Liverpool Sound City Part 2 – Emmy The Great, Kurt Vile, The Jezabels.

Sound City Liverpool 2011 Review

And so on to part two of our Liverpool Sound City round-up.

(PART 1 featuring The Good Natured, Pete And The Pirates and Let’s Buy Happiness can be found HERE

And it’s our first rant of the festival !  😉

Emmy The Great @ Parr Street Studio2.

‘A Woman, A Woman, A Century of Sleep ‘ By Emmy The Great.

 With such a varied and eclectic mix of musicians performing over three days and festival wrist bands enabling fans and industry types to dip in and out of gigs at numerous venues, it’s perhaps inevitable that at some stage you will come across most music fans number one bugbear. I talk of course of the cretinous, boorish, bassoon voiced simpletons who think it’s perfectly fine to talk through an artist’s set at a volume that makes Brian Blessed’s  thunderous, booming baritone come across as a breathy, camp, high pitched whisper. Nobody expects unwavering reverential silence but there’s a fine line between a lively, vibrant atmosphere and downright rudeness.

At Emmy The Great’s performance in Parr there were times when the latter defiantly applied. It’s discourteous not only to the artist but also to fans who are there for the music. So irritated were we with this sort of behaviour, we have started our own  “Talk When Artist’s Terminate Songs’ campaign or  ‘T.W.A.T.S’  if you prefer. It  basically sets out to inform droning bores on gig going etiquette and it can be downloaded HERE. We welcome any further suggestions, as this is by no means a definitive list. (Email us here.)

The constant chatter in some quarters did somewhat taint our enjoyment of Emmy’s set, which was a shame because she’s  a lovely person and extremely talented and this was our first chance to hear songs from her soon to be released second album ‘Virtue.’  On the positive side, what we did hear suggested that this album could match or even surpass her  debut and former VPME album of the yearFirst Love.’ We chatted with Emmy after the gig and she seemed unruffled by the lack of manners displayed by the few.  We also met Sean Adams from Drowned In Sound and he too shared our annoyance at this seemingly growing trend of inane, invasive, chatter at gigs. (Emmy The Great Interview HERE)


Kurt Vile In Liverpool.

Portrait By Matt Thomas.

Kurt Vile @ The Kazimier.

‘Jesus Fever’ By Kurt Vile.’

Later we joined Sean for the D.I.S. curated gig at the excellent Kazimier venue, primarily to see Kurt Vile And The Violators. Despite a few technical difficulties Kurt’s set was a much louder affair thanwe’d anticipated based on the studio version of his latest album ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’. Live Kurt’s sound  was a revelalation. His  laconic drawl, residing somewhere between a young Bob Dylan and a ‘medicated’ Evan Dando was still in evidence but the  rootsy guitar plucking was replaced by a much louder sonic experience, veering  towards Loop and even a stoner style My Bloody Valentine wall of sound, which was as impressive as it was unexpected. The venue itself was an excellent setting for Kurt’s introspective, off the wall songs in front of an appreciative audience.


The Jezabels @ Heebie Jeebies and Parr Street Studios.

Haley Mary - The Jezabels By Matt Thomas @Heebee JeeBees Liverpool

Photo By Matt Thomas.

“Easy To Love” By The Jezabels.

The Australian music industry’s early afternoon barbecue at Heebie Jeebies was buzzing, the lure of  free food to soak up the previous night’s hangovers certainly provided a draw, as of course did the promise of some top quality music. Top of our  ‘to see’  list  was The Jezebals, we’d recently described them as a band on the cusp of greatness in a  panel piece for Music Week  regarding their fabulous UK debut single  ‘Hurt Me’  (READ HERE)  and as a live proposition they really did blow peoples socks off.  The focal point is Hayley Mary’s amazing voice that swoops and soars and is as on occassion as  dark and  dramatic as  Kate Bush as strident as Siouxsie , but is never histrionic, self indulgent or warble-mungeous in the style of  Florence. But if Hayley’s vocals are what draws you in, you soon discover what fantastic musicians the  band are with thunderous drumming, great keyboard riffs and Sam Lockwoods massive guitar licks, this is undoubtedly a band going places. Hayley herself described her band mates as the best musicians she’s ever heard and  the audience, many who may have been here purely for the food, were soon transfixed by the band . We also caught up with them later at Parr Street Studio’s and the response was equally enthusiastic.

