Songs To Learn and Sing – Deep Cut and Le Emu Tavern.

Deep Cut And Le Emu Tavern.


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DEEP CUT.


Deep Cut’s  new single ‘Something’s Got To Give’  from their superb   album ‘Disorientation’ is out on 5th September on Club AC30 Records.  A band who encapsulate possibly every musical style we love. If you like this you will love the album. If you don’t … well the exits are clearly marked .. hand your ears in at reception for you have no use for ’em.

 

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LE EMU TAVERN

We’ve been a friend of  Le Emu Tavern since the dawn of time …  they are not so much a band, more  an ancient mythical tavern where sailors weave shanties about all that is  long lost……..gramaphone records, ladies who would only spit in public if they were choking , a compassionate NHS staffed by vocationalists not careerists, folk yearning for the time  when news readers had wonderful names…. such as Reginald Bosanquet ! Lovely, witty, sarky tales relating to the unremitting  shitness of superficiality  ,  imbued with ennui but ultimatley full of  compassion ..  Oh Lordy – the albums free too … go and get it….quick …It’s bloody  great!

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Throwing Knives – Christine Owman.


Guest Blog By Shay Rowan.

“Throwing Knives” by Christine Owman.

“The thought counts, but the action makes the difference”.

‘Circles’ By Christine Owman.

‘Apart’ By Christine Owman.

Sometimes the most enjoyable musical discoveries are unplanned and unexpected and so it was that finding myself with time to kill between scheduled gigs at last years Sound City Festival in Liverpool I stopped off at the friendly and atmospheric bar/venue Mello Mello seriously in need of a cool beer on a scorching day.

Along with just a handful of fellow punters I settled down to quench my thirst and watched as a girl, looking immaculate in a blue dress – her blond hair adorned with a black scarf  – approached the side of the makeshift stage and proceeded to transform it’s appearance with a projector, a screen and an array of props. From a large suitcase she extracted a collection of instruments and finally a pair of full length black gloves which she slid over her arms whilst focusing intensely all the while on the performance ahead of her. This young lady – still unknown to me as yet – took her place amongst her lovingly crafted setting and as the screen flickered into life with images of circus performers, knife throwers and human cannonballs amongst others, she began to spin a web of fascinating sounds and captivating vocals that grew and developed during the performance as she built towards it’s powerful climax.

Although the time was ticking away for the next gig that I had earmarked there was no way that I was leaving until this enthralling set was complete!

The intensity and effort she displayed was worthy of a larger stage and far greater audience numbers and as she re-packed her belongings to clear the way for the next performer I took the opportunity to tell her how much I had enjoyed her set and only then was I able to add the name of Christine Owman to the exciting artist that I had just watched.

As I left for my next gig clutching the  “The Conflict” ep that she kindly gave me I promised myself that not only would I be certain to watch any future live shows but that I would also make further purchases at the next available opportunity. That opportunity has come now with the wider release of her album “Throwing Knives” (previously only available in her home country of Sweden).

As with her stage show, the album draws its influences from elements of cabaret, burlesque, sideshow and circus and the tracks conjure an atmosphere

Christine Owman By Shay Rowan,

akin to that of  a night spent at a rather sinister fairground where we find ourselves strapped to an emotional roller coaster! She plays with our feelings – one moment allowing us to bask in the sunshine of the merry-go-round the next thrusting us headlong into the darkness of an eerie ghost train ride. Opener “Spelling Words” (on which she is joined on vocals by Andi Almquist) sets the tone for the album by employing Christine’s virtuosity as a cellist to create a playful but sinister rhythm that wraps itself around you and draws you in with the dark seedy feel of a 1920’s Berlin night club.

Following tracks “The Conflict” and the deceptively titled “Fast Fwd” are slower, hypnotic numbers.  Seductive and sleazy in equal measure.

A total change of style and pace sees “Circles” adopt an almost country feel with the vocal accompanied by a ukulele spiked with a feeling of menace. “Dance” is a return to a darker place – rumbling, distorted and growling with a relentless pace, whereas an altogether more gentle flow is created by the sound of delicately plucked strings as “The Agreement” recounts an enchanting promise made by two lovers that even should one of them die they will always continue to sing to each other in their dreams.

