Sunday, 23 November 2014

Memories of the Buffalo Bar

The death sentence has been passed, or more accurately the short-notice eviction papers have been served, and another of London's live music venues faces closure.

And although no crossrail development plans to steal a historic and culturally recognised site from fans this time around, the impending loss of the Buffalo Bar in Islington cuts a little closer to home.

The statement released a little over a week ago thanked all of the bands, promoters, and DJs that have played a part in the venues success, and I can proudly count myself among the DJs that have found myself battling with those cranky old CD decks...

The truth is that I can't actually remember now the first band that I went along to the Buffalo Bar to see (although I'm sure I still have the flyer tucked away in a box of memories somewhere), but the subterranean cavern style is something you don't soon forget and it was an honour to be asked along by fellow North-Londoners, upstart aggro-punk group turned reality TV stars, Ginger Bread Men as they too made good on the 'indie-darlings-curate-clubnight' ethos that was thoroughly prevalent at the time.

Bubblegum Stomp drank, danced and messed up on unfamiliar equipment, we dropped three Will Smith songs in a row as we donned Will Smith masks, we got a confused indie crowd to let loose to our own irreverent style of DJing, we upset the usurping DJs (standard procedure when you are rocking a dancefloor and someone wants to take over with an obscure Smiths' b-side) and we turned the Buffalo Bar into our own little decadent party for a short while.

All Teeth soon outgrew us (or perhaps couldn't handle us) but we kept returning regardless, as friends and as fans rather than as DJs, as the monthly night developed a unique personality and reputation of its own, due to its live music policy of passionately persuing and cherry picking some the most eclectic and outrageous performers to ever hit the venue's tiny stage, and perhaps in part to the mysterious and infamous free Krunk Juice that would be dispensed into the mouths of punters, eager or otherwise.

It's sad to see Buffalo Bar depart the London scene, and bittersweet to see All Teeth descending upon its old haunt for one last hurrah this Wednesday, with old personal favourites Those Handsome Animals and the return of Ginger Bread Men, whose own farewell gig was well attended at the very same venue many moons ago.

It may not be too late tho... for those wanting to keep the faith and fight the good fight to the very end, be sure to follow the link and sign the petition to try and keep Buffalo Bar open. 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Great Pagans - Cupid in Error, album review

Welcome, Great Pagans.

All hail, Cupid In Error.

From the start, let's make it clear that I am currently a fool for a band with an emotive, swirling sound that was made to ring out to the rafters.

And is it coincidence that among the many eclectic recording spaces used by this Brighton-based band, they sought sanctuary in a church?

Opening track December not only breathes a coolness of the namesake month,  it also walks a highly desired fine-line between recent indie darlings Temples and Teleman, an outpouring of on-trend throwback, slacker psychedelia and an urge to dance at indie-discos to a frenetic upstart melody.

And yet to pin their name and their style too closely to contemporaries would be a fundamental judgement in error when in fact they deeply mine at least five decades worth of British heritage, their oxymoronic timeless-zeitgeist also encompasses shades of nineties Shoegaze, eighties New Wave and dark pop tones, and of course the clear psychedelic calling card harking back to the 1960s and 70s.

It becomes almost impossible to pinpoint the point of origin of this release if hearing it blindly, uninformed by eras, and even beneath the overbearing musical characteristics lays a brit-pop era, kitchen-sink drama approach to real life relationships, carbon-dating becomes an especially more perplexing task as the album progresses.

Great Pagans capabilities and influences flex and grow with each passing minute.  Was that Jesus and Mary Chain or Bloc Party?  The Smiths or Arcade Fire?  Psychedelic groove revivalism or Berlin-era Bowie?  

Forget the pigeon-holing, the reference points and the pot-holed review you have before you, fair weather music fans may sneer as I try to put across my multi-faceted point, but habitual music users probably won't even need my recommendation and those that do will hear what I hear...

An inspired band.

A great album, from start to finish.

All hail, Great Pagans.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Dark Horses - Hail Lucid State, album review

Dark, rhythmic, and bordering on evil.

