dads and saucy messages and could he get a word in edge-ways?? ….. could he ?? 😉
VP: What’s the story behind the formation of the band ?
Holly : Well we’ve all been buddies for years and we all gigged together in bands doing covers in Swindon, for pocket money. -We are all huge Beatle fans so Tiff, Alice and I started out with the intention of being an all girl Beatle cover band just for a bit of cash and a giggle.. but we never got round to learning a Beatle song! Tiffs dad, Pete, is in a Beatle tribute band so he had all the Beatley gear hanging around.. rickenbackers.. hofner bass and the ludwig kit etc. After searching high and low for a female drummer and guitarist we realised they were as rare as rocking horse poo and if we wanted something doing we might as well do it ourselves. So Tiff grabbed some sticks, I donned a guitar, whilst Alice went on bass and bob’s your uncle.-(Funnily enough, bob is my uncle). I originally wanted to just sing, Tiff was going to play bass as thats her forte and Alice was going to hit the keys. We grabbed some of our male friends to play lead guitar and organ and we were away! (Must add at this point that the name The SheBeats had nothing to do with the Beatle idea.-I came up with it years ago whilst having a curry n lager with me pop.- Just stared into me korma and there it was. (Not quite as good as it soaring past on a flaming pie, but I don’t eat a lot of pie)..We were going to call ourselves The Apple Scruffs but there is already a band by that name.. its guys, but Apple Scruffs was the name for the Beatle-mad women that hung out, outside the apple studios?) Soooo, we played musical chairs a bit when we got Polly in the band. The guy guitarist left, We switched our current keys player (Papa keys as he was known.. but he can play pretty much anything) to lead guitar.. and Polly began to hit those ivorys! Papa then moved over and Sophie Lynch came all the way back from Wales to play lead guitar for us. She was once a Swindon lass but moved to greener pastures.. and only the power of the beat-lets brought her back.
And –deep breath– that is how The SheBeats came to be! 🙂
VP: There’s definitely a 60’s influence to your sound with a modern twist who are your influences
Holly :Between all our influences we cover ACDC to Abba. Tiff is a general retro nut!-She’s mad on the 60’s and has a soft spot for indie. Alice loves Bowie, TRex and quirky pop. Soph adores The Libertines and a lot of obscure modern indie and rock.
Polly can’t get enough of Queen.. she loves the musicals and has done a Jazz degree so she’s very good at scatting! And I love quirk pop like Ben Folds Five and Barenaked Ladies.. The band don’t really aim to sound like anyone as such.. we all love The Beach boys for their harmonies, The Beatles for their songs and The Bangles for their balls.. metaphorically speaking, with a bit of Fratelli dirt power and Hoosier nonsense thrown in for good measure.
VP: You’ve been recording at Abbey Road Is this for an album? When will it be out? Are you enjoying the process?
Holly :We’ve had a fab time recording bits and bobs for an endorsement with Apple.. but We haven’t been recording the album as such.. or at least we started, but we changed our minds about some stuff. That’s girls for ya though! We all figured we were gona have to be in LANDAN TAWN for a while to record and play.. and couldn’t raise the cash to get a decent pad, so in Rosie and Jim fashion, we formulated an evil plan. Not so much evil -as wet. Polly, Tiff and I boarded Tiffinys fathers boat and sailed in down the Thames to London and lived together for a couple of months under Kingston bridge on the river. -We had to take it back as the locks shut in the winter, and we all needed a jolly good shower.
VP: The current music scene? What’s your opinion? Any bands /performers take your fancy?
Holly :Again, with all us 5 girls being into very different music, I’m sure you wouldnt get the same answer twice. In fact, that’s an impossible question to answer on behalf of everyone. I think we’re all agreed that the Enemy/Fratellis crew are all doing a grand job at knocking out some dirty indie pop..(what a lazy answer, teehee).
The current music scene? Hmm it seems to be saturated with indie bands and emo/metal bands at the moment but at least we’ve moved away from the S Club era. There is more value to bands that can deliver the goods at a live show now and I think that’s how it should stay. – oh dear we better practise what we preach:)
VP: Have you received any bizarre requests or messages from fans yet?
Holly : Yes, but Myspace is quite an odd place isn’t it though? We’ve met a lovely chap who’d like to paint us, a french gentlemen who pins pictures of us to things for luck, a guy who wrote us a very touching poem about the colour yellow (I will find it and send it to you). -Everyone we’ve encountered has seemed genuine and well-meaning. -Although we do get a lot of emails from men who don’t give a hoot what we’re singing about etc. If you have breasts it is very difficult to get noticed for your music first, so we get a lot of ‘sexy’ messages shall we say. tut tut.
VP: What have been the highlights of your time together?
Holly :Definately the boat times. (I can’t say that without it sounding like I am quoting The Mighty Boosh) – one of my personal highlights in fact..was seeing Noel Fielding in London after a SheBeats meeting.. I wanted to say hi and kiss his feet but PollyBeat (the organised one) wouldn’t let us stop. Probably a good thing, I would’ve stroked his face or tied myself to him or something. It’s hard to say what the highlights have been as we’ve all known eachother so long. As a band, the best day so far would have to be Abbey Road, studio 2. Lots of severe pant wetting went on that day. -But we always have a giggle.. no matter where we are or what we’re doing. We’ve spent a lot of time in Tiffs caravan recording on Reel to reel and that was good fun too.
VP: Your dad’s a bit of a cult figure within the music world (XTC legend Andy Partridge) has he been a big influence, does he offer advice or does he leave you to your own devices?
