The Dead Weather- I Cut Like A Buffalo Review

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Saying you  don’t particularly ‘ get’ The White Stripes usually elicits the same  sort of incredulity and anger normally reserved for somebody who decides to drop their  trousers and shout “Hallelujah!” whilst receiving Holy Communion at church on Sunday.  But the truth is I never really had much time for The White Stripes, Ok so “Hotel Yorba” had a certain rough-hewn rustic knock about charm, but for some reason they reminded me of  Timbuk 3 (anyone remember them! ) and I never quite managed to sever that ludicrous mental connection. As the popular music press salivated over each new White Stripes release I would offer the same indifferent shrug I normally reserved for the latest Foo Fighters tune. After hearing Mr White’s rather woefully misjudged James Bond /Alicia Keys rock-warble hybrid I felt a shameful sense of schadenfreude “not quite the godhead you’re often made out to be eh Jacky boy ?” I thought. However despite my resistance to all things JW I could appreciate that he is an amazing, innovative guitarist but I believed that the premature anointing of Mr W as some sort of musical deity was somewhat over the top, but hey, ho, I didn’t lose much sleep over it and I’m damn sure Jack didn’t, 😉 – I didn’t dislike The White Stripes they just kinda washed over me and I concluded that some bands you just don’t ‘get’. And so The White Stripes existed -I didn’t bother them, they didn’t bother me, everybody was happy. Then along came The Raconteurs, and I admit I was initially seduced by ‘Steady As She Goes’ and we briefly held hands but when I listened to the full album I realised we were never likely to consummate our musical relationship and so it seemed that another Jack White project was  to pass me by … I must admit I did feel I was missing out, but couldn’t quite work out how or in what sense??…..

But now Jacks really gone and upset my apple cart …he’s only gone and produced a sleazy slice of rock n’ roll that even I could not fail to be moved by.  His latest single  “I  Cut Like a Buffalo” from yet another of his ever expanding side projects, The Dead Weather, is the song that really changed everything for me,  it became a musical jemmy that opened a mind that was seemingly forever hermetically sealed to  all things Jack White… after  listening to this track everything slowly started  fall in to place, suddenly I started to “get” the Dead Weather and it proved “I don’t know Jack!”

Alongside Jack, The Dead Weather’s dirge rock is the product of Dean Fertita (Queens Of The Stone Age),  “Little” Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs, The Greenhornes) and Alison Mosshart (The Kills)  “I Cut Like  Buaffalo” is their latest musical calling card from  their debut album  ‘Horehound’. It’s a track which perfectly captures their gritty rock & dirty blues sound. It’s a dark, organ grinding number containing a Stranglers inspired intro which fuses “Peaches” with “Hanging Around” before  crossing over into Clash territory whilst managing to  retain that whiskey sodden blues quality that sounds utterly authentic, natural  and completely uncontrived. Apparently The Dead Weather formed as the result of a Raconteurs jam session and it kind of has that rough and ready vibe, a raw untreated feel, like it was recorded in a New Orleans crack house on Halloween.  Visceral guitars and juddering beats circle Jack and Alison’s vocals like a pack of hungry wolves as he snarls “Is that you chokin’?/ Or are you just jokin’? I’ve no idea what “Cuts Like A Buffalo” actually means, some say it’s a euphemism for death, others that it’s a slightly unpleasant term for bleeding during sexual congress(nice), but I prefer to think of it as somebody who is thick-skinned -difficult to upset, hurt, or insult-tough, a bit like Mr T.  It’s a tune that has been playing around in my head for weeks, and is a song destined to one day join the canonised classics. It may well also be the catalyst which inspires me to revisit the White Stripes in the hope that the penny will finally drop …..8/10

Graffiti Graphics- Patrick Von Pip

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The Raveonettes -Bang/Last Dance (single) Review


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Danish duo Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner, The Raveonettes to you and I, return with a bang, both in the literal and the figurative sense! ‘Bang’ is the first single from the bands 4th studio album “In And Out Of Control” and is a track that once again demonstrates the bands effortless ability to produce stellar pop songs of shimmering brilliance.

