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This week’s new releases

Absence, they say, makes the heart grow fonder. And that’s maybe why we’ve never quite warmed to Gorillaz. They return this week with new album The Fall, despite never really having seemed to go away after the last one. Possibly this is the consequence of releasing 82 singles from it. But yes, another day, another Gorillaz album and it’s packed full of those Gorillaz-style experiments which have done so much to keep Damon Albarn in rollies. It’s yet another one to file under ‘meh’ and go back to waiting for the new Blur album.

Continue reading

The song remains the same – Paul Weller’s new album

Paul Weller returns this week with Wake Up the Nation, an album which, staggeringly, turns out only to be the tenth offering of his near-two decade solo career.

Weller has been in and out of favour with the cognoscenti for so long that it became impossible to determine accurately where he was positioned at any given time – erstwhile guru of elder statesman rock cool or orange-tanned dadrocker with a feathercut best suited to a post-menopausal fiftysomething woman. In the end, the British public decided following this was a bit too much hassle; they liked his music and liked him, so afforded him national treasure status (albeit a slightly narky national treasure.) Continue reading

Hinterland Night 1 – Glasgow, Various

Hinterland kicked off for the ELM team with Trailer Trash Tracys at the Classic Grand, a venue which seemed too big for them even before the sparse attendance. It’s a deep and unmistakable truth about gig going that the smaller the crowd, the further back they will stand. It’s a learned behavior from school, I suppose. TTT are not bad, rather big Wall of Sound influenced noise which sadly brings to mind the Raveonettes more than the Mary Chain. If you sound like a band who are essentially a revivalist parody, then you are not going to stamp your authority into the hall, and so it proved; they were fine without ever threatening to become memorable. However, with a bit more gigging experience and some refining, there could be a decent act in there. Must improve stage presence too, they did not connect with the audience at all.

The great joy of Hinterland promised to be the gig-hopping, and so it proved when we went downstairs to the Grand’s other arena for 85 Bears, a very loud post-rock instrumental three-piece. Lots of bright cascading textures, and a band who are clearly interested in the finer details of their sound. They play a heavily-rhythmic form of intense garage which builds up into a heavy crescendo. It’s very, very good. One to watch.

At this point in my notes was a mention of a girl watching them who had a really, really big arse.  I’m not sure why I’m telling you that, but the fact I felt it was worth noting for future use should tell you about the sheer magnificence of said derriere.

Geordi La Force did a splendidly mental interview for us a few weeks ago so I’m delighted to report he did a splendidly mental gig here. Metal isn’t always fun, but Geordi is. Industrial, buzzing guitars interspersed with his demonic presence.  A lot to like. He’s moving to Japan soon; they won’t know what’s hit them.

Moving round to The Arches 1 in time for My Tiger My Timing, we witnessed a very decent performance from charismatic frontwoman Anna Vincent. With a voice and persona not dissimilar to Siouxsie at her best, she prowls round the stage and all eyes are on her, which probably suits the rest of the band who seem happy to construct the artfully-pop sounds behind her. They have the glamour and the tunes are coming too – ‘This is Not the Fire’ is a terrific pop single, like the Ting Tings covering Foals.

My Tiger My Timing

My Tiger My Timing

In these days of angularity, it’s nice to hear people with acoustic guitars and sunny choruses, which is exactly what you get from Pearl and the Puppets (Arches 2). If some songs seem twee, it’s that Glasgow -TradeMarked way that lends it a certain melancholic charm.

Pearl and the Puppets

Pearl

Which leads on to a set from Metronomy, which will not be reviewed by me but instead by our contributor Positive Firehorse. Why? Well, there is music which I like but understand why others don’t. And there is music I hate but get why people buy it. But no, Metronomy and their endless posing and shrieking remain a mystery to me. Also seem to have a strangely arrogant demeanour onstage as well for where they are in their careers. But we are all about the fairness round these parts, so I headed for the doors and this is what PF thought: I love Metronomy. And for every person who loves them there are 10 who don’t get why they are so good at what they do. What they do is off-the-wall electro dance music. They push the boundaries of what is considered to be “normal” songs and invent sounds and sequences which stretch my imagination and indeed my very perception of what is actually “in tune”

They are therefore very clever and very creative but I never get the impression from them that they take themselves too seriously, I think they just have fun being creative!

The last time I saw them in Cabaret Voltaire in Edinburgh they did silly formation dances and wore t shirts that lit up….and they were extremely entertaining.

The arches metronomy set was different -there were no lights on their tshirts and a new line up. Their set included the brilliant “Holiday” and they absolutely owned the arena. The energy levels of the crowd were through the roof and the Arches is a brilliant venue for this sort of music, as the sound rebounded off the walls and into your head and body.

