Friday, 31 December 2010

Ten Fancies of Mine for 2010...






1 It has to be 'A Room of Her Own' a blog inspired by one of my favourite writers Virginia Woolf. It was always meant to be just anything I fancied waffling about, not a diary as such, I hardly ever write about myself. Anyway, if I don't manage to do anything high brow, at least I blog 'stuff' which means a steady flow of scribbling and reading which stops me going mad.







I flirted with tumblr for a bit but decided it was too social 'networky' for my liking and reminded me of the 'book of evil face' but with longer status updates. A like button or faster way to say 'like', basically a 'thumbs up' is fundamentally LAZY! Can you imagine talking to someone and them doing a 'thumbs up' in response; don't tell me you like something, tell me why you like it or at least say 'I like that'. I would say go to the comment box on here but on blogger that seems to be a big old effort of  filling in boxes, moderating it then publishing it, a bit of a procedure and my only criticism.

So good progress in that I write, people read it, I get a tweet response or a lovely email. It feels worth the effort. And a very big thank you to a good friend of mine that nagged me to write for his site and bump started me doing this blogging business...lovelove to you. Little baby steps of progress, hanging on to fences with the odd tantrum along the way.


2  It may not seem a big deal but after years of long hair, I cut it all off and it feels bloody lovely. At first I blamed mercury in retrograde/the full moon/ hormones but now I'm happy with the change. I do miss pigtails but I have just about enough to have very small comedy ones..in a pinky red colour of course.

 
Here lies Melanie, she grew old disgracefully after completely ignoring the 'less is more' argument...pah!

In my head, I now look like this, minus the devil horns as I'm actually angelic of course. And nobody has asked me where my 'machine' is recently or sung 'Cosmic Love' to me on the last train home and thought they were hilarious, not that I don't love Flo of course. Thank you new hair! For more info on Vernon's beautiful image, jump here.




Which has reminded, blog love to  Siouxsie  whose law and commitment to the colour black and nail varnish never fails to entertain me...and where I saw this evil prettiness. Disclaimer..if you watch, I love Morrissey, I'm a vegetarian and the crows aren't real! Sooo cute...there's nothing wrong with the weird!



3  Back to 'like' buttons and lazy contact...Facebook. The year I left it and have never looked back or missed it despite the social melodrama when people notice you've gone. They seem to think you're dead, depressed or missing even though you still have a landline, a mobile, email and a twitter account. If you don't have these numbers and don't know I tweet/blip occasionally then clearly you shouldn't have been on my facebook friends list.


I could write a dissertation on why I think Facebook is evil so will try to be brief, especially as I have 8 more fancies to write about. It's narcissistic, stalker friendly, the contact is superficial, social occasions start to become dominated by it and the need to get a 'hilarious' photograph to share with your friends that shows what an amazing social life you have? Hmmm not good...plus over tired, drunk, pre menstrual status updates that generally get you in serious trouble.


On top of that is the moral stance it has taken and big brother aspect of it all.  If you're anything like me, the varied circles you move in can be pretty diverse; put them all in one room with all the opinion/judgement they/you hold,  but you love them anyway...but then allow them to speak freely and overhear every conversation that's being held. No wonder it creates clashes referred to by the deactivation section as 'too many social dramas'...no shit! Like the Big Brother house, Facebook brings out the worst traits in everyone. So very happily 2010 was the year I was LIBERATED.


4 I tried this thing called 'one hundred new things in one hundred days'. I made it to day ten, not impressed? Well you should be!  I left my comfort zone and cried twice. I tried out 'assertiveness' even though I don't complain officially. I went in a maze and almost had a panic attack, I  left the house without eyeliner and hoped everyone would politely not notice but sadly, 'are you ok?' was the theme of the day. The experiment worked to a point, just being 'mellydramatic'; next year I will sing in a public place and dance the way I feel.

5 Bestival...it rained, it was muddy, the loos were vile, however thank you to my lovely Campervan for making the festival more comfortable and Mister Tinkerbell for making sure I was never squashed in the crowds or landed on my backside in the mud.  No excuse is needed for me to dress as a faerie, well 'Goth Tinkerbell' of course, perhaps one day I will dress as my other pseudonym 'Babooshka'.

Absolute favourite for this weekend was Fever Ray in the Big Top...completely brilliant despite the drunk, dreadlocked crazy man dancing very inappropriately and clearly hearing something very different in his head... and practically on top of me!  It was very funny being back on my little island at a huge Festival and I hope to do it again one day.




6  Chazzstock was another good night at KOKO (formerly Camden Palace of 90's indie club times). A night of celebratory euphoria intermingled with sadder moments; a real roller coaster of emotions from the compare Eddy Temple-Morris and the artists on the bill.

Without being overly melancholic, it was all in keeping with the fun loving side of Charles. Man Like Me were definitely my favourites on the bill that night. And it all successfully launched The Golden Year which if nobody had heard would have increased the tragedy for this young band. So much love for them, I can even forgive Joe's 70's  porn star moustache.








7 Friends...real ones... and festive jollity like me falling on my knees leaving a restaurant; it was the snow, not the wine, honestly! Falling over in your company is mostly an expression of my love for you...or the moon which I am inclined to stare at and fall onto/ into/or over things while saying 'look at the moon tonight'. I have the bestest friends in the world (sob) no names, that's something a facebook application would trick you into doing and would end in a global village drama. After last year's culling of some 'vampires', I now surround myself with complete lovelies that can glamour me any day...mwah x


 

8 Can I do a blog post without mentioning music? Nope...so anyway I will condense some gushing into one.Great loves of this year have been Crystal Castles, Ou Est Le Swimming Pool and Jonsi...all fantastic albums and I'm still not tired of any of them.

There have been other tracks/albums dotted about but these three albums stood out, Niki & the Dove most notably so looking forward to more of them. A good year for music and Jonsi...I have too much love for that quirky Icelandic man, his music keeps me sane and grounded basically.






What to choose as favourite video? It has to be the darkly glam 'Celestica'; just gorgeousness and a nice treat with a band that don't really do the video thing. Weird children, graveyard, a hint of a Susan Hill ghostie story, Alice in a nice dress and Ethan smearing stuff all over his face plus a good tune...



What more do you need? Well clearly my next entry, wardrobe items you could not live without...