Released as a double A-side alongside ‘The Last Dance,’ ‘Bang’ finds The Raveonettes swapping their effects pedals in favour of surfboards to compose a glistening melodious sound which owes more to Beach Boys harmonies than to the Mary Chain guitar thrash of old. On this track at least, it appears the Raveonettes aren’t fixing to ‘Kill Surf City’ just yet, although beneath the veil of ice cream sweetness there lurks menace, “barbed wire kisses” and darkness at the core. Despite the sometimes disturbing lyrical ambiguity of lines such as “Bang! / You’re so vicious baby / Bang! / You sure know how to control me” and “When I scream out baby / Bang! You know I love it all the time” the Raveonettes still manage to leave an overall impression that you’ve just been listening to the perfect upbeat end of summer tune. Yet again they provide a shining example of how to produce pristine pop that is timeless, yet modern.

Whilst ‘Bang’ may be the more commercial, radio friendly number, it’s ‘The Last Dance’ that is the stronger of the two tunes on offer here. Initially it appears to be an innocent song laced with melancholia dealing with traditional Spector-esque prom night gone wrong style heartbreak, but closer scrutiny reveals there are darker themes at play. This isn’t just any old last dance this is the final dance in the true “God putting Patrick Swayze in the corner” sense. Thematically it’s almost like a Ronettes influenced relative of “Girlfriend In A Coma” as Wagner and Foo sing “And every time you overdose I rush to intensive care / Another sad eye stare before you disappear / If this is the last dance, if this is the last dance / Then save it for me baby.” It’s classic Raveonettes, hauntingly dark lyrics drenched in a gorgeous melody infused with a sense of bruised nobility and doomed grandeur.

The Raveonettes thankfully have not tried to reinvent the wheel here, they are doing what they do best, producing effortlessly brilliant fifties and sixties influenced rock n’roll which puts many of the jejune bandwagon jumping revivalists in the shade. Long may they continue to “Rave On”.

Buy The Raveonettes – Bang! / The Last Dance [Single]

This was originally written for Altsounds.com which you can read in full here

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Crazy Riders Competition

Tour Rider (def) The  rider is a list of requests for the comfort of the artist on the day of the show. Sometimes this document is provided along with the technical rider; other times, it is provided much closer to the performance date.

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“Absolut” Power Corrupts Absolutely ! And those  nice people at Absolut vodka are on a mission to find out if you can match some of the craziest riders in Rock n’ Roll history.  It’s simple,  just provide details of  your dream rider, and you could win it ! Simply click HERE and let your inner diva go cloud cuckoo stark raving crazy.  Remember they can only provide things, not experiences ….shame really cos mine involved a rather fetching domina…..actually lets not go there .

To inspire  you here are some of the more  outlandish riders of recent times

Van Halen’s now legendary  demands for  large bowls of M&M’s with all the brown ones removed seemed more Spinal Tap than Spinal Tap.  Their riders were also notorious for the sheer volume of alcohol stipulated. One rider specified that their dressing room was to contain a case of beer, a pint of Jack Daniel’s, a pint of Absolut, a 750 ml bottle of Bacardi Añejo rum, three bottles of wine, small bottles of Cointreau and Grand Marnier, and a 750 ml bottle of one of five specific premium tequilla. Oh and six limes, margarita salt, shot glasses, ingredients for Bloody Marys, and a blender. Plus a goat called Alan.

Britney Spears rider demands a private phone line in her dressing trailer –fair enough but she’ll also fine the promoter a  mere $5,000 if the number  leaks and anyone calls her. Pity I can’t do the same to Indian call centres  who invariably ring when I’m eating my tea . Otherwise, the Britster’s tastes are rather, like the lady herself, quite simple: Froot Loops, and Pop Tarts (You are what you eat.)

This is my favourite from good old Uncle Iggy Pop who made a bizarre request for seven dwarves. He also demanded American Spirit cigarettes (which he doesn’t smoke) and broccoli (which he hates). Questioned about this bizarre request, his response was that he wanted the broccoli in order to throw it in the bin –a visual representation of his utter contempt for the  green hued relative of the cauliflower family one would imagine …Mind you, we  dare not contemplate what he wanted the dwarves for…

Mariah “doesn’t do stairs” Carey is known as queen of the Divas and some of her demands have included bunny rabbits, puppies, and kittens to keep her company backstage, Cristal champagne, and obviously a box of bendy straws to sip it with, and the requirement of a special attendant to take care of all her needs, including insuring her favourite colour of  toilet paper was in stock,  lovely.

