Saturday, 20 November 2010

Johnny Foreigner and Stagecoach split EP - Tru Punx/ Not Even Giles Would Say We'll Be Ok 7" Love In

The EP opens with a new Johnny Foreigner track, “Tru Punx” and it returns to the dirtier aspect of their sound, combining it successfully with their talent for melody. Guitars and shouty vocals declare, “I’ve been thinking about killing myself”, not the most likely hook to get crowds shouting but then Johnny Foreigner never have done things conventionally.

The second track, ‘Not Even Giles Would Say We’ll Be Ok’ starts off with a rather nice melodic vocal harmony, and for a second you might be expecting some kind of soppy Americanised love song, which is fair enough for about ten seconds (the lyrics “I’ll be carving out two names on the oak tree, one’s yours, one’s mine” helps with this misconception)…until the drums and guitar kick in and the distinctive funky/rock sound of Stagecoach becomes a little less ambiguous. The EP is a fair split between the two bands and after a new song each, they go about covering each other.

Johnny Foreigner go first with ‘Good Luck With Yr 45’. They always have been a very flexible sounding band, dodging between the typical guitar/vocals/drum sound (having said that though, Johnny Foreigner manage to make even that sound very un-typical and attention grabbing) and the gentler side of their capabilities – such as on this track, and plaintive love songs are something they do very well. Using their voices in a way that is unusual even for them, they layer up the sound into a heart breaking electro barbershop, the “baa umm baa umm” backing fades in and out, swelling with the emotive vocals.
Stagecoach cover ‘Salt, Pepper & Spinderella” one of Johnny Foreigner’s darker, more electronic based tracks and they contrast their two different vocal styles effectively. The sparser arrangement pushes the lyrics to the front, Johnny Foreigner’s words are often hidden behind guitars, accents or harmony but like this they can be heard in full honesty and elegance, the line ‘we like to watch the fights break out and end in grief from these cheap plastic seats’ seems more of a confession, rather than a proud assertion, as it did in the original.

Both bands are currently in the process of touring the UK, and if this EP is anything to go by those gigs are going to be a real event.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Xiu Xiu and Former Ghosts at Bristol Arnolfini

Freddy Ruppert, main member and creative drive of Former Ghosts, stands slightly to the left of the stage in front of his Mac with Jamie Stewart, core member of Xiu Xiu, on his right. Freddy Ruppert has talked about how he performs music live in a very different way to a conventional 'indie rock band', using a computer and a synthesizer rather than the more traditional set-up.

Before they begin playing, Freddy Ruppert asks the crowd to join him in singing 'Happy Birthday' to a friend of his, obligingly we all sing and once we've finished, with a very slight pause they begin playing. The fairly cheerful atmosphere immediately disappears. Ruppert bangs a floor tom with such aggression it's a wonder he doesn't snap the drumsticks. On record, his vocals are integrated into the synthesized world he creates, but live they rise above the music and add another level to the performance. Stewart teases some phenomenal noises out of his guitar (using a drumstick at one point) and even when his guitar strap comes un-strapped, he kneels to the floor playing on furiously.

Jamie Stewart goes off midway through the set leaving Freddy Ruppert standing alone behind his computer. Between tracks, The Auditorium is silent apart from Ruppert's laboured breaths and the occasional curse; it's a slightly tense atmosphere, but more one of anticipation than awkwardness. (I assumed it was the strain of playing such deeply personal music live, but it later became clear that he was having some major technical difficulties.) As the introduction to 'Us and Now' echoes out, Ruppert leans forward to begin dancing and the music cuts out. Remaining silent with a deep frown on his face he furiously tries to sort things out, which leads to some engaging with the audience. He smiles almost coquettishly and murmurs "Maybe I should stay more still in the future?" and the atmosphere begins to feel a little more relaxed.

The newer tracks (from their incredible latest album 'New Love') in particular 'Taurean Nature' and 'New Orleans', sound brilliant live. The older ones like 'Hello Again' and "Flowers' sound fresher and less claustrophobic than on record. Declaring that Xiu Xiu are up next, looking sweaty and a little drained he begins the last song. Telling tales, as they do, of utter heartbreak, Former Ghosts leave the audience feeling empty, especially without the music, to soften the brutal honesty of Freddy Ruppert's lyrics, which are still raw in our minds.

Xiu Xiu are a little more comfortable with the expectant silence, Angela Seo and Jamie Stewart exchange whispers and some sort of pre-gig clapping game (?) before launching themselves into their music. After the gig I spoke to someone who had not really heard any Xiu Xiu before, who said they felt it was 'a little too death-metal and emo for me'. A surprising statement, sure Xiu Xiu have a guitar and scream a bit, but there is so much depth to their music.

