Friday, March 30, 2012
Can this be right? A gig by Jandek in Manchester this month? Indeed it is. An ultra-rare appearance by the ultra-elusive outsider folk-blues musician put on by a partnership of enterprising promoters Buried Bones and MIE Music. For all his shadowy elusiveness and absence of biographical information, Jandek has an extensive discography – 50 albums and counting. For this live show, 'The Representative of Corwood Industries' will be joined by drummer Alex Nielson (of Trembling Bells and numerous collaborations) and experimental guitarist Richard Youngs. Tickets here.
In a cruel clash on the same Saturday is the 11th Carefully Planned All Dayer, a mini-fest of DIY pop surprises headlined by the excellent indie power-pop trio Standard Fare. Two artists from Carefully Planned on the mixtape below including wunderkind Kiran Leonard (see earlier this week) with the astonishing ‘Port-Ainé’. Tickets here.
As ever a mixtape [53 mins / 60 MB] of bands playing Manchester this month to help inform your gig-going decision-making - link in the post below this one.
Mcr Gigs in Music Mixtape: April 2012 [53 mins / 60 MB] - download here
Au Get Alive [3.15] (24 April The Castle BUY TICKETS)
Dan Mangan Post-War Blues [6.50] (28 April The Castle BUY TICKETS)
Kiran Leonard Port-Ainé [10.15] The Castle (21 April BUY TICKETS)
Simone Felice Group New York Times [14.20] (16 April Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Volcano The Bear My Favourite Tongues [17.04] (9 April The Castle BUY TICKETS)
Cate Le Bon Puts Me To Work [20.29] (24 April Soup Kitchen BUY TICKETS)
The Magnetic Fields The Book Of Love [23.09] (27 April RNCM BUY TICKETS)
Arthur Rigby and The Baskervylles One Stormy Night [26.36] (20 April Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Grouper Demona [30.24] (1 April Islington Mill BUY TICKETS)
Sea Of Bees Gnomes [33.14] (16 April Ruby Lounge BUY TICKETS)
The Middle Ones Courage [37.14] (5 April Kraak BUY TICKETS)
Great Lake Swimmers Gonna Make It Through This Year [40.56] (14 April Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Sam Airey Row Upon Row [44.38] (23 April The Castle BUY TICKETS)
Douga Where Are The Others [47.51] (6 April Fuel BUY TICKETS)
Moody Gowns Nelson Skills [50.03] (21 April BUY TICKETS)
The Existence of Harvey Lord Anchorite [53.08] (8 April Dulcimer BUY TICKETS)
And not forgetting:
2 April Y Niwl Kings Arms / 2 Apr Air Cav Band on the Wall / 3 April Those Darlins Ruby Lounge / 3 April Helmet Sound Control / 4 April Bo Weavil Tiger Lounge / 4 April Cold In Berlin Night & Day / 4 April 2:54 Deaf Institute / 5 April Patterns + Jewellers + Shinies John Rylands Library / 5 April The Wild Mercury Sound The Castle / 5 April Liz Green Deaf Institute / 5 April Other Lives Academy 3 / 5 April Ace Bushy Striptease Kraak / 5 April Gnod Islington Mill / 6 April Frazer King Night & Day / 6 April Douga Borland + Vei Fuel / 6 April Monster Island + Fetch The Witches Islington Mill / 7 April Psychemagik Night & Day / 7 April Shields Trof Fallowfield / 8 April Lewis Floyd Henry The Castle / 8 April Boy & Bear Kings Arms / 8 April Slow Club Ruby Lounge / 8 April Tinariwen The Ritz / 10 April Toy Soup Kitchen / 10 April The Monochrome Set Band On The Wall / 10 April Teen Daze Kraak / 10 April Ten The Great Dulcimer / 11 April Pelican Ruby Lounge / 11 April Simian Ghost Soup Kitchen / 11 April Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express Deaf Institute / 12 April Vieka Dulcimer / 12 April Richard Knox & Frederic D. Oberland Sacred Trinity Church / 13 April Juan Zelada The Castle / 13 April Kill Van