“Hanging With The Unloved Kids” – Marina And The Diamonds-Live, Liverpool Masque-25/05/2010

Marina And The Diamonds-Liverpool

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“A bit different from the last show here?” beams Marina outside her tour bus, basking in the afterglow of a triumphant gig at Liverpool’s Masque Theatre.  Marina and I had previously agreed that her visit to the ‘Pool in December 2009 definitely had something of a weird vibe, the venue seemingly full of industry types as opposed to genuine fans (aside from the hardcore ‘Diamonds’) . No such worries this evening though, because as is with most of the shows on “The Family Jewels” tour, tonight is a sell out, it seems Liverpool has finally been seduced and bedazzled by all things Diamond.

Marina And The Diamonds Live Liverpool, Von Pip

From the moment the Bond-esque video montage intro illuminates the stage backdrop you sense Marina’s upped her game and is preparing to take things to a whole new level. She was quoted recently as saying she doesn’t take her image too seriously, that it’s playful and ‘cartoonised’, and as if to prove that very point she arrives on stage resplendent in a silk printed smock featuring Bambi and Thumper! Since its release, her début album ‘The Family Jewels’ has sold over 100,000 copies in the UK , yet she still seems to divide opinion.   For some people her perceived faux-quirkiness is cited as off putting, in fact one critic went so far as to write  “you get the impression that ­Diamandis couldn’t tell you where the nearest cash point is without crossing her eyes, blowing a raspberry and doing quote marks with her fingers every other word.” As amusing as this image is, it’s a rather unfair view and one that certainly doesn’t represent the reality of Marina as a live entity. Yeah, yeah , she sings a high pitched “cuckoo” on one song and has a penchant for ironic knitwear shaped like sheep, but she hardly bounds  on stage astride a pogo stick, wearing comedy antlers  roaring, “Oi, I’m fucking mental me!!”

The truth is Marina employs less artifice in her live shows than many of her flashy and dare I say gimmicky, electro pop contemporaries.  There is no faux mysticism here, no scented candles, new age wankery or any of the usual bollocks du jour; the focus is primarily on the songs, and Marina’s voice. I will yield to nobody in my view that she posses a wonderful, rich emotive voice, although I will concede that songs such as tonight’s opener ‘Girls’ don’t really do it justice. In many ways it’s the polar opposite of La Roux’s shrill, cold, tinny mewl, yes its unusual, yes it’s different but I suppose if you’ve been lobotomised by utterly plastic, vapid, soulless singers on so called ‘talent shows’ then you may find Marina’s voice a little challenging. Then again if the X-Factor’s your bench mark of quality you’d probably find tying your shoelaces unaided a bit of a challenge.  Strange how critics bemoan a lack of originality, yet when a performer dares to deviate from the narrow parameters of ‘pop’ they get criticised for it? And let us never forget it is so much easier to be critical than to be correct.

Tonight Marina demonstrates that not only can she put on a fantastic show, but she also has the ability to write the sort of pop songs that would certainly induce Sir Douglas Bader to tap his imaginary toes with unbridled glee.  However these aren’t just fluffy pop songs about falling in love with a duplicitous loser that  elucidate the dispiriting post feminist take on equality , the  tale of  how she’s ain’t gonna take it no more and how she will win him back by  empowering herself by, um, taking up pole dancing and wearing a ‘bad ass’ thong.  Nope there’s more to Marina than that,  and she’s always attempted  to address issues which are close to her heart, loneliness, isolation, consumerism, buying into the pretence of body perfection and the portrayal  of women in the music industry and society in general.  Many of her ideas may still be evolving and some sniffy critics have sniped that she’s no Ani DiFranco, but Jeez give the girl a break, isn’t it refreshing that somebody in the pop genre is trying to actually articulate her own feelings and not simply regurgitating an empty vision of  ‘girl power’ dreamt up by a team of  middle aged- mostly male, song-writers.

