The VPME Podcast Episode 6 – October 2011

The VPME Podcast - October 2011 Episode 6

The VPME Podcast, featuring the best music from the past present and future! Curated by Andy Von Pip whose unique upbeat, effervescent presenting style has been compared to Eeyore the donkey in a coma on a wet Tuesday in Hartlepool

…. With special guest appearances from Dum Dum Girls, Sarah Nixey, Howling Bells, Kyla La Grange, Lush and loads more.

Listen below or on Mixcloud here

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Howling Bells ‘The Loudest Engine’ Special – Album,Gig and Interview.


‘The Loudest Engine ‘Special.

Juanita Stein-Howling Bells - The Von Pip Musical Express.

“Baby Blue” By Howling Bells.

The Album –“The Loudest Engine.”

The problem with producing a flawless debut album widely regarded by many as a genuine classic, is that there will always be those who demand that subsequent albums endlessly repeat variations on the same theme.  To adopt such a narrow-minded viewpoint means refusing to accept that for artists, exploring different musical directions is all part of the creative process.  This appears to be the reaction Australia’s finest musical exports, Howling Bells have garnered from certain areas of  an increasingly capricious musical press and as such may be forgiven for believing that producing such an immaculate debut has become something of a double-edged sword.  Their sophomore album ‘Radio Wars received a decidedly unenthusiastic critical reception with many reviewers appearing disappointed that the band hadn’t rigidly adhered to the musical template set down on album number one.

However it’s highly unlikely that a selection of ill conceived, luke-warm reviews would have changed ‘the Bells’ approach when it came to writing and recording their third album.  If you exist only to seek the approval of others than invariably you will lose your way as an artist.  Singer Juanita Stein describes the band’s latest album ‘The Loudest Engine’  as “a modern psychedelic record more folk and rock than our last two albums” which “will change people’s perspectives of the band.”   The album is a seductive, edgy and at times downright explosive affair, and sees the band come out with all guns blazing assisted by  Mark Stoermer (of The Killers) on production duties. ‘The Loudest Engine’ defiantly has a trippier vibe in comparison to  the post apocalyptic sound of “Radio Wars” or the sinister, claustrophobic goth-country of their debut, but rest assured the band haven’t been ingesting huge quantities of acid and communing with animal spirit guides whilst recording the album in the Nevada desert.  Whilst it’s an album that rocks it’s not what you’d call an out-and-out rock album, and despite some mightily impressive guitar jams it still retains that magical, ethereal quality that make Howling Bells such an intriguing and beguiling proposition. They inhabit a world were innocence and wonder are seemingly stalked by an unseen, intangible darkness.   Songs such as  “Into The Sky,”Don’t Run,” “Sioux,” “The Faith” and “Baby Blue” all serve notice that you write Howling Bells off at your peril on an album that delivers from start to finish and plays to the bands many strengths.  Juanita’s vocals veer between coquettish seduction and strident imperiousness whilst the band demonstrate just what a formidable musical unit they have become, deftly mixing light and shade with subtlety and raw power.  A great album from a wonderful band who I hope continue to make the music THEY want to make for many years to come.



The Gig.

Juanita And Joel Stein - Howling Bells - The Von Pip Musical Express

Manchester’s Academy 3 plays host to the last gig of Howling Bells mini tour to promote ‘The Loudest Engine’ and finds the band on spectacular form.  Juanita is almost impish as she somewhat coyly charms the audience and the natural camaraderie that is apparent between the band members combined with the obvious love displayed for their craft immediately translates to an enthusiastic audience. Tonight’s set list, somewhat surprisingly, contains only one song from the ‘Radio Wars’ album, the epic Orwellian ‘Cities Burning Down’ as the band instead decide to weave some choice cuts from their debut album with new material.  Live, the slow burning folk rock, torch song “Sioux” takes on mystical quality with Juanita transforming herself into some sort of ethereal high priestess, whilst the album’s title track sees Joel wigging out with some incredible guitar licks. In many ways ‘The Loudest Engine’ makes perfect sense live, giving the band plenty of scope to ‘rock out.’  The evenings entertainment is drawn to a fitting conclusion  with an encore that  includes a thunderous version of  the classic ‘Low Happening,’ and new song ‘Live On’  as once again Howling Bells  demonstrate just why they are still one of the best live acts around. Long may they continue to chime!

 Howling Bells - The Von Pip Musical Express


Howling Bells Set-list Manchester 20/09/2011

A quick word about opening act Cold Specks, the conduit through which Canadian singer songwriter Al  Spx performs. With a voice imbued with more soul than New Orleans , Al mesmerised the audience and by the end of the set had them shouting for more, which is quite a rare thing for a support band.  Ones to watch for sure 😉

 The Von Pip Musical Express

“Holland “ by Cold Specks.

Photo slide show

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The Interview.

Howling Bells Brendan-Picchio--Answers-The-Big-Questions--The-Von-Pip-Musical-Express

Brendan Picchio wrestles with 'the big questions'

Prior to The Manchester gig, we went backstage and had a chat with Brendan Picchio, the Howling Bells bassist about the album, stadium gigs, the kindness of Chris Martin, Juanita’s impromptu Alice Cooper impression and life on the road.

VP:  Would you say the intention behind the new album was to do something very different from Radio Wars, to take another musical leap so to speak?  