“I Live I Die” has creepy jazz tinged overtones reminiscent of Fever Ray and “Sinners” is a track stripped back to minimal accompaniment in support of Christine’s vocal. More than any other track “Apart” is the one that allows the beauty of Christine’s voice to be displayed as she reveals her sensitivity in it’s gentle sway but, just as we begin to settle into a false sense of comfort, we are once again gripped by the lost and lonely vocal on closing track “Goodnight” a ghostly lullaby that indicates to us that maybe we shouldn’t go to bed without leaving the light on after all!

A collection of songs that take us out of the shadows, into the light and back again revealing more on each listen. ‘Throwing Knives’ is an album that would certainly compliment anyone’s record collection, created by a performer who – when she graces our shores again – should certainly not be missed.

Shay Rowan

Throwing Knives ByChristine Owman cover


Virtual Reality -Emmy The Great Interview/Review

Emmy The Great Interview 2011 The Von Pip Musical Express.“A Woman, A Woman, A Century of Sleep” By Emmy The Great.

It wasn’t quite love at first listen with regard to  Emmy The Great’s debut album ‘First Love’, purely because we’d become smitten with Emmy’s oeuvre long before her debut.  She was probably one of the first artists  we’d discovered via myspace (remember that kids? Back in the day before Murdoch’s money poisoned the well rendering it completely unusable?) We were drawn to her wit, her natural melody, her poetic lyricism and her idiosyncratic musings. So in a sense, it was love at second listen in relation to ‘First Love’,  an album we also bestowed our much coveted album of the year award upon in 2009.

If ‘First Love’ proved that Emmy ‘s rough demo’s and EP’s scrubbed up rather well, then ‘Virtue’ sees her music in full make up wearing killer heels and stepping out onto the red carpet. It’s an album of such delicate heartbreaking beauty that it would leave only the stoniest of hearts unmoved. Informed by some life changing experiences, it demonstrates a keenness of mind and a hugeness of spirit that is sadly lacking in a lot of big label music these days.

The albums starts slowly with ‘Dinosaur Sex’  a song which  is possibly bleaker than catching Morrissey’s  worbegone visage refelcted in a coffin plate.  But after this  rather disquieting  opener the album really finds its feet and demonstrates that  Emmy has taken her  song writing and melodies to a whole new level. Gone is the naive whimsy of some of her early work, and the occasional self conscious pop culture references, replaced by somebody finding a new perspective, taking risks and not being afraid to express their most intimate thoughts.  ‘Virtue’ is  informed by the spectre of lost love and contains the sort of erudite  lyrical observations that elude most songwriters.  She shows that  just one of her softly sung couplets contains more wit wisdom and insight into the human condition than a thousand overwrought yodels from the likes of self proclaimed ‘people’s poet’ James Allan.  Subtlety is so often overlooked in favour of bombast in a lot of modern day music and so we should cherish somebody who’s intelligent song writing deftly holds a mirror up to our own hopes and dreams as she makes an album that is deeply personal and yet universal.  The album closes with ‘Trellick Tower, a building that many perceive as a brutal architectural scar on west London’s skyline which in this  instance  becomes emblematic of emotional scarring, it’s also probably  Emmy’s most personal song to date. The building acts as a kind of austere  memorial to a relationship, to a love lost,  an implacable spectator that casts a mighty shadow and still prevails when life has moved on. It’s a tale of heartbreak, acceptance, and is a tender goodbye….

So is ‘Virtue’  better than ‘First Love?’  We think so . Is it a contender for album of the year? It will surely be there or there abouts , and does it prove Emma lives up to her nom de plume? Definitely.

Album rating 9.5/10

We had a chat with Emma about the album, weddings and the life changing events which helped ‘Virtue’ take shape.

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VP:   Hi Emma, congrats on the new album which is fantastic.  What made you go down the Pledge music route and how did the experience work for you? Any bizarre pledges to fulfil?

EMMA : Thanks Andy! I went down the Pledge route for a number of reasons. I didn’t feel like I had to demo the songs to record them for the album, and in order to get label funding before we recorded it, I’d have had to. As well as that, you probably know that I was in the middle of some gnarly personal stuff, and the idea of interacting with strangers and possibly expanding my uses as a musician with things like workshops was incredibly attractive.  Anything to get me away from my house and my own thoughts.  I’m really glad I did it. I met some amazing people. I can’t think of anything bizarre right now but there were definitely unique experiences, like meeting some of the people I now consider friends.

VP:   As you know I loved ‘First Love’ but ‘Virtue’ sounds like a much more confident and mature body of work. Without prying I know you had quite a turbulent time personally whilst writing the album, did that provide a seismic shift in terms of the tone of the album?

