Monday, 29 December 2008

Pictureplane Interview

As previously highlighted (here) Pictureplane, aka Travis Egedy, was our favourite artist of 2008. He lives in Denver, Colarado in a house/art space/gig venue named Rhinoceropolis and creates electro-grime tinged with a hefty dollop of 80’s pop, which fills you with a feeling of total freedom and abandon. As he explained on his own blog (here), 2008 was somewhat of an Annus Awesomis for Travis. We asked him alllll about the past, the present and the future…

You played recently with Dan Deacon, how’d it go?
“CRAZY. But totally rad. It was in my house (Rhinoceropolis). Probably like 300 kids came out who have never really been here before. I booked this local hardcore band comprised of 17-year-old kids called Dethbox to play, they ended the set with like ten minutes of pure feedback and squealing saxaphones while they built a shrine out of their drums. People didn’t know what to think, it was great! Dan rented speakers for our house just for the night, so it sounded amazing. We also went shopping for pants at a thrift store before the show. Dan Deacon is an amazing man. We talked about conspiracies against the world and the people into the late evening."

Have you had some trouble with the police recently?
"Yes, it’s a long story....I was arrested during the protests at the Democratic National Convention in Denver over the summer. It was a mass arrest of about 150 people. I got unlucky on that’s total bullshit."

Are you signed yet?
"I kind of am now! Thanks to blogs such as yours and my friends in HEALTH, I got picked up by their label, Lovepump United in New York. I have a 7'' single coming out in March 09, it’s exciting."

How healthy is the music scene in Denver?
"Extremely healthy. There are TONNES of bands... but the scenes are kind of segregated for some reason... we’ve all been talking about how badly Denver needs more DIY spaces [like Rhinoceropolis] really has so much potential. But yeah, there is tonnes of talent here, and no one knows about it outside of Denver, besides the fortunate bands that get to play Rhinoceropolis. Ha ha!"

What was your personal highlight of 2008?
"Probably touring the East Coast in the Fall with a fellow Denver band called BDRMPPL [also rad]. We had a lot of amazing times, and played beautiful shows. It was freedom. And I loved it."

Do you have a new year’s resolution?
"I need to stop being so lazy...and really start to push people’s buttons again artistically. I am good at that when I want to be [check out some of Travis' artwork at his myspace or here]."

Are you looking forward to 2009?
"Yes. I should be touring a lot...maybe? I am really excited for my single to come out. There are some things in the works right now that bring bubbles in my stomach. So yeah, I think I am pumped. I have been really trying to live in the NOW, and not anticipate future events as of late though. There really is no future anyways ;) just now."

What do you have planned for 2009?...a UK visit?
"I fucking hope so. I want to dance to funky house. I can’t stop listening to grime."

What new artists/bands would you recommend we look out for in 2009?
"Sewn Leather, Future Islands [check out Travis' rework of their track 'Old dreamer'] Rustie, Zomby, Joker, Pictureplane..."

photo: Rita Minissi

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Dispatches from the West Coast - pt. 1

We asked Simon L (on the right) - one third of Dalston synth punks, Teeth!!! - to keep us updated on his travels and the band's forthcoming tour in Portland and California. Prepare yourself for one hell of a diary...

Day 1

LA is a big sprawling city. Hollywood sign, check. The people at the airport sounded exactly like they were in The Terminator or some other sci-fi LA movie. We are staying just off Sunset Blvd. We already ate "real West Coast-Mexican food" and checked out the superb Wildness where the awesome Wendy Yao from Ooga Booga [Store] was DJ-ing. Wildness is run by this ridiculously rad person called Ashley, he is totally in love with my friend Oscar and he makes films about lesbian strip bars called 'Shakedown'. He also makes limited edition t-shirts of Beyonce (he gave me one!!!) and other crazy awesome stuff.

Afterward we went to Taco Zone and the tall, gay looking one [John] from HEALTH was there. Today we're trying to fix shows in Olympia, CA for NYE and we just got a show at DUNES in Portland. I feel that I'm going to know everyone in the city before I leave.

Day 2
Last night Juan from Abe Vigoda [on the right of pic] and I went downtown and hooked up with the guitar player from Mika Miko (I'm so bad at names) we drank $2.50 margaritas at this most awesome mexican bar with a bunch of other people then onto this ridiculous gay bar in Hyperion. It was emptyyyy. We picked up Oscar and Sister Mantos and went to this fucking awesome leather bar (no one was there) and drank $2 pints of Budweiser.

So by this time I was hitting on Yutaro [on the left of pic], this totally hot skinny dude half L.A., half Japanese. We all went to the sauna - yes yes yes...outdoor jacuzzi, outdoor swimming!!! After funs swimming around til maybe 3am me and Yutaro toats made out forever. It was hot. I think I'm in love.