'I Love The Valley OH!' a personal favourite track of mine, seems ten times louder than anything that has come before and Jamie Stewart's screams are torn from his mouth. The pink Nintendo DS on which much of their latest album 'Dear God I Hate Myself' was composed and played, is brought out for some of their more recent songs such as 'Apple For A Brain', and 'Chocolate Makes You Happy' is given an added menace as Stewart hisses out the lyrics. Angela Seo uses a variety of percussion and different whistles, some of which make some really quite interesting noises. Behind them words flicker up on a screen, 'END' in particular is a favourite, as well as scenes from an old vampire film. The mood is slightly sinister and a very different sort of melancholy to Former Ghosts'. 'Boy Soprano' and 'Sad Pony Guerilla Girl, some of their older songs build upon this.

Xiu Xiu perform in the truest sense of the word, they are in control of the emotions of everyone in that room and they are doing what they want with them. As they finish the crowd applauds, tentatively hoping for an encore but they leave us, despite it being a cliche, wanting much more. They've caused controversy and polarise opinions but there is not doubt, at least in my mind, they are a superb band with something to say, saying it in the very best way possible.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Perfume Genius/Lonely Galaxy at The Cube cinema in Bristol.

The Cube is a small, independent cinema and is perhaps more used to putting on films than the kind of thing I was there for (EDIT: they actually put on at least two gigs a week). It's hidden away down a little side street in Bristol. The building itself is a little confusing - it's all on different levels. While we waited outside the actual room where the gig was going to be, we watched at least seven people ask where the toilets were, only to be sent back out the door from where they had come. (The toilets had some of the best graffiti I've seen in a while, which I posted just below).

There were only about fifty people there in the end, in a small theatre style room. Considering the buzz there's been around Mike Hadreas and his music, I was quite surprised, and even more astonished when I overheard someone saying they hadn't actually listened to any of his music before coming.

The support act, Lonely Galaxy, are signed to Transparent Records which means they're label mates with bands like Yuck and The Smith Westerns. Main member, Harry Granger-Howell, has an incredibly beautiful, powerful voice; accompanied by just his guitar playing and a viola, creating a really mesmerizing and haunting atmosphere. Their best tracks were 'Waiting', 'Time' and 'Have A Heart' - including the lyrics "I've been feeling pretty low". Unsurprisingly quite obvious, but if gloom can produce music like that it might not always be such a bad thing.

In between Lonely Galaxy and Perfume Genius was some quite perky jazz, which I assume was played so that people didn't start crying while the lights were on. Once Lonely Galaxy finished playing, they sat in the crowd to watch Perfume Genius.

When Mike Hadreas and Alan Wyfells walked on stage, it took a while for people to notice because Hadreas is a small, unimposing guy. Even after all the hype, the live sessions I've seen online etc, it was a surreal feeling to see him on stage. Seated nervously behind a keyboard, draped with dark material, he started playing the first song of the set, 'Lookout, Lookout'. Very quiet, whispery singing, close enough to the mic that you could hear everything perfectly, even his shaky intakes of breath. After only a few lines, he started giggling and had to pause before continuing. Considering the dark subject matter of the song, this was a little strange, but endearing. He played a variety of songs from Learning, as well as some of his rarer demos, including 'Put Your Back Into It', an emotive track.

During the gig, Hadreas and Wyfells continually glanced at each other, their eyes meeting rarely. Nervously adjusting the microphone, in a low voice Hadreas mentioned that he couldn't see the audience at all it was so dark saying that, "it's like a nightmare, a beautiful one though".

There was just something about his naked vulnerability on that stage, singing about such personal, and often-horrific things that really reached out to me (and the rest of the audience), almost painfully intimate perhaps, but far from awkward. His final song was 'Never Did', the lyrics of which were almost like the light at the end of a dark and beautiful tunnel, "it's all part of his plan, it's all in his hands". Wyfells and Hadreas shared the same keyboard for this one, their chemistry an important part of the success of the performance, seeming to support each other through what cannot have been an easy performance, dealing as Hadreas' songs do, with such deeply personal material.

The encore was 'Write To Your Brother', and for this Hadreas came out on stage alone. His eyes flickered towards the door whenever someone came in late, perhaps drawn in by the music, adding to the performer's slightly uneasy, timid demeanor.

