You have to question the motives behind a band who put a picture of two gurning band members on the front cover of their debut 7", or when asking the record company for a promo photo being offered 'the one where they're all dressed up in drag', or 'the one where they're chewing grass' (we passed on both). Sheffield's Seize The Chair have the air of a band who clearly and delightfully just don't give a fuck. In fact they probably just want to make music and have a laugh. Which, if you've seen that record sleeve, you'll be laughing too.
Putting aside Lightspeed Champion, the chameleon musician/producer known as Dev Hynes unveils his latest project Blood Orange.
Never in the history of doing these 'Who The Hell Are... ?' spotlights has a band come along and answered each question so thoroughly and excitedly that to praise them any further would make it seem like we're actually in this band or take bribes (we do. email for details). From the same stable of acts (and household one would presume) that brought you the percussive pop concussions of We//Are//Animal and the not-very-French-at-all Masters In France, come spicy indie rock quartet Fennel Seeds. Further proof that North Wales these days is a happening place or one that naught much else happens.
It’s a little known piece of Webcuts folklore that Noah And The Whale once played in my living room. Gladly, it was before my time, otherwise a compulsion to head downstairs and have words would‘ve been hard to resist. A sell-out show at the Camden Roundhouse is not to be sneered at, but if commercial success or the ability to fill a room is the barometer in which all great music is measured, we’re on (and have been for decades) very shaky ground, and when superlative-inducing American folk-rock act Okkervil River are playing across town, clearly in the wrong place.
Why hello, Wendy James. It’s been a while. Almost 20 years since I saw Transvision Vamp play at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney. A mostly unremarkable show except for the amount of intimidating drunks in attendance and the fact they played their current ‘hit‘ twice. Australia loved Transvision Vamp, almost in the same way it loved Blondie, decades before. Stick a blonde wig on a mop, put it in front of a bunch of guys in leather jackets and you're set. Transvision Vamp at that time were in their career descent with Little Magnets Versus The Bubble of Babble (my head still shudders at the idiocy of this title) and this was their last roll of the dice.
It's easy to love Ramona, even though everything about them is so flawless and en pointe, unheard for a scruffy bunch of Brighton by-way-of-New-York rockers. Picks in hand, they transform a handful of chords into polished punk perfection, fronted by the coquettish bleach-blonde tomboy Karen Anne, a second generation Edie and Debbie who knows how to hang from a mic stand like she was hanging from your shoulder. Absent from the stage this year so far, they cycle through their set in a brisk half hour, including encore, and you're crying out for a flubbed note, an unrehearsed run through a song they just wrote in the van, or general indifference to whether anybody is listening.
The only euphoric heartbreak here is all expectations of Glasvegas trumping their debut going out the window.
Having lived through the 80's, witnessed the birth of Wham!, the ascension of Kylie from Neighbours mechanic to pop princess and the rise and fall of the Stock, Aitken and Waterman (s)hit factory, intelligent, well-crafted synth-pop has had a tough (but not impossible) road to climb to redeem itself. It's easier done now for those with little memory of the 80's, who can mine the decade of its untapped wealth and pull influences from The Human League or Gary Numan or even further back without being mocked, all the while creating something new and exciting. Having a rough guess at their ages, London's Villa Cola could surely fill these shoes.
A surprising record or a record full of surprises from this indie-pop quartet? Note reviewer in "I loathed it now I like it" situation.
The best way to make a record company uncomfortable? -- choose a highly litiguous band name and then sit back and watch them sweat. Once upon a time there was a Leicester-based three-piece called Dysneyland who existed for a few months and released one independent single "Walking Wounded" before seeing the error of their short-sighted ways, or perhaps the pointed finger of 'The Man' who said "no change-y, no release-y" and thus Sisterland was born. With their debut single "Tomorrow" released this week as part of the Too Pure Singles Club, we play the getting-to-know-you game with Sisterland.
There really is something enthralling about watching a band not just perform music but energetically project themselves into it. It's akin to standing against a gale who's presence is to overpower you and anything in its way. That would in part, sum up the appeal of Exlovers -- they cut a forceful, harmony-fuelled rug. The other part is they're the most attractive bunch of tattooed scruffs that you'll ever encounter. Put all this in the context of their latest single "Blowing Kisses", a song that transcends simple indie guitar music and that gale hits like a perfumed fist that still makes you want to stand up and take more.
Over-indulgent Gothic melodrama from Brighton's Esben And The Witch. How do you like your nightmares? Black with 2 sugars, thanks.
Wire and Gang of Four wrote the book for post-punk, kind of. Are they still innovators or merely curators with Red Barked Tree and Content?
Putting on our Britpop goggles yet again, Sleeper's debut album Smart and its follow-up The It Girl get the reissue treatment.
When you add up the years, you realise Ian Astbury and Billy Dully have been making music as The Cult for a long-ass time. Sitting in the rafters of the Hammersmith Apollo ("Hammersmith Odeon", Astbury demurs, referring to the venue's previous appellation), the debt paid to the excesses of rock n’ roll have more-or-less treated both kindly. Astbury, the once flower-child/wolf-child looks a little rough round the edges, but when you style yourself on Jim Morrisson and then suddenly become him, what can you expect. Duffy on the other hand, is ageless, looking more like David Beckham‘s older brother than a well-tooled guitar god.
Uh-oh, here comes trouble. Pris are a four piece from London featuring Cat on vocals, Agatha on guitar, Mary on bass and Sam on drums. Imagine Blondie with an attitude problem, Manics before the middle life spread and Kenickie without the big bones.