Day 3

Finally the sun has come out so we're heading to the beach. Juan is coming over later and we're gonna make a side project together with Sister Mantos called NEGATIVE CHARMS. I'm slowly learning that that's what a lot of people do in LA, be in loads of bands, smoke pot, drink, drive everywhere - if you don't have a car you're fucked. So, I hope I see Yutaro again. I'm obsessing already...I sent two text messages. Fuuck.

Hung out hung-over at Malibu...we went to the beach and sun bathed for a few hours then headed back. I waited for Yutaro to call but he didn't. Whateverrr. Tonight I'm gonna party again!!! Hopefully with Juan & co., I wanna hang with those kids more, they're awesome fags...we're going to a party called Shits & Giggles, it's a gay house/dance music party and sounds ridiculous.

We saw this awesome funny band called Spider Problem and then hooked up with Yutaro and Scott. It was super weird...we went to Shits & Giggles it sucked, left and then went to Scott's place. We made out, but it sucked.

Day 4

I'm meeting up with Juan later and we're heading to the fat girl's house from Mika Miko as she's having a birthday party. Yutaro will be there, I'm gonna tell him I love him for realz. I so fucking want a holiday romance.

Well I’ve completely lost weather this is day 4 or not as everyday brings new challenges. We went to this ridiculous sports bar, Big Wangs, and got Bud & chips, then we went to Spotlight, this ridiculous gay bar off Vine and Hollywood, with free snacks with beer. SO STOOPID!!! and rad all at the same time,... when we got there these super dudes (serious the faggots are fucking real gangsters) tried starting something because I was wearing Kurt Cobain sunglasses...whatever!

This afternoon we went over to hang out with Tom Grimley (my best time in LA so far!!!), this guy lives in this awesome house just off Vine and St. Monica with a real American porch. Tom is most noted for owning Poop Alley Studios in LA and producing early Beck records as well as building a tower in his back yard three storeys high so he can watch the sun come up and down, whilst drinking beer.

We went to the store in his Beatle - circa 80s - then came back and listened to noise music and watched the fire burn - everything felt so pure. Tom Grimley - ALWAYS AND FOREVER, THE GODFATHER OF ALL L.A. (who knows every fucking awesome band ever)...and I’m sharing super secret knowledge that only he told me…

Nebraska - Bruce Springsteen
His first album. LISTEN AND LEARN…and before you all fucking hate, you should read his
Wiki. Above all, this misrepresented, song manipulated singer-songwriter not only deserves your respect but also your fucking brain time... if there is one album you should revisit - or visit the first time it should be that one.

The one thing I’ve learnt is ALWAYS START AT NOISE. If you start a band make it a noise band, so then your fucking completely untouchable by anyone... until I guess you’re figured out. I guess that’s how I feel Teeth!!! should be... but I simply explained.. I’m in it for the ride... if it all happens it happens.... if it doesn’t whuuuteverr.

Ok, so now I’m back from the party. After we went to tom's house and finished the beers, we went to Taco and laughed at Santa, he’s a total paedo. One of the girls from Mika Miko (I’m soooo bad at names, but if you’re reading this I LOVE YOU) was telling everyone about me and her crowd surfing at their Upset the Rhythm show... she said it was the first time that’s happened (sometimes I’m so proud of London). Anyways, Yutaro was there and we made out in her room, a lil bit, and we decided to meet tomorrow!


Teeth!!! - 'Dead boys'.mp3

Friday, 19 December 2008

2008 Review

If a week is a long time in politics, then a year is twelve months in music. But if today was a year from now what would we say about Anno Domini 2008 in a sonic sense? Well...

Best gig
HEALTH @ Charlie’s (Hey Manchester!) 3 May 2008
We said: “At no point during their set is any member of the band static or making anything like the kind of noise traditionally expected by the instrument in their hands…a striking mix of hypnotic robot vocals, chiselled melodic dissonance and beat smart rhythmic intensity”…i.e. well rad.

HEALTH - 'Glitter Pills'.mp3

Best album

Late Of The Pier – Fantasy Black Channel (Parlophone)

We said: “with the help of Erol Alkan, [LOTP] have shown just how to inject not only electro into your average indie-rock but weight and substance too. In so doing, LOTP completely exposed the redundancy of The Whip's baggy beats to the point that even lobotomised berk, Bez, now politely refuses seconds.” Pity that we only caught five seconds of their set at the Warehouse Project in October because we had the audacity to turn up as late as 10.30pm for a night that went on till 5am. Nice one schedulers.

Late Of The Pier - 'Broken'.mp3

Best single
Telepathe - 'Chrome's on it' (No Pain In Pop)

We said: "a beat-smart, hook happy slice of process pop". Still not tired of this.