Afterwards, Mike Hadreas walked past me, I'd been considering this throughout his performance, and it sounds strange, but as he walked past it appeared as though he was illuminated by a different light to everybody else. His pale skin and dark hair give a beauty, that when combined with his singing and piano playing, is striking. Due to a lack of confidence, I didn't go over and say thank you to him, but I wish I had, as it was an implausibly brilliant, heartbreaking, yet uplifting night. I will be praying that he comes on tour again, soon.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Audio Antihero Interview and Nosferatu D2 as Artist Of The Month

Tomorrow night on my radio show I will be airing my interview with Jamie, whose record label Audio Antihero posthumously released (as it were, none of the band members are dead, just the band) Nosferatu D2’s incredible album “We’re Going To Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise”.

He told me all about the future of Audio Antihero, how Nosferatu D2 and the other artist on his lable, Benjamin Shaw got signed as well as much more.

You can hear the interview on my radio show through Spark Radio ( from 8pm on Thursday 30th October (tomorrow).

Nosferatu D2 are my current Artist Of The Month so after the show I will be putting the interview on here for all to hear as well as a bit more information about them for those not in the know.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

So I have another blog...exciting?

I now also have a Tumblr, yeah, I know...contain the excitement guys.
If you've managed that go check it out at:

(lobandwidth with one h was already taken so I used my imagination and stuck another one on the end)

Anyway, I'll try and post on here and on there simultaneously but I think Tumblr is better at supporting streaming stuff (such as interviews I've done etc) so some things will probably only be available there.

I'll see how it goes.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Sparky Deathcap Interview

I've been promising
this for (a very long) while, and at last here it is!
I interviewed the very lovely Sparky Deathcap a few months back and due to my inexperience with blogger I have been consistently failing at uploading it on here...however you can now listen to the interview on his blog:

(it's at the bottom of the post)

There are also links to other interviews etc on that page which Sparky has done, all of which are well worth checking out.

The interview was first played out on my radio show, which is every Thursday 8-9pm available to stream online through Spark Radio ( and click the big box saying listen up)

Sunday, 29 August 2010

"It's a free download costing absolutely nothing"

To quote the late, yet still excellent Frank Sidebottom, "it's a free download, costing absolutely nothing"...I thought I might do a little post on some great music that is currently available (totally legally) for free:

Forest Swords:
Fjree Feather EP

Echoey guitars with wistful melodies, music for the long bus ride home at night when you start thinking too hard about everything.

To Download (through Last FM)

Ghost Mall:
Balloon Ideas/Johnny Appleseed (both live)

I am told, that Ghost Mall are best apprecitated live, a pleasure I have not yet had, but they sound great on record, combining a slightly dreamy feel with vast energy.

To Download (through Last FM)

---If you are unfamiliar with Last FM, scroll down to the bit where it says "top tracks" and right click on the words "free download".---

Former Ghosts:
Chin Up

A new track from the utterly incredible Former Ghosts, their first album Fleurs is heartbreaking and beautiful, this new song is from their upcoming release New Love. Out on October 4th I entreat you to get this. If it is anything like their first album then it will blow you away. Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu and Nika Roza Danilova of Zola Jesus are members of Former Ghosts with the main creator being Freddy Ruppert (who is in Parenthetical Girls too).

To Download (through Pitchfork)

Parenthetical Girls
Young Throats

Privilege Part 2: The Past, Imperfect is out on 21st of September, the second installment of their Privilege EPs (limited edition and all numbered in a member of the band's blood!).

Parenthetical Girls were also my artist of the month this month, but as I've been away etc I haven't done a whole post on them, all that really needs to be said is that they are very good and write some of the most intriguing and refreshing lyrics around, Love Connection is one of my favourite songs.

To Download go to

Monday, 2 August 2010


The debut single from Teeth (or TEETH!!!, T3ETH and T∑∑TH as they can be known) is released by Moshi Moshi on the 16th of August, which means until then if you want to hear some of their music you'll have to visit their
myspace, where you can in fact hear the single, See Spaces, as well as a very enjoyable Dolby Anol remix of said song.

They make the kind of music that listening to and remaining still at the same time is basically impossible, another of their tracks, Confusion, feels a bit like HEALTH put through some sort of Bikini Kill filter which can only be a very good thing.

As summer slowly draws closer to its end, expect to hear Teeth echoing out over dark fields filled with drunk teenagers dancing
very energetically. Because that's what this music makes you feel like doing, going out and having a good time whilst listening to great songs.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Artist of the month- Perfume Genius


Mike Hadreas, (also known as Perfume Genius) by all acounts has not had an easy life. Quoted as saying “I spent my whole life hiding from the things that happened to me, to my family and friends...The entirety of all these experiences: abuse, addiction, suicide, all that cool stuff, I couldn’t bear to look at it.” As Perfume Genius, he has transformed all of these things into some utterly fantastic music.

