Take a look at my review of London Duo, Crushed Beaks’ debut single, ‘Close Ups’ over on ‘Never Enough Notes.’ Out Now on Too Pure.
Brooklyn’s rockers Ellis Ashbrook have just finished their two week tour in support of their third album, ‘Meridia.’ Their influences include some of the most influential artists ever seen and this is shown in their experimental style. They’ve got a loyal fan base in NYC, so they must be doing something right. I put a few questions to bassist, Jonathan Granoff, who’s joined by vocalist John Barber, keys player Natalie Lowe and drummer Alex Major, to form EA.
How did you four get together?
Cosmic integration, fateful occurrence, and/or astrological alignment.
The majority of your influences are some of the most classic rock artists, who have defined music and how it sounds today, everyone from The Beatles to Nirvana. When did you first get in to these bands and which ones in particular made you all want to be involved in music?
Music has been calling to my inner depths from a place that is beyond memory, but I gotta say there was something about Kurt that spoke to me personally; it’s all very hypnotic if you know what I mean. There was a swirling ecstasy calling from across the country, that seemed to swirl and spiral through the television set, making quite a number of other fates feel laughable at best.
You released your third album, ‘Meridia’ earlier this year, how has the response been?
From those who understand what ‘Meridia’ is about and what its function is in today’s world I must say that the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Some have said it was “perfect”, this is good news; however it is hard to judge a piece of your own soul. I listen to it and am particularly moved by it, which says a lot since I’ve been with it since its inception and I am very capable of being critical. ‘Climax’ is fantastic; the string section gets me every time … never gets old. I also really enjoy ‘Slide’, ‘Decelerator’, and ‘Bottomfeeder’ quite a bit.
You’ve also just finished a two week tour in support of the album. Were there any stand out shows of the tour?
I like being down South in the states, as a guitar player, there is a certain “twang” in the atmosphere that contributes nicely to bluesy, psychedelic guitar playing. If you spend an hour in Nashville, you might witness at least 300 mind-bogglingly good guitar players. We also had an enjoyable afternoon driving through mountains in Georgia listening to ‘Eat a Peach’ with a 33+ minute ‘Mountain Jam’.
Any new/unknown artists on your playlist at the moment that we should know about?
Pere Ubu, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, Love, The Grateful Dead, Prince, Sun Ra, Henry Cow, Faust, Can, The Pop Group, Public Image Limited, Morphine, Zappa, Zorn, Bowie, etc…
You’ve had a hectic year with your album release and touring, what’s planned for 2012?
Evolution of the soul, mass integration of the collective psyche, activation of the Noosphere, fruition, love, peace, harmony, truth, a stronger sense of humour, the ability to not take things so personally … at worst we will write and play more music, party, learn, and keep watching the stars. Woof!
Have a listen to them over on: http://ellisashbrook.com/
This is HOT. Meet Aluna Francis and George Reid, THE UK duo that everyone needs to prick their ears up and wash their paws for. Reid’s musical production is good. Exceedingly good. It’s rebounding beats and trembeling synths have the elasticty to stetch around Aluna’s alluring voice and it’s acute helium wash. You’ll know you’ll like it and it will drive you in to musical insanity (it’s been in my head for a good few days now.) But, don’t be scared of the shame , you’ll be the ‘hip’ one out of your buddies when you bring this beauty to the table.
OUTFIT. OUTFIT. OUTFIT. Chanting is madatory for these Liverpool lads who have just released the video for their much-loved Septemeber single, ‘Two Islands.’ They’re going down the path of independance, with their new vid being made entirely by themselves with a little help from their friends (old flatmates), who creepily fade into eachother’s blank expressions. Liverpool has given British music some top gifts in the past. Obviously you’ve got The Beatles, Echo and The Bunnymen, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and erm Dead or Alive? Though this is the freshest piece of well, fresh to emerge since those bands began their slow decent.
‘Won’t you put me to sleep, put me to sleep,’ sings one man band veteran, Mauro Remiddi AKA Porcelain Raft. However, I dont think anyone will be able to put him to sleep or sleep themselves while their watching his new video. It’s flashing images and dramatic colour palettes put you on dream/nightmare border. But let’s forget the video and focus on the track, it’s good. The production’s glitchy tension is even more gripping embedded with that ghostly voice. It’s a tantalizing look at what’s to come from debut, ‘Strange Weekend’ due for a January release.
Free Download HERE
Minneapolis four-piece, Howler played a brilliant show last week at The Garage. Their first ever UK show before they head off to support The Vaccines on their nationwide tour this month.
Check out my review over on, ‘Never Enough Notes.’
Native inspired, ‘Wachichoo’ play NYC’s Alternrock Festival this month. The Brooklyn five piece released their third EP last year featuring single, ‘Product.’ They’ve got a busy year ahead of them, where they hope to release more material and get a couple of extra limos. I asked them a few questions about the rise of their band name, future plans and what’s on their playlist at the moment.
