A Sense Of Wonder- Lisa Mitchell Interview

“Neopolitan Dreams” By Lisa Mitchell

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To quote Clint Eastwood “opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one” and should you voice an opinion about certain bands or singers, you may find the online loony brigade beating a hasty path to your virtual door. Your inbox can on occasion, be overflowing with messages of “goodwill” from people whose eloquence is possibly less admirable than their passionate, dare I say frenzied, dedication to their cause.  Their demented ratings can range from the disturbing “I hope you get cancer” to the mildly amusing “OMG U R like, so stooped and retardeered…” to the bizarre “You must be, like, visually deaf or somethin’,  so I WILL TYPE SLOWLY”. You may therefore forgive me if I regard emails from companies telling me my “member may be an inadequate fit” lest I purchase “Raging Throbber” pills or the inevitable requests from deposed Nigerian dictators who respectfully wish to transfers monies from Burkina Faso forthwith, as manna from heaven.

Sorting through your email messages and separating the wheat from the chaff can be an onerous task, but amongst the badly written missives, the rantings of the socially inadequate and the ubiquitous “nob spam” there is still the reward of the occasional gem. It was in fact via the medium of email that I was alerted to Lisa Mitchell’s debut album “Wonder”. In no time at all I was enraptured and comparing 19 year old Ms Mitchell to the likes of Laura Marling and Emmy The Great, both writers of immense talent and who possess a lyrical maturity way beyond their years. “Wonder” may initially come across as a dreamy, languid, collection of songs full of  melody and suprisingly subtle , “impossible to stop humming”, hooks, but scratch the surface and the intelligent lyrics reveal underneath the almost almost fragile vocals, a fierce and often dark heart. Last years quirky debut single ‘Neapolitan Dreams’stems from a parting of two people,” explains Lisa “obviously me and someone else, but then it moves into a place of like, not having such a clear idea of where you’re headed. Then when the refrain comes in, the ‘ba-da ba-das’, it’s like saying ‘there’s so much going on, but hey, fuck it, we’re just gonna have fun’.” The single, which was featured on the recent Surf advert, received 1.5millon plays on Myspace and 500,000 plays on Youtube whilst selling over 15,000 copies in the UK alone; and all this before the track had even been played on the radio.

We spoke to the girl who, at sixteen turned her back on a crappy record deal in order to produce and write music on her own terms and produce something that reflected her views, feelings and values…the result being “Wonder” ……….looks like she made the right choice!

VP:  When did you first start to write songs, what was the motivation, had you always had a habit of writing down your thoughts?

LISA: I wrote my first song in our garden shed when I was eleven. It was called ‘Swallow,’ as in the bird. It went: ‘Say, “swallow” and I will fly to you. Say “hello,” and I’ll say “hello” too but say, “follow” and I will follow you.’ How cute was I? I think it started from having the urge to be heard and from wanting to share my thoughts. I like to write down my ideas so I remember them for a quieter time if I’m busy or with other people.

VP:  You tend to find that a lot of singer songwriters were exposed to music at an early stage in their upbringing…was this the case with you, are your family big music fans?

LISA: Dad’s music taste is instilled in me. He loves The Velvet Underground, Dylan, Cat Stevens, Neil Young and so on, so I love them too and they almost certainly influence my writing at times.

VP:  What sort of things inspire you to write, is it through personal experience, observation, or a mix of fact and fiction?

LISA: The sorts of things that inspire me are beautiful days, terrible days, heart ache, confusion, nostalgia, other people’s songs, happiness, boredom.

VP:  Your debut album “Wonder” has just been released did you enjoy the recording process?

LISA:  My album came out a few weeks ago. It feels quite surreal! I’ve been working on it for some time now so the last few weeks it has felt like it surely must’ve been out for a while.

VP:  You were born in England and moved to Australia when you were three, would you ever consider making England your base (like fellow countrymen and woman Howling Bells) or is the weather a little too inclement here?

LISA: I love England! I’d definitely consider it for my home one day but right now I’ve got far too many places that I want to see to be setting up camp in one place. ‘Nomadic,‘ I believe they would call my living style.

VP:  Which female artists do you most admire and why?

LISA: I admire Regina Spektor’s ingenuity in her writing. Her original thought is delicious. Have you heard the song, ‘Laughing With,‘ on her latest album? What a concept. ‘No one laughs at God in a Hospital; no one laughs at God in a war.’ True, no? I like morbid thought like that. I think it has a safe place in songs – the sonic positivity takes the edge off it.

