John & Jehn announce new London gig

•23/11/2009 • Leave a Comment

Until early December, I’m on a back-up laptop which does its utmost to make blogging as difficult as possible.  Think of the most petulant child you know, multiply him/her with a BT operator and you have roughly the achieved level of hair-pulling.  Given that, I’m only going to blog when there’s something truly important to divulge – like this… 

Those two there are the glamorous duo of John & Jehn, and they have just announced a new London live date (details below).  Despite hailing from London, the couple spend much of their time in France and haven’t been over to our shores for many months (an Offset appearance was cancelled).  It’s cruel, for theirs is a metallic pop drenched in continental cool: screechy slivers of guitar in league with pleading vocals, haymaking midsections and a whole electronic travelling circus of odd sounds, from the cries of distant children to lusty sighs.  All this with a consistently fast and exhilarating pace. 

I suspect they are spectacularly good live.   Talking of which, one of Mick Jones’ many bands will also be playing the same night.  With John & Jehn promising new material from their second album, not to mention two new live musicians, it ought to be a belter.

Live date
Fri 11 December – The Cobden Club, Westbourne Park

John & Jehn on MySpace
John & Jehn’s excellent blog

MP3:
John & Jehn – Oh My Love (zSHARE)

Bad laptop, bad

•20/11/2009 • 1 Comment

Last night, my laptop decided that it preferred the floor to the table on which I’d rested it, and took the quickest route down there without asking for permission.  The consequence of this daredevil stunt is that its screen is, to use a technical term, well and truly fucked, and thus I’ll be out of action for 2 weeks and a hefty chunk of sterling worse off.  (No matter – living in London is famously, er, cheap after all.)

More to the point, this blog might be rather un-regularly updated for the next fortnight.  Please bear with me and feel free to call HP and ask for an update on my repair – I’m sure they’ll appreciate that.  The number is 01925 260060 and my reference number is 682923.

Not that I’ve got sour grapes in my mouth…

MP3: Wild Beasts – We Still Got The Taste Dancing On Our Tongues (zSHARE)

New London music – A Terrible Splendour

•19/11/2009 • Leave a Comment

With the recent opening of Proud Cabaret and burlesque nights popping up all over town, theatrical music has never had it so good.  And here comes another example, in the form of A Terrible Splendour, aka London pair MM Lyle and ML Block.  Making their debut perfomance at The Lexington this weekend, they offer a slow, synthy pop, doused in glamour and dank with weirdness.  There are no glorious choruses here; instead you have vocals sung in almost a rather gay drawl, lots of filthy fun, and the general sensation of being among folk with a fetish for Spandex.  

They confess to being inspired by one Gottfried von Cramm, a controversial 1930s/40s tennis player and soldier, and have written their songs in his honour, and with a nod to the dash of that period’s music.  They’ll also perform appropriately, it seems:  “From the beginning it became apparent that these were songs would lend themselves to a strong performance element. We are imagining costumes, cake, blood, possibly murder, but most definitely a sense of drama, so in that sense returning to the idea of a stage show.”

Stage show or not, ATS lack the catchy rhythms of, say, fellow oddballs The xx.  They do boast fervent electro notes that are crying out for a remix or four, though, plus this near guarantee that, live, they’ll be anything but dull.  And no-one likes dull right now.

Live date:
Sat 21 November – The Lexington (details here)

A Terrible Splendour on MySpace
MP3:
A Terrible Splendour – Dear Klara (zSHARE) Very kindly provided by the duo – thank you and good luck with the show!

New London music – Showbizheroes

•18/11/2009 • 2 Comments

Showbizheroes, a newly-established (I think) London quartet,  are well worth a listen.  A sort of soaring, rocked-out powerpop, full of climbing vocals and careering guitar cacophonies, their music is epic and yet rather svelte and polished, as if they’ve been at it for years and Mark Ronson is their producer.  Listen to the preppy intro and reverb-happy strings in This Is How It Feels (To Be Wrong), Sinner’s choppy riffs or the languid, luscious pop sensibility of Maybe She’s An Angel.   Good songs, aren’t they?  This is a band who clearly know the ingredients of a catchy tune.

