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

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Go Ear: Televised Crimewave @ Tiger Lounge 22/07

TELEVISED CRIMEWAVE really love taxidermy....

Or so they told New Ears, when we asked them what you, the prospective concert attendee, could do to help. "If they felt the need to bring something... maybe taxidermy." Dan told us via email, "A stuffed owl would be my personal choice. I want to decorate all the dark damp venues up and down the land with owls and plastic jewels."

This darkly angular yet surprisingly upbeat London based 4-piece, consisting of 2 former members of the sadly departed Black Wire, is finally heading back up North for a short jaunt (with KASMs) through Edinburgh, Newcastle, hometown Leeds and Manchester. In terms of an audience it doesn't stop at taxidermists though, Dan tells us "I would like everyone to come and see us play, I don't want to exclude anyone. The perfect audience is one made up of people brave enough to commit themselves to the moment and escape the room we will all be standing in."

Prepare yourself for psychosis, charisma and dancing, as they hope their live show is comparable to "a spectacle of controlled madness, theatre of cruelty meets group therapy... with a catchy beat."

So, head on down to FictionNonFiction at Tiger Lounge this Tuesday (22/07) and be sure to bring any dead owls you have lying around, the band will be most appreciative.

Televised Crimewave - 'Fire & Flowers' (Download here or listen below)

Words: Alyssa Thralls

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Reach For The Sun

We do our best to provide you with the necessary ‘heads up’ to all that's exciting musically locally, or at least in the UK. The problem at the moment is that the bands coming out of L.A. are so spiffing that it's like trying to ignore an elephant in the room. The latest to turn our heads is (predictably) another in the long line of rad bands to waft out of ‘The Smell' scene, the self proclaimed 'tropical punk' freakwads Abe Vigoda.

The beauty of the L.A. noise punk scene is that unlike your average movement, there's a distinct lack of “me-too” bands around to ruin it. Instead, each band is experimenting with different styles and genres, the only reason they’re grouped together is the fiercely independent, DIY ethic of the vegan food selling, all ages L.A. venue where they congregate.

Abe Vigoda are not the newest swingers in town, being that the early August 2008 scheduled release LP, Skeleton, is their third album. But their latest material has taken their previous no wave punk jams and added, with the help of some high-tuned guitars, sun-drenched surfing melodies. To put it in terms we can all understand, they were a bottle of lucozade, they’re now a can of mango flavoured Rubicon Exotic.

Hey and you know what? They look good too, spaz good, which is the best kind of good. Good! A UK tour is currently being prepared for November/December, but for now set your face to happy suck that Solero and glory in their exuberant tropical racket.

Abe Vigoda - 'Bear Face' (download here or listen below)

Words: SS

Sunday, 13 July 2008


Of course everyone knows the story of the greatest 'Manchester' band of the last 15 years. About that first classic album which soaked up the city's finest bands and married it with an attitude synonymous with the region and its musical history. About the second album which, while not quite as complete a package as the first, nonetheless featured their most enduring singles and seemed to define the period of time in which it existed.

Then there was that third album. When it finally came out it polarised fans and left most critics indifferent, lacking as it did the anthemic singles or songwriting nous of those which it followed. That it was released amidst rumours of infighting and a growing sense that creatively, the group were now firmly governed by its singer and lead guitarist and thus no longer a 'band' in any kind of democratic sense did little to help. Depressingly, the album also seemed to suggest a decline towards inevitably diminishing returns, the band doomed forever to unfavourable comparisons of newer material against their hallowed debut.

To this day people still attend the shows in droves, and of course, every band has its share of die-hards, but one can't help but feel that for the silent majority this is mostly out of nostalgia and a chance to singalong to those classics from the first two albums; paying lip service to the more recent material is simply an unspoken, but notheless mutually understood, part of the deal.

Nothing about last week's 'homecoming' show at the Apollo suggested any of the above to be false. The set list chronicled a sparkling past without alluding to a bright future, with the band and audience only truly 'at one' during airings of the ubiquitous older material. Still, the bands enduring image and attitude seemed to suggest they might not be going anywhere just yet, even if their artistic and creative peak seems now to be some years behind them.

Oh yeah, you know I'm talking about Interpol right?