9 A poncho, the most perfect pair of yoga pants (perhaps I will actually do some yoga one day), a fine shrug, a pair of legwarmers to fill out boots when you have skinny legs plus a pretty fab dress with sleeves that look like wings if you try to dance. All in black. ( I can't dance and I need props even if they are outrageous sleeves)

10 So to really sum up, I  have developed compulsive blogging disorder, made up some new 'mellyisms', written tons, still can't live my life without pink post it notes to remind me to send out the right vibrational stuff, had a few hair/falling over incidents,...oh and Ashes to Ashes, the only thing I've watched this year and not felt I've wasted my time.  I did slightly cry which is top of  my criteria for anything worthwhile I watch, read or listen to...

Of course it was going to get silly in the last few entries...so to 2011 and lots of blog love x

Thursday, 23 December 2010

My album of 2010...JONSI - GO





I think 2010 has been a pretty fabulous year for music and among the darlings like Crystal Castles and the sadly and prematurely cut short pop career of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, Jonsi‘s solo debut ‘Go’ is just breathtaking.
   



I am completely in love with the slow and ethereal build up of his previous music as Sigur Ros and this solo effort delivers more of the same; prominent drums and lush fluidity resulting in experimental and dreamy music and that’s before you even get to his vocals that are hauntingly beautiful.

Lucky enough to have seen him perform, the epic energy of these tracks transfers wonderfully to his live performance; he sings in English for the most part for this album, unlike in his band Sigur Ros that is mostly sung in his mother tongue. The beauty of his music is that the it speaks to you and the move into Icelandic makes no difference in your understanding of a mesmerisingly beautiful and uplifting sound.


Jonsi Birgisson retains that mysterious air whatever goobledigook he sings in; the uplifting drum of the earth, the pulse of nature and wonderment in tracks like' Tornado', 'Go Do and 'Kolniour' that are instrumentally intricate, full of colour making them accessible and catchy but on a deep and denser level that gives way to the more foot stamping anthem proportions of ‘Around Us’. So now I'm having difficulty choosing a track, here's another! Gorgeousness.


Ethereal whimsies with epic climatic instrumentals; it all sounds hard work but it’s not, it’s just perfection and suits whatever mood I’m in so wins my favourite album of 2010 hands down.

Go was out early this year so just get it and it will make you feel a bit lovely I promise!

Tracklist:
 
1 Go Do
2 Animal Arithmetic
3 Tornado
4 Boy Lilikoi
5 Sinking Friendships
6 Kolniour
7 Around Us
8 Grow Till Tall
9 Hengilas




Saturday, 18 December 2010

Romy XX ft Creep

Yes, I kind of switched the 'featuring' order as I lovelove her vocals and don't really know who Creep/Deadboy are (guessing you're brilliant though). It's not the single version which is Creep's debut but this is kind of cooooooool...just listen, I lovelovelove! I've heard it twice on the radio in the last week and felt happy; something new and it hasn't got f**king jingly bells on...hooray. In my love for this track, I've lost all sense of grammar and have start making up words in my excitement! Listen to lovely Romy!
























The Creep and Romy Madley Croft collaboration is just very dark yet catchy, clubby dance yet chilled. After some investigation this debut 'Days' from the Brooklyn's house duo is being released on Young Turks. Just perfect if you fancy something a bit different from the festive music currently being churned out and especially if you're a fan of Romy's distinctive voice mixed in with some synth noir and dark new wavy guitar. Gorgeousness.

Listen here to the single version, it's rather lovely too ...


  Days by CREEP


Friday, 17 December 2010

Sister - Rosamund Lupton



 


My new approach to reading is 'everything and anything'; no more agonising over the shelves in Waterstones and now adopting a  more shopping trolley dash and grab… so last week celebrity centred chic lit, this week a thriller/murder mystery.

Very early on this book grabs you and quite quickly the uninspiring cover and blurb are proved wrong; never judge a book by its cover it does seem. Interestingly a criticism of the novel is that the big focus on ‘missing’ hoodwinks the potential reader, as Tess, the 'sister' is found dead very early on. 







It does switch to a more conspiratorial crime novel, however, Lupton writes it as Beatrice's stream of consciousness in the style of a letter to her dead sister. This keeps it personal and takes the edge of the investigative aspect that can get a bit tiresome in this genre of writing.

And actually to me Beatrice’s ‘missing’ sister was less of  a physicality and more that, Tess, in a sense, has been missing from her in life and through her death she ‘finds’ her. It is clear from the start that Beatrice, although having fulfilled the dutiful role of being a sister, in the sense of ‘real’ knowing, she has cut herself off from Tess as they follow different paths; Beatrice, with the rich fiancé, living in New York and a good job and Tess, the art student, single and pregnant living in a basement in West London.

The words from Beatrice are full of longing and regret from the start, the initial phone call where she is called and informed of Tess’s status changes her life in a moment. Not aware that her sister has already given birth, the sad circumstances elude her and starts to show up glaring gaps in communication between the two girls covering what can sometimes be the devastating outcome of being a mother, from Tess's point of view and from the point of view of the sisters' own mother.

There are lots of twists and questioning of psychopathic tendencies in the many characters in a 'Who did it?' or 'Is Bea delusional in her grief?' kind of way, you do wonder at times if she’s making up people and completely losing all sense of reality, lost in her own fiction.  Rosamund Lupton puts all this into the sub text cleverly and convincingly and it does lend itself to a guessing game throughout while covering some of the difficult sides to mortality and family dynamics, particularly regarding morality and peoples expectations and limitations they then put upon you.

Beatrice’s relationship with the lawyer Mr Wright is very interesting for me with the ultimate in twist that I half guessed reading the novel.  I can say no more without a spoiler, the difficulty of reviewing anything is you want to pull it to pieces but can’t without completely retelling and analysing from your own perspective. What might frustrate some readers is that the ending is kind of open, you decide Bea’s fate ultimately…I liked that choice.

A really promising debut from Lupton, it’s well paced and full of surprises, moving moments and a realistic depiction of loss and determination to find truth. I will check out her next novel which has teasers out already and I would recommend ‘Sister’ even if you’re not the biggest fan of the genre...and male readers, don't be put off by the title!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Niki & The Dove – DJ, Ease My Mind/Under The Bridges


An absolute favourite for me at the moment and blowing off the radar any recent release are the discovery of this new Nordic  pop trio. Catchy and experimental with some strangely and beautifully choreographed videos, this is enlightened pop for those that like some serious knob twiddling and avant-garde loveliness.