Photo By Matt Thomas.

So that was Sound City 2011, the best one yet for us, and not a Beatles tribute band in sight (unless you count Cast 😉 ho,ho!  ). As we made our way home to brave ‘The Walking Dead’ on the night bus, we met a Liverpudlian in exile who had travelled back to the city for the first time in years.  He worked in the music industry and  explained he had become disillusioned with the insular attitude, the dreary self indulgent Scouse muso retro wankery, which he felt had strangled and stagnated the music scene  here for years. He had also tired of the City’s music promoters figuratively cutting each other’s throats instead of working together. Sound City had opened his eyes  enabling him to see how things have moved on and what great venues are now dotted around the city. Slightly worse for wear but with genuine emotion he told us  “the last three days, have made me fall in love with music and my home city all over again. That’s what I’ll take from Sound City.” And really,  that’s what it’s all about, we rather felt the same, indeed the first thing we did upon arriving home on the final night was to update our facebook status with four words “People Are F***ing Great’.  And maybe those two simple anecdotes neatly encapsulate the entire spirit of  Sound City 2011?

See you next year.

Liverpool Sound City 2011 The Aftermath

Heebie Jeebie Cout Yard By Matt ThomasThanks To Matt Thomas for the photos, where credited  and be sure to check out his website here for some amazing musical photography.


Tears, Fears and Beers – Help Stamp Out Loneliness Interview.

Help Stamp Out Loneliness - The VPME - Interview - 2011‘Record Store‘ By Help Stamp Out Loneliness.

Help Stamp Out Loneliness formed when  indie popsters ‘Language Of Flowers’ disbanded in 2007 after  Bentley Cooke (guitar) and Colm McCrory (bass) decided enough was enough and maybe it was finally time to seek the more settled life on civvy street. Being stoic chaps they didn’t seek rehab or counselling, no, they simply went cold turkey turning their back on the C86 lifestyle and settled into mainstream ‘normality’… or so it seemed. For despite integrating themselves into polite society the allure of indie pop was proving a difficult beast to resist and whilst they were indulging in the odd Pimms or two and lunching in La Tasca they craved pear cider and festival mud. The thought of wearing a suit  symbolised  a  strait-jacket, a tie represented a  noose,  and they would suddenly awaken bolt upright in the dead of night with  new ideas for songs-  Something had to give,  and before long, like an indie Jake and Elwood Blues, they resolved to put a band back together. They recruited Ben Ambridge on drums, Louise Winfield on organ, pianist Kath McMahon, not surprisingly on  piano and when the final piece in HSOL jigsaw arrived  in the sophisticated form of  Nico-esque singer D.Lucille Campbell, a new band with a symmetrical gender ratio was born.

On May the ninth in the year of our lord 2011, Help Stamp Loneliness are finally set to  release their debut album, a beautiful bitter-sweet, collection of  shimmering songs, aching melancholy and intelligent literate modern-day poetry set against jangling guitars and giddy keyboard swirls . Such is the uplifting nature of many of the melodies you may initially be oblivious to the darker lyrical content which only truly reveals itself after repeated listens. The album contains themes ranging from obsessive pop star stalkers (inspired by The King Of Comedy) ,  the dying embers of doomed relationships, beer gardens and   alfresco sex,  all presented within a lovely whirling fuzzed up, kraut-pop, lounge- gaze shell.  Think Camera Obscura meets St Etienne meets the Wedding Present at the Star and Garter, with a dash of Belle & Sebastian.

Album Rating 8.5/10

We had a chat with Bentley and D.Lucille about the new album, the indie life and um,  David Gest!


VP:  Hello! So in time honoured fashion tell us about the bands inception.   I believe the ‘Star and Garter’ played a significant role?

