You know you've had a good day when you wake up in a resort in Palm Springs and end up almost 24 hours later face down, literally face down, in a plate of tacos in downtown LA, head throbbing and ears ringing. There’s no way to rationalise it, nor the fact that between such decadent highs and lows, Webcuts was in attendance to witness the second night of Arcade Fire’s two night stand at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. On a night where the streets (well, one street) were filled with yellow NYC cabs and fake snow, Arcade Fire required no illusory set-dressing to impress Tinseltown.
Part extreme noise terror, part euphoria, East London’s Factory Floor have made a name for themselves as being loud and uncompromising, or as they stress in the interview below "brutal". Having walked half-way in during their set supporting American synth act Cold Cave earlier this year, Factory Floor's performance was very much a "what the fuck?" moment, unsure as to either quickly vacate the room or take stock of the diffused electronic/industrial free-form concotions they were composing. We stayed, with reservations... Chris Berkley of Static caught up with Gabriel Gurnsey and Nik Colk from Factory Floor shortly after their appearance at the Offset Festival in London in September to find out more.
No Age push the 'mature album' button while still managing to shred and transcend on their third release.
Blake, McGinley & Love doesn’t have the same ring as Crosby, Stills & Nash, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be held in the same breath or as widely known. These three Scotsman and the outfit they've steered for the last 20+ years have consistently made albums that rich in harmonies and heart-on-sleeve emotions. If Teenage Fanclub had a spiritual home, it would be a tie between Nashville or Los Angeles, or perhaps started in Los Angeles and ended up in Nashville (as found on their most recent album Shadows).
California girls. Beach Boys praised them, Katy Perry revived them, but Los Angeles' Dum Dum Girls are the kind of girls that either Brian Wilson or Katy Perry had in mind. Palm trees, bikinis and suntans aren’t their domain, in fact, it would be surprising if daylight ever graced their chalk-white skin, looking as they do Josie and The Pussycats meets Tim Burton. Making a return visit to London in the newly opened (and un-divey) East London venue XOYO, Dum Dum Girls are Dee Dee. The all-girl band she's assembled acts as both an extension of her psyche, and a mirror to how she dresses.
The stakes are high on Deerhunter's 4th album. Can they beat Webcuts album of the year 2008, their own magnificent Microcastle?
You’d be forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu here. Is it 1989? Did The Primitives and The Darling Buds really both play London within a week of each other? Having been absent from the live scene for most of the '90s and all of the past decade, for both bands to surface at the same time is unthinkable. Unthinkable, but pretty damn cool. It brings back memories of a time when the music magazines invented a scene called ‘Blonde’, where bands were lumped together purely based on the colour of the lead singers hair. Which by their way of thinking meant you were either a Blonde, a Goth or in Fairground Attraction.
Janus 4-14's tag is 'indie pop that won't make you cringe', but they fail to recognise that statement itself is cringeworthy. Despite being presumptious of their own sound, Janus 4-14 do make for great music. They exist in a time that some would regard as the golden age of music, that mid-90's alternative scene when American bands owned their airwaves. They took their influences from the UK, as well as their own country, and put together something that sounded like The Ramones meets The Buzzcocks, that in itself was almost a new breed of rock n' roll -- fast or slow, these were raging guitar-driven, melody-led slices of imperfect perfection.
How many times do you get given a record and for it to feel like a breath of fresh air? Here you are then.
Inescapable, inexplicable, infuriatingly addictive and an irrefutable pop phenomenon. She is Lady Gaga and she has come to take your children. If this were true, I'm sure it would be a fair trade but in reality, her goals are much, much higher. She is Lady Gaga and you know full well why she is here. A fashion and style icon, Gaga has made her two years in the public eye seem like a special kind of Chinese water torture. Chances are you’ve either succumbed to her spell, or fighting the effects with all the strength you can muster.