Telepathe - 'Chrome's on it'.mp3

Favourite band

We said: “Imagine shoegaze vocals married to the kind of grime Wiley used to make and you're halfway there. Actually you're noway near. Chuck in an unhealthy love of 80's pop, electro and avant noise and if by that point you're not thinking 'this sounds like the best shit ever yo', then frankly you're lost.”
Prepare yourself for one hell of a dope interview with the big man to be posted here pre 2009.

Pictureplane - 'Trance doll'.mp3

Favourite Manchester band

We said: “3 heavily fringed 'disturbed teens' who make playing post-Test Icicles spazzcore pop sound the most fun thing in the world.” Expect more from these felines next year, particularly Alex Hewett who has his paws in multiple musical pies. Check out awesome new demo 'Body language'.

Copycats - 'Body language'.mp3

But most of all 2008 will be remembered for…
Paul Ross reading ghost stories from a big black book. A watershed moment in British television. The horror. The horror...

Tuesday, 9 December 2008


Despite the seasonal liberty, we’re still committed to unravelling the paper chain of new music and erecting it within eye and earshot of your face, i.e. here. With the aim of posting at least one New Ears piece minus any reference to The Smell, S.C.U.M or the Deaf Institoot, I'm proposing we consider the superb lo-fi beach noise of Wavves. Yes yes, oh yay.

Wavves is the brainchild of 22 year old, Nathan Williams from San Diego. Now and again he’ll blog about classic rap and other stuff wot he likes (here), but mostly he creates raw beach punk gems onto a four track cassette. Whilst the sound owes a debt to fellow Californians No Age’s pop-punk, his tales of young American manhood are most reminiscent of Jonathan Richman’s unaffected naivety. In other words, were they to bring back California Dreams and write it with some basis in the reality of what it’s like being a yoof in the Golden State, Wavves would be a fitting sound for the opening credits. What Sly Winkle would make of Wavves is unclear (though he’d probably try and manage the band, with subsequent zany results) but it definitely lights our lamp.

A tour of Europe starting in February 2009 has recently been announced, calling in to Manchester’s Saki Bar on 2 March with rad lo-fiers, Pens, providing the necessary supporting duties. Both bands have releases imminent through De Stijl Records, seek them here.

Wavves - 'So bored'.mp3

Words: SS

Go Ear - Vivian Girls, Hotpants Romance @ Now Wave, The Deaf Institute 9/12/08

Twee/Indiepop has been enjoying something of resurgence of late (thanks in no small part to the work of London based promoters/label/zine Twee As Fuck) and as of this Wednesday the sound looks set to plant its flag firmly in the face of Manchester via Now Wave’s enviable Vivian Girls vs Hotpants Romance line up at The Deaf Institute.

Like many bands swept up in this ‘Twee’ movement, these New Yooikers' music is anything but. Vivian Girls' spiky girl-punk clutter is closer in kin with say, Huggy Bear or The Primitives than Belle and Sebastian. They’re one of several bands to have emerged from the scene surrounding their native city’s Cake Shop venue (cakes and records upstairs, venue and bar downstars) alongside the equally ace Pains of Being Pure at Heart (who comprehensively answer the question of what My Bloody Valentine would have sounded like if they had never discovered fuzz pedals) and Crystal Stilts.

Hotpants Romance on the other hand are 3 Riot Grrrls hailing from our very own city of Manchester. They make shouty, poppy records focusing on themes like the varying strength of sun cream and we like them a lot (evidence here). So much so in fact, that at some point over the summer we went to one of their shows and interviewed them. We talked about all kinds of interesting stuff - their (then) forthcoming tour of America, their appearance at Twee As Fuck in London, our mutual love of Erase Errata etc etc, then we (and when we say ‘We’ we really mean ‘I’) went out, got really drunk and lost the dictaphone and consequently the interview, making the whole affair a big waste of everyone’s time. That was pretty lame, but the band is anything but. You should totally go check them out, rad times are guaranteed.

Vivian Girls - Where Do You Run To.mp3

Words: Billy iDle

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Go Ear - Abe Vigoda @ Now Wave, The Deaf Institute 3/12/08

I don’t know about you but I’m pretty fucking jazzed about next week's Now Wave at the Deaf Institute. The line up for the night features LA’s finest purveyors of Tropical Punk, Abe Vigoda, who we previously wrote about here, with support coming from Televised Crimewave, who we gave props to way back here. For those that don’t know, Abe Vigoda are stalwarts of their native city’s ‘Smell’ scene (a loose collective of bands centred around LA’s all ages/ vegan/ punk venue, The Smell, which is run entirely by volunteers) which we’ve been banging on about since like, forever.

Rather than bore you with the same old same old we figured we’d take it to the source and get exclusive word on the whole shiz from the band themselves. The whole thing worked out a little like this: New Ears asked some questions, Abe Vigoda gave some answers, and everyone mentioned the words ‘The’ and ‘Smell’ a whole lot. Behold…

New Ears: Over here in the UK there is obviously a growing awareness of yourselves and the other bands that have emerged from ‘The Smell’, but we are still rather unaware of the ins and outs of the actual scene surrounding the venue. Could you fill us in? Are you guy’s friends with all the other bands affiliated with the venue?