VP:  What have been your musical highlights of the year so far?

LISA: My highlight so far for this year was playing Glastonbury music festival near London a few months ago. It must be all down hill from then mustn’t it?! Oh no! I’ve already peaked! I signed to RCA records in London at the start of the year and they’ve been amazing to work with. I did a support for ‘Whitely’ an Australian boy which was a bit of a milestone as well!

VP:  How are you planning to spend the rest of 2009?

LISA: I’ll spend the year playing lots of shows (Australia and the UK!), talking to journalists, moving houses, wining and dining, driving my Kombi van to the beach, going to the Australian summer festivals and hopefully exploring new cities around the world.

VP:  Do you get nervous playing live? Do you have any strange pre-gig rituals?

LISA: Being nervous is so distracting! No, I don’t bother with that anymore. Pre-gig we muck around backstage and be silly or serious depending on the weather.

VP:  Five words to sum up your mood today. ….

LISA: Tired, sore tummy, calm, creative, curious.

Links

On Mypsace

Official site

Wallpapers


Videos

“Coin Laundry” By Lisa Mitchell

‘Welcome To The Afternoon’ EP Launch

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All Dolled Up…Doll And The Kicks Interview

Doll And The Kicks (Brighton Source)

Original Photos By danbandalee

“If You Care” (Demo) By Doll And The Kicks

Am I a Sexist? This question has been bothering me since it was pointed out that I seem to interview more female fronted bands than male. When I was a young lad I had an implausibly huge poster of Debbie Harry on my bedroom wall, so I guess you could draw the conclusion that I was quite fond of attractive blonde ladies. Female friends have pointed out that her attractiveness was the only reason I had a poster on my wall, and that my objectification of Ms Harry was a disgrace and that I should be chemically castrated forthwith. “Cobblers!!” I retorted, I’ve always maintained that if Blondie hadn’t have been a great pop band, I certainly wouldn’t have blu-tacked a poster of Ms Harry (looking rather fine I must admit) on my wall, I justified this by saying that Samantha Fox also made pop records, and I of course didn’t have posters of her on my wall as her music was terminally sh*te, in one fell swoop I felt I had succinctly proved that it’s not just about having a pretty face. So there I was feeling rather smug and about to assume the moral high ground, when I was asked “If say, Thora Hird, had fronted a fantastic pop band, and had the voice of an angel would you have had a poster of her on your bedroom wall ? “ Erm, Well erm” I waffled , “it wouldn’t put me off the music, but I do have to sleep at night” I replied rather weakly , I then contrived to avoid the direct questions that followed but alas I came across as unctuous and as slippery as a byrlcreemed David Cameron greased with engine oil in a barrel of eels and olive oil, I had to concede rather grumpily that, no I wouldn’t have a poster of Thora on my wall, even if she did make the greatest pop records known to man, mainly due to the fact that I didn’t find her rather plain, homely features particularly alluring . So does this make me some sort of deviant sexist? I don’t think so, there’s nowt wrong with finding people attractive is there? It’s as much a part of life as breathing innit? What is attractive is a matter of personal preference anyway isn’t it? Pics of Thora may well drive some people wild with desire and have them indulging in a quick furtive trouser jostle over “Songs Of Praise” but rather like Peggy Mountor Joyce Grenfell she just didn’t make my aesthetic bell go dong . It’s fairly obvious that you can initially be drawn to a band without hearing a note, if they look the part, have a striking image (or even a manifesto?) But if the music craps your not gonna hang around too long to listen are you?