Kulls Soup Kitchen / 13 April The Futureheads RNCM / 13 April Andrew WK Academy / 14 April The Louche FC + PINS Roadhouse / 16 April Sleep Party People The Castle / 17 April Barn Owl Islington Mill / 18 April Herman Dune Ruby Lounge / 18 April Misty’s Big Adventure Dry Bar / 18 April Maps & Atlases Night & Day / 18 April Odonis Odonis Kraak / 18 April Arthur Beatrice Trof Fallowfield / 19 April The Boss Hoss Ruby Lounge / 19 April Dry The River Academy 3 / 19 April The Gilded Palace of Sin Dulcimer / 20 April The Miserable Rich Deaf Institute / 21 April Dave Alvin & The Guilty Ones Night & Day / 21 Apr Rough Fields The Castle / 21 April Imperial Leisure Roadhouse / 21 April Jandek St Margaret’s Church / 22 April The Unthanks Royal Exchange Theatre / 22 April Of Montreal Sound Control / 22 April Ellen & The Escapades The Castle / 22 April The Staves Deaf Institute / 23 April Gabriel Minnikin Band On The Wall / 24 April Dignan Porch Deaf Institute / 25 April Various Cruelties Ruby Lounge / 27 April Electricity In Our Homes Band On The Wall / 27 April The Magnetic Fields RNCM / 28 April Nedry Deaf Institute / 29 April Russian Circles Ruby Lounge / 30 April Royal Baths Band On The Wall
Posted by The Archivist at 7:09 a.m.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
I don’t like mixtapes with that flow between songs seamlessly. I like to be jolted between track A and B, for there to be no doubt that one has stopped and the other started. I guess Kiran Leonard is the same. He has certainly sequenced the opening of his free-to-download album “Bowler Hat Soup” that way. ‘Dear Lincoln’ is a stuttering Of Montreal theatrical piano-bashing romp that handbrake-turns into ‘Brunswick Street’ an off-cut from Robert Wyatt as sung by Rufus Wainwright. It fades out with carnival pipe-organ into ‘Port-Ainé’, one of the highlights of this sprawling record, which sounds like a bucolic Antlers camping out in Portland, Oregon – not a home-recording from Dobcross, Oldham.
Port-Ainé by Kiran Leonard
And the shape-shifting continues even if tracks do start to segue more smoothly. ‘Smilin’ Morn’ might start off as seemingly innocuous piano balladry but ends up somewhere distinctly odder, filled with the ivory-bashing ire of Michael Gira or The Dresden Dolls. ‘Oakland Highball’ is a feisty cocktail of sombre intoning, accordion, Zappa wig-out and about five different time signatures in under two minutes. This is only five out of sixteen songs – other songs continue to move restlessly between blues, prog-pop, scuzz-rock and a myriad of other musical reference points. Kiran describes it as ‘densely packed’, noting that he plays over two dozen instruments on a record that took eighteen months to craft.
He’s not a first-timer when it comes to making music. His previous album ‘The Big Fish’ opened with a 26 minute ‘prog-jazz epic’. Before that he made electronic music under the name Pend Oreille. And apparently Kiran is still only 16 years old. SIXTEEN. He's either a hoaxer or a genius or possibly both. Either way ‘Bowler Hat Soup’ is an extraordinary achievement: complex, ambitious and with a maturity that finds many seasoned song-writers lacking. It combines the precocious and prolific output of the young Conor Oberst (remember, three Bright Eyes albums before he was 20) with the singular, wayward free-spiritedness of Jeff Mangum. Forget what Kiran Leonard does with mixtapes, it's his own music for all its erratic eccentricity that's important here. This album is not perfect, some editing and honing wouldn’t go amiss to tame the wilder excesses, but Jesus, what a talent.