Marina And The Diamonds Live Liverpool

Despite her album being laced with pop gems, tonight  it’s the slower numbers that are the real highlights, stripped of their studio polish Marina’s voice soars and is imbued with a melancholic quality that is both  moving and  mesmerising, a voice that combines power yet Marina And Von Pipfragility. If there’s anything that separates this young lady from her contemporaries it’s her singular ability to write affecting piano led ballads of real emotional depth. ‘Obsessions’, Numb’, ‘Rootless’ and one of the best songs in recent years ‘Iam Not A Robot’ all hint at just what the future may hold for Marina as her song writing matures and she continues to develop her ideas and opinions.  The show finishes with the inevitable  shrieks of ‘cuckoo ’ from the audience as  Marina performs a rousing version of ‘Mowglis Road’ and when people reluctantly vacate the venue they leave with smiles as wide as the Mersey plastered on their faces.  Tonight’s show demonstrated that Marina is true a diamond, she’s sparkling brighter than ever and one cannot help but feel there’s so much more to come!

9/10 .

Additional montage photos and  “Girls” video by Ricky Orr

Marina And The Diamonds - Bambi

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Something For The Weekend -W/e 28/05/2010

This week Marina And The Diamonds Free Mp3, Ash release infamous “Slashed” footage, Scroobius Pip, Sound Of Guns,  Johnny Flynn, Bridezilla, Emii.

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Marina & The Diamonds

A short version this week as I’m afraid playing out on a school night has left me a bit knackered. The reason being was Marina And The Diamonds show and here’s her awesome version from that very show of “Starstruckk” . Marina is  giving away a live version of  this track from her official website.  To download a live version of the track, go to her official website HERE

She’s also announced release of new single “Oh No” on July 26th through 679.

Recorded last year in LA with recent Ivor Novello award winner, Greg Kurstin, “Oh No” was the final track completed for her debut album, but has already become a firm fan favourite. The video will be directed by Kinga Burza, who last worked with Marina on her “Hollywood” video and the single package will feature remixes by Grum, Jaymo and Andy George, Steve Pitron and Max Sanna as well as Active Child. She has also announced she’s supporting Goldfrapp at the Itunes festival and will be appearing in the John Peel tent at Glastonbury.

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Ash –Binary

Finally some footage from Ash’s never before released self made horror movie, “Slashed”, written by our old chum Jed Shepherd and featuring the likes of Chris Martin, Dave Grohl, Neil Hannon, Moby and Charlotte Hatherley

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Sound Of Guns

Sound of Guns present the blistering video for their latest single ‘Architects’

‘Architects’ is taken from the band’s forthcoming debut album ‘What Came From Fire’, to be released on the 28th June through Distiller Records

‘Architects’ will be released on 7″ and download on the 21st June.

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Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip

Awesome new video for the duo’s awesome  new single Sick Tonight which  out on May 31st as a double A-side with Great Britain.

Fusing Pips laser like social commentary with Dans slamming beats, ‘Sick Tonight’ is another slice of hypnotic urban poetry which has plenty to say and gets your feet heading firmly in the direction of  the dancefloor!

There’s also a free download available, Hyetal remix of Great Britain, below

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Johnny Flynn

Johnny Flynn has made a five track sampler of his forthcoming album ‘Been Listening’ available It . features standout tracks from the album including ‘The Water’ (with Laura Marling), ‘Barnacled Warship’, ‘Churlish May’, ‘Been Listening’ and recent free download ‘Kentucky Pill’. Been Listening’ is released on the 7th June through Transgressive Records.

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Bridezilla

Straight from the heart of cool alt Australia comes the unconventional quintet Bridezilla. Comprising of the unusual collective Ms Pia May(Guitar), Ms Daisy Tulley(Voilin), Ms Millie Hall(Saxophone/Keyboard), Mr Josh Bush (Drums) and led by Ms Holiday Sidewinder (Vocals/Guitar) like a mesmerising dream. Drifting through the music with ultra cool carelessness, Bridezilla mix a sound, likening it to everything from Dirty Three’s instrumental explorations, to Cat Power’s country-noir and PJ Harvey’s darkened outsider-pop.  Here’s the video for “Western Front”

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Emii

Move over Britney, there’s a new girl in town, who could well steal the pop crown from the Britsters fully restored noggin. Her name’s Emii and her debut Ep ‘Magic’ is imminent….

