Friday, 24 June 2011

Braids - Interview

Canadian based quartet, Braids, ooze strange charm and produce extraordinarily likeable woozy and lovelorn songs. Although coming from the same country as the feisty frontwomen from Austra and Crystal Castles (Katie Stelmanis and Alice Glass), frontwoman Raphaelle Standell-Preston has a more delicate sensibility and harmoniously rich texture to her voice without maximum noise. Band member Katie Lee shares some facts with us that might have been on your mind; 

Are there any particular places that inspire your music?
At the moment, Calgary and Montreal. Native Speaker was written before and after our move between the two cities and is a lot about our growth in both of them.

Do you prefer touring or recording?
Both are different in their own ways and some days we prefer touring and other days we prefer recording. What's great about being able to do one thing is to tire of it, take a break, and do the other.

What's the inspiration behind the artwork for 'Native Speaker'?
Marc Rimmer who designed and took the photograph for the cover mentioned to us about creating something that is textural yet simple overall in it's presentation. To him it represents the way we write music. The blending of ideas to create one overall feeling. There is a great interview about it here:

Who is your favourite Canadian band?
We have so many favourite Canadian bands! The longest standing would have to be Chad Vangaalen, he is our home town hero. Cousins, Morgan Greenwood, Play Guitar are a few that we are consistently stoked on.

How did it feel to be nominated for the Polaris long list?
We were honored. A lot of our high school records were bought because of the Polaris prize music list, and was partly the reason for our introduction to Canadian music on a national level. To be on the same list as Colin Stetson and Tim Hecker is really humbling, as we consider both to be some of the best musicians in Canada.

What is your favourite distraction on tour?
Buying random things in truck stops and eating.

How did you end up choosing the name 'Braids'?
Braids is a symbol of how we function as a group and as friends. Everyone has an equal part and say and these ideas are married into a whole.

What are you most excited about this summer?
throwing dry ice into a pool.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Band to look out for #9

Gross Magic

It's becoming more and more difficult to achieve a totally unique style in music nowadays. This has seen the development of many scenes over recent years less about looking to the future, but instead harking back to and reviving past music scenes. Gross Magic, the solo project of former ' Hocus Tocus' member Sam McGarrigle runs on nostalgia, he slots into the lo-fi glam-rock revival label quite comfortably alongside the similary hazy Ariel Pink and the recently scuzz-free Smith Westerns.

Gross Magic creates the kind of slacker-pop you'd expect from someone only recently out of adolescence. His music is lazy and woozy on the one hand, but equally it showcases an ambituous young man writing some phenomenally grandiose pop songs, channeling the spirit of Marc Bolan at his most flamboyant '20th century boy' peak. While comparing Gross Magic to the T. Rex frontman may seem a bit presumptuous, he certainly has the right framework in place, most notably with the song 'Sweetest Touch' in which Sam's slightly frail almost feminine voice recounts the tale of being desperately infatuated with a girl in the most hopeless way. "Still cant believe she knows my name" Sam wonders, over an infectious squealing glam guitar riff and crashing drums.  The rest of Gross Magic's debut EP 'Teen Jamz' is similary lovelorn and impressively accomplished, 'Cant ignore my heart' also permeates deeply, this time with added synth twiddling and yet more distinctly teenage confessional lyricisms. All in all, not bad for a kid from Brighton armed with nothing but kick-ass musical influences and a DIY laptop knowhow.

EP 'Teen Jamz' is available for purchase from

By Toby McCarron

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

1234 Festival Preview

Festival season is looming with Glastonbury leading the way, despite the ambiguity of the weather forecast this weekend. Although Get Loaded In The Park was a bad start with the impetuous rain, we can hope that on Saturday 9th July, the weather will have taken a positive turn for 1234 Festival.   This year, 1234 Festival have collaborated with new online music platform with more relatively unknown acts than you can shake a stick at. There are several after parties on offer after you've gone to 1234 in venues including The Old Blue Last and XOYO with artists including Brown Brogues and Autokratz. 