The album finishes with ‘A Purpose’ performed on an 1898 American reed organ (where does a sixteen year old get these instruments?). It simply consists of the sombre, swelling tones of that organ and solitary voice. It recalls with sad fondness cross-country bike rides and drinking pop but also sings of the mysteries of life, contemporary societal breakdown (“I saw youths take substance / smashing our shelters / a lost generation”) and ultimately seeking a purpose in this world. It is deeply and mysteriously poignant, almost spiritual, and it moves me in ways I can't articulate. For all his energetic volatility, I think Kiran Leonard is well on the way to finding his purpose.
A Purpose by Kiran Leonard
Dear Lincoln by Kiran Leonard
Kiran Leonard Bowler Hat Soup [BUY]
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Uh-oh - tables are out at Band on the Wall. Maybe they're not expecting a capacity audience tonight? It was certainly a small but perfectly formed crowd for opening act Vei. Such solo laptop glitchery does not make the most visual or animated of supports but the overlapping pulses, loops and drones was a pleasantly serene if slightly cerebral start. Small crowd yes but enthusiastic response at the set’s conclusion.
Easter's ‘Somethin’ American’ was a joyously chugging earworm of a song from last year. It was the set opener tonight but full marks to the four-piece – Thomas Long, Andrew Cheetham, Gavin Clarke and Danny Saul - for adding some simple theatrics to kick it off. As both guitars held down single, sustained notes, the machine head of one was dragged across the top of the amp to add some teeth-on-edge distorted crackle before into the song proper. Spine-tingling. Under the overly bright yellow glare of some unatmospheric lighting, Easter went on to deliver some very atmospheric and at times very ferocious noise-rock. Tonight I really heard the Sebadoh connection in their heavy, 90s leaning guitars.
There were moments of quiet melody or vocal passages but most songs in this six song set were inexorably drawn to intense, twin guitar work-outs. The set finished with more distorted noise: manual manipulation of effects pedal feedback that was both thunderously ominous but also electrifyingly refreshing. Wow - heavy stuff. Tonight’s set hugely whetted my appetite for the band's debut album “Innocence Man” released this June.
I last saw Last Harbour seven years ago supporting Mark Mulcahy in the basement of an unloved – and now unmissed – cafe-bar. I haven't kept up with Last Harbour’s steady output since - especially the two most recent albums, last year's more heavily orchestrated “Volo” and this year's more stripped-back “Your Heart, It Carries The Sound” (and I suspect most of the set came from these two, unfamiliar to me, records). The six-piece – voice, bass, two guitars (or guitar and violin), drums and Roland keyboards – play a funereal pop (“misery... with a smile”) as smartly attired as their waist-coated, brylcreemed singer. There is an assured stateliness to their music – and a maturity since I saw them last – that is a gradual pull in rather than immediate hook.
The wide stage and slightly bohemian feel of Band on the Wall suited them well – even the red neon of the venue’s logo which I normally find a distraction adding to the moodiness. Last Harbour are another band without overt stage theatrics but let the songs – creepy, doom-laden or poignant – create their own sombre ambience – and the early ones that alternated male and female voice worked particularly well I thought. I initially didn’t see this line-up as natural bedfellows but by the end of the night realised what they share is that they all create distinct and darkly atmospheric music. Easter delivered all that I hoped - plus some exceptional playing to boot - and the headlining set made me realise how much catching up I have to do with Last Harbour.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Several members of the Pierre Hall-fronted Golden Glow have been working on their own music since the band's debut album last year (see Songs For Walter and Owl Babies). But the opening two songs of tonight’s support set were a good re-assertion of the Felt-influenced sounds of full Golden Glow live band - namely taut rhythm section bedrock for the shimmering molten gold twin guitars to spill over and around. But as the eight song set progressed, the band also ratcheted up both the volume and raucous effort (some furious drumming precariously pushing the kick-drum forwards across the stage). A shame that some technical hitches between songs interrupted the flow but still a glorious sound.
I'm always a little wary of gigs promoting an album before it has been released. But when the band is the ever dependable The Wave Pictures there's little to be concerned about unfamiliarity or quality. For a band so casual and stripped back in set-up - tip up on stage, plug in and play, with none of the interlinked banks of effects pedals as used by their support - they are phenomenally accomplished musicians. The trio can wring heartfelt emotion out of songs - a pared back, off-mic ‘Sweetheart’ or the Jonny Helm sung ‘Sleepy Eye’ and ‘Now You Are Pregnant’ - alongside pacy anger and bitterness (‘Leave That Scene Behind’) and pleading desperation (new song’ Give Me A Second Chance’).