ELM loves music which makes his heart miss a beat, but dance isn’t meant to do that, it’s meant to make you dance and Metronomy do that!”

Metronomy

A Metronomist of some description

Luckily, one door closing and all that shit led us to see Meursalt at the Classic Grand and it was one of those lovely moments when you feel like you’ve stumbled across something unexpectedly thrilling, like a bargain in an expensive store, or a good tune on MTV 2. Three guys on stage, one of whom appears not to be playing anything, while folksy electro suffused with piano and beats rings round the room. It’s a heady swirl, and the crowd are very much engaged for the duration. There’s banjo at work here as well, and the vocals are almost otherworly in their loveliness. After half an hour of genuinely moving music, it’s over, with the crowd rapt; a top performance.

Meursault

Meursault

Then it’s back to the Arches 1 for The Fall. And what can you say? It’s The Fall doing what they do, incredibly loudly at that. The Wookie in the photographers pit is dismayed to see they have put extra monitors in there purely for the reason of deafening photographers.

Mark E Smith

Mark E Smith, with two microphones in case using just one isn’t loud enough

The dense, swirling attack of the noise is enlivened occasionally by the stabbing keyboards of Mrs Smith, Elena.

The Fall

Mrs Smith

But he is a loveable old so and so, unless you are in his band – he’s constantly fiddling with their equipment while they play. It’s like an assault course for musicians. Still, as he sings on ’50 Year Old Man’ he’s a ‘fifty year old man and I don’t give a fuck.’ More power to him.

Mark E Smith

Mark E Smith

But such prolonged exposure to ear-bleed country had left the Wookie, in particular, looking like a nam survivor replete with Thosuand Yard Stare, we headed off the the Classic Grand for the delightful sounds of Fanfarlo. Contrast between bands don’t come much clearer as we were soon being tended by their deightful, classic baroque pop. There’s an element of Belle and Sebastian about them, as there always is with a band of this type, but also bursts of Montreal influences and glittering, shiny folkpop. Ambitious and lovely, everyone who saw them left happy.

Fanfarlo

Fanfarlo

So on to a rather busy King Tut’s to finish with Team Waterpolo. Basically forever trying to sound like the Beach Boys with samplers, they are bursts and bursts of beautiful pop, even if you could sing ‘Mamma Mia’ over ‘Letting Go’ without anyone noticing the difference. They are energetic and spiky and above all they are fun. A terrific end to Day One for us.

Team Waterpolo

What, no swimcap? Team Waterpolo

So, day two still to come for us, but before that, refreshments….

All photographs Copyright © 2009 Chris Osborne, Used with permission

Hinterland Reminder – Full Coverage on ELM

Yo yo yo party people. The Hinterland festival starts this Thursday and is looking very tasty indeed. We’ve been bringing you some taster interviews, but will also be offering up interviews with some of the coolest acts playing (of course!) and the most comprehensive review section about after it. Given that anything fairly alternative has been cancelled this year to allow promoters to concentrate on the cookie-cutter festivals, this is a brave attempt to get something different going. If you can get along, please do, there’s bound to be something on you fancy.

Hinterland Line-Up

Hinterland Line-Up

Hinterland – Interview with De Rosa

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We  first checked out De Rosa at Malcolm Middleton’s Burst Noel in December (see reviews) and were rather impressed with them. With Hinterland coming up, we were keen to chat with them and Chris from the band rather kindly took the time to answer our questions. The result is, in our humble opinion, very interesting and very funny at the same time. And we have to say we 100% agree with the man on his opinion of current acts!

They have a few videos on youtube, notably “Robin Song” and “Nocturne for an Absentee” (the new single), and ypou’ll find them on myspace at myspace.com/wearederosa We’d be willing to wager you’ll visit after reading this……

What got you started in music/influences?

A few of my uncles played in bands who had records out, the vinyls where always lying about the house when I was a kid, and I remember being fascinated by them and wanting to be a musician. I actually started learning classical guitar first when I was around 12, because my school had a tutor who came in once a week teaching it, but I got chucked into local competitions and the like which I hated. By about 14 I had bought an electric guitar and initially got obsessed with Jimi Hendrix for several years. I think I bought every single release and bootleg available on earth of his music. Then the natural progression as I grew up seemed to go Nirvana, Pixies, Delgados, Mogwai, Daft Punk, Tom Waits to the present day, where I mainly listen to local new Scottish bands on myspace more than anything else. All the guys in the band have quite varied musical tastes actually, but I’m sure we could all agree on a few such as Neil Young and Mogwai as being across the board influences.

Whats the best aspect of live performance?