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Sick!-The Kiara Elles, Suzuki Method, Standard Fare, Live

The Kiara Elles, Suzuki Method, Standard Fare, Live at The Zanzibar, Liverpool 14th May 2010

Sick Music Liverpool

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“When are you going to grow up and stop pissing about with pop music, you big girl!, You wanna get back into footie, lad” said my sagacious Sick Liverpoolacquaintance (to call him a friend would suggest we had things in common-like mutual respect.) He looked quite the dandy clad in a replica Everton shirt, stretched to breaking point across the leviathan girth of his capacious well stocked stomach, his absurd garb complimented by the accoutrements of the terminally stupid, the ubiquitous Homer Simpson novelty sock set.  These pearls of wisdom came from a man, whom some minutes earlier, had been informing complete strangers via the medium of song that Everton were magic, whilst Liverpool were apparently tragic.  As to the merits of his suggestion that I need to grow up in some shape or form, I addressed his metaphysical musings on the subject with a retort that,  whilst not exactly Wildean in terms of wit and pithiness, certainly found its mark -‘ Maybe I’ll grow up when you stop talking utter bollocks you fat cretinous Neanderthal oaf’. Admittedly I felt a pang of  guilt afterwards, feeling as if I’d just kicked a particularly docile Labrador,  I had formed the opinion that this hapless miscreant couldn’t really help being an idiot, it kind of  just came naturally to him, like breathing.

But really, is the removal of one’s brain now a pre-requisite for being granted entry to the nation’s football stadia?  Sadly, it would appear so, if the mind numbingly inane communal singing that passes for wit at such occasions is anything to go by. Our friend in questions particular favourite ditty at present is ‘What’s that coming over the hill? It’s Jagielka, It’s Jagielka’ (sung with gusto to the tune of the Automatics ‘Monster’ no less).  Sigh!… And so I follow music, he attends football and never the twain shall meet, horses for courses I guess….

He certainly wasn’t in attendance at our latest “Sick! music night” but fortunately some great bands were as well as the discerning music fan 😉 looking for something more than a Beatles tribute band or a karaoke warblefest.  The first band of the evening were The Kiara Elles from Leeds , a band  I have become rather smitten with in the aftermath of their ‘Odio Ep’ and their wonderful début album, Slide Over’. I was obviously delighted that the band had agreed to make the perilous, Tolkienesque journey across the Pennines to Liverpool to play a set for us.

“Savoir Faire” By The Kiara Elles

“Odio” By The Kiara Elles

Prior to taking to the stage lead singer Chiara Lucchini leant forward conspiratorially and said ‘You probably won’t like us after this’, she couldn’t have been more wrong of course, and  my legal team are now drawing up documents which will enable me   legally adopt them all . They played a fantastic set and in Chiara they have a front person who is as charismatic and mesmeric a performer as you’re likely to see, totally committed, passionate and exuding such energy that I felt exhausted just watching her propel herself about the stage. She really is pure dynamite on legs and definitely has that certain special something about her, surrounded by that intangible aura that can only be defined as ‘star quality’. A fantastic performance and one can only hope that in the shallow money trench that is the music business a band this good can make its mark, they certainly deserve to.

The Kiara Elles may have been a tough act to follow but Manchester’s Suzuki Method certainly gave their all and pulled a great performance out of their musical hat.  Their songs are a genre traversing mix of dance and Indie, mixing the old school Mancunian Hacienda vibe with hard edged guitar pop which they manage to pull off with great aplomb.  With a debut EP due for release on Factory Foundation records in August and containing tracks such as “Purple Aki”  (surely a ,“Can I Feel Your Muscles” remix is just begging to be released, as is  Aki  probably) and “What We Do Is Not A Secret , expect to hear much more from this outfit in 2010.

Suzuki Method Live Liverpool

Final act of the night came from Thee SPC favourites, Standard Fare from Sheffield. Their début album “The Noyelle Beat has become a firm favourite on the blogosphere and their set showcased their endearing boy/girl jangle guitar fretted tunes about love loss and regret. They have already been compared to the likes of Belle and Sebastian but have a more substantial overall sound and don’t go overboard on self indulgent tweeness or whimsy,  they write songs that are as heartfelt as they are endearing.

“Secret Little Sweetheart” By Standard Fare

“Love Just Doesnt Stop” By Standard Fare

Live they exude energy and melody and produced a set that was tighter than the rope I’m planning to garrotte Simon Cowell with given half a chance! (For clarity this is a joke and not an actual threat, in any case I’d probably use a gun for a cleaner kill J) ‘Philadelphia’Secret Little Sweetheart’ and ‘Love Just Doesn’t Stop ‘ all demonstrated the bands lyrical and musical dexterity and ability to produce bitter sweet, uplifting pop music.  It’s a real shame that radio stations like 6 music, which purports to support new up coming bands doesn’t play more of this sort of music on a regular basis instead of it’s love of ‘archive classics’ . Mind you has it ever really been that supportive of new music, bar the odd DJ, or was that just part of the popular myth that grew up around the fact that it had a  slightly more eclectic output  than Radio 1 and 2 ?  A shame because bands such as the ones on this bill really deserve to be heard!