BRENDAN: I guess you’d hope every album is a progression of sorts.   It was a long writing process  for ‘The Loudest Engine’ a lot of it done on the road, but rather than progress or move forward I think the predominant feeling was to make a  record that was true and honest and from the heart. After all there are only 12 notes on the music spectrum,  there have been thousands of bands from The Beatles through to the present day, and maybe there’s a feeling that everything’s been kind of done before.  I think we accomplished what we set out to achieve, at the time we were all in a very good head space, very happy, positive and emotionally connected as a band.

VP:  As a band you seem to straddle genres and I think the critics find it hard to pigeonhole you, but you’ve always managed to produce music that has a slight darkness imbued within… Juanita said this record sounds 70’s tinged and psychedelic which happened almost accidentally?

BRENDAN:  Yeah I think some of tension, musically speaking comes from Joel’s guitar playing which has certain intensity to it.  With regard to the album Juanita’s right to a degree, in terms of this album technically speaking we went for a kaleidoscope kind of sound, but it also has a raw airy feel to it. We were very inspired by The Doors documentary we’d watched just before going into the studio. I remember before recording Joel sent an email saying ‘No way am I doing this album unless we record it to tape’ and everyone’s like ‘get the fuck out of here, everything’s on digital these days’. Then the next day Mark [Stoermer–producer] said ‘Hey guys I’ve found a tape machine!’ And that was it!  We went old school and recorded to tape, we did like maybe four takes, listened, picked one, overdubs, done!  It was basically the band in the room playing takes which was really a lot of fun.

VP:  Your debut album was quite rightly universally praised, did this lead to any kind of pressure when making subsequent albums, a weight of expectation perhaps?

BRENDAN:  I didn’t feel any pressure personally as I tend not to think that way but I think maybe some of the guys in the band may have done.  Mind you when we get in the studio it’s just four people trying to make a record to the best of our ability. We generally don’t read reviews as it’s just an opinion, I mean hell, I don’t even trust my own opinion sometimes [laughs]. All I can say is we put our hearts and soul into what we do, and if someone doesn’t like out heart and soul – well…. fuck ‘em !  [laughs]. If you try to concoct some sort of idea of what people are expecting of you it’s never gonna be true and honest. It’s like being with your wife or girlfriend and trying to figure out what she wants you to say rather than what you genuinely feel.

VP: So how did Mark Stoermer from the Killers get involved in producing the album?

BRENDAN:  He’s a genuinely lovely guy; he’s here tonight, I’ll introduce you, we’ve toured with them a few times already and they are very quiet guys. Mark actually seemed initially to be the most serious. In fact the first impression you get is maybe he doesn’t want to talk to anyone, he wants to be left alone or he’s upset about something and you best stay away.  It’s strange how things happen but it turned out that Mark was the guy we got on with the best. It was funny because when we flew over to Vegas to meet Mark our flight was seriously delayed and we didn’t get in till midnight. Mark had been waiting for us at the airport arranging stuff for us, since like 10 AM !  I mean this guy could get anyone to do this for him, but there he was getting his hands dirty and doing it himself. When we arrived he was all smiles, hugging us, cracking jokes and we were like ‘Who the fuck is this guy!”  [laughs]  It was there where we really forged our relationship. He’s a fantastic human being and I loved his style of working, it was very free and natural, lots of jams happened, it was a real pleasure.

VP:  On the title track, ‘The Loudest Engine’ it took me a while  to extract the meaning from the lyrics but apparently it’s a kind of homage or love-hate song about your relationship with your tour bus! ?

BRENDAN:  We all do that too! Try and work out what the lyrics are all about [laughs] But yes it was written by Juanita about a particular bus we were on. She’s trying to describe what it means to a band on the road, kind of like the mother ship, you respect it but also resent the time you have to spend on it.

VP: So do  you find yourself going ‘stir crazy’ at times on the tour bus ?

BRENDAN: Well we haven’t toured for two years so we have crammed in all that energy and horseplay into the last five days!  It’s been nauseating 😉  You can’t move without somebody grabbing your nether regions!  But there’s a limit and we kinda know how far we can push each other!

VP : Just before the tour you did a great session for Marc Riley on the BBC, which really wet my appetite for seeing you live again.

BRENDAN: Yeah, we’ve done a few before, but he’s a really great guy, so funny, and he certainly knows his stuff. It was a lot of fun!

VP: Fun!? . . . FUN !?  But I thought the press had pinned you guys down as ‘Alt-Goth-country- doom merchants!

BRENDAN: Ha! There’s nothing gothic about us, except maybe the debut album cover, people just love labels!

VP: Ok so prior to the album’s release you went down the “Pledge” music route and released a digital EP, what was the thinking behind that?

BRENDAN: Really we felt that as we had been away so long we wanted to reconnect with our audience, I don’t really like to use the term ‘fans.’ I mean when we played London there were about fifteen people down at the front who were at our very first gig and have stuck by us. We thought this would be a nice way to involve people without going down the traditional route of through a label and would give us a chance to have some fun.

VP: So the internet/digital age is in many ways a bitter sweet pill for bands? Great to communicate with your fans but not great for sales?

BRENDAN: It can be hard for bands, yeah, because nobody is really making that much money, so you always have to think ways of doing things. With the Pledge campaign the fans were very generous and it all went back into the band fund and enabled us to fund this tour. I mean it’s not like we pocketed it and went down the pub!  So yeah it is getting harder definitely but at the end of the day we do this for the pure love of it. Love it, or get the fuck out, that’s the choice!  Every album and tour we somehow manage to do it and I certainly hope we continue pulling cards out of our sleeves to carry on doing this because we just want to make music.