Video - Interpol 'PDA'

Interpol played the Manchester Apollo on the 8th July 2008

Words: Billy iDle

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Glastonbury 2008 Pt 2 - Esqueezy Explains It All

For this month’s Esqueezy message she popped into New Ears HQ and started shouting Glastonbury at us. I grabbed a pen and pad and got this down…

So yeah…I don’t know whether Glastonbury reflects the usual Somerset economy but chicken between dry bits of bread for £4? Bun dat! Ordering a mountain of sausage, mash, beans and gravy worth £6 and managing to make off without paying? Yam dat! True stories.

I’m (not so) fresh off my block from my very first Glastonbury experience and yes, it was surreal from the go. I’m pretty sure Daisy Lowe was sat behind me on the shuttle from Castle Cary carrying camping stuff in Marc Jacobs’ bags and chatting about going to Diesel parties with people called Margot, Jasper and Bessie. It sounded like some sort of modern, spawn of a celebrity/fat cat chief executive/new money version of an Enid Blyton novel. Who else thinks that stuff must have been written on acid? Little kiddies climbing trees to go chill with Moonface? I also heard Daisy Lowe say she got “claustrophobic” the first time she [legal editor – allegedly] double dropped. Esqueezy gets all Perez Hilton up in this bitch…hello libel? [nah… should be ok].

One of the female Jaggers was stood next to me when I bought my wellies so along with Lowe, it proved what I’d always thought about festivals, that it’s all about top models slash heavy socialised female ‘celebrities’ pretending they are down, reckoning they get familiar with the mud and Porta-Loos, making sure the Grazia photographers are on hand like flies to cow shit to snap them coming out of a tent first thing…then shake them off and sneak back to the plush Winnebago with a gold toilet seat with stylists and make-up artists who specialise in creating ‘the festival look’. The average, everyday person does not want to camp- we’re just too poor for V.I.P. camper vans and getting a helicopter ride in and out (with a complimentary glass or ten of Cristal) like Jay-Z.

I’d say the first drop of rain fell about as soon as I walked through the gates. No hype. My tent wouldn’t fit in the space I’d been saved. I didn’t know what I was doing and it was pissing it down so my tent looked like a train wreck. Not the one. I went to this faux igloo dance tent and saw some DJs wearing stupid clothes with stupid hair and everyone looked like they were smoking crack and my Reeboks were covered in shit and, and, and, and I just went a bit crazy after that.

Anyway I don’t want to ramble on about my Glastonbury experience like I’m Saint Esqueezy and everyone wants to follow my movements or uphold my opinions like its tightrope walking the fine line between life and death…so I’ll get it over with. The rest of my time I only really ate doughnuts, watched Woody trying to spoon a campfire, told a tent-desperate Martello I’d consider helping him if he would rub oil on my sunburnt back, did hip hop karaoke with Lord Lewis, did more hip hop karaoke with Lord Lewis, and then a lot of “I’ve been drinking rum and ginger beer since 11am and now it’s 5pm” skanking to Toddla’s set. Looks like I’m going up in the world folks…but right now there’s this zany girl demonstrating Triassic and Jurassic rocks layers with different coloured cakes and now I’m too phased out/hungry to write so my last words for you beautiful people til August? Any Brum heads can check Murkage Cartel (of Monday Murkage fame) out at Bigger Than Barry on 26th July. I’m not playing as this fine ass will be biggin’ it up in Andalusia…

Later alligator.

…and just like that she was gone.

Words: Esqueezy

Monday, 7 July 2008

Go Ear: Parts & Labor @ Cafe Saki 12/07

Detractors of sloppy stateside spelling avert your eyes - Brooklyn’s Parts & Labor are coming to town. Those able to see past P&L’s lexical lunacy - and you probably should, really - consider yourselves fortunate as the recently expanded four-piece come armed with a unique strain of “noise-rock” which pleasingly throws the dictionary of (mispelt) genre pigeon-holing out of the window.

With Myspace alumni covering ground from Sonic Youth to Battles, P&L cut an ambiguous shape, but come together with something impressively succinct. 2007’s Mapmaker LP offered a boisterous celebration of cutting guitars, sparse electronics, and rackety vocals. And, much to their credit, P&L manage to keep their hooks tuneful, their vocals audible and their songs frighteningly relevant. Keyboardist/vocalist Dan Friel may look like Prince Harry on a gap year, but the energy he offers the live performance - now enhanced by demure guitarist Sarah Lipstate - is anything but stuffy. Together with B.J. Warshaw, Friel's harmonies provide a settling backdrop amidst a sonic invasion which at times belies the band's relative anonymity on these shores.