1234 Festival offers a unique music experience compared to other London based music festivals. While festivals book the biggest names possible, 1234 brings some hidden gems to Shoreditch Park. Headliner Black Lips have recently brought out their 6th album, Arabia Mountain which Mark Ronson put his own stamp on. They have a penchant for having their music featured on popular indie films which makes them a must see for those familiar with 500 Days of Summer and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. Their wonderful brand of flower-punk will fill Shoreditch Park with their psychedelic vibes. Previous acts that have graced the same stage have been Factory Floor, Patrick Wolf and Crystal Fighters who played 1234 in 2009. 

Those who are avid new music discoverers will find solace in talked about bands such as Christian Aids. With PR treading on their toes every step of the way, they're set to be a revival of euphoric rave. You can also catch them at The Victoria in Dalston on 30th June. Two Wounded Birds have also been mentioned by nearly everyone who knows anything about music. Their 60s inspired surf pop has been doing the rounds at various venues and they've managed to make a name for themselves with their upcoming slot at 1234 Festival and previously playing an instore at Rough Trade East for their short but energetic punk natured single Midnight Wave. 

If you're still deciding which festivals to go to this summer; add 1234 Festival to your list if you want to see some of the greatest new acts around live and drink copious amounts of Kopparberg.  

Buy Tickets:
HMV Tickets

Monday, 20 June 2011

Beau And The Arrows - Interview

South east London quartet Beau and the Arrows have been making waves in new music and received high praise from 6music presenter Steve Lamacq. They've been doing live gigs in London for a couple of years and formed in 2008 just after Beau was recovering from throat surgery. Beau gives us further insight into the band;  

Your debut album 'Future Kicks' is due this summer, will there be material on there similar to your singles?
Well we hope to release the album in the summer. We don't really have a set date at the moment but nevertheless, the songs on the album will be similar to the singles that we have already released.
We feel we have a few really big anthems but also some really meaningful love songs on there too. We want the album to really flow well so we had to be careful when picking the setlist for the album.

How did it feel when you were signed to Happy Release Records?
Great! I mean we all knew that we were not going to be rich and famous over night but understood that this was a big step up from being an unsigned act and that more opportunities would come our way. 

What is your favourite London venue to play at?Tough one, but I would say The Dublin Castle or The Old Queens Head. Both good venues with a lot of atmosphere. 

How do you balance your varying musical influences when writing music? 
Well I (Beau) tend to lead the pack so to speak when it comes to writing the music. It’s mainly me that brings a lot of the ideas to the table and then the rest of the band chip in when needed. From being able to play a lot of various instruments, I have been able to blend different sounds together which has given Beau and the Arrows a fairly diverse sound. 

Do certain places in South East London inspire your music?                                          Yeah absolutely. At times especially when it’s pouring with rain, London looks gritty and when your feeling low, you tend to write very down beat material. But on the flip side, the area we live in is at times so beautiful and that in turn makes me and Jasmine write really cheerful innocent pop songs. 

What are your favourite bands right now?Not many. Erm... to be honest a lot of bands I listen to are old post punk bands from the 80s. It’s sad to say but I find it ever so hard to be a fan of new bands these days. 
There’s a lot of crap out there but if you look close enough you will find a few hidden gems. I guess the only new band we are really into at the moment is Warpaint. 
Their song "Undertow" really touched us and made us fall in love with them. 

Bands to look out for #8

     Rizzle Kicks
It feels strange to be calling Rizzle kicks a new band, as they have been kicking around for a few years now. Rizzle kicks first caught my attention with Jordan's (a.k.a. Rizzle) mostly solo, and borderline genius mixtape "Minor breaches of discipline" On it Jordan fully indulges his largely indie musical influences rapping over everything from The White Stripes, The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys to sampling tracks by M.I.A. and Adele. The mixtape saw Jordan going from nostalgic and confessional ('My Hometown') to fully embracing what it means to be a teenager in the UK with all the freedoms the age carries ('I'm 17' and 'Girlfriend') And is no doubt one of the best things to come out of British Rap for years.

