Songs To Learn and Sing – Dum Dum Girls – He Gets Me High.

Dum Dum Girls

‘He Get’s Me High’ By Dum Dum Girls.

Dum Dum Girls follow up their debut I Will Be,’ which was also incidentally one of our very favourite albums of last year, with a new EP –‘He Gets Me High’. It continues in the gritty garage pop vein of their debut, which owed much to chief Dum Dum Girl Dee-Dee’s love of Patti Smith, Motown, The Mamas And The Papas and the Jesus and Mary Chain, but this time the production is a little more polished,  with Dee-Dee’s vocals  higher in the mix. Richard Gottehrer and Dee Dee share production duties  with  The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner and the results are spectacular, capturing the essence of the debut album whilst moving the band’s sound forward into new sonic territory without skipping a beat. The three original songs , ‘He Gets Me High,’ Take Care Of My Baby’ and ‘Wrong Feels Right’ all demonstrate once again what a fantastic songwriter Dee Dee  is, and as a bonus there’s also a sublimely  scuzzy cover of The Smiths ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ which whilst respecting the original, stamps the Dum Dum Girls sound all over it.

‘Wrong Feels Right’ by Dum Dum Girls

Dum Dum Girls He Gets Me High EP

The “He Gets Me High EP” is available via Sub Pop

And the band play a string of UK dates

31-Mar UK Manchester Deaf Institute
01-Apr IRE Dublin Whelans
02-Apr UK Belfast Black Box
03-Apr UK Glasgow Stereo
04-Apr UK Leeds Brudenell Social
05-Apr UK London Dingwalls
06-Apr UK Brighton Komedia

Songs To Learn And Sing – Katie Goes To Tokyo-A Long Way From Anywhere

Did you know that Sweden is the world’s third biggest exporter of popular music ?  The Swedes seem to have a knack for producing sweet, melodic pop with a slight melancholic edge, as a quick listen to Katie Goes To Tokyo will confirm. KGTT is  Kathrine Bergström, a Swedish singer/songwriter who has been in bands since she was 16, notably  Backfish and The Wilson Hospital. Last year  she released her second album My Naked Heart, this year she goes not to Tokyo, but to  Canada to play at their Music Week festival, which is certainly a long way from Sweden. In fact you could say it’s a long way from anywhere, unless of course you live there. Or near it. Ahem,  anyway that’s my rather cumbersome way of introducing Katie Goes To Tokyo’s  song ‘ A Long Way From Anywhere,’ which you can listen to below.

A Long Way From Anywhere’  By Katie Goes To Tokyo

Love Is A Wonderful Colour – GROUPLOVE Interview

GROUPLOVE Interview On The Von Pip Musical Express

‘Colours’ By GROUPLOVE.

You turn on the news these days and it’s like a montage from one of those Apocalyptic Hollywood movies, possibly starring Bruce Willis, or if you’re really unlucky, Jason Statham. It can be quite overwhelming and sometimes you just need to escape, pull the switch inside your head and ‘turn on, tune in and drop out’ as they say. And that my friends is where music comes in, for the very best music can transport you far from your reality and in doing so grant you temporary respite from your woes. You’d  certainly do well to find  better companions than L.A. quintet GROUPLOVE to accompany you on your quest  to leave behind all that makes you unhappy as you seek out that which brings you joy.

GROUPLOVE’S beginnings may read rather like a John Cusack/Kate Beckinsale rom-com, featuring a serendipitous meeting in New York, a fusing of kindred spirits in Greece and the forging of the sort of friendships that happen but once in a life time.  When Hannah Hooper met Christian Zucconi , quite by chance in Manhattan, they formed such a bond that within days of knowing each other Hannah had invited Christian to join her at an art residency held on the island of Crete.  “Seriously, we had only known one another for a few days but are both so inspired and alive when we are together that going to Greece seemed like a magical and natural thing to do” recalls Christian.  Now going abroad or on holiday together can test the strongest of friendships, a time when you can suddenly discover your lifelong friend has the most irritating habits,  but thankfully the experience was something Hannah and Christian both describe as ‘the time of  our lives.’