VP: You’ve seen the other side of music too, the huge tours alongside The Killers and Coldplay. How does that compare to the more intimate shows. Is it nerve wracking playing to stadium sized crowds?

BRENDAN: Luckily I don’t really get nervous; walking out in front of 15 people or 50,000 people is all the same to me. Obviously you feel more distant from the crowd due to the scale; mind you I’m always interested in other bands fans reaction to us because I believe we are a good enough band to merit people’s attention. Y’know with Juanita’s voice and the way we craft the music around it, I think it’s interesting.  But really the big tours you have to take them with a pinch of salt, and personally you reach a point when the money runs out!  Let me take you through a day on a big tour:

A limo picks us up from the apartment then drives us to an air force base; you walk through security feeling like you own the joint. These flights are amazing you can do what you like really, then you land 45 minutes later where a motorcade with police outriders picks you up takes you through security to the stadium. You then eat some good food and play a show in front of 50,000 people. You fly back ……and then realise. . . . you can’t afford a cab and have to walk back to your girlfriends place! [laughs] That certainly gives you perspective, but you get to have these incredible experiences. I wouldn’t trade my band’s history and experiences for a billion dollars.

VP: Isn’t it tempting to do a bit of mad partying on tour?

BRENDAN: We used to at first, but jeez we’re getting on, we’re in our thirties now ! These days we’re pretty clean living and probably bigger foodies than drinkers. Maybe if you were on the same level as your Coldplays you might take advantage ( not that they do) , but at our level you have to be on your toes and you don’t want to let people down. I mean every time you suck live might lose you some fans and then other people in your team have to take up the slack, I think we have too much respect for what we do to let each other down. Buy hey we still get to meet crazy people and have amazing experiences!

VP: Talking of Coldplay what was that tour like, I know other Howling Bells fans that aren’t really keen on them, but it must have been a great opportunity to get your music out to an even bigger audience?

BRENDAN: Well from our point of view we were really happy and fortunate to get the chance to be involved in such a huge production, and y’know what? They are genuinely, honestly really nice guys, seriously! Like when Juanita broke her guitar on tour and the next day a brand new one arrived wrapped with a big bow, we were like ‘Fuck! A new guitar!”  But this is how they roll. They are lovely to all their crew, seriously great guys, and they work fucking hard. So y’know you really have to respect them for that!

VP: Finally Brendan, off the top of your head, what would you say is your most memorable band moment?

BRENDAN: Jeez man, this is a tough one, so many…arrrgh…. OK I think maybe when we sold out our first headline London show at ICA and we were like ‘holy crap, we sold it out ! And I remember there was no air conditioning and my shirt was stuck to me after the gig and had to be literally peeled off my back! Juanita came off stage looking like Alice Cooper as her makeup had run down her face and her hair was plastered to her forehead!

Everybody looked disgusting, but we were on such a high, which may have been in some part due to a lack of salts and dehydration induced euphoria! We nearly died that night it was so hot but it was a great gig !

Buy The new Album here

Berndan and Juanita -Howling Bells Live - The Von Pip Musical Express

Songs To Learn and Sing – Veronica Falls, Howling Bells, Zola Jesus and Dirtblonde

This week,  Veronica Falls, Howling Bells, Zola Jesus and Dirtblonde



Veronica Falls Debut Album news - Von Pip Musical Express

 Veronica Falls  release their self-titled debut album released 17th October on Bella Union and will be touring the UK with VPME faves Dum Dum Girls in November.

“Bad Feeling” By Veronica Falls.


VPME – Six Music.

Last week we returned on all our gory (sic) to Auntie Beeb‘s  Now Playing on 6 Music Show hosted by Tom Robinson which is broadcast between 7-9pm every Friday. The overall direction of the radio show is dictated by the listeners who are encouraged to discuss, throughout the week, what’s been happening in the digital world of music via the BBC website  and social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter .  The audio may have disappeared from the BBC’s I-Player but fear not,  you can listen again below as we play The Good Natured, Prince Edward Island and Dum Dum Girls.


Howling Bells

The Bells new album “The Loudest Engine” is released on September 12th 2011 and is being streamed on their facebook page . It’s an album which Juanita describes as “a modern psychedelic record.The first (album)was about that great initial leap, the second was us exploring different waters. This one is us, all having met at one place, at one time. I think this record will change people’s perspectives of the band.”  Catch ‘em on tour, they really are fantastic live.










Zola Jesus New Single and Album - The Von Pip Musical Express 2011

Zola Jesus makes a welcome return with the release of a new single, Seekir (Oct 3rd, Souterrain Transmissions) and UK dates this November.  The single and tour follow the release of her  new album, Conatus, on September 26th .

‘Seekir’ By Zola Jesus



Dirtblonde Von Pip Musical Express

Pic By Sakura

Liverpool noise terrorists  Ivan Hell (guitar) and Lula Blue (vocals, bass) or Dirtblonde to you and I,  return with a new song ,’In Furs.’ It’s the first track to be made available online from Dirtblonde’s forthcoming ‘Token Rose’ E.P. which will be released on digital and CD formats on 6th October.

The E.P. is a taster for the band’s 2nd album, ‘Hours’, which will come out in the new year.

‘Furs’ By Dirtblonde.

Songs To Learn And Sing – Ladytron, Prince Edward Island, Howling Bells, No Ceremony,The Icarus Line.

Today we feature Ladytron, Prince Edward Island, Howling Bells, No Ceremony and The Icarus Line.