Another interesting contradiction with The Wave Pictures is how thoroughly nice, even gauche, they are in person - David Tattersall asking the crowd to sing a line in ‘Seagulls’ but acknowledging it's OK not to “because I wouldn't want to either” - but their songs deal with moments of concentrated emotion and conflict, like expertly penned, highly nuanced short stories. As with the casual demeanour/skilled playing combination, the former only goes to highlight the power of the latter.
The band got a bit tripped up about whether they were in Manchester or not ("it's like saying Huddersfield is in Leeds" shouted someone to Yorkshire-born drummer Jonny Helm) but were clearly delighted at having a sold-out gig for their first headline show - in either Manchester or Salford - for three years. I think their memory of past shows is flawed - I recall one poorly attended gig at The Roadhouse but others have been well supported if not as packed and sweaty as tonight's. Whoever's memory is more reliable though, The Wave Pictures should not leave it so long for a return visit. There’s clearly an enthusiastic and welcoming crowd here plus once again the trio demonstrate with aplomb they are one of finest live bands around, no matter how casual or polite they are between songs.
The Set List:
Susan Rode The Cyclone
Stay Here And Take Care Of The Chickens
I Thought Of You Again
Give Me A Second Chance
My Head Gets Screwed On Tighter Every Year
Don't Blame Your Parents
The Airplanes At Brescia
Leave That Scene Behind
Now You Are Pregnant
Come Home Tessa Buckman
I Love You Like A Madman
Posted by The Archivist at 11:56 a.m.
Friday, March 23, 2012
‘Paper Boats Sink’ said the email on the demise of Aron Robinson’s previous band. Sadly not many people took notice of the short-lived,six-piece Paper Boats: I wrote about them in July 2010 here and remember this live review from the time but saw precious little other coverage. But maybe his new band Olympian will prove a more durable and more widely acknowledged offering.
In Olympian Aron Robinson is joined by Justin Sheran. The duo’s music is not a stylistic departure from Paper Boats but is a distinct leap forward in sonic quality (remarkable given these delicately precise trio of songs were recorded in Justin’s front room). Olympian play nocturnal chamber pop songs that combine the downbeat compassion of fellow Mancunian bands I Am Kloot and Elbow with sparse, low-key arrangements. They are not as anguished or bitter as John Bramwell’s songs and don’t share the large-scale grandeur of Guy Garvey and co but instead have a softer, romantic fatalism to their late night tales of drunken fools, regrets and walking away.
‘Letting Go’ starts with just rippling piano, some Spanish acoustic guitar and flat voiced resignation – but from muted introspection through clever swells and surges it brings in a sense of rising hopefulness despite the fact “we never learn”. It is poised, moving and quite beautiful; and a lesson in how to make chamber orch-pop without the full-blown orchestrations. ‘Punched Out’ however does bring in the sweeping string section after a harder-edged intro – it’s a classy combination of beaten down misery and soaring, rich strings. From its strummed electric guitar opening ‘Change Will Come’ has a sense of cautious but determined forward motion. It’s still a quiet, reflective number but relatively it is the most animated and most quietly optimistic of these three home recordings.
In these their first publicly available songs Olympian appear a bit more demure than the ruthlessly determined titular athlete aiming for ‘faster, stronger, higher’. But in their own way these are gold medal performances. Ones to watch. Again.
Letting Go - Olympian by FollyOfYouth
Olympian Three Songs [DOWNLOAD]
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
You’d expect any album with a CD sleeve that folds out into a functional Ouija board to be obsessed with the paranormal or worshipping at the upside down altar of Norwegian black metal. However Lazarus And The Plane Crash are in neither camp – and appear more interested in a game of charades. “Horseplay” is the perfect title for this record, “a collision” between The Clerkenwell Kid aka Stephen Coates of The Real Tuesday Weld and The Guillotines' singer Joe Coles, bringing together the arch ‘antique beat’ of the former with some full-throated rock ‘n’ roll theatrics from the latter plus a good dollop of prankster pastiche.