Holly :He’s awesome when it comes to all the legal stuff. He’s had trouble in the past with what he’s signed so he is always very interested in the contracts etc. He’s also supportive like any other parent would be but he doesn’t get too involved. I do call him for advice and it’s great to have someone you can trust, at hand, who’s been through it all before. There were some rumours going around that he wrote for The SheBeats which is nonsense, but it is a bit of a compliment to me if our stuff sounds like he had a hand in it as I do look up to him as a writer.
VP: What’s your opinion of the rise of social networking (i.e. Myspace /Face book) is it a good thing?
Holly :I think the music/comedy myspaces are a fab idea.. It’s like a virtual non-stop gig on your screen. Music is so accessible now and it’s easier to give yourself a broad musical education as you come accross music you might not have heard otherwise, and it makes it easier to promote shows etc. The personal Myspace pages allow you to be inoffensively arrogant in your own little reserved space online. -It’s like a safe little sanctuary where vanity prevails and it’s a break from reality. -Vanity and arrogance in good measure can be healthy. don’t really know what I think about it at all yet, as long as we don’t all turn into W.O.W users too.. we’ll be ok right?
Facebook? – what is all this ‘poke me’ wubbish? – Encouraging kids to write on walls.. never a good thing.
VP : What was the first single you ever bought?
Polly -Always, Bonjovi Holly – Charmless Man, Blur Tiffiny – Zombie, The Cranberries Sophie – Something by Erasure? Alice – Not sure?
VP: Sum up The SheBeats in 5 words
Holly :Goofs, mystery, milkmaid, bambi and tinkerboy
Do you know who’s who?……But seriously, 5 words would be.. – shamelessly danceable dirty guitar pop
Neal Zetter reviews the latest releases as Mr VP is “indisposed”
Band: Peggy Sue & The Pirates
Title: Television/The New Song
Download release: October 16
General release: Nov 5
Peggy Sue and The Pirates – Rosa Rex and Katy Klaw – are as fresh as the sea air from their Brighton base. Sure, generous traces of Regina Spektor, Nina Simone and, their bezzy mate, Kate Nash, go into the PS&P sausage machine but what comes out the other end is stunningly fresh and wryly humorous. This ..double A’ offering reveals the duo’s two sides: the choppy and finger poppy Television and the dreamily melodic ballad, The New Song. Both are laced with characteristically wacky vocal sound effects and beautiful harmonies as these girls’ voices interweave so well together they were obviously made to match. And if you catch them live – they are currently supporting Ms Nash’s UK tour – you’ll find this chemistry is equally evident in their warm natural banter with each other and their fans. I can’t stop playing and smiling at both of these terrific tracks but will the more commercial radio stations find a place for their radically different sound? I certainly hope so.
Band: Sons & Daughters
Title: Gilt Complex
General release: Oct 29
I get really nervous when one of my new favourite bands release their latest single. But this track from the Glaswegian Sons & Daughters, from their forthcoming 3rd album, reveals the quartet at their riveting, rollicking, rocking best. Produced by former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, I dare anyone to not tap their feet to the tune’s driving rhythm, reminiscent of Dick Dale and the Del-Tones (of Pulp Fiction soundtrack fame) crossed with early Siouxsie and the Banshees. And if that’s not enough Adele Bethel’s cutting, spitting vocals will leave your ears ringing with a lethal and infectious pop sound that hopefully will begin to give S&D the credit they deserve. There’s a cover of Adamski’s Killer on the flip too – so this really is a winning package!
Bursting out of the New York scene in 2004, Asobi Seksu’s self titled debut album received huge critical acclaim, with rave reviews in the New York Times, MTV playlist exposure, and playing to packed houses throughout the city. The band had fans of Lush and My Bloody Valentine dancing with delight with their sonic white noise wall of sound, layered guitars, effect pedals and dreamy vocals ….. now they are back with their second album “Citrus” in which they raise their game to an even higher standard. Juxtaposing James’ swirling crashing guitars which soar like waves before crashing around Yuki’s sweet angelic vocals, the band have kept the spirit of the debut album and whilst they have developed their sound they have produced an album awash with great songs and hooks. It’s a sound that possibly reveals more of their pop sensibilities than the previous album and of band growing and developing into something very, very special. Switching between Japanese and English narratives Asobi Seksu produce the sort dreamy textured furious beauty that we haven’t heard since the time bands from the famous 4ad record label once ruled the indie scene in the 90’s, (“hardcore Cocteau Twins ” anyone ?) Currently touring Europe and the UK Yuki took some time out to discuss the Asobi Seksu story…..
VP: Tell us the story of how you all met and what prompted you to form a band?
YUKI :I met James in college (university!) in Manhattan. It was actually a music school. I was playing classical piano at the time and when James asked me to be in his band, I was very unsure and self-conscious about it. I went from that to fronting it….Very weird turn of events for me! But I couldn’t be happier that it turned out this way.
VP: Your name ” Asobi Seksu ” what does it mean ,how did you come to choose it ?
YUKI : It means playful sex in Japanese slang. James liked how it sounded phonetically and didn’t seem to mind the meaning either! I was embarrassed at first. I know my parents aren’t crazy about it!
VP : Your second album “Citrus ” Has just been released in the UK on One Little Indian …How different was the recording process from that of your debut album
YUKI : We had 2 consecutive weeks in the studio with “Citrus” whereas the first album was recorded over the course of a year. We worked well with Chris Zane and we feel that he really understood where we were coming from. And several years of touring had made us a better band.When the first album was recorded we had never really played a show!
VP: Who are your musical heroes/ sources of inspiration ?