Presumably that was the sound that 'Hail Lucid State' was trying to capture.

With Death In Vegas' Richard Fearless on production duties, this second bite of the black cherry rapidly bears down upon the release of Dark Horses' debut album just last year, and with ten tracks that clash a very British penchant for doom-laden gothic pop in the style of The Cure headlong into a swirling whirlpool of psychedelia, cascading beautifully into an abyss of bleak hypersensitive bliss, then why wait any longer to unleash more of your tainted jewels upon your adoring public?

Whilst the cold, sparse electronica of 'Sevens' poses a clear indication of why Crystal Castles chose to sign Dark Horses to their Last Gang Records imprint, it is the rest of the album and the reverb drenched echoes of Siouxie Sioux cavorting with Kate Bush against a backdrop of roots rock and guitar riffs that would resonate with fans of The Cult that show why names such as Tame Impala, Kasabian, Sigur Ros, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Noel Gallagher, The Dandy Warhols and Beck have all seen something within Dark Horses that they identify with and felt fit to invite them out on tour as handpicked guests.

It is at a meeting point between all of these bands that 'Hail Lucid State' exists, surely anyone that has caught Dark Horses on one of their numerous support slots for the aforementioned acts will have been mesmerised by the bands wide-ranging scope, and yet it is these numerous touchstones the band evokes that will also be winning them new fans, not only amongst audiences but amongst touring artists, and also amongst a record buying wider fanbase if there is any justice left in this crazy, mixed up world.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Late Night Tales: Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand are here to tell a Late Night Tale.

And where other artists in these series of compilations have a tendency to kick back and recline in the fine company of some chill-out records, the veteran Scottish Art-Rock group have committed to this mixtape the sonic equivalent of being invited back to their very own decadent multi-roomed 'Stately Home'-party.

Picture the scene, perhaps a raucous post-gig after-party has spilled out of the venue’s own late bar, and all the liggers and groupies and hanger-ons and drug dealers are treated to a private performance as Franz keep the night going in spectacular fashion, in the lavishly decorated smoking room you catch the band indulging themselves with a set of eclectic cover versions before you follow the faintly sweet smell that definitely isn't nicotine to the attic full of stoners commandeering an old record player and putting on a lazy, hazy run through of the Beatles 'I'm Only Sleeping' before laying back on their beanbags and floating upstream...

As you shake off the lightheadedness and venture back to the party in full swing you stumble and pass through different rooms and differing vibes, each housing a small soundsystem in full swing, from happy clappy hippies to loud and lairy rock'n'rollers, you throw shapes to funk and reggae, a mixture of seemingly disjointed styles reminds you of drinks you have been mixing all night and into the wee hours of the morning.

You've popped, you've rocked, you've skanked, you've pogoed, you've puked and you've pulled and you've had the time of your life in this maze-like house, but the light has been trying to stream through the heavily curtained windows for at least a few hours, and maybe you should try and get out now, go home, sleep it off.

But with the grand oak front door finally in sight you make your way past that same smoking room from earlier, where Alex Kapranos now holds court over a room of cross-legged or passed-out former revellers, reciting poetry and telling tales and providing the perfect counter to the debauched and divergent party that you thought would never end.

His soothing accent lulls you away from the hectic night and the fuzzy memories of frivolity, it lulls you deeper into the pile rug on which you share with the most fastidious Franz followers, and finally his soothing accent lulls you into errant sleep.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

an appreciation of Justin Bieber like no other....

when posting my first video review last year I have had every intention of making it a regular occurrence...

unfortunately time constraints and the logistics of recording and editing were stretching my capabilities somewhat, I had the ideas but the limitations I bumped up against were outstripping my power to push ahead with vlogging projects.

then 4music's Vlogstar competition came along, a competition that would land the winner a whole new bunch of hi-tech equipment, why not have a crack at it?

in a video of 30 seconds or less you had to deliver upon your full potential, I checked out the other entrants to see the what I'd be up against... and time and time again I found I'd be up against the same things... straight to camera, blah blah blah, thank you...