The opening track kicks off proceedings brilliantly: the three and a half minute bombastic 'Edward-the-Confessor-wearing-pantaloons' lunacy of ‘King Of The Village Fete’. The video below is captioned “The Wickerman meets It’s A Knockabout” but musically this maypole mayhem is a head-battering blend of Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Vivian Stanshall. Following breathlessly is ‘Mating Dance’: Nick Cave style self-questioning lacerations and sexual obsession over sped-up East European polka with an invitation to “boom, boom, boom / wiggle it up for me”. It also contains the genius that-explains-it-all couplet “maybe it’s just caffeine talking / But it’s you that I’m stalking”.
Both collaborators continue to undergo many metamorphoses in the nine tracks that follow: Jacques Brel accordion minstrelsy contemplating earth(l)y mortality (‘The Clay’s A Calling’), early Bowie glam art-pop theatrics (‘Deaf’) and single entendre dirty electro-blues holler (‘Naked and Nasty’). The latter is just plain disturbing and then reworked later as a brief, drawling, sludgy Iggy Pop croon (‘Nasty and Naked’). ‘Horn For The Whole Damn World’ is another signature moment for the pairing – scratchy ragtime jazz meets over-sexed Waitsian bellowing. Slap in the middle, the album detours into lush piano torch ballad for ‘Violent Men’ before careening off again of its madcap course. In the final stretch, the last two tracks run out of steam a little – or maybe it’s just that they are not so oddly or distinctively styled as earlier hyper-ventilated collisions?
Some might find the pastiche too cod (or even too codswallop) to bear; like being beaten over the head too many times by an insistent jester. But give in to its gutsy, whirlwind eccentricity and you should fall for most - if not all – of its inspired tomfoolery. Kings of The Village Fete indeed.
Mating Dance - Lazarus and the Plane Crash by FollyOfYouth
Lazarus and the Plane Crash Horseplay [BUY]
Monday, March 19, 2012
I was mightily impressed with Deadwall’s first recordings when I came across them last June. Since then the West Yorkshire five-piece - Thomas Gourley vocals/guitars, Christopher Duffin keyboards, Rob Simpson guitars, Tom McCartney bass and Guy Raimes on drums - have been in the studio and this month release their first EP ‘Four Songs By...’ on CD (or as free download). The four tracks keep what made the demos so intriguingly catchy but add an extra depth and polish to their indie-art-pop. Field Music and Mystery Jets might be useful comparisons but also XTC (check that opening guitar on lead track ‘The Wakefield Questionnaire’). However Deadwall go much further than any of those bands in adding a fiery energetic drive to their cleverly constructed pop.
“I kept my counsel like a Russian” says ‘The Wakefield Questionnaire’ but there is nothing reticent or demure about this propulsive, multipart, sub-3 minute opener - catchy, complex and perfectly formed, it’s the undisputed highlight of the EP for me. The mid-tempo ‘The Curse of the Black Widow’ opens with ornate piano motifs and falsetto vocals but layers in orchestral touches and humming harmonies – mysterious with elegant restraint. ‘Minus Two Words’ recaptures the forward momentum of ‘The Wakefield Questionnaire’: guitars alternate between scratchy and chiming, it all bounced along by a pneumatic rhythm section. Oh and there’s still time in its 2.47 running time for a Hammond organ break. The closing song is the more introspective acoustic-leaning ‘Metropolis, Sort Of’ which has some lovely horn touches in its second half but I don’t find it as inventively memorable as the earlier songs. Even so it’s still way ahead of run-of-the-mill.
Deadwall’s arrangements may be complex, even prog-leaning, but their propulsive energy, to-the-point brevity and great pop hooks keep them from sagging under any pretension or over-elaboration (no doubt aided by some down-to-earth Yorkshire common-sense too). A highly recommended purchase when released via Bandcamp at the end of this month.