BENTLEY: Colm (bass) and I (guitar) were in Language of Flowers together and when that finished we put up adverts on the Manchester Gumtree for people to join us. Ben (drums) joined first; he then brought along his girlfriend Louise (organ) who subsequently brought in her friend Katherine (piano).  We auditioned about 30 singers before we finally found D.

D. LUCILLE: I had fantasised about being in a band for a while so I advertised myself on Gumtree and received a message from Bentley via MySpace asking to meet up with me.  We got together in this tiny Cuban bar in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.  Bentley was stood propping up the bar with his oversized cowboy boots and a Hawaiian shirt, I thought, I can take this guy on!

BENTLEY: As for the significance of the S&G … I’d been going to their ‘Smile’ club night since I was 15/16.  Nobody can doubt the influence it’s had on Manchester’s indie community – it needs a blue plaque – although Derm (the owner) would be the first person to rip it down.   I remember I had to put my mam’s mascara on my bum-fluff sideburns to get past Derm and Andy (the S&G bouncer).

VP:  And the band name? What made you go for that? Stonewall Jackson? Nancy Sinatra?

BENTLEY: Colm’s a big fan of Nancy Sinatra and he was thinking of starting a night in London with Tara from Language of Flowers but I convinced him it would be a better name for a band.  Some girl I met on a train down to London the other day told me she thought we sounded like Emo-Rockers.  I can kind of see her point

VP: You’ve been around a while and your debut album is imminent (9th May) How did it work for you? Did you have a lot of studio time, or was it recorded quickly. Did you have any trouble deciding which tracks would go on the album?

BENTLEY: We’ve been around for almost 4 years – we started in early 2007 – D. Lucille joined us about a year after that and that’s when we started really writing and gigging.  Most of the album is recorded in my box bedroom, Ben and Louise’s front room and assorted warehouses in and around the city centre.  We’re a pretty tight arsed bunch so we just decided we’d record it ourselves and get Woodie Taylor (Comet Gain) to produce it.

D. LUCILLE:  We had to experiment in different places to find out what worked for us and found that Bentley’s box worked best. With ginger pussies and a honky tonk piano at hand to stroke, who could ask for more?

BENTLEY: My box is the best and don’t forget it!  As for the tracks we devised an experiment where we all wrote which songs should go on the album and in which order – when we revealed our choices to each other everyone’s list was the same – there were never any arguments about the track listing.  There were arguments about everything else … but not the track listing.

VP: You certainly have some interesting song titles and inspirations ‘Torvill And Dean’ for example and more recently a song referencing welsh boxer  Jimmy Wilde ‘The Ghost With The Hammer in His Hand’, would it be fair to say your lyrics are somewhat darker than the pop harmonies would suggest?

BENTLEY: Thank you.  Every song on the album is bittersweet – it may begin innocent and naïve but it’ll soon turn the wrong way down a one way street.  I like a twist in the plots of films so why not have one in songs too?  I’m not sure what D. Lucille thinks of all this but I feel it’s much easier inherit a character to tell your stories.  Pop music works on two levels – melody and content.  Just because a song has a catchy hook doesn’t necessarily mean it should have mundane lyrics.

VP:  So  is D.Lucille  really friendly with David Gest? Will he be coming along to The Deaf Institute anytime soon?

BENTLEY: No, a hack from the Manchester Evening News made that up.  D. was just doing some performance with Gest in London and this ‘journalist’ decided to run with it and invented some story about them going out for dinner to fulfill his copy targets.

D. LUCILLE: I serenaded David Gest in St John’s Wood.  He grinned and shimmied whilst clicking his fingers. I think he liked it.

BENTLEY: See what I have to deal with?  The entire piece was a complete and utter fabrication.

VP: What sort of music influenced you growing up?

