Archive for the ‘SONGS’ Category

Review: Purity Ring at the Scala

All the new music I like these days is the same: electronic, dreamy, gothy, girlie, CANADIAN. Purity Ring, comprising producer Corin Roddick and singer Megan James, are all of these things. This hot young duo have more than a little sprinkling of the magical and make dainty beats and super-stylised echo-pop for anyone who can’t get enough of GRIMES (they’re actually both on the same record label, 4AD).

On stage at the Scala this week, surrounded by cocoon-like, chameleon-coloured lanterns synchronised with the music, they played a short set (they only seem to have the 11 songs that are on debut album Shrines) with Megan shyly drifting around the space with the demeanour of a lady who might have many lovely songs, but is a bit scared of singing them – andmai looking at the audience. Dressed all Maid-Marian-meets-Kate-Bush, she does the classic shy-girl thing of hiding under her hair (which is BIG and wavy and easy to hide under). With their obscure lyrics, made-up word song titles (‘Belispeak’, ‘Amenamy’, ‘Obedear’), non-singalong tunes and on-stage nerves Purity Ring might not be obvious stars, but who needs ‘stars’ when you can have some slightly weird Canadians making pretty bleepy music instead. [Below: the video for ‘Fineshrine’]


Guestpost: ‘Did anyone, last night, you know… did anyone… burst into song? ‘

Kate Nash and Emmy the Great present Once More With Feeling

Disclaimer: Before you read this I think it’s only fair that I let you know that I’m a renowned pusher. At last count I converted 9 people into Whedon junkies and I have a feeling after this the stakes are pretty high to make double figures.

All Hallow’s Eve is typically a night where I buy a pumpkin with the  intention of carving a masterpiece but end up eating too many treat bags of Haribo which I’m forced to digest boa constrictor-style on the couch. Every year I toy with the idea of going to a masquerade ball but quite frankly I am terrified of clown costumes parading themselves up and down the city so generally I put on the beloved Hocus Pocus and call it a night.  To be fair it can be a challenge to get me out at all in the winter months as I tend to hibernate and wallow in the warmth of the inaugural Buffy re-watch.

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Review: Gossip is a Band // Coal to Diamonds by Beth Ditto

I’m not going speculate on why COAL TO DIAMONDS is so short, has no photographs, came out over a year after it was meant to and doesn’t explain why GOSSIP are called that because for Beth-believers, this misfit-manifesto and punk herstory is required reading. PREACH! You will holler from bed or the sofa or wherever, as you read her honest-to-Arkansas words (as put onto paper by Michelle Tea), much as I did (in my head) when she told us stories about Ladyfests and long-ago tours from her stage-pulpit at Shepherd’s Bush Empire back in July (see Phoebe’s review of the gig xoJane here).

I’d like to see any of the celebrities in the book charts right now try to win in a memoir-off with Beth over who overcame the most hardships, who’s the best singer, whose friends are coolest, who looks hottest in a stretchy tube dress and who most deserves the attention and success she’s had up to now. What this account is lacking in specific dates and details is made up for in the sheer Beth-ness of it all, her voice loud, her anger and passion palpable. Hold her close.

A few things you need to know:

  • Beth was on her period when she was on the cover of the NME naked
  • If she wasn’t a singer in a band she’d be a pretty good hairdresser
  • She was a vocal coach and mentor at Rock’n’Roll Camp for Girls
  • She was in love Boy George as a child (as was I – hmm)
  • We have written to Beth’s management requesting her as a salon guest, both this year and last. We will let you know how we get on.

On re-styling herself as ‘femme’ after a spell as a ‘butch’:

‘I loved doing my hair, playing dress-up, making up my face. I never did it to win the hearts or attentions of men or women, I did it because it was fun, it captured my imagination . . . self-expression, even feminine self-expression, was not my enemy. The real enemy was the ideals that women are expected to live up to, and suddenly that limited style of feminism just felt like another ideal breathing down my neck. I wanted to fight oppression and be powerful and I wanted to do it in a cute dress and bouffant hairdo’

On punk (and there’s a lot on punk):

‘Punk to me has always been a moral philosophy, more than a style of music or a fashion you wear. ‘

On the NME

‘The year they voted me the coolest person in rock [2006] was the first year the world’s coolest person was a woman. It was also the first time they didn’t put the world’s coolest person on the cover. I caused a big stink about it.’

On the alternative-smallness of life in Olympia:

‘Living in Olympia had warped my brain into believing that all bands were made up of queer punk feminists who understood fat politics . . . I was so naive, thinking everyone in bands was all the same, all little angry feminist queers who’d just busted out from our oppressive small-town homes. No way.’

