THE VPME REVIEW MARCH/APRIL 08

Righty Oh, its review time, and again, we have tempted some fine musicians into the murky world of The VPME. The glitterati of popular music agreed to take time out from partying hard with celeb types like Jane McDonald and Colleen Nolan and meet up at Von Pip Towers. Sadly we were out at Tescos at the time… so you`ll have to make do with this lot.

The Panel

ANASTACIA– Keyboard player with VPME chums, Screaming Ballerinas . She is officially our favourite keyboard player called Anastacia, and living proof that not all musicians who play a keyboard have to look as unattractive as that bewigged gnome man, Elton John.

ALASTAIR DOUGALL– A fine musician from the Brighton acoustic/singer songwriter scene. A man with impeccable taste (aside from supporting Spurs.) He knows a thing or two about music, in fact his two young ‘uns have been heavily involved in the music scene . Daughter Rose was a Pipette and is now embarking on a solo career, which is very exciting and son Tom is a guitarist with Joe Lean and The Jing Jang Jong. (Their new single Where Do You Go ” is brilliant, now we get them!!! ) The Dougall musical dynasty is one to watch out for, imagine the Partridge family if you will, devoid of flares, feather cuts and annoying smart alec American back chat but with a great passion for Sandy Denny– That’s Clan Dougall for you.

DOGWOODCantankerous presenter of Cheambeat Communications Radio’s late night show on Music Hall Memoires. When he’s not reprimanding young “hoodies” as they pelt him with raw vegetables and empty cans of Red Bull, he can be found studying the fine arts. He has developed a penchant for producing nude pictures of American ladies named after shoe polish. (All photos welcome)

MATT GEARY – Yet another Brighton musician, his band The Lieutenants Mistress play tuneful guitar driven indie, with a nod to Brit Pop, when it was good. Such is Matt’s wisdom that what he doesn’t know about life, can be disregarded as unimportant and possibly frivolous.

BLUE PETER- No,not Olympic torch brawler Konnie Huq’s former show, but Blue Peter ,from the excellent And What Will Be Left Of Them. He also runs The Little Hell Fire Club record label. He can often be found hanging out in China White or Spearmint Rhino, throwing peanuts at Joe Public, with his new best mates Richard Madley and Jeremy Paxman, an unlikely trio I’ll grant you.

RICH AND NICOLA -2/3rds of Sheffield’s finest band Slow Down Tallahasse. Nicola didn’t manage to review all the songs as she says she had some housework to finish (*Von Pip ducks for cover*). Their debut album “The Beautiful Light” is out on the 26th May 2008, and you can download their next single also called “The Beautiful Light” for FREE from Thee SPC on on 12th May. And it’s not often you get ‘owt free from Yorkshire folk 😉

VON PIPSoft strong and very long, a bit like Andrex, but less useful.

On with the tunes

The Long Blondes “Century”

NICOLA: “I LOVE the Long Blondes. I love their myth making and their sense of musical heritage. It’s very zeitgeisty is “Century”. If I died in a nuclear explosion I’d almost definitely like this to be the soundtrack.

ANASTACIA : Never fail to write really sexy, edgy music. ‘Century’s’ no exception.

ALASTAIR: Begins with an ethereal folksy feel that develops into a Human Leaguey synthipop sound. At times the song has the quirky charm of an early 80s Rough Trade track, at other times the band seem to want to go for something more serious and doomy. This is an ambitious effort with a number of different sections, which keeps up interest without quite delivering at any point. If it was a football match it would be an intriguing 0-0, with a few chances missed and a decent penalty claim for the home side turned down in the last minute…. Lyrically, it’s a bit hard to figure out what’s it’s all about — presumably something vaguely serious and zeitgeisty! Sounds like a decent album track rather than a single.

MATT: I really like the Long Blondes; they’ve got some great tunes and make punky art-rock sound as sexy and dangerous as it should be. I’ve heard a couple of the other tracks on “Couples” and they’re really good. I think that’s why I was so disappointed to hear that “Century was the first single. Its got a decent enough electro riff but it all gets a bit repetitive before going to a section that sounds like Pacman taking a power pill to a backing track of stabbing guitars and vocals that don’t really go anywhere. The production is good though – and it may just be me – but I must confess that this time I’m just not sold. On the plus side, it is free to download if you sign up to their mailing list.

VP: Phew! Right then, maybe I have a mental block with anything in the world of entertainment that have the initials LB. Little Britain, Lionel Blair, Lucille Ball ,Lloyd Bridges, Lorraine Bracco, Long Blondes, (well ok, not Lorraine Bracco, I like her 😉 ) I ‘ve never quite understood the reverence in which the Long Blondes music is held. ( Uncle VP’s Pop Fact No 89: Michael Stipe wrote “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” after dreaming he was at a party populated by people whose initials were L.B.-True!) People react with slack jawed incredulity, “WHAT! You don’t find Little Britain funny” (Nope, I find it juvenile and unfunny) You don’t adore The Long Blondes? Are you insane! (possibly) I don’t hate them, I’ve just never been 100% convinced that they were all that or they were the band for me. I really liked “Giddy Stratospheres” but after that I’m struggling to find another song that twists my melon. I found their debut album a huge let down really. To many, the Long Blondes music is sacrosanct and to criticise it verges on heresy. Problem I’ve had with The Long Blondes is I’ve always found a coldness within their sound, a hip haughtiness that’s just never really engaged me. Couple that with rather arsey lyrics, and it’s not a match made in heaven. I mean I always thought they were alright, but that was about it, I have them filed away in my head just next to the Foo Fighters, solid, and professional, a bit like Ronseal, does exactly what it says on the tin, but they didn’t make my heart skip a beat. They have everything I should love about a band yet haven’t quite clicked, maybe I just don’t “get” them yet?