YUKI : There are so many….I love The Shangri-Las, The Ramones, The Velvet Underground, Spiritualized, Nas, Wu Tang, Wilson Pickett, all the Stax stuff, Kahimi Karie, Bach played by Glenn Gould, Chopin played by Rubenstein, Mozart. Hearing Mozart as a 4 year old was made me want to make music. I wanted to be able to make sounds “like that.” I did play classical piano for years, so yes that makes me a nerd. But no one’s voice moves me the way Aretha Franklin’s does. Sometimes I dream that I can express myself the way she does….Funny thing is that supposedly James has a recurring nightmare that Aretha is really mean and talks trash to him!
VP: You’re based in NYC Which always seems to have an interesting scene. Apart form yourselves who would you say are the current buzz bands ?
YUKI : Are we a buzz band?! I don’t really know. I don’t get out much to be honest….
VP: Its been said that the Pop single is dead in the U.S, do bands over there still release them ? How do you see the future in terms of music, does this make gigging more important than ever in this digital age?
YUKI : Yeah, the single is dead out here. The radio is dead out here. I’m glad that the live show isn’t dead! There’s nothing like seeing good music sound great live.
VP: You were initially compared to UK bands such as My Bloody Valentine And Lush , did you take this as a compliment or do constant comparisons to the past as points of reference become tiresome?
YUKI : Yeah, I understand why those comparisons exist and I don’t disagree with them. We are obviously fans of those bands and we are glad that they spear headed that sound/texture for us to play with, but but I think calling us “shoegaze” is a 1 dimensional way to describe what we do.
VP: What’s have been your highlights of your time together thus far ?
YUKI : Taking Will, our sometimes Farfisa player and making him into a toilet paper mummy at 3am in some hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.
VP: Use Five (possibly in Japanese?) to sum up your sound
YUKI : Aww, man! I’m bad at this. I’ll give you 3 as a compromise. :)Annoying (Uzai), Loud (Dekai/Urusai), Fun (Tanoshii), Asobi, Seksu.
“Let’s review some new singles ” the voices said “Nor Arf ” I replied in my best Fluff Freeman voice . “But we need the finest minds in pop to get on board and give their wise and sagacious views on some hot new grooves pop pickers!” Sadly they where all booked up, but we did get together a panel of experts who know a thing or two about pop, some can even carry a tune !
Laura Trouble – Captivating and lovely lead singer with one of The VPME’s favourite bands Screaming Ballerinas and co founder of the Dolly Rockers Club. Laura’s marvellous band can be found here
Mister Lion – Officially the tallest illustrator and graphic designer living today in Britain, imagine if you will, Noel Coward crossed with Mark Kermode by way of a lamp post, that’s Mister Lion for ya! ” Marvel ” at the tall mans comic and sometimes disturbing creations here
Mikey Guitar – Lead guitarist with hotly tipped Manchester based band Bauer. Rumour has it Johnny Marr has tried to master Mikey’s guitar riffs, but to no avail. Mikey loves giving things marks out of 10. Meet Bauer here
Fran – Hailing from Italy, Dame Frannington likes her music and regularly decrees what is good music and what is bad by use of her thumbs. Like a Roman Emperor really. Or The Fonz.
Elz – Has a liking for Scottish bands, she writes reviews and can often be found scouring the Internet for new and exciting music. Shes no fan of broad beans though. Or fruitcake.
Dogwood – Oliver Gordon Dogwood, if you want to be familiar ,currently employed by Cheambeat Communications Radio to facilitate the late night show on Music Hall Memoires (formerly hosted by Fido Lomax until he went a little ga-ga and thought he was Sitting Bull). Give a firm virtual handshake to Dogwood here. (Settle Down)
Von Pip: Looks like a hard knock , but there’s a poet trapped in there somewhere
Spencer McGarry (Prononced McGuigan) – Spencer is singer and guitarist with Spencer McGarry Season, hes from Cardiff , which is why McGarry is pronounced McGuigan- I call that phonetic rebelliousness, still he’s a nice bloke and hes got some cracking songs here. He was late for the review, no harm done we all get hangovers. . Spencer is gigging with Pony Up soon, but I’m not jealous , no not one bit, not at all….
FRAN : “I’ve got nothing bad to say about them. Each track of their latest record could be a single. Also, it’s very catchy. Therefore should be massive. But it’s not.”
LAURA : “I’ve always thought that these furry fellows were as dull as shit, but this song surprised me, its like some sort of comedic Ramones-y Phil Spector 60s girl group cocktail and Gruff Rhys’ voice actually suits this romantic kind of thing. I love the massiveness of the drums and stuff. But I think they should have maybe chilled out on the chorus at the end of the song, its probably the weakest part and by the 1,000 000th time you hear it, you forget what you’ve been listening to. I had a screwdriver – to – temple moment by the 1000th time I had heard ‘Ru u u u u u un away……….’ thats what i did today…’, …….. aaaargh! “
DOGWOOD: “Now I don’t want to get all Hugh Scully about this but it sounds like a Shangri La’s 45 played at 16. It starts out promising but then goes all maudlin on you, like one of those bi-polar types, and like them it could do with pulling itself together. I understand that these chaps are at the ‘vanguard of the alternative Welsh rock scene’. The words ‘vanguard’ and ‘alternative’ conjure up bearded men in cords munching a nut roast citing poetry and I for one don’t want to visit that particular space thank you very much…………”
SPENCER : Mid paced fuzzy sound showcasing the thick effortless tones of Gruff’s s impeccable voice- he should get more credit as a singer. Personally I still hark for the experimentalism and excitement of Gorilla although I only say that because I know how astounding they can be- otherwise this song is fine.
MR LION : “Not only does this track have an enveloping, Phil Spectoresque aural texture that you can get lost in, it actually sounds every inch like an old girl-group record, with its spoken word introduction and longing vocals. It’s really a very different sound for the band, which I’m glad they’ve tried out on this track. But then I may be a bit biased; I can’t say anything bad about a laid-back Welshman who wears a Power Rangers helmet onstage. I like it.”