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Charlotte Hatherley-New Worlds Album Review

Read my interview with Charlotte, exclusive to Altsounds.com HERE

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The thing that’s always impressed me about Charlotte Hatherley is she’s just so bloody good at what she does. She’s a great guitarist, an innovative songwriter, runs her own record label, is beautiful, has been a member of Ash, Client, Bat For Lashes and I’m quite sure she could bring about world peace if she put her mind to it.

In a world where people are being happily manipulated into believing the “X-Factor” really is the definitive bench mark of true musical talent it’s difficult to know if Charlotte’s third album “New Worlds” will shift any more units than her previous releases. Should such a scenario transpire then it really would be criminal as it certainly deserves to be heard by a wider audience and result in her fanbase expanding at the same rate as Jamie Oliver’s waistline. It’s definitely her strongest and most accomplished work to date.

“New Worlds” demonstrates not only Charlottes’ gifts as a great lyricist and guitarist but it also showcases her ability to effortlessly merge and slip into various musical genres and styles whilst still producing an album that works as a cohesive whole. Album opener ‘White,’ is all angular, with jagged guitar riffs that are underpinned by driving rhythms that could quite easily be Elastica if they’d managed to produce better tunes. Latest single ‘Alexander’ starts off innocently enough with a melodic, slightly twee acoustic intro but the song really explodes into life when the chorus kicks in, whilst ‘Straight Lines’ is pure melodious jump up and down new wave/punk. Thematically the album appears to be centred on a quest for veracity, a desire to slowly peel away layers and reveal some kind of inner truth whilst colours are deftly employed as an important descriptive tool, used to highlight moods, emotions and personality traits.

Hatherley isn’t afraid to experiment either, for example the slightly kooky ‘Firebird’ is the sort of quintessential eccentric English pop song that recalls Ray Davies with his modus operandi setting cranked up to “whimsical.” It shouldn’t really work, yet Hatherley pulls it off with great charm and skill. The albums title track ‘New Worlds’ is part XTC, part Chrissie Hynde yet remains unmistakably Charlotte, and it’s when Charlotte “rocks” that her unique guitar playing style can really be appreciated. There’s not a bad track on the album and songs like ‘Full Circle’ and ‘Little Sahara’ merely serve to confirm the view that we should really bestow the title of ‘national treasure’ on Ms Hatherley and give thanks that the music world is still home to innovation and genuine talent. The albums final track ‘Wrong Notes’ make you want to grab Cowell by his aesthetically ignorant lug holes and roar “Damn it man, THIS is real music, not Robson and f***ing Jerome!”

“X-Factor” may be the drug of choice for many people and as Oscar Wilde wisely deduced “Public opinion exists only where there are no ideas” but there are alternatives, there are fresh new ideas. We really should count our blessings that despite not having massive budgets or huge PR campaigns we still have artists like Charlotte Hatherley who are brimming with ideas, talent and passion and who make music that really does matter. This is a ‘New World’ that should not be left undiscovered, go play in the fresh snow kid.  😉

This review was originally written for Altsounds.com which you can read here

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Buy Charlotte Hatherley – New Worlds [Album] From Amazon.com

“Alexander” Single Review

“Alexander” ( (BLAcK N RED-Remix)

‘Alexander’ starts off with a whimsical, almost folksy acoustic intro, which for some reason conjures up Britt Ekland’s body double prancing about the bedroom in the ‘Wicker Man’ as a bulging eyed Edward Woodward almost gives himself a hernia trying to subdue the beast within (sadly this probably says more about the reviewer than it does about the song). The track sees Charlotte trying to elicit a sense of openness from the chap around whom the song centres, it would seem he is unwilling or unable to provide our Charlotte with the reassurances she is seeking and his reticence to give himself totally to the relationship seems to be something that deeply troubles Ms H. One can’t help but feel that Alexander’s attempts to keep things to himself have somewhat backfired and must rank up there with Rod Hull’s “I’ll just pop up on the roof to adjust the TV aerial” as a “bad idea” in the “Bad Idea Hall of Fame!” You see unfortunately for Alex, Charlotte’s gone and written a song about it now and it’s been on the radio and everything…and it’s not only Ms Hatherley wondering- ‘what kind of dreaming you do behind your innocent eyes’ –it’s the nation!! That’ll teach you eh ?

