Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Indietracks band preview thing part 3.

Next up in the sporadic look at bands to play Indietracks is Be Like Pablo. I'm looking forward to this one because I've never heard them before. In one sense I suppose I'm taking a little bit of joy out of the festival by hearing them now (it's always a delight when one discovers a band for the first time in a live setting) but the line up for this little Derbyshire festival is looking shit hot this year, and unless I can somehow manage to listen to ever band I'm bound to miss something great, which would be a massive shame.

The band themselves are from Forres and Edinburgh up in that Scotland, I believe. There's 3 boys and a girl, quite a lot of fantastic synth, and they've been around since last year. I think that's correct. Not that it matters, the main point for the moment is what the music is like.

What is it like? Great, actually. Really great. I'm listening to the songs on their myspace as I type this, and just smiling and feeling quite sunny. At their heart I guess they're powerpop, which is a wonderful thing, there's not enough bands doing powerpop (or GOOD powerpop) at any rate. This lot are happily redressing that balance. 'Julianne' for a start is a cracker of a song, that opening synthy line just reaching out and pulling me in; it's sound like Weezer or Silversun when they were really good. It's just dying for a crowd who know all the words to yell them back at the band. 'Without the Pain' mixes it up a bit with some spoken (or almost) word. 'Oh Emily' sparkles like Teenage Fanclub and 'The Post-It song combines really nice boy-girl vocals with a heartfelt message.

There's magic here, and more importantly huge promise. I think their will be quite a few people at Indietracks who catch them by accident and come away thankful for it.

Monday, 29 March 2010

The rain falls down

Aha, British Summer time. One always knows when it's arrived. The clocks get changed again, the days get longer, someone misses an important function because of said clock changes and it RAINS. Yep, it rains and rains and rains, on humdrum towns all across the U.K; indiscriminately drenching everyone and rudely splattering it's drops across my window panes, it's enough to bring anyone's mood down, or it would be if not for so many wonderful things happening. Call it reasons to be cheerful.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are playing indietracks. It's a match made in heaven really, The Pains take their influnces and push, poke and mould them into something heartwrenchingly and heart drenchingly wonderful. Indietracks does the same. It's not hard to understand the sheer buzz of exciting from certain corners in regards to the festival this year.

Elsewhere The Hot Toddies are releasing a new album on June 15th. I've been waiting for an official announcement and looking at their Myspace almost everyday for any kind of word so this is great news for me. Just hoping to hear something new from the girls really soon now. If you're not familiar with The Hot Toddies spiky brand of surfy girl pop, then familiarise yourself immediately. If you are familiar, take the time to reacquaint yourselves. I'm taken the chance to post a nice live video of them too

The new School album is sounding terrific, can't wait to get it. In the meantime you can hear it here as long as the link still works.

On top of all that, the summer and beyond looks excellent for gigs, Alayerofchips has some lined up (more on that soon) including another Nottingham alldayer, this time on the 25th September. One for the diaries.

Finally, I've also returned for another scout around Bandcamp today. Presented for your musical delectation are today's band you may or may not have heard of 'Bourgeois Hereoes'. I like the quirky nature of the band, in particular the wooziness of 'The Postcard Collector'. That said, I can find something to love in all the songs presented on their Musical Postcards album. Go and give it a listen

Monday, 22 March 2010

At the heart of everything

So the next band in our whistlestop tour of who's who at Indietracks is Ballboy. Like Allo Darlin', Ballboy are well known within the indiepop community, and beyond thanks to people like John Peel.

I first came across Ballboy through 'The Sash My Father Wore and Other Stories', perhaps not the best place to approach the band from, since it's obstensibly a Gordan McIntyre solo record, but it hooked me, I was especially taken by the cover of 'Born In The USA' given I'm a rather large Bruce Springsteen fan. From there I got the next record 'The Royal Theatre' which IS a band record. It's brilliant too, it has something that I think a lot of scottish artists have; a melonchalia mixed and juxtaposed with uplifting music, it's also a showcase for McIntyre's special brand of writing about people. It's life under a microscope. The first track being a case in point.

After hearing that record, I was able to copy it for someone who in turn copied me 'Club Anthems' an earlier Ballboy record. An aching, soothing, heart battering slab of a record. 'Donald in the bushes with a bag of glue' and 'A Day In Space' are songs I never tire of. If either of those are played at Indietracks I'll be very happy.

Ballboy or Gordon at least, have played Indietracks a few times already and I've not seen them, though Gordon is responsibly for one of my favourite moments of last year. Standing in a tent whilst everyone is singing along to an acoustic version of 'What do we do now' by The Just Joans, my girlfriend is bumped into by the man behind her. Turning round in a fury she is met by Gordon McIntyre himself who simply states "If I do that again, punch me in the face", which I think is a lovely thing to say. I also think it's a good indicator of what Indietracks is like for someone who hasn't been. Where else could you get a performing artist to suggest you punch them? Nowhere that's where.

Anyway, that's Ballboy then. I suspect you've heard of them. If not then you really should. Most of their back catalogue is waiting to be raided on Spotify. I'll leave you with the rather fantastic 'I hate Scotland'

Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Start Of Something Else.

So bands have already been announced for Indietracks, suggestions of who people would like to see headline are filtering in and expectation levels are already being racheted up. Due to this I've hit on the idea of profiling each of the bands that have been announced(to a greater or lesser degree). I'll try and do this in alphabetical order, though of course as bands get added I'm bound to have to back that rule. I just think it's a good way to give me something to blog about most days, and in a selfish way, I imagine it will help me familiarise myself with the bands I don't know before Indietracks arrives, maybe it'll help you too. If you're not going then it might just turn you on to bands you wouldn't of heard otherwise. Who knows? I think I'll give it a go though. There may well be none indiepop festival related news too.