Ladytron - Gravity The Seducer,’  Album art


Let us be clear so there is no misunderstanding, I love Ladytron, their icy, hauntingly sinister goth electronica continues to fill my heart with unbridled joy. Their latest offering “Mirage” which appears on their forthcoming album,’ Gravity The Seducer,’ has reaffirmed and indeed justified my infatuation… It’s  in stores September 12 (UK) / September 13 (US).

‘Mirage’ By Ladytron.


Prince Edward Island.

Prince Edward Island

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND release their long awaited debut album ‘This Day Is A good Enough Daythrough Crocfingers Record on Monday the 29th August.  Brutal, dark scottish wit, melancholy and regret, all viewed through a fug of ciggies and beer ( or so it seems) make this an album that never fails to engage the listener. If  Belle and Sebastian had met The Band Of Holy Joy at Rehab and  decided to make an album it may sound something like this.

‘Sex in the Morning (I’m Coughing, You’re Moaning)’ By Prince Edward Island.


Howling Bells.

Howling Bells

Having more than made up for Jason Donavan and Stefan Denis, Sydney’s finest, Howling Bells release a new video, the title track from their upcoming new album The Loudest Engine, which is released September 12th 2011 and you can pre-order your copy now from










No Ceremony – Hurt Love.

It’s becoming quite the thing to release a piece of music without letting on who you are. So maybe No Ceremony should change their name to No Info because  all we know about ‘the band’ is that they come from Manchester and on the evidence of ‘Hurt Love’ they do a rather fetching line in ambient haunting choral electronica. I’d provide a link to their website, but there’s not much point as there’s probably more info here than there.

” Hurt Love” By No Ceremony


The Icarus Line.

The Icarus Line

The Icarus Line return with a new album entitled ‘Wildlife’  which is apparently inspired by fleeing “Desperation, Drugs and Record Industry scum”

King Baby – Icarus Line

Now I’ve never been much of a one for copying and pasting press releases, but Joe Cardamone’s statement with regard to  The Icarus Line’s album pretty much demands your attention!

“Wildlife presents the newest chapter in a bizarre saga of sonic ambition and utterly stubborn will. A rock n’ roll nuke followed by a couple months of radiated fallout. This record did not just make itself and get into your hands by accident today, it was written, produced and recorded under the constant threat of extinction. As we all know the bills keep coming long after the money is gone. It is another document from a distant corner of Los Angeles that believes in Rock N’ Roll music as art and religion. This collection of songs is finer than the last and those before that. We, The Icarus Line may never get to make a record again and so every record has been made as if it’s the very last one. That’s how this music is supposed to feel though isn’t it? Like a fight to survive in a musical landscape dominated by frat boys in ships clothing. If you love Iggy, If you miss Roxy Music, if you feel Funkadelic, if you need a flash of danger in your life, if you want a little lust around, if you love Rock N’ Roll music that is actually made by motivated f**k ups who had no other choice, then this is for you.


Songs To Learn And Sing – Love Scenes, Strangers, The Whip, The Good Natured, Howling Bells And Other Lives

This week : –  Love Scenes, Strangers, The Whip,  The Good Natured, Howling Bells And Other Lives.


Love Scenes.

Love Scenes -  New Album

This came via an email, and admittedly we weren’t previously aware of Love Scenes, a collaboration between two Buffalo locals, Leah Loefke & TJ Grace. They produce understated, wistful electronic indie pop in the same vein as say The Postal Service.  Their debut albumClassy Excuse for a Trashy Experience’ is available on a pay whatever you like basis HERE and is rather lovely.

‘Robot Despair’  By Love Scenes



Strangers. EP2 Cover

Dark pop trio Strangers, release their second EP on July 18th entitled, somewhat surprisingly EP2 ! (the follow up to , yes you guessed it, the critically acclaimed  EP1!)  What they may lack in terms of imagination when it comes to naming EP’s they more than make up for musically. This is glorious dark electro pop of the highest order, reminiscent of ‘Violator’ era Depeche Mode. Check out the lead track below.

It Was A Sin’ By  Strangers.


The Whip.

The Whip Announce New Album

The new album from The Whip released September 19th on Southern Fried Records. ‘Wired Together’ is available to pre-order from the band’s site at from June 13th. Those who pre-order the album will receive a five track download immediately to whet their appetites for the full version on release. They have also announced a string of dates in September.

Dates are as follows:
Wednesday 7th                   London Hoxton Bar & Grill
Friday 9th                               Glasgow King Tuts
Saturday 10th                         Manchester Ruby Lounge


‘Riot’ By The Whip


The Good Natured.

Sarah McIntosh - The Good Natured

VPME favourites The Good Natured continue our electronic themed round up with the release of their Skeleton EP , which is streamed in full below.

And a free Remix of ‘Skeleton’  below


Howling Bells.

Howling Bells Announce 3rd Album

Howling Bells will release their new album on September 12th on Cooking Vinyl.  Recorded in Las Vegas with The Killers’ Mark Stoermer producing, The Loudest Engine will be preceded by a clutch of live shows, including a London date at the Electric Ballroom on September 15th. They promise it to be a 70’s tinged psychedelic affair as they continue to explore new musical horizons… There’s a taster below…

The Loudest Engine”  By Howling Bells.


Other Lives.

Other Lives

Other Lives, are a  five-piece from Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA, are a set  to unleash their latest single ‘Tamer Animals’, which will be available to download alongside the full album, of the same name on 29th August through their label Play it Again Sam. From what we’ve heard of the album so far, it sounds like it’s going to be somewhat epic.

