Archive for July, 2010

Civil Civic

No matter how wide your music collection, it doesn’t take long before you find yourself steering back towards the same few tracks. Even if you’ve filled the 160Gb of your iPod classic, the chances are that you’ll find yourself reverting back to the same 100 or so songs when you’re flicking through. It’s a difficult elite to break into, an incredible challenge, but one of which Civil Civic are likely to be able to match. At the most basic, it would be simple to call them an instrumental duo, but they’re nowhere near as pretentious, dry and tiresome as that sounds. having known each other in their homeland of Australia before both ventured to Europe, separately settling in London and Barcelona, which is when they decided to start making music together.

If they lead a fractured musical relationship, their music makes the best possible use of it, utilising jagged, interwoven guitar parts that duck and dive in amongst each other, a friendly battle played out to the backing of a metronomic synth. They are spiky, challenging and, most importantly, invigorating – this is kind of stuff all those Crystal Castles clones knocking about couldn’t even dream of pulling off. Measured breakdowns are tempered with melodic riffs, excellently distorted – it genuinely feels like a thrill-ride, the soundtrack to some amazing futuristic racing game that no-one has thought up yet. Their main gift still remains how utterly catchy they’ve managed to make some songs that are completely bereft of vocals, their songs remaining a dizzyingly heady tonic even after many, many repeat listens. Definitely candidates to top your most played list.


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Idiot Glee

There are good gigs, and there are great gigs. Then there are ones that are so ridiculously packed with talent that it defies belief, and Manchester’s Now Wave certainly know how to book the latter. Wild Nothing playing alongside Porcelain Raft should be unavoidable, as is also the case with The Twilight Sad and Errors double headlining. However, neither compare with Women and Zola Jesus playing on the same bill, as the two combine their European tours for one night that should be utterly spellbinding. However, the bill is somewhat of a triple threat – opening up proceedings will be a man called James Friley, who performs under the name Idiot Glee.

Coming from the wilds of Lexington, Kentucky, Friley inhabits a genre almost completely of his own. As the name of his work suggests, their is a choral feeling to the casio-backed musings that goes far beyond the usual stripped back, fuzzy vocals that this age seems to demand for a burgeoning artist. The electronic keyboard aside, much of the backing tune is done acapella, which, it being a solo project and everything, means that Idiot Glee’s vocal harmonies are purely the work of Friley layering self recording upon self recording. The end results is a bizarre ghostliness, a barber shop quartet made up of clones or puppets, awkward but, unsurprisingly, shimmering with brilliance. There has already been almost universal acclaim from the hipper corners of the internet, and it’d be no surprise if Altered Zones was to win over a few more haters by premièring a new track by the young man.

For those who live outside Manchester, Idiot Glee will be touring with Women throughout their sojourn, whilst Nika Danilova and her crew will be taking Zola Jesus elsewhere after their joint show. The layered, one-man choir of his recorded work means that live shows are more stripped down than the songs that have been floating around the internet, but that shouldn’t take away much of the magic – these are pop songs that would shine through no matter the medium of delivery, and you’d be well advised to show up early enough to see the entirety of James Friley’s set if he’s playing close to you this summer.

Idiot Glee – I want to stay the night [download from vice]

Idiot Glee – All packed up [download from i guess i’m floating]


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All Saints Day

Just when you thought that the Vivian Girls couldn’t get any better, they start to mutate. Katy Goodman aka Kickball Katy of the band has taken time off from her day job as part of the most important noise pop band of the past few years to join up with Gregg Foreman to create All Saints Day, yet another chilled out, fuzzed up pop band to soundtrack your summer with. Foreman is probably most recognised for his work playing with Cat power, and there’s a hint of that throughout the short EP the duo have put up on bandcamp – all airy harmonies and ghostly vocals layered on top of dreamy reverb, it’s an arresting mixture.

Whether or not this will be taken any further remains to be seen – there have been three shows played so far, done alongside the likes of Real Estate, Nodzzz, Kurt Vile and Abe Vigoda, which is about as strong of an endorsement as you can receive from the whole West Coast scene. There’s the tuned up playfulness of Best Coast running throughout this, but sans the strong central vocals that make Bethany Consentino’s work so recognisable. People have been desperate to try and give it a name, with Beachgaze being the most obvious, but equally ill-fitting. At it’s best, the few tracks that have been debuted so far are the kind of slick, savvy lo-fi pop that Summer Camp call home, brilliant and beguiling in equal measure, a raw mass of sound crafted into something wonderful.