Saying all that I almost started to like this, well, up to a point and then I listened to the lyrics, and it seemed to me that whilst Edward Lear or Doctor Seuss might understand the lyrics I was fighting a losing battle to make sense out of them -“Nothing is scared…from the can-can dance to the golden age” (eh?) “Everything I touch, lightning trails of human lust” What!!! Like, if she touched a teapot? Or a lamppost? Russell T Davies and his celebrity chums would have a high old time down at the BBC Special Effects Workshop with story lines like that. After Kylie’s inert performance in the Doctor Who Xmas show he could always bring her back to play the lustful lamppost. I don’t understand what Kate’s prattling on about, other than she appears to be trying to conjure up some sort of futuristic bleakness, possibly some sort of post Armageddon scenario? Quite how the can-can dance fits into the scheme of things is beyond me. That wouldn’t really be on my list of priorities if the bomb had just dropped, clean Y-fronts yes, but not French ladies erotic bloomers.

It sounds like a slight departure from their normal sound, like somebody’s bought them a couple of Human League/ Cabaret Voltaire albums . Oh and Hooky’s been hanging around the studio, pestering people for session work with somebody, anybody, such is the fear that his musical legacy will be whispered in the same breath as Rick and Bruces. So when people insisted that “Century” is nowhere near the best track on the album I approached “Couples” with much hope and enthusiasm, really wanting and expecting to like it . .But it came across   about as subversive as Phil Collins polishing his innumerable Brit Awards, eating a malted milk biscuit whilst gently chuckling along to an episode of “My Family.“…on a Sunday….after choir practice…with his dressing gown on… It’s about as sexy as Dawn French lolling about gorging on pastries in a crumb covered velour tracksuit watching “Loose Women” with subtitles, which is a shame as the band are sexy in an aloof kinda way…at times it sounds like Joan Jett attempting to impersonate Siouxsie Sioux, whilst a  Fall tribute band clatter about in the background. Maybe I should catch them live as that’s where people say they really prove the doubters wrong.  The singles Ok, the albums disappointing, I still really want to like The Long Blondes, but  I prefer The Millipedes and The Bon-Bon Club . 6/10

PETER: – On paper I should love this new single but in reality it just leaves me feel a bit cold. Maybe that’s the point… It certainly is ice-cool. I feel bad to say it but it doesn’t really draw me in… I really love this band too. Perhaps a few more listens…

DOGWOOD: I bunged this on and thought that the damn link was flaky as I was positive that I had been sent to an unknown Lush track from c.1991. Now I am great admirer of Ms Berenyi and co but when I discovered that this was not them and actually WAS the Long Blondes I felt slightly cheated. This sort of thing passes for advent-garde in Burnley and somewhere there, there is a 44-year-old new romantic doing a Midge Ure dance to all this, dressed in bacofoil and a tricorne hat. Once you get over the initial shock that it isn’t Lush, the track meanders off in no particular direction unless you consider ‘constant drone’ an acceptable destination. I suspect the Long Blondes are not actually blonde at all but are actually brunette art students having a good laugh at life. Nowt wrong with that, just don’t confuse us with the Lush soundalikes please. Some of us have treasured memories thank you very much. Dogwood misled and slightly affronted at being so.

RICH: I really like this band. This song is really cool. It kind of reminds me of Gary Numan for some reason. Her voice is one of the best in pop at the moment. 10/10.

Caesers- Boo Hoo Goo Goo

PETER :– I reckon our bass player Joe would love this. He’s a sucker for bubble-gum pop. And so am I actually. All in all a big thumbs up for the Caesars then. Even if it does make me feel a bit dirty to say it.

NICOLA: Hmm. Powerpop indeed. People who like the soundtrack to ‘Friends’ would really like this, I think.

DOGWOOD: If there’s one thing that’s likely to get my goat it’s a bunch of Scandinavians calling themselves something neo-classical. Caesar was a mighty historical figure but I doubt whether he would have played this on the equivalent of an i-walkpod back in Ancient Rome. In fact, it would have probably enraged him to the point of wanting to extend the empires borders to those lands in the north where irritating trite like this descends from and crush all life-forms. This doesn’t want to make me crush all life-forms but it leaves me nonplussed and longing to turn over to the Jordan and Peter half hour. That’s the trouble with gadabout pop stars; they think they can get away with anything in the holy trinity of ‘art’, ‘creativity’ and ‘drug fuelled mayhem’. Well let me tell you lads, there’s another holy trinity – Dogwood’s holy trinity – ‘tutting disapprovingly is good’, ‘common sense’ and ‘never trust anyone who doesn’t boil their greens for less than the regulation 27 minutes’ will get you far further in life. Oh, and if there’s another thing that’s going to get my goat even further it’s adults using baby words like ‘Boo’ and ‘Goo’ in the same sentence and this lot manage it twice. Dogwood annoyed and now starting to contemplate crushing all life-forms.

VP: Well When you lumber a song with a title that you’d half expect to be in somebody like Christopher Lillicrap’s repertoire'(best name ever for a kids TV presenter) you better make sure it’s a bloody good song. Thankfully what Caesars lack in the sane song title department they more than make up for in the song itself, which is GREAT! It’s got a driving beat, fuzzy guitar work and some undulating jabby/stabby keyboard action going on which combine to produce a rather pleasing pop song. The Album “Strawberry Weed” is pretty darn good too, it won’t change the world but it’s a double CD full of pop hooks, surprises, and quirky psychedelic fun, a bunch of songs which are so eclectic that if you find it boring and don’t tap your toes your either have no pulse or are Sir Douglas Bader or Fred Titmus (who both are lacking in pulse and indeed toes,hmmm I didnt think that one through!)(8.5/10)

ALASTAIR: ‘Hi everybody, we’re the Caesars, and this is our new single it’s called, um, Boo Boo Goo Goo!’ Well, let’s just hope the crowd’s in a friendly mood! Babytalk title aside, this is a fun if totally unmemorable slice of 60s garagey pop, with a hook [‘There you go again….’] that owes a pint to ‘What Goes On’ by the Velvet Underground. Nice bit of fuzzy guitar at the end.

ANASTACIA: Middle of the road feel good music that didn’t leave me feeling that great

RICH: It sounds like one of those upbeat Indie rock songs that accompany montages on “Even Stevens” or “Sabrina The Teenage Witch.” Which probably describes some of our songs as well, so this is not a criticism. Honest.