Warning: this performance of Gossip doing ‘Standing in the Way of Control’ has made me cry more than once:


No Doubt: PUSH + LOVE

Oh Gwen how we’ve missed you!

OK she never really left me – I sing ‘What You Waiting For’ every time I do karaoke and Phoebe’s got a weird second-solo-album Gwen doll as her and Nick’s east London lodger alongside Mitford the Cat. Then there’s her permanent place on our Pamflet party playlists. But it’s been over a decade since her last band-album and my pervading memories of it are hearing the wretched strains of ‘Hella Good’ on repeat out of a burger van near where I was camped/flooded at Glastonbury in 2003. Poor Gwen deserved to be heard somewhere so much better.

Since then she’s got married, then there was the eccentric/cool 80s L.A.M.B. solo thing (first album only) and sublime-making Stuart Price remixes and we even got to SEE her in 2007 live at Wembley… and of course there have been babies and some slightly dodgy fashion dabblings too.

But, finally, this week a NEW album, at last.

Push and Shove poses an important question – is it dignified to be a grown-up popstar? Gwen has swiftly answered this existential problem by kindof ignoring it. P&S is a return to her band, bringing all her confident shiny pop sensibilities with her and doing No Doubt with a new shimmer. The pure pop tracks like ‘Looking Hot’ and ‘Easy‘ are my first-listen favourites, but I find their ballads far more skippable – it would be difficult to better the unguarded hearbreak of ‘Don’t Speak’ for example or their superlative slowie ‘Underneath it All‘ (which always makes me think, Gavin’s not really lovely, is he? He’s probably a bit of a d*ck. Also Gwen looks a bit like Grizabella from Cats at the beginning of the video).

So I’m convinced that Gwen is still a perfect frontwoman, her place at the helm of the band unshakeable in spite of whatever’s happened to them all between albums. Similarly I think it’s  fine that they haven’t really changed all that much in style or content – why should a band have to? I apply this lack of criticism to most guitar-type bands I like/have liked these days. Innovation is not essential. That’s what New Bands are for. I don’t care that Santigold still sounds the same on her second album or that The XX are still making tinkly indie hipster love songs like they were two years ago. Sometimes things should stay the same.

[Right: My favourite red carpet Gwen-look ever. Below: My favourite Gwen look ever rendered as a doll. Silly.]

 

 

 


AWESOME! I’M IN MY TWENTIES: dancefloor dispatches

We hosted the London launch party for New Yorker Emma Koenig’s FUCK! I’m in My Twenties on Thursday night at Drink, Shop & Do and want to thank the lovely and lots of fun 20-somethings Tina Mories and Maddy Hall from Chronicle Books for inviting us to get involved.

We also need to thank Jessica Riches, George Langfordand Emmy the Great who spoke very insightfully and wittily about their 20s, (inspired by FIIMT) at the salon section of the evening upstairs in the Dome Room. Also T4’s Georgie Okell and best friend Verity Douglas plus George L who djed downstairs while guests supped on 1/4 Life Crisis cocktails, a divine concoction dreamed up by DSD’s best drinks magicians.* We were lucky enough to have the artist and now graphic novelist Karrie Fransman on-site to illustrate events and also supervise the FUCK/20s pinboard (see below) on which partygoers shared their innermost 20-something secrets (drunken accidents, flashing, diets involving guacamole, Marlboro lights & sweets etc) on multi-coloured cards with felt-tips in what I’m sure were moments of great emotional catharsis! Thank you to everyone who shared their very special stories with us.

We made a special issue of Pamflet to give out on the night and photocopying the scrappy little thing (at just 7 A4 sheets, it’s only 70% the size of regular pamf) made us think that we might like to make one more – MIGHT. Photocopying and folding and stapling all the copies of issue 12 made us remember why we stopped doing it – zines are seriously labour-intensive, but  also how Pamflet started and how with the zine we can do/say/be something that we can’t replicate on the blog…

So look out for further updates on the print-front very soon and in the meantime enjoy Emma Koenig’s message all the way from the USA to LDN partygoers here.

*The 1/4 Life Crisis: vodka, cherry gomme, ginger gomme, lemon juice & apple juice served in a martini glass. I can confirm that this is both DIVINE and LETHAL.

PIX (top>bottom): partygoer pinboard; balloons; Phoebe & George in the DJ booth; Kim, Maddy & Tina from Abrams & Chronicle Books; retro stereos on the wall in Drink, Shop & Dance.


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