EMMA : I think I was already heading towards new pastures sonically, but in terms of the personal tone of the record – I didn’t realise it was going to be like that until the second half of the writing, after my wedding got cancelled. If you had told me in March that I’d spend the summer living with my parents and researching theology, I’d have been shocked, but a month later, that’s what happened, and the album became what it is.

VP: The pop culture references from the first album have all but disappeared, ( 24, M.I.A. etc) was this a conscious decision ?

EMMA : There are still references in this record. Maybe they’re less pop culture and more myth and literature, but those things are closely related. There’s Cassandra in Cassandra, and the last verse of that is based on the poster for the original film of Lolita, and there’s Rapunzel in Trellick Tower, there’s Trellick Tower…there are a couple songs based on the Sylvia Plath quote ‘Character is fate’, and Paper Forest is lifted from the last line of a Patti Smith song, which is lifted from the Bible. So there are still pop culture references, they’re just less direct.

VP: I guess  ‘Trellick Tower’ is your most personal song to date but  what’s the actual significance of the building in terms of the song ? (Apparently it ‘s also the inspiration for High Rise By JG Ballard so you’re in good company!)

EMMA : I lived really close to Trellick Tower when I was engaged and it was something i talked about with my ex a lot. When he did his thing I was there alone and the Tower took on extra significance, like it linked me with him, or with our past. Then as I got over what happened, it became something that was mine. I was the one who was still there; I was the one who still had a relationship with the building etc. I still use it as my personal sat nav replacement when I’m driving in London and need to get home.   I’ve been recommended High Rise by a few people now and I’m definitely going to read it.

VP:  How’s your relationship with religion these days?

EMMA : It’s funny, because I always thought I’d be really angry at Christianity after this, but I can’t be. When I went soul searching, I discovered such lovely branches of Christians – liberal ones, who actively fight for gay and female clergy – that I can’t possibly be mad at the entire religion. But there are certain types of Christianity that I came across that shocked me. It tends to do with taking the Bible literally and patriarchy/ moral conservatism/ science denial. To my mind there’s rational religion and irrational religion, and rational religion is something I have lots of time for.

VP: Ha the way you go about song writing changed over the years? For example do you sit down and think, I will write till 1.30 , clock off for lunch and then come back and write till five ? Or is it a case of writing as and when you feel inspired?

EMMA : I need routine. I take notes when I’m inspired but I don’t put it all together until I sit down to work. And then, yeah, it’s a case of starting at 11, taking lunch, finishing at 5 etc. It’s not like that’s the only time I come up with ideas, but that’s the time I know I’ll have something solid finished, and that gives me licence not to be thinking of songs when I’m doing other things.

VP:   You said that with “Virtue,” it’s the first album that you really wanted people to hear?  Could you explain that statement? Is it a question of being more confident in your song writing?

EMMA : I think just being more confident overall. Now that this album is out and I feel like I’ve got a body of work behind me, I don’t mind people hearing First Love either. I was always so insecure that people wouldn’t think that I could move forward, now if people hear the first, and know what the second sounds like, I feel like they’ll believe me that I can do something interesting for the third as well.

VP:  And you’ve just played Glastonbury, how was the festival for you ?  And how did you come to be involved in Water Aid?

EMMA :  I wrote to Water Aid before my first album I think. Not as a musician, just as a supporter. But as it happened Joe and Mel from Water Aid had been to one of my gigs (maybe just Joe?) and they asked me to come down. We were all going to Glastonbury that year so I said I’d spend my free time campaigning. I’ve campaigned for them every summer now. I really love them, as a charity and as people.

VP:  I gather from your recent comments that you were a big fan of the Royal Wedding? Let’s face it , it really did unify the nation and make us all forget about public sector cuts and old Etonians lording it over the serfs didn’t it ….erm …nope…

EMMA : The thing I heard most over that period was, “What’s wrong with a bit of escapism?” But the reason we all felt the need for escapism was because the establishment had let us down (repeatedly) and we were watching things like libraries and the arts crumbling around us. In this instance, you’ll have to explain how paying out of our taxes for a couple of already wealthy people to tie to the knot in incredibly regressive circumstances, in the company of a crowd so right wing that ex-PRIME MINISTERS were considered not posh enough to attend, counts as an effective form of escapism?

And I don’t know Kate Middleton, so I don’t know if the focus of the press coverage was reflective of a pathological interest in fashion on her part – but seriously – could there have been just the tiniest story that wasn’t about the make of the her boots and the gloss of her hair?