Going on tour is really all about the food for me. But besides the free meals and beers, I love the challenges faced by bringing the songs to a live format. The singular nature of a live performance, from the differences in the space and sound you are performing in to the actual playing of the songs really excites me, and we use quite a lot of equipment these days, which can be fun to see if it’s all going to fit on stage sometimes. When it all goes to plan it’s a really satisfying thing to do, but when you fuck up a song you’ve played hundreds of times over you can start to wonder what wrongs with your brain.

Whats your favourite gig played so far?

Supporting Mogwai in a big open air Ampitheatre in Ostia Antica, Rome still ranks as the best gig we’ve ever done, but from our recent tour I’d pick the Fence Homegame festival warm up gig we played in Anstruther, Fife. We played with two great bands Come in Tokyo and Kid Canaveral, and the entertainment powerhouse that is Gummi Bakko , with King Creosote playing a few tunes over the course of the day in his usual effortlessly beautiful manner. The Fence collective have really took us under their wing and do a wonderful job of making you feel at home, the whole day just felt like playing and hanging about with a big bunch of nice folk who like the same things as you, including a right good drink. Bliss.

Who at Hinterland are you most excited to be sharing the bill with?

We’re playing at the Arches supporting the Fall which is pretty exciting,  I saw them at Indian Summer a few years back and really enjoyed it, and they have been pretty influential to British music over the years so it’s a honour to get to play on the same bill.  Although I’m well aware of Mark E. Smiths reputation for being an awkward cunt, so I’m guessing sharing the backline is out the window, and if he gives me any pish backstage I’m gonna stick the nut in him, guaranteed.

Of the less well known acts at hinterland who would you recommend to check out?

Mitchell Museum and Galchen are both playing Pivo on the Thursday night, they are both really great live bands and I’m hoping to get to see them myself time permitting. It’s only round the corner from the Arches so I’ll be running about between the two, which I guess is part of the charm of the Hinterland setup. Actually it’d be fun to be a casual observer watching wee Glasgow scenesters running about town in skinny jeans and chucks all weekend, there’ll be many an indie groin injury incurred I’m projecting and I hope that Hinterland have adequate public liability insurance in place to cover themselves.  I’ll be practical though and have my joggies on, and I’m doing a thorough warm-up before any pace is injected into my legs between venues.

What does the rest of 2009 look like for you?

We’ve been asked by Doves to support them on a few dates of their UK tour, and the Fence Collectives Homegame Festival is coming up, which we’re all looking forward to playing. We’re also doing the Plaff festival in Spain the Day after Hinterland which means I’ll be heavy seshed up on the Estrella all weekend.  We also have Tigerfest @ The Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline to look forward to at the moment. We’re hoping to do some more touring/festivals over the summer in both the UK and Europe. Release wise, we’ll have two singles out off Prevention, the first being “Nocturne for an absentee” out 27th April. There’s also talk of a mini EP release in the winter, and we’ll start work on recording album 3 come the new year.

How important do you feel art is in reflecting society?

I guess both art and music have been hugely important in reflecting politics, society and economic conditions since the days of rock n roll, the protest songs of the 60’s, acceptance of gay culture in the disco movement and obviously punks almost purpose built voice for the dissatisfaction of the youth of the time. Although I’m not really sure what prog rock was trying to do but we can maybe wipe that one under the musical history carpet. My favourite album of all time is “What’s going on?” by Marvin Gaye, which is almost like a diary of the social conditions of Black America at the time. I think it’s important for musicians to document these things if it’s an influence on their lives. For us, the influence of the society, geography and musical history in which we grew up has hugely affected the music we write, and in particular Martin’s lyrics. I think he feels a strong urge to give Lanarkshire a place in culture.  Working with artist/novelist Alasdair Gray for the artwork of our new album was also a real honour and he too is heavily influenced by Lanarkshire in his works. I think he has helped capture the intent of Prevention with the portrait and composition of the Album artwork he produced.

Art v commerce – is it possible to be hugely successful and hugely respected at the same time? What’s most important?

It’s seems really hard to be both hugely successful and hugely respected at the same time for most big acts, in the main as soon as you start hitting the charts the uber musos will call you shite, which to be fair in many cases they are correct to say so. Snow patrol are a good example of a band that had a fair bit of credibility in Glasgow, certainly with the Raindeer Section stuff, then they did a big U2 pop anthem, got mega rich and famous and it became a beamer to say you used to like them. Now their letting x-factor winners cover their songs and have just lost the plot completely. Although if it bought you a yacht would you do it? It’s just human nature I guess. Alot of indie guitar music has really replaced pop over the last few years and the acts should be seen as throwaway without getting your musical knickers in a twist. In terms of what’s more important, I guess it depends on the individual. Personally it’s more important to me to be proud of the music I’ve made on an artistic level, with zero thought of it as a possible “earner”, and we as a band have never compromised musically to make more accessible or marketable songs.  In saying that, I don’t really mind when a band have made a conscious decision to do anything to “make it”, as long as their honest about their music being a business and not art. Throwaway pop is fun and has its place in my heart. My bedroom wall would certainly be a darker place without the Girls Aloud calendar that’s for sure. And yes the ginger is my favourite and I don’t care if that makes me weird.