Juan (Abe Vigoda): Firstly, there were a lot of bands who we are friends with that are no longer in existence that played with us at The Smell who I feel are super important. One band in particular, ‘Hello Astronaut, Goodbye Television’, was really amazing. We would play lots of shows with them and even went on a small tour together. I totally wish they were still around because they were so fun to see live and wrote some of the best pop songs ever! Other bands that I feel were just as important to our connection to The Smell are Le Joshua, My Little Red Toe, and Silver Daggers. These bands are not in existence anymore but were totally crucial to that time.

NE: Have any of you guys ever been actively involved with the venue in terms of volunteering/helping out etc?

J: Yeah I would do door every once in a while and I will help Jim out when I’m there. It’s totally important to me to keep The Smell as a place that I feel I'm responsible for. We want the place to be there for as long as it can and it can’t be done by being careless and not helping out when you can. It's rad to have a spot that, no matter what, I know I can book a really fun show and help out a touring band by setting something up there.

NE: Are there any parallels between the kind of ethics that govern The Smell and your own within the band?

J: For SURE! The Smell has a total sense of humour and doesn’t take itself too seriously which is a really important attitude to have. Jim Smith who runs the space has no pretension about who can and can’t play; he is really open minded about that sort of thing. I feel like we as a band have maybe also adopted that, having no pretension about music and most things in general. The one aspect that is also really important is the DIY element that The Smell has; we make our own shirts and sometimes make flyers and are involved one on one with the artwork on our records and all of those elements of being in a band. We don’t pay someone to do those things.

NE: How synonymous do you feel the venue is with your band, were you established locally prior to playing there or have you grown with the venue?

J: We have grown up as a band in The Smell. I met many of my close friends there because they were in a band or came to see us or whatever. All my contact with the music world originated at The Smell, whether by seeing a band play or playing there myself, we have built friendships with people all over the place!

NE: One thing I've noticed about LA is that while The Smell seems to have bred a certain scene, it doesn’t necessarily come with a definable sound - all the bands seem really diverse sonically speaking. Is there a common thread you can identify between yourselves, Mika Miko, HEALTH, No Age etc that unifies you or is it more a celebration of the diversity/individuality of the bands?

J: I think the unifying factor is the ethics that the scene provides. I think that growing up playing at The Smell has provided us with a good philosophy about playing music that might not have occurred if The Smell didn’t exist. I think that it gave us a really good sense of reality because it is so DIY and anything that has come out of being in a band, i.e. notoriety or attention or whatever you would call it, has been interesting and cool but more than anything we are into playing music we find to be interesting, whether it's "marketable" or not, and I feel like that has to do with playing at The Smell and being part of that community.

Abe Vigoda - 'Lantern heights'.mp3

Words: Billy iDle

Friday, 28 November 2008

State of the City Address

When this blog first started back in April 08, we (here) identified a Manchester music scene awash with "baggy nonsense snagged on lad-rock twatery" and that fundamentally, "to Manchester's immense pride and utter embarrassment, The Fall are the most important band in this former musical beacon". All this is about to change.

Joining the mancunian bands we've already praised and highlighted on this blog (Copycats, Hotpants Romance, Sir Yes Sir) are a brand new crop of (lazily coined by us) Manchester-not-Manchester bands. Our favourite three are new wavers, Egyptian Hip Hop, the darkwave electronica of FAUX and Citizens' tropical no wave.

FAUX are supporting Selfish Cunt at this Tuesday (02/12) night's Fiction Non Fiction at Tiger Lounge, while Citizens and Egyptian Hip Hop kick off gigging duties in the new year. Obviously this makes us as happy as a pig on smack, so go check them out and expect further posts on these three bands in the near future. 2000 and 9 looks very promising...

Citizens - 'We've read the books' (live demo)

Words: SS

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Go Ear - DiScover: Tuesday 25/11

This month's Manchester DiScover night at the Deaf Institute is truly hulking.

Our noise-pop favourites, Gentle Friendly, (check our interview back in August hither) are joined by atmospheric fuzz loophead and fellow No Pain In Pop labelmate, Banjo Or Freakout. Further support also comes in the form of Tony Wilson approvingly named, Situationists, and Manchester's own garage dandies, The Witches.

As if that lineup wasn’t already enough, we’ll also be loitering around the DJ-ing area ready to ram home ear-shaped tunes at some point during the night too. All for only five of your pounds. More info can be found here on Facebook.

Banjo Or Freakout - 'Archangel' (Burial cover).mp3

Words: SS

Banjo pic: Rachel Bevis

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Free Blood

I've been waiting for an excuse to write something about Free Blood for this mess of a blog since it started. Now appearing on the horizon like some great shiny round thing is a new CD compiling their tracks avec remixes, 'The Singles'.