The Wakefield Questionnaire by deadwall
Deadwall Four Songs [BUY]
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
The album cover – B&W home photo of skinny figure in striped jersey and bowl hair-cut, set amongst large expanse of block colour - looks like one of those early Creation Records compilations where 80s indie looked back fondly to 60s beat. The song titles could neatly come from 90s sources – the fridge-magnet-poetry surrealism of Pavement (‘Milk Fad’) or say the loaded-with-meaning wordplay of Grandaddy (‘I’m Not A Weak Old Man, I’m A Week-Old Man’, ‘Perpetual Birthday’). And the 14 rough-cut recordings here skirt these sources - and many others, particularly noughties no-fi experimentalism – but to these ears sound most like strangely disembodied out-takes from Deerhunter, some rich with melody and shape, others fragmentary and abstract.
The debut, free-to-download Temple Songs album drifts between both states. Some tracks are little more than flimsy sketches (the lo-fi prelude of ‘Oh My’) or instrumental exercises in parody (the 50s swinging exotica of ‘Log Flume’ or the slowed down piano-and-clarinet jazz shuffle of ‘I’m Not A Weak Old Man, I’m A Week-Old Man’). Then there are the ‘proper’ songs. ‘Milk Fad’ is cautiously tinny Panda Bear homage to the Beach Boys meets jubilant, twanging guitars. ‘Jupiter’s Baby Body’ shares the same summery carefree charm with an infectious bass throb and balmy, shambling drums but again the warm melodies and energy are cloaked in thick murk. ‘I’m Better Than Brad Berwick’ adopts a different tack – an animated but strained electronic pulse dipped in whistling feedback with the album’s most animated - but equally hidden – vocals. Elsewhere there is the more pastoral ‘I’ll Write You A Song’ all sweet bubbly drift and fluttering drum machine beats, whilst ‘Jello Sky’ is abstract and mournfully introspective mumbling over distant, chiming synths, like Jason Lytle on downers at the bottom of a deep well.
I’m not sure whether the murky production is an aesthetic decision from Jolan Lewis (aka Temple Songs) or caused by hesitancy about the songs themselves. But there is plenty to admire tantalisingly behind the mire. Normally I’m not averse to the lo-fi and muddy but here I find the melody and the vocals too distant, too detached and want to hear both sing out. Best to think of ‘15 Bygones’ as an off-hand collection of demos from Bradford Cox – both the full band sound of Deerhunter through to the more abstract sound collages of his Atlas Sound moniker - intriguing sketches worth exploring in themselves. But fully realised they would be magnificent.
Jupiter's Baby Body - Temple Songs by FollyOfYouth
Temple Songs - A Bee or a Shark by Temple Songs
Temple Songs 15 Bygones [FREE]
Posted by The Archivist at 7:59 a.m.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Listening to this record is like opening a sealed time-capsule from 1968. Inside are 10 perfectly preserved specimens of fuzzy garage-pop replete with heart-gladdening optimism and groovy beats. It’s fantastically fresh and immediate. True if you want more recent reference points, you can hear some of that languid Strokes NYC cool in the chug of ‘Brahma’ or the peppy summer sounds of The Drums in the surf-leaning ‘Vacationation’. But rather than diminishing returns retro-nostalgia, “Tosta Mista” feels like a genuine re-tread of garage rock year zero and the Lenny Kaye’s “Nuggets” collection. Hooded Fang manage to capture – not recreate - the sense of possibility, experimentation and fun of that era brilliantly.
Song lyrics can sound mock-profound and deeply allusive (“they call me Poncho / but I ain’t got no partner today“) but the whole package is an immediately accessible psychedelic pop triumph. Apparently it was written in the aftermath of the end of a five year relationship between singer/guitarist Daniel Lee and bassist April Aliermo but it sounds more delirious than despondent, more exuberant than exhausted by relationship woes.