MATT: Any band that start a song with a sample of a Texas “Speak and Spell” have already won me over! I’d completely forgotten that Caesars were synth bashers who wrote “Jerk It Out” but only until the vocal started! Decent tune, that isn’t a million miles away from that track but more vitriolic. I’m not quite sure who they’re angry at but I’m guessing its negative reviews. Fortunately, I’m not going to join that club – it’s a fun track with a retro sound and a stupid title, and I like it!

The Feeling “Without You”

ALASTAIR: I was determined to like this, and after a minute or so, I was doing well, but then the vocal line started to go somewhere unwelcome and I felt obliged to slap it’s hand away sharpish.

VP: “Big massive fat sweaty horses bollocks” I‘m afraid, more often than not that’s what I involuntarily shout whence The Feeling are played via the medium of radio. This of course can be a little embarrassing if I’m at the deli counter in Tescos “Would sir like some olives with those?” “The Feeling?” Is their name somehow ironic? Their songs seem devoid of any feeling at all. Sometimes when you only get a snippet on myspace of a song I think “tight b*astards”, in this case it’s a blessing, almost an act of mercy “la la blah blah la la blah lal alala, (ad lib to infinity) “What’s The Time In London?” I don’t know lads and frankly I don’t care , what I do know is I’d rather listen to the Speaking Clock than you lot. In fact Stephen Hawking reading Kerry Katona’s latest can of tripe is a more emotionally charged journey than listening to this chaps weedy, puling little voice. Zzzzz. This is the sound of a 10cc tribute band that got lucky; it can’t last forever, can it? I mean come on, who buys their records? Physics students? Social Workers? The deaf? But despite what I said at the beginning, the truth is they don’t really induce feelings of anger or dislike within me, just apathy and indifference which is somehow worse…2/10

ANASTACIA: ‘I Thought It Was Over’ was a secret guilty pleasure of mine- harmless, fun pop song. The Feeling really shouldn’t try and write ballad like songs, ‘Without You’ demonstrates why. Useless lyrics as well.

DOGWOOD: The Feeling? Sadly listening to this I am devoid of any unless it’s that feeling of nausea and rage that being exposed to this trite self-satisfied tripe provokes in me. Where do these pop stars get their ideas these days? Christmas Crackers? The competition rules off a box of cornflakes? Actually I’d go for the instructions from an Airfix Kit – gluing bits of plastic together and then painting them makes infinitely more sense than this. I cannot express the utter fury that I am feeling right now – it’s as if Crowded House, Trevor Horn, The Hoosiers and Adele have walked in the room and asked me where the nearest wine bar was because they want to par-tay and look ‘zany’ in their Buggles specs and leather ties. Dogwood does not do guilty pleasure pop, pompadours nor wine bars and definitely not The Feeling. The Feeling just make me want to berate someone – anyone – at loud volume.

MATT: A lot of people these days are very critical of bands like The Feeling. They seem to resent the fact that a group of chaps who play chirpy pop music can find a home betwixt Cliff Richard and Leona Lewis on the Radio 2 play lists and also be mentioned in the same breath as what some people would call “serious” bands…. and so they bloody well should!!! The Feeling are exactly what I imagine an ‘Indie’ band fronted by John Barrowman would be like. Everything looks right, there is obviously a degree of capability but the camembert-laden output undoes every first impression and inspires loathing in those who placed blind faith in a promising proposition. I half expect Mr Gillespie-Sells to pop up as a guest judge on the next presently endless stream of fame auction programmes! However, I’m not here to speak ill of the band- they do what they do and I’m sure that they are probably really lovely people. Instead I’m here to comment on the track. This is fortunate, as it allows me the opportunity to excrete further fervent bile in their direction, safe in the knowledge that any borderline-harsh comments will be met with agreement at the first listen! The Feeling released their “difficult” second album earlier this year and it appears that, to celebrate the success of the first, their record label bought them a rhyming dictionary. The track hinges around a question of ‘What the time is in London?’ before cleverly turning it into a question about ‘what the time is in London – without you’. Who’d have thought it? A song that begins on a theme of missing someWHERE can be changed into a song about missing someONE just by adding two words!!! They obviously find this incredibly clever too as the theme is repeated in every verse before changing to comment on how bad the weather is in North Virginia – just like London!!! Pap from start to finish and I can only take solace from the fact that it has yet to hit the radio and is thus, at present, avoidable.

PETER: No thank you.

RICH: There is so much Feeling in this track! It is a gift of love to mankind. Thank you The Feeling. I am crying as I write these words.

The Last Shadow Puppets- The Age Of The Understatement

ANASTACIA: Great track. Brilliant production, which sounds almost Muse like. It’s a massive sound, can’t wait to hear what else they’ve written.

DOGWOOD: This took me back to an age of monochrome TV sets when I were a lad. Ours had a cabinet that took up a third of the room with a 6″ screen. Sitting there in my grey shorts, grey shirt and sleeveless jumper eating crumpets anticipating the opening credits to ‘Champion The Wonder Horse’, this is where this tune takes me. I actually love this enough to make it my tune of the day and I am fairly galloping in my seat as I listen to it. There hasn’t been a decent take on a wild west theme since Kirk Brandon sang ‘Do You Believe In The Westworld?’ and do you know what? I did. I’d like to put this into the inbox of Caesars with a post-it that reads: “Do yourself a favour, do a cover of ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky’ instead of that gaga-googoo nonsense, it’s all the rage in the more enlightened Cowboy tribute clubs in the Greater Manchester area”. We’ll all be cowboys this time next month and thank Christ for that – I’m fed up with this current trend of trying to save the rain forest and all that. Let’s have more songs like this and less by the likes of Sting, Arnie Lennox and Bonio thank you very much -self-righteous cretins that they are. Dogwood on his high horse and enjoying the view.

PETER: I am pleased to report that this link didn’t work. Next?