Free Blood is the side project turned full-time project of ex-!!! drummer/vocalist John Pugh and fashion designer Madeline Davy. They're the leaders of a bunch of bands which New York labels, DFA and Rong Music, have coined 'Notwave'. Not No Wave, definitely not Now Wave, but Notwave, right? Basically an updated dancefloor take on the No Wave scene of the late 70s/early 80s (James Chance, Lydia Lunch and all that). This collection shows Pugh has moved away from the sometime space jam self indulgence of !!! toward, what he aptly describes as, “really mean pop songs”.

'The Singles' is available for download here and will likely end up in the real world in Piccadilly Records some time soon. Seek it out.

Free Blood - 'Grumpy'.mp3

Oh, and they've only gone and rehashed a track by our favourite Brooklyn androgens (yes we have a list), Telepathe, too. See...

Telepathe - 'Bells (Free Blood Remix)'.mp3

Words: SS

Saturday, 18 October 2008

In The City >>> O Children

So then, that’s In The City done for another year. After months of having smoke blown up their unsigned asses, bands from both near and far have duly played to miniscule crowds in the hope that, somewhere amongst the smattering of suited attendees, is the A&R guy that’s going to make it happen for them.

As the country spirals headfirst into the same kind of financial oblivion to which the record industry has long since succumbed, the likelihood is, of course, that it probably ain’t gonna happen. Those bands that didn’t quite cut it will be back next year, jaded but not necessarily better, repeating the whole process again before finally accepting their rightful home on the musical scrapheap. For most of the bands that played In The City 2008 this is for the best, but there was one band who deserved better than to join the legions of the forgotten and the forgettable, London based O Children, who played Drowned in Sound's birthday showcase on 7 October.

Having risen from the ashes of Bono Must Die (who, admirable as their sentiment may have been, were by all accounts terrible), O Children have something that was sorely lacking from so many bands on display at this year's A&R hoedown – star quality. Sure, on initial inspection the bassist and guitarist might look a bit gormless, but the second lead singer Tobias’ guttural Cave meets Curtis rasp kicks in, all reservations are duly cast aside - it’s the finest voice that this particular pair of New Ears has been privy to all year.

That they wear their Joy Division / Cure / Bauhaus influences on their sleeve is irrefutable, but despite their well worn reference points O Children somehow manage to sound fresh and exciting rather than contrived and clichéd. They’re not without fault - their set featured a fair portion of dead wood, but when they hit they their mark O Children are a genuinely thrilling live proposition with evident potential to go a lot, lot further - surely what ‘In The City’ is actually all about. Download the below mp3 of 'Radio Waves' and become similarly excited. More please…

Live @ Durr last month...
Words: Billy iDle
Photo: Gabriel Green

Monday, 13 October 2008

Tapes and tapes and tapes

Way before mpfrees and illegal downloading were killing music, some delicately placed sellotape on the top of your mum's Tina Turner cassette would allow you to record the whole of Bruno Brookes' flagship Radio 1 show. Little did we know it, but both Brookes and tapes were in decline.

Today, a crop of fledgling labels, motivated by a nostalgia for the "cassette boom" era and the sheer economics of tape production, are kicking off a (mini) cassette culture revolution for the 21st century. Don’t purge all your other media just yet, but the happy coincidence is that these new cassette releases have killer bands on too.

Showcasing 30 minutes of Gentle Friendly's bewildering noise pop, Stop Scratching, recently released their third compact cassette tape. Forthcoming further Stop Scratching tapes will land in the near future capturing the super sounds of Teeth and Chupacabra amongst others. Get them here.

Super exciting on the tape front is also the self-released three way cassette share from Graffiti Island, Male Bonding and the catchy lo fi punk of Pens, which we're rather taken with. Most rousing is however, Graffiti Island’s Modern Lovers-esque new wave. Their American lead singer, Pete, filled us in: "our drummer (Cherise) has one arm longer than the other which makes the drumming sound nice. We're inspired by things such as Dario Argento films/Bad Brains/Jan Terri/Ancient Greece/remote viewing/the Bubonic Plague and burritos." Each band has provided two tracks and all for the bargain price of £3. It goes on sale on 22 October and it's essential, preorder it here.

More future tape fun can be found via London/Canterbury fanzine turned record label, Fake Press. Their début release is planned to feature wonky electronica youngens, Magpied, and Pie In The Sky referencing (I hope) The Restaurant Mystery.
More info hither.

Next week, the phoenix from the format flames, laserdiscs!

Graffiti Island - 'Head hunters'.mp3

Words: SS

Friday, 10 October 2008

Hello you!