ELZ: “I thought I was going to really like this song when it started, but then it just… stayed the same. All the way through. What’s the point of that, really? Oh, hang on, it’s just got a bit different – nope, back again. I already feel like I’ve heard it five hundred times after three minutes. It’s got a nice tune, but I don’t want to give it a second listen. That said, I’ll probably love it tomorrow. I can already feel it working its way into my brain.”
MIKEY : “Be My Baby” sung by fuzzy welsh potheads. 8/10″
VON PIP: ” Yeah its Ok, the Furries confuse me though, they can be great or just grate , there’s no in between. Apart from now. I reckon I`ll love it by tomorrow morning, but will I still respect it ?”
MR LION: “The vocalist puts me in mind of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, only a bit rougher around the edges. The keyboard and guitar sounds are interesting, although I have to admit I’m not sure if the static is intentional or a symptom of the myspace player. Gosh, she is angry, isn’t she? I’m not sure I approve of all the gratuitous cursing, but I suppose the young people express themselves that way these days. It’s not really my cup of tea, but they seem to have a lot of energy.”
SPENCER : Starts off reminding me of the vulnerability of Kimya Dawson when she sang with/as the MoldyPeaches, before introducing a more raucous, sonorous (sic) edge. The song itself goes off in unexpected directions (good drums) and makes me want to see them live. Aggressive without being boring. ( a bit Like Roy Keane ?-Ed . Always wanted to do that Ed thing )
VON PIP: “Yes indeedy I love this song, granted not what I’d listen to before bed whilst sipping my milky Horlicks, but for a Friday night rev up -perfect! It’s cheeky,brash and loud, yet with a soft tender underbelly, a bit like Tony Wilson, but obvioulsy with much more get up and go . Makes me want to leap around like a mad clown and throw buckets of glitter over policemen.”
MIKEY: Schuzzzy this time, not fuzzy. Overdrive that desk, baby. 6/10
FRAN: Not too bad, but not too great either, A bit too shouty for my liking.
ELZ: This isn’t my thing at all. I thought it might be, once I got past the beginning, but it turns out to not be at all. I enjoy melodies. The melody in this song is being hidden very well by their singer. Thumbs down.
DOGWOOD : Now settle down. I don’t know who Jake Summers is and I don’t know what he’s done to deserve such a relentless barrage of the senses and frankly life’s too short. All I can say is you must have done something bad my lad. It starts quite innocuously, a lass starts singing and then it gave me a headache. This may sound more acceptable in the hands (or mouth) of someone like Boney M, who could always do justice to quite bizarre concepts.
LAURA : I’m good friends with these gorgeous Irish monkeys, they are the funnest kids on the block and this song is actually a stroke of pure simple genius, it has everything, absolutley everything I could want in a song. The lyrics are witty, completely addictive and brilliant, from ‘hey you , get some grace, you’re like kentucky fried chicken but without the taste!’ to ‘hey baby I’m the bedroom king..I’m so sorry for breaking your ding-a-ling-a-ling!’ It gets me in some kind of orgasmic fit. The melodies glide around, there’s huge hurricanes of keyboards (there are NO guitars in this band! ) and goes from being totally crazy and rock n’ roll to bed wettingly heartfelt in a snap second . May Kay is a complete superstar, she performs this song with so much passion and should be an inspiration to all us frontmen/women out there, an amazing song. WOOHOOOO!
Song 3TAKE THAT Rule The World
VON PIP: “The only band that can make Westlife sound like “System Of A Down.” But this music is vital, vital in the sense that we can educate our kids “Son, this what we call in the trade “a great big bag o’shite.” I could go on about how this corporate cobblers is a metaphor for all that is wrong with the capitalist system, but I won’t. What I will say is:- what’s all this nonsense about reinventing Take That as a force for good ? People waffle on citing “Shine” as if they’ve had some “Road to Damascus ” conversion and have realised that Take That are alight really. Well you’re not getting away with it, do you hear! “Shine” still sounded to me like Fatty Barlow trying to take a dump in a bus shelter in Congleton, “Shine” ? “Shite” more like. But it’s only a harmless pop song, albeit a big fat steaming pile of poo of a song and one that will sell shed loads. Yes it’s harmless.. nothing to GET WORKED UP ABOUT !”
LAURA : “Gary Barlow wants to ‘Ride On A Star’ with us if we ’stay by his side’, apparently. I might follow him around and see if he’s lying… I love the way they only give you 1minute of the song(on Myspace) to keep you on your toes, as if the second half isnt going to be exactly the same as the first half. I know this is a predictable thing to say but I cant believe that hundreds of thousands of people ACTUALLY buy this stuff…like actually hear this on the radio and say ‘that was so beautiful…they’re lovely fellas them…aren’t they…’ and then go out to Woolworths and buy it. Actually I can…. I guess they are people who only own 5 cds…(two of which are “Now.. 22″ and “Now… 24″). I saw a program about female Take That fans who convinced their fatherless children that their real fathers were members of Take That….. by pointing at Gary or Howard or whatever and saying ‘look! its daddy!’ I mean that is probably the most disturbing thing ever…..fuck a doodle doo. Anyway….survey says…..’shit sandwich.’
SPENCER: I saw old GB in Dublin Castle last month he looked match fit- The That are back! Alas the song fades out after the first chorus on their myspace (failure to understand modern marketing techniques by the majors- they’re loosing again) so I can’t hold a proper opinion- unless it is actually about 30 seconds long in which case I like it- epic production in a tiny space”
DOGWOOD:“Rule the world? The cry of every megalomaniac since the dawn of time and I suppose Take That are no different, although this sounds like something you’d hear at a Labour Party Conference as a soundtrack to Gordon Brown’s global ambitions. Like Brown, it’s tepid, insipid, bland and has as much chance of ruling the world as him calling an election today. Rhubarb.”
