Archive for July, 2009

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AU58: Simian Mobile Disco cover feature

July 1, 2009

This was my third cover feature for AU, and my first trip across the water for an interview. Nice guys, the two Jameses.

SMD cover

In the middle of the decade, Simian Mobile Disco were among the pied pipers of electro, leading the sweaty, synthy charge for others to follow in their wake. But now, two years after their debut album, the English duo are back with some big name guest stars in tow – older, wiser and ready to test the water again. Read the rest of this entry ?

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AU58: Discovery breaking act piece

July 1, 2009

Discovery

DISCOVERY

MEMBERS: Wes Miles (vocals, production), Rostam Batmanglij (production).
FORMATION: New York, 2005.
FOR FANS OF: Vampire Weekend, The Postal Service, Kanye West.
CHECK OUT: LP, out July 7 on XL Recordings.
WEBSITE: www.myspace.com/discoverdiscovery

One good thing about being in a successful band is that it can help your other projects get off the ground, and we have the success of Vampire Weekend and (to a lesser extent) Ra Ra Riot to thank for Discovery. An electro-pop duo consisting of VW keys man and producer Rostam Batmanglij and RRR’s Wes Miles, they got together in 2005 while still toiling in obscurity, but it wasn’t until the storm of hype surrounding Vampire Weekend’s debut album died down that they were able to give Discovery a proper go.

And give it a proper go they have, emerging with an infectious little cracker of an album – one that could be to summer 2009 as Vampire Weekend was to summer 2008. Rather than the afropop of Batmanglij’s main band, though, LP is all about electronic textures – synths, Auto-Tuned vocals and digital handclaps abound, as the duo look towards slick modern R&B and cute synthpop for inspiration. And the songs are there, too – ‘Orange Shirt’ and ‘Osaka Loop Line’ have been building the buzz on Myspace, and there’s plenty more on the album, including a timely cover of the Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back’ and a guest appearance from VW frontman Ezra Koenig on the killer ‘Carby’. Sadly, the duo say they don’t plan to perform live, but as studio-bound side-projects go, Discovery have it licked.

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AU58: The Chapman Family breaking act piece

July 1, 2009

The Chapman Family

THE CHAPMAN FAMILY

MEMBERS: Kingsley Chapman (vocals), Paul Chapman (guitar), Phil Chapman (drums ), Pop Chapman (bass).
FORMATION: Stockton-on-Tees, 2006.
FOR FANS OF: Joy Division, Future Of The Left, The Horrors.
CHECK OUT: The single ‘Kids’, out now.
WEBSITE: www.myspace.com/thechapmanfamily

The Chapman Family are sending out mixed messages. On the one hand, they are all mean and moody – enigmatic like an Anton Corbijn photo and full of monochrome intensity in the MTV2-dominating video for the single ‘Kids’. On the other hand, though, they are unstoppable motormouths. Add them on Myspace, follow them on Twitter, and you will be bombarded with the feverish rantings of a band that has a lot to say about a lot – the BNP, X Factor, playing to disinterested La Roux fans… Frontman Kingsley Chapman (assumed surnames are the order of the day here) comes across like Teesside’s answer to Future Of The Left raconteur Andy Falkous.

Musically, too, there are parallels to be drawn, as the aforementioned ‘Kids’ is a white-hot blast of pissed-off post-punk. “They say it’s alright but I just don’t think so,” spits Kingsley in his proudly unvarnished accent, like The Futureheads (who are from up the road in Sunderland, we know) with a Steve Albini-shaped rocket up their collective arse. Further recorded material is thin on the ground, but their live shows are apparently prone to chaos, while the live B-side ‘A Million Dollars’ is brooding, malevolent and brilliantly nasty. Somehow, they are still unsigned, but expect that to change pretty soon.

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AU58: Phoenix feature

July 1, 2009

This was a three-page feature in the mag, including the sidebar which I have included at the end of the post. Deck was really cool to talk to, and it was a thrill because I’m a massive fan of the latest album.

Phoenix

10 years in, these achingly cool Parisians have made the best album of their career in the Technicolor explosion of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Bassist Deck D’Arcy (far left) tells AU how a “random” recording process and the vagaries of the internet have resulted in an album that makes them more relevant than ever. Read the rest of this entry ?

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AU58: Future Of The Left news feature

July 1, 2009

This was the second time I’d interviewed Andy Falkous, the first being a face-to-face in Dublin with the whole band. It’s fair to say he gives good interview…

Future Of The Left 500

BACKBENCH FURY

ANDY FALKOUS ON RECORD LEAKERS AND WHY HE’D RATHER TOUR THE STATES

Post-punk provocateurs Future of the Left have had a mixed few months. Their second album Travels With Myself And Another was released in June to critical raptures, but not before it leaked two months in advance.

“It was incredibly disappointing, like somebody holding your birthday party without you,” says Andy Falkous from his mother’s house in Northumberland, where in a rare moment of respite he is acting as a surrogate babysitter while Mrs Falkous is out.

Meanwhile, although a UK tour in May was a moderate success, scheduled shows in Belfast and Dublin had to be cancelled due to pitiful ticket sales. “I don’t even want to tell you, they were so low,” laments the frontman. “Literally, I had three times as many messages and comments on Myspace from people saying they had bought tickets than had actually bought tickets.” Happily, rescheduled dates are promised for September.

The album leak led to one of Falkous’s typically entertaining Myspace blogs (sample quote: “I’m not angry – I don’t blame you, unless you leaked it, in which case I WILL KILL YOU.”) and though his words are couched in a heavy dose of irony, it’s clear that the episode still stings.