Sickening isn’t it? The last time I went to Greece, my life was made a complete misery by two flatulent, racist, rugby playing dullards from Cardiff, housed in the apartment next door. If that wasn’t enough,  I then suffered from buttock clenching food poisoning and as a result had to mainline Imodium for a week and walk with the gait of Charlie Chaplin! Not so for Hannah and Christian, for it was at this artistic retreat they met their future band mates and as a result would go on to form “GROUPLOVE.”  Sean  Gadd, a songwriter and guitar player, from  London,  Andrew Wessen, a pro surfer and musician from Los Angeles and his childhood friend Ryan Rabin, an accomplished drummer and producer were all at the same residency. The quintet became firm friends, and pretty soon they were writing and performing songs together.    As their time in Crete came to an end they all vowed that when they returned to their respective homes, scattered across state lines and continents  they had to somehow take forward what they’d created in Greece. “We all understood how rare it is for five strangers to feel as close as family and create passionate music together. We couldn’t just return to Brooklyn and let the music we all made fade into a memory of that summer we had in Greece,” explains Zucconi. Everyone pulled their funds together and Sean, Christian and Hannah made their way to Ryan Rabin’s studio in LA to record their album.

The resulting music perfectly captures the sun kissed, care-free atmosphere of their life changing Greek residency.  Imagine the off kilter rush of early MGMT, coupled with the sort of idealistic exuberance that in other people’s hands could be a tad annoying but which instead leaves you feeling energised, thinking that anything is possible, that no obstacle is insurmountable. In short it leaves you feeling better about the world. In fact listening to the EP reminded me that  the last time I’d smiled this much was when I’d pictured David Cameron falling down an uncovered man-hole, breaking both his legs and not being found for days (nobody really noticed he was missing you see.)

GROUPLOVE’S debut EP features six songs with more hooks than a pirate themed family get together organised by Joy Division’s former bassist. ‘Colours’ for example is a glorious bouncy aural sugar rush of a song, celebrating the joy of life and love. ‘Naked Kids’ finds Eels and Weezer surfing on waves of euphoria, whilst stand out track ‘Don’t Say Oh Well’ sounds a little like Bob Mould on happy pills and when Zucconi sings ‘I told my band mates they are my soul mates‘ you believe every word.  Apparently their gigs are a similarly giddy affair, I hear reports that their sold out UK shows featured  hordes of hot, sweaty people dancing, singing and climbing all over tables and speakers!

Could we discover  the secret of their happiness ? Their lust for life ? Their ‘joie de vivre?‘  We tried to find out what makes them tick via guitarist Andrew, who answered a few of our questions in the midst of the bands European tour.

VP:  Did Hannah and Christian ever look back and think,  this might be a bit of a risk, jetting off to Greece after knowing each other only a few days ?

ANDREW : Well, I think if you spend even a few moments with Hannah and Christian you will see that there indescribable connection between then. There’s a deep respect for each other’s originality, imagination and inventiveness. They are different people, but truly compatible.

VP:  Whilst you were all in Greece all the future  members of Grouplove met up, again was this an immediate thing whereby you all just hit it off straight away?

ANDREW : There were so many interesting characters at the art residency but we seemed to instantly gravitate towards each other. I think we all were interested in each other’s differences, as well as each other’s creativity.  It became apparent quite early on that there was a special kinship forming. Obviously, none of us knew what it would evolve into later on.

VP:  So how did the band evolve and how did you go about recording your mini album, given some of you were scattered as far and wide as Brooklyn , LA and London ?

ANDREW : We had all kept in touch, phoning and emailing each other in the time after Greece . A year or so after the Greece trip Sean made his way to New York to visit Hannah and Christian and they called me and asked me if they could all come stay with Ryan and I out in Los Angeles. Of course we over the moon about it so before we knew it the group was back together.  After a few days of reacquainting with the usual bars and restaurants, Ryan thought it would be fun for us to go record a song for fun. Well, one song turned in to two and so on. Next thing you know there was a mini album recorded. We still weren’t a band at this point in the true sense; we were simply friends who were having a great time recording each other’s songs.  Everyone soon returned back to their respective homes and it wasn’t until our managers heard the songs that they said “Wow! There’s something here.” They put Colours on the Neon Gold blog and the soon we were getting a bit of buzz for the song, so much so that we decided we had a good enough thing going for everyone to pack up and move to LA permanently. We booked a show at a funny little venue in LA and the crowd response was incredible. We thought “This is amazing.” I guess we haven’t looked back since.

VP: How does the song writing process work in the band?

ANDREW : There’s no one way a song is written in the band. This is especially true considering every member of the band is a songwriter. Some songs are brought from someone’s past, others are songs created from acoustic or practice jams. On the album due to come out this summer, we have four different lead vocalists. It really is a “group”.  Even Ryan (drummer/producer) is an incredible songwriter.  He’s actually the most brilliant harmonizer in the group as well. I keep trying to get him to sing live but he won’t give in!

VP:  What sort of things have had a major influence on the sound you produce as a band?