His sound is sparse with an ethereal feel, normally just his vocals and a piano, or very occasionally a guitar. The lyrics are desperately honest, and his voice is gentle, almost breaking in places but with a haunting strength to the sound. Several of his songs were floating around on the internet before the release of his debut album, Learning. These songs (such as Mr Peterson) caught the attention of many, and by the time the album was actually released on Turnstile he had quite a following, and not without reason, the music he makes is really something very special.

Every song I have heard by Perfume Genius is genuinely heartbreaking in some way, he's playing his first live show in London soon and it has almost, if not actually sold out, promising to be an evening that will not be forgotten.
Not bad for someone who's bio used to read "might be dead, cool guy".

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Artist of the month - Zola Jesus


Zola Jesus: as well as making her own music she is part of Former Ghosts and has supported Fever Ray, therefore you might assume she makes some really very good music. An assumption in which you would be correct. Her latest release, an EP by the name of Stridulum combines her astonishing vocal range and power, with dark lyrics (for example on the single, Night "because in the end of the night when all we have is gone ").

The EP artwork is a particularly striking image, Zola Jesus herself covered in a dark viscous substance (which I seem to remember reading somewhere is actually chocolate) and this reflects her music brilliantly. Surprising at first, difficult to get out of your head, but also quite sinister and unusual.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Artist Of The Month - Slow Club


Slow Club are Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor...

Whilst doing a bit of research about them for this post I noticed something. Many reviews of them and their album
Yeah So describe them as twee. I have no problem with twee music it's cheerful, light-hearted although without much depth...and that's the problem. Whilst Slow Club may make some cheerful songs, which can be blithe, with lyrics like: "there's people in the floorboards said the mouse". Yeah So clearly has many many other influences - the shoegazey opening of "There Is No Good Way To Say I'm Leaving You" is just one example.

It's sad t
o see such a great band being pigeonholed into what can seem a very limiting genre, and to prove that I'm not alone in finding this frustrating, Rebecca Taylor said on twitter (@Slowclubrebeca) "call us twee and ill kick u". While this is evidently without malice, it must be frustrating for a band so bursting with talent to be written off as just another twee duo. Trying to push bands into a genre just so we know what to call them can be disastrous.

Yeah So itself is extremely enjoyable, every track is easy to listen to without being dull. Beautiful harmonies from beautiful voices are backed nicely by guitars, drums and the occasional wooden chair...perhaps something which goes towards the constant accusations of being twee.

My personal favourite tracks at the moment are
I Was Unconscious It Was A Dream not least for the brilliant lines "And all of this because I've been screaming girl's names in the night/I was unconscious, it was a dream/ Just let it die, die, die."
There Is No Good Way To Say I'm Leaving You, the title alone conveys such a difficulty-expressed emotion with simplicity and tenderness.

Having said that, just trying to pick just two preferred songs from this album is almost impossible. Every song has different reasons to be amazing; the vocals are impeccable (
Sorry About The Doom is so impossibly beautiful Rebecca has such an amazing voice) and the entire thing feels lovingly assembled. With faces to match their gorgeous voices Slow Club look set to make a lasting impression.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Artist Of The Month - Johnny Foreigner


My next artist of the month is the wonderful Johnny Foreigner:

Originally from Birmingham (something which is almost immediately apparent from their accents) they are Alexei on guitar and vocals, Kelly on bass and vocals and Junior on the drums.
They have released two albums and as many EPs…plus several of their songs for free.

Many bands try to achieve the depth of emotion and energy that Johnny Foreigner achieve, without it being something truly relevant to them, therefore ending up sounding try-hard or just plain rubbish. With Johnny Foreigner...from reading their blog and listening to their music, you know they make their music because it, and the things they write about, matter to them. Meaning they are consistently great and continue to have numerable releases.

Their latest album ‘Grace And The Bigger Picture is fifteen songs long, each one under three minutes (apart from the final song ‘The Coast Was Always Clear’ which is in a slight contrast, eleven minutes long, but that’s because of a hidden track) The album has an interesting symmetry with titles like, “More Heart Less Tongue and “More Tongue Less Heart” exploring lyrical ideas further, yet keeping to their direct nature.

Apologies that it is now almost the end of April, and I've only just posted, but from next month I will hopefully be updating this feature regularly in the first week or two of every month.