How Webcuts first encountered Knoxville, Tennessee's Coolrunnings could be best described as a lucky accident. And it's no surprise that the best way to get someone's attention is to slap a photo of some naked chicks skateboarding on the cover of your EP and let them sell it for you. The appropriately titled (and NSFW) Babes Forever was clearly the product of talented and warped minds. The creepy, schizoid mayhem of "Trippin' Balls at Der Wienerschnitzel" and the inspired, almost unabashed, synth-pop of "When I Got High With You" sounded like they were made by some slacker Bill & Teds who'd already embarked on their own excellent adventure.
Champion Shoegazers Slowdive get the back catalogue reissue treatment. We'll have the Souvlaki to go.
It’s shows like this which give birth to the very nature of rock and roll. The hip-swaying sounds of a band as they rock back and forth, eyes closed, mouths pressed against the microphone with their feet marking the beat. It’s an undeniably sexual thing. This isn't news. It’s why they tried to ban Elvis in the 50’s. He turned young girls on, and it wasn’t so much the man, but the music, the stage, the sweat, the motion -- the rock and roll of it all. Wedged together in this barely ventilated Old Street basement, Los Angeles' Warpaint are presiding over something that had this been the 50's, would've gotten them banned too.
All killer, no filler, Joe Pernice and Co. turn up the volume and turn in one of their most enjoyable records to date.
It's not so much lurking in the 3 minute bluster of their debut single “How Long”, but a part of its DNA, where you quickly catch onto Ramona’s game. In the first 10 seconds alone they manage to answer the eternal question of “What if Debbie Harry joined The Ramones?”. You see it in
“You’re one of us, or you’re one of them“. Hamilton Leithauser, fist wrapped tight around the microphone as if he's trying to strangle it, is howling those words. The rest of The Walkmen, heads bowed (as they remain throughout most of the set) play complicit and provide the carnival-esque roar to ram Leithauser’s words home. It’s not so much a question or a suggestion but a statement. For better or for worse, for way back when the band were selling their own white label records at the Middle East in Boston in 2001, I’ve been one of "us".
As regular as clockwork, and now for the third year running, Webcuts returned to Slottsskogen in Gothenburg, Sweden for the annual Way Out West Festival. With so much eclectic talent spread across the three days it was impossible to walk away empty-handed. No matter what your taste in music were, all bases were covered. This year, Electro-wizards Chemical Brothers, alterna-rock heroes Pavement, living legends Iggy Pop & The Stooges, hometown boy Håkan Hellström, rap overlords the Wu-Tang Clan, and the mesmerizing M.I.A. were just a few of the acts to thrilled the sell-out audience, and to keep the photographers on their toes...
Releasing their soundtrack to 13 of Andy Warhol's screen tests was an opportune moment for ex-Galaxie 500/Luna star Dean Wareham to fully express his love for Velvet Underground and the stars of Andy Warhol's Factory. The screen tests alone, wavering between the visually arresting and the arrestingly mundane, were elevated into a new realm with the musical accompaniment provided by Wareham and partner Britta Phillips. Bringing the 13 Most Beautiful show to London (having frustratingly been given its UK premiere in Dunfermline last year) was a long-anticipated occasion.
Gemma Ray found the best way to deal with the Christmas period was to record a covers album. Not a bad idea really.
“Give me a minute and I’ll blow your minds“. The crowd laughs, so does the man who just uttered those words. The mood, somewhat quiet, respectful, shiftless, is lightened, and Mark Kozelek begins another master-class in tinkling the nylon strings of his Spanish guitar like Liberace would the piano. “I’m old” he breaks the silence again, “I’m fat, I need water, I need lyrics to my songs”. From my pew to the right side of the stage I have to squint to see if it’s not Neil Young sitting there complaining about his arthritis. To Kozelek’s credit, he’s still as ageless as ever, and that gut you were grabbing at? I’m pretty sure you’ve been carrying that for a while now.
When you get down to the nuts and bolts of rock and roll, it's not about how tight your jeans are or how good your stylist is, it's about the music. It's about the song. For some bands in particular, it's about the pop song. Two and half minutes of spun gold that held your attention long after the needle left the record. Few bands embodied the spirit of the sublime '60s pop song than The Primitives. Sitting backstage at The Scala in London, Webcuts catches up with Tracy and Paul to rewind the clock and to talk about the events that brought The Primitives into the 21st Century and what lies ahead for the band.