VP:  And you and Tim [ Wheeler] have recorded a Christmas album ?? What can you tell us about that?  Are they originals? Covers ? What’s the deal ?

EMMA : They’re mostly puns. We got snowed in over Christmas 2010 – like literally snowed in – and ended up missing four flights between us and so we wrote the songs (or at least the titles) for the Christmas record. There’s only one cover and it’s a full album.

VP: Finally five tips that would help us all become more ‘virtuous’

EMMA : Don’t stray from the path/ Appearances can be deceiving/ Keep your promises/ Do the right thing/ Follow your heart (full version of my guide to virtuosity can be found here: http://emmythegreat.com/details.aspx?id=18.63.Keep-Your-Virtue-A-Handy-Guide)

Links

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Emmy the Great Myspace

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Songs To Learn And Sing – Dum Dum Girls, The Big I Am, The Jezabels and Bombay Bicycle Club.

Today it’s Dum Dum Girls, The Big I Am, The Jezabels and The Bombay Bicycle Club.

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DUM DUM GIRLS.

Dum Dum Girls Free Download Coming Down

Dum Dum Girls release their second album, Only In Dreams for 26th September on Sub Pop Records. The band will also be embarking on touring throughout the US and Europe in October and November culminating with a headline show at London’s ULU on 17th November.  And they are giving away a free download of  a new song , ‘Coming Down’ from the album, which Dee Dee wrote not long after her mom passed away. “That song came out of being in and out of awareness of the depth of the situation,” she says. “Sometimes when I write, I don’t really analyze what I’m saying but the more I hear that song, the deeper it feels. I don’t know if I’m addressing life or God or what, but it’s our big, epic song on every scale.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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THE BIG IAM.

The Big I Am New Single - Collecting Skies

Collecting Skies’  By The Big Iam

Liverpool’s The Big I Am, who claim to be “officially smaller than God,” release a radio friendly version of the title track from their debut Album ‘Collecting Skies.’

Its a sweeping, cinematic affair  in fact  if Guy Garvey had written this  festival goers would doubtless be waving their lighters in unison whilst experiencing that oft cited ‘Glastonbury moment’ (unless of course they were at a different festival.)  It’s a song full of yearning, compassion, warmth and ultimatley hope from an album we’ve previously described as ‘a gem.’  There’s a touch of Sgt Peppers meets I Am Kloot on this track which of course is no bad thing and contains the Lennonesque observation  “I could live a million years and never  understand what’s here”. Ain’t that the truth 😉

It’s available for download at www.rashrecords.co.uk.

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THE JEZABELS.

The Jezabels - New Single Endless Summer

We wrote for Music Week back in may that The Jezabels  is a band on the cusp of greatness. Hayley Mary’s incredible soaring voice is mesmeric.”  Their latest single ‘Endless Summer’ is to be released on Monday 5th September 2011, merely confirms that view. It’s the first to be taken from their debut album ‘The Prisoner’ via Play It Again Sam Records scheduled for 2012.

‘Endless Summer‘  By The Jezabels.

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BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB.

‘Shuffle’ is the first single from Bombay Bicycle Club’s forthcoming third album ‘A Different Kind of Fix’ (out 29th August via Island Records). Below is a remix by Leo Zero followed by the official video.

White Light/White Heat – Birdland Return – Interview.

Birdland Return ! 2011 Interview

“Hollow Heart” By Birdland.

Reunions are very much part and parcel of today’s musical landscape, some work extremely and sometimes things are better left in the past, that “foreign country”: were “they do things differently. ” However some bands you sense may feel may have unfinished business. Birdland, that fleeting peroxide riot of white noise and rock n roll mayhem that flared brightly and briefly in the late 80’ and early 90’s are back !

Formed in 1988  by  brothers Robert and “Lizzy” Lee Vincent,  Birdland’s  debut ‘Hollow Heart,’ an adrenaline fuelled Stooges meet The Ramones speedball was an instant classic shooting straight to number one in the UK indie charts and providing the  perfect antidote to the oversaturated and frankly over rated baggy Madchester scene.  The press initially seemed enthralled by Birdland,  bestowing the  ‘next big thing crown’ upon them. Sadly as Birdland would later discover, “a crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in.”  Their live shows became the stuff of legend, fights, arrests, riots, as well as being thrown off the Jane Addiction tour after the first date. The Melody Maker described their live shows as like being seduced by an earthquake” whilst  Manics front man James Dean Bradfield is quoted as describing his experience of the band live as  “The best gig I ever saw. Birdland looked and acted like a band, as opposed to a troop of chimps in shell suites or parkas (which was a la mode at the time.) However their image, a combination of the Ramones meets the Midwich Cuckoos meets The Velvets meets The Beatles seemed on occasion, to be more of a talking point than the music itself and often brought them the wrong sort of attention.