ELZ: “Mums across the planet must adore this song.”
MIKEY: “Bland bland sexy Marks and Spencers music for 37 year old ladies. with a bit of A-ha thrown in. 1/10″
FRAN: ” I never liked them, and this song isn’t going to change my mind. ‘Shine’ was better, anyway.” 😛
MR LION: “Take That… well, they’re better than the Arctic Monkeys.If I can blot out the scars of my adolescence caused by these greasy catalogue models and look at this track objectively, I guess it’s a nice little ballad, when all’s said and done. The context may not be necessary, but it is quite telling that this is a movie theme, and although I shudder at the thought of Gary Barlow getting an Oscar, it’s probably worth noting that among all the worthless awards that are out there today, the Oscar for best music hasn’t been worth a dime since they gave one to Phil Collins. I digress. Since Shine came out, I’ve had to accept the truth that this group of blokes, who are still badly in need of haircuts, can actually turn out a nice little pop tune. The production is certainly not as hollow and heartless as it used to be in their heyday, which can only be a good thing.Loses points though, because myspace only offers the first verse and chorus before fading out. Hmph.”
Song 4 KINGS OF LEON Charmer
DOGWOOD: “This is about as charming as one of my Aunt Sandra’s love bites which she dishes out gratis to any poor sod who happens to be in the Arndale Centre. I must admit I was quite taken by the name – Kings of Leon, sounds quite regal but as soon as the caterwauling and screeching started it began to take me back to Jake Summers and I didn’t think I could face him twice in a day. Would appeal to a certain breed of psychotic teenager.”
ELZ: “Oh my god, STOP SCREAMING. Other than that… actually, I’m not sure there is an “other than that”. The screaming is just so distracting that I can’t concentrate on any good parts of the song. Okay, there was a nice intro. With no screaming. And this instrumental break with no screaming is also rather– oh, a scream.”
SPENCER: Now this is great- good melody,I like the barking. Also the drums don’t come in where you’d expect- sounds like the Pixies with some light Iron Maiden guitars- still can’t work out that bass- worth a few listens- also like the line about giving Karma to the farmer- they make it work- but it shouldn’t on paper.
MR LION: “Well, they’re mightily ticked off about something, aren’t they? I have to be honest, if I were telling the tale of a young lady who was something of a charmer, I may be able to inject a little joy into the crooning. But then, I am no minstrel, and these fellows are not serenading a fair damsel. This kind of attitude should be expected from a band whose top eight My Space friends appears to consist mainly of groupies, I suppose. Not for me, I have to say.”
VON PIP: “Isn’t their Myspace page “friends” supposed to be representative of the song “Fans” *consults solicitors over Mr Lions Kings Of Leon’s Fan Slur*. Anyway I truly loved Kings Of Leon’s “Youth And Young Manhood” a classic, but I don’t think anything they’ve done since has lived up to that. Somebody told me this was actually called “Chalmers” I was hoping for a tale about how Judith Chalmers was managing without her license fee funded holidays, but I fear I have been misled. I like the lazy drawling vocal,(Horlicks ? Pfft Toilet Duck please with a splash of Domestos , just to take the edge off it) and the scratchy guitars … but the scream keeps making me jump. Arrgh I’ve just split my hot Bovril all over my slacks!!! “
MIKEY: “My brother dates my sister and my uncle dates my sister and my cousin dates my sister and my sister dates me…good tune…but they’re a bit inbred yah…- 2 heads. 7.5/10″
FRAN: “Is it the samey “indie” that’s so in fashion nowadays? Yes it is. Do we need yet another Strokes soundalike?”
LAURA:” I love their new album, it’s so fucking cool. This song actually could be the Pixies, love the way its so stripped down and raw. It sounds like he’s singing through a blender after swigging paint stripper which is definitely a good thing. I really admire them for not over doing this song, its sexy and simple and great to jump around to when your over the limit. They have completely ripped off The Pixies on this though. Nevermind. It’s REALLY GOOD. “
LAURA :“I cant decide whether I love these little pixies or hate them. I really wanted to like them for some reason, maybe because they look so cute or something . After listening to this song about 13 times I realised these things:-….they remind me of the Sugababes …. if they were Swedish and could play guitars…. and they are probably going to be massive. The lyrics are a bit suspect at times in a kind of ‘we just made everything rhyme…’ kind of way, but it adds to the sweet charm of the song and although the vocal line is a bit unimaginative at times, the keyboards save the day with a tune that really infects. I can imagine 13 year old girls loving it, and I’m happier that they listen to this than the Sugababes. “
FRAN: “Great stuff, cannot wait to hear a full album. I heard someone saying ‘the new Pipettes’ : not quite, but great nonetheless.”
MIKEY: “The pippiest poppiest pop soppyness this side of the pip,pop Pipettes. 7/10″
SPENCER: “Some interesting out of synch keyboard sounds, don’t like the vocal a bit amercan teen series, like someone has kidnapped Brooke Hogan and tied her to Belle and Sebastian with the flu.”
VON PIP : “Along with Nick and Jason from Tack!Tack!Tack! I helped discover these young scamps under a cabbage leaf in The Anders Panders Garden of Pop . Yes, and we helped create a buzz using t’internet. So I am biased and therefore can only say, great wonky pop. Even better when you learn that the bands collective age is just 2 years old. Interesting fact ,”Hitten” means “The Hit”
ELZ: “Now, this is proper pop. I like the synthy-keyboardy bits in this, though I’m afraid the vocals are a little bit too similar to something I can’t put my finger on but apparently dislike, to really grab me. I can’t deny the danceability, though! And the chorus is just fab.”