How did your brilliantly snappy name come about?
One of the first songs we wrote together reminded us of a galloping buffalo. The name of that song became “Tatanka”; and we thought of the idea of combining Native symbolism with this galloping funk sound we were making. The “Wachichoo” name came from the word given to settlers at the name, literally it meant “Man With Upside Down Face”.
We latched on to that, and it’s just stuck. Plus, it’s a really fun, musical name to say & we dominate Google!
Where did the idea for your Red Indian themed visuals from?
Our good buddy on the west coast Lucas (https://www.facebook.com/musicformusiclovers) is a mad scientist designer who took our music and used his extra-sensory design skills to translate that sound onto canvas.
You obviously draw your influences from far and wide to develop your unique blend of genres. What artists made you want to be part of a band?
Growing up , it was always about boom-box taping RUN-DMC off of a thing called “Music Television”. I sooo wanted to be those guys & me & my brother would put on little shows in the living room for my parents performing “It’s Tricky” and “You Be Illin’”. A bunch of us have always gone to rock shows too, and we wanted to capture the energy of raw live performance from seeing bands like Foo Fighters, Jane’s Addiction and Helmet.
‘Product’, Wachichoo’s third EP was released almost a year ago. Have you got any plans in place for your next EP?
This is the winter of our best record yet. We’re demoing songs for our next EP now, and are doing bits of jamming to bring all our little ideas to life in the studio.
You’re playing as part of NYC’s Alternarock Festival, are you looking forward to it?
YES! It’s going to be a super duper lineup, and we always love hanging out in the e.vil.
What are you currently listening to at the moment?
Right now, this great album by Fela Kuti – “Music is the Weapon of the Future”
How is 2012 shaping up for you?
EXCITEMENT is the word for Wachichoo – new recording, bigger shows, more limos and a bigger entourage!!
Come check us out live! You won’t likely see anything like this band anywhere else!
Nov 16 – Local 269, 8pm
Dec 9th – Fundraiser at Bardot Heights
Dec 13th – Bowery Electric, 11pm
London based label ‘Luv Luv Luv’ have got some of the UK’s most promising artists on their books and they’ve got a busy month ahead with the majority of their affiliates releasing singles.
Shuga – Hey Baby/Sugar
Emma Chitty’s got something to sing about, scrap that, she’s got something to shout about. Someone’s ruffled her feathers and she’s hitting back with this two minute rant-like track that spits angst like a bonfire. Shuga release single ‘Hey Baby’ this week and it’s not one to miss. The London Duo’s debut also features, ‘Sugar’ a song that is well, just a song about the sweet stuff being all around and in your hair. Not too sure how that happened, maybe don’t stand under the piñata, like the kid in the video next time, yeah? There’s still angst in the almost screechy vocal, thriving on vitality and rawness. Worth following.
Spector – Grey Shirt and Tie.
‘So if you want me, you’d better come and find me,’ after this everyone will be after a piece of Fred MacPherson. His trademark specs and delectable voice make him likeable and wonderfully versatile, 2011′s answer to Jarvis Cocker. Even the title sounds like a description of him. Oops, not forgetting the rest of the band, responsible for the hypnotic synths and the echoing atmosphere that bombards this track like pounding thunder. They’re probably going to be no wait; they’re definitely going to be big. One of the stand out tracks of the moment. I love Spector.
Out December 5th.
Theme Park – Milk
Being as fresh as its title (unless your milk is off), this track has a groove that doesn’t give in. It’s an odd one, like a noughties ‘Talking Heads’ revival that got interrupted by Vamps Wkend and the Friendlies in progress. That’s not a bad thing at all; in fact it’s a very good thing. Their uncontrollable tropical essence is fabulous and it’s clear that these London youngsters are not on the road to nowhere, but the road to somewhere. I’m sure they’ll be a favourite for the festival bills next summer. FACT.
Out 12th December
Au Palais – Tender Mercy
This duo bare a name that sounds almost seductive, in a french, roll off the tongue kinda way. But any linguistics buffs out there will know it actually means ‘To the’ or At the’ Palace. Bit of a shame really. The pair stand out from other girl/boy pairings. The gloomy fascination of the ringing synths and a distinct heroic voice will haunt your ears, but they’ll enjoy it. Hailing from Toronto, Au Palais release their second single, ‘Tender Mercy’ later this month and it’s a beauty.
The Miserable Rich – On A Certain Night
The Miserable Rich certainly aren’t miserable. The Brighton group are making Chamber music ‘cool.’ They’ve got the next step up the indie ensemble/folk rank nailed and they’ve passed Mumford and Marling on their way. Their most recent offering, ‘Miss You In The Days’ was released last week but for most they remain an undiscovered secret. With a sound as warming and delightful as this, it sounds fitting for a quaint pub with a log fire. Lovely and uplifting.