‘Letter You Know’ By Birdland.

After four singles hitting the top spot in the indie charts the decision to delay Birdland’s debut album was crucial and meant that they missed out on building on the momentum and buzz their EP’s and live shows had generated. The capricious nature of the press meant that many journos who had previously been supportive of Birdland turned on them deciding to paint them as one trick ponies,  a pogoing post punk parody. Brit Pop and grunge had become the object of the music press’s affection and Birdland suddenly seemed like a band out of time.  When their debut album finally saw the light of day in 1991 the press reaction was decidedly ‘meh’ and marked the beginning of the end. Yet in retrospect it wasn’t a bad album and has actually stood the test of time rather well. Maybe it never quite captured the energy, vigour and fizzing mayhem of the early EP’s or their incendiary live shows but there are still some wonderful pop trash thrash moments.  Birdland were an example of how hype can be completely counter productive and how the music industry can put you on a pedestal on a Monday only to knock you off it by Friday (as Craig David didn’t, but maybe should of sung. 😉 ) Had the band been given the time and space to grow, who knows just how big they could have been?

But the brothers Vincent have reunited for the sake of rock n roll, streamed a new demo and are currently making plans to play live again as Birdland.

‘Everybody’s Dreaming‘   (new demo) By Birdland.

We spoke to Rob and Lee about their unexpected reunion!

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VP: First up , welcome back ! What was the motivating factor behind the return of Birdland? Unfinished business ?   Will this be a reformation for nostalgia’s sake or will you be hoping to record new material? What’s the overall plan?

ROB:   Lee was the main motivator, I didn’t really want to know at first,  as I was moving forward with various other projects which, I thought was the way to go, not going Back !! But he was pretty convincing and after lots of transatlantic calls, arguing, discussing, we worked it  out.

LEE: There is a huge nostalgia factor, it was a great band and we need to remind people of that fact again. Saying that though, we will be playing new material along with the EP’S and some LP tracks.

VP: Looking back on Birdland’s career it rather mirrors the music, fast paced, explosive, chaotic. Where you all prepared for the attention and the fickle nature of the music press when you exploded onto the scene?

ROB: No way!!  We were very naive about it all, I just thought people would take it for granted we all had blonde hair and played pop songs at 90 MPH.  It was hard to handle, just to keep your head on.

LEE:  We were aware to a degree, how fickle the media can be and we walked right in to a brick wall with it. You can never be totally prepared for something like that unless maybe you’re making it in your late twenties and you have a little life experience. We were incredibly young and we were just being ourselves, growing up and arguing and fighting along the way, I enjoyed all of the attention but it was also a lot of work as well.

VP: Your image? Who came up with the idea? Do you think that started to work against you after a while, kind of diverting attention away from the music? The press seemed to pigeon hole you as Peroxide power pop punks

LEE:  The image just fell together really, we all had this bleached hair thing going on except for Sid bass, he was naturally dark blond, I mean when your that age your just carving out a identity and you want to look different. I thought it was very interesting the image, even more so when the journo’s got hold of it and started mentioning the Warhol thing. I didn’t think it would cause such a stir because we had been walking around Birmingham and not really being bothered by anyone until the press thing took off.

 

ROB:   I think we stood out at the time because we actually had an image; most bands looked crap, or were into that baggy Manchester thing.  It was cool standing out but it also brought us lots of hassle & trouble.

VP: Timing is everything and despite your early singles rocketing to the top of the indie charts it seemed you’re fast paced rock n roll owed more to the CBGB’s New York scene than the Brit pop that was starting to emerge and gain music fans and the music presses ears?  Did you feel like a band ‘out of time’, a band that didn’t really fit into a ‘scene’?

ROB : Yes totally, there was nothing like us at the time, we didn’t think that strongly about it, I mean we looked like that in The Zodiac Motel, just our clothes were different. All our influences, were Punk , the original 76 77 wave, although we were all fans of bands like  Sonic Youth & The Pixies .

LEE: We were so ahead of our time in a lot of ways, we never tried to bandwagon jump anything, it was very unique, it still would be now if we could get it together again.

