Friday, 31 July 2009
Cheatahs are a one man outfit from London, but who actually play live with two people, even though they are one people. Confusing. The music is mainly transmitted through a thick layer of fuzz, and sounds like it's been plucked straight from a jaded heart. This video is one of the best I have seen in a very long time. It acts as the perfect accompaniment to the song, allowing for a more playful side of the artist to come through, even though some might call the music 'mysterious'. However, those people would be stupid, a bit like me for trying to be clever with my words. Anyway, Cheatahs are a great band/solo project and you should add them as a mate of MySpace as they've only got like 5 at the moment and that's no way to live, now is it?
Monday, 27 July 2009
This is that band I posted a video of the other day. Hailing from Oakland, California, Bare Wires are the essence of 70's punk smothered all over the neck of a sweaty bar rat. Their modern take on a tried and tested old formula is some of the best stripped-back guitar music I've heard in ages. Their lead singer, Matthew, was nice enough to speak to me the other day, after I pestered him on Myspace. Enjoy...
When did you guys get together and how did it happen?
Matthew: "I started Bare Wires in Memphis in 2005 with Alicia Trout (Lost Sounds, The Clears) and the group went on hiatus until i reformed a group under the same name upon my arrival to San Francisco in 2008. I met Paul at a thrift store and heather in a sex shop. I just said hey you wanna be in my band?"
Your sound is more reminiscent of older punk bands. Are the main musical influences for Bare Wires firmly routed in the past?
"Yes. I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee listening to soul 45s and then got into early punk / powerpop / 70s and early 80s stuff."
How would you personally describe your music?
How did you end up being signed on Tic Tac Totally?
"They released an LP for my first band Snake Flower 2 and when Bare Wires started getting more attention he snapped us up for our debut LP."
How long have you been working on your L.P. Artificial Clouds and when is it out?
"It just came out the other day. We took about a month working on it in Oakland, California and then sent it off to be Mastered in Memphis by Jay Reatard."
What does the title mean?
"Artificial Clouds is about that feeling you get when you wake up to realize that things werent the way they seemed to be or what you had expected, and being further motivated by this discovery rather than discouraged."
How have you enjoyed recording compared to playing live?
"Playing live is great because its more about how you execute the songs rather than what notes you play. When I'm working on recordings its like being a kid again and building a fort out of blankets and cardboard, except with old amplifiers and vintage microphones."
What are you favourite kind of live shows to play?
"House Parties are lots of fun, and the best is to play crappy dive bars with a old malfunctioning sound equipment!"
How developed is the scene, nowadays, in Oakland?
"Its like Brooklyn in 1997. Crime is through the roof, Cheap rent, lots of cool bands popping up, house parties next door to abandoned buildings, that sort of thing..."
What are you guys listening to at the moment?
"Basically everything coming out on Goner Records, and dollar records that have been discarded on the street. I try not to listen to too much music, would much rather just be recording something."
Your upcoming tour is pretty huge. Have any of you guys been on tour before?
"This is our first tour - we are really excited and hope that the Dodge Ram Van that we got does not break down."
Published on: http://thepixzine.co.uk/article_view.php?article_id=543
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
I’m not sure what’s more worrying about The XX: the fact that such young musicians could produce a debut album of this calibre or the troubled adolescence that led up to this tortured, haunting record. There is something so delicate and vulnerable about Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim’s voices, which feels as though they are on the brink of personal disaster and feel a collective pain. You get the impression that the pair took the lyrical content of their R&B influences completely to heart, and used it to channel their own deep-seeded tenderness.
This is by no means a loud record, but it has no need to be. The band are able to communicate their upset over a background of heavy bass and careful guitar play, reminiscent of the more macabre efforts of The Cure. The choice of the band to use MPC created beats perfectly compliments the smooth, sultry sound of the South London foursome. Anything else would have been too overpowering to the thick atmospheric setting that had already been generated, and would have appeared contrived on what is one of the most considered albums in years. In fact, the loudest part of the album comes halfway through ‘Fantasy’, when a rumbling bass line comes out of the backing track that was starting to sound more like Stars of the Lid than a pop tune. Though they are widely labelled as a pop act, the overriding poignancy of XX makes even more poppy efforts such as ‘Basic Space’ sound like the most melancholy-filled Saturday night Joe Goddard has ever had.