MR LION:” Now, there’s that joy I was after! The drums at the beginning almost made me believe I was about to get Pull Shapes by the Pipettes, which is never a bad thing. The upbeat tempo and happy key are quite deceptive, since the words are clearly quite melancholy and the message of the song seems to be one of longing for things to be different. I have less to say about this because I like it so much, but short of enthusing maniacally, I’ll just give it a simple thumbs-up.”
DOGWOOD: “Sounds like Dusty Springfield. So far so good. Goes a bit wonky but then recovers. That’s OK, we all have our wonky moments. They’re Swedish. Oh well. The lass singer is very pleasant on the ear and this is by far the best of the bunch. Yes, very pleasant I could imagine Daniel O’Donnell doing this although with a bit more of an Irish lilt like. A top of the pops for sure. I’d buy this and play it on my show I would. Settle down.”
SPENCER: “What can I say? Kylie’s art belongs in the visual medium. This is a bit flat though with obvious falsetto added to give it a missing ‘something’. Kylie is in one of her perodically forgettable dips but don’t worry folks- she’ll get better ”
ELZ : “Reviewing a video, this takes me back… So, well…-this is a bit rubbish, isn’t it? It’s also very much a Madonna rip-off, the video at least. The song is intensely catchy, but the video looks like someone’s chucked Kylie in a blender with Blond Ambition Madonna, Marilyn Monroe and a little bit of Alison Goldfrapp to round things out. The song is already stuck in my head after a listen-and-a-half, so I imagine she’s got another hit on her hands, but I don’t think it’s her best.”
DOGWOOD: Oh dear, oh dear oh dear oh dear. Now I know this lass, not personally like but I am aware of celebrity status and I have to say that watching this video the words ‘trying too hard’ sprung to mind. Let’s be honest, she’s a nice lass who wants to be a bad girl, can’t quite pull it off and ends up looking like a stunt double for that loud mouthed American harridan Madonna. Don’t do it lass, go back to singing about lollipops and locomotions, or whatever it is that you do. The video is an unconvincing cacophony of lads in quifs, slightly odd looking boy/girls in make up. I’m no Noel Edmonds but even I know that this looks and sounds like a cheap Christmas bauble.
MR LION : My love of Kylie goes back a long way. While I admit there’s a bandwagon that got moving when Spinning Around was released, and also a sympathy embargo on anybody who has a harsh word to say about a woman who survived breast cancer, it’s worth noting that her career has been a rocky one and it’s something of an achievement to still warrant such positive attention after so long in the cold light of the music industry. I think this is a brilliant track and yet another welcome change in direction for both her sound and her image. I’m not naive enough to think that this is in anyway Ms Minogue’s own doing; I’m quite aware that there’s a multinational marketing machine behind her and a manufactured corporate image. With that in mind, the video really is an exercise in style, which isn’t always a bad thing in pop promos. The lady herself looks fantastic, as always, and I personally like the hair and makeup and costumes. It’s fairly unmemorable though, and I’m sure the song will live with me much longer than the video does. Thumbs up again then, and thank heavens this didn’t turn out to be a cover of that old Phil Collins song of the same name. Good grief, have I really mentioned him twice today?
FRAN: I like it when she tries something different from what she did in the past. (Then again, I’m one of the very few people who liked her ‘indie’ record from 1997. ‘Some Kind Of Bliss’ and ‘Did It Again’ were fabulous. So underrated.) This one is a grower. A bit Goldfrapp-ish, both track and video.
LAURA: Kyleeeee does rock! Err no…yet again Kylie does a Madonna…by reinventing herself and getting some more botox. Great outfits and stuff and it is a beautifully presented pop package but there always seems to be something desperate and contrived about Kylie, like there’s a bunch of other people telling her how and what to sing and what to wear (shock shock horror!) where as Madge is quite obviously the mastermind behind herself and is completely in control of EVERYTHING she does and will always do this kind of thing better. But who cares? its pop and the song is flawless in terms of production and is a safe bet for a number one. Maybe I’m just jealous of her black and silver catsuit……drool…………..
VON PIP: Crivins whoose just drooled on my head? ! I wonder if this is a very smart piece of marketing, Kylie to appear in Doc Who at Xmas “2 Hearts” ? clever! I often wonder what Ramsey Streets Harold Bishop would have made of young Charlene Mitchell’s sex kitten shenanigans. This is as smooth as a freshly buttered banister..with less emotional depth. Our Kylie’s never been a great singer, and her voice is as thin as newly strained cabbage water here, her actings passable but she’s no Meryl Streep either. Our Kylie remains ever popular though, I suppose because she seems like a nice person, I have more time for her than I do for the likes of that dreadful gurning cretin Robbie Williams, or other “musical products.” Sadly if I were to analyse the reason why I don’t mind Our Kylie too much it would probably reveal me to be as shallow a puddle in the Strzelecki Desert. Yes two words- “hot pants”, I can’t deny they can get most chaps hot and bothered. I really rather like the song but then again I was a fan of the original which I much prefer. Sadly Our Kylie doesn’t add much to it vocally, she has a tendency when doing covers to give the song a “Dementor’s Kiss” whereby she has an uncanny ability to extract all the joy, verve and life from the original … still thats never hindered “Pert cheeks” Minogue in the past- …will be huge..Have a listen to the original…2 Hearts by Kish Mauve
Much better I think
Well thanks to all the reviewers, Laura, Mr Lion, Fran, Elz, Mikey,Spencer and of course Dogwood it looks like Those Dancing Days is the winner this time round, I wonder what the readers opinions are …..until next time …keep your feet on the ground and reach for the stars ….I’m off for a nice cup of a certain milky malted bedtime drink……..