Fastforward roughly two years and Rizzle Kicks are now a duo, Jordan's rapping now complimented by his long-time best friend and soulfully voiced Harley (a.k.a. Sylvester). Harley's voice compliments Jordan's rapping expertly and has even seen Rizzle Kicks transform into genuine mainstream prospects. New tracks such as 'Down with the trumpets' and 'Prophet' combine Jordan's down to earth yet often witty rapping with massive choruses to rival the best of Britain's contemporary pop exports of the past few years.

With the UK rap/pop cross-over scene thriving at the moment for some of the wrong reasons (We're looking at you Devlin and Chipmunk) how refreshing to hear some genuine young talent who you wouldn't actually mind clogging up the charts. Having signed to Island, Rizzle Kicks have all the framework in place to win over many a fan, if not for the distinctly relatable social commentary in their lyrics, then for their damn catchy feel-good tunes. Long live Rizzle Kicks.

By Toby McCarron

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Bon Iver - Bon Iver

This lovable rugged folk superstar has recently rubbed shoulders with rap phenomenon Kanye West and featured on his critically acclaimed album 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy'. After 'For Emma, Forever Ago', an ambiguous mind shattering debut effort from Justin Vernon, his music a luxurious muse on the heartbreak from his former relationship, 'Bon Iver' brings richer texture, building upon a musical platform that few musicians have accomplished before. Lead single 'Calgary' sees Justin abandon the trademark guitar and delight us with a dreamy, velvet synth which lulls you into a sleep like state. The comfort that Justin conveys in his music is incomparable to others in the folk genre. He offers an emotional palette to obedient ears so incredibly honest and mind blowing that it's impossible not to become completely infatuated with the record. His falsetto resounds clearer and commands all attention with the instrumental following his every move and not the other way around. 

The echoing guitars on 'Minnesota, WI' bring a jazz element to Bon Iver's predominantly folk style and the song evolves constantly, introducing a frequenting guitar riff and scuzzy drums in the background. The impossible thought crossing every music fan's minds, 'How can Bon Iver top For Emma, Forever Ago?', has been eternally answered. Although 'For Emma...' brought heartwrenching tales of lost love, 'Bon Iver' is pleasantly unexpected with a more uplifting approach to his increasingly popular music. Bon Iver has the ability to make those long awaited tears stuck in your eyes escape and open up your heart but he can also bring you hope that someday, you can use your negative emotions to produce pieces of art just as Justin Vernon has with his music.

By Aurora Mitchell

Friday, 17 June 2011

Bands to look out for #7

Funeral Suits
Is there any space for another indie guitar band who can charm us as much as Two Door Cinema Club? Apparently so. Although Funeral Suits don't have the sing-along choruses of TDCC, they've got their sound down to a T, bringing simplistic guitar chords that compliment the ever popular Irish vocal. The band formed in 2008 but hid away from the public, locking themselves away in a disused office space in North Country Dublin. Their new single Colour Fade sees angelic harmonies fit in between their minimalistic approach, similar to The XX. They have recently finished their debut album which has been produced by Stephen Street; previous producer for The Smiths and Blur. They've got prestigious music acts such as Franz Ferdinand backing them, some decent tunes and fans of Two Door Cinema Club are bound to love them. Check them out at Wireless Festival on 3rd July.

By Aurora Mitchell

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Get Loaded in the Park - 11/06/11

Despite the heavy showers attempting to turn Clapham Common into the Glastonbury site, the festival carried on with few interruptions. Although the sound was marred by the council limits, the spirit of the annual celebration of all things alternative lived on and triumphed over the adversarial weather. The weather encouraged more punters to buy the incredulously expensive alcohol and brought a hazier atmosphere to the park. There were no fashion statements to be made as waterproofs and wellies started off the festival season early but of course, there were the exceptions in girls who braved bare legs.

Get Loaded started off leisurely with a short set from New Zealand's finest avant garde indie jazz pioneer Connan Mockasin who was subject to sound issues due to receiving the first slot of the day. Nevertheless, Connan persevered with his live band, strumming out his unique brand of disjointed psychedelic pop. However, his almost childlike falsetto voice didn't come across strongly with the crowd as he ploughed through tracks from his album 'Forever Dolphin Love'. Despite not having widespread appeal, there is a certain charm to Connan's set which both enthrals and perplexes. Next on was Darwin Deez, Brooklyn's chirpiest self confessed hipster, bringing London the usual wacky dance routines and even a 3 minute rap performed by Darwin himself, channelling his inner most gangster. Although over enthusiastic guitarist Cole left the band, the Deez's new live guitarist brings even trippier dance moves to the live quartet.