Now my latest interviewees have an attractive blonde lead singer, which is nice, but they also appear to be the real deal and have some cracking good tunes. The singer in question is known simply as Doll , and she looks like she wouldn’t tolerate any monkey business anyway, I’m sure she’d introduce your testicles to your Adams apple in double quick time with a swift kick should you step out of line. She is what I suppose some may term as sassy, but I don’t like that term, its far too American for me, I’ve never heard anybody I know use the word sassy in general conversation…..In America everything’s sassy . “Gee Bud this coffee sure is sassy” “Yo, Thad! My legs sure are feeling super extra sassy today.” Hey Velma, I have a real sassy lil map of a weird place they call…Europe…you heard of it ? ” Then again I suppose for a nation who routinely say “Yowsa Yowsa” and “Hubba Hubba Hubba” (what does that even mean) sassy is not their worst linguistic crime. Don’t get me wrong, I like America and Americans, I just haven’t a clue what they are on about… and American English has deflowered the English language like a group of superbad sports jock dudes at a cheer leaders summer camp…..I can remember the good olde days when the final episode of a TV series was called , well, “the final episode” now we have “Season Finales!!” The trailers for these are given the sort of reverence that was previously reserved for the Gettysburg Address “Three men, each with dream, each with a date with destiny as they dare to reach for the stars and undertake the ultimate roadtrip, and travel a road which will change them for ever … a treacherous journey  of self discovery which is embarked upon in… …an old tin bath …Don’t miss the “Last of the Summer Wine Season (104) Finale..  remember …Sky SuperPlus Digital HD Channel “Shite“is now THE ONLY place you can see “TLOTSW season finale” …but I digress. Doll and The Kicks disco tinted indie rock is gaining them a growing number of admirers, and their name is now being discussed with reverence  way beyond their Brighton base. They played Glasto last year and this year have consolidated their burgeoning reputation with a crowd pleasing set at Brighton’s Great Escape festival. Catchy searing guitar riffs, and thundering percussion are all underpinned by Dolls vocals, which can recall anything from a reflective Siouxsie Sioux to Gwen Stefani in a bit of a strop. Throw in a bit of Lena Lovich and Kate Bush add a small splash of Wendy James for “sassiness” (there I’ve said it, happy now?) and you have an intriguing musical cocktail. This band seem to have just the right balance of pop acumen and indie cool to appeal to all tastes and styles and it would appear the buzz that has recently surrounded them is gaining momentum and is transforming from polite appreciation to a healthy roar of approval.

Oh and extra kudos to Oliver who definitely has the biggest hair in pop this side of Leo Sayer. I had a chat with Doll and even got to call her Dolly once (which I think I got away with). I also tried to keep my inner Bernard Manning in check (I think everybody has had a little bit of Bernard inside them at some point …which actually is quite of horrible thought)

VP: Hello Dolly , In traditional fashion, shall we start by asking how you all met and how the band became the fully formed, well oiled beast that it now is?

DOLL : Basically Oliver and I met in class at College, I had made a cd of five of my songs and played them to anyone who would listen trying to entice possible band members. Oli was the first to sign up! Matt was a friend of our old bass players girlfriend (Oli was originally on Guitar when we were a five piece) and joined as replacement to Dan Logan (now playing with the kooks) who dumped us unceremoniously to join Cat the Dog! Chris was introduced to us by another friend and although he was also at the same college as Oli and I we didn’t know him.

VP: How did the name come about?

DOLL: I was a really big fan of The Foo Fighters when I was little in fact it was the first gig I ever attended at The Royal Court in Liverpool when I was 12 or 13 and Doll was the first track on The Colour and The Shape which i used to play repeatedly. Also when i was 7 and asked at school what i wanted to be when i grew up i said Madonna, i think it was because i liked that she only had one name, Doll follows suit. The Kicks is because the boys used to be in a can can troupe called “When the Wind Blows”.

VP: What are your plans for the remainder of 2008?

DOLL: We are in talks with a number of booking agents at the moment so thats the first thing. Plenty more song writing, we are always writing new stuff sometimes we have so many new songs we wonder how we will ever choose 12 for our first album! And just building a bigger fan base, we know that is the most important thing to us at the moment. We may also do a one off single release near to the end of the year.

VP: What have been your highlights as a band thus far?

DOLL: Being told that we were going to play on The BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury was a better day than actually being there because the weather was so atrocious and people at the festival looked like they were just trying their best to be happy! Although it was still obviously amazing and we did meet Peaches Geldof so it wasn’t all bad. (I know it’s hard to tell on written word but that was sarcasm).
The Great Escape a few weeks ago as well. We had an australian band The Boat People and a legendary promoter(who also happens to be a hugely entertaining man) Joel Ransom staying at our house so it all got a bit messy. Plus at our official gig at The Arc there were people queing up to get in and although we were playing first I figured everywhere would be full for the festival. It was a big eye opener when most people left right after we played! 😀

VP: Brighton (a bit like Liverpool , where I’m from) has a reputation for “fancying itself a bit” Would you say this is a bit unfair, and what’s the local scene like at the moment?