Niki & The Dove’s current and second release ‘Mother Protect’ is just gorgeous, rewinding back a few months to highlight their debut 12” back in August seemed a must as it may have passed a few by. This would be such a pity if you’re a fan of The Knife’s brand of electro as they certainly seem to be in the league if marginally more accessible.

 It might seem too easy as they are Swedish and Malin Dahlstrom ‘s vocals sound so like Karin Dreijer Andersson’s to compare them with the genius of her tech pop; I couldn’t be a bigger fan of Fever Ray but I think Niki & The Dove have cleverly tapped this audience and hallmark electronica without sounding like a rip off.

If ‘Mother Protect’ made you spine tingly, ‘DJ, Ease My Mind’ will no doubt do the same, enchantingly beatific without being sentimental, coupled with pulsating beats and layers of synth gorgeousness marrying a naive simplicity in the track as a whole. The acrobatic flare in the video cannot be watched without being wowed. You will be left looking for the invisible string they must have used to dalliance in mid air with such perfection in footage that looks like it was made around 30 years ago.





 For the b-side of this debut, Under The Bridges, you get around seven minutes of electro bonkersness drawing you in to the video with some some heavily choreographed footage from a Swedish dance company. Again this reminded me of The Knife and their marriage of performance art and music with the genius of their Darwinist electro opera and The Colouring of Pigeons.

Niki & The Dove do it in a mildly more mainstream way unlike the fearless peculiarity of  The Knife’s projects which you just can’t ignore and I  lovelovelove...



The debut 12” was out on Moshi Moshi August 30th and  the current gem ‘Mother Protect’ is out now…if you like some innovative pop and want to avoid the vacuous festive rubbish in the charts we are about to be subjected to ( naughty boys HURTS and COLDPLAY) , you need to keep an eye out for Niki & The Dove



 Related links

Jump here for Mother Protect if you missed this one!

http://www.myspace.com/nikiandthedove 




The Crying Tree - Naseem Rakha

 
'The Crying Tree' is Naseem Rakha's first novel and follows the story of one family over three decades.  It deals with hidden secrets, guilt, sibling rivalry, favouritism and ultimately with the murder of a young boy and the grief and ways different members of the family deal with it.

The main theme in this novel is 'forgiveness', I could relate to the mother's grief, thankfully only to a certain point, and the blind love for her child.  The twist of the novel, however, blurred Irene Stanley's connection to her son Shep for me, as I'm sure a tuned in mother would have 'known'.



Back to forgiveness though, Irene is the focus of this as she battles to come to terms with the loss of her son but each character has to forgive on some level, the subplots here being Tab Mason, the Penitentiary 'keeper' of Daniel Robbin, the accused; Nate Stanley, the father and Shep's little sister 'Bliss'. It is interesting how they all develop and change over the course of the novel within their own stories and how it all comes together for all of them in quite a spiritual way for me, although reading it, I did think maybe some would interpret it as sentimental.

Call me morbid but I was quite fascinated by the life of  Daniel Robbin before and after his incarceration in the Oregon State Penitentiary and quite so by the procedure involved in the execution of someone by lethal injection. The guilt that Tab Mason feels about the final act after all those years is interesting alongside the need for a gallery of witnesses, the anonymity of the person who actually feeds the lethal drip and astonishingly, the presence of medical staff in case things go wrong and they need to resuscitate? By no means was the moral dilemma a main focus but it does throw up serious questions about the death penalty and did reinforce my opposement to it.

It is in no way a religious novel, however, spiritual themes, talk of God and church do come up in the course of the stories highlighting the hypocrisy and lack of 'forgiveness' in those who are supposed to be selling it to us all. Without giving too much away, the ending is a peaceful release for all of the characters and ties it all up with the words of 'Silent Night', call me sentimental but I liked that.

The novel is good but it didn't blow me away like some have; the twist in the tale as I touched on before undermined the mother's role and it could be argued undermined her forgiveness. Again though, with a spiritual spin, maybe she was tuned in and compelled to do what she did for Shep.

All in all, The Crying Tree is a fast paced novel, not perfect but I would recommend it.


Naseem Rakha: I did not write The Crying Tree to make a statement about the Death Penalty. Instead, I wanted people to confront the question of forgiveness. What does it look like, what does it take, and what can it possibly give? Intellectually, I oppose capital punishment. But, if faced with the murder of a loved one, I have no idea if my moral objections would stand up against my desire for vengeance. This is a question one hopes to never face, but perhaps through this book people will think more about their own capacity to live beyond loss.


 Q&A with Naseem on Amazon 

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Niki & The Dove - Mother Protect


Introducing another Nordic electro gem, the misleading name is actually a Swedish trio fronted by Malin Dahlstrom. They master an experimental synth pop edge with an inspired nod to the electro royalty of these parts The KnifeNiki & The Dove are in keeping with that nature centric fusing of experimental tech pop mixed up with the tribal beat of the landscape and pulse of mother earth. Definitely in the Norse paganistic pop league along with the veteran Bjork, through Jonsi and spilling out with the likes of Our Broken Garden.

It is so Fever Ray vocally and with the ancestral drumming merged with the futuristic bleeping, it does echo the magic of the Driejer-Andersson genius but with a more poppy accessibility which bagged them a session on Rob Da Bank's Radio 1 show.

They have already been NME Radar stars and with their icy and mysterious appeal, another track 'DJ, Ease My Mind' had been described by said pop press as 'about to give Robyn and Lykke sleepless nights'...

I think there's room for them all...but have a listen and see what you think! Definitely a band to keep an eye out for in the coming months...




 Related links:

http://www.myspace.com/nikiandthedove

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Whimsically Gorgeous...Our Broken Garden with 'Golden Sea'



Our Broken Garden's very bewitching Anna Broensted has produced an album of whimsical enchantment.  Golden Sea may bring you to the point of haunting beauty or, adversely, it will knock your whimsy socks off to the point you find it intensely irritating. For the most, I found it lovely.

The former keyboardist with Efterklang has gone solo as Our Broken Garden and  put together ten tracks of dreamy paganistic pop, preoccupied with death in places but in a 'new beginning' kind of way; shades of Bat For Lashes, a more downbeat Florence and the Machine, Feist and going back further Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil. 