MoRo – Something I Can Feel
This happy little ditty is the work of new London 4 piece, MoRo. With the groove-implying tempo and some classic ‘whoos’ it could be done for sounding supicously like one of Vampire Weekend’s castoffs. But have no fear, it has just enough individuality to pull them through and it’s a very decent track. They release their debut, ‘Slow River’ next month with a record launch to mark the occasion at Camden’s Proud Galleries. Be there, this could be big.
Their intriguing ‘Spacey’ vibe and fan dedication show how ‘My Lost Remedy’ have a direct focus that just isn’t bendable. With the release of their EP, ‘Unstable Forms Of Interpretation’ last month and a slot at Texan music extravaganza, SXSW next year, they’re sitting pretty. The trio, based in New York will celebrate their new release with a launch party later this month at Kiely’s in East Meadow, NY. I asked them a few questions about their plans for 2012, the album and the story behind their ‘Spacey’ feel…
How did the three of you get together?
The band was formed by lead guitarist and vocalist Matt and drummer Anthony, who had played together in a previous band since 2006. Our rhythm guitarist, Mike, was introduced to MLR through the band’s former bassist, Matt’s cousin. It was evident from our first rehearsal that there was a great dynamic, both musically and personally.
You’ve previously described your music as having ‘Spacey Rock’ sounds, where did this influence come from?
Our sounds are influenced through guitarists such as Martin Gore of Depeche Mode, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, The Edge of U2 and Jonny Greenwood and Ed O’Brien of Radiohead. Emulating those guitarists as well as creating our own distinct “spacey rock” sounds over the songs adds another dimension to our music. It’s something we do a lot more of in our live shows, which our fans tell us they enjoy, and generates interest from new followers. Sometimes we delve into some long, wild, spacey tangents during songs or even as intros and outros. For us, it’s all about creating a mood.
Who would be your dream band/artist to tour with?
Our “dream” band to tour with is Depeche Mode. Their show is incredible and very avant-garde, and we would love to be part of that. But opening for any of our influences, like Radiohead, U2, or Nine Inch Nails, to name a few, would be the opportunity of a lifetime.
You released your second record, “Unstable Forms Of Interpretation” last month, how has the reception been?
From the first single “Run” that was released about six weeks ago, the response has been overwhelming – we’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback from our fans. Our CD release party for “Unstable Forms Of Interpretation” (aka UFOI) is on November 19th which we are really looking forward to. Our friends and our fans had been asking for a second album and now it’s time to celebrate that achievement for My Lost Remedy.
What can fans expect from your CD launch party in NY later this month?
Everyone can expect a great night of music. We will be performing songs off the new album acoustically at our CD release party to give the night a relaxed, easygoing atmosphere and to let everyone hear the songs in a more raw, organic state. If they haven’t already picked up a copy, our new album will be available to fans that night. Aside from our performance, our friends Mourning Rain will be playing as well. We are very excited to spend the night hanging out with our friends and fans. My Lost Remedy starts the show at 9PM – we hope to see you there for a night of rock and roll, MLR style!
You are also playing Austin’s SXSW next year, which has been the making of some bands in the past. How do you feel about the prospect of playing there?
To say we’re excited would be an understatement. Knowing how big this festival is, that SXSW has the potential to be our launching pad and broaden our horizons is a great feeling. There is just so much opportunity there and it’s an awesome creative environment. We are definitely anticipating this event.
So, what else can we expect from you guys in 2012?
Shows, shows, shows. Just getting out there and sharing our music wherever possible. Also, it’s our goal to release one album annually, coinciding with our current album’s release date, or as close to it as possible. Touring with our dream band would be the ultimate goal down the road.
MLR’s New Single, ‘Run’
Camp Basement may possibly be the hottest venue on earth tonight and it shows no signs to cooling down for the arrival of Zulu Winter. In fact it’s about to get a whole lot hotter. For a band who have only ever played a few shows before, supporting Clock Opera and Double Denim label buddies Outfit, judging from the dingy rammed room, tonight proves how the ‘hype’ messenger can spread like a rash,
And boy do the Londoners prove their worth at their first EVER headline show. Everyone here has the right idea. ‘Quick, we better go and see Zulu Winter before they get big and everyone starts referring to them as ‘their’ band.’ Great plan!
ZW are brilliant, bold and fearless, they play a future-defining set, soon causing The Basement to get caught up in their captivating blend of, well everything. This group don’t have a specific genre as such, it’s kind of an alternative-tribal-synthed-up funk fest, which is why they are stimulating people. They’ve only put two tracks online, which make up their debut single, launched this evening. ‘Never Leave’ and ‘Let’s Move Back to Front’, both get a play, along with a snippet of what’s to come including track, ‘Silver Tongue.’