BENTLEY: I was always fascinated by female pop singers in the 80s. I still listen to Kate Bush, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Bananarama and Kim Wilde a hell of a lot and obviously it was hard to ignore the Stone Roses when you grew up in Manchester.  In the early 90s I got into 4AD, Sub Pop and Too Pure and heard the likes of the Afghan Whigs, Belly and Stereolab … they really shape the way I put songs together.  When I met Colm he played me Colourbox and St Etienne and from there I fell in love with AR Kane.  The rest of the band’s influences aren’t as apparent on the album as mine and D. Lucille’s but – yeah – we all know our records.

D. LUCILLE:  I listened to Adam Ant, Bowie, The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, Siouxsie, Kate Bush and had a bit of a fascination with Robert Palmer during puberty.  Early Suede saved me during the difficult times.  My taste has developed slightly; my love of Marmite voices has me listening to John Grant, Vashti Bunyan, CocoRosie, Diamanda Galas, Tim Buckley and Wild Nothing.  I adore The Associates, Moondog, Magazine, The Magnetic Fields, Beach House and Amanda Palmer.

BENTLEY: Don’t forget Cock Robin.

VP: Since forming Help Stamp Out Loneliness what have been your highlights thus far?

BENTLEY: I really enjoyed playing at London ‘PopFest’ a month or so ago – we’re just pretty lucky to be involved in a huge gang of like minded musicians, writers, labels, kitten kuddling kunts, etc.  Like SHRAG I’m not always sure how snugly HSOL fit into the indie-pop community but I still love it.  They’re our family now.

D. LUCILLE: For me Hamburg’s ‘Hit the North’ and London’s ‘Popfest’ topped all of the mind blowing moments so far.  I think we’ve almost persuaded the KKK at last.

VP: You are one of a growing army of bands who have stated you rarely use Myspace these days, where did all go wrong ? What’s your ‘social network’ poison (if any) these days ?

BENTLEY: Whoever redesigned MySpace needs to be given fifty lashes and called a “rotter”.  It’s impenetrable.  I couldn’t even work out how to find our band emails or update anything.  The only good thing about it is that Murdoch (who bought Myspace in 2005) is left looking like a spare prick at a wedding.

D. LUCILLE:  I think the rotter should be given fifty eyelashes and asked to stick them all on at once. Work than one out Murdoch!

VP: What have you got planned for the rest of 2011?

BENTLEY: Louise and I have started a new band called Lager & Lime (coz I like a drink and she’s a sour faced cow) and we’ll be putting out our debut single in the summer.  My wife’s having a baby so I’ll be lying low for a while after the album is launched.  Hopefully we’ll get some good gigs towards the end of the year and head over to America and Europe.  It all depends on how bad the reviews are.

D. LUCILLE: Oh let’s tempt fate.  I foresee the album doing well, live performances far and wide, smiling & confused faces, maybe a video. I have performances with Memoire and my band M coming up too and will hopefully be writing and recording too.

VP:  So…….  is it possible to maintain the indie lifestyle as you get older…. And keep your dignity?

BENTLEY: I wouldn’t class our lifestyles as being particularly indie but you are dead right – whatever dignity you have left automatically deserts you when you make that decision to get on stage.  As for the age factor – I’ll let you know when I reach 29.  Obviously I can’t speak for Colm who’s looking more and more like D. Lucille’s ‘mate’ David Gest every day.

D. LUCILLE: Here, here! I am looking more and more like Peter Pan each day!

VP:   A five word band motto……

BENTLEY: “Can We Borrow Your Equipment?” – it’s more of a plea than a motto.

D. LUCILLE: “Which part don’t you understand?”

BENTLEY: Actually – I prefer yours D.



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Question Time With – Dimbleby And Capper.

Dimbleby And Capper - Laura Bettinson-Interview - THE VPME

Let You  Go’ By Dimbleby And Capper.

‘Raise It Right’ By Dimbleby And Capper.