VP: F**CKING BRILLIANT ! A Sheffield /Wirral collaboration and by the eck this is grand, like! Some sort of mad 1960s/ Walker Brothers do a spaghetti western fusion type scenario! I best not call Alex Turner a genius because he’s already stated “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” in no uncertain terms. He may look like the Artful Dodger but he’s certainly a talented young chap who loves his music, pudding bowl haircuts and the works of George Formby. With The Last Shadow Puppets he has forged an intriguing partnership with Miles Kane of  Wirral based wanna-bes The Rascals. The album is bloody fantastic  all James Bond meets Jason King, it really does make me want to wear a polar neck and lemon hued flares whilst playfully smacking bikini clad ladies bottoms as I order a Campari and soda at the pool side bar (is that wrong?) 9.5/10

NICOLA: Is he singing about ‘sweaty little tragedies’? This is ok… it’s just playlist fodder really, isn’t it?

MATT: If you’re going to have a side project then do it properly. Alex Turner has written a fantastic first album, a passable, progressive second and is going out with Alexa Chung. I really should hate him, I don’t really think that I can, and whist it would be easy hate this I’m not really sure that I can do that either. It’s collaboration but the headlines were never going to come from Miles Kane’s input – which is sad, as I think that he probably played a large part in it all. I like the vocals and, although the guitar work owes a debt to Bonanza, the grandness of the production puts the track into a slightly different place than either parent band. Any project Alex Turner was involved in was always going to draw comparisons but if this track boosts the profile of The Rascals and gives Mr. Turner another creative outpouring then that’s good enough for me. In my opinion it’s a track, which is just interesting and just different enough to stand on its own just. For that at least, they deserve to be applauded.

RICH: We live in Sheffield so it would be unwise to say anything negative about this track. If I said it was dull the BBC would come round to our house and tune us in. If I said it was pointless the OCS would poo through our letterbox. Prostitutes would stop giving me free ones. This is a wonderful, wonderful song.

ALASTAIR: Not a great title — I wouldn’t fancy asking for this in a record store — thank goodness for downloading, eh? This isn’t like the Arctic Monkeys at all, unfortunately, despite Alex Turner being involved in it. I think this is supposed to be a comment on the ‘Cold War’ between the sexes–the vid has the boys posing by some Russian tanks, and the backup vocals have a kind of Volga boatmen vibe. It’s all a bit pompous, and dreary, like ‘Ra Ra Rasputin‘ without the laughs.

Nick Cave – Dig Lazarus Dig

MATT: At first listen, I really didn’t get it. I didn’t really get “Grinderman” either but grew to love it. And now inevitably I’m really starting to like this. I think it’s fair to say that this is the most commercial Nick Cave track that I’ve heard and I don’t think that it’s necessarily a bad thing either. He still has the inflections of a southern preacher, he still has the morbid themes but this time there are jovial backing vocals and it feels as though Mr Cave is actually having fun. Strangely I kept thinking that the whole thing reminded me of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

DOGWOOD: One of the least favoured chores of life is to go down the local scrap metal dealers to try and barter for a replacement rear passenger side fin for my Ford Anglia. As I enter the arena of stacked metal, vicious chained dogs and vest wearing real life Ross Kemp types, I feel a distinct unease. When I heard this song it was as if said be-vested Ross Kemp types had formed a band and were taunting me even further as they battered and clashed their way around the scrap yard hitting random bits of wrecked car and hallooring like mad South London savages. This Cave fellow looks as if he’s just stepped out of Tombstone and wants to set about my kneecaps with a medieval mace and then blow dry my hair with an oxy-acetylene blowtorch. I didn’t stick around to find out whether that would be the case or not. Dogwood distinctly ruffled and uneasy.

VP: I don’t approve of big thick ‘taches, a pencil thin one is fine and gives you a caddish rakish quality; apparently it tickles in a pleasing manner too. A big thick one however, can attract the wrong sort of admiration and lead to associations with San Francisco and Freddie Mercury, as well as making it impossible for you to wear a white vest or a leather jacket. Live and let live I just don’t like breaking hearts, having to tell traffic cops, red Injun’s and construction workers that I don’t butter my crumpets that way, it makes me feel like a rotter! I would also submit that another draw back of the “huge ‘tache conundrum” is the social embarrassment derived from suddenly finding a king prawn the size of a young dolphin hidden in your mammoth walrus whiskers from the previous nights curry. Now a pencil thin ‘tache will of course, attract tremulous excitement ,coquettish, admiring glances and “come hither” eyes from lasses young and old, that’s a given, but sadly having a jungle on your top lip will only ensure that females will always harbour an uneasy suspicion that if you didn’t play for Liverpool FC in the 1980’s then you must, at the very least have appeared in pornography,(possibly both) but I suppose there’s room in the world for all manner of facial hair, unless of course you happen to be opinionated Scottish windbag Muriel Gray that is. Dour, putty faced Gray is a true disciple of “tache fascism ” she thinks men with facial hair and ‘taches should just write “dickhead” on their forehead, but the day I take fashion tips off somebody who looks like the mutant banjo player in “Deliverance” is the day I give up on life.

Mr.Caves ‘tache is so thick it’s probably home to all manner of interesting wildlife and possibly has it’s own Eco system, there were reports that at a recent gig,mid song ,a nesting heron suddenly flew from the realms of Caves substantial “lip shrubbery” giving him quite a start! But we’ll forgive him, if he keeps delivering such grandiosely entertaining theatrics as this. It reminded me of a grumpy Talking Heads on first play. I saw Mr Cave years ago when I was a just an egg, a couple of years after “Tender Pray” and “The Mercy Seat” (I’d actually been conned as I thought I was going to see Ultra Vivid Scene who did a fantastic track also called “The Mercy Seat” It wasn’t a good experience, this was more than likely due to my fellow gig goer, an unprincipled young strumpet, who, not satisfied with fibbing to get me to attend the gig ,then proceeded to get steadily drunker, which rapidly progressed to becoming scarily over amorous and then, for the finale managed to do a hot sicky cider infused burp into my mouth -Yuck! Marriage was never really on the cards after that episode. If this was her idea of impressing me on a first date I dreaded to think what she’d get up to by the third or forth. (sh*t in my shoes perhaps ? ) But I’ll not name her, she knows who she is, don’t you Emma 😉 It did, I admit put me off the Dark Lord for some time, bad associations you see, and every time I heard “Deanna” it was as if I could almost taste that hot, acidic, sickly regurgitation again. However time is a great healer and now I’ve moved back to dark side, the album is incredible, and this is nowhere near the best track. Anybody who can produce an album containing lyrics such as “Here comes Alina with two black eyes, she’s given herself a transfusion/ She’s filled herself with panda blood to avoid all the confusion” is a ruddy genius in my book 7.5/10