Even better, you can download The Periodic Table, Showbizheroes’ debut EP, for free simply by joining their mailing list, here.  Or listen to the tunes below…

Showbizheroes on MySpace
MP3:
Showbizheroes – This Is How It Feels (To Be Wrong) (zSHARE)
MP3: Showbizheroes – Maybe She’s An Angel (zSHARE)

New London music – them:youth

•15/11/2009 • 5 Comments

You know that feeling when you’re impossibly happy and you want to scream or yell or dance manically or jump up and down or just run as fast as you can?  Sudden, uncontainable euphoria?  The music of them:youth, a London fivepiece I’m really excited by, gives me that feeling.  It’s epic and fiercely melodic: in some cases maudlin  (Get Home Safely), in others balladeering (Stardust) and sometimes (Halo) just belting anthems with a dance fetish.  There’s the most velvety of bass sounds, and the lyrics are rather pretty and twee.  Gosh, it’s good stuff.

themyouth

If you like Halo, you should also love the brilliant SkiBunny remix – it holds back the explosive chorus so long that you’re positively on your knees begging for it.

Live dates:
Thurs 26 November – Punk, Soho (guestlist & tables here)
Sun 6 December – The Watershed, Wimbledon (tickets here)

MP3: them:youth – Hal0
Buy all of them:youth’s music here.
them:youth’s Facebook / blog.

Valentina’s day coming soon?

•14/11/2009 • Leave a Comment

I don’t often listen to soul, but there’s always a place for it somewhere inside a stressy week, when heads need soothing and ears caressing with a minimum of fuss and maximum of groove.

valentina

I don’t often blog about soul either, but this emerging London talent’s so good I’m compelled to make an exception.  Valentina somehow sounds both young and full of wisdom at once, and her three songs on MySpace have a gorgeous, cool simplicity, pleasant arrangements around a very capable voice.  The best is Heart of Glass, not a Blondie cover but in fact a mournful-sounding slower number anchored on a potent piano, with some gospel-like oohing and aahing in the background, but I also like the zestier Dulcimer Song a lot too.

With the news that she’s apparently been working with renowned producer Kwes – explaining why she sounds quite so slick quite so soon – I’d say Valentina’s a racing certainty for 2010 fame.   (She’s very good-looking too, which won’t hurt.) You heard it here first (hopefully).  Some upcoming live dates after the picture…

valentina2

Live dates
Thurs 19 November – The Distillers, Hammersmith
Fri 20 November – The Gallery Cafe, Bethnal Green
Wed 25 November – The Flowerpot, Kentish Town (details here)

Valentina on MySpace
MP3:
Valentina – Heart of Glass (demo) (zSHARE)  This has been very kindly provided by the charming Valentina and is still, she points out, a mere demo.  EP version out in early 2010.

Has Marina made it at last?

•14/11/2009 • Leave a Comment

As my weary friends’ll testify, I’ve been a longtime fan of Marina & the Diamonds, dragging people to see her at strange London hotels and far-off Bestival stages this year alone.  She’s long been hot blog property, and tipped by many more than me, yet there’s never been much suggestion of her making a public ripple. 

All that’s changing now, on the back of Mowgli’s Road – profiles on Friday in The Guardian and Metro intimate that she’ll be on most Tips for 2010 list (look out for Some Of It Was True!’s soon).  Good for her – she’s an eclectic, honest and charming talent.  And she regularly writes a fantastically opinionated and well-written blog (old/new) to go with her kooky alt-pop.  (By the way, yes: this is yet another case of a blog reminding everyone it was there first.   Such self-aggrandisement makes you sick, doesn’t it?!).

Unfortunately the forthcoming live date at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen has now sold out.  I’ll be sure to update when more Marina concerts are announced.

marina

Marina & The Diamonds on MySpace
MP3:
Marina & The Diamonds – Hermit The Frog (zSHARE)
MP3: Marina & The Diamonds – Mowgli’s Road (zSHARE)