Laura Bettinson’s first foray into music was very much a piano based affair. But when it came to gigging around London’s numerous venues, she quickly realised that despite the popular myth, a large proportion of the capital’s pubs and clubs do not actually house  old joannas.’ Not even for the purpose of enabling  pearly kings and queens to congregate and roar spirited renditions of ‘Roll Out The Barrel’ with the sort of florid faced gusto that would induce nostalgic tears to tumble forth from Richard Curtis’ rose tinted eyes.  Furthermore Laura also discovered that hauling bulky musical equipment (such as a stage piano) on to the London tube was no easy matter. She needed a re-think and eventually decided to form her own musical haulage company, ‘Dimbleby and Capper’ in order to transport her equipment around venues and….erm, ok, ok  some of the above may not quite be one hundred percent accurate. However Laura did re-think her situation and discovered that working with electronic paraphernalia, not only presented a compact solution to her equipmental logistical conundrum, but that it also pushed her song writing into different and arguably more exciting experimental territory.

After opting to release her songs under the rather random pseudonym of Dimbleby and Capper  she has enjoyed considerable critical praise and underground success. Her music is an eclectic mixture of tribal beats, quirky electro samples, bleeps and a fusion of sound that at times seem to be pulling in different directions but is held together by the musical glue that is Bettinson’s remarkable voice, one which combines the edginess of female new wave singers with a more traditional (dark) pop sensibility. She’s also managed to create a sound that is accessible yet experimental and at the same time has seen the Dimbleby and  Capper ‘concept’   morph into something of a creative collective, not only encompassing music but also fashion, design, art, D.I.Y. warehouse parties and a dance troupe!  It would seem that Bettinson is positively bursting with creative ideas and energy. After the underground success of her self released debut EP ‘Slick Maturity’ in 2009 she played The Great Escape, Latitude and Glastonbury festivals and gained something of a name for herself as a producer and re-mixer.  Dimblebly and Capper have just released a debut single ‘Let You Go’ on London Indie imprint Tape, it’s an uplifting slice of  edgy, dark, electronic pop which highlights her innovative style of song writing and should help see her expand her ever growing list of admirers.

We had a chat with her, and got that awkward first question out of the way…..


VP: Hi there, ok – so, I know you get get asked this a lot, so let’s get it out of the way and have the definitive answer….. but of all the names you could have come up with, why did you choose Dimbleby And Capper. Unless of course those happen to be your real name/s

D &C : Names of my ex-boyfriends. David and Warwick. What fellas.

VP: How did you first become involved in music and production, I guess it’s fair to say you’re a pretty technically astute person?

D &C : I first started to play around with electronics after moving to London to study and quickly finding out you can’t carry a stage piano around on the tube. I needed a way of fitting my sound into a suitcase, which was when I invested in a loopstation and some basic recording equipment and never looked back.

VP: How easy (or otherwise) is it to self release music these days, as you did with your debut in Ep ‘Slick Maturity’ . What are the advantages for an artist of being on a label these days?

D &C : I think it’s brilliant the way it is so easy to self-release music these days! But in order to do it successfully you usually need enough funds saved up to spend on a good PR team and Radio team- without those guys on side it’s easy for self-releases to go by unnoticed. For me being on a label means the load is shared. For me it’s not so much about the kudos of a label but more important to find people who you trust and can work well with knowing that they’re putting as much energy into promoting your music as you are. No matter on what level, major label or indie, if you find those people it all gets a lot easier.

VP: Your new single has just been released ‘Let  You Go’ . What’s the song about? When you first write a song, do you kind of have it fully formed in your head, or when you get in the studio do you think…actually if I add this and take that out ….how does it work for you ?

D &C : I write, record and produce all my music from a home-studio so there is no pressure on me to work on cue, I can work all night or not at all if I don’t fancy it, the songs usually evolve from a beat and mumbled top line. ‘Let You Go’ is a song inspired by my schizophrenic, now hospitalised neighbour. It’s about wrestling with the shadow of a former lover, something you can feel but can’t touch. In the verses I tried to capture that sensation of feeling something is near you but it being obscured by something, drifting in and out of focus.

VP:  Do you design all your own costumes and tell us a little about the DIY parties your involved in ?