Standard Fare Live Liverpool

But all in all a night of fantastic music from bands I have nothing but admiration for. Such a line-up may take some beating in the future; indeed one person commented that this line up was ‘perfection’, and its remarks like that, that really make all the effort worthwhile. Roll on October…if the Tories haven’t rendered us all destitute and unable to drown our sorrows with cheap booze from the supermarket 😉

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Truth & Beauty – Paloma Faith Live 19/05/2010-Liverpool Sound City

Paloma Faith Live -Liverpool Sound City 2010

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There are some musicians and artists whose work you admire, informed as it is by existential angst, a sense of righteous injustice, and a wish to set the world to rights. However you wouldn’t necessarily want to go out for a pint with them, if you know what I mean!  Paloma Faith on the other hand would surely be the life and soul of any party, with her  impish sense of humour, her eye for the dramatic gesture and a sense of style that makes haute couture look somewhat twee and ‘street’ – .   The overriding impression that lingered in the aftermath of her incredibly  entertaining show at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall was two-fold, A/ that you had just witnessed a major talent , contemporary yet timeless  and B/ What on earth does she wear when she pops out to the supermarket  for a pound of spuds ! !!  Her performance in Liverpool was  full of theatrical drama, underpinned with an endearing sense of kooky self awareness from an artist whose stage personae resembles a character who’s  just stepped forth  from  the pages of a fairy tale.

I first interviewed Paloma back in 2007 in the days before she had signed a big record deal and was pretty much unknown outside of London.  Indeed Paloma’s mum Pam (who is  totally ace) informed me that The VPME was one of the first to spot Paloma’s genuine talent and potential , (which is obviously nice,) and on first listen to Paloma’s demos it was obvious to me, at least,  that  she definitely had that special something that marked her out as a star in waiting.

There have been those who claim to have been disappointed in  Paloma’s debut album “Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful” Paloma Faith Live Liverpool Sound City 2010citing the fact that it was too  glossy, that slick production values had ripped the heart out of her  songs and dulled her edge.  Personally I’d never had any such problems with the album, there was more than enough going on to keep me happy and of course there’s ‘The  voice’. And it’s a  voice that’s actually even more impressive live than on record and one that contains more soul than an all-nighter  at The Twisted Wheel.  The live performance is essentially what Paloma is all about, for its on stage she becomes almost a force of nature and in this environment  her songs truly come  to life and take on a whole new dimension, this lady is quite simply a natural born entertainer.

Teetering on outrageously high-high heels and adorned in the sort of outfit that makes  Catwoman look like Anne Widdecombe  visiting Planet Frump on dress-down day,  Paloma belted  out tune after tune with such exuberance, energy  whilst displaying  the sort of contagious  sense of fun that surely  only the hardest of hearts would fail to be stirred by.  Backed by her incredibly accomplished band she switched effortlessly between intimate slow burning torch songs, summoning up the ghosts of Etta James and Billie Halliday  through to jazz, soul, pop and even the sort of full on  rock that Dave Grohl would raise  glass to,  without skipping a beat .  The show in Liverpool, as part of the city’s excellent Sound City music Festival wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory Beatles cover  and the crowd rose to their feet as Paloma instructed them to turn the normally sedate environs of Liverpool Philharmonic Hall into a mosh pit before performing a blinding version of  “ You Never Give Me Your  Money”

This was pure entertainment of the highest order and demonstrated that any opinion offered on  Paloma as an artist is completely invalid until you have actually experienced  her live.  The hour and a half  long set fairly whizzed by which  included  costume changes,  Paloma attempting to turn  the audience into a ‘water feature’ and a remarkable version of David Guetta’s ‘Sexy Bitch” (minx). In conclusion this was an utterly  spellbinding performance from start to finish and one in which  the audience responded with the sort of enthusiasm usually reserved  for one of their own. It’s a beautiful  thing when you leave a gig  transformed , uplifted, euphoric  and almost a better person than the one that arrived-  this  show genuinely gave rise to such emotions .  As the evening reached it’s conclusion Paloma  announced that she’d be back on tour  in September  promising a show that  would bigger, better stronger , faster and  you instinctively  knew that the vast majority of the audience here were already counting down the days until she returns-  I’ll certainly be at the front of queue!  A night to remember from an artist who will surely be around for many years to come.

