Saturday, 19 February 2011

Papercuts - Fading Parade -review

For those not in the know Papercuts is in fact the musical brain child of San Francisco producer/songwriter extraordinaire Jason Quever and with this new album Fading Parade (his 5th release and 1st on Sub Pop records) he is looking to make that creative leap towards a more mainstream and more accessible pop sound, although don't worry he's not about to don leg warmers and get Hype Williams to direct his videos I just mean there is a definite spoonful of sugar here to help the medicine go down sprinkled on the tracks. The opener 'Do You Really Wanna Know' is the most single worthy track here that leaps out of the speakers and headphones and is one that will be clogging my playlists for many months now and probably beyond. It is a perfect slice of indie pop that uses influences such as Phil Spector to more obvious Jesus and Mary Chain/ My Bloody Valentine's waves of reverb. The vocals on all the tracks including this one are mixed very low and ultra conservatively in the tracks and you find yourself almost voweling the worlds as opposed to singing the non de-script lyrics apart from the occasional chorus hook which you can make out as it's usually the title of the track. This is probably nit picking and small potatoes but if I would imagine even Bob Dylan cocking his ear to the radio going *perfect Dylan drawl* "for gods sake boy e-nun-ciate your words goddamit" you can imagine the rest.
As previously mentioned Papercuts are a one man band in the studio with Quever taking the role of Vocals,Guitars, Organ, Drums as well as being the co-producer (along with Thom Monahan) and songwriter of the material here within. I would have to say that to the casual listener or even hard edged music fanatic (to which I probably fall into both categories) I cannot see the join, the sound is faultless dreamy soundscape and even atmospheric at the same time as being a personal document of the man pulling the strings. Each track that follows throughout the album is a freshly sound painted piece that is definitely held together as a whole, which unlike a lot of the records released in today's individual track download world of the moment this is one that should be listened to as a complete piece. I don't know if this is going to be the definitive album from Jason Quever but it's definitely in the post.

Label: Sup Pop
Release Date: 28/02/11

'Originally posted on The 405'

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Goldberg Sisters - Album Review/Interview

Label:Play It Again Sam…
Release date: 11/04/11
Link: Official Site

The Goldberg Sisters are the brainchild of actor Adam Goldberg, star of such films as Saving Private Ryan, the excellent Dazed and Confused as well as making an excellent cameo in Friends as Chandler’s insane room-mate Eddie.

I got a copy of this recording and to be honest thought it was going to be another actor wanting to play rock star and was content in Frisbee-ing it across my flat into a pile of long forgotten recordings by the fabled movie stars who have decided to do music.

This long forgotten arena is currently home to such luminaries as Bruce Willis, Don Johnson, Keanu Reeves (remember Dogstar?) and Leonard Nimoy with his Mr Spock’s Music from Outer Space. But in the case of this album I will happily grab a slice of humble pie as it’s a great. It truly is. From the opener ‘The Room’ it draws you in with various layers of instrumentation like an audio blanket (especially when listened to on headphones.) Where comparisons with bands and artist’s such as Sean Lennon, The Sleepy Jackson are easily made Goldberg definitely has his own voice and is comfortable just being himself. As the album continues through ‘Mother Please (The World Is Not Our Home)’ and ‘Shush/Ooh La La’ shades of early Elton John shine through although maybe not intentionally but in the harmonies and very melodic musicianship it just ticked the box for me.

The record as a whole has a very warm home made feel about it and I doubt there was any record label executives poking their nose in the studio and worrying about “the hit” or the first single. This seems very much a labour of love. The overall sound of the record is very high while at the same time keeping the quirky Lo-Fi New York vibe to it with acoustics, melodica’s and vocals being the main foundation of each song with sporadic glimpses of fuzz guitar and strings added like icing on the indie cake.

With all the albums released weekly and especially since the Internet took off at such a rate and music is brimming with new bands and tracks I don’t think this album will get the publicity and promo it needs to be a bona fide hit (although I think it would diminish the beauty of it if it did manage to get to these heights.) I think The Goldberg Sisters is destined to be a Lost Classic, although a Classic none the less.

I was lucky enough to catch up with Adam in regards to the making of the album, the influences before and during the recording as well as the curious case of his twin Celeste.