D &C : Yes, the costumes are all made from bits and bobs either I or friends have made for me. That creativity comes out of big ambition, coupled with a lack of funding.  You make do, you find a way to make things work, you know what you’re aiming at but know that money is not a currency you can trade with. You find ways of realising the ideas in your head, come at it from a different angle- this usually means adopting this D.I.Y attitude, finding like-minded individuals that can help you.

The D.I.Y parties are a celebration of this attitude; everyone is encouraged to come in something they have made themselves, from the tiniest brooch to fully blown body suit.  It’s a great way for people to unlock a part of their personality they may not regularly tap into or a chance for people to showcase pieces they have been working on.

VP:  What sort of musical artists are you inspired by?

D &C: All sorts. I love 1950s doo-wop, the carefree nature of it all. I love the forlorn 1960s girl group ballads and Phil Spector’s production in general. I’m inspired by a lot of electronic artists, Bjork, The Knife, Laurie Anderson. Strangely enough one of the albums that sound-tracked my childhood was Paul Simon’s Graceland. A good melody or a ballsy female vocal always inspires me.

VP:  What are your plans for the rest of the year?

D &C : Plans are to play some shows over the summer and then release another single September time, we’ve got a couple more video shoots lined up and I’m hoping to finish work on a side-project I’ve been working on with a UK producer and couple of chaps from LA before the year is out. D&C album to come early 2012.

VP:  How do you listen to music these days? Ipod, on line, Cd, Radio ? What’s your preference?

D &C : Online. Never CD. Sometimes iPhone if I’m out and about. Radio (MLR, Metro Love Radio- you’ve gotta check it out, it’s THE ONE) if I’m driving.

VP:  One song you wish you’d written and why?

D &C : Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit. Why? It has an immediate imagery and a raw vocal, which always appeals to me. It’s one of those songs that moves you somewhere instantly and keeps you there for 2:31.

VP: If you could sum up your ethos in five words…

D &C : Get. On. With. It….Now.




Official Site


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‘The Ex-Ex’ – ExLovers Interview.

ExLovers interview on The Von Pip Musical Express 2011

Free download – ‘Moth-Eaten Memories’ By Exlovers.

Blowing Kisses’ By Exlovers.


As a conscientious blogger every feature obviously requires a degree of research, a re-checking of a few basic facts, possibly re- listening to a bands back catalogue, hacking their phones, rummaging through their wheelie-bins, and in this case quite literally interviewing ex-lovers. Standard News International procedure really (allegedly!) When preparing for this particular feature I was somewhat perturbed by one nugget of information I’d unearthed, it stated that north London quintet Exlovers had formed in late 2009. This struck me as odd because I first came across the band in early 2009, supporting Emmy The Great in Liverpool. Just shows you, you can’t trust the net and great band they may be, but I’m not entirely convinced they have quite mastered the art of bending time and space just yet. On that cold night in February 2009 they produced a hugely enjoyable set, put up with my ramblings and as a result I’ve followed their releases with an interest that has generally been equaled only by my enjoyment ever since. A truly f*cking great band who share this blog’s ethos  – ‘Don’t ever make music if the main aim is to make money from it. Do it because you love it and that will be the reward.’

Some things in life seem inevitable; a Tory government will always put Rupert Murdoch’s wishes ahead of the public interest, every time Liam Gallagher opens his gargantuan mouth his Lilliputian brain disengages and a stream of verbal diarrhoea issues forth, and  bloggers and journalists will always strive to describe music via ‘the comparison.’ Thus musicians will always be compared to artists from times gone by and Exlovers have certainly been compared to many. Elliot Smith, Teenage Fan Club, The Cure, Belle and Sebastian are just a few of the names that have been bandied about when trying to describe the band’s sound. And so in the spirit of this great tradition, let me add to this ever growing list and humbly suggest that their latest single ‘Blowing Kisses’ sounds a little 4AD vs Blast First, or if you prefer, Pale Saints jamming with Dinosaur Jr. This, I’m sure you will agree, is a whole world of good.  They’ve also been described as breezy, whimsical and dreamy, again this is true to a degree but there’s much more substance to them than to be simply constrained by these somewhat tired clichés. There’s a kind of bruised poetic nobility about Exlovers music, bittersweet, heartfelt, honest and eloquent. They produce songs which give hope and inspiration to the lovelorn and the lost, and although their world view may suggest they have experienced their fair share of heartbreak and emotional turmoil, Exlovers are not devoid of optimism, for within their shimmering melodies there is the hope of brighter days ahead.