my first crazy thought was to deliver a metal style review in a slipknot style mask, of course I left the whole thing to the last minute.... no time to make said mask, but i instead went with making a little extra effort, composing an accapella ode to Justin Bieber to be delivered in my best metal voice...

face paints, bare chest, screaming.... all captured through the lense of my smartphone.  It may not win me the prize, it may not even be picked as a finalist, but I'm sure it will stand out against the rest and I had a hell of a lot of fun doing it

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Groundislava - Frozen Throne, album review

the email subject header promises a 'dancehall infused single', it apparently has a video of people dancing to the track on the streets of New York, i download the album and get a few tracks into a safe, and ultimately dreary, female vocalist and multi-instrumentalist going through the motions.  did i hear anything 'dancehall infused' before turning off?

no. i did not.

and on to the next album in my hastily decided upon 'to review' pile.  thankfully it engages almost immediately.

i skim read the premise of this album, in much the same way i skim read the press release of the last.  the terms 'concept', 'dreary world', 'producer' were the initial hooks, enough for me to hit download.  once the music has spoken for itself, there will be plenty of time to go back if i need any more info.

aurally, Groundislava's Frozen Throne boasts results that could have been cobbled together by an on-trend collaboration of Frank Ocean dabbling in production duties for Bastille, sheer gossamer future-pop that rides a wave of current trends without sounding like it tries too hard, a teaming of two 21st century chart-breakers would surely breed this strain of soul-synth-pop magic.

in fact, the collaboration is between the two LA based entities, producer Groundislava and band Rare Times, on 6 of the 10 track set, and the album is furnished with a wonderful eighties sheen that crackles with George Michael-eque big money charisma as it takes the retro sound to tell a tale of a man falling in love with a virtual girl and retools it with a new nobility lifted from beats, breaks and those three dirty letters.... EDM, as we follow the narrative into a digital world, to escape the bleakness of real life and embark into a constructed world that appears to be far more fulfilling.

(see, i told you i'd get round to ready the press release properly)

Despite sounding like the plot of an 80's special effects laden cult classic movie, the issues of what we truly perceive as 'reality' in a post catfish-effect world teaming with internet trolls are thoroughly relevant in a time when simply setting up an online profile can allow you to live your life as whoever you choose to be.

Past, present and future stories collide as Groundislava basks in the glory of his own terraformed landscape, welcoming travellers on a pilgrimage for new pleasures, greeting listeners that may have already discovered M83 after cutting their teeth on the familiar top 40 sounds of CHVRCHES, Aluna George and Disclosure.

In an uncertain modern world, Groundislava provides the perfect soundtrack.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Xander Duell - Earth On It's Axis - single review

There are plenty of things that can be said to grab ahold of your attention.

When discussing music,the obvious touchstones of comparisons are usually first and foremost... if you like blah blah you will like so and so, and so on.

But when you have already been alerted to the fact that one line of a song is as follows...

“Then in a drunken haze, stabbed her in the parking lot of a TGI Friday’s”


The shock value certainly worker for me.  I load up the soundcloud link and press play.

Thankfully the song works beyond the initial worm on a hook, regardless of the bizarrely violent imagery 'Earth On It's Axis' oozes well-worn and slightly rag-tag pop, it is utterly dreamy in the most jarring way possible.  A beautiful nightmare.

And it turns out Xander Duell has past form.  His debut solo album, entitled 'Experimental Tape No.2, Vol.1', was apparently a misunderstood masterpiece of musical brilliance filtered through a gritty reality that played out in a New York apartment, where Garage Band captured two years worth of drug damaged confessionals.

The lead single from what promises to be a more approachable sophomore effort smacks of so many fragmented musical geniuses that it is frankly quite embarrassing just reeling off the relevant 'sounds-like's yet there really is no greater praise when trying to put into words why you should spare a little of your time to listen to it if you haven't been convinced already.

It is a transposed 'Life On Mars', infused with a Beach Boys lushness, touches of Mercury Rev and even Blue Oyster Cult's 'Don't Fear The Reaper', entwined with the cracked-pop brilliance of Beck and Eels.  All in one harshly enthralling, brazenly awkward and sublimely offensive song.