Is there anything more cliched than the rock and roll break-up? Secret meetings in dark alleys. The guitarist that suddenly pops up on other people's records. The singer who doesn't return their calls. You either see it coming a mile away, or it creeps up on you like old age. It happens to the best and it happens to the worst, and eventually it will happen to them all. Piss and moan about it all you like, but what's done is done. The latest induction to the rock and roll hall of "fuck this shit for a laugh" are Webcuts' favourite punk sons, The Scare.
From "Exile In Guyville" to exiled in general. It hasn't been smooth sailing for Liz Phair. In fact you could say things have been downright un-Phair.
When does standing in the front row give you a direct line to god? Just because your idol, or current object of interest, is able to look you in the eye while they’re singing doesn’t mean that this is your opportunity for some face-to-face "let's get to know each other" time. Really, it doesn’t. And it’s rare that a concert is marred by one asshole that doesn't get the hint and won’t shut up, but shit does happen, and it happened to Kaki King and to the respectful crowd who had to endure this one "fan" and his relentless pursuit in establishing a "connection".
For The Morning Benders, a big echo doesn't necessarily mean a big noise, but the latter is certainly what these Californian boys encountered following the release of their sophomore album Big Echo earlier this year, easily giving Webcuts one of our favourite albums of 2010. Perfectly formed and lavishly constructed, Big Echo stretched its influences across the decades, from the lush '60s doo-wop harmonies of "Excuses", the '70s Californian pop-rock of "All Day Day Light" to the peer rivaling, stark echoes (which the album lives up to its name) of "Hand Me Downs".
One of these albums is pure genius. The other went straight to #1. Bow down to The Boo Radleys, Britpop's forgotten heroes.
There are people who write for this website who weren't even born when Devo last made a record. This is not for them.
An hour in the company of The Big Pink is a sensory distorting experiment, and one that also questions your sexuality. It’s not a glam/gay thing, but there is a certain amount of homoeroticism about The Big Pink. The obvious sexual nature of the band name notwithstanding, and their record sleeves are all chicks and tits, but I think that’s to throw off the thinly veiled man-love shared between guitarist/vocalist Robbie Furze and bassist Milo Cordell.
Villagers is the nom de plume of one Conor O'Brien, the young Irish gent with the piercing blue eyes positioned above these words. Having released his debut album Becoming A Jackal on Domino Records last month to widespread acclaim (surely topping the album charts in Ireland is nothing to be sneered at), O'Brien has been steadfast in moving his Villagers around the country like a pack of wayward Irish gypsies.
A thematic collection of stripped down tracks from Suzanne Vega's songbook, beginning with the love song.
An album that makes us love them more, but not enough to wear their t-shirts. The New Pornographers get it Together.
Ah, Barcelona, your beaches are beautiful, your women are smoking jewels (literally), and this festival by the beach (really an explosion of concrete by the seaside) is clearly the diamond in the rough for the travelling roadshow of bands that litter the skies with one thing in mind - a paid holiday. With a selection of acts that suited this weary hack like a good pair of tight jeans and a band tee, Primavera was a stage to stage delight. The current crop of new band like The Drums, Surfer Blood and Dum Dum Girls rose up to meet the challenge of the '90s alternative old guard of Pixies, Pavement and Superchunk.
20th Anniversary? Seriously? You're twisting my melon, man! Wait, wrong band...
I’m a band purist at heart. You can cut off all your fingers, but you’ve still got a hand. If you cut off all your band members and keep cutting and cutting and cutting, you can't expect your audience to comply with your decision or to even recognise the music you make. What was it John Peel said about The Fall? "always different, always the same". Well, yes, but... no. Mark E. Smith is The Fall, but The Fall isn't just Mark E. Smith.
More depressing pop dressed up espionage style on the fifth album from this diminutive guitar goddess. "Junior", indeed.