ANDREW : Obviously, everyone in the group has been influenced by their life’s experiences and the various bands that have shaped their musical taste.  Everyone in the band would give a different response to this. I think that what’s apparent is that there is a true mixing of personalities and styles that can only come naturally when people from such different backgrounds create something together. I feel that this is reflected in the music.

VP:  What are your plans for 2011? Gigs? Festivals? Fun?

ANDREW : We are midway through our first UK/European tour right now and it’s really been incredible. To be so far away from home and to have kids singing along is really fulfilling. To even be here with this group… I sometimes just have to laugh at how funny life can be sometimes. When we get home we have a week or two off and then we have a number of dates at SXSW, which I am really excited about. From SXSW we go directly into a month long co-headline tour with Foster the People across the country. Our album will come out sometime this summer and we hope to be playing festivals if the opportunities present themselves. Its going to be a busy year, but this type of life is what you want when you are in a band, right? We couldn’t be happier with what’s happening right now.

VP: What have been your most memorable musical moments thus far?

ANDREW Hmm… I guess it depends who you ask. Sounds corny but there has been something magical about every show (save one or two haha).  Our first run of shows in LA were so thrilling and to have so many people turn out… that was really an exciting time.  Then we did our first touring together with Phosphorescent, Two Door Cinema Club, and our labelmates The Joy Formidable. I guess for me the most memorable musical moment was opening for Florence + The Machine for four nights in San Francisco and Los Angeles . For me, its not just they were our biggest shows but I had driven by the Wiltern theater every day for years and had always wanted to play there.  I really never thought I would have the opportunity and so that was really special for me.  I sat with my dad on the balcony one night and we watched Florence together. He was mesmerized by her.

VP:   ‘Colours’ is a pretty amazing video; who came up with the concept? Where was it shot and without giving too much away for those who are yet to see it, what was the basic premise?

ANDREW:  Our good friend Jordan Bahat approached us about making the video. He had a vision for an adaptation of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge ” by Ambrose Bierce. Jordan and the band raised the money ourselves, with many amazing people working for free. It was shot over two day period mostly in an area outside of Calabasas , CA . I feel like saying anything about it gives too much way. I guess its as simple as a YouTube click way if anyone is interested.

VP: When you’re not writing and performing music, what other passions do you have?

ANDREW:  I’ve been a beach kid my whole life. I’m quite an aquatic being actually haha. No, but I love to be at the beach when I can. Friends, family, music. Those are my passions.

VP:   A five word GROUPLOVEe motto would be…..?

ANDREW: Never trust a happy song.



Official Site

I Tunes

Large Image


‘Colours’ By GROUPLOVE

Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes Review.

Lykke Li  Wounded Rhymes

I Follow Rivers‘ By Lykke Li

February 28th  sees the release of ‘Wounded Rhymes,’ the second album, (or snigger, the sophomore album if you’re a pretentious arse) from  Lykke Li. It’s an album that certainly looks set to turn her into a BIG star. But not a pop star,  heavens no, please don’t call her that , lest you prepare yourself for a tongue lashing, and be warned she doesn’t mince her words -‘ pop music has this negative, fake and disgusting image. And that is something I don’t want to be a part of. When people label me pop, I want to puke.’ Yet in essence ‘Wounded Rhymesis a pop album, but one that’s bursting with such originality, subtle sophistication and restless creativity that to label it ‘pop’ in the ‘Pop Justicesense of the word, would actually be an injustice!

‘Wounded Rhymes’ is an eclectic a mix of cascading tribal beats, wonky, skittering keyboards and haunting vocals that range from the strident to the sultry. It’s always innovative, entertaining, sexy and at times downright eccentric.  It’s an album that delves into the feelings experienced in the aftermath of loss and it is undoubtedly a dark, melancholic slice of pop noir,  yet it never feels bleak,  in fact the overall impression one is left with, is that of a singer who has become emboldened by experience and one who has found her true voice.  It’s an album that works on many different levels and on  occasion sounds like a twisted version of the Ronettes drowning in black honey..or maybe Marmite, because I get the feeling Ms Li could be an artist that may well divide music fans.  As  for  me, well I  definitely Lykke and that’s no Li (e)!  (oh dear and I’d done so well to avoid clunking puns)

Album rating 8.5/10

The whole album is streaming over at the Hype Machine

Songs To Learn And Sing – I Am In Love And Nicole Atkins.

I Am Love - Call Me Animal ‘Call Me An Animal’ By I Am  In Love.