DOLL: Ha Ha! I am also a Liverpudlian, born and bred. Does that mean as I have lived in both places I fancy myself a bit? It probably does. I reckon I probably do. I do think though that in any city with fashion focus there are always going to be a lot of pretentious w*nkers who deem themselves too important to talk to anyone who doesn’t spray their jeans on and know the entire back catalogue of Sonic Youth. What they don’t understand is that you can still look like you just stepped off the pages of POP magazine, love sonic youth and not be an absolute c*nt.

VP: You played “The Great Escape” in Brighton recently how did it go? Any other bands make a big splash?

DOLL: Ohhhh i think i already mentioned this a little. Crystals Castles were great live. She dances like a mad person. I heart her. Also Joel recommended Mumford and Sons who i have to say are amazing. I think they are like English hillbiliies with a postgrad.

VP: What sort of music are you all influenced by?

DOLL: Oh dear we could be here a while. Um i have to say everything. Each of us has our background in something different. Olivier – SKA, Matt – Metal and old Rock, Chris – progressive post hardcore (yes that’s right) and me – Girly Grunge. But we collectively LOVE all music made in the eighties. We also unashamedly take influences from a lot of pop music. I’m going to see Girls Aloud on Friday, Biology is a work of genius.

VP: The music bizz is changing, it seems on a weekly basis, and do you think the industry is finding it hard to keep up?

DOLL: Yes definitely. It seems like everyone is panicking and no one in the industry knows what to do. Everyone trying different ways to make it work like private investments and the 360 degree model. No one really makes enough from music sales anymore, it’s all in live shows, product placement, merchandise and other such like. That’s why we are in no hurry to sign a contract with a record label unless it’s the perfect deal for us because these days you kind of don’t need one. What you need is finance and an amazing PR machine and there are certainly other avenues that can provide that.

VP: Tell us a joke?

DOLL : A blonde is overweight so her doctor put her on a diet.

“I want you to eat regularly for two days,” he tells her. “Then skip a day and repeat the procedure for two weeks. The next time I see you, you’ll have lost at least five pounds.”

When the blonde returns, she’s lost nearly four stone. “Why that’s amazing,” the doctor says. “Did you follow my instructions?”

The blonde nods. “I’ll tell you though, I thought I was going to drop dead that third day.”
“From hunger you mean?” Asks the doctor.
“No,” replies the blonde, “from skipping.”

Links

On Myspace

Doll And The Kicks CD is now available for you to purchase and savour via the miracle that is paypal! Only £3.50 including postage.
Tracklisting:
Always Been Her

In The Radio

Everything to Lose
BUY IT HERE


AND SIGN UP TO THEIR FACEBOOK GROUP HERE

VIDEOS

“Money” By Doll & The Kicks

“Heaven Help” By Doll & The Kicks

“Disco Queen” By Doll & The Kicks (Glasto 07)

“Roll Up The Red Carpet” By Doll & The Kicks

Wallpapers

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

THE VPME REVIEW MARCH/APRIL 08

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

The Panel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On with the tunes

The Long Blondes “Century”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caesers- Boo Hoo Goo Goo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Feeling “Without You”

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

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

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

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

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

PETER: No thank you.

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

The Last Shadow Puppets- The Age Of The Understatement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Cave – Dig Lazarus Dig

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Are Scientists – After Hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Video

Mystery Jets and Laura Marling – “Young Love”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Riding High” The “Vote Show Pony” Interview

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

“Dirty Words” By Vote Showpony

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

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

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

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

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

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

VP: How would you describe your sound?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VP: What have you got planned for 2008?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VSP ! She Get’s Our Vote Everytime!

Links

Myspace

Official Site

Click below and you really can Vote Showpony

Videos

“Dirty Words” By Vote Show Pony

“Circles” Live By Vote Show Pony

Wallpapers

(Click thumbnails for hi-res images)

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Going Places -Jose Vanders Interview