The band grew round the initial nucleus of singer and songwriter Peter and guitarist Chris, both from the Cornish fishing town of St Ives and both relocated to London. Pete already had written a clutch of songs inspired by everything from the Beatles to punk and after being introduced to co-singer Laurel the three of them began recording demos. The songs started to take shape, juxtaposing the fragile vocals of Laurel and Peter with the sometimes frenetic guitar work of Chris and soon the trio became a quintet with the addition of Brooke on drums and Danny on bass. Exlovers were ready to step out into the world.

After a string of well received singles the bands fourth release ‘Blowing Kisses’ is about to drop and they have also been putting the finishing touches to their debut album at Rockfield Studios in Wales with Demian Castellanos and Jimmy Robertson (Florence and the Machine, Big Pink) which is set for release later this year.

We had a chat to the ‘reclusive’ Peter about the bands progress to date.


VP:   You have a new single out  ‘Blowing Kisses’ what’s the song about? Heartbreak, betrayal, lust, yearning? Would you say your lyrics are mainly auto biographical?

PETER: It’s about the failure to commit to someone and the unconscious will to destroy your relationships. Yes, to different degrees they are all auto biographical.

VP: And you’re currently recording your debut album? How are you enjoying the process and what can we expect from it? Will it include older tracks such as ‘Photobooth’ and ‘Just A Silhouette’

PETER: We’re most of the way through recording the album now. It has been really enjoyable but also quite draining for me personally. It’s mostly new material though it will include some older songs like the ones you mentioned and they have all been revised and re-recorded for the album.

VP: Peter, performing in front of 100’s, pouring out intimate emotions and thoughts may seem an odd choice for somebody who is often described to as a loner and  ‘a bit of a recluse.’ Do you get fazed by performing live or do you kind of lose yourself in the music?

PETER: Sometimes it can be a daunting prospect especially if I’m not feeling particularly stable-minded but I’m capable of enjoying myself too and when there’s an audience of people who are receptive and encouraging it can be a beautiful experience.

VP: It’s said that during your earlier gigs you had to use public transport carrying your equipment, have you reached the point whereby you can now use a tour bus?

PETER : Thankfully yes, things are a little easier for us now.

VP: Your singles always seem to have quite striking art work, they kind of remind me of The Smiths cover art.  Who produces or selects the images and what do you look for in an image? Is it something that may resonate within the context of the song or do you just go for images that appeal aesthetically?

PETER:  It’s something I do with my friend Danny. Not really sure what it is we look for a lot of the time but if we find an image that seems in keeping with the tone and mood of the music then we go with it. Quite a lot of the images that we’ve used are people that I know and people who have made some kind of imprint on the music.

VP: What are your plans for 2011?

PETER: For me the main priority is the album, we’re all really looking forward to releasing it. I imagine we will be doing a fair amount of touring etc too.

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

PETER:  Making the album I think. It would be difficult to single out any particular shows that we’ve especially enjoyed as there have been quite a number of them now.

VP: What’s been your weirdest experience as a band?

PETER: Making the last video [Blowing Kisses] was quite a strange experience. We had people standing in front of us the whole time holding leaf blowers and blasting petals, dust and anything else that happened to be floating around directly into our faces whist we performed a song.

VP: Name one  artist [and/or album] that each of you has been massively influenced by – and why?

PETE:  Sparklehorse.

I always find it very difficult to explain why I feel the way I do about certain music. I wouldn’t know where to begin with Sparklehorse, there’s too much to talk about.

DANNY: Pixies.

Explaining why someone likes the Pixies is like trying to explain what the colour Blue looks like.

BROOKE:  Belle and Sebastian.

Their albums have been a constant soundtrack to my life for the last decade.