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Though some people achieve coolness and many more have coolness thrust upon them, but it is a slim minority who are born cool. If you were going to him into one bracket, it’s pretty certain that unouomedude would be in the latter column. Though there are many hundreds of bandwagon chasing wannabes about trying to ape the ‘chillwave’ sound, the breezy ease with which the young Floridian pulls it off suggests he barely even tried, despite making what already sounds like one of the definitive releases of the year. Marsh EP has just been made available through bandcamp and AMDISCS, bringing the first wave of invention and guile to the genre since Washed Out et al caused bloggers to make the thing up a year or so ago. To celebrate, I asked the young man behind the project for his thoughts on the movement, his plans for the future whilst brushing on what it’s like to be a ‘buzz band’ that actually has an awful lot of talent.

Just to start off, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do:

Well, I’m Uno, I’m 19, and I live in Jacksonville, Florida. I make pop songs and take photos; but I mainly make pop songs.

Every day you seem to be on another influential blog – Transparent, smokeDONTsmoke and Get off the coast have all done features on you, amongst many, many others. What’s it like having so many strangers write about you?

Its awesome! I’m glad I’ve been getting so much support. It also feels weird seeing myself on different blogs that I read and seeing people talk about me but not to me. It’s a strange change, but a good one.

Despite this current flood of attention, it seems like you’ve been making music for quite some time – you’ve put out an album of sorts , ‘Collections – Volume 1’, which features tracks you say you recorded between 2007-2009. Why has it taken so long for your talents to gain recognition? where have you been?

Well honestly I just don’t think my older stuff was as well crafted. When I hear some of those songs now I can’t help but to think “I should have changed this thing here” so that’s why I put it out as a collection rather than an LP. I had some people listening to my stuff then, but not nearly as many as now. After I took a break from releasing music to craft my skills I came back with some new tracks and sent them to a few blogs, then those blogs posted about it and other blogs got it from them. It’s just been taking off since then.

Of course, like anything that is in the slightest bit electronic at the minute, you’ve been branded as ‘chillwave’ by many. What are your thoughts on the whole glo-fi etc. scene? And are you comfortable being a part of it?

Haha, I don’t know, I’m okay with it. In my head I think of ‘chillwave’ and ‘glo-fi’ to be different things. I think of chillwave to be more sample-based, hazy, nostolgic, electronic music, and glo-fi as just lo-fi dreamy music. They’re probably the same thing though, I have no clue. I don’t really use samples besides some percussion sounds. A lot of people think the riff in “Dream Home” is a sample but it’s not, Its just a synth in the background, guitar, bass, and electronic drums. I think genres are just used to easilly group similar minded music, and I dig a lot of the other musicians who are in the same ‘category’ as me, so I’m totally fine with it.

And you’re from Jacksonville, Florida. How much of an influence do you think the area has had on your work? Is there a cohesive movement going on there at the minute?

There are some awesome bands here, but I don’t think there is much of a movement going on here. Unless I just don’t know about it, which is possible. A lot of the stuff on ‘Marsh’ is about my old friends here, so those songs have some Jacksonville influence in them. There isn’t too much to do here so Jacksonville isn’t that interesting.

You’ve just put out Marsh EP. Is there a main focus of the release? What’s it about?

It’s basically just about memories, dreams, summer, and fun. I wanted to include descriptions of my favourite times hanging out with friends so I could always look back and remember them. Other songs are just based off of dreams that remind me of fun times. With the music, I just wanted to make summery pop music.

With all that hype about, is there any news on a long player? What can we expect in the future?

Hopefully I’ll  be able to work on an LP. I don’t know if I’ll be able to stay consistent long enough to make songs for an LP but I’m definitely going to give it a try. I have a few new projects in the works right now, but everything is kind of up in the air so we’ll see whats next.

Another thing: I’ve searched about but been unable to find any reviews or evidence of you playing live shows. is it something you’re planning on going into? Is there a lot of pressure for solo, electronic acts like yourself to go into the playing live? Or are you already doing it and I’ve just missed a load of rave reviews?

Ha, no I don’t play shows right now. I played a couple in 2007, but not since then. I’ve been asked to play some shows lately and unfortunately, I had to temporarily turn them down. I want to wait until I get a good live setup to start playing shows again. I’m sure it will be worth it for myself and others when I start again though.

I was reading something the other day about how we are all the culmination of the culture we imbibed as children. If that’s the case, what would you say you are?