“Faces Going Places” By Jose Vanders

Londoners are famous for having a good old knees up around the “old Joanna” (piano) with their “china plates” (mates). In fact if you were to believe the portrayal of Londoners as painted by “comedic” screenwriter Richard Curtis you’d probably expect to walk into a London pub and be accosted by the local market traders dressed up as pearly kings and queens desperate to sing songs about “Mother Brown” or “Any Old Iron.” Meanwhile hoards of cheeky chimney sweeps would be tap dancing their way across the capitals roof tops waving happily to the local childminders in Regents park “ Gawd Bless ya Marror-ie Poirpains.” Lumme guv, look lively, it’s the local coppers, thumbs hooked jauntily behind their lapels as they give passers-by a sparkling rendition of “The Lambeth Walk”, whilst merrily cuffing mucky cheeked young mischief-makers about the head. Hark! Is that the refuse collectors noisily singing about one of their number getting married in the morning, as they go about their business with stoic good natured cheer whilst musically detailing the grooms worries about arriving at the church a little late ? Oh look there’s the Prime Minister Of Scotland, England, Hugh Grant and a nightingale appears to be singing in Berkley Square (as I live and breathe).

Luckily not many people actually believe the sort of ludicrous stereotyping that Richard Curtis oft employs in order to sell his dreadful “whimsical” fare to America and beyond (Love Actually, erm no mate, Shit Actually). Thankfully not everybody from London who spots a piano is immediately filled with an urge to start bashing out “Oh What A Lovely War” ala Mrs Mills. The reality is Londoners can produce some marvellous music if you allow them to tinkle the ivories, look at Kate Bush for example, and more recently Kate Nash. Another artist from London that’s been attracting a fair bit of attention and has access to a piano is 17-year-old Jose Vanders. ( not pronounced “Jose” as in Jose Mourinho , think more like short for Josephine) Compared by some to the Kate Nash/Lilly Allen school of music, (whatever that means) she’s been steadily gaining a reputation as a prodigious talent and a fine songwriter. Last year saw her self release a debut EP “Transitional Language” which sold out within days, camp as Christmas gossip monger extraordinaire Perez Hilton tipped her for the top and in between she’s even managed to get a job with BBC 3 whilst doing her schoolwork. Phew! Puts you to shame doesn’t it ! We had a chat with her and were somewhat relieved she didn’t confuse us simple northern types with talk of “apples and pies” “mince pears” and “plates of braising steak”

VP: WOTCHA ! Ahem I mean Hello …How did you get involved in the shadowy world of popular music ?

JOSE: I woke up one morning, washed my face, moisturised and decided to be a pop star. Although before that came endless hours of piano practise with my dad standing behind me singing West End hits and Billy Joel at the top of his lungs, and then a sudden realisation that I could write songs too and sing them myself. And then the salesman in Comet advised me on a good microphone for under twenty pounds and I went with it. The rest as they say…

VP: You’ve stated that you grew up in a house that had more pianos than TV’s. Didn’t this make watching Eastenders a tad tricky, and do you play any other instruments?

JOSE: Ah indeed it did. But don’t worry, the dramatic delights of Albert Square were never ever sacrificed. Sadly, the only vivid episode I still have lodged in my brain is the Truman family incident: ‘what about meeeee?!’ But yeh I play the violin, I got to Grade 7 but my family thought it sounded like a sick cat when i played. So I gave that up. I dabbled with the oboe but that too failed. I’m working on guitar. Well, I will when I finish school. Ha.

VP: You have released your first Mini Album/ Ep Transactional Language (August 2007?) which is outrageously brilliant. How did you go about self releasing it ? ? Was it a fairly straightforward process?

JOSE: Ahh god! I cringe when I listen to those songs. It was well over a year ago now. Mmm, well I just didn’t think about it and did it. I recorded the songs in my neighbour’s living room in one afternoon [it literally took four hours, I only recorded one take for the piano parts, and one or two takes for the vocals, and I had never even heard of a click track. That’s why I cringe now.] But yeh my friend Fetts drew some pictures and I went down to the local printers in Blackheath and bargained with the owner to print 500 sleeves for 80 quid, and then spent the next four weeks assembling cds, making badges, wrapping them all up in magazines and parcel tape, I tried to sign each one and then went to the post office pretty much every day. i absolutely loved it! it was very easy, and I got loads of my friends to help out [much to their displeasure]. In fact, I loved it so much that I’m planning on self- releasing another mini album just after the Summer. And I’m doing the whole recording in a studio thing which I’ve never done before, quite excited! But I’m determined to self-release the whole thing. I wanna make each one personalised. Admittedly it might take a while to package up thousands of cds by hand but i love it. [I secretly love the business and marketing side of it all more than i love the songs. I love making lists, and charts, and figuring out prices, and postage costs, and economical uses of paper. ahh. but don’t tell anyone that. it’s obviously all about the music. Y’know, it’s in my skin. or blood. or whatever they say.]