CHRIS: Blink 182, Dude Ranch.

I loved that album when I was young and it was pretty much the sole reason I started playing guitar.

LAUREL:  PJ Harvey.

I love her. She’s opened doors for female musicians simply by getting on with it and doing it bloody well. She is ace.



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‘Blowing Kisses’ – Exlovers

‘You Forget So Easily’-Exlovers.

Songs To Learn And Sing – The Barettas – Touche

The Barettas From Canada

‘Touche’ By The Barettas.


Today’s featured song comes from a  pulsating,  punchy, pretty, post punk, power pop, pulchritudinous posse (how’s that for alliteration!!) or The Barettas for short. Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and definitely not to be confused with dire all girl rock band the Berettas from the UK, they have just released their first single ‘Touche’ as a free download. It’s  implausibly catchy in a Gwen Stefani meets the Libertines wrestling The Donnas at  CBGB’s kinda way.

They’ve opened for the likes  New York Dolls, Juliette Lewis, and She Keeps Bees but to be honest we don’t know too much about the band other than what lead singer Kate tells us –  ‘Our first 7 inch ‘Touche’ is very much a product of our surroundings, with two rough edged pop numbers giving a glimpse of where we’ve been and where we’re headed!’ There are no trust funds in Hamilton, so each of us has taken on a couple jobs, usually a combination of cleaning houses during the day, and tending bar at night. The reward and real purpose for these jobs is that it lets us make music and blow off steam at every other possible opportunity.’


Band Camp

Songs To Learn And Sing – The Agitator – ‘Say No’

The Agitator - Say No! The Von Pip Musical Express

‘Say NO!’ By The Agitator

With some notable exceptions,(Frank Turner, The Indelicates, The King Blues) the protest singer and protest song seem to have been strangely absent from pop culture of late, odd given the current dire political situation in the UK.  Step forward 24 year old Derek Miens, accompanied by Robert Dylan Thomas and T-Train,  operating under the musical nome de plume of  The Agitator.  Mein’s  influences include George Orwell, Noam Chomsky, and  James Kelman, so far so good, the band also have strict  ‘no guitar policy’ – “Guitars are for decadent, capitalist sissies!’ Hmm not sure about that one but it’s an amusing quote and we rather like outspoken bands, unless of course said outspoken band happen to be the wretched ‘Brother.’

February will see the release of The Agitator’s third single ‘Say NO!’ A tribal call to arms, fused with Mein’s authentic rock n roll snarl and backed by thundering drums. It sounds genuinely angry, as you might expect from a band who list their best gig as one they played for students during the recent UCL occupation in December.  All in all ‘Say NO! Is powerful, stirring anthem for the disaffected and one which begs the question, do we dance or do we march?

Sounds like? Elvis meets Phil Ochs at the barricades to inspire  a new generation of dissent.

An Introduction to No-isim

Songs To Learn And Sing – James Vincent McMorrow- ‘This Old Dark Machine.’

James Vincent McMorrow

‘This Old Dark Machine‘ By James Vincent McMorrow

Listening to Irish singer songwriter James Vincent McMorrow’s debut album you wouldn’t think he’d been raised on hardcore punk or found inspiration in the production of hip-hop acts such as The Neptunes and Timbaland.  His atmospheric vocals conjure up the ghost of Jeff Buckley and  today’s ‘Song To Learn And Sing,’ entitled  “This Old Dark Machine” showcases his gentle, airy soulful vocals combined with  dark poetic lyrics.

Like Bon Ivor before him,  James too found solitude good for the soul and retreated to an isolated house by the Irish Sea to focus on making a record. The resulting album “Early In The Morning” is a multi layered, atmospheric master class in gentle, lilting folk tinged ballads centring around ‘“the darker, less spoken about aspects of life, solitude and disillusionment.”    He also has a beard and often looks off wistfully into middle distance as if pondering the imponderable,  as all great poetic singer songwriters are want to do.

Sounds like ? –  The shyer silbing of  Messers Crosby  Stills or Nash singing the works of John Stienbeck.