Of course the 'siren' Anna is distant and mourning in  some of these tracks, otherworldly and melancholic it could only be having been inspired after watching her fellow Dane's Lars Von Tier's movie 'Antichrist'. The simple use of guitar, synth and string, reverberated and sombre will have an acquired appeal for fans of Scandinavian peers like Little Dragon and Fever Ray with its earthy yet other realm element.



 

Lyrically it is very 'Bat For Lashes' with tales of wailing moons and tears, sea mists and lakes...these are tracks of blissed out sobriety, mixed with some grandiose piano tinkling on the edge of classical, especially with 'The Departure'




The unsettling mysteries of this music have been described by the BBC as 'music goths shag to' I would link to the appalling review  but it was so badly written, I can't be bothered. Interestingly 'new musical mainstream',  NME, love it though; it really is one of those you have to listen to really and make your own mind up. 

 You couldn't possibly criticise the wafting beauty of Anna's voice, even if on the odd track, the mix of musical genre is too busy at times with the  likes of  'Garden Grow' and 'Nightlife', detracting from the heart of the song...time will tell if they are growers though.  The Dark Red Roses is just magical on first listen...





'The Buriel' is worth checking out if you're at all School of Seven Bells inclined, you just' floaty' away quite nicely for it. Strangely the only track so far to have an official video is 'Garden Grow' a bit Goldfrapp circa folktronica phase, but I'm going to politely ignore it as I found it a bit clumsy.

 From the marching drums of 'Warriors of Love' to the the spooky electro pulse of 'Seven Wild Horses' no youtube clip so  for this one but 'thank you' soundcloud..jump here for this which is just lovely...  




 



Grandiose in every way...with strings, with keyboards, piano, guitar, ethereal melancholy and Nordic nature inspired melodrama, it's otherwordly loveliness. My absolute favourite on the album has to be 'The Fiery and Loud' ...enjoy for the whimsy overdose.



 


Was released on the 18th October on Bella Union... buy buy it fellow fanciful peeps!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

A little reminder... Tying Tiffany with Peoples Temple


It’s time to introduce some ‘eyeliner- electro’, code for ‘goth’ of course, but don’t stop reading pop tarts. I reviewed this a while back for music site  Electronically Yours but thought with the new release of the second single 'Lost Way, a little reminder and some updating might be due.






This third album from the beautifully provocative Italian Tying Tiffany has some wonderful tech pop gems but be warned, her  previous albums should come with a 'eurotrash' warning for some tastes so skip straight to Peoples Temple.  Resurrecting the sounds of Bauhaus, The Cure, Siouxsie Sioux, it has ditched most of the guitars and bought things up to electro speed for 2010 . Throw in some Depeche Mode with her vampish beauty, how could you resist?

The album kicks off with ‘3 circle’, Bauhaus fused with Siouxise...lovelove it and a great opening to the album. Moving on to track 2 ‘Storycide’, it sounds like something off of  Mode's ‘Violator’ in places,  confirming that only the ladies should dare to try this with too much male electro lately sounding like diluted Gahan/Gore. ‘Lost Way’ is synth heavy loveliness, upbeat but still feisty and for ‘One Breath’, someone clearly dug up Pete Murphy for guest vocals, Tiff comes in sounding very Toni Halliday from Curve with this curious mix.

 

‘Still in my Head’ is unashamedly sounding like The Cure but sexier, although that’s not hard really, sorry Robert, sexy you will never be, however biggup for latest collaboration with Crystal Castles.  Jump here if you haven't heard it Crystal Castles ft Robert Smith .





Back to Tiff now and disco electropop beep beep for ‘Miracle’, if some of the tracks are too goth synth heavy, this one should grab your pop electro ears and ends with a hint of Mode’s ‘Enjoy the Silence’ too. ‘Cecille’, sounding like Curve mixed with Lush and a touch of Garbage, is basically fiery lady electro,  none of this girlie 'Little Boots' nonsense.

‘Borderline’, no don’t get excited, it’s not a Madonna cover but it’s great anyway! It starts sounding like Ladytron and then the Siouxsie element jumps back in, another track more on the edgier end of pop. For ‘Ghoul’, Tying Tiffany pulls off the femme fatale pop brilliantly and the album ends with ‘Show Me What You Got’ sounding very Chicks on Speed, what a great way to end.


Tying Tiffany has had a varied musical history, however, with this year’s Peoples Temple, the act seems to have found its niche. It could be argued that her success lately is due to a certain kind of 'following' being an ex fetish model, however, it looks like things have moved on a bit  and the music is taking more precedent over that for this album.



 I highly recommend this one for any fans of darker synth pop.  Check out 'Miracle' below, sadly the video doesn't include the vampish loveliness of the lady herself but it's not bad.





New single and video out 'Lost Way'

.

Ditching the thrashy ‘suicidegirl’ look for a more stylish Ladytronesque video, Tiff is subtly sultry in a metallic dress. Looking a bit of a dominatrix in a harmless pop Alison Goldfrapp kind of way with her dancing girls, the track ‘Lost Way’, I think shows a classier, more polished direction while keeping within the boundaries of darker electronic music.

The video is shot in cold sterling tones giving a space age futuristic feel so if you feel like a foray into the dark side of electronica, check out the crunchy synth heaviness of ‘Lost Way’ below...tech-pop goth gorgeousness.




http://www.myspace.com/tyingtiffany 







Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A dragon, some fever and loads of balloons...

Obscure title... yes maybe as my specialist subject this week has been not sleeping that well, leaving me overtired and brain power lacking,  fancies will be related to music, the food of love, and basically all I can muster for now...enjoy!



First is the lovely Yukimi Nagano of Swedish import Little Dragon, her beautifully woozy vocals make up for her very, very hairy band mates, however jokes about beards have got me in serious trouble in the past so I will resist...Here are Little Dragon doing the live thing with 'Feather', from Machine Dreams that came out last year and finally they are making some waves after some collaborating on Gorillaz current album 'Plastic Beach'. Yukimi's enchanting voice works so well with the  pop bleeping and swirling synths for this one...