9/10.

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Something For The Weekend w/e 21/05/2010

This week ;- Chapel Club, The Good Natured, Marina & The Diamonds, Rose Elinor Dougall, Delays, Catherine AD, The Shills, The Kiara Elles, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Paloma Faith  and Magnapop

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CHAPEL CLUB

Video for their magnificent new single ‘Five Trees

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THE GOOD NATURED- ‘Your Body Is A Machine’

New video and song which has us dancing with excitement!

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MARINA & THE DIAMONDS

Dunno about you but I’ve noticed an increasing tendency for people at gigs to talk LOUDLY or make stupid noises throughout songs, not only is this annoying for customers who’ve paid to see a gig, but it’s f**king rude…here Marinas having none of it , we salute her ! ( At about 1minute fifty one she tells an annoying oik what she thinks of him.  )

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ROSE ELINOR DOUGALL

Video for ‘Find Me Out’ by Rose Elinor Dougall. Taken from the album ‘Without Why’ released through Scarlett Music 30/08/10

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DELAYS FREE DOWNLOAD

Delays Free Download

Delays release their fourth album ‘Star Tiger, Star Ariel’ on 21stJune 2010, through Lookout Mountain Records, preceded by the debut single ‘Unsung’ on 14th June. The band are giving away the album opener  ‘’ Find A Home (New Forest Shaker)’ .

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CATHERINE AD FREE DOWNLOAD

Catherine AD

Many of Catherine’s recordings are yet to see the light of day and, to date, the sole commercially available release is the Carry Your Heart EP, which saw the NME style her as ’kooky and spooky and very good’ and Metro acclaim ‘a voice that sounds like a lake of black honey’. With musical tastes formed by a childhood exposure to the opposites of Nirvana and The Carpenters through a car stereo on long journeys, it seems inevitable that Catherine’s music should encompass both the darkness and soul searching of Cobain’s lyrics with the deft melodic touches of the Carpenter siblings.

Her forthcoming collection ‘Skeleton Songs’are pared down to the bare bones, recorded in a bedroom atmosphere that emphasizes the quality of the air between the instrument or voice and the microphone, leaving all cracks and creaks audible to the listener but capturing that essential moment of creation on tape. The songs you hear now may one day reappear in bigger, shinier form but, at this point, they capture the essence of the remarkable voice and the compositional power of Catherine AD.

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THE SHILLS

The Shills have just released their new Sweet Inertia EP on CD & Itunes download through R*E*P*E*A*T records.  Here’s the video…

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THE KIARA ELLES…..

The Kiara Elles- Slide Over

Who we love don’tcha know, have released a limited edition version of their stunning debut ‘Slide Over’ with a lovely faux fur cover (rumoured to be made from Chiara’s coat) Available HERE

Here’s 2009’s ‘Odio’ which is also on the album we described as “At it’s best “Slide Over” dances on the grave of landfill indie with its fusion of beats and  angular guitar work  in which the Elles manage to combine the finer aspects of  new wave, electro, punk and pop. It’s accessible, melodic and possibly cooler than the Fonz’s cryogenically frozen thumb undergoing Bose-Einstein Condensation.”-

So there!

The play the  Old Blue in London on June 4th and The Kendal Calling Festival  30th July

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THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART …..

are set to release new single Say No To Love for no greater reason than it’s a summer hit in the making. Check out their brand new video, for an old lead track from their last EP ‘Higher than the Stars’.

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THE DRUMS

Some videos come along and  you can’t help but say  ...’What The F**k  were you thinking?’ The Drums new video for their latest single ‘Forever And Amen‘ is a  prime example of such a scenario. For some reason the whole sorry affair  puts me in mind of a ‘ well hard’ version of   Haircut 100 dancing like Ian Curtis to New Order off cuts.  One feels this video may be a prime candidate for  a chuckle or three  on ‘Never Mind The Buzzcocks’ in a year or so…possibly the most rhymically challenged dance moves I’ve seen outside of somebody on crack suffering from  St Vitas Dance after a hip replacement,  breakdancing – Odd indeed..