‘Tamer Animals‘ By Other Lives.

‘Dust Bowl II’ By Other Lives.

The VPME Awards 2009


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2009 ? How was it for you ?  In part 1 of our review of 2009 we reflect on the music that moved and inspired us and pay tribute to the musicians involved.

Album Of  The year 2009

Album Of 2009-Emmy The Great-"First Love"

1. Emmy The Great-“First Love”

Quite simply an amazing album of brutal honesty, wit and intelligence which cuts  through the big label endorsed shite like a laser. Anybody who dismisses  Emmy The Great as quirky or twee hasn’t been listening. This is an album that will still move me and make me cry  when I’m old and infirm as much as it did when I first heard it.  It’s timeless.  (Review here)

“M.I.A.” By Emmy The Great

Emmy couldn’t be with us to collect her beautiful award, hand crafted from the finest pixels, she’s gone all Mariah Carey 😉   but via her I-phone she was able to send us this rather moving victory speech…..

EMMY: “I’d like to start my acceptance speech for this prestigious and important jpeg by saying thank you. However, I literally cannot remember who any of you people are. Ever since the album came out there has been considerable Von Pip buzz and I’m afraid the attention has gone right to my head. I’m currently to be found sitting at home waiting for confirmation of my MBE and overseeing plans for a giant gold bust of my head to replace the statue of Nelson Mandela or whatever in Trafalgar Square. It’s not yet been commissioned which is weird but I guess it’s just the hectic Christmas season. On the music front, I’ve been busy firing almost everybody I know and growing my hair to the point where I can plait it like a raver.  My new album, ‘Half-Chinese Democracy’ will be out in about ten to fifteen years. Please leave me alone now. Bye.

Ps I’ve just had word from my manager, who I’ve fired, that this needs to be more grateful. Fine. Thanks. It’s a lovely trophy. I’ll put it on the mantelpiece next to all my other trophies*

*porcelain cats from Argos”

And EUEN from the band had this to say: “You know those moments when somebody says “I loved it when you.…”   Or “remember that awesome moment when you …..” or “the way you dealt with that situation was so good …..” and you have no recollection of having involvment in said praises? Well that’s how I feel with this  album “First Love” by “Emmy the Great”. I really enjoyed my supposed involvement, according to everyone who saw me there. And thanks to the Von Pip blog. If there are any other smash hit albums I’ve worked on, please, let me know.

2.Patrick Wolf -The Bachelor

Wolfs 4th album famously partly funded by donations from fans via the internet is a triumph on every level and it’s the album his obvious talent had always threatened to produce.  Like a distant male relative of Kate Bush’s ‘Hounds Of Love’ , Wolf has produced something of a Baroque masterpiece.

“Hard Times”-By  Patrick Wolf

3. Metric- Fantasies

“Fantasies” is Metric’s fourth studio album and possibly their best work to date, the sleek production has given rise to a slightly more radio friendly feel but it’s done in such a way that is unobtrusive and merely serves to help the band achieve a sound that is bold and dramatic whilst still retaining their intrinsic “Metric-ness”. (interview with Emily Haines here)

4. A Place To Bury Strangers -Exploding Head

An amazing album that combines sonic fury with an urgent adrenaline fuelled pop sensibility. They clearly don’t list bands who have influenced their sound merely to  appear ‘hip’, nope these lads have a genuine understanding of and appreciation for, bands such as  The Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. And it shows.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

5 .Howling Bells- Radio Wars

Listening to a Howling Bells album often feels like you’re being bewitched and slowly, subtly seduced, as they draw you into a world where beauty and nightmares are never far from the surface. Their songs are invariably haunting, menacing and unique, unique in the sense that you really couldn’t imagine anybody other than Juanita Stein singing them. She breaths life into each song, giving them depth, meaning and beauty, whilst the band provide the perfect stage upon which Juanita’s vocals can weave their subtle magic. (review here, interview with Juanita here

“Into The Chaos”-Howling Bells

6. The Xx- The Xx

The XX prove that less is more as their skeletal arrangements showcase songs of pristine pop beauty that need neither gimmick or the honking horns of Mark Ronson. It’s a subtle, shimmering album and may well be regarded in time as one of the great debuts.

“VCR” The XX

7.Raveonettes-In And Out Of Control

(Heart Of  Stone-The Raveonettes-below)

8. The Yeah Yeah Yeah- Its Blitz

9. Charlotte Hatherley -New Worlds

10.The Joy Formidable – A Balloon Called Moaning

(The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade-The Joy Formidable-below)

11.Florence & The Machine -Lungs

12.Fight Like Apes- And The Secret Of The Golden Medallion

13.Echo & The Bunnymen-The Fountain

14. The Boxer Rebellion-Union

15. Fanfarlo- Reservior

16.MorrisseyYears Of Refusal

17.Mumford And Sons-Sigh No More

18.Silver Sun Pickups-Swoon

19. Lisa Hannigan See-Sew

20.Bat For Lashes-Two Suns

21.Camera Obscura -My Maudlin Career

22.Biffy Cylro-Only Revolutions

23.Katsen-It Hertz

24.The Pains of Being Pure at Heart-TPOBPH

25.Animal Kingdom-Signs & Wonders

26.Theoretical Girl-Divided

27.Hockey-Mind Chaos

28. The Dead Weather-Horehound

29.Regina Spektor-Far

30.Kill It Kid -Kill It Kid

31. Paloma Faith- Do You Want The Truth or Something Beautiful?

32. Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications

33. Fever Ray- Fever Ray

34. The Thermals-Now We Can See

35. Spinnerette – Spinnerette

36. La Roux-La Roux

37. Sky Larkin-The Golden Spike

38.Bombay Bicycle Club-I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose

39. Richard Hawley-Truelove’s Gutter

40.Asobi Seksu – Hush

Single /Ep Track Of The Year 2009

Single Of The Year -Marina And The Diamonds

1.Marina And The Diamonds-I am Not A Robot

Probably listened to this song more than any other this year, personal reasons make it very special but its also a f**king great pop song from a singer who doesn’t follow the conventional rules.