The track featured below is my personal favourite, ‘Blinking Pigs’ is just hauntingly melodic with a great bassline, strangely enchanting lyrics about ‘phantom legs’, coupled with a fantastical Bjork esque video, what more could you ask for? Definitely ones to keep an eye on and do check out the track ‘Twice’ on their myspace which is just gorgeousness… enjoy!


This has served as a little reminder and prod to investigate ‘If You Return’ again, a collaboration with Maximum Balloon. Synth heavy pop material is coming from the debut from Maximum Balloon; a new direction and brainchild of Dave Sitek, jumping ship from alternative art rock to this new electronically focused pop, he is  the producer behind the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Foals, Scarlet Johannson and former member of TV on the Radio.

 For this new project, he has full writing credits but has featured ten guest vocalists among who are Karen O, Aku, David Byrne, Yukimi Nagano and Theophilus London. Sitek, famously a prickly character and quoted for citing his annoyance at bands for not opening up to new ideas, can’t be all that bad to get this line up for his first solo album. Having moved his studio from Brooklyn to L.A, maybe it has ‘sunshined’ up his music resulting in a collection of pop gems for his solo debut.

'If  You Return' has been around as a one and a half minute promo for a while but finally a full version is available on YouTube, no video as yet but hopefully the dancer from the promo will feature.Have a listen to its synth pop loveliness, Yukimi’s fantastic soulful vocals mixed up with some Vince Clarke style bleeping does have an exquisite Yazoo quality going on.





And finally, a huge influence on Little Dragon and the absolute Queen of Nordic electro, Fever Ray, with 'Stranger Than Kindness', yes the album has been out a year now but until this week I hadn't seen this video. How could this have happened?

Fever Ray covering Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds could only be just brilliant and the video is just fabulously noir electro creepiness with the set from her live performance mixed in. Directed by Andreas Nilsson, it mixes the lasers with skulls and shamanic imagery in such an eerily Fever Ray way, weird perfection; she is always one to mesmerise and confuse all at the same time.

Apparently there will be no more Fever Ray now but a little consolation is that she has started recording with her brother again so watch out for that if you're a fan of The Knife... I don't have enough lovelovelove for this track!



http://www.myspace.com/feverray

http://www.myspace.com/yourlittledragon

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Crystal Castles...goth noir collaboration for 'Not In Love' and a new video for 'Baptism'

 


Crystal Castles second album has been one of my favourites this year, on constant play with its 'uniquely' messed up experimental electronica and Alice Glass banshee squeal led by Ethan Kath's digital synth madness.





So for this week, two bits of good news on the Castles  front. After the strange 'quiet' since the release of  Celestica, there is finally a new single out with a surprising goth noir collaboration and a new video from another album track. Any fan would feel spoilt for choice this week with more from this work of musical genius that ranges from distorted drugged up rave, chiptune to shoegaze and always so untypical.

Never a band to be predictable, there were rumours of  the drugged up beats of 'Baptism' being the second single after the surprisingly melodic 'Celestica' but then it seemed 'Not in Love' was the big news just last week? Guest vocals from Robert Smith made me cringe slightly,  but it works, surprisingly his angst ridden often melancholic tones really pull it all together. Who would have seen this coming? If you haven't already heard it...listen here, it's out on December 6th!




It does make you tap your feet a bit more than the album version which is distortion mad to the point it sounds like it was recorded under water. In a recent NME interview Ethan Kath did refer to Alice as a 'poet', so it's nice to hear this poetry clearly for once with Robert Smith's audible vocals. As much as I like the screeching of Alice, sometimes I want to hear what she's saying, her plaintiff cries of lost love and empty hearts shows a new sensitive side.  I have also noted Alice Glass' Smiths t-shirts in a many a live clip, so if any day now Morrissey lends some vocals, I may jump for joy!

The only slight disappointment with this track is that when Alice and Robert's vocals are mixed, it is fab and such a shame there wasn't more of this in the single. It's postmodernism gone a bit mad with this track that's originally the new wave Canadian band Platinum Blonde, now given its Castles treatment and then done yet again with different vocals for single release.


A few radio play lists later and crowned 'track of the week' in NME with 'Not in Love', it seems 'Baptism' is back in the news with a video, a real one with Alice in it...what is going on? In Celestica she floated in a glam noir trance around a graveyard, for this one she's the more recognizable Alice of  madness and frenzied dance moves, however catchy the Robert Smith collaboration is, he's just not as interesting to watch really! So check out this gem and if you haven't bought the album yet, shame on you, it's brilliant!






Baptism has the energy of Alice Practise after the surprise of the melodic Celestica and this single really will be a winner for any loyal Castles fans. The messed up vocals,  8-bit bleeps and chaotic lead synths as everyone throws around labels like 'nu-rave' and 'chiptune' just leave you with a band that cannot be pinned down; you either love it or hate it.

Crystal Castles are feeling a bit more 'commercial' with this second album and it seems the recording of a single with The Cure front man Robert Smith has been a very clever move along with the two videos released from the album that have been a little more polished, if slow coming out.

 I think they will lightly brush the mainstream while keeping  their signature erratic bleeping and bass lines, embracing distortion and melody as the quite bonkers and brilliant duo. Maybe one day someone will get a decent interview out of the elusive pair... or perhaps they do just sit back and laugh at the press they get for just pleasing themselves?



Crystal Castles II

 Crystal Castles myspace

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Likey Some Lykke Li?


There seems to have been a real buzz around the release of Lykke Li's new single this week and quite rightly so, as having listened to it, it is instantly infectious with a new edge to her dulcet yet powerful vocals.

'Get Some' is the first single from the soon to be released second album and it is every bit as good as tracks like 'I'm good, I'm gone' and 'Little Bit'  from her 2008 debut 'Youth Novels'.