The next change over sees annoying twee at its best with Los Campesinos! who stumble through essentially what would be classed as their greatest hits set. Gareth Campesinos! wails belligerently to cater for the diehard teenage girl fanclub who hang on to his every word and chant them back almost religiously. It's clear that Los Campesinos!' festival performances are arduous for those unfamiliar with their niche brand of twee pop. 

Born and bred in Wandsworth, Patrick Wolf considered this appearance as a homecoming, citing his former labour, making sandwiches in Clapham where he was fired from his job after a day. However, the performance displays a vast contrast from these days, Patrick now displays the kind of exuberance one can only get from a love of his career. Patrick Wolf stands out above the rest of the acts thus far, charming the audience with his energetic nature and showing that you can put on a show regardless of weather conditions. He closes with new album Lupercalia's lead single 'The City', providing an anthemic bombast to the otherwise folky proceedings of his back catalogue, with a giant 80s chorus that would make Hurts tremble in their suits.

Over at the rammed Gigwise tent (due to the rain), O. Children capitalise on the additional spectators. Tobi O'Kandi bellows his trademark baritone over tried and tested Joy Division reminiscent goth pop. Although the sound is slightly scuzzy, tunes such as 'Dead Disco Dancer' and 'Ruins' permeate more deeply than some other Joy Division imitation bands (I.e. Editors). Afterwards, French pop's most recent export Yelle has landed in the UK with sparkly disco pop aplenty  in the same vein of 2009's Little Boots. The live band arrive on stage in safari attire, resemblant of the cover to her recent album 'Safari Disco Club'. Yelle herself looking like the abominable snowman with a weighty disguise used for her intro. She rapidly whips off her costume to reveal a red catsuit and began more lively proceedings. Despite the language barrier, she commanded the London crowd, shrieking 'Dance London' and 'Show me some love!'. The crowd responded obediently, losing their minds to the distinctly French electro pop. Imagine Justice with Marina Diamandis singing in French.

Last but not least, distinct Sheffield duo Slow Club take to the stage and commence with a new acoustic song. They proceed with the slower songs from 'Yeah So', their debut album, plus new single 'Two Cousins' which is now available to download from their website ( Nevertheless, the amount of people sheltering from the rain and mindlessly talking during the slower songs took away from the potency of Slow Club's live performance and disrupting what would otherwise be a flawless set or indie-folk loveliness. 

By Toby McCarron and Aurora Mitchell

Monday, 13 June 2011

Bands to look out for #6

DZ Deathrays
Formerly DZ, Brisbane based DZ Deathrays had limited success. Debut song Gebbie St. whacks you in the face with the all too familiar bass and rhythmic drums of DFA1979. Although, this is a whole new generation. With limited possibility of Death From Above 1979 reforming regarding their reunion gig in which they requested seperate dressing rooms, there is copious amounts of room for DZ Deathrays to steal their spotlight. What's admirable about them is that they have attempted to break away from the stereotypes of Australian music by doing something different to stir things up and it has been successful. Their blend of thrash with percussive elements brings something new to a new music scene which has been overpopulated with electronic acts. You're not going to be hearing them on your radio any time soon but you can guarantee that this lively Australian duo will be coming to an obscure venue near you.

By Aurora Mitchell

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Battles @ Heaven - Live Review

Battles marked their return on Monday with the release of their much anticipated second album 'Gloss Drop'. Following the departure of their lead singer, the frizzy-haired Tyondai Braxton who left supposedly due to not wanting to fulfill touring commitments, Gloss Drop sees Battles moving to a more fun and perhaps even more disjointed sound (if that is possible) from their debut long-player 'Mirrored'.  But as well as their records both of which have been showered in critical acclaim, Battles are known as one of the most prolific live bands around and the big question on many people's minds is; how will they cope live without Tyondai?