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SOUND CITY 2010 –PALOMA FAITH

Sound City Festival has just started in Liverpool again this year, alas following a change in PR company our press accreditation was cocked up. Either that or they hate us… 😉 . Anyway looks like our one and only gig at this years fest was last nights. Paloma Faith , which was like 3 gigs rolled into one anyway and was quite wonderful.  Review will be up soon but in the meantime….

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Retro Videos Of The Week

MAGNAPOP‘Slowly, Slowly’

MAGNAPOP‘Lay It Down’

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Lush-Mad Love-Twenty Years On !

Lush -Mad Love 20 years On “Deluxe” by Lush

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Ever felt unappreciated, resigned to the fact that no matter what you do certain people will always be waiting to pour scorn upon your head?   This was certainly how lead singer Miki Berenyi  appeared to feel with regard to how the music press treated Lush.  Despite her often feisty displays during interviews you sensed that, as the bands days were heading towards a  tragic conclusion, this attitude was replaced  by a miasma of beleaguered acceptance.  Yet twenty years on since the bands seminal ‘Mad Love’ EP , Miki, whilst obviously not losing any sleep over it,  still finds the bands treatment somewhat  baffling.  Their many fans will tell you they are one of the greatest bands ever, as  fantastic live as they were on record,  yet they were without doubt, after an initial flirtation with the music press, never really given their due by many critics.   Maybe the  problem was the fact that they were actually too nice to be in such a shark infested business, too open and honest and not as intensely po-faced as some bands who emerged from Britain’s burgeoning  ‘Shoegaze’ scene .  Maybe they committed the cardinal sin of initially appearing to actually enjoy what they did? Often seen at other bands gigs,  members of Lush were deemed to be  major players in part of  a rather daft Melody Maker invention  known somewhat sniffily as ‘the scene that celebrates its self’. Lush’s bassist Phil King (who replaced Steve Rippon after ‘Mad Love’ was recorded)  put the media treatment  Lush received into perspective when he told us I think that maybe because we lived in London and would be seen at a lot of shows, the press kind of took us for granted. There was no mystery because we were so ubiquitous. Also because we were seen out I think they felt we never worked. I always found it funny in the US as the press there seemed fascinated by the English music press and would always quiz us on it.”

In our 2008 interview Miki also spoke about the capricious nature of the press thus “I remember the Melody Maker reviewing ‘Split’ and slagging us off because (apparently) all our songs were light, jangly things about fluffy clouds and fairies. Meanwhile, reviewing the same album, the NME complained that our lyrics were too depressing (covering child abuse and parental death) and didn’t fit the sparkly, light melodies. I guess what I’m saying is that we couldn’t do right for doing wrong.” Personally I’d always put this sort of fickle wankery down to the arsey hipster fellating  London based music press, who combined old school misogyny and indie elitism with  a good old fashioned  “build ‘em up then  knock em down” sensibility much loved by our  more unsavoury  tabloid newspapers.

I suppose the problem with journalists perpetuating unwarranted myths is that people start to believe in them, indeed myths that are believed tend to become accepted as truths. And whilst I don’t subscribe to Alan McGee’s view  that My Bloody Valentine were a joke band, or that he used them as a piece of  McLaren style situationalism to see just how far he could push hype, the fact remains that MBV’s legacy has been hugely overblown in much the same way that Lush’s musical contribution has been seriously underplayed. And that I’m afraid is down to the press.

It’s been 20 years since Lush released their Robin Guthrie produced  ‘Mad Love’ EP and so  maybe it’s time to re-evaluate Lush’s musical legacy. Let’s just hope any such re-appraisal  won’t be peppered with tiresome elitist blather about Brit-pop or accusations of ‘selling out’ , a charge often levelled at the bands final album,  ‘Lovelife’.  As Miki said when discussing the album  – “Is ‘Ladykillers’ more commercial than ‘Hypocrite?’ Is ‘Desire Lines’ more shadowy than ‘Last Night?’ Is ‘I’ve Been Here Before’ a throwaway exercise in jazz lite whereas ‘Lit Up’ is a trawl through the underbelly of discordance rivalling the darkest periods of Miles Davis?

The Quietus website  has recently  put forward a convincing case for Lush’s legacy to be given the credit it deserves and hopefully this  may signal that people are finally coming around to the view, that actually Lush were rather f**king  brilliant.  And so with 2010, being ‘Mad Love’s’ anniversary we spoke to Emma, Miki and Steve about their memories surrounding the recording of the EP and asked the question many Lush fans have been desperate to put to them. . . what about a reunion?

