Named after the town they're from, Memphis has "some great songs, some brilliant moments", but not quite all adding up to Magic, Kids.
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.
A few nights before this Pixies warm up concert for Splendour in the Grass, I had a vivid dream. In it I was the tour manager or press officer for the band and they were being put up in a luxury hotel with a huge swimming pool which they were swanning around in and (in)famously not getting along and refusing to do the show. It ended with me giving them a “look all the great rock’n’roll bands are dysfunctional, but when you’re on stage for that hour and a half you come together, that's when you work, that's when you function!” speech. And then I drove them to the Zoo in a black hummer.
The cross overs. Every year has them; bands that get touched by the hand of hype and go from being blogged about to actually selling significant quantities of records/MP3s along with world wide tour schedules and high billed festival slots. This year one of those bands is Brooklyn’s The Drums who have certainly enjoyed a lot of column pixels and radio play on the strength of their back to basics c86 indie-pop as imagined by Phil Spector self titled debut album and its omnipresent lead single “Let’s Go Surfing”. Static’s Chris Berkley has a drink with three quarters of the band for a lesson in how to avoid being drowned by the waves of success.
“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.
During their recent visit to Australia for Splendour in the Grass we caught up with LCD Soundsystem's main man James Murphy who gave us reason to put away the hankies for LCD's much reported demise - "It’s not necessarily the last record. I would make another record. It’s more the end of this part – three records that go together, an arc. We became a bigger band than I ever expected. Something needs to stop, for me, for us all to be happy." He also waxes lyrical about making the record in the LA of his imagination, growing up and wanting kids, his Greenburg soundtrack experience and his many and varied future projects.
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".
There are people who write for this website who weren't even born when Devo last made a record. This is not for them.
More emotional missives from angry, intense, young American men. What steady diet do they feed you on?
Oh, summery shimmery albums. Why must you hook us so? Berkeley, CA's, The Morning Benders serve up a treat.
Fifth album from these Floridian punkers. File under "anarchy, unfulfillment and frustration".
"This is dance music that’s worth thinking about – or, more accurately, thoughtful music that’s worth dancing to". Agreed.
A thematic collection of stripped down tracks from Suzanne Vega's songbook, beginning with the love song.
Sounding more like a theme park ride than a band, Ariel Pink pulls off both with a little 70's funk and 80's new wave self-exploration.
Heaven is here, and if the album is half as great as this review, then The Hold Steady should be counting their lucky stars.
Riding high on the charts, The National have found a resounding voice where "High Violet’s loneliest, weightiest moments feel like shared sorrow."
More depressing pop dressed up espionage style on the fifth album from this diminutive guitar goddess. "Junior", indeed.
Former Everything But The Girl frontwoman aptly wrestles with life after 40. "...not all fun and games, but a pleasure regardless".
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...
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.
Ragged fist-pumping fury from outta New Jersey. Named after one of Shakespeare's earliest tragedies. Fact.
Of Harlem, this brief explanation should suffice -- "those who don’t sicken quickly of energetic, repetitive three-chord rock will have a lot to love".
Visual document of The White Stripes Canadian invasion of 2007. No Seven Nation Army required.
"You must be the most attentive audience, ever" joked Chris Thile, during his performance at LA's gem Largo at the Coronet, "It's not often that you can hear the performer's water bottle snap back into place." And it was true -- in this intimate setting of about 75 people (including fan Minnie Driver), Mr. Thile was the center of everyone's attention. There was no heckling or chatter between songs, just enthusiastic, almost rapturous applause for this mandolin virtuoso.
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.
No hard hits from San Diego's The Soft Pack, just bland indie rock with some scant memorable moments.
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 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.
With a new sound and approach on display, Yeasayer have in their hands a contender for album of the year with Odd Blood. Yes, we know it's only March.
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.
In an era dominated by unexpected musical collaborations, Broken Bells (James Mercer of The Shins and Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse) triumphs.
Shearwater seem to have run aground on The Golden Archipelago. Not quite paradise, nor a place you'll likely return to soon.
Bradford Cox of Deerhunter makes us seem like we're slavishly supportive of everything his hand touches, but we mean every word. Honest.
Load the chamber and light a candle for Jeffrey Lee Pierce, it's rockabilly blues-a-go-go with The Gun Club.
Every rose has a thorn and so too does the fifth album by Raymond Raposa's folk-beat one man band Castanets.
Well versed in the Bible John Darnielle's Mountain Goats new album doesn't actually require a religious bone in your body to enjoy.
We take aim at the confusingly labelled American trio fun.'s first offering and find it's a fun album, period.
Despite the grim subject matter the second album from the Brooklyn trio The Antlers, Hospice is hot stuff.
Cassie, Katy and Ali aka Vivian Girls are back again with their sophomore album Everything Goes Wrong and we caught up with them in a place where nothing ever goes wrong, unless you have a show scheduled at the Hopetoun Hotel this week (fyi girls - it's closed).
The title may be Everything Goes Wrong, but to our ears, everything goes right for the Vivian Girls on their sophomore release.
Born Again Revisited or bad idea revisited? Public opinion be damned. Is this the worst album we've heard all year?
Folk songstress Alela Diane having crafted one of the most delicate and beautiful albums of the year with To Be Still takes time out of a North American and European tour schedule to answer Webcuts' questions about the Newsom connection, the move from Cali to Portland and Saturday Night Live.
No, not Nick Cave's new backing band, Seattle's The Cave Singers have crafted a rich and rewarding second album.
William Fitzsimmons goes through the gamut of emotions on his new album - forgiveness, loss, optimism - but it still cannot save the effort from a terminal dullness.
The ever-prolific Jay Reatard is back with his most potent pop record to date. Watch Me Fall trades sharp licks with cheap tricks.
Eric D. Johnson’s Fruit Bats sink their teeth in a third album of sweet pop with The Ruminant Band.
Paul Banks discovers that the best path to seduction lies in reduction on his first solo outing as the mysterious Julian Plenti.