Anyway first up is Allo Darlin'. I imagine if you're the kind of person who wants to go to Indietracks, is going to go, or has any interest in Indiepop at all, you've probably heard of Allo Darlin, so I'm not really going to do much profiling on this one. Instead I recommend that you: -

A) Read Alayerofchips' review of the forthcoming record.

B) Check out the band's Myspace and listen to the new single 'Dreaming'. Check out Monster Bobbys, slight Calvin Johnson type vocal. It's aces.

C) Watch the really fun live video of 'Henry Rollins Don't Dance' below and do the opposite of Rollins himself.

So there you go, admittedly not the most indepth of profiles but I'm well excited, and they're only the first band to listen to of many.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Slight return

Really quick entry, though I'll try to blog again later today, but did you see there's a new 'A Smile and a ribbon' single being released by Cloudberry?

I love the band and I've been waiting for something new for awhile, I still isten to 'The Boy I Wish I Never Met' often, but a new record would be greatly appreciated. Until then we have the new single, which sounds lovely to these ears, loving the little "ba,ba,ba" harmonies. Great stuff.

Anyway you can give it a listen via this LINK have fun.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

R.I.P Mark Linkous

It saddens me immensely to have to be writing another r.i.p blog entry so soon after the death of Jay Reatard, but the passing of Mark Linkous formerly of Sparklehorse deserves a blog entry.

Mark took his own life (he had attempted such a thing in the past), his family issued this statement "It is with great sadness that we share the news that our dear friend and family member, Mark Linkous, took his own life today. We are thankful for his time with us and will hold him forever in our hearts. May his journey be peaceful, happy and free. There's a heaven and there’s a star for you." I don't really think I could say anything else as eloquently as that, but I'd like to try.

I came across Mark and Sparklehorse through the single 'Hammering The Cramps' which I'd heard played on radio 1, but it wasn't until reading a review of 'Good Morning Spider' in the NME of all places that my love for him and his music really grew. I bought that record in the summer of 1998 and I've played it at least once every couple of months every year since. I think it's that good. It's lo-fi and experimental, but it's poppy and punky. It has heart in spades too. It's a dark record, but it's a joyful record, and contains some of the loveliest music and lyrics. Words such as "There will come a time gigantic waves will crush the junk I've saved. When the moon explodes or floats away, I'll lose the souvenirs I've made.
Anyway I loved it, and that record carried me through some quite sad times.

After that I followed Mark Linkous through his musical life and numerous collaborations. From his, perhaps, overlooked collaboration with Nina Persson (of the Cardigans) as A Camp; through to the record he made with Dangermouse last year, whilst taking in the 2 subsquent Sparklehorse records he released. The music of the man has permeated my life for so long it seems a little wrong to think he won't be with us.

My saddest moment, is that a few years ago I lived with my parents in Blackburn and never went to again gigs (I had no friends living near me). After years of nothing, Sparklehorse released 'Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain and toured it. I got a ticket. I was so excited, then the day came and I chickened out of going taking the 1hr train ride to Manchester to see them. I regret that to this day, and it hurts that I won't ever get to see them now.

Another terribly sad thing is that Mark had apparently almost finished a new record, and that 'Dark Night Of The Soul' the album he recorded with Dangermouse was going to get an official release. So much promise still to come. I really feel that we've lost one of the greatest musicians of the past decade or two, and that's the saddest thing of all. But I hope that something good comes of his death; I really hope that people who have never had the fortune of listening to some of the wonderful stuff he did will discover it posthumously.

Nothing else to say really, I'm sorry I couldn't be more elegant or eloquent. Instead I want to leave you with some videos of a couple of my favourite Sparklehorse songs.

I like 'Hundreds Of Sparrows' best I think. "I'm so sorry, my spirits rarely in my body" Sadly accurate today. The song tells someone that they are "worth hundreds of sparrows" Mark was worth thousands.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Lazy Lines

What's that you say, where have I been? Just being lazy I'm afraid, but I'm back to darken your Friday.

First up, a little self indulgence. I'm rather excited about the fact that Belle and Sebastian have announced tour dates and the fact that they're going to be recording a new album this year. I'm still a big fan, even after the lacklustre 'The Life Pursuit'. I still think they have it in them to pull off something beautiful and wonderful (if Stuart's 'God Help The Girl' stuff was anything to go by they do) and I can't help but really look forward to that. Anyway here's the self indulgent bit; I'm only talking about this so I can post this video of 'Is it Wicked not to care'. It's one of my favourite songs of theirs from my favourite record. The album just reminds me completely of spring, which fits in perfectly with the weather today.

Elsewhere this week I've been listening to the new Morning Benders record, I mentioned them a few posts back, which you may remember of you are one of our infrequent visitors. Anyway the new record 'Big Echo' is really from good indeed. It sags slightly in the middle of the record, but for the best part it's all sweetly sung harmonies, glossy production, hooks galore and happiness. Better still you can stream it all here. I hope you enjoy it.

Continuing my theme of arriving at bands/artists slightly later than other people I've just encountered Zee Avi who makes sweet and soothing solo music, just the right thing for an early morning.

That's it today, I'll attempt to update this blog a little more regularly again from now on. Oh yes, one finally thing.. I've been told that the M.J from M.J Hibbett actually stands for Michael Jackson, as he's such a big fan.