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!

For anyone without the luxury of 3G on their mobile, you will understand my frustration at Shazam‘s inability to work without internet connection. Whilst perusing the racks of bargain t-shirts in Topman today I heard this rather groovy track played overhead. Of course, due to the aforementioned technological inferiority of my mobile telephone I was unable to detect whom the artist was. Fortunately the lines “you thought you’d set the bar” and “cog in a machine” stuck fast in my mind.

Turns out the culprit is a Scottish four-piece bearing the exotic name Django Django. The double D apparently released their self-titled debut back in January, something I was previously oblivious to. Default (below) has gained them some notoriety, amassing over 800,000 YouTube hits. It’s no fluke either, these boys have their own brand of music and paint a colourful canvas of art-rockFurther tracks like Drumbeats and Life’s a Beach justify why The Guardian elected to award their debut 5 out of 5. 

Because Music records have the luxury of Django Django’s signature. The London & Paris-based independent label can also boast amongst their ranks synth supremos Metronomy, Justice and the highly individual individual Connan Mockasin!

Django Django will play Latitude and T in the Park festivals this summer. Check them, and double check them, on Soundcloud here.

Don’t you just love it when you rediscover a band?

Perhaps it is a song lyric dropped into general chit chat that sparks a memory. Perhaps a trivial everyday sound or tone makes the association. More often, and conventionally, a rustle through the old record collection helps revive the hidden gems.

One, I’m not sure which, of the above instances facilitated my recent unearthing of Editors‘ albums. Signed to Kitchenware Records, a truly independent Tyneside label, the Birmingham-based band have achieved platinum status. A true success! 

Their debut The Back Room (2005) signalled their Lights, Camera, Munich arrival on the music scene, earning them a Mercury nomination. 2007’s follow-up An End Has A Start furthered their chart success, rocking in as a #1 album. Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors [below] reached #7 in the singles chart.

 

Third album In This Light and On This Evening consolidated their commercial glory, again entering [and briefly residing] as a #1 album. Spawned from this sleeve was the excellent synth powerhouse Papillon.

Though Tom Smith‘s vocals do echo a la Ian Curtis, there is in my opinion little substance in comparisons with Joy Division. Nor for that matter do Editors even faintly remind me of Echo & The Bunnymen, one of their supposed influences. Moreover, only Interpol, a contemporary outfit, sound at all similar.

Anyroad, it’s knocking on three years since Editors’ last release and they have slowly slipped out of the public consciousness. Earlier this year the news broke that Editors and lead guitarist Chris Urbanowicz had parted musical paths. Editors will continue, we are assured, as a three-piece, their 4th record is hotly-awaited later this year.