Launching in to an unrestrained drumbeat and a clamoring chorus for this invigoratingly catchy track, Li exudes confidence and control in her bid to reclaim words like 'prostitute' in her lyrical attack on gender politics. Lykke is the authority in this with the dominating theme;

'Don't turn away, this is my time,
Don't make demands, I don't take none,'

And following this with a complete turning on its head of who is the prostitute and who is doing the 'giving and taking' in this musically charged confrontation with the line,

'I'm your prostitute, you gon' get some'



Without getting too fixated with the words though, this is a great come back from the Swedish songstress and I'm very muchly looking forward to adding this album to my ever growing Nordic biased collection of late. The feisty 'Get Some' contrasts well to the more chilled b-side 'Paris Blue' and both can be downloaded for free on her website...

http://www.lykkeli.com 







It will be interesting to see the official video for this single when it comes out but for now, here's one that so far hasn't been taken down from Youtube, fingers crossed,  but if the label tight arses do remove it, you can hear it here...  NME's ten tracks you have to hear this week





Sunday, 17 October 2010

Latest band crush - Man Like Me



'Oh My Gosh', Man Like Me have been my ‘band crush’ since seeing them live a couple of weeks ago at Chazzstock. Front man Johnny Langer is such a bonkersly brilliant entertainer and these guys really stood out in the line up, if for nothing else than making an entrance on stage with Lidl shopping bags! 




Now becoming part of the commercial machine, they have done a quite fabulous poppy cover for the current Ikea advertisement.



There’s been some ‘handbags at dawn’ in the youtube comments as to whether it’s better or worse than the original 1980 Jona Lewie hit, but who care’s really? I don't know the original but the appearance of Lewie himself in the video validates it for me. An Ikea advertisement may not be the ‘height of cool’ but hopefully this will give them some exposure and get them signed to a record label, someone please?

These North London boys are just so brilliant and not really what I would normally listen to especially with the two tone trumpet thing going on in some tracks but this is such a hooky pop cover of the original Lewie track and all their songs are packed with dark humour. Also check out ‘Oh my Gosh’ and ‘London Town’ for some more Burberry baseball cap comedy genius mixed up with some brilliant synchronised dance moves. 


Anyone that can entertain me for four minutes singing about fruit has to be something special, 'Donut' and 'Single Dad' just oddly draw you into a newbie band who are definitely about to make some noise.  Man Like Me have to been seen live to fully appreciate them...Oh and more people need to hear their ‘These New Knights’ Ou Est Le Swimming Pool cover too if anyone’s looking.

'Roll up, roll up' for this live in session clip of 'Fruit'...lovelovelove them!


http://www.myspace.com/manlikeme

Image: Man Like Me: taken at Chazzstock by me

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger


In many ways,’ Her Fearful Symmetry’ is a classic ghost story expressing the basic human need to stay in touch with deceased loved ones, alongside echoes of the horror of such tales as 'Frankenstein'.

All set around the majestically gothic Highgate Cemetery and the premature death of Elspeth, the fragility of two virginal twin girls' story in a strange country is interspersed with obsession on many levels. Martin and his fearful compulsive rituals, grieving lover Robert with his need to stay around Elspeth’s ghost and Julia’s dependency and control over the weaker twin Valentina are portrayed brilliantly.




There are hidden family secrets and the portrayal of the darker side of humanity within the basic need to continue to live/exist on some level after death at any cost. Jealousy and desperation for personal freedom from earthly and unearthly entrapment are familiar themes for Niffenegger, at her best known for pulling readers into quite ‘unbelievable’ stories woven in with every day experience and pressure of human relationships.

I enjoyed Niffenegger’s debut ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’, once I got over the American spelling of 'Traveler', how up tightly English of me; however, I was prepared for mixed feelings with her second novel as I found the ending to this first effort of hers dissatisfying. This book took on a similar feel, I loved parts and felt the pace became a little changeable with somewhat over sensational endings to some of the characters’ stories. However, the ultimate ending to this novel and Elspeth’s continued ‘existence’ was more satisfying on a karmic level and flawed the love that started the haunting.

It could just be me but the pace within Niffenegger’s novels seems too erratic with the story turning into a ‘mad rush’ towards the end, tying up loose ends of subplots at 100mph leaving me wondering if I missed something? I want to comment more on Valentina’s twice over ‘ending’ but can’t without a spoiler alert.

 The identical but mirrored twins, Julia and Valentina, seem to go on and mirror their mother and aunt, Elspeth and Edith, and fraught with the same struggles with dependency and interdependency. Many hints are given early on of a maternal confusion over the younger twins, this ‘muddle’ theme carries on from Niffenegger’s first novel. 

 

I’m not convinced that this writing tool of hers adds suspense or rather frustrating vagueness, I’m pretty sure some would have given up in the first few pages through sheer frustration at said ‘time and place’ confusion in 'The Time Traveler’s Wife', and with this one the ‘identity’ muddle and merging of essentially two humans locked in a battle striving for separation and ‘uniqueness’. I suppose it depends on the patience of the reader in that pull into these characters' stories.





The depiction of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and the pressure that puts on loved ones was very moving in the story of Martin and Marijke. Again, their ending seemed pulled together too swiftly, however their love story was the one I found the most sympathetic and real. The gothic melodrama of Valentina’s desperate measure to rid herself of her domineering twin Julia comes too late in comparison.

I found Elspeth and Edith’s estrangement a little unconvincing and was relieved that the ‘big’ secret was revealed as ‘not so buried’ towards the end. I was surprised, Niffenegger’s novels are hardly predictable, however I thought this part of the story would be much darker and chilling; where was the ‘fearful’ in the book's title?

Some of the deepening feelings amongst the main characters seem to be too rapid again, in particular Robert and Valentina. The horror of Valentina’s request and demise was suitably chilling and, call me cynical, would lend very well to another film adaptation and I did wonder if this was a consideration for the sudden ‘action’ at the expense of more detailed atmosphere in the final chapters.

Elspeth’s dark side is convincing and the possible explanations for her demise into it on the ‘other side’ were quite interesting if hard to digest from any sort of spiritual perspective. All in all, I liked the book but felt more aware of some of the details in this that didn’t ring true in comparison to 'The Time Traveler’s Wife'. I think to sum up completely, I liked both books equally but had the same minor criticisms with both at different points in each, mostly with the pace of the stories.

What I did absolutely love about the novel was the warmth in the description of  Highgate Cemetery.  In its detailed portrayal of the gothic Victorian beauty of one of London’s most famous places of the dead, this was told as a love affair in itself. The gaunt grief stricken Robert’s thesis and passion for telling the stories of those laid to rest within its gates were fascinating and could be a book in itself. The pre-Raphaelite Gabriel Rossetti and the story of the exhuming of Lizzie Siddal's grave strangely hints at the macabre twisted body ‘snatching’ from the Noble Mausoleum towards the end of the novel.