It’s an interesting time for the music business – has technology been a help or a hinderance to aspiring artists?

I think all the new technologies could prove a help to not only aspiring, but already established artists, even though record labels may be shitting themselves that they don’t have a purpose anymore and cant make any money. If people want to download your music for free it’s piss easy to do and that has to be taken as a given, so artists should use the opportunity for exposure effectively and be realistic about the state of play. Getting gigging and selling merch is prob the best way for a band to make a living at the moment, or get a sync deal to a movie and you’ll be laughing, so start writing Angelo Badalamenti rip offs is my advice. It’s fair to say that the majors will be fucked if they don’t embrace new technologies and adapt to the various new ways to listen to, interact with and obtain music, such as spotify, tentracks,  reverbnation and myspace, yet they seem to respond like an oil tanker trying to do a u-turn to anything new. Independent labels always prove a good barometer in how to distribute music fairly to both the artist and consumer, and it’s interesting to see new ideas like getting free mp3 download links when you but a vinyl etc. as a new way to sell a physical product in an increasingly digital environment. My prediction is that big bands will start signing 360 degree deals to mobile phone companies, as they have the ultimate digital distribution network already setup, and I’m surprised it’s not happened yet. I’d sign to Vodaphone if they gave me a free contract cause I’m currently getting shafted every month on my bill.

Who are the most overrated and underrated artists in music?

I’ll go with current acts:

Overrated –
Mark Ronson = Pish

The Fratellis = Pish

Pete Doherty = Pish

Razor fucking Light = Ultimate Pish

And for god sake New Order, I love you, but please please stop shouting “yeah c’mon!” to the crowd in between verses of love will tear us apart at festivals, that’s grave turning behaviour.

Underrated –
Adem

Sufjan Stevens

Jim O’Rourke

The Delgados

King Creosote

The Junior Funktion

Many thanks to Chris and we look forward to seeing them at Hinterland!

Some Friday Fall – Hit The North

News that the Hinterland Festival is to be headlined by The Fall got us to remembering how much we love the mental old bastard. Here’s a classic from the 80’s. Enjoy!

Something Interesting Comes This Way – The Hinterland Festival, Glasgow

There are precious few things to get excited about right now, let’s be honest. The papers are depressing, the TV is even worse and there are plenty of punters willing to indulge in ‘the world is ending’ apocalyptic doomsaying. We need some good news, frankly.

And poking out like a single beautiful daisy in a post-nuclear wasteland is the Hinterland Festival, which takes place in Glasgow between April 30th and May 1st. We like things which are innovative round these parts, and this certainly is; rather than dragging us all to some godforsaken field in the middle of nowhere, it is spread across 15 venues in the city with a variety of acts which, for once, actually justify a promoter using the term ‘eclectic’.

Headliners include Manchester’s finest curmudgeonly mentalists The Fall, nu-folk legend Jeffrey Lewis and Glasgow’s own sleaziest, dirtiest rock band (in a good way) Sons and Daughters. Metronomy and Broken Records also feature highly.

It’s what we find lower down the bill, though, which really gets our collective juices simmering. Hotly-tipped acts such as Prego, 85 Bears, Zoey Van Goey, Dinosaur Pile-Up mix with such ELM favourites as Team Waterpolo and The Voluntary Butler Scheme. Throw in Elks, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Fanfarlo and De Rosa for good measure. There are over 100 acts, so if you can’t find a few things which tickle your particular fancy then we suggest you may be rather dull of soul or a Snow Patrol devotee, which is much the same.

ELM will be bringing you interviews with some of the acts in the lead-up, before comprehensive reviews after the event. As good as we are, though – and we are, you knows it – nothing will beat actually being at it, and a very reasonable £42 for an all access ticket, it represents pretty good value even in these credit-crunched times. Serious hat on, this is a really innovative format and line-up in a time when the increasingly staid mainstream festival gets ever safer and ever less interesting. if you can get along, it is truly worth supporting. We may even buy you a drink.*

* We won’t. Come anyway.

The Hinterland Festival, April 30th – May 1st, Glasgow, Various Venues, £42.