It appears that we may have just stumbled upon the Chuck Palahnuik of pop.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

dissecting Body of Songs

Readers of a certain age will have particular memories upon hearing the phrase 'How My Body Works'.  

For me it brings to mind the complete set of educational books, published fortnightly, lined up across my shelf, it makes me think of the pretty rubbish scale model of the human body that came piece by piece with the volumes and included a number of fiddly organs that were liable to fall out from the plastic rib cage that was supposedly holding everything in place.

It also makes me think of the cartoon characters that accompanied the book series, cribbed from the nano-sized bodily based adventures of Once Upon a Time... Life.  Providing an introduction to the battles of the white and red blood cells against nasty viruses that rages inside each and every one of us.

Does Gemma Cairney share these same memories? I'd like to think perhaps it was the introductory priced first volume that inspired her to curate a similarly themed musical project with a part-by-part schedule of releases that will explore the human body, focusing on one organ at a time.

Collaborating with composer Llywelyn Ap Myrrdin and Professor Hugh Montgomery, Director of the UCL Institute for Human Health and Performance, the trio have drafted in artists to contribute a track each to what will eventually form a ten track album due for release in 2015.

Taking inspiration from internal organs was taken several steps further than expected however, meeting with medical experts including pathologists, neurologists, stem cell scientists, patients at varying stages of illness and even facing the organs themselves, the chosen artists formed an intimate understanding of why an organ works and fails and from these experiences ten songs were formed.

Of the collection so far, two tracks have been revealed, with drum and bass stalwart Goldie producing a synapse firing electronic beast of a track inspired by the brain, perfectly encapsulating the chemical rushes of a wired mind, and deep thinker Ghostpoet forgoes his usual style to closer inspect the liver, creating a dark and brooding dub-inflected woozy beat that shuns laid back rap in favour of snatches of sampled medical discussions.

Monday, 3 March 2014

the further adventures of Terry Emm

when you've been reviewing music for a while, you'll tend to find a number of the same names keep cropping up in your inbox, it is their job after all to push the client that is paying for their services into as many places as possible, by introducing you to new music, hoping you will in turn introduce others to this new music.

so it came as something as a surprise to see Terry Emm's name in the subject field rather than being the sender, as it turns out, around his normal nine to five, Emm has not one, but two musical outlets for his own endeavours that had been brought to my attention, and it certainly seemed to be doing him a great disservice if I overlooked his recent forays.

As part of Select All Delete Save As, a debut single is being readied for March, Modern Life is War is a wide-scope sweep of post-rock with a twist of Americana, serving not only as the next chapter of a developing band formed at university that started recording experimental rock, and now has a surer direction that seems suited to sound tracking that coming of age moment from your favourite hip indie flick.

Despite clocking in at a radio friendly three minute mark, Modern Life Is War feels more like a teaser than a complete song, leaving listeners with the feeling of unfinished business as it builds and sets the tone for the full length Ultra Cultura which is due in April.  And whilst Select All Delete Save As have engaged me and piqued my interest, it is Emm's solo talents that picks at the heart strings.

Clearly preparing for a busy 2014, March also sees the release of Starlight, the title track of an album that is also scheduled for an unspecified release date later this year.  It is a perfectly pitched song that plays out as an ethereal lullaby with a gentle swell of strings adding earthly gravitas, reminiscent of the distinct style that saw the world captivated by Damian Rice, Emm seems to fall fully equipped into a niche for male singer-songwriters that has been left hollowed by strong female personalities when the once burgeoning distinction became fraughtly clichéd. 