‘Her Fearful Symmetry’ is an enjoyable read, but does it have longetivity?  I'm not so sure... in comparison to Niffenegger's first acclaimed novel, I think it's on the same level if overlooking the sci-fi for the ghost story, the compelling element coming a little too late for me and taking on the speed of a soap opera for the final chapters.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Esben and the Witch, Our Broken Garden, Man Like Me

This week's main event has been a trip down memory lane to Camden and a night out at KOKO formerly Camden Palace. A great charity event night for the late Charlie Haddon was had at this fabulous London venue. I've already reviewed it here so won't go in to too much detail but for the final time, just go buy Ou Est Le Swimming Pool's fantastic debut 'The Golden Year', trust me on this!



This isn't just a music blog even though it's looking that way recently so do hunt around a bit on here...but for now, back to sounds again! I was so impressed with Man Like Me at this event, another promising band from Camden Town. I'm not sure I would buy the album, but 'live' they were very entertaining. Check out this in session youtube video. Their official videos are a bit cheap looking and don't do them justice them really...but newbies and unsigned, you kind of expect that. Keep an eye out for them.




I was also very impressed by KOKO, nicely red and black so aesthetically pleasing for me, they didn't over fill it for this charity gig, which was a relief after being almost squished to death watching Fever Ray at Bestival. Flashbacks to university days added to the nostalgia of remembering the indie club nights there, further enhanced by the annoying squeezy plastic pint glasses...classy! And I'm so 'un rock n roll' these days, I was just so happy to see bins for them!

Flicking through NME earlier, Esben and the Witch sprang out,  I wonder why this band have eluded me so far? Sounding very Siouxsie ish and kind of dark, I likey like them. Not the prettiest video in the world but making a point, their new single 'Marching Song' is a goody. Check it out...released on 11th October.


 

Another new discovery are Our Broken Garden, absolute gorgeousness and on my ever growing list of 'must have' albums...will be getting this along with Jonsi to overdose on the dreamy whimsy...enjoy!



Finally,  I was so pleased to get a tweet from Eddy Temple-Morris to say he liked my Chazzstock review.  Lots of tweet love for him for bothering to read it!

Good times!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Chazzstock - KOKO, 4th October

 

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this night, a celebration, some difficult messages or a straightforward album launch for ‘The Golden Year’? 

All in all, it was all of that, a true Camden ‘knees up’ with celebratory euphoria intermingled with sadder moments; a real rollercoaster of emotions from the compare Eddy Temple-Morris and the artists on the bill. Without being overly melancholic, it was all in keeping with the fun loving side of Charles.








Joe Hutchison made it to the event and played keyboards for some of the records, albeit looking like he was struggling a bit. The other Ou Est band member Caan Capan, sadly but understandably didn’t put in an appearance.

 From the outset, this seemed an event that was so close to Charles’ death, when people would still be in the early days of grief; knocked together quickly with bands using lyric sheets for some of the performances, it was obvious there was a lot of love for Charles personally as well as for his song writing talent. Each band played one song from the fantastic album in track order at the great venue KOKO, formerly Camden Palace and a favourite nostalgic haunt for me.

The Golden Year's first track is fantastic but unfortunately  Mister Spandau Ballet, Tony Hadley, had stage fright for the opening song. Grumble, grumble from me as ‘You Started’ is one of my favourites and ‘ballad belter’ Tony could have pulled it off beautifully. He did manage ‘True’ and ‘Gold’ at the end but was the only artist that night not to do an Ou Est track which was a great shame!



Anyway, moving on from the shaky start, next up were The Kooks cue earth shattering squeals from the girls in the audience. Front man Kook was a good friend of Charles, they jammed together and their acoustic rendition of ‘The Key’ was really fabulous and very moving.






A lot of these bands did slower, more acoustic versions of the tracks which seemed to fit the occasion perfectly. The amount of artists playing really gave this four hour gig a festival atmosphere, and bands were moved on and off swiftly with the sounds of Kissy Sell Out’s expertise DJ set which included a lot of Florence.. hooray!


Next up were Man Like Me… school friends of Joe and Caan. There has been some  Camden band feuding through interview spats in the recent year between them and Ou Est, so how cool they turned up…and how good were they? Brilliant! What a fabulously bonkers frontman and I will be keeping an eye out for them now especially after their cover of ’These New Knights’ with synchronised dancing…genius!



Next up was Nat Jenkins and the reappearance of ‘kooky’ Luke Pritchard on stage. A bit of me was relieved it wasn’t Frankmusik with 'Dance The Way I Feel' at this point as that would have been a misty eyed nightmare and too sad.

Alex Starling, the lesser known fourth member of Ou Est came on for the next two tracks and did a wonderfully touching performance of ‘Outside’, piano and voice was all that was needed and for me showed Charles’ talent for song writing that these tracks sound great electronically, acoustically and for some of this tribute with heavy guitars.




 The next artist MPHO was bought on stage with the an ‘emotional alert warning’, this lady with the fantastic voice seemed close to Ou Est and before starting her tribute to Charlie, expressed her love for the boys and how much she missed them. She then went into ‘Running Up That Hill’ to the crowd's surprise but at Ou Est's request.




Such a great cover of a classic Kate Bush track and again just fitted in with the proceedings. And being a huge Kate Bush fan, happy happy me but again mixed with that sadness, the lyrics taking on yet more meaning. MPHO’s performance of ‘Jackson’s Last Stand’ was perfect and along with the hugely entertaining Man Like Me was a highlight of the evening.





Artist up next on the bill was Daisy Dares You doing a guitar heavy ‘Answers'. This is another favourite off of 'The Golden Year' for me and she did a great job. Being the only track on the album with main vocals from Caan, I was hoping he might do it, but sadly no.




 Ollie Wride did his eccentric glam rock interpretation of ‘Get Along’ to a pulsating crowd. Tribes and a special guest appearance of a mix up of The Vaccines and The Horrors came on stage before Mr Hudson, who got the crowd going again with his hit ‘Forever Young.




It was a fittingly 'Camden Town' party for these local boys and ended the night on a high intermingled with some poignant words from compare Eddy urging everyone to ‘talk’ more, particularly young men who currently are the most likely to take their own lives.


Stage fright less now, Tony Hadley came on to close, looking a bit lost without his Kemp brothers but managed to belt out ‘ True’ and ‘Gold’ to a happily high crowd. If Charlie was looking down, I’m sure he was dancing.