Q) Why "the Goldberg Sisters" rather than just simply "ADAM GOLDBERG"?

A) There's a singer in Chicago named Adam Goldberg already, and I didn't want to miss the sister’s band craze train either. Plus my twin Celeste insisted.

Q) It sounds very much a labour of love rather than making a premeditated commercial MTV based album, was that the case?

A) Really? That's hurtful. I really wanted it to be a commercial venture. I'm broke. I want Mentos ads. I hoped JJ Jackson would be playing the record on heavy rotation. I wish I knew how to say I'm going to make something commercial and then do it. Believe me.

Q) Did all the songs get written around the same time? There seems to be a similar thread running throughout the album.

A) ‘Erik Erikson’ was written in 1999. Two others were written in 2003 and 2004. Others were written in the year leading up to the record —‘The Skin of the Patriot’ written during the session, ‘The Difference Between’ was written a couple days prior. Death? It's the theme that keeps on giving.

Q) Will you be gigging this album? Any UK dates?

A) I'm not a big fan of playing live. Crippling anxiety, fear of flying, and really cranky when it comes to sound; basically I'm a real pleasure. I like recording a lot. But I’m going to bite the bullet and do a little press tour in Europe. There' s 3 or four of us, no drums or bass per se. Andrew Lynch (trumpet, keyboards) and I sampled a bunch of my old drum machines and sequenced them and OPTIGAN samples and I'm doing some onstage looping, etc. Plus we'll have two violins. It's sort of like we're a cover band--of my bands.

Q) This sounds a very personal record. Do you feel that it is a release from acting where you play different characters, here in fact you can strip them away and be yourself?

A) In a sense. I liken it to the process of writing and directing. When I've done that, for better or worse it is an honest expression of my tastes and emotions. I view acting much more as a job, a craft I can employ and often times connect to but far less personal an experience.

Q) I heard early Elton John/Leonard Cohen in the record as well as the Plastic Ono Band album. Would any of them be an influence in your writing?

A) I actually started listening to Elton John a bit during mixing. I'm not a huge fan, though I've tried. But I can really appreciate his genius and do often like his production. I love early Leonard Cohen but he's not a direct production or song writing influence. Maybe osmosis?

Q) Which bands/artists would you say had influenced the writing and recording of this album?

A) Here are the influences, depending on the song....Plastic Ono for sure, always a big production influence; Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain, Curtis Mayfield, Dionne Warwick/Burt Bacharach, David Bowie's Low and Station to Station, America, Paul McCartney's Ram, T-Rex,Odessa era Bee Gees.

Q) I've found this is a really good album on headphones to listen to; each instrument has its own depth and place. Did you have any involvement production wise or make any suggestions?

A) The insert/poster of the CD says "Wear Headphones!" so, I'm glad, thanks. Aaron Espinoza and I co-produced. He has an incredible technical facility, knows when and where a kick drum should hit and its relation to the bass guitar; he has an uncanny ability to translate my requests, i.e., "Let's put 'Breaking Glass' drums on ‘Erik Erikson’," into reality. We have a similar sensibility and are able to communicate well through short hand. Lots of that layered stuff, backwards reverb, echoes, string arrangements, layers of backing vocals etc. There have certainly been trademarks of my personal recordings but Aaron's ability to execute them and give them that certain sheen was a terrific contribution... I personally recorded the more Low Fi sounding tracks like ‘You're Beautiful When You Die’ and ‘Skin of The Patriot’.

Q) Were you worried that being an actor breaking into the music and album’s market was going to be a problem and not taken seriously? So many have tried to make the cross over and failed after all. Not that I’m comparing you to Don Jonson or Bruce Willis albums obviously.

A) I was concerned a bit although less so after having broken the ice already with my first record (the LANDY record). At this point frankly it's more important that I feel comfortable in my musician's skin. After having done music for my film "I Love Your Work," having recorded my own music for many years now, then eventually had the opportunity to collaborate with guys like Aaron and Steven Drozd, I feel a bit more acclimated to this pursuit of this "publicly.". I can't control the perception and invariably I get the response--this time and last--"Hmm, it's ACTUALLY pretty good" or "hmmm, it doesn't suck." Performers used to have to act, sing and dance. I don't dance though. I shimmy.