Obviously Terry Emm is not putting all his eggs in one basket, so if he doesn't ride a great wave of new troubadours in these twelve months, and a post-rock revolution hasn't gripped us by the summer, at least he's still got his day job.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

scraping the bottom of the reunion barrel?

getting older.

feeling nostalgic.

music obsessive.

self-confessed fan of 'pop'.

despite a cringe-inducing line-up, I could not deny the lure of The Big Reunion when it first hit our screens last year. part of it was pure curiosity, curating a bunch of bands that had been prevalent in my adolescent years and throwing the willing ex-members back together for a 'Big Reunion' certainly caught my attention.

but admittedly, it was the way in which it was done that provoked genuine interest.

sure, on some level it was probably a money-driven attempt to sell the very idea to arenas and maximising merchandising potential whilst back on the road, but it presented itself with more dignity than that on screen. early episodes focussing on the bands involved were rather full-on, warts and all popumentaries that really delved deep into the psyches of those performers that were only ever seen beaming at us from CD:UK and from the pages of Smash Hits.

sex, drugs and promo-pushing meltdowns were all part and parcel of the chart-seeking dream turned sour, forget Motley Crüe or Led Zep's well documented antics, this was the untold story of excess for the SMTV generation.

and as with any cash-cow winning formula, it would be ridiculous to think that the idea could be left alone, but as the format returns to our tellies and the recently reformed line-up was announced, I must admit to feeling disheartened by the news.

they didn't have quite the same 'big league' experience all round as 2013’s show had, the formation of a 'supergroup' featuring a reality tv winner and a faded soap star and the dubious inclusion of the forgotten 'Girl Thing' suggested that the bottom of the barrel was truly being scraped on only the second go around...

but to pay them their dues, one episode in and I'm responding well to it, especially since it's split-focus was on Girl Thing so early on, clearly addressing the obvious issue of reuniting a a band that barely anyone remembers, let alone cares about... indeed, what we got was a blow-by-blow account of the group destined to be 'the next Spice Girls', how millions of pounds was invested in their forthcoming chart dominance and how cruelly they were shrugged aside when the self-fulfilling prophecy remained unfulfilled after just two single releases, no rewritten pop history was needed, theirs is the cautionary tale of exploitation and how even debuting at number 8 in the singles charts is not good enough to seal your fate in the future of scrupulous record companies.

and tongue firmly in cheek, Andi Peter's ludicrous narration proved another winning move in the opening salvo of a series that perhaps knew that, just like Girl Thing, it could not take it's success for granted with its current crop of returned pop refugees.

i'm still unsure of where Girl Thing hope to move on from here once their story has been told and old wounds touched upon and possibly healed, but coming in from a sceptical standpoint that ITV2 may not have been able to deliver upon their promises a second time around, I currently remain suitably hooked on their career-rejuvenating arena filler.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Tayalarz vol.5: Lemons Rubik

so far, the emphasis of the Tayalarz mixtapes has been discovery, finding new artists and new music, but as is traditional of us muso types, as one year ends and another begins, we like to look back over what has shaped the previous 12 months

and so to put a Tayalarz spin on things, the January mixtape has tracked down unique versions of songs from some of the biggest artists of 2013, all available to download for free via various blogs and such

as always, the following tracklisting provides all of the appropriate links needed to garner these tracks from their sources and for the second month Ted Joyce has provided the wonderful artwork yet again

1.  Jay-Z - Tom Ford (Crizzly remix) (available via Music Ninja)
2.  Lordes - Royals (La Felix Remix)
3.  Katy Perry - Roar (Brillz radio edit) (available via The Music Ninja)
4.  Kanye West - Black Skinheads (Donovans Rewerk) (available via Nerdy Frames)
5.  Justin Timberlake - Suit and Tie (A Few Thangs Rmx) (via Mad Decent)
6.  James Blake - Retrograde (Minorstep remix) (available via Hilly Dilly)
7.  Arctic Monkeys - Just Hold On We're Going Home (Drake cover) 
           (available via We All Want Someone To Shout For)
8.  Haim - Let Me Go (Ancient Mermaids Remix) (available via Hilly Dilly)
9.  Silver Swans - Wrecking Ball (Miley Cyrus cover) (available via Indie Shuffle)
10. Daft Punk - Lose Yourself to Dance (La Felix Remix) (available via Acid Stag)
11. Robin Thicke - Give it to You (Trippy Turtle Remix) (available via Pigeons and Planes)
12. Angel Haze - Same Love (Macklemore and Ryan Lewis cover) (available via Brooklyn Vegan)

