Wolf Gang is Max McElligott and he makes fine alternative popular songs. The bit Irish, bit German works out of East London. If David Byrne sung on some Band of Horses songs, you're around the sort of sound that he makes. He released 'Pieces of You' a couple of weeks back, which is a good track. I like the one below more, and there are a couple on his myspace that I hope are going to be on the forthcoming album that he's working on currently.
I went to an awesome Northern Soul/Funk night on a visit to Bristol this weekend. I heard a couple of little treasures played by (we think) John Stapleton. The biggest surprise being that my favourite song from the evening was sung by Paul Nicholson. Yep!, if you remember the curly haired blonde from those horrific eighties sitcoms you'd be thinking of the right chap. He covered the Richie Havens song 'Run Shaker Life' as a B-side of the single 'Freedon City' in 1970. Amazing! Other highlights by CAN and White Denim along with this track are posted below.
The Drums are a duo from Brooklyn. Their surf rock, eighties twangley guitar music comped with catchy melodies is awesome. Everyone is talking about them and deservedly so. I reckon they're going to be a big name over the next year. No releases as yet from what I can ascertain and are working on a debut album right now. So get your flip-flops slapping to this...
Electro pop is on the menu today with Polychromatic. The home made beeps and beats are created by Robert J Lake from La Porte, Indiana. Musically Polychromatic could be comparable to the likes of Passion Pit, with lovely punchy upbeat electronic offerings, minus the whiney voice. Mr Lake has a softer vocal approach. I love the mix of old school rave style beats on the track posted below. His music makes you want to bounce around your bedroom dreaming about Unicorns and rainbows (if you're into that). There is an album in the pipeline, which is to be released at an undisclosed date later in the year named 'Dreams'. By checking out the rest of his tracks on his myspace it promises to be a delight.
The wonderful Sleeping States is not only about to delight our earbuds with a new album, but Markland Starkie was also kind enough to have a little chat about what's to come...
// Hello Markland. How are you today? I am very well thank you. Enjoying the sunshine pouring in through my bedroom window with Silver Apples on the stereo.
So, exciting times! The new album coming out 'In the Gardens of the North' on August 17th. What can we expect to hear?
Guitars, a boiling kettle, quite a few birds, a bit of residual tape hiss. I think it sounds a bit like a big brother to the last album? Or something, ha. Is there a theme or story behind the album?
Well, there's no overarching story arc in the album, but there are definitely a number of connecting themes running through; I spent more time with the lyrics on this album than I've done before, so I guess the results are more considered. Having moved west from London to a smaller place, I really wanted to make a set of songs that reflected this more pastoral environment - not that I actually live in the countryside, but I feel a lot closer to it. And so yes, I guess there's some recurring imagery, scenes of the British landscape, and such.
You're releasing the single 'Gardens of the South' on cassette. How come?
Ha well it's just a bit of fun, on the basis that people can just download the song for free as an mp3 anyway (or soon will be able if they can't already), and that the single will appear on the album too, I thought that it would be nice for those people who would like to have something physical, to have an object as weird as a tape. Although, I say 'weird', there are loads of bands doing cassette releases at the moment, and mini cassette labels and stuff. Total resurgence. This is actually the third Sleeping States release on cassette, I did two EPs a few years ago that were both cassette-only releases. Also there's a nice duality thing with cassettes - on the Gardens tape there's the single and another poppy song called Final Island (that's not on the album) on one side, and the other side has one longer piece constructed from field recordings I made one time I was working as a sound recordist on a short film in South London. Do you have any major influences? What makes you create your work?
Recently influences have tended to be literary ones more than musical ones I guess. There's a lot of authors in this album, in various places. The first track is a kind of response to WG Sebald and his novel 'The Rings of Saturn' (and is named for the novel), there's another loosely based on a short story by Jorge Luis Borges. Though it's all background stuff, it's easy to get overly pretentious about these things, ha ha. Musically speaking, the single Gardens of the South is certainly influenced by old doo-wop, early AM Radio rock'n'roll, bands like the Flamingos and things. This style of music was my first music crush growing up... after Queen at least. When I was around 11 or 12 I saw the film American Graffiti and I fell in love with the soundtrack, and it's always stayed with me. Elsewhere, the usual brand of sloppy, early-90s influenced indierock shines through, ha. Though I'd say it's possibly more vocal-heavy, and certainly more rhythmic, than the last album.
How do you go about recording your work? Do you work with other musicians or is that just to rein-act your music live?
Well it's all pretty homemade, and I definitely prefer writing and recording at home. Most songs are usually built out of improvising with the record button on, and then restructuring and layering and so on. Most of it's just done on my lonesome, although for this album I wrote specifically with drums in mind and worked with a drummer called Rose Clark (who also drums in the live band) - I wrote, or half-wrote, melodic parts, then de-camped to her house in these woods outside Bristol and tested out and recorded rhythms, and then went away again and continued writing, etc. It was a new experience for me as I hadn't really worked with another person so early in the writing of a song or set of songs before. Was fun. Live-wise I have constructed more of a band, though taking the songs to the band ends up being more than just a simple process of reinacting the recordings, it's more a case of reinterpretation I suppose.
What are you listening to at the moment?