VP: What do you recall about the period of time when you recorded ‘Mad Love’, was it an exciting time, full of wide-eyed optimism ?

EMMA: It was really enjoyable and a very easy session. We recorded it in The Church which was Dave Stewart’s studio and it was mixed at September Sound which was The Cocteau Twins’ one. Unlike when we did ‘Spooky’ with Robin, we completed it all quite quickly and without too much tinkering and, yes, things did seem to be going very well at that time.

STEVE: It was fun being a proper musician, but I think I’d read enough about the music biz not to be starry-eyed about it. Recording sessions were fun to begin with, learning how a real studio worked etc. Doing our first European tour in Jan-Feb 1990 was great, travelling around Holland, France & Germany and meeting all these foreigners who’d actually heard of us was a hoot. It was the closest I’ve come to being on holiday for a living.

VP: Did you enjoy working with Robin ? … How did he come to be involved?

EMMA: I had actually met Robin prior to our involvement with 4AD. I had worked for Jeff Barrett (who now runs Heavenly) and he knew Robin and told me to send a demo to him, which I did. We met up (with a pregnant Liz) in a pub on the Kilburn High Road and he said he loved the songs. So we asked him to produce ‘Mad Love’. You might think it was obvious as he was on 4AD too then but at the time but the relationship was quite strained between The Cocteau Twins and the label so actually Ivo trod carefully! Working with him on ‘Mad Love’ was pretty straightforward and Robin is a lovely guy with a very dry sense of humour. Unfortunately working on ‘Spooky’ wasn’t so easy but that’s another story!

VP: How did you decide which songs would be on the EP ?

EMMA: I think they were just the newest ones we had plus we thought ‘Thoughtforms’ should get the Robin Guthrie treatment. We weren’t that prolific  but  we were very economic with our songs so whenever we had songs to record, we did.

VP: Miki, Mad Love contains your song “Leaves Me Cold”, what’s the song about, I’ve had my own interpretation for years which is probably all wrong 😉

MIKI: I think it’s a bit of a shame telling people exactly what a song is about because, if it’s a song they like, they’ve invariably come up with a much better interpretation that is probably relevant to their own lives and therefore makes the song much more meaningful and personal to them.

However, I will satisfy your curiosity. BASICALLY I had a really filthy dream about someone who I never ever thought of ‘in that way’ and it freaked me out a bit because I just couldn’t get the dream out of my head and so every time I saw them it would make me shudder at the very thought but it had also made me fall a bit in love (lust) with them because I just couldn’t shake how passionate the dream had been.

VP:  Do you feel “Mad Love” was the first time we heard what we might call the “Lush sound”

EMMA: No, I think ‘’Scar’ pretty much displayed that too but in a rawer state.

VP: Emma, you filmed two videos for “De-luxe” ….do bands find filming promo  videos a rather dreary affair, or was it fun being one of your first ?

EMMA: Those 2 were OK – yes the first one in the tree was the first video we had ever done so it was quite exciting. It’s a very indie video but OK all the same. The second one was done for the USA and we really liked making it and the finished result was pretty good. It all depends on the director really and their ideas. The worst video we ever did was the US version of ‘500’ – bad day and BAD video.

VP:  Steve, Miki told  me that during the video shoot for Deluxe you’d had enough of precariously dangling on tree branches and disappeared ….! What are your recollections?

STEVE: I don’t remember that at all but it sounds like something I’d do, I was always prone to wandering off by myself and coming back to find people fretting about where I’d been. Usually looking for second-hand record shops, actually, and if I found one I’d be even later getting back. I do remember it was freezing cold doing that video out in the middle of nowhere in Kent in January, but I also remember someone told us it was where the Beatles did their Strawberry Fields Forever promo, so that was exciting for a lifelong Beatle fan like me.

VP: Steve, What are your abiding memories of being in Lush, any regrets about leaving when you did ?