2. A Place To Bury -Strangers -Keep Slipping Away

3.Metric-Gimme Sympathy

4.Julian Casablancas-11th Dimension

5.The Raveonettes-The Last Dance

6.Marina And The Diamonds-Obsessions

7.Patrick Wolf-Vulture

8.Emmy The Great-Edward Is Dedward

(re-recording below)

9.The Joy Formidable-Whirring

10.Bat For Lashes-Daniel

11.Exlovers-You Forget So Easily

12.Echo & The Bunnymen-I Think I Need It Too

13.The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart-Young Adult Friction (below)

14.Yeah, Yeah Yeahs-Zero

15.Emmy The Great-First Love

16.Patrick Wolf – Damaris

17.Metric -Help I’m Alive

18.The xx-Crystallised

19.Isa & The Filthy Tongues-Big Star (below)

20.Marina And The Diamonds-Mowgli’s Road

21.Biffy Clyro-The Captain

22.Mumford & Sons-Little Lion Man (below)

23.Hockey-Song Away

24.The Raveonettes-Bang!

25.Animal kingdom – Tin Man

Best Reissue/Compilation 2009

The Jesus & Mary Chain-The Power Of Negative Thinking

Compliation Of The Year 2009 -The Jesus And Mary Chain

“The Hardest Walk “ By The Jesus & Mary Chain

One of the biggest misconceptions about the Jesus & Mary Chain has always been that they were nothing more than dour nihilistic ‘noise terrorists’. What the “Power  of Negative Thinking” clearly demonstrates is that simply wasn’t the case.  It’s true The JAMC were often architects of their own downfall in a “business” sense but this retrospective offers proof positive that musically they have few equals. “The Power of Negative Thinking” provides 81 non Album “A side’s, plus the bands entire history of  B-sides, demos, and covers.  It showcases that the Reid Brothers were not only writers of melodious,  pristine pop songs and true iconoclasts but also reveals their rich love and understanding of rock’n’roll history and its mythology.  ‘Psychocandy’ regarded by many as their opus , may have taken Phil Spector’s musical template and beat the living shit out of it,  fusing it with guitar distortion and effects but that was only part of the JAMC’s musical legacy. Forget the riots, forget the feedback and Jim and William’s punch ups,   because these distractions should not be allowed to overshadow the Mary Chain’s  music which has stood the test of time and furnished us with songs that can rightly be regarded as  bona fide classics.   They paved the way for bands like My Bloody Valentine , Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr et all  to become media darlings and their influence is still apparent today in bands such as The Raveonettes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Gliss and a Place To Bury Strangers. The fact that they remain one of the most under-appreciated bands in music is still baffling  but for me their songs were genuinely life changing. ‘The Power of Negative Thinking’ reveals what true fans of the band have always known and is something that is rather surprisingly so often overlooked- this band has soul.  The Reid Brothers may never make it into the rock n roll hall of fame, they may have burnt too many bridges and that fact probably isn’t something they’d lose any sleep over but surely it’s about time their legend was afforded the respect it deserves. This is truly what Rock n’ Roll is all about.

Videos Of The Year

Videos Of The Year 2009

1.“I Say Fever” By Ramona Falls

Not just a great video, this is one of THE GREAT videos,we are talking of all time. Genius

2.” Mowgli’s Road” By Marina And The Diamonds

This is fantastic for many reasons but a big factor being that it was simply so unexpected. Just when you think Marina will do a straight pop video she comes up with something that is as bonkers as it is brilliant

3. “Do You Karate” By Fight like Apes

Maykay wrestling? has someone peeked inside my mind? A great video which encapsulates all the demented energy of their live performances. Great vid, great band.

Gig Of The Year

Gig Of The Year - Howling Bells

1. Howling Bells/ The Joy Formidable

review here

2. Emmy The Great/Exlovers

review here

3. Fight Like Apes

review here

4. Marina And The Diamonds

review here

Best Unsigned Band in The Universe

Run Toto Run

Run Toto Run- Best unsigned band in the UniverseA clearly overwhelmed and emotional Michael from Run Toto Run accepts his magnificent trophy on the bands behalf.

(Pop culture) Quotes Of the Year

Kevin CecilA campaign for Rage Against The Machine will not produce a non Cowell Xmas No1. Killing Paul McCartney, now that might work”

Marina Hyde (On how celebrities have infiltrated every sphere of life over the last ten years) “

This is your world,Try not to choke on it. The saddest part is that you weren’t even in a coma for that period, so future generations are going to regard you as complicit.”