The album is released on the 11th April.

'Originally posted on The 405'

Friday, 11 February 2011


Viva Brother are one of the new crop of bands to be making waves in the pages of NME and on the live circuit with their own brand of guitar based rock and roll (or GRIT-Pop as they insist on calling it.) All music genre puns aside I spoke to front man Lee Newell about their mission, music and all things post Be Here Now.

Q)Grit POP! Explain and describe please.

A)That was something we came up with as a bit of fun. We knew we were going to be pigeonholed into some genre or another so we thought we may as well do it on our terms. I guess not many bands can say they have created a genre!

Q)Surely a revival of a Brit-POP culture/style is a bit too recent in people's memories to be taken seriously? For someone on the wrong side of 40 that feels that they've "seen it all" what would you say your ambitions are for the band?

A)We're not trying to revive any previous era. The Brit pop thing has been cast upon us by the media. We do listen to bands from the 90s but not exclusively. This band was created out of a desperation and a very real need for escape from where we were in our individual lives. For me, this band simply had to work. I didn't have any A-levels, I never went to university, I felt very very lost. I tried to get into the full time job thing, but it just never worked out. I needed to play music. There simply was no alternative. When the four of us first got together and started playing together we all had this united sense that we had something extraordinary. Something special. Yes we did all bond over mutual love of Manchester bands like The Stone Roses and The Smiths but we all have our own distinct tastes. Josh (Ward) and Frank (Colucci) are really into their dance music for instance. This band is just a culmination of that. We are what we are; and we know if we work hard that we can be remembered.

Q)Which side of the fence do you sit on concerning music progression and creativity? i.e When you make a follow up album will you consciously try and improve on the last one or do you have a "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality to songs and the sound of the group?

A)Give us a chance, our debut isn't out until the summer! Of course we are going to progress! What would be the point otherwise? We're not the sort of band that will get so self indulgent that it becomes un-listenable. When we write our music, we do consciously keep the listener in mind. We like to please the listener. We like to keep a lot of texture and colour throughout our songs, they never get boring. We will grow with each album, and we are lucky that we write our songs quite quickly so each album will be a literal snapshot of the stage we are at, at that time.

Q)Do you think politics fit in with rock and roll music? Is it something you're interested in?

A)It can be. Right now it's not something I would get involved with. If you're going to talk about politics, it has to be truthful and it has to be for the right reasons. There are too many self righteous people out there trying to sell themselves more than solve any problems. Frank Turner that is aimed at you. Shame on you.

Q)What other bands do you listen to or you would say influence Viva Brother's music?

A)It really depends on the time of day. I mentioned The Smiths and The Stone Roses before, but there is no real pattern with what we like. We're into The Brian Jonestown Massacre, MIA, The Black Keys, Tame Impala to name a few. Everything Everything's new record is astonishing!

Q)For the last few years guitars and guitar playing has been taking a back seat to more programming and synths, do you feel Brother could be one of the forefront bands to bring loud guitars back to the mainstream?

A)Yeah of course and that is half the reason why this band exists. The last great era of guitar music was in the 90s. We need to have something like that again and we've self elected ourselves to be at the front of that.

Q)Bands like Oasis, as great as they were and as great records as they made, do you find it a help or hindrance when they are mentioned in every review when describing your sounds. They seem to be a name that raises eye brows from music magazines these days as being ”that old thing we used to like"..whats your opinion?

A)They did write two great records I agree. I don't think it's a hindrance at all. If they want us to fill that gap we are more than happy to step up, but understand that we are not alike. We sound nothing like each other. They have had an incredible career and we hope to have the same.

Q)What was it like working with producer Stephen Street considering his musical history?

A)It was an honour as he is a childhood hero of mind. He is so welcoming and kind that it didn't take long to get over the awe ha ha. He is an incredible producer and has helped us create a masterpiece of an album!

Q)What's next for Brother?

A)More love and hate in equal measures I'm sure. But literally we are just doing a whole lot of touring. Our headline tour is coming up, then we are touring with the streets, after that we're off to Texas from SXSW then New York, then Europe, then back to the UK, then back to USA, all the festivals etc. etc. etc. I can barely keep up!