VP: With hindsight would you have done anything different? Was the album’s delay a crucial factor in the band finally calling it a day?

ROB: Yeah, originally I wanted the album to be called “Teenage Perversity” After a Patti Smith bootleg I had, but this was argued against by our then manager.  The album should have contained ten ‘ Hollow Heart’ type tracks, but by the time it was released it really did feel like we’d missed the boat in terms of the original build up & excitement.

LEE: Maybe not have listened to the idiots who wanted us to be the next ‘Who’

I was literally stopped by management from making all the feedback and noise, but I think me and Rob’s song writing style changed, we were paranoid and thought we had to grow up. If anything we should have stuck to our roots, but people get greedy around bands, they see dollar signs, blah blah blah.

VP: You were also a band whose live performances won rave reviews but I felt that the intensity and energy of your gigs was sometimes difficult to capture on studio versions.  What were your most memorable gigs?

LEE:  The Ramones shows were great, having Johnny and Joey at the side watching us was amazingand Joey I met again after moving to NYC in 96, he remembered Birdland really clearly!  The Jane’s Addiction shows were fucking hilarious, they sounded like a bad metal band to my ears. I remember the roadie for Jane’s dragging Kale off his drum stool by his legs and a lot of shit kicking off.  Ridiculous looking back, but there was some drama nearly every gig, nose’s being broken and our van being sprayed, it was all really crazy.

ROB:  Best gigs were  CBGB’s & Bath Moles, where  the live Bootleg was recorded,that was a classic.  Basically all the early small venue ones, where you felt literally anything could happen. There were some great gigs with  Spacemen 3, one time they stood at the side of the stage firing water pistols at us while Lee totally destroyed the monitor system with his guitar !  Destruction & chaos followed us around through most of the early gigs , there was such energy & excitement. We did try to capture that on record, we’d play live together in the studio for the early singles, then do minimum over dubs, that was a great time recording with Paul Sampson at the Cabin in Coventry.

VP:  So it’s been a while and I know you’ve still been involved in music, what have you been up to ?

ROB:  I’ve been recording & playing with various bands around Nottingham & Birmingham, I’ve never stopped  writing & playing really, Lee’s been doing the same in New York with both of us not really thinking about working together until late last year.

LEE:  Yeah, I have a band,  Psychic Drive in NYC, it’s a three piece, we’ve released two EP’S, I have copies but they are not available on line, I really should get that part of it together!!  I am also writing some solo material which is so different than anything I have done, really mellow and moody. I’ve also been DJing around NYC since I got here, it’s ongoing…the English here are all DJ’s, all my mate’s are English and they all DJ, it’s in the blood, and we all do the same thing, it’s quite peculiar actually.

VP: Looking back, which bands from your peers would you class as the most influential? (Which doesn’t always mean the most successful?) Ones who have stood the test of time?

ROB :   It’s not something I’ve thought about as I don’t really listen to them.  I guess The Manics have actually had/save a successful career. I remember telling Steve Lamacq that we’d only be around for a short time..

LEE:  Stone Roses definitely were influential and yes, The Manic’s did very well at the end of the day, I don’t know how influential they are but they did well. The Jesus and Mary Chain are still great to listen to, as are M.B.V, I mean it was quite a good time in music wasn’t it?

VP : The music business has changed hugely since Birdland called it a day .  What’s your take on the internet and how it’s changed the face of music?

LEE:  It’s been great for bands and the individual artist but awful for the major corporations, it took the glamour out of being on a label, I can’t quite imagine any new bands being pampered like we were in the States and Japan, limo’s everywhere and great hotels, and that was on a first LP, for all the money labels used to make, they must also lose fortunes on all the chances they take.


ROB:  In some ways it’s fantastic, you can hear a zillion bands at the click of a button, on the other hand it creates a sense of apathy, I think some of the passion seems to have gone out of it.  The fact that liking/loving a band, 20 years ago needed a lot more effort – you had to go out, get on a bus, go to the record shop, make contact with other humans..The same with Creating a Fanzine, getting it Zeroxed..etc .. You can do all that now with a few clicks of a mouse.

VP : What five words would best  sum up Birdland’s career in the late 80’s early 90’s ?

ROB :  Speed/chaos/pop/blonde/noise

LEE: Well ‘short’ has to be one of them !!   I don’t feel like we had anything close to a career actually, I don’t think we got a chance to start, I was still working out a song writing style at 19, it was all over so fast. I still love music today and I still love writing songs, that’s all there really is  at the end of the day, the songs, everything else in the industry is a big lie and it gets in the way of just playing music.