The crammed stage is their own tonight (not just because it’s tiny) but because they perform as though they’re playing at a much bigger venue. Their warm, exotic projections decorate the stage and just add that final glaze to their sparkling set. Zulu Winter are making an entrance and are starting as they mean to go on; don’t think they’ll be leaving us very soon.
The Vaccines have had the year of their lives, what with a top 5 album, numerous festival slots and working with their ‘modern icon’ Albert Hammond Jr of The Strokes. Aside from this, they’ve spent 18 months touring all over the world from Scandinavia to the US, experiencing the cosiest bars, Las Vegas’ lion cubs and their discovery of ‘disposable’ underwear.
On this blustery Sunday afternoon Justin Young, Pete Robertson, Freddie Cowan and Árni Hjörvar offer up they’re precious free time to do a Q&A session for fans in the British Music Experience at The 02, prior to their support slot with their Sheffield companions Arctic Monkeys. The West London four-piece have previously supported them in the US.
They saunter into the darkened room, wearing their vintage-look attire, looking effortlessly cool and prepped for whatever question to be fired. Firstly answering various questions put to them by the organisers at the BME, mainly focused on the history of the band and the musical foundations of each member. The topic of first records brought was raised including, the Pokémon album (Freddie gives a rendition of the Pokémon rap…), Pete’s was Parklife, his ‘cool’ answer but we all know that his first was actually Spaceman by Babylon Zoo. Oasis and Elvis are also in there, it’s nice to see that they’ve pulled their influences from a range, aye? They also express their adolescent love for grunge pioneers Nirvana.
The long story about how the band got together is a regular question and one that Frontman Justin takes. (How he and Freddie started playing with a third member in their studio but the pair took the reins of the project and started to enjoy playing again after various past projects. They met drummer, Pete (who was a bassist in his first band) and Arni. They started playing together and felt they had something, practised and practised some more. Got Jools Holland and Zane Lowe involved, released their album, got to number 4 and there you have it, The Vaccines’ journey to their rightful place in British music. Happily every after.
“I felt that this was as good as anything else out there and I’ve never really felt that what I was doing was as good as it could be. I felt pretty much from the word Go thought that people might really like this.” - Justin Young
The hype surrounding them allowed everything to move very swiftly for them this year. Favourite moments of theres in 2011 include their triumphant sets at Reading and Leeds, T in the Park and meeting lion cubs in Vegas on their first trip to America, where they also managed to sell out the Bowery Ballroom in NYC with 80′s heroine Debbie Harry in the audience.
Justin: We went to Las Vegas, our bus was driving through and our sound man is from there, well he’s not actually, he’s from Birmingham (laughs) and he said let’s get out for the day and go to Las Vegas. We saw there were these lions, little cubs and it was $200 and you got like a minute with them or something.
Freddie: We have got the photographs, we’ve got the evidence.
Questions were then opened to the floor, after a bit of hesitance the questions got going. The subjects included: the best bars in the world, guilty pleasures, songwriting and how they wash their clothes on the road…
Árni: We learnt pretty quickly that underwear is disposable, you just wear it once. Otherwise you’re just going to be carrying around a massive bag of dirty underwear for two months.
Freddie: It’s like being in the army
Justin: We’re basically in the circus!
Justin: I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. I used to have guilty pleasures but now I’m very happy to admit that I like anything. I really like Taylor Swift and I like stuff that people would probably think were guilty pleasures like Abba. I just like good pop music, it doesn’t really matter how it’s packaged.”
Árni: I’ve got a soft spot for Jessie J
Pete: I don’t follow that whole thing at all. I think music snobbery is a bit like wine snobbery for me. Justin: Only you can know what music touches you here (makes a fist to his heart)” It’s true though isn’t it?
Pete: I think this attitude of guilty pleasures has seen the end of some very good artists bands because somewhere along the line someone has decided that it’s not cool to like that person and their career has ended as a result.
“We do write from personal experience. Songwrting serves as a very therapeutic process and I like the idea of being able to write about something that is quite intensely personal but at the same time it’s universal as well. Yeah, I always write from personal experience. When people talk about politics, I just think there are people in a better place to make those decisions, there’s no-one in a better place to write about me, than me.” - Justin Young
The session ends with Justin playing a solo acoustic version of new single, ‘Wetsuit’, sounding completely different to the normal version, it’s quiet and breezy and making an impression on the room.
What a year The Vaccines have had and it’s not over for them yet, after the rest of the Arctic Monkeys’ dates, they’ll embark on their own headline tour in December. This means in a year they’ve gone from playing KCLSU and the Electric Ballroom to headlining two nights at Brixton, concluding their year on an even bigger high. Where’s next for them? Only time will tell, I’m no mystic meg but I reckon that 2012 will be just as big and they deserve it.