At the moment, 'Silver Apples' by Silver Apples. Recently I've been playing the most recent album by this band Pontiak, called 'Maker' pretty often. It's kinda stoner-y, with nice weird flourishes. Good vibe. That and 'Ladies of the Canyon' by Joni Mitchell, coz it's nice and summery.
What's the best thing about Bristol?
Are you touring soon?
Yup, going on tour at the end of the August around the UK - 24th onwards. Dates will be posted next week I reckon.
'In The Gardens of The North' will be released on August 17th on Bella Union label.
If you like beautifully sung melodies that layer up over insightful concoctions of beats, keys, and samples that leave you feeling elegantly happy, then you should plan to pop to the record shop in time for the albums release. Bella Union kindly gave us a sneak listen of the first release. It's being released on a limited edition cassette (yes) this very month. Do enjoy and thanks to the lovely Markland for his lovely words and music.
Electricity In Our Homes are about to release an amazing 12" on Monday 27th July called 'We Agree Completely'. It's going to have 6 tracks on it, two of which are on their myspace at the moment. The post punk/art rock tracks are really something else. I can understand why the likes of Rough Trade hail them as a really influential band for the future. EIOH's sound is infectiously intelligent. Minimal but rich. I'm really into the track 'Don't You Want To' it hooks into you in all the right places. Cool, classic, great bass, great vocals, great sound. You need to check them out. The limited edition 12" (500 copies only) is available on pre-order from Parlour Records (link below). Their also playing down at Rough Trade East on Saturday 25th July to celebrate the release. Get involved.
This time the band are called Girls. They're from San Francisco and make lovely Beach Boy-esque surf pop melodies which have a darker side. The first release 'Hellhole Ratrace' which came out last week with the b-side 'Solitude' really demonstrate the more sensitive side to the band. Christopher Owen's softly sung laments remind me a bit of Elvis Costello in places. Where as I've heard another side to the band that is more uptempo and fifties rock influenced mixed with a bit of shoe-gaze to appease the current scene. The tracks 'Lust For Life' (not an Iggy Pop cover) and 'Mourning Light' are the side to the band that I actually prefer, but all of their talent will be encompassed in their debut album 'Album' which is due to be released on Septmeber 22nd. A big US and European tour is planned around that time to promote it, so check their myspace for the dates.
A friend sent me this ace track and it's got an ace video too. Mika Miko from LA are a great punk/noise band. They have a lot in common with the grrl riot band Huggy Bear, punch drums, punk riffs and girls yelling over the top. But these lasses have a bit more melody and humour to them. I bought 'We Be Xuxa' at the weekend and I suggest you do the same. Great album packed with plenty of punk nuances. Enjoy a couple here...
Crocodiles are about to swim ashore our fair British isle this weekend with their debut UK gig at the Old Blue Last in London. They're promoting their LP 'Summer of Hate' which hit the shelves back in April. If you haven't heard the San Diego duo's efforts yet, you might like their indie electro take on a Jesus and Mary Chain sound. Their cool raspy lyrics over slow slaggy sun style guitars makes a great listen for a not so happy summer day. Angsty. The LP 'Summer of Hate' is out for your claws in a record shop near you and a large tour list is up on the Crocs' myspace.
Put Battles away and pick up some speed with Gallops! I saw the four Welsh boys last night supporting the mesmerising Here We Go Magic. They sound nothing like the headline act but were equally as captivating. The math rock, progressive instrumentalists pounded out some tight tracks, all fueled by Dave Morait on drums (amazing drummer btw). I've heard only one recorded track of theirs, but it doesn't seem to capture the energy and force that these lads give out on stage. It's still a cracking track though. I strongly recommend you get yourselves to go see them. See their myspace for a few tour dates. They're onto releasing an EP very soon, so watch this space for more in the future.
After reading a refreshing and interesting article in Loud and Quiet I was interested in hearing more about Teen Sheikhs. The Brighton three create upbeat, deep fuzz, shoe-gaze indie that packs a bit more punch than the likes of Crystal Stilts. If Wavves covered a Shop Assistants track, you'd be around the right mark. Really into their track 'Cracked' which is posted below. Here's hoping it's on the 7" they plan to release on the brilliant Captured Tracks label. They are also going to feature on the next Sex Beat compilation which are always little winners. Catch the Sheikhs at a few live efforts over the next couple of months.
The Dodos are set to release a new album on August 31st called 'Time To Die'. The three piece from San Francisco will no doubt delight our sound buds with more acoustic wonderment in the same way that 'Visiter' did last year. A heafty promotion tour is already up on their myspace so you can get your mits on some tickets. No leads for forthcoming singles or tracks off the newbie yet, but be sure I'll post something when I can. So here's one off the last album for you...
The Books are playing a very special gig at London's St Giles-in-the-Fields Church on July 25th. Watch the vid above for a little taster of what to expect from the beautiful folk lead instrumentalists. A link to buy tickets is below to as well as one of my favourite tracks from some time ago.
The beautiful Fanfarlo are letting us all get our paws on their album 'Reservoir' for a solitary $1. It's worth at least ten times that amount! The London band's beautiful upbeat combination of piano, brass, string, drum and dulcet vocals remind me a bit of Clap your Hands Say Yeah and even a bit of Arcade Fire at points. Amazing album. Get it now, but get it quick! The one dollar offer runs up on 4th July. The band are also cruising the circuits at the moment too. A link to the prize purchase is posted below...
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