Nerdy obsessive Chris Morris fans may recognise that from time to time I quote (steal) from Morris’ various projects (Nathan Barley, Day Today, Brasseye, Blue Jam). This is because I think he is way funny. I'm therefore permitting a deviation away from our usual blog topic of S.C.U.M to highlight the fact that Chris Morris has written a new comedy script with the writers of Peep Show about British jihadis, named Four Lions, and you, the general public out in mongland, have the chance to be in it.

Information on the script is scant but Warp Films have sent me this:

”Four Lions is a funny, thrilling fictional story that illuminates modern British jihad with an insight beyond anything else in our culture. It plunges us beyond seeing these young men as unfathomably alien. It undermines the folly of just wishing them away or alienating the entire culture from which they emerge. It understands how terrorism relates to testosterone. It understands jihadis as human beings. And it understands human beings as innately ridiculous. As Spinal Tap understood heavy metal and Dr Strangelove the Cold War, Four Lions understands modern British jihadis.

Terrorist cells have the same group dynamics as stag parties and five a side football teams. There is conflict, friendship, misunderstanding and rivalry. Terrorism is about ideology, but it’s also about berks.”

Pitches to Channel 4 and the BBC have both failed due, one can only imagine, to the Daily Mail controversy that would inevitably follow. In order to fund and release it independently, Warp Films is providing the opportunity to appear in the film at the cost of a £25 donation. Bum.

Friday, 3 October 2008

In The City 2008

I'm no sanctimonious schmuck. But clearly I am a sell out. Last post's criticism of The Warehouse Project still stands but after receiving free tickets for tonight's project we're not gonna pass up the chance to fight our way through the once-a-year-e-takers to see Late Of The Pier. N.B. At the drop of most hats (not beanies) we will betray any cause for personal advancement.

Saturday's Eat Your Own Ears curated shindig marks the official start of Manchester's annual international A&R circus, In The City, which runs till the 7th. Founded in 1992, the conference has morphed into somewhat of a mini juggernaut of a music industry shmoozing money maker rather than the cultural beacon Tony Wilson envisaged.

Unhappy with the level of corporate cock worming its way into the festival and the conference's failure to engage with independent music in Manchester in recent years, a micro rival not-for-profit conference has sprung up this year. With the admirable aim of promoting and discussing the more DIY, independent, grass roots level of the music industry in Manchester and beyond, UN/COVENTION is taking place in Salford Trinity Church over the same dates. Oh and there are pies available.

Pick of the festivities is undoubtedly the Drowned In Sound showcase which features the brilliant, yet increasingly irksome, These New Puritans and everyone's favourite new post-punkers O Children amongst others on Tuesday 7 October at Night & Day. Get down there, but if you can't, we'll let you know if Jack Barnett really does play a child's guitar.

Late Of The Pier - 'Mad dogs and Englishmen'.mp3

Words: SS

Tuesday, 30 September 2008


Clubs? Next month? Alriiight.

Some truly hexagonal dope to tell you about in Manchester's bopsheds and flashtunnels during October and I'm not talking about the milked-till-tender cash cow, The Warehouse Project, neither. Far more promising is Drowned in Sound's new monthly Tuesday night 'DiScover' showcase at The Death Institute's flush new music hall, which starts with Wild Beasts, Cats In Paris and The Long Blondes DJs amongst others on 28 October.

Last Monday saw the first of this term's monthly Super Super magazine vs Monday Murkage club night at One Central Street. One New Ears mainstay was quoted as stating it was “quite good actually...[with] party anthems aplenty”. The next is set for 13 October with Skepta. Entrance is free if you turn up with a haircut*.
But the main event last week was on Wednesday, which saw the opening night of the weekly 'Now Wave'. Designed as a maturer, less prannock stricken offshoot to their Up The Racket franchise, its promoters deserve credit for enlisting some more than decent bands to play at The Deaf Institute, including Pivot (this week), Holy Fuck & Errors (next week) and Abe Vigoda (3 Dec).

Last week S.C.U.M kicked off proceedings with a set of thrilling, flashing, confident darkwave rambunctiousness, only for Ipso Facto to follow with an instantly forgettable thirty minutes of drabwave. Which left a bad taste in the mouth only bettered by the weariful DJing which displayed next to no correlation to the live music that had just been showcased. In fact it was about a minute into LOTP's 'Focker' being played at the wrong speed that we avowed to pull our finger out and take New Ears' DJing excursions beyond the fifteen minutes afforded us at Big Hands earlier this year. So if you want us to play your jamboree, coke party, box social or bahmitzfa just message us. No really. We promise to play Pictureplane.

Pictureplane - 'Flashion you designed my mind'.mp3

*Unconfirmed at time of posting.

Words: SS

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Offset Festival: S.C.U.M In The Sun

Yo! Remember we told you a few posts back that S.C.U.M were the band to be checking for at Offset festival? Well here’s the news flash - we were right! Rolling Access All Area's style on someone elses pass I headed along to Hainult with the 'fashionable east London set', to catch the only festival worth bothering with this year...