It’s a brief album: seven songs proper with three Joe Meek-meets-noir soundtrack instrumental snatches between tracks but it doesn’t feel skimpy or slight. Even those three ‘Big Blue’ interludes sound like extracts from a larger, unrealised project. This album is the Toronto collective’s second after their self-released, Canada only “Album” in 2010 but their UK debut. It did make it to these shores at the end of last year but is now picked up by Full Time Hobby for a full UK release, out today. I hope the label hasn’t added any tracks to it – they’re not needed. Half the length of most albums but twice the psyche-pop fun.
Hooded Fang - ESP by fulltimehobby
Hooded Fang Tosta Mista [BUY]
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Following my first proper introduction to This Many Boyfriends supporting Allo Darlin’ recently, I’ve been playing catch up buying in quick succession their three releases: 2010’s “Getting A Life With...” EP, 2011’s “Young Lovers Go Pop!” single and this year’s two track single “Starling”. One of the tracks from that first EP (and the opening song of their set at the Deaf Institute) is a neat statement of intent: ‘I Don't Like You ('Cos You Don't Like The Pastels).’ For This Many Boyfriends side with that defiantly shambolic strain of indie-pop that can be traced back to The Television Personalities and then the name-checked Pastels. The earlier releases are a joyful clatter of “mildly talented, ferociously proud” (as ‘Trying Is Good’ would have it) lofi bubblegum pop. Melody and organisation creep in amongst the sugary spikiness, Northern vowel inflections and name-dropping of other bands, but randomly rather than in a linear progression as though polished sophistication was accidental rather than intended.
And so to ‘Starling’ released last month by the Leeds quartet as a fanzine with download code. It was recorded with their guitarist Pete Sykes who died suddenly last November of a brain haemorrhage. Lord knows what this did to the other four as individuals but all credit to them as a band for moving forward and be able to release this, in part a tribute to their friend. Both songs are slicker and tauter and more richly layered than earlier efforts. The title track is a two-and-a-half minute lean-and-fast rush of angular pop, sweetly-shrill guitar riffs and pattering drams, matching wonder and infatuation (“I think you have the soul of a new born”) with a single line chorus about living for a long time. The second half adds in an infectiously giddy ba-ba-bah-bah-ba-ba refrain which is so effective they repeat it on the following song ‘Just Saying’. This song continues if not ups the singalong poppiness of its companion finishing with a screamed denunciation of pet dislikes: “And I hate chillwave / and I hate witch house”.
This Many Boyfriends - 'Starling' by Angular Recording Co
Such petty denunciations, the hero worship roll calls and releasing your single as a hand-drawn fanzine (with “stories, recipes, pop quizzes and other lesser spotted sightings”) could all leave This Many Boyfriends as indistinguishable from the wheeling flock as the bird they sing of. But in the same way the band find beauty in said feathered friend (“I think you have the soul of a starling / so precious and careful and clean“) This Many Boyfriends have familiar but rare qualities – not least resilience – amongst their clutch of superior indie-pop songs. It’s been a rapid but fun conversion.
This Many Boyfriends Starling [BUY]
Posted by The Archivist at 8:57 a.m.
Thursday, March 01, 2012
Nights are getting lighter and the months are getting busier for live music. Many, many great gigs over the next thirty-one days but highlighting just one night that has two bands on the mixtape below. Veronica Falls, whose excellent debut album was one of my Top Ten of 2011, return to Manchester on Friday 9 March with support from Novella, whose debut EP is out this month “with influences spanning the classic 4AD sound to Flying Nun to Brian Jonestown Massacres ‘Methodrone’ album”. Opening the bill is the much hyped (and in some quarters distastefully leered at) local band PINS.
As ever a mixtape [65 mins / 74 MB] of bands playing Manchester this March to help inform your gig-going decision-making - link in the post below this one.