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The Horrors – Skying.

The Horrors Skying - in a word- shite

I was genuinely rather looking forward to hearing The Horrors latest album ‘Skying’ based on the lead single ‘Still Life’,a rather wonderful anthemic slice of dark 80’s synth pop. I thought, finally, at last, The Horrors may deliver and justify in some way, the obsequious and quite baffling hype their output has thus far generated.  As I listened to ‘Skying’  it soon became apparent that, as ever, The Horrors have not produced a glittering, dark work of pop noir genius but the usual  dull insipid, stylised grave robbing piffle we have come to expect. It really is a complete cacophony of cock.

Rather like Grawp, ( Hagrid’s simple minded brother in Harry Potter) each song lumbers about haplessly searching for  direction, almost finds it and then collapses on its arse in an undignified heap. After being harrowed to the very core of my being  I decided to peruse a number of online reviews,  I mean surely they too would share my view. It was with abject incredulity that I sat open mouthed as five star review followed five star review!!  Could this really be the same album ? Had I been sent a different recording  in error? Produced by some sort of comedy Bauhaus tribute band in a tin bath?  The very same album  that critics have been positively w*nking themselves into a frenzy over, hailing  ‘Skying’  as some sort of defining moment in the history of rock n roll ? Indeed I almost spat out my tea when the NME boldly stated, sans punchline,  that the Horrors are now ‘the most important band of their generation’ I needed a second opinion; and there was only one man up to the job…

The album was dispatched to the desolate, windswept Yorkshire Moors, or more precisely to ‘Darklands Manor’ home to Richard The Goth, our specialist on all things undead…I mean  maybe I was wrong, maybe ‘Skying’ is in fact an unmitigated masterpiece and I have taken leave of my senses? …. What would Richard make of it …..

(AVP)

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CLAAAANG…. the massive ornate brass door-knocker resounds against the 13th century oak cathedral door that guards the entrance to Darklands Manor. CLAAAAAANG… who on earth can it be at this hour of the night?   CLAAAAAANG…. Jesus, they’re making enough noise to wake the dead!  CLAAAAAAANG…. all right, all right I’m coming!.. Hmm, strange, nobody there, just a brown paper parcel left on the gravel drive outside the main portcullis. It’s from the Pipster, whatever can it be?  I retreat to the main drawing room and open it… it contains a gramophone record and a small white carte de visite, hastily inscribed in a trembling hand. Obviously written under some conditions of great distress and trauma, in shaky letters it says “I simply can’t face it. You’ll have to do it, old bean. Love, VP“…. Aw, crap! It’s the new Horrors LP! I’d read somewhere that it was that time of the year again, when assorted members of the press and online community tell us that this sorriest of bands has once again reinvented itself and delivered a stunning artistic meisterwerk. Well, we didn’t fall for it the last two times, so will it be third time lucky for Faris and his friends? Read on, good people, and find out.

In a word, no! I could go all around the houses and build up to it, but sod it, let’s just cut to the chase. For some reason, this clueless mob have an almost invincible “Emperor’s New Clothes” aura about them and in print and on the net otherwise sane people seem to be falling over one another to extol the greatness of “Skying”, their latest offering. Once again, it has been proclaimed as a bold daring sweeping statement, the sound of a great band once again finding a new and enthralling voice with which to captivate us. And, once again, it’s nothing of the sort. I am intrigued by the fact that, when it comes to the Horrors, the word “reinvention” seems to be bandied about all over the place, and yet again “reinvention” just seems to mean that they’ve found yet another sound to plagiarise. They’ve been wannabe Cramps/Gun Club/Birthday Party/My Bloody Valentine/god alone knows who else, and now they seem to have been captivated by a combination of late-period Psychedelic Furs circa “Book Of Days” and boring bland 80s empty bombast.

The Goth Factor

So many of the songs on this LP seem to follow the same format: approximately 45 seconds of really quite promising-sounding music where they almost make you think they have the beginnings of a decent idea, and then it just either falls apart the instant that Faris opens his mouth and starts to sing, or the music just kind of loses its way and meanders off into a mushy directionless drone. For me, Faris is still the eternal weak link in this whole set-up. He just doesn’t seem to possess his own voice. Every LP they put out, it’s “tonight Matthew, I’m going to be… ” (insert name of whichever leftfield rock vocalist he’s karaokeing this time). On “Skying” he veers between Butler Rep (as he did on “Primary Colours“) and Marc Almond, and once again fails to hit the heights of either.  And his lyrics are just as wincingly poor on this as they ever were in the past.