In the tracklisting above are links to the artist's bandcamp/soundcloud/website if you click on their name, and clicking on the track name or blog link will direct you to where I originally encountered their music, good luck hunting it all down...   
and shortly the Tayalarz series will be looking ahead at the artists others have been touting big things for in 2014 along with a few of our own personal discoveries

Thursday, 9 January 2014

in conversation with Malanda J. Poetry

after catching up with Ciaran Lavery, we thought it would be a good idea to regularly catch up with a number of artists featured on our Tayalarz mixtapes as a further way of introducing new artists and new music, by delving into their minds and getting them to speak to us after we've let the music speak for itself

and so, this time around we chat with Malanda J. Poetry...

to open the november mixtape we was looking for a strong spoken word piece and was completely floored by 'Story She Never Told', presumably your writing comes from a deeply personal place? 

yes, my writing is sacred to me. very personal, as a writer or a person who simply appreciates language, emotion is not foreign and it finds home in almost everything i experience and because of that, i have to pay homage and cater to things i feel that most people can quickly get over. it’s not like that for me. writing pays respect to my internal, it’s a reflection of what my insides would look like if cut open out of curiosity.

the album it is taken from 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' is made with a similar template, is this the first time you have combined words with music? 

not the first time, but certainly the first time i felt comfortable with hearing my voice tracing back to my ears. this time it felt right.

I love how the innocent 'music box' style accompaniment to 'Story She Never Told' is juxtaposed with a truly tragic story, was this an intentional set-up? who came up with this idea?

‘story she never told’ was extremely difficult to lay out, it was too honest, too raw and very personal. i wouldn’t call any of it a ‘set-up’ but ‘serendipity’ would be the right word to describe how it all came alive. just went with gut feeling, i didn’t really plan it much. it was all emotion.

the internet can provide a wealth of music and information, yet aside from the music on bandcamp and a few links, you remain fairly elusive, would you share a brief bio with us now to fill us in? 

i find pleasure in being able to move around and not get stuck. and having found the ability to remain a mystery to even those who’ve fallen in love with my writing or voice. in me being the complete opposite of stagnant is where i find my superpower. it’s easier for me to navigate through inspirations without outside noise. my internal is my sacred place to go. here’s my process: i get inspired, i create, i finish, i make my peace and move on to the next thing. i never stay in one place (mentally) long enough for anybody to figure me out so it’s only right that i keep up with my thoughts. it’s easier.

at the time of writing my questions, 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' was your only release, and 'Many Faces Of Her' dropped in early December just before I got in touch, do you see a change in yourself or the way you work in the year and a half between the two releases?

growth is for certain, immediately after i finished ‘many faces of her’ i took my mind back to ‘a series of unfortunate events’ and imagined what my younger self felt at the time to even write a project with such a title. my emotions were all over the place, but with my new project i found a better way to channel my internal, still raw, but more settled. there’s a lot more to talk about but…let’s see what time reveals.

and what are your future plans, are there to be any further musical projects from yourself? 

hopefully, if the future is in sync i hope to someday create more projects that are more potent.

we've been compiling mixtapes for three months now to reflect the ever colder seasons, taking in folk elements, chillwave and obviously spoken word and poetry, when was the last time you made a mix for somebody and what did it include? 

i host an event called ‘poetic justice open-mic’ and i compile the music to create the ‘feel’ for the environment and the chill zone i try to promote. the mix includes various artists from Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Wale, Big Krit. Iman Omari, Jhene Aiko, Drake, Dom Kennedy and the list goes on. it’s a mix of ‘feel-good’ songs.

aside from yourself, we also featured a spoken word piece by Kevlar, in the spirit of discovery that our mixtapes were made in, are there any artists you'd suggest we should check out for ourselves?

at the moment, nothing crosses my mind but there’s a number of great artists out there just keep your ears out and open. peace and love.

a massive thank you to Malanda J. Poetry for taking the time to answer our questions

and to stay up to date, be sure to check out Malanda on twitter, tumblr and youtube