What was it saying? Well actually not a great deal to be honest, EXCEPT for the Experimental Circle Club tent which hosted sets by the cream of the ascendant post-post-punk 'darkwave' set. While attendance at other tents and stages was generally fairly sparse, the ECC was packed for pretty much every band which graced its stage; a sea of dutifully detached faces observing the on-stage goings on beneath a lingering fug of smoke (emanating from the requisite menthol and liquorice paper cigarettes), the overriding aestetic not so much 'festival chic' as simply 'chic'.

O Children, The Violets, Neils Children and the newly streamlined Electricity in Our Homes (whose set was excecuted with sufficient confidence and aplomb to suggest the recent loss of vocalist Thomas Wamerdam might not be the disaster it initially seemed) all delivered performances of note over the weekend, but it was the aforementioned S.C.U.M who ruled supreme as the dandy ring masters of the Experimental Circle Club tent.

With a guitar-less rhythm led racket that sounds a little like early Suicide, not to mention cheekbones you could hang coats off, these monochrome teens are as beautiful as they are brilliant. In a scene which emphasises the necessity of fostering a poised demeanour of dourness and indifference S.C.U.M do the unthinkable and dare to be exciting, adventurous and naively idealistic, and are all the better for it.
Even without their much whispered connections, these young princes are undoubtedly darkwave's most likely to ‘do a Horrors’ and break the over ground; the difference being that, unlike the aforementioned goffs, they’ve got the class, charisma and tunes to back it up.

S.C.U.M are playing in Manchester at the Deaf Institute (the Oxford Rd 'Trof') on the 24th September (along with Ipso Facto). To miss out would be really, REALLY silly.

Words - Billy iDle

Image: Princess Julia, taken from the September issue of P.i.X - go pick it up!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Esqueezy Explains It All

What a week in Esqueezyville! In advance I apologise for depriving New Ears’ readers of ‘Esqueezy Explains It All’ but I'm pretty sure you didn’t miss me too much. I blame it all on the summer lull.... including musical monstrosities like Wiley's 'In The Summer' because quite frankly, Daft Punk samples DON’T really get me going. Anyways, it's September again and we all know what that means.... an arrival of socially inept and under-experienced freshers, all geared up for sex and 5th Ave. Dunno about you, but I don't really envy them.

So what’s been going down….hmmm…Last week saw the start of what I'm calling the 'Esqueezy Entrance'. This one was spawned at an uber pretentio private party on Thursday that was some bullshit to do with a Volkswagen car that somebody had gotten all pre-school on by having the ultra challenging idea of painting strange lines on. I just heard it was free drinks so I didn't really pay much attention to the screwy literature they gave me (hand-packed tidily in some strange rubbery sleeve with the same weird dots as the car...hmmm). Well cutting to the chase, I managed to knock 5 glasses of champagne flying within 30 seconds of entering...and that was after I'd done a lot of swearing and argy-bargy at the front door. It was one of those moments when you’ve either got to curl up and die or count to ten and do it again. All hail

I’m going to start doing it everywhere I go, maybe even at work…but ho, you can definitely expect such behaviour on a weekly basis, cos I'm getting like LL and I’m going back…but not to Cali…to Murkage baby! The drought of decent nights is coming to an end! Murkage was pretty successful last year, but academic year 2008/9 puts the cherry pon cake… brand-new venue and buff nuff bookings every week starting September 22nd! Think Tomb Crew, Toddla T, Afrikan Boy, Skepta, Bigger Than Barry, Deekline, Heavy Feet.... all I can say is thank the Lord because I'm getting pretty tired of only being offered the choice of clapped out indie nights or listening to bass with trustafarians. It does nothing for my complexion, let alone my mentality.

All dates until Christmas can be found on Mypace here and on Facebook hither. Plus, if you really, really, really can’t wait there’s a Mini Murkage tonight, downstairs in the Basement Bar at Trof Deaf Institute. Come join us for status drinks and ridiculous behaviour.

To get y’all in the mood, here's, EPMD - ‘Run It’ (Sinden Remix).mp3. I’m putting it down as a future Murkage anthem…that blend of bars and wonky beats always seems to do it.

‘Til next time…

P.S. Hopefully, if New Ears will let me, I’ll be back mid month with a mix from someone bangin’…… HOLD TIGHT!

Saturday, 30 August 2008


Dry Bar
28 August 2008

The reaction of the local media (e.g.) to the release of the debut album from Manchester's The Whip earlier this year proved that whilst you can't polish a turd, you can roll it in glitter. Thankfully Late Of The Pier's own début album, with the help of Erol Alkan, has shown just how to inject not only electro into your average indie-rock but weight and substance too. In so doing, LOTP completely exposed the redundancy of The Whip's baggy beats to the point that even lobotomised berk, Bez, now politely refuses seconds. Fortunately, Manchester doesn't have to look to Castle Donington to highlight the redundancy of its former-glories-obsessed music scene, we have our own spazzcore pop trio, Copycats.