VP: You’ve previously said that you where brought up with the likes of James Taylor, Cat Stevens and Joni Mitchell it must have been a big house, but seriously who would you say are major influences from the current musical scene?

JOSE: Yeh me and Joni go back a long way. We had the same childminder you see; used to play Batman and Robin and all that jazz. I was always Poison Ivy. As for today’s musical ‘scene’, I am addicted to Polly Paulusma and Fionn Regan, and constantly listen to The Books, Damien Rice, Death Cab for Cutie, Cocorosie, Sigur Ros, Gregory and the Hawk, Chris Garneau, Bloc Party, Modest Mouse, Minus the Bear, John Mayer, Rocket Summer, etc.. But I have made it a habit for the past eight months or so to buy physical cds instead of downloading. Recently I’ve bought and loved and played in my car to DEATH: Frou Frou, Laura Marling, The Bird and The Bee,Tom Williams and Yann Tiersen

VP: You’ve been studying as well as releasing records and performing . (Any chance of a song about Oliver Cromwell a “Liberty Of Conscience’ EP perhaps?) Has it been hard to juggle both?

JOSE: Yeh well coincidently my next album is called ‘A Day in the Life of Alexander II, the Tsar Liberator’. What a guy he was eh. But yeh, it’s been so ridiculously hard you wouldn’t believe. Any spare time I have I’m at the piano, or down in Brighton practising with Thom and writing songs, or I’m just thinking about how I’m gonna package up the next cd. It’s gradually consuming me. My brain is now divided into 83% music 15% work and 2% calculating the next available pg tips moment. But yeh, only a couple of months left. BRING ON THE SUMMER is what i say.

VP: Your celebrating your 18th Birthday with a gig at the Lincoln Drill Hall. Will there be cake ? Balloons? And are you excited at having Eddie Harrison on the bill

JOSE: Yesss I am indeed. I’ve just got back from band practise; we ran through the set and it sounds pretty decent. Like nothing I’ve done before. In fact I’m a little scared. I’ve got six songs which have drums, guitar and bass. It’s gonna be different. And as for balloons and cake I have no idea. Cake=a big fat yes. but balloons… Fetts is mightily scared of them. balloon phobia. You know how it is. So hopefully not too many… !! and i am so excited about seeing Eddie. He’s FABULOUS.

VP: What’s all this about BBC 3 ? How did that come about, what does it involve? Is it fun ?

JOSE: Ahh yes. Well I got an email from someone at bbc3 asking me to go in for a casting for some up and coming thing they were doing, and I thought it was a massive massive joke, and half-heartedly replied. And she asked me to go in for a casting. So I went up after school, stood in front of a camera, and then they said ok introduce the Mighty Boosh GO, and I had to improvise. Obviously I pulled my ‘make them laugh’ card, which basically involved me going on about Noel Fielding’s bottom [devilishly good-looking bottom in fact]. So a while passed, then I got a call in the new year telling me I had got the job. I was like uhhh what job. It took me mum about three weeks to finally believe me that I worked for bbc3. Ha. And it basically involves me writing poor jokes, going into the studio every monday and telling them to a camera. it’s pretty fun yeh!

VP: Where do you get your ideas for your songs ?

JOSE: I’m not really sure. from my subconscious I suppose. I went to see Sweeney Todd at the cinema and wrote two really spikey songs the following evening. I was reading Larkin poetry for my a2 english and wrote a song based on that. i write them about people, faces, feelings. being in love. getting dumped. the usual. y’know.

VP: Confession is good for the soul sooooo- You’ve said you had a file on your computer called “What On Earth Was I thinking?” which contains amongst others a song about Aladdin and his magical Lamp. Any other songs in that folder you’d like to admit to ?

JOSE: Oh GOD. That folder. I’m tempted to press the delete button in fact, just in case anyone finds it. I’d be RUINED I tell you. The highlights include a song about a girl who gets killed by her mother, a recipe for rhubarb crumble cake sung to a weird collection of notes, a song about not wearing make up on the bus and chatting up the man who works at blockbuster… I could go on. But I won’t.

VP: I know somebody who once called you “a Posh Kate Nash” Does that sort of thing annoy you ? Is it a bit of a lazy comparison?