( The VPME Review is sponsored by Horlicks and Bovril)
Bristol’s Santa Dog produce an accomplished, glistening sound with razor sharp guitar riffs and have in front person and lyricist, Rowena Dugdale a vocalist who conjures up the ghosts of Harriet Wheeler and Sonya Aurora Madan. It’s been said that Santa Dog sound a little like Britpop bands such as Echobelly and Sleeper crossed with the polished guitar jangle of the Smiths, whilst adding into the mix a liberal dash of the lyrical darkness of Throwing Muses tempered with the sweetness of The Sundays. I can concur with some of these comparisons to a degree, although Rowena certainly has a stronger and more tuneful voice than Kristen Hersh’s menacing growls and primal yelps, but I really can’t see the Sleeper connection(cue Elastica joke) After a good few listens of Santa Dog’s debut album “Kittyhawk” you`ll start to notice a darker side lurking just beneath the shimmering pop tunes . Dugdale’s lyrics are very much of the here and now, there are deft references to the paranoia of the modern world and how technology can enslave as much as it can liberate “computers die/and data lies /your iris pattern doesn’t match your eyes “- “Big Bang. ” Certainly some songs appear to contain oblique yet poetic Orwellian references that conjure up images of a society manipulated by the media and watched over by the state “I tune into the TV station /and get brainwashed with the rest of the nation/I’m so caught up with what I’m thinking/My minds full but my body’s aching” –“Belle De Jour.”
It’s an album that reveals more and more of its inner layers after repeated playing and Dugdale’s edgy lyrics and thematics make for an intense but hugely enjoyable experience. Tracks such as “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah ” “Big Bang” “Chemical” and “Belle De Jour” really should be on national radio on a regular basis instead of the usual misogynistic, booty obsessed self parodying cobblers that Hippty Hop has become. It defies logic that our national radio stations play this sort of guff, when we have intelligent, vibrant homegrown bands like Santa Dog just waiting to be discovered ….but I digress.
Rowena dropped by VP Towers to have a chat about weighty matters such as music/ technology/global warming and of course, has light entertainment in the UK ever recovered from the horrifying revelation that “Wee Jimmy Krankie” was actually not a cheeky Glaswegian school boy, but was in reality a grown woman of 60 !!! Forget the recent “Blue Peter Cat” scandals, this was the deception of a nation…….. It’s a twisted world…..
VP: How did the band get together?
Rowena (RD) : It’s been a jigsaw that has fitted together over time….me and Rob met over 10 years ago in Edinburgh, we met Martin in the pub a couple of years ago and bonded over discussing the finer merits of Prefab Sprout, and Steve (bass) is the newest addition, he joined this summer (luckily he likes the Sprout too).
VP: What have you released thus far Ms Rowena ?
RD : We self-released 3 EPs in 2005 and 2006, Delicate, Chemical, and Belle de Jour. Our first single – Big Bang (7″) was released July 2007 by SoundsXPerience and KittyHawk, the debut album was released June 2007 by Quince Records, in Japan.
VP : Any up coming live performances?
RD : We’re looking forward to supporting former VPME interviewees Canadian popsters Pony Up at Bristol’s Louisiana on 5th Nov. On 1st Dec we’re playing an afternoon event curated bySoundsXPerience @ ROTA – Notting Hill Arts club in London. New Years Eve we’re playing Bristol again – Klub Kute at The Cooler. We also have some Italian shows next year:
14 Feb at Lego, Cesena, Italy
15 Feb at Vibra, Modena, Italy
17 Feb at Mattatoio, Carpi, Italy
VP : How did you go about getting your excellent album “Kittyhawk” released ?
RD: Fortuitously, Japanese label Quince emailed us just as we were scratching our heads about what to release next, whether to do a single or another EP. Their backing gave us the confidence to launch into recording our debut album. They gave it full release in Japan, which was exciting for us, it’s available over here as import.
VP: What’s the Bristol music scene like at present ? Any bands you’d recommend?
RD: I’m a big fan of the Bristol scene, there’s a lot going on, but in true Bristol style a lot of it is under the radar. Countryside are one of our favourites, along with Safetyword, Babel, You and the Atom Bomb, Seagull Strange and the Wraiths.
VP: And the music scene in general at the moment? A clean bill of health or in need of major surgery?
RD : My eyes have been well and truly opened in the last couple of years to the way the industry works in terms of plugging/PR/hype. My previously innocent and naive belief that bands rose to the top purely through talent/deservedness has been well and and truly kicked into touch. It’s a grubby business and I can’t see that ever changing but there are some truly wonderful bands around at the moment and thanks to sites like myspace more people have access to them without needing to read about them in the press first.
VP : Pop Idol, X factor, American Idol , Singing Taxi Drivers On Ice etc . It has been said that shows such as this have turned the country into a huge medieval village that enable us to stand around in the village square and laugh at the fools? What do you think of shows such as this?
RD : Putting aside the analysis – watching the auditions makes for great telly. It’s all about entertainment rather than music…. a ridiculous ego-driven pile of pomp. It spawned Girls Aloud though and they do great pop!
VP: Global warming , should we be worried , or should we just leave it in Bono’s god like hands ?
RD : Ha ha, don’t leave it to that gurning monkey, he’ll accidently drop it whilst adjusting his thinning locks in the mirror. Interesting that Al Gore’s video has been causing a stir amongst educationalists in schools over here. They may call it alarmist but sometimes you need to exaggerate the facts and go over the top to make a point. We should all be worried.