The night successfully and sensitively launched the Ou Est album and talent of Charles Haddon. Out of every tragedy, there can be some positivity and if pushing awareness forward of this new epidemic in young men for depression coupled with a celebration of creative talent, then that is the silver lining in all this. With wise words during the evening from compare and good friend of Charlie's, Eddy Temple-Morris, if just one life is saved with this plea for men to 'talk' more, then this tribute to a troubled musician has done its most important job.




To not release ‘The Golden Year’ would only have added to the tragedy. And so, with that in mind, I am looking forward to whatever Joe and Caan go on to do in their futures.







A tribute to the life of Charles Haddon who sadly died August 20th 2010…all proceeds going to the mental health charity MIND.

http://www.mind.org.uk/





Images: taken by me at Chazzstock 2010

Friday, 1 October 2010

Fluffy goth kitties...




Well this week has been mostly centred around the arrival of 'Spooky' and 'Shadow'; they may look like beautiful accessories but honestly the rescue centre only had black kittens, I promise I won't make them into fluffy earrings! Of course they won't keep still for the camera and holding them whilst wearing black isn't helpful, look closely and you will see some little green eyes!

There's been no time for anything else...blog love x







Friday, 24 September 2010

The Naked and Famous, Little Dragon and a poncho...




Having run out of things to review right now, it's time for some fancies. I won't be blogging my every waking moment on here but perhaps on a Friday, I will share a little of my week; let's see how long I can keep it up?

First half of the week involved lots of bed, not the fun kind, the flu kind which was very boring, culminating in a huge headache all day Wednesday and recovery on Thursday. So it's been a short week really. 


This is my favourite time of the year being the start of Autumn though so despite all the sneezing, I've been feeling that season turn...and a good excuse to shop a bit for some new clothes and think about Samhain which is another favourite festival of mine...witchywoos and pumpkins and the perfect time to buy a new broomstick without people giving me funny looks!
  

I have two new books to read, reviews coming up of course, the new Niffenegger, of 'The Time Traveler's Wife' fame which is a ghostie story and fabulous so far ' Her Fearful Symmetry'. It has encouraged me to pick up an old story I was writing a few months back so 'inspiring times'! A first for me is a book by Naseem Rahka called 'The Crying Tree', no idea what it will be like but was attracted to the title so watch this space for a verdict.
  

Other news, hmm due to illness I watched television this week ' This is England 1986', oh bleurgh, left me with the same feeling the ten oclock news does, dispondent and wondering how everyone just keeps plodding on through life's crap... come on 2012 please! Not the Olympics, spiritual enlightenment of course! Was greatly cheered up by Mister Bill 'lovely' Compton of vampirey blood/sex/bits of bodies 'True Blood'.  
  

I'm now the proud owner of a poncho...and in the words of Vince Noir ' It's impossible to be unhappy in a poncho' which is why I wore it all morning after waking up as the mardiest Melanie on the planet, god knows why? Moon or hormones? Some comfort blanket style clothing magic and The Naked and Famous new single have made me feel much more Friday 'ish' ...enjoy!



Oh and I've written some strange poems this week, a bit on the dark side so will be hiding them amongst my fancies at some point!

 

And it looks like I'm attending Chazzstock as two tickets have just been pushed through my front door, have no idea what that will be like? Will keep you posted on that too. Happily Fridays all round, here's some Little Dragon, lovelove this lady's voice!

 

And Breaking news...I haven't blipped for over a week! Sorry loyal listeners... I need to sort this out!


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Fan Death - Reunited




Fan Death is the electro collective, Dandilion Wind Opaine, Marta Jaciubek-Mckeever and Szam Findlay, definitely ones to watch with a debut album full of whimsy art pop.





The chosen video is 'Reunited', a wonderfully bonkers impression of 'Little Red Riding Hood' dodging wickedness, stopping off to impress you with some eccentric dancing, not dissimilar to that in the video for Mode's 'Halo'.

After catching the eye of Prince in her 'raspberry beret' and bumping into Adam Ant on a skateboard, you can't help but keep peeking at the whimsical images; a fairy tale meets rock dressed in an electro beat. Spot the 'looky- likeys' in this who consist of the girls' idols; once you notice Martin Gore, you will forgive the dalliance with Axel Rose.



Dead Fan

Quirky and fantastical sounds are to be expected from this debut album 'Womb of Dreams'.


Dandelion and Marta have big voices and with the music ranging from fun to eerie on this debut, it's definitely an interesting project.





Put La Roux, Florence and Natasha Khan in a blender, add some strings and disco beats with some silly dancing and you're still only 'just' there. 'Womb of Dreams' is released by Mercury Records in the UK on the 30th August.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Human Chain - an anthology of poetry by Seamus Heaney



This wonderful collection of poetry from Seamus Heaney is one of retrospection and near death, portraying bygones in his human chain. It feels like he's going back over his life as he reflects in 'Route 110' his younger days working in a bookshop. The collection jumps around in the map of his life, ' Chanson d'Adventure' describing an ambulance ride after he had a stroke;





Everything and nothing spoken,
Our eyebeams threaded laser-fast, no transport
Ever like it until then, in the sunlit cold.

This is followed by 'Miracle' which can only be his recovery and the people in the Human Chain that helped him at the time;

Until he's strapped on tight, made tiltable
And raised to the tiled roof, then lowered for healing.
Be mindful of them as they stand and wait

Heaney always portrays his life in words of beautiful simplicity which makes his poetry come alive, my favourite at the moment is ' A Herbal' an adaptation of the Breton poet Guillevic, describing the mystery and other worldliness of graveyard plants and grass;

Not that grass itself
Ever rests in peace.

It too takes issue,
Now sets its face

To the wind,
Now turns its back.

Memoirs of his parents are in 'Uncoupled', his mother carrying a tray of ashes and his father in an ordinary yet dignified role. He captures the ghosts of three painters, Nancy Wynn- Jones, Derek Hill and Colin Middleton perfectly. This is a poet in the latter part of his life writing words about the end of life and the pictures that flash through the mind, chronicling his memories and thoughts before they are lost in his own mortality. His poems carry the stamp of autobiographical detail, taking you through his phases in life with such undressed intensity, it is hoped these are not his last.