And “I find it hilarious when Paris Hilton takes a ferret on the red carpet.That’s what celebrity is about. But when she wanted to go to Rwanda, I had a bit of a problem with it. In the end she didn’t get around to going because she was too, like, busy with other stuff. And look, I yield to no one in my admiration for Sharon Stone’s body of work but I just wonder if she is the right person to sort out the Middle East.”

and on Simon Cowell

“Simon Cowell has created a system in which all possible outcomes benefit him. It is a sort of anti-chaos theory: a system wherein even vast differences in initial conditions have no real effect on the outcome. The system allows for them. You could run a million different variations of the show through a Los Alamos computer the size of a barn, and the end result would always be the same: Cowell wins. In the anti-chaos of The X Factor, a tsunami of votes for a rogue act would lead to the most butterfly-like of variations in his final scenario – the difference of about 37 pence in earnings of tens of millions. The house always wins. In fact, as a business model, it makes Las Vegas look bleeding-hearted.”

JK (Read The Fanzine) If I hear La Roux’s “Bulletproof” one more time I might just be tempted to test out her claim”

Ellie GouldingCan I just say. I don’t take in the hype. EVER. I just like making music and running”

Tony Zanzibar ” Who The F**k Is Andy Von Pip”

Who The F**k- T-shirt Style Icon of the  Year : Paloma Faith

Remixes Of The Year

1.Howling Bells-Cities Burning Down ( Disco Bloodbath Effect)

2.Marina And The Diamonds-Mowgli’s Road Black Teeth Remix

3. Charlotte Hatherley-Alexander( Black n Red remix)

Hype Of the year

The Horrors (review here )

Fashion Faux pas

James Allen’s tw*tty little cloak

A Cloak ??? WHY?

Chuckle Of  The Year

Oops Upside Your Head... I Said Oops Upside Your Head

Book Of The Year (Music/Entertainment)

Marina Hyde -"Celebrity"

1.”Celebrity: How Entertainers Took Over the World and Why We Need an Exit Strategy” By Marina Hyde

2.”Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part in Its Downfall” By Luke Haines

3. ” Goodnight Jim Bob: On the Road with “Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine” By Jim Bob

Who We’d Like To See Do Well In 2010

Not necessarily  a list of who I think will be big, I mean let’s face it some of those lists do have a tendency to be a little “hipsterish”. “Look at me I predicted a band I’ve never actually heard will be HUGE in 2010! ” Of course  I could study form and forecast who would do well in 2010  but  it’s not rocket science. It roughly  follows this formula “Do they have a big f**k off PR budget? Do they have media backing and essentially  are they willing to sell their soul to Satan ?…Check ?  Well logic dictates they could do very well in 2010. Easy-peasey, I’m a regular f**king pop Nostradamus.   No, this  list  may contain some artists which do appear in the “ones to watch lists” but I have tried to actually pick bands I like, regardless whether they are tipped by the great and good. Cos I’ve got integrity, like.  “Oh hello, Sony BMG ? Ah you want a flattering  article on Mr Cowell, well I’m not sure if….HOW MUCH!…. Is that in pounds ?? ? Of course, of course , I’ll have it done by 10.30 am …No, not a problem and no don’t thank me , thank YOU!

Anyway -to the list ….(Not all are bands are brand spanking new but there are some whom  I feel  may not yet have got the recognition they deserve)

The Beatles

Lissy Trullie


A Place To Bury Strangers

The Joy Formidable

Suzuki Method

The Boxer Rebellion

Marina And The Diamonds

Hook And The Twin

Run Toto Run

Rose Elinor Dougall



Sound Of Guns

Catherine AD

The Bookhouse Boys

The Indelicates

Everybody Was In The French Resistance Now

Eliza Doolittle

Polly Mackey And The Pleasure Principle

Sweet Jane

Tigers That Talked

Sarah Blasko

Thomas Tantrum

Nicole Atkins and The Black Sea

Soft Toy Emergency

The Xx

and new kids on the block The John Moore Rock N’ Roll Trio 😉

Villains Of  The Year

Every corrupt MP who fiddled their expenses.

Greedy Bankers

and obviously…..The X Factor


The VPME Awards- Samantha

Thanks Samantha!

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Music News w/e 17/04/09

This week ….win Damien Hirst  Original Art Work, The Hours, The Von Bondies,Cutaways, Rose Elinor Dougall, Moby & David Lynch,  Howling Bells, The Lights, Catherine A.D. and A Fair Few FREE mp3’s.

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Damien Hirst, the most successful British artist of his generation, is working with his friends The Hours: designing their record sleeves, art directing their videos and releasing their new album, See The Light, on his own specially-created label.

Clicking the link below gives you the chance to win one of 20 signed litho prints of the his artwork created especially for The Hours new album sleeve. Then, on Sunday 19 April in Observer Music Monthly magazine you can enter the competition to win the original artwork – valued at £125,000 – created by Damien himself.  You can also exclusively download the track These Days from The Hours’ new album See The Light.



The Von Bondies release their third studio album ‘Love, Hate And Then There’s You‘ on Monday 4th May 2009.  It will be preceded by the single ‘Pale Bride’/ ‘Earthquake‘ on the 27th April.  The album will be available on CD & download. The single as a 7″ and download. Both will be released through Fierce Panda.

This deluxe Fierce Panda European release also comes with a bonus CD featuring five new tracks not available elsewhere.

