Sunday, April 29, 2007

Went to the movies tonight...

...and I think I'm in love with a crack addict. I've become Kate Moss.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Celebrate Celebration

Photo by Meaghan Montagano

Several miles south of the lingering aroma of burning man-made fibres that still permeates the air around Soho I am sat at my desk with an alcohol-induced sickness, listening to the latest Celebration record to soothe the gremlins bouncing about in my head. It sounds - to paraphrase the person who gave me said record - 'like fireworks going off in your mind' and they're not wrong.

Baltimore-based threesome Celebration are another of those Marmite bands and I love Marmite. They garner praise and derision in equal measure. You just can't sit on the fence and that's probably why I am such an admirer. Their hypnotically energetic live shows are carnal, primitive, psychedelic affairs, where the line between artist and audience is not just blurred but completely eradicated.

No idea when 'The Modern Tribe' will be unleashed but it'll be worth the wait.

Celebration - Holiday taken from their debut 'Celebration'. Buy a copy here.

Celebration Myspace + official site

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Beach House

Photo taken by Elizabeth Flyntz

When I posted the Beach House track Master of None last week, I spared little thought to the fact that it might - days later - install permanent residence in my cerebral cortex in such a manner that I now find myself quietly humming its refrain as I go about my daily business. It's deceptively beautiful. Even now, I am itching to grab my copy (not even my copy, my friend's) and air that song. I'm an addict. This can't be normal.

The genesis of Baltimore locals Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand, the rest of their album - self-titled - follows the same path as this track. Legrand's vocals are very reminiscent of Nico. I think this album is extremely visceral. What I mean by this is it induces some sort of synesthesia; conjuring up all sorts of images, moods, colours whenever you listen. Sonically there is something very dream-like in its make-up and I like it very much. Listen to this in the sunshine of a Springtime afternoon...

Download: Beach House - Master of None (can't hurt to post it again...)

'Beach House' will be get a UK release some time this year through those nice former Cocteau Twins members at Bella Union. Check the website for more info on release dates and all that jazz. In the meantime you can get your hands on a copy here.

Beach House homepage
Beach House MySpace page

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Polyphonic Spree

I'm quite happy to stake my questionable reputation - vested interests aside - that St. Vincent's forthcoming debut 'Marry Me' is going surprise everyone when it is released this summer. It's a wondrous composite of timeless songs. Her richly melodious voice sounds so at home on this record. I cannot say enough good words about her.

Photo by Hal Samples

But let's not forget the band that brought Annie Clark to the fore, her day job I guess. Remember The Polyphonic Spree, with more members than you could count with both hands and feet, resplendent in multi-coloured robes, playing endlessly optimistic pop-infused songs that reduced us all to broad smiles and laughter?

I admit I was an inconsistent lover. The first encounter was an exhilarating joy-ride; the singles were uplifting anthems, the live performances were a joy. The second encounter was a reality check. The spontaneity and jubilation seemed forced to me. The songs appeared to have lost their sheen and over-familiarity was starting to leave a bitter taste in my mouth. Was it all over?

I thought it best to give second record 'Together We're Heavy' a miss. Then yesterday I came across a track posted by You Ain't No Picasso. It is pure sonic heaven.

Download: The Polyphonic Spree - Section 19 (When The Fool Becomes A King)

It's all quite a timely moment of rediscovery and reconciliation. The merry bunch are back with a new record 'The Fragile Army' (out in June) and the signature robes have been replaced with streamline black and red military uniforms. The Polyphonic Spree website is streaming a new track from the forthcoming album all day, every day.

Buy 'Together We're Heavy' here

Passover? Pass-out more like...

People celebrating Passover, many years ago. Presumably we won't be wearing those clothes tonight. I hope.

Tonight I will be attending my very first Passover meal. For those of you who are not Jewish (before you ask, I'm not either) and/or unaware of this festive celebration go here and be enlightened on the subject. Scrupulous followers of religious dates will also be aware that it's a little late to be hosting this meal but I've always held a fairly liberal attitude when it comes to dates. Besides, it's more like a demonstration than a celebration. My Jewish friend will reenact the meal with us, her friends; the same meal she shares with her family every year. I have every intention of enjoying the evening, particularly after learning that I will have to consume - as part of the ritual - the best part of a bottle of red wine.

It got me thinking about the reason why Jews around the world eat this meal; the Israelites in slavery, an unrepentant Egyptian Pharoah, Moses and Aaron, the ten plagues, death of all first-borns and the subsequent emancipation of the enslaved Israelites.