The song essentially deals with honesty and emotional depth within relationships. We never find out exactly what Alexander is hiding but Charlotte definitely senses there’s another side to his character which he is keeping hidden. Can she trust him? Just what is he holding back? Does he disappear come the full moon and return somewhat disheveled with a craving for raw steak? Or worse, is he a young conservative?! Of course it’s perfectly plausible that Alexander, resplendent might I add, in his suit of royal blue, has nothing sinister to hide at all, he might be an avid trainspotter, attend the odd Star Trek convention (is there any other type?) or simply enjoy the unrivaled adrenaline rush provided by secretly collecting horse brasses. Who knows?

‘Alexander’ is the sort of song that slowly draws you in before it hooks you with a fantastic chorus but the real surprise is just how good the accompanying ‘Black N Red’ remix is. I don’t normally enjoy remixes but this I’m afraid is absurdly good, it might not quite do for Charlotte what Weatherall did for Primal Scream with ‘Loaded’ but it’s one of the best remixes you’re likely to hear this year. If you’re planning to buy the album but have maybe decided to skip the single, rest assured it really is worth a couple of quid for this version alone….. and here’s an idea….. how about a remix album?

This review was originally written for Altsounds.com which you can read here

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The Illumination Station-Lulu And the Lampshades Interview

“Rose Tint” By Lulu And The Lampshades

Free download “Clown Tit Fun” By Lulu And The Lamshades  here

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A girl called Lulu and her friends the dancing lampshades?? Good grief! It sounds like something that might have been commissioned for kids TV during the 60’s and early 70’s , a time when the counter-culture and consumerism collided and bizarrely kids TV seemed to be laced with none too subtle drug references  There was the visual equivalent of the ‘Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test ‘in the disturbing somewhat freaky form of ‘HR Pufnstuff’. We had ‘The Magic Roundabout’ , replete with hallucinogenic imagery and moral corruption ,which introduced a generation of youngsters to some rather dubious characters including a tripped out rabbit called Dylan who, one suspects, was germinating something rather more powerful than carrots in his “vegetable patch !” And what of ‘Ludwig’? , This terrifying cartoon had “bad acid” writ large throughout and led to many children needing psychiatric help . I kid you not….

However I digress, Lulu And The Lampshades, aside from their name, have little in common with any of the above. They are in point of fact a musical collective best described as quirky folk rockers with a whimsical sense of playfulness and an ear for a great tune.  A word of caution however, their live shows really do contain scenes of dancing lampshades which some people may find disturbing ;).  Hallucinogenic drugs are not recommended!

The free spirited ethos of Lulu And The Lampshades is apparent on their debut single “Feet To the Sky” a beautiful ode to escapism “For too long emotional extremities have been uncharted territories” sings Luisa as she seeks to shake herself from “the things I think that make me whole” It’s a call to arms, challenging people to look at things from a different perspective, to shake things up, to do something out of the ordinary and to put as little trust as possible in tomorrow and seize the moment.  “Feet To the Sky” is a fabulous introduction to the bands clever word play and sense of fun and will no doubt delight fans of Emmy the Great, Peggy Sue, Laura Marling et all, they are a band who quite literally, get the furniture dancing!!

Lulu And The Lampshades also share a deep love for their namesake, the humble lampshade, they nurse a deeply held belief that it is a vastly unappreciated item of furniture and should be celebrated. Thus intrigued I decided to have a chat with Luisa about the moral implications of fusing music with soft furnishings and attempted to shed some light on what made the band tick…The results were somewhat illuminating

VP: Hello there, how did the band come about? Who is Lulu and how did she meet her Lampshades??

Lulu:  Hi hey hello.  Lampshade past? Well I wanted to be in a band for ages, but I didn’t know anyone to be in a band with, so I made one up, and called it Helouisa (mine and Heloise’s names combined, clever no?).  We went to school together and it was the name we gave to all our entrepreneurial failures: t-shirts, cakes, hoodies with cushions inside the hood (another good idea I think) …  After a while it occurred to us to try singing together, but everyone said the name was rubbish and they were right.  Jemma agreed to play with us one night and we convinced her to stay and Dan we found at a furniture convention where we bonded over our love for lampshades and decided we would strive to see their appreciation in modern day society … more or less.

VP:  I know it’s difficult to describe your own music, but who said this was going to be an easy interview ;)…

Lulu:  Well I really like harmonies and I really like percussion, so, erm, harcussion music?  Or Parmony music?