JOSE: Ahh I haven’t heard that one. Well to be honest, I do sound a bit like Kate Nash, so why shouldn’t people be quick to make such a comparison?! I do it with bands myself. All I know is, that yeh fair enough I’m always gonna be a pianist and a lass from London, so the comparison is always gonna be made. But what I also know, is that the last song I wrote is so completely different to the first song I ever wrote, and that must mean something. I’m progressing, and maturing. albeit painfully slowly. And I have confidence in time and time alone that my writing will improve, my musicality will improve, my self-confidence will improve, and my originality will improve. I can’t do anything about it. So I’m sitting tight, and waiting for it to happen naturally. And I have faith that it will. and then one day maybe – hopefully – I won’t be a ‘posh Kate Nash’ anymore. Who knows? Time knows.

VP: Five things you aim to do this month ?

JOSE: Write lyrics to the new EPIC pop song that Thom and I concocted. 2. Stop eating ice cream out the tub by myself late at night. 3. Learn about the Four Dumas that were set up in early 20th century Russia and what they achieved. 4. organise an outfit for my best friend’s 18th p party. I might go as Pandora. as in Pandora’s Box Pandora, which would basically just be a toga. I’m not too sure yet. 5. be nicer to my boyfriend. he’s a keeper.

Links

On Myspace

Official Site

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
transactional language ep [2007]
available worldwide

download here

1 new ride

2 faces going places

3 alberto morrocco

4 ode to gilbert

5 a little love song

6 holes

7 without your kisses

Videos

“Faces Going Places” By Jose Vanders

“Without Your Kisses” By Jose Vanders

Wallpaper

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Miki Berenyi Interview -Part 3. Miki’s Photos (con’t)

Lush’s Miki Berenyi “The Interview 2008” and her personal photo album Part 3( Part 1 is here ,and part 2 here )

Miki Interview 1996

Photo 33

Miki: “Me with Ian Astbury (The Cult) after our gig at the Electric Ballroom in 1996. Chris was an absolutely MASSIVE fan of The Cult (well, back to when they were Southern Death Cult) and met Ian the first time during the Ride tour in 1991 in LA. Ian ended up joining us on stage in LA one unforgettable time to duet on the song Ciao! (the Jarvis duet on Lovelife). The really funny thing though was that when we went through it at the soundcheck, it became obvious that Ian had got a bit confused and thought we were going to cover the Cult’s Edie (Ciao Baby). We’re playing the intro and he’s going “It’s quite skiffle, isn’t it?”. Chris was laughing so hard he could barely play.”

“Ciao!” By Lush (ft. Jarvis Cocker)

Photo 34

Miki: “Interview with ‘Kennedy’ at the MTV Weenie Roast – a big production stadium gig that’s comparable to various media-run roadshows, but this is in a fucking huge stadium. There was a revolving stage so that as one band played, the next band could set up. That was the theory anyway. We were on after The Fugees who, clearly, had been booked into that slot shortly before they spent about a million weeks in the top ten with Killing Me Softly. As a consequence, they weren’t too keen on playing so low down on the bill and turned up late, spent ages setting up and then failed to leave the stage after their third song, a 15-minute rendition of No Woman No Cry. By this time the MTV organisation had had enough and as Lauryn Hill’s soulful vocals released the first strains of their hit song the stage started to revolve slowly and the rapturous cheering turned to boos as Lush appeared, startled and apologetic. Possibly the most Spinal Tap moment of my entire music career.”

Photo 35

Miki : With Mark Gardener (Ride) at Phoenix 1996. I only put this in because I didn’t have any photos from the 1991 tour and we’d had such a lovely time – the band and the crew were all really lovely and it was such a great way to have our first adventure to America.”

Photos 36 Is From Kat Bjelland (Babes In Toyland) own collection


Photo 37

Miki: “Somewhere on stage – 1993”

Photo 38

Miki: “Photo shoot for Lovelife with the Fiat 500 car.”