Copycats - 'Suns Son' (original version).mp3

Flagged by a couple of their own friend litter onstage, New Ears' favourite Manchester-not-Manchester band ripped through a stirring if slightly disjointed set of scratchy guitar lines, skewed techno beats and broken/temperamental Korg melodies. Being that he was the only one who looked comfortable in his own skin and has his own techno-pop knob-twiddling side project, it's clear, ably supported though he was, that expertly fringed vocalist Alex Hewett is the ringmaster, on and off stage, to these young felines.

That they played to a crowd barely sufficient for a decent game of Cluedo was disappointing but there was more than enough to suggest a luminous future for both Copycats and a slowly emerging new Manchester scene. Check their myspace to stream the recently reworked version of standout track, 'Suns Son'. Go now!

Copycats - Bed Room Demon (Alex Hewett Rmx).mp3

Words: SS

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Go Ear: Gentle Friendly @ Islington Mill - 10/08

“Huge glistening party anthems, which have a tendency to really bum you out.” That’s the best way to describe Gentle Friendly’s sound according to its drumming half, Daniel. Being that he's also a fifth of multi-instrumenatlists, Buttonhead, Dan represents 28.57% of London's two foremost thigh-slapping noise-pop bands. Check my sums, it stands up. Gentle Friendly are visiting our fair city twice in the next month so we asked him a few questions about all things GF...

"We just try to play well. We don't really have any gimmicks or anything, I think we're both sort of against that. We just try to play loud and not fuck up. There may well be some drum related breakages however. I have a tendency to do that. I once broke the drummer from Sleeping State's ride stand in half. I felt really bad but he was a really nice guy and charged me almost nothing to replace it. I think his name was Robin, very nice man.”

Musical - “Arthur Russell, Paul Simon, 1980s cassette trade boom, 2000s rap mixtape boom, cave-punk, Neu!, Moondog.”
Others – “John Gray, The Wire, vegan mac & cheese, mountains of keyboards, unlabelled cassettes, hot boring summer days. Speaking personally, drum microphones. I brought this set when I had no money, but I just get a kick out of them though, I think its lame.”

"We’re putting out our first record proper [a four track vinyl EP] with No Pain In Pop in November and a collection of our lo-fi recordings will be out on limited edition tape release [through cassette heroes, Stop Scratching] at the same time."

"We have an All Tomorrow's Party show with Indian Jewelry which we're both super excited about. We’re also doing a Paris date which should be cool. I guess we'll begin to play more in Europe and in the U.S. The offers have been there, it’s just been a case of a lack of money or bad timing. I guess we’re mostly just thinking about the Ponytail tour next month though, those are awesome dates and we dig on Ponytail hard, so that should be rad!”

You can see Gentle Friendly this Sunday at Lamb & Wolf's alldayer at Islington Mill. They're back on 8 September with Ponytail at Satan's Hollow, so go!

Gentle Friendly - 'Five Girl Night' (download here or listen below)

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Offset Festival - 30/31 August

Does the pope shit in the woods? Well no. He’s really more of a leisurely mid-afternoon private en suite, maybe with an old copy of Mein Kampf, kind of crapper. However, if His Holiness were into some of the most forward-thinking new music, then there’s every chance he could curl one out at the new Offset Festival next month.

Situated within the grounds of Hainault Forest Country Park in Essex, thanks in the main to the Experimental Circle Club (formerly the influential Southend scene emporium, the Junk Club), Offset is showcasing some of the UK's most exciting new music. As well as influential fusties, Wire and Gang of Four, the cream of London's most experimental and innovative music have been booked.

Are New Ears gonna be there? Does the pope shit in the woods? The full line up can be found here, but we've selected two strong reasons to bag a weekend in commuterville:

Factory Floor
Repetition is the trick. With Martin Hannett-like production, krautock grooves and screeching guitars, this three-piece have gone'n mastered it. It's dark and desolate but for some reason it makes me wear a grin as big as a harbour. Partly because they're the antithesis of the jingly jangly NME sickbag brigade, but mainly due to the way their 1940s-Britain romanticism compliments their noise so aptly; it’s post-punk, but with a human face. Seek out their forthcoming sophomore EP, which includes 'Francis, Francis'...

These feminist manifesto name checking Souf London youngens have been courting much in the way of hype. Thankfully their demos, showcasing a sound built on Suicide’s synthesisers and bass heavy driving no wave rhythms, justify it. The teens are currently in the studio with Rory (ex Test Icicles) and Tomethy Furse (The Horrors) working on a debut release. After Offset their tour calls into Manchester on 24 September at the new Deaf Institute hosted band night, Now Wave.

S.C.U.M - 'Visions arise' (download here or listen below)

Words: SS

Pic: S.C.U.M