Q)Have there been any other bands you've seen on the circuit or heard that you like currently?

A)Not really as we haven't really had a chance to play a great deal yet. We played with this band Wheels on NYE and they were good. Ask us in a years time and hopefully we will be able to give you a big list of guitar bands!

Viva Brother's first single "Darling Buds Of May" is released on the 28/02/11 before the Album is released later in the year.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Under Cover Of Night - The Strokes - SINGLE REVIEW

As soon as the intro starts for ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that this track could be any other band in the world but The Strokes. With its format of blended guitars and bouncy drum backbeat that are all trademarks of the band (and one I hope they continue to keep) to its well used overdriven vocals and stinging guitar melody, the song I predict is going to be a definite live favourite this summer as the band takes to the festival and touring circuit. The song itself is no simple pastry cutter copy of days gone by, in fact it brings some new sonic tones and textures to the table (with the guitars especially).

The Strokes are a band that are always looking to push the guitar from its ordinary role and confinement preferring to instead serve the song to the best of their ability, whether it’s the interlocked octave riffs of ‘Last Night’ to the keyboard like synth riff of ‘12:51’ they have always played what was necessary rather than just playing what was expected, which is why in a track like ‘Reptilia’ when the guitar solo kicks in its exciting because they don’t rely on a similar paint by numbers reproduction in the other 10 songs on the album. But wait a minute! This isn’t a Wikipedia chat about The Strokes talk about the single for gawds sake!

Here we are today with the 48 hour free download sitting in my inbox. It’s an immediate winner and although phrases such as ‘return to form’ are being thrown about the place with the track from lazy journalists and online critics I can’t actually remember when they weren’t strictly firing on all cylinders as the albums previously have all been great as far as I’m concerned and although ‘This Is It’ has achieved “classic” territory with the next generation the follow ups were equally of a high standard. So as for ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ it’s just the next step along the yellow brick road of greatest for the group. I can’t wait for the album.

'Under Cover Of Darkness' is currently available as a free download for 48 hours and the album 'Angels' will follow on the 22nd March.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


Good morrow my fellow fans of music past, once again I'm at that time of the month where I'm lining up new interviews and interviewee's as well as completing new album and EP reviews.

Although at this very moment today I don't actually have anything ready to paste and show online which is annoying and kind of leaving me in blogging limbo neither one way or the other.

As a fan of blogging and indeed the random blog I will show I'm still alive and interested in spilling my thoughts and opinions here on the Internet by giving you all some poptastic food for thought.

'Do I listen to pop music because I'm depressed, or am I depressed because I listen to pop music?' - Rob ;High Fidelity

Songs to cheer you up for the delay courtesy of spotify and youtube for those of you stuck at work.

'No Reply' - The Beatles
'Wash The Rain' - The Bees
'Jump Into The Fire' - Harry Nilsson
'New Orleans' - Gary U.S Bonds
'Scissor Runner' - Jenny And Johnny
'Love' - Rodeo Massacre
'Jump In The Line (Shake,Senora)' - Harry Belafonte

lather,rinse, repeat if necessary....

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Anna Calvi Interview
Domino Records ; Wandsworth Town

Q) The track 'Moulinette' is one of my favourites of your live show, how come it didn't make the cut for the album, instead appearing as a B-side for the single?

A) Well, when I was putting the album together it didn't fit the story I was trying to do and project.

Q) I've seen your live show a few times and as you are a 3 piece without a bass guitar (rather just guitar, harmonium and drums) do you find this limiting and do you have to re-arrange the song structure to compensate the lack of bass being there?

A) Yeah a little bit, Mally (Mally Harpez) plays bass pedals as well as harmonium though so when we do need that bass frequency we can get it, but I do like it without as it helps to create more space and dynamic although it does mean I need to work harder as a guitarist.

Q) What music do you listen to for your own pleasure?

A) It varies really, I like David Bowie and Roy Orbison as well as classical music like Ravel and Debussy.

Q) You've been getting some pretty high level plaudits from music luminaries such as Nick Cave and Brian Eno, had either of them been an influence on you and your music before you'd met them?

A) Well I loved the work that Brian Eno had done with David Bowie and I really liked 'Music For Films'. Nick Cave I'm a definitely a fan of.