Naturally, thoughts turned to music and to the 4AD and Artangel 'Plague Songs' compilation released as part of the Margate Exodus exhibition last year. For the compilation ten musicians were asked to compose a song about one of the plagues. The results are a bit of a mixed bag but one can't fault the motivation behind such a concept.

Seems right to post the one track that relates directly to the meal I'll be enjoying tonight.

Download: Rufus Wainwright - Katonah (Death of the Firstborn)

Buy 'Plague Songs' here

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Enjoy an Evening with Pete Doherty?

Last night, homeward bound on a 277, I couldn't help but notice an unusually large crowd of pseudo-cool Hoxton types tripping over one another to get out of the Hackney Empire, only to stop a mere five yards from the door to light up a presumably medicinal cigarette. It was a strange sight; as if they had got lost on their way to another trendy bar/club/warehouse party and found themselves next to Hackney Town Hall, two miles away from their regular hive of activity.

The reason behind the invasion was down to a one-man show residency for East London dweller Pete Doherty; famous for having been in an over-exposed and over-hyped band; famous for finding certain narcotics a little moreish; famous for having relations with a supermodel; infamous amongst most of the Metropolitan police force. Love him or hate him, he's clearly here to stay.

NME.com are keeping track of tonight's proceedings here.

Surprisingly, I don't have any Libertines or Babyshambles music on my iTunes. A strange oversight.

Here's something a little more down my street:

Download: Beach House - Master of None taken from the brilliant 'Beach House'. Buy it here

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Danielson: A Family Movie (again)

Many thanks to my friend Reverend War Character for the heads-up on this one...

At long last, the day has come when we can get our eager mitts on a copy of Danielson: A Family Movie on DVD. As great as it was to watch it in the reverent surroundings of a much-loved church, there is something to be cherished being at liberty to watch the film in the relative comforts of home surrounded by books, knitting projects and various indoor flora.

To celebrate the occasion Pitchfork have just posted a long-lost scene here featuring Daniel, Megan, the world's longest sofa, choir outfits and Sufjan someone-or-other. Presumably up until now this snippet of film has spent its days languishing discarded on the cutting room floor of one JL Aronson (Sonny to his friends and Danielson director extraordinaire), hoping to be put to good use.

As far as I can tell it's not being distributed outside of the US. If, like me, you are geographically impeded, head to Amazon who will happily send you one for a fair exchange of cash.

Download: Danielson - Kids Pushing Kids

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Freebies

Hooray for Easter Sunday! Let the record-buying frenzy recommense!

I'll admit that working for a label and having a few well-connected friends has meant that I haven't been completely starved. So maybe next year I'll give up alcohol and see where that gets me.

A couple of weeks ago I got hold of a copy of X-Press 2's new single Witchi Tai To which features vocals by The Polyphonic Spree's Tim Delaughter. It's a cover of a long-forgotten 50's classic by Jim Pepper featuring some excellent tradition native American chanting. I haven't heard the original so I have nothing with which to compare it although my honourable flatmate has played me a similar sounding version of this very same song by her friend's band Ambulance (not to be confused with Ambulance Ltd.). It's a catchy enough tune - maybe not on the same wavelength as their David Byrne collaboration, but I'm sure it'll shift a few copies when it hits the shelves on at the end of this month.

Download: X-Press 2 - Witchi Tai To (2 Lone Swordsman remix)

X-Press 2 website

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Daytrotter - the end is nigh....

I have just woken from a 14-hour marathon sleep. After doing something good for a change (forsaking a night's slumber), I found myself at a wedding of some friends, drinking wine and champagne on a empty stomach, photographing moments and struggling to stay awake, all whilst wearing a pair of ridiculous shoes that were slowing melding my toes together. Inexplicably, I am still exhausted. So the next best thing to do (aside from going back to bed) is to do a spot of blogging....

If you count yourself as a friend no doubt you will have already heard about this (many round-robin emails later). If not, then please direct yourself over to the fine home of Daytrotter of whom I've already rhapsodised about at length, where they have seen fit to publish a lovely little piece about My Brightest Diamond by little old me (previously seen here, albeit without the excellent illustration). MBD's label Asthmatic Kitty also mentions it in passing in a news post congratulating Daytrotter on reaching its first year on the inter web world.

Download: My Brightest Diamond - Something Of An End (from 'Bring Me The Workhorse')