ALASTAIR: Sardonic tale of ‘Larry’ Lazarus brought back from the dead, becoming an unwilling star before sliding into drug hell and returning whence he came. No doubt with some relief! Actually this is a great hunky bit of driving blues-rock with Cave shouting and snarling out the words with gay abandon! The Bad Seeds chant ‘Dig Lazarus Dig’ like the Village People people a-workin’ on the chain gang! Mucho macho!
I wonder if that was the intention.

ANASTACIA: Pretty repetitive song, if you could call it a song- more like talking over a not very exciting synth part.

PETER: That. Was. F**king. BRILLIANT. I wish I’d written that. I suspect I will have to make do with my usual trick of ripping it off.

RICH: I love Nick Cave. Boatman’s Call is one of my favourite albums of all time. This is very wordy even by his standards. Long ago, when I was a homeless boy selling the Big Issue on the cruel streets of Brighton, Nick spotted me and pulled a (crisp, spunk-stained)£50 note from his jogging shorts (satin – pink)and told me to get a fucking job. Apparently, he does it all the time now; but I like to think I was the first.

We Are Scientists – After Hours

VP: A real grower, wasn’t sure at first, but, after repeated listens it burrows into your head and refuses to leave, even when asked politely by the mutton chopped ruddy faced landlord. I love the insistent guitar that illuminates the background, it puts me in mind of a velvety sky filled with amphetamine fueled fire flies spaz dancing on a balmy night in July,.. erm..or something. This sounds like a traditional W.A.S track , as do most tracks on the album, but there two real surprises. “Lethal Enforcer” could be Fiction Factory’s follow up to “Feels Like Heaven”. Whilst their touching tribute to the abacus “That’s What Counts” would not seem out of place on Prefabs Sprout’s classic “Steve McQueen” album. This tracks a 7/10

ANASTACIA: Always been a fan of them, but found this track a bit boring. The track felt like it wanted to go into a big chorus but never does.

RICH: They are very popular and get lots of radio play. So, apart from their songs, I wish we were them. Scientists, that is.

DOGWOOD: With a name like that I’d thought this lot would be a load of knob twiddling boffins getting all excited about Dr Who incidental music from the 1970’s. Instead, whilst they have glasses – the prerequisite of any scientist – they sound like they want to leave the lab behind and gatecrash the Sports Jock’s party and grab some of the cheerleader action. Unfortunately for them it’s a thin disguise and any self-respecting Jock would not let this bunch of geeks anywhere near the hooch or Bethany the Prom Queen with this weedy nonsense. It’s all a bit like wearing a corduroy suit this song, inoffensive until you actually leave the house and start mixing with other human beings. This song happens and that’s as descriptive or excited I can get on this one. Dogwood has forgotten the tune already.

PETER: – I always hate W.A.S stuff when I first hear it and then a couple of months later I know every word and proclaim them to be ace songs. So I’ll stick to my guns and say I hated it. But I suspect I’ll love it in the end.

ALASTAIR: You can dance to this, which is something. And it’s got a nice bit of tune. And it’s got ‘chiming’ guitars. It’s breezy, undeniably pleasant and well groomed. It curls up in you lap and wants to be stroked. Do you want to stroke it? That’s up to you!
Actually I’d really like to hear this sung ‘pub style’ by Vic Reeves!

MATT: We’ve all been there, kicking out time and desperate for a final pint. I for one was in the same situation after playing a gig in London and the only place that seemed able to serve our thirst was a bar in Soho called Trannyshack. Now, usually I have no problem flouting a dress code but this time our attire was SO far away from what was expected that we decided to press on. That may not be the underlying message of the song but that’s what it reminds me of and that’s what matters to me (at least). I don’t have any particular feelings about this song but I’ve jumped around enthusiastically in the dark at grotty clubs and woken up in a snakebite stained shirt to this track for a few months now and so, although I don’t think it’s dramatically different or creative, I guess it can’t be a too bad

The Video

Mystery Jets and Laura Marling – “Young Love”

DOGWOOD: Back in the 1980’s child psychologists surmised that combining bright colours, shapes and light, lilting reggae was the perfect way to stimulate the minds of pre-schoolers and thus ‘Playbus’ and ‘Pigeon Street’ were born. My first impression was this lot were working from the same theoretical text and the whole construct of this video was designed to stimulate the minds of simpletons. After all, who would want to watch a bunch of gadabout popstars being pushed around on a load of whitewashed car jacks to provide some illusion of standing up whilst being horizontal other than a bunch of remedial kidults? However, repeated viewing has softened my opinion and I have experienced the kind of Xanadu that five year olds discover when watching the antics of Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La la and Po. There is a strange comfort to the gentle bobbing up and down and I find it mildly therapeutic. Of course, my interest did soar on the arrival of Laura Marling – like a blond Dirvla Kirwen but with the voice of a very pleasant young female. My initial disdain dispersed I give this a cautious nod of approval. Mysterious Jets you may be but you’d make a fortune on Ceebee Ceebees

ALASTAIR: ‘Getting its act on!’The real Tabasco!’ These and suchlike comments of approval rang out all around as this Beatley tune twinkled round the room. On a serious note [!] of all the songs above, this is the only one with an engaging lyric –‘You wrote my number on the back of your hand/And it came off in the rain’...Rather sweet. The Nick Cave track had great words, not lyrics]. Laura Marling turns up halfway in, which is no bad thing. This track is ‘getting it’s act on….it’s of the moment…in short, it’s a hit!