Q) Talking about Brian Eno, is it true that he sings backing vocals on 'Desire'?

A) Yes he does, he's funny when he sings because he'll sit down and read a book while he's doing the backing vocals, at the same time (laughs). I actually met him through a friend of his, he had come to my gig and then told Brian about me and he then contacted my management and we went for lunch. He's really into gospel music.

Q) Is there currently any bands that you like? Maybe bands that you have gigged with or seen on the circuit?

A) Well the band that supported me at the album launch called Alice And The Cool Dudes, they are amazing, I really like them.

Q) 2011 is understandably going to be a really busy one for you with the album being released and live shows. With regard to the follow up, will you try and write on the road or do you need to shut yourself away and write separately?

A) I think I'll try and write some of it on the road although I like to write alone and shut myself away so a bit of both really. Usually when I write I've been inspired by a piece of music or something and I record the song as I write it usually, the lyrics and the melody come all at once quite fully formed. Obviously I sculpt it but the initial lyrical ideal and melody idea are there throughout.

Q) How did you find the recent Grinderman tour? How was the audience reaction?

A) Really great, they were great shows and the audience seemed to like us.

Q) Who influences your guitar playing?

A) Well the guitarists I got into first were Django Reinhardt and Jimi Hendrix so they are constants although now I like to imagine my guitar as something else, I imagine it as a piano or as an orchestra so that's how I keep it exciting to me. I like to imagine it as an extension of my voice.

Q) What happened to your Telecaster (her battered Fender Telecaster Guitar)?

A) Yeah I know (laughs) I used to hit it against the wall when I was angry and frustrated, I'm much nicer to it these days, I feel bad about it now.

Q) When you first started with the guitar did you ever learn other peoples songs or pop songs?

A) No not really, I mainly improvised. I played along to records but it was mainly my own music, I never really got into learning other artists songs.

Q) Your voice is very expressive and powerful. I read that initially this wasn't something you were going to do instead concentrating on guitar. Looking back do you feel you would have considered simply playing guitar and having a lead singer in the band handle the vocals?

A) I don't think so as I've always had a strong vision of what my music should be and sound like and you shouldn't have anyone else take control of that side of things if you can do it yourself. I had to do it myself.

Q) So you couldn't have had Liam Gallagher or someone fill in?

A) No (laughs)

Anna Calvi's debut album is out NOW on Domino Records

RADIOHEAD vs Nikki Grahame

As a new part of my daily rantings and blogging chat I have decided to start a new section where I will be speaking to bands/artist's/celebs/anyone else I can corner in the loo.. and asking them about their favourite bands, current songs, albums that influence them and general stuff regarding work by other artist's other than themselves.

First of the starting line is the lovely Nikki Grahame of Big Brother fame who apart from taking the time to write her own book has also planted her flag in the camp that is Radiohead. Her favourite band! So without further a do here is her top 5 (well 6) but you can't have everything....and yes NO CREEP!

Planet Telex The opening track from their 1995 album 'The Bends' first released as a double A-side with 'High and Dry'.

The Bends - The title track from the same album and still a live favourite.

Paranoid Android From the seminal 1997 album 'O.k Computer'. Wicked video as well, watch out for Kurt Cobain in his helicopter.

Reckoner From the great,great album of 2007 'In Rainbows', a song that was kicking around in 2005 in skeletal form but not finished till the session for this album.

Airbag Track 1 from 'O.k Computer' fuzzy, the direction of things to come.

Jigsaw Falling Into Place From the 'In Rainbows' album, the first track released as a 'pay whatever you like' scheme the band ran from their website, considering the video for the track was filmed with cycling helmets with mounted cams on top of them I would say the majority of people went with 0.05p..

*songs selected by Nikki
mugging off by Chris

something is happening here....

and you don't know what it you? Mister Jones....

yes enough of the Dylan quotes and to the meat of the matter. I will be updating this very blog this week with an exclusive (and by exclusive I mean her 10th interview of the day) Anna Calvi interview, The Rodeo Massacre gig review from The Old Blue Last last night (31st Jan) as well as a new page which gives you the great unwashed a list of artists/bands/celeb's favourite records of the moment for you to judge, mock and even possibly go out and buy on their recommendation.

Stay tuned, same bat channel...