Mcr Gigs in Music Mixtape: March 2012 [65 mins / 74 MB]
Shrag Tights In August [3.35] (21 Mar The Castle BUY TICKETS)
The History of Apple Pie Tug [7.23] (30 March Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Gabriel & The Hounds The World Unfolds [10.02] (1 Mar Night & Day BUY TICKETS)
The Wave Pictures Little Surprise [12.47] (24 Mar Kings Arms BUY TICKETS)
Tall Firs Hairdo [16.12] (16 Mar Trof BUY TICKETS)
Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell Down In Adairsville [19.55] (18 Mar Cornerhouse BUY TICKETS)
Cass McCombs The Same Thing [26.04] (5 Mar Band on the Wall BUY TICKETS)
Shearwater Breaking The Yearlings [29.11] (31 Mar Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Veronica Falls Come On Over [33.44] (9 Mar Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
The Phenomenal Handclap Band 15 to 20 [38.31] (2 Mar Night & Day BUY TICKETS)
Memoryhouse The Kids Were Wrong [42.37] (26 Mar Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Diagrams Antelope [45.08] (15 Mar Ruby Lounge BUY TICKETS)
Cold Bones No Need For Names [48.39] (3 Mar Big Hands BUY TICKETS)
Earth Divine and Bright [51.36] (7 Mar Ruby Lounge BUY TICKETS)
So Many Wizards Nico [54.07] (10 Mar Roadhouse BUY TICKETS)
Novella Don’t Believe Ayn Rand [58.16] (9 Mar Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Lambchop Gone Tomorrow [65.15] (6 Mar Manchester Cathedral BUY TICKETS)
And not forgetting:
1 Mar The Duke Spirit Ruby Lounge / 1 Mar Phantogram The Castle / 1 Mar Toy Horses Roadhouse / 1 Mar Bleeding Knees Club Trof / 1 Mar Little Dragon Academy 2 / 2 Mar Sex Hands, Sauna Youth + Human Hair Fuel / 2 Mar The Jezabels Ruby Lounge / 2 Mar Momus IABF / 2 Mar Soko Islington Mill / 2 Mar Sleigh Bells Sound Control / 2 Mar The Kabeedies Deaf Institute / 2 Mar Willis Earl Beal Trof Fallowfield / 3 Mar The Silver Seas Ruby Lounge / 3 Mar Monument Valley The Castle / 3 Mar Brown Brogues Soup Kitchen / 4 Mar Theme Park + The Cast of Cheers Deaf Institute / 5 Mar Three Trapped Tigers Ruby Lounge / 5 Mar Pale Seas The Castle / 5 Mar Mark Lanegan Academy / 6 Mar French Wives Dry Bar / 6 Mar Air Cav Kraak / 7 Mar Gang Colours The Castle / 8 Mar Alice Gold Ruby Lounge / 9 Mar Mayer Hawthorne Ruby Lounge / 9 Mar The Aristocats Night & Day / 9 Mar Halls Kraak / 10 Mar Portico Quartet RNCM / 11 Mar The Megaphonic Thrift Ruby Lounge / 12 Mar Cave Painting Trof Fallowfield / 13 Mar Xiu Xiu Ruby Lounge / 13 Mar Dog Is Dead Deaf Institute / 15 Mar Wu Lyf The Ritz / 15 Mar Kill It Kid Deaf Institute / 16 Mar Summer Camp Night & Day / 17 Mar John Head Ruby Lounge / 17 Mar Rook & The Ravens Night & Day / 18 Mar Felice Brothers Academy / 18 Mar The Slow Show Deaf Institute / 19 Mar Being There The Castle / 22 Mar Kindness Soup Kitchen / 23 Mar Driver Drive Faster Deaf Institute / 23 Mar Tanlines Night & Day / 24 Mar Jacuzzi Boys Kraak/ 25 Mar Spiritualized Academy / 26 Mar Last Harbour Band on the Wall / 26 Mar Los Campesinos Academy 3 / 26 Mar Feist + M. Ward Apollo / 27 Mar Victorian Dad Band on the Wall / 28 Mar The Doozer Night & Day / 29 Mar Breton Islington Mill / 29 Mar Blondes Soup Kitchen / 29 Mar Halo Halo Night & Day / 29 Mar Duologue The Castle / 29 Mar Strange Boys Deaf Institute / 30 Mar The ABC Club + Blessa Roadhouse / Frankfest with The Fall + The Lovely Eggs Jabez Clegg