Spoon's latest album, Transference, seemed to show the band finding new ways to tie their own shoelaces, searching out their own "Mystery Zone" or what Britt Daniel will later say in the interview "we gotta try to please ourselves first". Notable for being our first interview where the band asks us the questions, Spoon have perhaps realised there's more to making music than pleasing yourself. You've still got to please your Mom too...
What a wonderful world we live in where The Primitives are able to tread the boards once more. A delightful, decorous blend of '60s op-shop pop fronted by the delectable Tracy Tracy. One certified chart smash with “Crash” and some near misses along the way, The Primitives were one of those bands that were championed and loved (the old chestnut about Morrissey being a big fan is worth repeating) but never fully met with pop's good graces.
New York has definitely handed over its crown as being home to earthshaking epicentre of what's hot, hip, and happening. These days all eyes are firmly focused on the eclectic sounds of the West Coast -- as it seems that every single band we talk right now calls the place home. With Katy Perry (of all people) singing the praises of California Girls, just like the Beach Boys did in the 60's, so are we with Los Angeles' Dum Dum Girls.
Visual document of The White Stripes Canadian invasion of 2007. No Seven Nation Army required.
The Northern white crap that talks back are... back. Smith and Co. hit the 21st Century in style with album number 277 or thereabouts.
Finding unexpected notoriety through their collaboration with electronic arsonists Crystal Castles, Los Angeles Noise Rock quartet HEALTH have been a prominent musical force in the LA scene over the past couple of years. With their second album Get Colour released late last year, the band have evolved beyond being nihilistic noise makers into an act that is pushing the textural accessibility switch.
Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, a perfect pop couple if there ever were one, are back for a second helping of doo-wop and pop.
The Dead Weather are a band that more than live up to their name. Dark and bluesy, malevolent and loud. Given the rock credentials brought by each of the musicians attached, you expect nothing less. A multi-headed musical beast comprised of Alison Mosshart, the chain-smoking siren from The Kills, Jack White, leader of the status: in hiatus White Stripes, Dean Fertita of Queens of The Stone Age and Jack Lawrence of The Raconteurs. With a new album Sea of Cowards about to be released, we speak to Alison, Jack, and Dean.
The anticipated follow-up to the fan and critic fave Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, fails to meet expectation, begging the question, 'Where were Spoon transferring to?'.
“Listening again to everything The Hold Steady recorded. Is this the greatest American band now? They just got me through a rough month.” Bret Easton Ellis, Twitter Nov 2009. Lauded by fans, critics and other creative minds for the scope, depth, truth and heart that they bring to chronicling the American rock myth, Craig Finn and Tad Kubler of The Hold Steady hold court to discuss (via impersonal record label Q&A) their forthcoming blue collar opus Heaven is Whenever, due for release on May 3.
In Sloan's case, it was definitely the A Sides that won, but there's some forgotten treats amongst this rarities collection.
As a teenage music fan, one of my prized possessions was a bootleg LP of Joy Division recorded on the same stage Bad Lieutenant are playing tonight, 30 years later. You think Bernard Sumner, guitarist in both bands, would mention the significance, or perhaps the memory has left him, like his own introduction to an Electronic song later in the set "This is called "Tighten Up", I've no fucking clue what it's about".
The smell of reunion is in the air as Pavement's back catalogue is harvested for the new-comers in this career-spanning collection.
A firm favourite last year with those of a pop persuasion was the debut album of Brooklyn four-piece, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. An example of youthful exuberance and melodic indulgences, The Pains (is it ok to call them that?) were as easy to swallow as a chocolate sundae with all the toppings -- and just as addictive and in no way fattening. Recently on tour in Australia, we spoke with guitarist Kip Berman.
Stephen Malkmus has been ‘jicking’ for as long now as he was leading the charge in Pavement, releasing as many albums, yet never reaching the same heights. His solo career seemed to be in constant war of expectation over delivery. It's not Pavement. It's not a bunch of twenty-year-olds fighting their generation. But the louche stage prescence, that hazy cynical drawl, the greying hair framing the eyes in a semi-slacker curl, little has changed over the years.