The band begin with album opener 'Africastle', which after minutes of slow building guitar droning, synth bleeping and drummer John Stanier on his knees playing sleigh bells, suddenly explodes into a barrage of drums and keyboard trickery taking the audience aback slightly with the sheer force, most notably of John Stanier's lightning fast drumming. Following this is 'Sweetie & Shag' featuring Kazo Makino of fellow New-Yorkians Blonde Redhead. Almost instantly all questions about how battles will compensate for the loss of Tyondai's vocals are cast aside, as a video of Kazu is projected onto a screen behind the stage while Ian Williams thrusts his body back and forth between keyboards with dancing reminiscent of Friendly Fires' Ed Macfarlane. Also similar to Ed, Battles build up a sweat pounding out newies such as 'Futura', a kind of hip-hop influenced tour through the warped yet precisely calculated landscapes Battles create. Also recent single 'Ice Cream' goes down a treat, with the ever-cheerful Matias Aguayo projected onto the screens providing a more tropical and exotic feeling to the set rather than brainfreeze.

Perhaps the highlight of Battles' incredibly extended set is 'My Machines' featuring the vocals of none other than 1980s synth-pop pioneer Gary Numan. Numan's vocals sound the best they've been since the glory days of 'Are friends electric?' and (the now almost entirely soaked in sweat) John Stanier's super-human drumming compliments Dave Konopka's droning industrial guitar grunts perfectly as Numan quite rightly proclaims "Welcome to the sound of now". By the end of the show of all new songs, it is apparent that Tyondai's legacy lives on slightly with a few cries for 'Atlas' the song that really got Battles noticed in the first place, but otherwise the sheer force and power of Battles' performance tonight is evidence enough they have moved on and are even better for it.

By Toby McCarron

Friday, 3 June 2011

Bands to look out for #5

Christian Aids
A good sign of a new band with a lot of potential is one that cannot be grouped into a scene with their music. Although Christian Aids are one of the least comparable new acts to come out of 2011, their music has been described as a rave revival. The way debut single 'Stay Positive' builds up into a dark euphoric rave anthem, you would expect them to slowly be making waves in the club scene. Playing for free at The Victoria in Dalston on June 30th, it's obvious that Christian Aids haven't quite established themselves but the hype is slowly building up as more music establishments/blogs start to take an interest in what they're doing. They have been labeled a 'Manchester buzz band' but unlike many others in the Manchester scene, they offer a fresh perspective unlike more stereotypical acts who often cite their adoration for Joy Division. There is an element of mystery that draws comparisons to Wu Lyf whereas Christian Aids' mystery does not orchestrate their popularity as a band. Despite the all familiar tendency to hide their faces and identities, Christian Aids are a unique listening experience and part of a very important shift in new music. Having only played live three times, it's well worth seeing them at their first headline show and there is more information on the Eat Your Own Ears website about where to get your free tickets.  
Debut single Stay Positive 7" out now on Double Denim

By Aurora Mitchell

Bands to look out for #4

Kreayshawn is far removed from the 'california girls' that Katy Perry talks about and seems to be televised regularly on British television with re runs of teen favourite The OC. This Odd Future affiliated Oakland based rapper is an ecclectic mix between Nicki Minaj and our own Lady Sovereign. Although the name 'Gucci Gucci' screams tacky rap more than Gucci Mane himself, Kreayshawn has managed to turn this into an overnight success with nearly 2 million views on Youtube. The altogether silly stereotypical rap hook about designer labels; 'Gucci Gucci, Louis Louis, Fendi Fendi, Prada' seems like a desperate attempt to name as many designers as possible to gain rap credibility soon turns into a tune that you find yourself helplessly mumbling to yourself after a few listens. Could Kreayshawn be Tyler, The Creator's female successor with her similar background by training at Berkeley Film School and directing for other rap artists videos such as Lil B? One's thing's for sure, she's confident with herself as an artist and doesn't seem to care what anyone else thinks pumping out lyrics such as 'I've got the swag and it's pumping out my ovaries'.
Bumpin' Bumpin' 12" out soon, available at Rough Trade

By Aurora Mitchell