Tune into my radio show from Thursday 29th at 8 until 9pm (no show this week) to hear Johnny Foreigner and more excellent music.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Artist Of The Month - Sparky Deathcap


Sparky Death
cap, just one man and a guitar/ukulele. A fairly average way of making music you might assume at first. Most bands feature a guitar and singer, and many artists just sing over chords - nothing wrong with that I should add...but when I listened to some of Sparky Deathcap's music, I soon realised this was something a bit different.

Almost painfully personal, his lyrics tell very detailed stories; his Tear Jerky EP was apparently written after a break-up, and you can almost imagine watching the inevitable unfold as you listen. He also writes from a more fictional perspective (watch his ukulele rock opera on Youtube for an example of this, the story of Misty and Mouffette, snow, organ donation and love) but somehow everything seems intensely private, and hearing it feels a real privilege.

The music itself, backing those excellent lyrics, is a mixture of heart wrenching guitar and layers of his own distinctive vocals.

The Tea
r Jerky EP is only five tracks long; every song is carefully formed, written with a sense of humour and awareness, it is enjoyable and beautiful, by the end you will be wishing it were at least twice as long.

You can buy it online from Nettlejam Records, which Sparky himself set up to release his own music.

My personal favourite track is currently 'Early Spring' although it unfortunately isn't on the EP (You can hear it on Youtube though: Early Spring)...some of the lyrics in this song are also used in 'Glasgow Is A Punk Rock Town' which you can download for free, I assume that's why it wasn't released as well.

Sparky Deathcap is currently touring as the 8th member of Los Campesinos! But more releases are expected.

Hope you have enjoyed reading about my first proper artist of the month, I'm going to be interviewing him fairly soon, so return here/listen to my radio show (every Thursday 8-9pm on Spark Radio, to hear that.

Any suggestions for questions are welcome.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Friday, 5 March 2010

"We're gonna walk around this city with our headphones on to block the noise"

There's no point in trying to speak to the masses, because the masses know nothing.

Sometimes I stumble across a band that have something really special....and one of these bands is named
Nosferatu D2....

Nosferatu D2 are released by Audio Antihero, a little record label that released their album two years after the band (two brothers named Ben and Adam) broke up. Not necessarily a recipe for success, but then maybe if more people did things purely for the love of it, life would be very different - but I digress. Nosferatu D2 make some really spectacular music.

The album is named "
We're gonna walk around this city with our headphones on to block out the noise", which aside from possibly being the longest album title ever, is quite a lovely statement. It also truly describes their sound. Upon first listen, it doesn't immediately appear anything majorly different musically, but as you hear it more the lyrics come through and that "noise" is most definitely blocked out and forgotten.

The opening guitar of "Broken Tamagotchi" is sharp and frames the emotional delivery of the lyrics perfectly. My pers
onal favourite song (for the moment at least) "Flying Things and Pests" contains even more lines that seem to reach inside Ben Parker's brain, plucking the thoughts and feelings that are still raw. "Everyone's afraid of death, and of flying things and pests..." a line that emphasises the total honesty of this record.

To buy the album go to, it may well have defined the past few years in music if only people had heard it...which is why there's no point in trying to speak to the masses, because the masses know nothing.

So I'm speaking to all the individuals with excellent music taste (not that I'm trying to persuade you in any way)
Buy it, listen to it and then tell everyone you know to do the same, believe me it's worth it.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Monday, 22 February 2010

What i'm listening to #1

4 song I've been listening to/would recommend

1) Peggy Sue, Yo Mamma
A promising band (currently touring as the support for another great band, Local Natives) Peggy Sue have just released their debut album through Wichita Recordings. Positive reviews so far, this song is pretty, ethereal and soothing. The lovely vocals are quite possibly the best part about it.

2) Cymbals Eat Guitars, ...And The Hazy Sea
From New York and have released one album 'Why There Are Mountains' which is also well worth a listen. This song is really quite addictive and is very contrasting throughout, an effective tecnique and it does remind me of the sea.

3) Dananananaykroyd, Some Dresses
Best Name. Ever. I love this band, energetic, crazy and charming (They do a wall of hugs at their gigs, like a wall of death but oh so much friendlier ) Something to listen to when getting ready for your prom to cheer you up.

Xiu Xiu, Dear God I Hate Myself
Xiu Xiu (pronounced Shoe-Shoe) acquired taste however I find their music a worthy acquisition. Haunting music, dark lyrics and a twisted sense of humour. Truly beautiful, but maybe don't listen to it after 10 PM if you want to sleep easily...