VP: Yes,Yes, Yes! I like this a lot , even if it does sound a bit like Gilbert O’Sullivan and Kiki Dee on “E”, (which to be honest I would have paid to see) Has a bit of 60’s vibe going, it’s a great pop song even if the story is a bit daft. All that fuss over a one night stand, Pfft. Get over it soft lad (and girl). Mind, I don’t believe him! He’s trying to assuage his guilt by pretending to be “sensitive” Here’s some advice me laddo, she’s far too good for you, if need be, clear the custard in private next time with Madame Palm and her five lovely sisters. Don’t involve a nice young lass in your beastly rutting; she’s obviously fallen for your caddish lies, shame on you! To the lass, look, you’re obviously far to good for him, find a nice chap, one whose a bit steady, with prospects in say, accounts or banking, not a fly by night musician who probably, to be blunt, has inflamed, grotesquely swollen testicles and a todger that’s more than likely acting as an impromptu venue for the latest Chlamydia Trachomatis gig. I digress, the videos really does work well, I assume they were going for a quirky fun promo, mission accomplished, as within seconds I was grinning like a man who’d clambered into bed with Thora Hird and woke up next to Natassija Kinski. They say simple ideas are definitely the best and I should know. Now this Laura Marling? She’s another one of these prodigies isn’t she? I decided to listen to her album “Alas I Cannot Swim” Good lord, she’s a true talent and no mistake, it’s a stunning album!
I’m also glad the video cleared up one of life’s great mysteries… “what Edward Scissorhands did next? “It transpires he procured some real hands, from a back street “hand maker”, learnt to play the guitar and joined The Mystery Jets. Bravo Edward. 9/10

PETER: – The video was so, so well done and amusing but I must say I was actually just distracted by the song. It was brilliant. Not what I expected from them at all. I’m still humming it now. It’s between Nick Cave and Mystery Jets now as to which is my favourite…

MATT: I must confess to being a bit of a soft touch for a decent music video. In the past, a certain band, have earned themselves more plays on the music box through their ability to do some clever things on treadmills than anything specific on the album. It’s the same for the Mystery Jets (who I’d previously ignored as a haircut too many) and Laura Marling both of whom I am looking forward to hearing more of! I wasn’t blown away by the tune but found myself bobbing along to it on Friday (which was also the first time that I had heard it separated from the video). The feet don’t lie so take it as two thumbs from me!

ANASTACIA: Brilliant pop song, how could you not like it? The video oozes charm. Love it.

RICH: Long ago when I was the bass player in The Feeling I wrote a song just like this. But they rejected it. Soon after, I became homeless. Reviewing these songs has been an emotional roller coaster.

VP; Blimey this is a close one , I reckon Mystery Jets and Laura Marling just Von Pip it ! Thanks to the panel of reviewers, and hey ! Let’s be careful out there !

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“Riding High” The “Vote Show Pony” Interview

“Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down” By Vote Show Pony

“Dirty Words” By Vote Showpony

There are many strange and mythical stories with regard to how, talented artistic folk begin their arduous journey in search of rock n roll Nirvana, or Pop Utopia. Many regale us with tales of chance meetings, the guiding hand of fate, Boo Radley type moments of clarity, an inner calling, or making a Faustian pact with Simon Cowell ( which as you know is something that really gets my Goethe ) and so on and so forth. Vote Showpony’s manifestation is indeed a little odd, the story unfolds as follows; a nice, polite young lady called Sorcha and her chums decided to hire a tour bus in order to attend a music festival. Nothing odd about that, you can have a drink, not worry about driving and you don’t have to spend the night sleeping in a muddy farmer’s field surrounded by people, who for the festival duration at least, have abandoned personal hygiene and social etiquette and snore like warthogs. Nor will you suffer the foul hellishness that is the dreaded festival toilet experience. Where things get a little odd is when the chums in question ask “We have a tour bus, therefore should we not have our own band name?” “Yes indeedy” replies Sorcha “We shall be called Show Pony and we shall neigh like wild horses when we say it” and so it came to pass and during the festival Sorcha and her pals would tell anybody who would listen, and many who wouldn’t, using the medium of fake Dutch accents, that they were members of a band called “Showpony”. …Alas after the festival Sorcha deemed her friends unworthy (more on this later) to be blessed with such a wondrous name and decreed that she must take on the mantle and became “Vote Showpony”.

With Vogue cover star/Audrey Hepburn looks and Kate Bush meets The Scissor Sisters theatrics, Vote Showpony has all the right elements in place to be huge. Her brand of glitzy, sexy, electro pop glam is something that has had the inhabitants of VP Towers tapping their toes with glee and songs such as “Dirty Words” had many needing an ice cold shower. A visit to Youtube to view Vote Showpony performing had grown men openly weeping with joy, and the news desk at the VPME suddenly resembled Sodom and Gomorrah as people danced, pranced and frolicked with carefree abandon to the Pony‘s flirtatious brand of pop…..Be warned this is the effect VSP can have on you unless you keep a very tight “reign” on yourself, it can change the way you see the world …. For my part, now when I listen to Father Ted Crilley joyfully singing about his lovely horse, it takes on a new poignancy, and I find myself wistfully sharing his sentiments

My lovely horse running through the field,
Where are you going with your fetlocks blowing in the wind?
I want to shower you with sugar lumps….”
And I really do …..Ahem…

Vote Showpony has the style the talent and the looks to be quite rightly regarded as one of the hottest new acts in the country and it’s about time these daft A&R folk woke up to fresh exciting talent instead of playing it safe and signing dreary Indie by numbers bands or soulless, utilitarian, manufactured corporate pop. So with the bit between his teeth (un)stable boy Von Pip, fairly galloped off to meet up with Miss Vote Showpony to ask her about her peerless, perceptive, perky, pristine, perfect pony pop and “saddled” her with a “crop” of his usual brand of shrewd and insightful questions (delivered with the utmost modesty obviously)

VP: Who are Vote show Pony? Is it true you formed on a bus on the way to a festival?