The arrival of their four digit debut single "1268" caused seismic speaker-blowing waves in the Webcuts offices in 2010. It truly was, and still is, a "What the fuck was that?" moment. It was in essence, Gang of Four meets LCD Soundsystem in an abandoned factory in North Wales. An electro pulse and surging beat, sheet metal guitars, inimitable Welsh vocals, it had 'post-punk dancefloor smash' writ large all over it, and had We//Are//Animal been from London instead of Wales, everybody would've been knocking down their door, kneeling to kiss their cossetted behinds (cough The Vaccines).
This was to be the debut and sole performance of Outsider Music, Luke Haines' most successful solo album to date. An album of some notoriety in that it was individually recorded 50 times and released last September for £75 a throw. An artistic experiment and a gamble of sorts, it was an undeniable success for Haines, the old adage about fools and their money standing true -- all 50 volumes of Outsider Music disappearing quicker than anticipated. With each volume a unique item on its own, buyers have been reticent on sharing and as of yet, no copies have surfaced. So Haines - 1, Rich Fans - 1, Poor Fans - go eat a shit sandwich.
Hurrah for English music. Just when you think Webcuts panders almost exclusively to the Americans, British Sea Power save the day.
The final bow from London’s The Loves balances its buoyant pop against a knowing end and comes up smelling of roses.
These are confusing times we live in. The past and the present have merged into one. Bands come back from the dead, sounding better than ever (The Primitives), artists who are clearly dead keep on making dreadful albums from beyond the grave (do we need name names?), and bands will play their best album in full and it becomes ‘an event’ (The Wedding Present). There are few albums in the history of music that deserve to be played in full (though tell that to Echo & The Bunnymen...), there's always at least one track (or more) of filler, or one completely misjudged stinker, but nostalgia has a price and it pays handsomely, so hey, on with the show!
It's been a long time time between drinks for The Charlatans and Australia. Fresh from playing their Some Friendly 20th Anniversary shows around the UK The Charlatans were down under recently with a more conventional touring schedule. It's certainly not the fan fest that they are used to back home but a rapturous welcome still greets the band. With a set drawn mostly from their very early material honed through recent tours, and the obligatory new songs that every band pulls out, it's a different set to what fans might expect but shows the depth of quality over their long career.
Two classic, career defining Fall albums get the deluxe box set treatment.
It's an audacious pronouncement to commit to releasing 12 singles in 12 months. The Wedding Present set the benchmark in the 90's. Ash tried the same thing recently, in a mixture of desperation and overkill in numbers too large to comprehend and tarnishing the very idea of a single. It's not just two songs on a slab of vinyl (or cd, or one of those less satisfying digital w/artwork jobs). It's a living, breathing statement. A trojan horse in disguise. A rallying cry to fall behind. A rallying cry... See, The Rifle Volunteer comprehend this. "I'll Sleep When That Damned Sun Is Dead", the first single in their year long campaign, is what we're talking about. Here is a band that means business.
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.
Touched by the somewhat friendly eclectic hand of The Charlatans for their tenth album in twenty years.
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.
Champion Shoegazers Slowdive get the back catalogue reissue treatment. We'll have the Souvlaki to go.
In the cockney rhyming slang lexicon there really should be an entry marked "Gemma Ray" that translates to "The Hard Way" for the sultry Essex singer's career is one filled with false starts, battles with illness and sheer bloody mindedness. Barely finished from touring her last album Ray has just released an album of covers It's a Shame About Ray which draws its song pool from the likes of Buddy Holly, Lee Hazelwood, Etta Fitzgerald, Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, Gallon Drunk and The Gun Club. Webcuts catches up with the brunette with the beehive during a tour in South Africa to talk knives, the new album, Rosemary's Baby, illness affecting songwriting and the recording of new material.
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
Send out the search parties -- Missing in action on the latest album from M.I.A. -- "melody, listenability, and some semblance of a point".
Gemma Ray found the best way to deal with the Christmas period was to record a covers album. Not a bad idea really.
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.
The (Bloc) Party is over. Now, it's a dance party and there's nobody here, except Kele and a few diehard Bloc Party fans looking bored.
Impressive third album from these exemplary Scots. It sounds like the Winter Webcuts had... except more productive.
One of these albums is pure genius. The other went straight to #1. Bow down to The Boo Radleys, Britpop's forgotten heroes.
It's summertime twee pop hour and who better to soundtrack but ex-Heavenly and Talullah Gosh popsters back with their third album.
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.
20th Anniversary? Seriously? You're twisting my melon, man! Wait, wrong band...
A band of such warmth and light, the only way you'd see a 'shadow' here is if you held this Teenage Fanclub CD up in front of you.
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.
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.
If only England had their version of the Wild West, otherwise Tom McRae might've found himself in much stronger grounding.
The Northern white crap that talks back are... back. Smith and Co. hit the 21st Century in style with album number 277 or thereabouts.
More of a mixtape than a record? Gorillaz latest adds Lou Reed and Mark E. Smith to their line-up for a day down the (plastic) beach.
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.
One of Webcuts favourite albums of last year, Hatcham Social hit the new year with this 6 track EP of new and familiar.
Luke Haines looks back at the 20th Century, and takes pop shots at the maligned and those who got left behind in typical Haines fashion.
A fusion of dub reggae, ska and soul, the brilliance of Pama International comes to the fore with their seventh album Pama Outernational.
If New Order and Doves made a record, how would it sound? Something like this, we think...