STEVE: It was great fun, I loved it all really, and I only left because I’d have preferred to be doing my own songs, only nobody was interested in them, and I could see all the things we’d done that were exciting the first time round (making records, videos, radio sessions, touring Europe, Japan & the States etc) were going to get progressively less fun the more often we did them. Especially the amount of times they ended up touring America. So no, I think I left at the right time, although I do think I was probably a bit jealous of them still being in the band around 1995 when I’d started working in a computer firm in Dublin and they seemed to be living it up at the dawn of Britpop. But even if they’d asked me to re-join then I don’t think I would have, as it would’ve involved moving back to London, which I never wanted to do. But I have loads of great memories from that time, and I still think of Miki & Emma as my alternative sisters, even though I haven’t seen them for years (although I’m hoping to next month).

VP: You must get tired of answering this but Emma & Miki, you’ve  mentioned previously that a Lush reunion was mooted but due to the “c**ntish flakiness” of some parties things didn’t really take off . Although you all have jobs and Emma’s a new mum now, do you think you’d ever consider it again if somebody genuinely made an offer.

EMMA: Erm – that was Miki’s quote and not the whole reason we didn’t reform (she was referring to one promoter). The money and offers just weren’t there that year and we couldn’t take the risk of the outlay without making that back and then some.  At the time we were thinking about it I had a very stressful full-time job and would have had to do all the rehearsing and playing in my 4-week holiday allowance which I think would have left me as a nervous wreck! If the money was right then, yes, we would do it but I think promoters would have to come to us so we would be in the driving seat. Who knows what may happen in the future but, yes, for the time being a reformation looks unlikely.

MIKI: Yes,  I’m afraid that the honest answer is not unless we were offered an awful lot of money. I have enough trouble finding the time to answer these questions let alone relearn the entire Lush back catalogue, rehearse with a new drummer and actually schedule time to play the gigs. So if we did it, I would have to stop work, and if I stop work, then how do I pay the bills?

To be fair to the c*nty flake, he wasn’t the only one who pissed us about (although he was the only one who deserves to have a resilient object booted up his backside). One agent after another (well, three) promised the world and then had to admit rather shamefacedly that it wasn’t really happening. They scratched their heads, they didn’t understand, but the promoters just weren’t that keen.

In the words of Les McQueen, “It’s a sh*t business”.

Links

Light From A Dead Star Site

Miki Berenyi Fan Site

Lush Live Site

Myspace

Miki Interview 2008

Emma Anderson Interview 2008

Phil King interview 2009

Wallpaper

Video

“De-luxe” (original) By Lush

“De-luxe” (version 2) By Lush

“Leaves Me Cold” By Lush (Live France 1990)

“Thoughtforms” By Lush (live at Roskilde Festival 1991)

Mad Love by Lush- Signed

Signed EP

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Stornoway-The Beachcomber’s Windowsill Review

Stornoway

Pic By Andy Fairbairn

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“I Saw You Blink” By Stornoway

There are some cynical critics who may dismiss Stornoway as yet another band attempting to emulate the recent success of Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling et all in dragging folk music out of real ale tents and into the mainstream. For these young troubadours have proven that folk is no longer purely the preserve of epically bearded gentlemen clad in Aran sweaters and misguided trousers, ever ready to insert a finger in one ear and break into song. However to accuse Stornoway of scrambling aboard any perceived nu-folk bandwagon  would seem somewhat churlish given the genuine quality displayed throughout  their excellent debut album “The Beachcomber’s Windowsill”. True, it does have a definite folksy vibe and all the usual suspects are in evidence, acoustic guitar, banjo, fiddle, xylophone, trumpet and cello but Stornoway manage to  produce a sound that is quite unique, due in no small part to the pitch perfect, cherubic vocals of lead singer Brian Briggs.

It’s the sheer wide eyed exuberance that makes this debut album impossible to dislike, brimming with tunes that manage to wistfully evoke childhood memories of good old fashioned, ruddy faced outdoor fun.  Indeed ‘We Are the Battery Humans’, points out that we weren’t designed to stay indoors on fine summer days, huddled over computers, slaves to the technology that ostensibly was designed to “liberate us”-  “we were born to be free range”.

Other tracks such as “ Zorbing “Fuel Up” and  “I Saw You Blink” , all have that same sense of wanderlust, freedom and adventure,  whilst ‘The Coldharbour Road’ twinkles and shimmers like a midsummer sun glinting off  a gently undulating  sea.” The Beachcombers Windowsill” ultimately triumphs because it contains songs which are unpretentious and imbued with a joyous giddy sense of youthful optimism which is quite infectious.

8/10

Original review for Faux Magazine (Page 48)

Stornoway My Space

Videos

“Zorbing” By Stornoway

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