There is a subtle epicness to this debut that achieves a level of introspection and electronic schizophrenia that only M83 has been able to produce in recent times. The decision of the band to shy away from interfering producers, allowing instead for keyboardist Jamie Smith to take the reigns, means that this record is completely theirs. As a result, there is not one hint of compromise, no moments of hurriedness, and not one second of this sound that isn’t The XX. The most exciting thing about this album is that I’ve been listening to it on repeat, and I’m still constantly finding new pieces of the music I enjoy and imagining new places that I would love to listen to it.
One of the most hyped bands of the year have retired away to a quiet corner, with only themselves for company and produced an album of such consequence that it will be relevant to everyone, even those bastards who were mean to them at school. Flawless.
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
So the weekend turned out to be impressively more disgusting than I expected. I attended a two-day gathering in a field in Kent, HUH FFF, which turned out to not be the kind of place where one can go and make a complete fool of themselves in relative anonymity. Needless to say, that the suicidal urges washed over me shortly afterwards like a thick wave of hate tipped knives. Lovely.
I was going to write something here about the weekend itself, but it turns out that all festival stories tend to fade into “I-guess-you-had-to-be-there” obscurity when read back by other people (apart from when my friend, who was tightly clad in a cow suit, was getting it on with a girl and she stopped him briefly halfway in to state that “things were really hotting-up” ).
So, in the interests of keeping this interesting to those few interested parties, I decided to blog about my moment of clarity the day after the four days before. I dragged my sorry arse out of my flat to be led around second hand furniture shops by my friend who was sorting out a video shoot. I was feeling very sad to say the least. The clouds had come out and I found I had lost the power of legible thought or speech, until we stumbled upon this little bric a brac shop run by a “bita this, bita that” geezer Darren. The shop had that incredible antique feel to it, mixing smells of mahogany and old paper into a claustrophobic clutter of thoughtlessly arranged items. The whole thing felt like a Sunday afternoon film. The only thing missing from this fantasia was that the soft sounds of Louis Armstrong and a mystery female (who is probably not mystery but I couldn’t recognise) were being pushed round the little room by a fisher price illuminated hi-fi and not a Grammar phone. I was so enthralled and disappointed at once as all of the items seemed perfect for my life, but I had not tuppence hapney to rub together. Until, that is, I found a perfectly kempt little book of L. S. Lowry paintings and drawings. I couldn’t believe it. His amazing collection of awkward drawings, kinda creepy sketches and almost childlike portraits, lifted me out of my post-fun funk like a forklift truck made of hugs. Just then holding my newly purchased book, the sun broke a little through the skies and shone an intricate rainbow over the sullen grey buildings, and I realised that I might be alright after all.
Friday, 3 July 2009
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Initially, when first handed this business card, I thought it was the most self-indulgent piece of company promotion I had ever seen. Just a simple white card with a rubbery looking man head on the front of it. It was only when I took a look at the guy’s website that things began to become clear. ThatsMyFace.com was founded by a PhD from Cambridge University’s Computer Laboratory. The website allows the user to mutate their own 3D facial appearance in a variety of ways. After uploading a couple of photographs into their online software package, the user can change their race, age and gender with only a few clicks. For those of you who are less attractive, you can also use the site to “beautify” yourself, so you won’t feel as embarrassed when uploading your pictures onto your new online dating profile. To be honest, at first glance, I thought it was clever but after a childhood being wowed by more CGI effects than you could shake an optical wire at, I wasn’t incredibly impressed. That is until I watched their promotional video of the products that they have on offer. Using “cutting-edge manufacturing technologies pioneered by the car prototyping industry” these guys can take you’re 2D image and create a 3D sculpture of your face that is scarily lifelike. It’s some straight up robocoping, face-offing, digital face-chopping voodoo shit that has the capability to scare the be-Jesus out of even the weirdest of kooky relatives come birthday time. Seriously who the hell doesn’t want their face on their own action figure?!