“I think it would be quite an entertaining thing if you could identify the person who had leaked it and string them up in the middle of the street or something,” he says dryly. “If bands were able to take on the people that leaked their album with weapons in gladiatorial combat, then maybe people would think twice about leaking records.”

The critical acclaim that Future of the Left enjoy is entirely at odds with their level of success so far – they get much better press than Falkous and drummer Jack Egglestone’s previous band mclusky, but Andy has gone on record to say that they sell fewer records and play to smaller crowds. Which is a mystery, as in 2007’s Curses and now Travels With Myself And Another, the band has produced two of the most thrilling rock records of the decade. So why the struggle?

“It’s probably just that little bit too difficult or weird,” Falkous reasons, “or the humour aspect which is so relatively advertised puts people off. Let’s face it, most music is incredibly po-faced, even from individuals in bands who are very humorous and intelligent human beings. At the end of the day, it’s because we’re the band that we are, and there’s an argument that you reach the people you’re meant to reach. Myself, my ambitions lie beyond playing to 28 people in a club in Carlisle. As you would fucking hope.”

The band now have the chance to take their bowel-loosening live show to the States and Canada with an 11-date headline tour, their first ever across the pond, starting on July 13. Falkous is glad of the opportunity to play in more glamorous – and welcoming – locales. “We supported our friends Against Me! [in America] last October, and that went incredibly well. I mean, the reactions were superb. We supported them in Europe and the reactions were uniformly terrible. But yeah, I think this band will rise or fall on its success or otherwise in the States. We’ve had the critical reaction that bands can only dream about in this country, but we’re still not really seeing the benefits or results of that in terms of crowds. It’s going to have to happen in other countries.”

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iheartau.com: Crimea X EP review

July 1, 2009

Available on iheartau.com here.

Crimea X Phoros

CRIMEA X
PHOROS
HELL YEAH!

Italo disco has enjoyed a renaissance of late via Sally Shapiro, Chromatics and even Little Boots, and here we have an Italian act claiming it back. Crimea X are about more than just straddling the line between dancefloor heaven and disco cheese, though – on debut release Phoros they add a touch of piano house, a little kosmische adventure and send it off into the stratosphere. It’s all very agreeable indeed.

Details of its creators are scant. Crimea X are DJ Rocca and Jukka Reverberi, both alumni of post-rockers Giardina di Miró (or so we are told), but there’s precious little on the three original tracks here to hint at a background in guitar-wrangling. Lead track ‘10pm’ is the pick – it builds from a repetitive synth arpeggio into a euphoric floorfiller, all sexy bass, housey piano stabs and the constant patter of bongos bubbling under the surface. It could quite easily slot into the DFA catalogue between The Juan Maclean and Holy Ghost!.

Second track ‘December’ veers towards Harmonia-style Krautrock, as the tempo slows and washes of luxurious synths dominate until the halfway point, when the atmospheric intro gives way to a languid, just-about-danceable disco groove. ‘October’, meanwhile, is a whooshy, Balearic variation on a theme – more geared towards head-nodding than actual dancing, and as rich in glorious analogue sound as the first two tracks. The release is topped off with a couple of remixes of ‘10pm’ – a so-so deep house version by Enzo Elia & Martin Pantino and a quite sublime, ever-building techno reworking by Austrian producer Florian Meindl. All in all, this is exciting stuff.

8/10

DOWNLOAD: ‘10PM’, ‘10PM (FLORIAN MEINDL REMIX)’
FOR FANS OF: THE JUAN MACLEAN, AEROPLANE, THE FIELD.

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AU58: Junior Boys live review

July 1, 2009

Junior Boys

JUNIOR BOYS, R.S.A.G., CIRCLESQUARE
ACADEMY, DUBLIN

Sunday night is never a great time for a gig, and especially not in recession-ravaged Dublin, so when we arrive at a near-empty venue shortly after tour support Circlesquare (low-key but intense, effects-laden art-rock) have begun their set, we have cause for concern. By the time local hero R.S.A.G. finishes, however, attendance isn’t looking so bad. R.S.A.G., or Jeremy Hickey to his ma, is an extraordinary live act. He drums and sings as visuals of himself playing the other instruments (acoustic guitar and bass, mainly) play on the screen behind him. The jury is out on how strong the songwriting is, but Hickey’s shrill blues holler coupled with exuberant and inventive drumming make him worth a watch.

And so Junior Boys arrive and it soon becomes clear that, although they are pretty far from selling the place out, those that have made it out are determined to make the most of the evening. Beginning with latest single ‘Hazel’, the Boys – Jeremy Greenspan on vocals, keys and guitar and Matt Didemus on a bewildering array of electronics, plus a guest drummer – offer up a rambunctiously fun dance party, which isn’t necessarily what we were expecting. On record, the band are cool and pristine, every inch the studio project; every word enunciated, every sound precisely teased from their machines. Live, though, the songs come alive, compelling the crowd not just to nod their heads, but to outright dance. At times it reaches a carnal level of intensity. “Let’s keep cookin’,” says Greenspan a couple of songs in, and they do.

For the most part, the thump from the (shit-hot) drummer’s kick drum is robust and relentless, propelling the industrial crunch of ‘Parallel Lines’ and the slick Italo of ‘Work’. There is more than one side to this band, though, and at times Greenspan’s velvety croon is the star, as the exquisite ‘Count Souvenirs’ and ‘FM’ swoop and hang in the air, the palate-cleansing sorbet to the rest of the set’s wickedly rich main course.

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