There are, as with the previous LP, one or two fleeting moments where things sound promising: the intros to both “Changing The Rain” and “I Can See Right Through You” are so Furs-esque that you can’t help but like the way they sound, but within less than a minute the illusion is over, and you’re brought back down to earth with a thud. Whereas the bands they so clearly love (and you can’t fault their taste in as much as they draw on the sounds of  some truly excellent bands) had an innate sense of structure, melody, a pop sensibility, or a direct mainline into the scuzzy soul of dirt-black rock ‘n’ roll, The Horrors simply don’t have it. They never have, they never will, no matter how hard they want it. Basically every track on this record is a lowlight, whether it’s the laughable attempt at arty rock-out weirdness on “Monica Gems” or the atrocious lighters-waved-in-the-air plodding finale of “Oceans Burning” which is so teeth-clenchingly po-faced it reminded me of nothing more than a goth Coldplay. Or there’s “You Said” which not only features the weediest Casio-type naff 80s keyboard sound I’ve heard in many a long year, but also the unbridled horror of Faris sounding dangerously close to Bono territory. Even more distressing is the fact that there’s a great deal of almost-baggy Madchester shuffle-shuffle plodding on a large proportion of the album too, most noticeably on tracks like “Dive In”. Dive in?.. no thanks, chaps, I’d rather dive into a vat of boiling jam than ever have to sit through this wretched waste of time ever again.

There will no doubt be cries of “foul” and “bias” in response to this, but I will state simply here and now, that I care not a jot! I listened from start to finish, and I honestly, genuinely, sincerely, from the bottom of my cold black little heart, hate this album. No wonder Von Pip was so aghast he couldn’t bring himself to listen to it again!  If memory serves me correctly, I gave “Primary Colours,” on a scale of one to ten, “less than one”. Well, I’m taking a point off for “Skying”.

I draw the heavy velvet drapes, I throw the brown paper parcel and its contents onto the roaring open fire, I collapse wearily onto an antique fainting couch and, by the flickering light of a taper candle, try to forget I ever heard this unspeakable thing in the first place.

-2/10

Richard The Goth

Richard The Goth - Yesterday

Songs To Learn And Sing – R O M A N C E , Austra, The Fanclub, Pope Joan and Zola Jesus.

Today featuring R O M A N C E , Austra, The Fanclub, Pope Joan and Zola Jesus.

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R O M A N C E.

R O M A N C E   Free Download

With their Jason Perry-produced debut album in the bag London based quartet  R O M A N C E are giving away a new song for free  which showcases their huge sound.  This year has seen them tour with The Cult and they can count Ian Astbury and Suede’s Brett Anderson amongst their fans.

‘River Runs Red’ By R O M A N C E.

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AUSTRA.

AUSTRA Free Download The VPME

Austra are probably the most delicious thing to come out of Canada alongside Elisha Cuthbert, Evegenline Lily and maple syrup. Their  debut album ‘ Feel It Break’ is a thing of shimmering beauty, and there’s a special compilation of remixes,  featured on their new  ‘Sparkle’ 12inch  available including The “Spellwork (MNDR Nighttime Remix)” ‘. ‘Sparkle’ is out July 25/26 digitally and August 23 on vinyl.

“Spellwork (MNDR Nighttime Remix)” By Austra.

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THE FANCLUB.

The Fanclub are giving away a download of one side of  their double A Sided  single ‘A Real Horror (Part II)’/ Let’s Measure Next Year Better, for free. You can download it below

‘Let’s Measure Next Year Better’ By The Fanclub.

And below is an exclusive of their video for ‘A Real Horror (Part II)

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 POPE JOAN.

Pope Joan - The VPME

 Brighton art pop quartet Pope Joan returns with their new single The Celebration . There’s something of the brimstone and fire dark preacher man stylings of Nick Cave about the song, which is of course a very good thing. The single was produced by the band themselves, working alongside mastering engineer Mike Marsh (The Kills, Nick Cave, Hot Chip).

‘The Celebration’Pope Joan.

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 ZOLA JESUS .

 Zola Jesus Free Download - The VPME.

Zola Jesus will release her new album, Conatus on September 26th, 2011. The follow up to one of our fave albums of 2010 –  Stridulum II.

‘Vessel’ By Zola Jesus.

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