On a day-to-day basis, I do tend to find myself a little disappointed. On my walk to work every morning I glance around at the purely functional names that adorn the streets that I live and feel wholly uninspired. The millisecond of ponderance that went into coming up with the name “Fashion Street”, the place where all the clothes shops were, or “Brick Lane”, the road that used to house tile and brick manufacturers, has led to a lifetime of tedium. I mean, where is the imagination? Where is the creativity? Sure, some of us do get to live on “Bird in Bush Road”, stroll down “Cock Lane” or spend a night on “Ravey Street”, but that’s just not enough. There should be comedy around every corner, enchantment out every window and fascination upon every letterhead! It was only recently when I got chatting to one of the girls downstairs in our office that I realised that not everyone’s daily routines are filled with the same monotony. Some people are really living in a dream...
So, can you tell me a bit about the place that you’re from?
Liz: I grew up on Lookout Mountain, Georgia, in a little place called Fairyland. It’s part of the Appalachian Mountain chain.
Why is it called Fairyland?
There’s a really big attaction there called Rock City, and I think the guy that founded that was really into fairytales and stuff. I think that he owned quite a lot of the mountain like before people moved there. So, he just sorta named everything like Peter Pan Way and Cinderella Walk. Rock City is a big attraction in the States, and it’s got like caves and stuff that have things that look like diamonds. There’s Gnomes everywhere, and like there’s little goats running around. It’s all fairytaley.
Sounds pretty crazy
Well, I never thought it was weird, but then I discovered that it is when you look back on it. There’s this place called Ruby Falls as well, which is like this really big natural waterfall and a big cave, and that’s just further down the mountain. It’s touristy, but not as well.
So they get loads of people going there to see these wonders?
Yeah. I don’t know sort of how much there is to do there otherwise. At the bottom of the mountain it’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, which is quite a big attraction also. You go up the mountain and then it turns into Georgia.
What was the name of the street that you lived on?
Duran Drive? What was the reason for that?
I don’t know actually, I never thought about it, but I went to Fairyland Elementary. It’s actually pronounced “Fairaland”, but a lot of people say Fairyland.
Is it people that live there that call it Fairyland?
Yeah it is.
And do the kids have funnier names as well as a result of coming from Fairyland?
Umm, not really. I mean, there’s normal southern names like “Chucky” and stuff like that, but I did know a guy called Zadok.
Yeah haha. I wasn’t really friends with him, but his name sort of stood out.
What did Zadok look like?
He was really, really tall.
Did people seem, overall, happier in Fairyland?
Umm I’m not sure. I guess so. There’s a big divide there though. There’s this thing called the “front of the mountain” and the “back of the mountain”. So, the Front of the Mountain is like a bit more wealthy, and that where Fairyland is. So, there’s a lot of people in the music industry and sort of old American companies like, some of the Coca Cola people live there, so there’s really big houses. And then you go to the Back of the Mountain and it gets to be more like trailer parks and stuff. So, there’s a difference between Fairyland and the other bit.
So it’s the age-old story then that money can buy you happiness...and real estate in Fairyland?
Yeah. I think it’s quite a wealthy community. They all have pretty interesting jobs. There’s a lot of doctors and, as I said the descendents or whatever of the Coca Cola company live there. I can’t remember what all my friends’ parents did. Umm one of them was a rodent killer, you know like you get the truck spray them haha I don’t know if that’s really all that interesting.
Was there a rodent problem in Fairyland?
Not really it was more like bugs and stuff.
Do the rodents there look sort of like a certain Disney character?
Yeah, actually. Exactly like that. It’s terrifying! There’s loads of chipmunks and stuff that come into the house, but you can’t really kill them because they’re really cute.
Did Fairyland seem like an exciting and mystical place when you first moved there?
I moved to Fairyland when I was like 7. We’d moved around a lot before. I remember thinking that it was weird, because one of my friends that I first got to know lived on Gnome Trail, which was a little strange, but it was just part of their everyday life. You get used to it quite quickly. But when you’re 7 it makes life much more interesting.
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