P&L are treating the UK to a handful of dates, kicking off at Cafe Saki on Saturday 12 July. While they're over here perhaps they'll find a bit of time to learn how to spell.

Words: Jake Richards

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Telepathe and Sunni-Geini 'do the real thang thang'

Help me out here. Is this post just an exercise in futility? Surely there can't be many amongst the music loving populous still ignorant to the sounds of Brooklyn based androgens Telepathe?

Vidi: Telepathe performing Threads and Knives at New York's Studio B

Their new single 'Chrome's On it' (out this week on South London's rather splendid No Pain in Pop label) is a beat-smart, hook happy slice of process pop that shares a slice of 7 inch vinyl with the equally ace 'SG Main Theme' by 'mysterious' new producer Sunn-Geini.
Sunni's beats are similar in feel to those of former glitch-hop (ugh) golden boy Prefuse 73, albeit infused with the spirit of the much missed J Dilla and the jittering rhythmic rolls of fellow South London shadow dweller Burial.

Sunni-Geini - 'Good Times' (Listen below or download here)

The whole 7 inch package can be broken down thus; Telepathe do hooks, Sunni-Geini does beats, No Pain in Pop release records. Right now there's few, if indeed any, doing any of those things better. Put them all together on one product and we're talking essential purchasing. Make a note to self to go buy as soon as possible 'cos unlike tickets for this years Glasto (is it too late for those kinda references now?) this is gonna sell out reeeeeeal fast.

Words: Billy iDle

Glastonbury 2008 Pt 1 - The Great Unwashed

Despite all the crows from the naysayers and ill-informed armchair pundits with a one-way ticket to negative town (see below post), Glastonbury 2008 was a sunny success. In the absence of a captivating lineup (obviously The Verve was just the booking agents clowning around, but the rest?), Glastonbury - thanks to its unique atmosphere - remains the UK’s premier music festival. But with all the media hyperbole during and after the festival there’s one thing that I want to to make clear: Glastonbury is not for everyone.

Camping sucks. People smell and what they discharge smells even more. Oh and there's mud too. If you’re a princess, a cry-baby or a spoilt brat don’t go, you’ll hate it. And that’s fine.

Unfortunately, the BBC’s strangling, smug and aspirational coverage and the glamorisation of the festival by Heat Magazine et al has convinced thousands to go who end up moaning and complaining. The flip side of this is that thousands who consider the above personae non gratae have lept atop their high horse and decided not to attend because of their influx. The effect being that Glastonbury is now perceived as uncool. This factor along with last year's weather, which underlined to the Heat readers that Glastonbury is probably not for them (designer wellies were noticeably down this year) and the subsequent doom mongering publicity resulted in uncharacteristically slow ticket sales this year.

That the Pyramid and Other stage lineups stunk to high heaven didn’t help either. A direct comparison of Glastonbury with the headliners at Coachella or the exciting new music showcased at Primavera Festival in Madrid borders on the embarrassing.

But for me, the Glastonbury experience transcends bad smells, bad weather and bad main stage lineups. For every eye-watering stench of ammonia there's a heart warming chat with a guy who’s shat his sleeping bag three times; for every rain shower there's a trip to the Somerset Cider Bus; for every Jay-Z on the Pyramid Stage there's a Squarepusher in the Glade.

Fundamentally, sleeping in a tent, drinking cider and not washing for the most part of a week is a real leveller. The general public are suddenly phenomenally less annoying, and the atmosphere around the site this year was as special as ever. The Park area, in its sophomore year, has undoubtedly breathed new life into the festival, harnessing the feeling of a boutique festival within the festival itself and showcasing new(ish) acts like Santogold, MGMT and White Denim.

My highlight of the weekend was on Saturday night at the Park where Battles blitzed through their repertoire of calculated but chaotic math-rock. Now finally reaching the end of over a year of consistent touring, the band were as enthusiastic as ever. The set was regrettably cut short due to “scheduling difficulties”, but the band had already afforded the tiny crowd a memorable set.

Battles - 'Leyendecker' (download here or listen below)

Words: SS