The Album Tracklisting is as follows:
1 ‘This Is Our Perfect Crime’; 2 ‘Shut Your Mouth’; 3 ‘Pale Bride’; 4 ‘Only To Haunt You’; 5 ’21st Birthday’; 6 ‘She’s Dead To Me’; 7 ‘Chancer’; 8 ‘I Don’t Wanna’; 9 ‘Blame Game’; 10 ‘Accidents Will Happen’; 11 ‘Earthquake’; 12 ‘Modern Saints’

Shortly before the album’s release, The Von Bondies will return to the UK for a series of dates. They are as follows:

Thu 23rd – Kings College – London
Fri 24th – CAmden Crawl – London
Sat 25th – O2 Academy – Birmingham
Sun 26th – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut – Glasgow
Mon 27th – The Ruby Lounge – Manchester



Cutaways release their new single Milo of Kroton on May 11th, which is taken from their debut album Earth and Earthly Things set for release on July 6th.

The single has been spot played on Rory McConnell’s Introducing show on BBC Radio 1 and Xposure on XFM.

The Belfast band play the following dates as part of their UK tour

Tue 21st April –  Artrocker presents Cutaways @ The Buffalo Bar, 259 Upper Street, London N1. Tel: 020 7359 6191. 10.30pm. £5

Wed 22nd April – Man On The Moon, 2 Norfolk Street, Cambridge, CB1 2LF. Tel 01223 565 396. 9pm. Free admission.

Thu 23rd April –  White Hart, High Street, Corby, Northamptonshire, NN17 1UX. 9pm. Free admission.

Fri 24th April – Creative Blocks @ Big Blue Coffee Company, 47 Sadler Gate, Derby, DE1 3NQ Tel. 01332 608619. 8pm – late.  £2 before 10pm, £3 thereafter

Sat 25th April – Dickens @ No. 10 Wellgate, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, S60 2LR. Tel 01709 360006 Doors at 8pm, Cutaways live 9.10pm. £3.



New Single Start/Stop/Synchro

Start/Stop/Synchro will be released on limited, coloured vinyl through Elefant Records Singles Club on June 8th 2009. Again produced and fleshed out by Rose along with producer Lee Baker in his Brighton studio, Start/Stop/Synchro is taken from Rose’s almost completed, upcoming debut album, ‘Without Why’.

If Another Version Of Pop Song (her debut release, Guardian Guide Single of the Week) was a step away from the past. Start/Stop/Synchro sees Rose entering into a bright new beginning. Cinematic, minor key melodies, spiralling guitars, glacial keys, strings and a propulsive beat cast a brisk but not bristly sheen over a buoyant structure, transforming the original demo into a fully formed pop song. B-Side, Static Saturday unavailable elsewhere sees Rose blending her love of My Bloody Valentine, Broadcast and The Cocteau Twins into her own three minutes of bliss.

Since the last single, Rose and her band of Distractions have been busy playing gigs all around the UK supporting the likes of British Sea Power, Jesca Hoop and Chairlift, headlining shows of their own, whilst finding time to fit in sessions for Marc Riley, John Kennedy and Huw Stephens along the way. More dates to coincide with the release of Start/Stop/Synchro will be announced soon, but for now you can check her out in the capital here:

April 17th – CAMDEN The Enterprise
April 28th – CAMDEN Dingwalls

Listen to the new single here: http://www.myspace.comroseelinordougallmusic



Moby’s sublime animated video (courtesy of David Lynch) ‘Shot In The Back Of The Head’ is now available on You Tube and Vimeo and of course via Moby’s recently re-launched official site.  You can download ‘Shot In The Back Of The Head’ from free from Moby’s homepage now.

Moby’s brand new album ‘Wait for Me’ is released on the 29th June.


ON INDEPENDIENTE (7″ and download)

It’s been a great start to 2009 for the Howling Bells. First they released their 2nd album ‘Radio Wars‘ to widespread critical acclaim before heading out to complete a sellout UK tour.
New single ‘Digital Hearts’ is a brilliant, uncomplicated, up tempo song. It’s the sound of a band on top of their game and their ambitions to write widescreen pop songs of substance being audibly realised. However, like all the Bells output and all great pop songs before it, there’s a twist that cunningly belies its underling euphoria. Listen closely, ‘Digital Hearts’ might not be as sweet as you first thought.

But with pounding drums high in the mix and Juanita’s extraordinary voice curling around the chiming guitar lines, one thing is undeniable: Once you hear Digital Hearts over the airwaves you won’t be turning the radio dial to any other station.



The Lights release double A side single ‘Low Hundreds / Formerly Yours’ on May 11th through Crash Records. Described by The NME as  and here’s the video



“Know your Enemy” from the bands eighth studio album “21st  Century Breakdown” can be heard here


And Finally Some Free Mp3’s

Nine Black Alps | ‘Buy Nothing’ (first teaser track from new LP) | Download it here –

Catherine AD

Catherine AD also has a free download for y’all , she says: “I’ve been wrestling with technology and underwater pianos and resurfaced with a reinterpretation/remix/cover of one of my favourite songs from last year  – ‘Paris’ by Friendly Fires.”

Download here or here even!

Follow her online

Interview here

Mr Fogg,  a new electronic artist from London, has a free Mp3 available for your delectation.  He’s already seen comparisons to Postal Service and Mum (he recorded his soon-to-be-released debut album in Iceland with Valgeir Sigurdsson) and ‘Stung’ can be downloaded from here

Alessi’s Ark

(Virgin Records)

Host of new London solo and full band shows just announced! Check Myspace page for full details.

Single ‘Over The Hill’ out 27th April

Debut Album ‘Notes From The Treehouse’ out 4th May

Free Mp3 ‘Magic Weather’ available now –

Official site:


(Reveal Records)

Album ‘Art Project’ out 20th April 2009

Free Mp3 available now –

Official site:

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