“Love At First Sight” By Lush

Photo 39

Miki : “My last New Year’s Eve with Chris – Dec 1995 ”

“Light From A Dead Star ” By Lush (A Tribute)

Thank you Miki x

The Indelicates “American Demo” Review

I don’t know about you but I can’t tolerate music reviews which prattle on about things like the “zeitgeist” and “ennui” yet singularly fail to let the reader know if they actually liked a certain album, song or single. I also hate this modern habit of foisting genius or legendary status onto people, who quite frankly don’t deserve it, Bobby Davro is not a legend, Frank Skinner is not a genius, for F**k’s sakes, there’s even a “ Post Office Ken” myspace page, he of the highly irritating TV ads featuring those dreadful warbling Irish wooden heads from Westzone or Boyslife or whatever they’re called. People are actually leaving him messages! “Ken, you legend”,Ken u iz da Biz”“Ken you genius”etc, etc -. No, No, NO! Have these miscreants had transorbital lobotomies? Ken is an annoying tool, a vacuous corporate marketing tool- a living legend or genius? – I think not. This sort of nonsense fills me with a sense of ennui and surely cannot reflect the zeitgeist?

But back to the subject in hand, is The Indelicates debut album “American Demo” any good? Well, I can say, hand on heart it really does deserve the accolade “ F**king genius.” At this early juncture it’s already a strong contender for album of 2008. I had of course expected something special given the quality of the singles that have been released and the demos that have been floating about online for a while, but this has exceeded my already high expectations by a country mile. In short The Indelicates have produced a stunning debut album that can be enjoyed on many levels and covers a myriad of issues. It’s the sound of a band really finding their voice. They’ve rarely sounded more assured and passionate, and to quote dear old Johnny Rotten they really do seem to “mean it, man.” “American Demo” does that rare thing in music these days and actually challenges the listener’s preconceptions about pop. I can happily report it’s not always a comfortable experience, for example “Unity Mitford” is a beautiful song, musically and lyrically (“Like Romeo and Juliet/In a bunker, shot through the head”) but hang on a minute, should I really find this song moving, after all isn’t this about one of Britain’s most notorious Nazi sympathisers. Yet here I am singing along like Doris Day baking apple pie with a tear in my eye, about the lady, who many believe may have had Hitler’s baby.

“New Art For The People” may initially seem to be a heart wrenching, darkly romantic tale of obsessive love, “And it’s so sad but they’re so glad/ that you’re so bad for me/The dark days ahead and the blood/ on the bed and the cover of the NME” But wait -there’s something else happening here too, it transpires it may actually be more about self importance, selfishness, single mindedness and self harm, an obsession with a new aesthetic and exploitation in the name of art – Yes, let us make this new art and change the world, except ….nothing really changes, the world remains indifferent.

“If Jeff Buckley Had Lived” is an evocative poetic slice of genius which deals with how Jeff Buckley may have been treated if he had not foolishly disregarded the Health and Safety Executive’s prudent advice -“No swimming in rivers wearing steel toe capped boots, whilst listening to Led Zeppelin” “If Jeff Buckley had lived/And his voice still was heard/On the weak second album /And difficult third” Indeed, would Jeff Buckley have been so revered in life as he is now in death, could he have sustained the promise and have earned the iconic status that has posthumously been bestowed upon him- or would he have suffered what is commonly known as “the back lash” “If Jeff Buckley had lived/He’d have been short on the throne/And counted his life out/In an old rockstar’s home”

The album also features the singles, “Sixteen,” “Julia, We Don’t Live in The 60’s” and fantastic reworkings of “The Last Significant Statement” and “We Hate The Kids” all of which seem to take on a new potency within the framework of an album rather than just merely being great tunes in isolation. There is also the new single “America” which could well be an alternative west end show stopper in a parallel universe, complete with dancing soldiers and marching bands. It knocks Bernstein’s and Sondheim’s song of the same name into the proverbial cocked hat.

“American Demo” is powerful, angry, funny (yes kids they do have a sense of humour) poignant, honest, thought provoking, at times incredibly moving, and utterly brilliant. At the end of the day (sporting cliché alert) what more can you ask for from pop music? The Indelicates tackle challenging subjects with a lightness of touch and a subtlety, which, at times, make the Manic Street Preachers tendency for heavy-handed overwrought bombast appear about as consequential as a 2 Unlimited single. They have certainly raised the stakes, and posed the question- can this album be bettered in 2008? –Or is “Everything that follows a footnote?” We shall see, purchase “American Demo,” you won’t be disappointed and of course you could well contribute towards making The Indelicates uncomfortably fashionable.

Phew! An Indelicates review that doesn’t mention the famous PD’s –Polka Dots or Pete Doherty, …Oh… erm…… …

“American Demo” By The Indelicates
Weekender Records
Release date 14th April 2008

Rating 10/10

 Video

“America” By the Indelicates