I don’t know much about I Am In Love and despite thumb screws they aren’t exactly  forthcoming with information. I’m afraid I may have to resort to even more dastardly tactics, such as Robbie Williams on repeat.   They tell me they formed last year and are currently working on a début album.  Their tune above, ‘ Call Me An Animal’ isn’t the title of  demented Muppet drummer’s autobiography, but the bands début single, a hypnotic mix of driving electronica combined with the sort of hooks that were last seen aboard ‘the Jolly Rodger‘.


Nicole Atkins‘Vultures.’

Hooray and huzzah!! The lovely Nicole Atkins is back with a new single ‘Vultures‘ followed by a new album ‘Mondo Amore’ in late March. We love Nicole and are beyond delighted that she’s back after a tough few years during which she parted with her label, band,  boyfriend and judging by the video below, her shoes. The video features her, shoe-less, walking  toward a sandy shore (see what I did there ?)  😉 The good news is she sounds better than ever.

Ringo Deathstarr – Colour Trip Album Review.

Ringo Death Starr -‘Colour Trip’

Ringo Deathstarr -Colour Trip Album review

‘So High’ By Ringo Deathstarr.

‘Imagine Hearts’ (Free Download) By Ringo Deathstarr.

Some albums are released; some albums ‘drop’ and some albums are unleashed. The latter certainly applies to Texan based  trio, Ringo Deathstarr.  Their debut album ‘Colour Trip’ unleashes a riotous effect laden aural assault that very much takes it’s cue from shoegaze noise merchants such as  My Bloody Valentine and Ride  but combines it with the swaggering  wall-of-sound rock n roll/pop sensibility of The Jesus  & Mary Chain.  Or as guitarist Elliot Frazer puts rather more succinctly ‘“We write cool little pop songs but we just bury them under loud amounts of noise”

The off kilter disorientation of  album opener ‘Imagine Hearts’ in which bassist Alex Gehring assumes vocal duties,  sounds like  an angel being sucked into the roar of a jet engine. The blistering ‘Do It Everytime’ is prime cut Mary Chain with Eliott Frazer sounding uncannily like Jim Reid‘ So High’ is dream pop via The Shop Assistants and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, whilst ‘Two Girls’ conjures up  Lush/Cocteau Twin era shoegaze.

‘Colour Trip’ is a sonic juggernaut of an album, but unlike some ‘shoegaze’ style bands of recent years  the band have remembered noise and effects without tunes can often sound like, without putting too finer point on it, self indulgent  arse wankery.  And crucially beneath the pulsating reverb,  sonic squall and soaring guitar riffs Ringo Deathstarr  have also written some pretty darn fantastic pop tunes. Tracks such as ‘Tambourine Girl’ are infused with sonic beauty and raw power sounding rather like  MBV meets the Ramones whilst  ‘You Don’t Listen’ could quite happily sit next to the Jesus & Mary Chain’s ‘Upside Down’ without too much embarrassment.

Ultimately detractors will piss and moan stating this is nothing new and that this style of music has been done before, and done better. But really, who gives a flying f**k? We can over analyse everything in life, to such a point at which all the joy is extracted  from a given moment. Instead don’t get too hung up on what’s gone before, just sit back and enjoy the trip.

Album rating 8/10.



Songs To Learn and Sing From Bird And The Big I Am.

Bird - Liverpool Band  Hey Hey Moonshine

‘Hey, Hey Moonshine’ By Bird.

Two tunes today, both from my home town of Liverpool.   First up is Bird a new Liverpool based band fronted by 22 year old Adele Emmas. They have already recorded their debut EP which will be released later this year. On the basis of the demos we’ve heard so far they look set for a big future. Think of an eerie folktronic Portishead wandering through laughing Lenny Cohen’s nightmares as depicted by  René Magritte. Haunting, evocative, beautiful.  No jokes about Liver Birds please. 😉



The-Big-Iam-Collecting Skies

‘Collecting Skies’ By The Big I Am.

Our second song today is from another local band, The Big I Am. It’s the title track from their debut album ‘ Collecting Skies.’ It’s a gem of an album, imbued with the understated world weary style of  I Am Kloot , the black humour of  Richard Hawley and the musicianship of Elbow. Well worth a listen we reckon.


It’s great that bands from Liverpool have, over time, stopped pretending to be The La’s or replicate the contrived laddy- footie mob-on- the- piss -sentimental shtick of the Farm. Recent years have seen the dawn of bands and artists who have little time for the twatishly twanging leaden guitar sound that seemed to have strangled the local scene for such a long time. ‘Who Killed The Zutons? Innovation may well be the prime suspect. Hurrah.