I’d say I agree. I still listen to some of the music I grew up on and I still watch some of the same shows. I still see some of the media I consumed early in life involved in the things I do now. So guess I’m a Degrassi-loving punk rock ghostwriter.

Last thing: any bands that you’d recommend?

There are too many good bands to recommend! Well there’s Star Slinger, Teenage Reverb, Phillip Oskar Augustine, Persona La Ave,  Kiss Kiss Fantastic, Ricky Eat Acid, Bijan Allen, Horray!, and so many others that I’m going to feel guilty for not mentioning.

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If, by now, you’ve not heard the latest effort from Manchester’s amazing WU LYF, then you’re missing out. Apparently called ‘SPITTING IT CONCRETE LIKE THE GOLDEN SUN GOD’ (yet another allusion to the ‘concrete gold’ they are constantly referencing), it’s another modern classic in the waiting, showing the band at their very best. In actual fact, it even tops the heights that Heavy Pop scaled, capturing the band in full flight, all yelps and brooding atmosphere. You can listen to it over on their website at http://wulyf.org/.

It’s been months since they burst onto the scene, and have garnered plaudits from around the globe, yet they’re still keeping up this air of mystery, maintaining a purposeful distance from their fans whilst keeping any information about the band to an absolute minimum. Still, there’s always been something slicker than usual about the outfit, the feeling that there’s a little bit too much sheen and measurement from an act that are pretty much unheard of. The videos are the most startling thing – montages cut up with an excellent precision, miles away from their contemporaries efforts in unveiling new songs, which is usually done through uploading a track or two to myspace.

They’ve managed to produce this feeling that everything they make is an event, every slight change or drop of information is news – as blogs such as this one happily enforce. Even their former schoolmates Egyptian Hip Hop, with the mountains of press and hype they’ve had mounting behind them, haven’t achieved the same amount of control the flow of information about them. Every action is measured, thought out and precise, which is exactly why they’ve been such a phenomenon on the internet – who else would’ve dared to sell demo tapes for £50 each (reportedly) or charge £15 for ‘membership’ (including a 12″ vinyl of their work), whilst ignoring the advances of small indies and majors from around the country? In this digital age, where the idea of privacy is one that is rapidly dying, they’ve thrived on people’s desperation for information. Which makes a slip as obvious as the one they’ve committed even more bewildered.

It starts with a simple whois look up, which tells you basic information about the person who registered a website – incredibly standard stuff, something that is available to do legally and for free on any number of websites. Checking up on their worldunite.org site is the predictable dead end you’d expect – an loop of references to ‘brunettemail.com”, which leads to a relatively sparse domain, as well as suggesting the site is based in New York. It’s when you look up their more traditional wulyf.org site that things become a little bit more interesting. The Whois query reveals that the domain was registered by a company at 77 Dale Street, Manchester, but, crucially, it was done not by a band member, but by a company. The email address supplied is done via the domain four23.net.

When visited, the website reveals about as much information as the band themselves, suggesting that four23 is a ‘creative studio’ that ‘create visual identity, short films… motion graphics and art installations’. It also lists a wide variety of commercial clients, including the likes of Adidas, Reebok, Samsung and Samsung, and it is suggested four23 were consulting in regards to marketing. Of course, world renowned brands are huge leap away from a band that are still only known to a select few thousand, but the delivery and execution of content surrounding the WU LYF project has been done with the same kind of finish that you’d expect from the huge corporations.

There is another link, too – An Outlet. The recently opened Manchester Café where WU LYF have played the majority of their live shows always felt a bizarre choice for one of the country’s most exciting new bands, but it seems there is reason enough behind it. Indeed, four23 are the owners of the café, though this has never been a secret – An Outlet’s website has a link in the bottom corner of it’s ‘information’ page that links back to four23.net/. With so many great places in Manchester to put on a show, there’s still room for shows at small boutique cafés, but WU LYF rarely played anywhere else, having a monthly residency up until recently.

What does it all mean? Well, it still means very little. The obvious assertion is that WU LYF, as well as making some of the best music around at the moment, are having their moves plotted by a marketing company that has been hired by international superbrands for it’s campaigns. That explanation would make a lot of sense, all things considered – there are few PR companies in the world that could pull of this exquisite game of cat and mouse as well as WU LYF supposedly have, especially when the high quality of the videos is factored in as well. However, amongst the conspiracies, there’s a simple possibility – that An Outlet, being one of the few places that band seem to trust, helped them out in registering a wulyf.org so as to stop the hassle of people like myself desperately whois-ing their website. That wouldn’t answer why worldunite.org’s origins when queried using the same methods is so heavily encoded, but it still makes a lot of sense, especially considering the website was only made on ‘15-Feb-2010′.

