Archive for August, 2012

Another year of the Reading & Leeds festival has passed and it’s another year I’m glad I watched from the comfort of my settee. Any twang of envy felt observing the human pyramids is dismissed with the unwelcome memory of wading in human effluent and resorting to rip-off greasy burgers. Now, let’s talk music: who were the Festival Republic stars of 2012 and who deserves to be detained in the Lock Up, key thrown away?

Endeavouring to steer clear of endorsing the same bands, I must nevertheless give nods to Florence and the Machine & The Black Keys. Flo’ flourished in her main stage slot, prancing about the floor as balletic as ever, the day two deluge failing to dampen her spirits. The rabbit-hearted, ex-art school Welch also entertained when giving her security guard the slip.

Meanwhile, Black Keys’ showcased their 7th sleeve El Camino (“the way”) which has helped pave “their route” to mainstream success. Dan Auerbach ground out the bluesy guitars whilst Patrick Carney pounded the percussions like they were bin lids. Such has been the Keys’ parachuting to stardom, teenage girls were spotted wearing self-decorated t-shirts sporting the messages “I’m Howlin’ for You Dan” and “Dan, I’ll be your Next Girl!” The opening two numbers did not disappoint.

As for the headliners? The Cure were a bore – Robert Smith‘s pallid appearance threatening to actually make boys cry…  Kasabian were also something of a mixed bag. Fire caught on but for the most part Meighan and co looked subdued. Fortunate then that Foo Fighters‘ three hour closing stint was a true lesson in rock & roll brilliance.

Lowlight of the week, perhaps, came from the lips of Fearne ‘amazing’ Cotton when she hailed The Hives set in the NME Tent as “so live”. Sometimes it is just better to say nothing. Quite how “so live” distinguishes The Hives from the 200-or-so other, very much live acts performing over the weekend is a mystery! Maybe miming is secretly more widespread at festivals than we are led to believe… The freeze-frame with which The Hives finished mirrored the astonishment on my chops whenJubilee sickbagCotton dropped this latest cherry.

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Today my new (albeit year-old) Strokes CD arrived in the post, yippee! I gleefully scooped the package from off the floor of my porch in my pyjamas, noting the pair of Alistair Brownlee stamps. I don’t think even Britain’s gold medal-winning triathlete could have beaten me to the door this morning.

Tearing into the parcel I glimpsed an accompanying letter from the sender. ‘Careful – massive crack on cover’. Cheers Amazon Seller DVDs & Games 2008! Quibbles aside, Angles is a more-than decent comeback from King Casablancas and co. Machu Picchu is a brilliant opener, Undercover of Darkness and Taken for a Fool are classic Strokes, whilst the controversial Two Kinds of Happiness adds a melodious new dimension.

My favourite though, Gratisfaction, owes to the ringtone of a good friend whom I recently reacquainted with in Paris. I love how the song bursts into life tout de suite with such gusto.

Released in March last year, you may wonder why it’s taken me so long to get my mitts on a copy. Well – I’ll be brutally honest, I’ve been ignorant of The Strokes as a whole until recently. This might seem a shock to (the few) readers of this blog, considering the main genre of my articles is indie rock. And especially given that The Strokes are arguably the greatest ever indie rock band!

My defence is weak, hinging mainly on their blurry sound quality, inaudible lyrics, and even more pathetically – the constant playing of Last Nite in nightclubs. It sickens me! Too much ‘turning round’ perhaps? People go through phases though and mature musically. Thus I am frantically playing catch-up, listening to Is This It, Room on Fire and First Impressions of Earth. Finally folks, I am into The Strokes. Hurrah!

PS – another close friend would kill me if I didn’t mention that his namesake Julian attended the same school as him in Geneva.

Just unearthed some cracking footage of The Hives firing off songs to a 300-strong crowd crammed into New York City‘s Webster Hall Studio

Rocking up in suits and top hats, the smartly-dressed Swedes immediately set the ‘tone’ dial to raucous with Come On, taken from their new (at the time) album Lex Hives.

“I shall be responsible for no broken teeth or property” cries ever-wild front-man Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, before launching into Try It Again

 

Pelle’s stage antics are synonymous with Hives’ live act and he’s on fine form here: trademark high kicks, spouting philosophies about the cause of madness & swinging from the ceiling bars like a primate. Combined with Nicholaus Arson‘s thrillingly raw guitar riffs and chicken-necking, Hives are on fire!

What I love about The Hives is that they don’t take themselves too seriously, beginning with their crazy stage names: Howlin’ Pelle, Arson, Dr Matt Destruction, Vigilante Carlstroem & Chris Dangerous. And, contrary to many bands of their era, Hives just keep getting better, five studio albums and going strong. Surely the five-piece are one of the planet’s most underrated bands?

Below is a video of 1000 Answers (also off Lex Hives) which The Hives performed on Jools Holland, broadcast back in May this year. 

Raw, shouty, stuffed with punch and relentless pace, punk is alive and well ladies and gentlemen.

Eight days after a Guardian interview belatedly introduced me to the works of iamamiwhoami I still cannot make sense of it all. Thus instead of weaving a non-too-clever story around the facts, I shall merely go forth and present them in list format:

1) iamamiwhoami is a multimedia entity/audiovisual/viral marketing project

2) iamamiwhoami is a Swedish-born concept fronted by Jonna Lee

3) iamamiwhoami debuted on YouTube in December 2009

4) iamamiwhoami videos predominantly feature Lee prancing around in snow-white skimpies, oddly-behaving yeti creatures and an even more baffling range of imagery and symbols

5) iamamiwhoami is addictive

Out of these five nuggets of information, the second was the last to come to light. Not until iamamiwhoami’s twelfth video ‘t‘ was singer-songwriter Lee unmasked from sellotape & black make-up (amongst other things) and crowned as the face of the project. Up to that point fans had been agonisingly drip-fed video releases on a fortnightly basis beginning with the mysteriously encoded first sequence Prelude 699130082.451322-5.4.21.3.1.20.9.15.14.1.12.

Prelude proved something of a phenomenon, arousing wild speculation and amassing as of today, knocking-on 350,000 views. Was Gaga behind the strange 55-second clip that featured human limbs protruding from trees? Or could it be Aguilera, Little Boots even?

Following on its heels was 9.1.13.669321018, appearing to show a tree exuding semen. In total, the first six clips followed a similar theme with their numerically-encrypted titles and each containing an animal symbol ranging from owls to llamas. Very clever teasers.

The next six video titles combined to spell “b-o-u-n-t-y”. Finally, nine videos have been released in the last six months that could signal iamamiwhoami’s evolution into a (slightly) more conventional artist. My favourite however, Clump, is excluded. No prizes for guessing what the subtleties in this video signify.

 

Quit with the history and describe the music itself I hear you cry! Well… in all honestly, it’s insignificant, forgettable, wishy-washy, amniotic electronic waves if you like. One thing that does need to be grasped is that iamamiwhoami music plays second fiddle, the visuals are what makes it all a little special.

Two hours on from when I started writing this article and I’m more confused than ever. So, to avoid the onset of madness, migraine and other maladies I shall leave you to make your own mind up on iamamiwhoami. The debut album kin will be released on 3rd September on Co-operative Music, an independent label – big up! Save your money though, you’re better off watching the YouTube videos. ABsorbing!