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