VSP: I morphed into Vote Show Pony after a long weekend at a festival, but I also have an incredibly talented & very hot band made up of Blue May, Ray Djan , Jon Shone & Jodi Milliner. I co-write all my material with a couple of writers including my MD Blue but most of it has been co-written & produced by the very talented Death Metal Disco Scene. I love writing with him, as he is just as eccentric as I am. We met over a penchant for being called ridiculous names! Now back to the festival question. The first ever Bestival was where the first pony seed was planted. A bunch of my friends & I went to it & managed to score ourselves some cheap tickets so we had to pretend to be a band. I decided we should be a Dutch band called the “Show Ponies” & we would go around telling people that we were the “Show ponies & we like to rock”. We fell apart after various members of the band let our mascot St John (a helium balloon in the shape of a pony…. freaking genius!) fly off into the night. It was the last straw for me! They did not deserve the name Show Ponies after such sacrilege of our mascot. The ‘Vote” part of my name came about because I have a slight obsession with rosettes and the words “Vote Show Pony” look special when they are on a rosette. Rosettes are big in the equestrian world see!

VP: How would you describe your sound?

VSP: Ohhh gosh I always find this question tricky, only because I have so many influences I love. Maybe the result of a love triangle involving Blondie, LCD Soundsystem & Roxy Music. But above all else VSP sounds like fun!!

VP: What sort of music would you normally listen to when not being a Show Pony?

VSP: I’m an out of the closet pop fan, I love stuff that makes me smile, anything from LCD Soundsystem to Girls Aloud. Right now I can’t stop listening to the MGMT album, I almost cried the first time I heard “Electric feel” because I didn’t write it. I mean seriously, the lyrics “shock me like an electric eel”. AMAZINGGGGGG!!!

VP Dirty Words is a bit saucy, has this led to any odd myspace messages

VSP: It is a bit saucy isn’t it, hehe! Thankfully no I haven’t had any odd myspace messages. Maybe now that you have pointed it out I will. I shall keep you updated on that one!

VP: The Photos on myspace are very glam, and portray you in a few different guises, is your image something you’ve thought about a lot or do you just enjoy dressing up?

VSP: Well it’s a bit of both. I love dressing up because I think dressing up is an extension of someone’s personality & I use dressing up as a bit of a mask, I feel much more confidant when I’m dressed up all glam. Also if you name yourself “Vote Show Pony” you can’t really just turn up in jeans and a t-shirt can you? The Scissor Sisters & Gwen Stefani always look so striking & visually stimulating. I love a bit of visual stimulation!!

VP: What have you got planned for 2008?

VSP: I have a single coming out on an independent label in a couple of months. I am very excited about this as the song is one of my favourites, it’s called “Love Hearts” & it’s all about being so in love that you feel like your seeing love hearts! It’s a bit psychedelic really! I am also releasing a limited edition 7″ of my track called Strut. Apart from that I’m going to keep writing & performing & just being happy. I also may go blonde. Controversial I know.

VP: If Simon Cowell was sitting here, now, on that couch, just over there, by that huge “Peace Lily” ( which looks a little limp) “what would you say to him?

VSP: I would ask how his brother is. We went on a date many years ago.

VP: What makes you deliriously happy and what makes you sad?

VSP: Skipping very high & very fast holding someone’s hand I love makes me deliriously happy & seeing people be cruel to each other makes me sad

VP: Have you ever said “If there’s one thing I’d never do it’s….” and then ended up doing it

VSP: Oh dear, no not really. I think you should try everything at least once.

VP: Now we both like puns, so…. What’s the best Pony Pun you’ve ever heard?

VSP: That ones easy. It’s the one you said to me “To be or not to be, that is equestrian” It kills me, well done AVP!

VP: The Five best pieces of advice you’ve had in life are?

VSP: Whatever career you choose do it for the love of it, you can’t take money to your grave! Although saying that cash is a big help if you like Miu Miu shoes.
Water your plants regularly; they usually die if you don’t.
Look both ways when crossing the road; this will stop you from being run over
Be kind to people, karma is a word for a female dog.
Do not write a rap in middle 8 unless you are prepared to actually rap it live! This will stop public humiliation.

VSP ! She Get’s Our Vote Everytime!

Links

Myspace

Official Site

Click below and you really can Vote Showpony

Videos

“Dirty Words” By Vote Show Pony

“Circles” Live By Vote Show Pony

Wallpapers

(Click thumbnails for hi-res images)

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“Scarlet Fantastic”- The Scarlet Street Resistance Interview

“Nasty Thoughts” By The Scarlet Street Resistance

“There’s no such thing as courage. There’s only fear, the fear of getting hurt and the fear of dying. That’s why human beings live so long…..”

In a pawnshop doorway of a dimly lit street the faint form of a shadowy figure could be discerned. He wore an overcoat with the collar turned up and the rim of his fedora was pulled down over his eyes. Under his pencil thin moustache lurked a sardonic smirk. He was evidently waiting for somebody, but who and more to the point why? In a city like this there were plenty of old scores to be settled and debts to be paid. Was he waiting for the dame who’d torn out his heart and sliced it up into tiny pieces, the dame who’d then pummelled it into a fine pâté, which she had then served up as canapés to her high society friends accompanied by her famous “screw you” salad…. Was it the matter of the 50 gees she’d made off with which was owed to Fingers O’Rourke? Nobody stayed breathing too long if they owed Fingers cash, his henchmen shot first and asked questions later… The stranger slipped his hand in his pocket and felt the cold hard steel of the object concealed within his overcoat. He smiled…everything was in place. …. 100 yards from where this shadowy figure was concealed, the doors of the jazz club opened spilling out revellers as the sound of Duke Ellington broke the stillness of the night. Moments later a couple emerged from the club into the cold night air, a female, tall, elegant, entrancing, followed by a male, a guy who looked like he’d been through the mill and had lived to tell the tale. Out of habit he scanned the street, his eyes looking for something, anything, that might spell danger, something didn’t seem right “Scarlet, wait!!” he shouted. She threw back her head and laughed and walked on “Come on Mr Jones” she whispered “let’s get the hell outta here” …The sound of stilettos on the hard concrete of the sidewalk alerted the stranger in the doorway to the fact that finally the moment he’d been waiting for was imminent ..Their paths were about to cross. It was something he had been planning for a long time, something that had filled his every waking hour, some may have called it obsession, he called it dedication…and now…at last…….. In one swift movement he stepped out of the shadows blocking the path of the female, “So” he drawled, “we meet at last”. “Indeed we do” she replied coolly, hands on hips. “And what exactly is it that you want?” she said as a playful smile danced across her lips. “I think you know exactly what I want” he replied meeting her gaze. Her eyes widened as the stranger quickly reached inside his overcoat and produced a….huge.. microphone !… “I want an interview Miss Scarlet, an interview for The VPME , and I want it now! ” …”I think we can work something out” she replied smiling as she lit a cigarette and slowly exhaled, blowing smoke into his face….“Now just wait a second Scarlet” said the guy she’d referred to as Mr Jones “You know when you start talkin’ it opens the doors to a whole world of trouble” . Mr Jones took a step forward towards the stranger “You got something to say mister, you talk to me….”