This link between four23 and WU LYF, it turns out, has been evident for quite some time – as a comment below mentions, Warren Bramley, the founder of four23, is manager of the band. Bramley has a history in the music business as well, having worked for Factory and for In The City: http://iomusic.net/Music-News/2010/04/wu-lyf/ is a more concise analysis of the situation than has ever appeared on this website.

Either way, it seems as if World Unite; Lucifer Youth Foundation are on very good terms with an extremely competent marketing company and are still making some of the best sounds this region has ever given birth to.

World Unite; Lucifer Youth Foundation – Heavy Pop

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Teenage Reverb

There are many ways in which a dream can die. If you’re a sports fan, a small piece of it goes when you first notice a player in a team you support is younger than you, and larger chunks fall away with every following player that would’ve been in the year below you at school, and before you know it you’re over the average age in a World Cup and you can only run in two minute bursts. With music, however, it’s a different story altogether. Unlike the limited timescale you’ve got to blossom into an overpaid, coca cola sponsored, underachieving Premier League footballer, there’s no age limit on gaining musical notoriety. However, if you’re able to buy alcohol legally and don’t want to watch a small slither of your musical hopes vanish, it’s probably best to look away now.

There are a lot of young bands about but, thankfully for those of us who have wasted years doing nothing, a lot of them are utterly terrible. And with young groups you can at least kid yourself that they simply fell into the right group at the right time if you’re a bitter, scorned, ageing musician. Teenage Reverb, however, is a different proposition altogether. Though the maturity of his songs tell a different story, the works are the effort of one extremely talented man. Or, should that be boy, given that Joseph Zucco, the brains behind the music, is still only 16 years of age. The songs sound faded, brilliantly collating choppy guitar with synth and beats, creating garage rock that is notable through it’s restraint.

Whilst Be Your Own Pet’s tender years were mirrored through their energetic, chaotic sound, these tracks are measured and precise, hinting on chillwave without dwelling, referencing lo-fi without really attempting to mimic it’s conventions. The subtlety on show is scandalous, the ability and nous even more so. The most brilliant thing to say is that, despite the tone of this post, Joseph Zucco’s age really isn’t the main story here – it’s his languid, chilled out songs. If this all turned out to be the side project of someone a more well known artist, it wouldn’t be a shock at all, and Zucco’s voice already sounds familiar, it’s deep, near monotone excellence belieing the fact that he still has many years before he has to watch someone his junior play in the World Cup finals.

Teenage Reverb – Under the Weather

Teenage Reverb – Save for later

[myspace] [bandcamp ep]

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Splash Wave

If you’re going to name your band after a tune from Sega’s seminal arcade racer Out Run, you better be certain that you’ve got the tunes to match. Thankfully for French duo Splash Wave, that doesn’t seem to be a problem in the slightest. In fact, it’s something that they seem to have taken as their ethos, with their entire sound seemingly springing from the swathes of great, forgotten 8-bit classics, without slipping into the camp tedium that makes up most of the chiptune scene.

Whilst there have been various tributes to classic video games, there can be none that ave done it with quite such effortless cool. Outrunning is a knowing tribute to the theme they take their name from, a cover of sorts, icy, electronic and brittle, with enough reference to sound similar, whilst standing on it’s own as a song with consummate ease. As with anything great and European these days, they’ve been picked up by Beko DSL, having their songs used twice – on the usual, 2 track download single and as a part of a larger summer mixtape, upon which they utterly steal the show.

The 80’s may be the current era du jour, but with tunes and brightly, joyfully retro as this, it’s no difficult to see why. There’s talent and ingenuity seeping from every song – if the brooding, dark and terse beats of ‘Bicycle Hunter (motorik hunter pt. 1)’ could easily be the soundtrack to one of the better montages of a film from the decade, they actively court these kind of comparisons in ‘theme from two cool guys at the beach’, which appears to have stolen the best beats from era and condensed them into a 4 minute joyride. The eighties did a lot of things, and nostalgia is an absolute bore, but a bit of look back is alright when the result is something as startlingly brilliant as this.

Splash Wave – Outrunning [last.fm download]

Splash Wave – Bicycle Incident (motorik hunter pt. 1) [last.fm download]

[last.fm] [myspace] [beko dsl single] [beko dsl compilation]

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