VP: Technology – has it made music more accesible or more disposable . whats your view on how the internet has influenced the whole muisc scene over the last 7-8 years
RD : More accessible I think. From a personal point of view, networking sites like Myspace have been amazing – we have been able to organise gigs so much more easily than before and thanks to worldwide blogs we sold more EPs abroad than over here. Transpose that to the whole scene in general and that’s a whole lot of bands grabbing the DIY ethic by the horns rather than waiting from a phonecall from The Man.(Who ? me ? ) As for disposability – blame the majors for their spit-em-out mentality. Why has longevity become a dirty word?
“Songs For Warm Days And Cold Nights” ……Hailing from Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A. The Icicles boast the sort of tunes that would surely touch the most dispassionate, unfeeling of souls with their sweet melodies and sublime vocals. It’s perfect pop to warm the cockles of your heart and have you tapping your foot with delight. Their debut album “A Hundred Patterns” released in 2005 was a huge critical success, which later led to Motorola, picking “Sugar Sweet” as the theme song to a worldwide ad campaign in November 2006. They have recently released their second album “Departures and Arrivals ” and “great Scott of The Antartic” it’s a corker of an album! Is it Indie?Is it Twee? Is it retro folk pop or grindcore two step Nu-gaze ?- Who cares !!! Throw these ridiculousily contrived genres out of the window and just enjoy the warm fuzzy glow that the music provides without any peconceptions. It’s as soothing as a summers breeze, as warming as a mulled wine on a frosty day. The Icicles provide a great big earful of happiness, which induces feelings of wanting to dance with the same care free abandon that only embarrassing inebriated mad uncles at family weddings can muster, conversely at other times you`ll be content just to sit in your favourite chair relaxing with a dopey, yet satisfied grin on your face. “Departures and Arrivals” is a lovely slice of pop, influences such as 60’s girl groups,folk,even Blondie and Camera Obscura subtly reveal themselves but these are merely reference ponts and never overwhelm the listener. In a perfect world it’s how music should sound:- sweet, touching and from the heart…The Icicles have arrived so prepare to be swept up in their dreamy euphonious refrains….
VP: Where When and how, yes how did you all meet up?
Gretchen: Joleen and I went to college together and played music in our apartments when we were neighbors. The band originally started with Korrie Sue who was another college friend. We flyered for our original bass player and that was the beginning of the Icicles. Things changed up a bit and we were suddenly on the look out for a new bass player. Emily was a friend of ours who we met at various pop shows. She learned our songs and wowed us when she tried out for the band. Soon we were looking for a new drummer as well. Greg, too was a friend we know from the local music scene. After recording our first album together we loved having a Jeff Baron (from the Essex Green & Ladybug Transistor) as guest lead guitarist and thought it was time to find someone of our own to fill his shoes and approached Rebecca. We had all been aware of how great her guitar work was and after some hesitation about her possibly saying no, we finally sucked it up and asked if she would consider joining us. And it’s been dreamy ever since.
VP:For those who are new to the Icicles what can they expect?
Joleen: To smile, blush, toe tap, sway and may be even get up and dance.
Gretchen: Dreamy, melodic pop.
VP: What have been the highlights of your time together so far?
Joleen: Playing music for people is the biggest highlight. Travel is also a huge highlight and meeting so many nice people.
Gretchen: Having been featured on a Motorola/Vodaphone ad and a Target Ad (here in the US). Touring has also been absolutely amazing. We’re REALLY looking forward to the UK!
VP: Any lowlights?
Joleen: We have brought ice storms to the southern states and rain to the desert. We have a fear of weather. It must be our name!
VP: What were the first records you all bought?
Joleen: Olivia Newton John “Lets Get Physical”, Footloose sound track, Michael Jackson Thriller!!! and Madonna “Like a Virgin.”
Gretchen: Michael Jackson Thriller, The Human League
Emily: REM “Out of Time” and Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam (not necessarily proud of that one)
VP: Any bands in The UK that appeal to you all at the moment?
Joleen: M.I.A. and The Go Team
Emily: Currently: The Loves, Alberfeldy and Darren Hayman. Longer time fan of Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura and the Pastels
VP: In the UK we are awash with reality TV and Pop Idol type shows, is this the same in the US? What do you make of this “American Idol” malarkey?
Gretchen: It’s non-stop here! We’ve got American Idol, American Band, Making of the Band, America’s Most Talented and the list goes on and on! I don’t really dig these shows.
VP: Social networking. Myspace, face book etc, a great way of getting heard, or eroding the very fabric of society
Gretchen: I think it’s a great way to connect with people and a great way of getting heard indeed. I think that for bands they are a great resource!
VP: Who are your Heroes musical and also non musical ?
Gretchen: My heroes include Mister Rogers, Pippy Longstocking, Ani DiFranco, Julie Andrews
Emily: Musically mine include Paul McCartney, Morrissey and AC Newman, all fantastic songwriters!
VP : You plan to come to the UK soon, where you can sample the delights of rain, flooding on a biblical scale, anti social behaviour and of course Tea and scones… Any news?
Emily: We will be starting our tour out in Sweden and Denmark and then heading to the UK for the second week. As of right now we have shows booked in London, Birmingham, Pontefract and the West Midlands for the Indietracks show. We still have a couple open days that we might fill, but if we don’t it just gives us more time to try to dodge the rain as we enjoy tea on our days off! We’ve all vacationed in the UK before, but the band has never toured or traveled there all together, we’re very excited and counting down the days.
VP: Where on earth did you get those lovely Uniforms for your promo photos?
Gretchen: We made them! Joleen is the head seamstress in our group. She is amazing! (Check out her Web site: www.flutterfashion.com) She spoiled us with the fantastic flight attendent costumes for our cd release party jackets hats and all!
Joleen: Matching outfits are part of living the dream so there is a lot of sewing going on and every one does their part.
VP: Sum yourselves up in five words Joleen: Melodic, shy, colorful, pandemonium, cool 🙂
Gretchen: passionate, crazy, leo