Well that’s how a Film Noir type interview should start is it not? You couldn’t really meet up with The Scarlet Street Resistance in a local kebab shop could you? But who are they? What’s the deal ? …The Scarlet Street Resistance is a moody musical partnership, which features Scarlet and Mr Jones, it’s described as “part electronica and part folk piano”. With Portishead style beats, fat synths, Tori Amos influenced pianos, plus Bond movie orchestration all set against a backdrop of the shady world of 1940’s Hollywood Film Noir complete with all the moral ambiguity, sexual motivation, glamour, mystery and theatrics you’d expect from that genre. It really is an exciting concept packed with drama, atmosphere, menace and vocals to (maybe literally ;)) die for…

VP: Who are the Scarlet Street resistance?

MR JONES: The Scarlet Street Resistance is an intimate partnership lead as always by our Scarlet. In life it is important to keep your friends close but your enemies closer …Never take your eye off the ball… and always expect the quiet ones to be the most extreme. This is how it all started for us… and it remains that way to this day. I’m sorry for being a little obscure, but I think that explains it quite well.

VP: What’s the Scarlet and Mr Jones story ?

MR JONES: She’s a dark horse in many ways, and does a good job of keeping herself to herself, but I think Scarlet is a real sweetheart deep down. I haven’t seen a great deal of evidence first hand of her kind heart but I know it’s there. In the past I have got myself into trouble with her for speaking with the media on the subject of our potential past affairs… so I try not to. I have a lot of time for her indeed. She’s been through the wringer that I know. I’m there for her… what can I say…she’s a dangerous lady… take a look at her!

VP: I’ve heard the live shows are amazing what can people expect?

MR JONES:It’s light and dark, up and down, rough and smooth… Scarlet’s presence on stage is really something to behold as you will see. All the gigs this year have been rammed with a wall to wall TSSR type of magma that seems to have a life of its own! The crowd is generally as well behaved as frenzy can be… but there will be a lot less bruising if you just expect amazing.

VP: When will the album “The Big Steal” be released?

MR JONES: Whaaaat…? They’re gonna just release it…? I wanted to hold it to ransom! We’ll see about that…..keep your eyes peeled for this later in the year.

VP: What do you have planned for 2008, album release then tour? Europe? Can Miss Scarlet access a passport these days?

MR JONES: Scarlet has many passports so that’s no concern at all, but all the rest is exactly what is in store for us. I’d like to be doing as much touring as possible because it keeps us on the straight and narrow. We really need to be kept busy as falling into trouble comes a little too easily for us. Scarlet doesn’t twiddle her thumbs for very long! We kick things off in Germany, Scandinavia, Italy, Switzerland and the wonderful Paris all before the summer, then its festival season for a few months. We start what we are calling at the moment ‘our special show’ titled ‘The Sonic Film Noir Show’ which is a full on 1 hour almost cabaret performance including the visuals you see on the internet along with guns and action. The first of these specials is at the Hanbury Club, Brighton, UK on the 24th April 2008. Not the normal gig, more of an experience shall we say, a first for us.

VP: What sort of music has influenced your style?

MR JONES: The Guns of Navarone, I Shot the Sheriff, Pachelbel’s Canon, and Bullet in a Bible, Street Fighting Man.

VP: Which would you both say are your favourite examples of “Film Noir?”

MR JONES: “Man Bites Dog“.. Have you seen it? Ah, the opening scene is almost romantic! Pure femme fatale.

VP: Who would you say are the ultimate femme fatales?

MR JONES: Cat woman… Bodacca… Flipper … and Princess Lea, except she doesn’t die, but she looks like a go-er.

VP: What have been your highlights of your time together so far? The Secret Garden Party festival? Huw Stephens? Finishing the album ?

MR JONES: The Secret Garden Party gig was wicked. I wasn’t sure if we’d be ready for it but in the end we all rose to the occasion and everyone had a top time… lots of smiling faces in the audience, with no-one really knowing what to expect… as far as I could see the crowd was bowled over. finishing the album was great as its been a long time in the making but I’m looking forward to playing more live shows in Europe.

VP: The Video for “Nasty Thoughts” is fantastic and has some really “Wow” moments . Will the story via video continue in the future

MR JONES: If it doesn’t, then the full extent of our whole endeavour together will never be known. It’s a very colourful tale in full, and like all good stories it’s quite natural to want to know what happens in the end. I hope we get chance to tell all in the future via film / video.

VP: What five items are essential to the Scarlet Street Resistance

MR JONES: Sex, guns, fast cars/women, rock ‘n roll, and a life on the run.

Links

On Myspace

Click The T-Shirt To Buy!

Videos

Album Intro/Taster- The Scarlet Street Resistance

“Nasty Thoughts” By The Scarlet Street Resistance

Wallpapers

Click On Thumbnail For full Size Version

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