VP:  You’re about to release a single “Feet to the Sky”, which was written apparently whilst cycling to Paris on a whim.  At 4am.  On New Year’s Eve. As you do

Lulu:  Kiiiind of, a few details to be remedied.  It was whimsical in as much as we decided to do it the day of departure, a few days earlier so that we’d get there in time for New Years Eve.  We left at four because we thought we’d miss our ferry, but that was the dumbest thing ever because it doesn’t get light for ages and we were suddenly on a dual carriageway in the pitch black with lorries whizzing by, very scary, we had to sit in a bush on the hard shoulder and wait for sunrise, we played ping to stay warm.  Aside from that it was completely magical, a perfect bit of escapism in cold winter.

VP: What are you doing to celebrate its release?

Lulu:  We’re having party! 26th of October at Passing Clouds just off Kingsland Road.  Details coming, Melodica, Melody and Me are playing, who I love so I’m very happy about that, and some others confirming … come, it’ll be grand.

VP: Aside from recording your debut single what have you been up to musically in 2009?

Lulu:  Forming a band.  This time last year it was still just me, garage band, and any boy I could get to strum a guitar with me on open mic’s.  Now there are permanent members, new songs, lots more gigs and the like. We spent the last few days making a video which we’re very excited about, Dan is dressed as a Duracell Bunny, Heloise is Little Bo Peep, and Jemma is Marie from the Sound of Music.  I wish they could dress like that all the time.

VP: What has been your most memorable gig so far?

Lulu:  Maybe one of our first for first times sakes… The Lock Tavern earlier this year, it was the first one with Dan and the first one where two of my friends agreed to dress as lampshades and dance for us.  We were so nervous and excited and we inevitably messed up loads, but it was so much fun.  When we got an encore we just had to sing Elastic Limbs again because we didn’t have any more songs.

VP: Who are your musical heroes and why?

Lulu:  It’s mostly just been a series of female solo singers, starting with Billie Holiday who I was massively obsessed with when I should have been into much cooler music.  The other biggest one I reckon is Lauryn Hill.  Apparently I’ve never been so excitable as when I saw her play at Exit (which was otherwise horrible).  I made sure I was at the front and was reduced to the screaming fan I never thought I’d be.  She came on an hour and a half late, and shouted her songs over a ska beat, rubbish, but I didn’t care in the slightest.

VP: What’s your poison, Facebook, Myspace? Twitter? Or do you get out occasionally?

Lulu:  If we’re referring to interspace vices then I’ll be specific and say Facebook threads.  When I was writing my dissertation we started a Facebook message to plan summer whilst we were stuck in libraries, but then everyone got a bit hooked and it became my salvation, it was literally my life for about two months… so dependable, somebody was always there!  We started referring to it as a real person and christened him Malcolm, Dear Malcolm, today I … and so on.  Now he is embodied in a little red caravan.   Malcolm is my poison.

VP: If the government could appoint a minister for cool, who’d get your vote?

Lulu:  As a testament to how cool Brazilians are, they’re minister of culture is world-renowned musician Gilberto Gil, basically a minister of cool if ever one did exist. We compare thinly.

VP: What are the five most important words in Lulu And The Lampshades dictionary

Lulu: I’ve*drawn*a*blank*sorry

‘Feet To The Sky’

7” Released 26th October 2009 (Voga Parochia)

Digital Release 18th October 2009 (Voga Parochia)

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“You’re Gonna Miss Me” Lulu And The Lampshades

This article was written for Altsounds and can be read in full here.

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So Much Music, So Little Time….

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Phew, it’s been a busy old time at VP Towers, what with promoting a new music night (as above) band management, photo shoots, interviews, secret deals, and clandestine assignations, highs lows and everything in between.  All in all it’s been a giddy whirl !!

Normal service will be resumed shortly but as ever it’s music that fuels our imagination, adds the grist to our musical mill and provides the lead for our pencil!! So here’s what we’ve been getting our groove on to lately.

“Elemantary Of Youth” Sound Of Guns

“You Forget So Easily” Exlovers

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Exlovers You Forget So Easily“, posted with vodpod

“Papillon” Editors

“Alexander” Charlotte Hatherley

“The Hangmen”-Dirtblonde

“Baptized by Fire” Spinnerette

“Edward Is Deadward” Emmy The Great

“I Think I Need It Too” Echo And The Bunnymen

“Mowglis Road” Marina And The Diamonds

“I Cut Like A Buffalo” The Dead Weather

And a blast from the past, possibly even more relavant today in the sense that we have more musical “puppets” than ever before. Maybe Milo could update it ?

“Astley In The Noose” The Wonderstuff

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