We’re all so used to music being homemade now that the fact that someone can get into the charts with something they’ve crafted on a laptop isn’t even worthy of note. But still, there’s an excitement to be taken from the soft, fuzzy feeling of something that has been lovingly handcrafted, the aural equivalent of a scone from your grandma. Liquorice Ginsberg sounds like the kind of concoction she might try force upon you on Sunday afternoon after a few too many sherries and a mixup in the cook book, but instead it’s the collaborative work of two Oakland artists, Elephant & Castle and Bazooka Joint.
In fact, as well as feeling like a brilliantly homespun take upon hip hop beats and mixmaking, on record it sounds like someone trowing a drum and bass night in your kitchen, and instrumental mish-mash of ideas . Part of the new series of release through digital label/blog Mapzzz, the tracks vary from having that honeyed, retro feel to the kind of track you’d want Odd Future spitting over, rarely filling in the gaps between. Perhaps it just feels weird that there isn’t a sample of some forgotten soul singer haunting the track or hazy vocals looming in the background that make it somewhat unnerving but nevermind – get yourself a slice of lemon drizzle, sit down and enjoy.
Unless you’ve spent the past year or two listening exclusively to Capitol FM, the chances are that you’ll have stumbled across Bethany Consentino’s jangly pop tunes in the past 12 months. Even then, there’s still a chance you’ll have happened across them – irresistible and heartfelt, built around a core track that simply demands you sway along. After cutting her teeth with noise-rock outfit Pocahaunter, Bethany worked her way back to the sundrenched west coast and starting making music that reflects that kind of care-free nature we’ve all come to expect from the region, dragging her cat along for the ride in the meantime.
Having turned into the alt equivalent of a mega star (with hipster runoff pretty much turning itself into a shrine to her and boyfriend Nathan’s lives), Consentino and her band are coming back to Manchester to play Academy 2 with support from Spectrals. Now Wave are the ones putting it on, and they’re giving away a pair of tickets for the show on April 26th. To have your chance to win, all you have to do is answer this question:
What is the name of Bethany Consentino’s cat?
E-mail the answer to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday Sunday 6th March for your chance to win. Winner will be picked at random and notified by email.
The problem with festivals these days is that there are just so many of them. And the touring circuit generally means that it’s the same couple of acts playing very similar sets in a similar line-up in different cities. It’s a good set-up when it means bands like Los Campesinos! and Wild beasts are continually playing sets around the country (as it was last year), but when you’re faced with the prospect of hurts headlining Dot to Dot festival, it can’t help but make you feel a little bit sad. But nevermind, as Sounds from the Other City ios back, the antidote to all these anodyne, flat-pack festivals, slightly bigger, almost undoubtedly better and still obscenely underrated.
For those who don’t know the drill, SFTOC is a one-day event where the best promoters from Manchester take over the venues of salford and put on the best new music for an adoring crowd. Last year saw the likes of Divorce, Egyptian Hip Hop, Jesca Hoop and Dutch Uncle take to the stage to play – and this year’s line-up has even more of a buzz about it. headlining the ever-brilliant Postcards from Manchester stage will be the irrepressible Those Dancing Days, with the unbridled energy of Eagulls lighting up the bill earlier on. Elsewhere, there’s everyone from Darren Hayman to D/R/U/G/S to fill up the day, along with The Twilight Sad, Patterns, Milk Maid and Rainbow Arabia. There are many more bands to come, too, and expect something pretty special from the likes of Now Wave, Comfortable on a Tightrope and Hey Manchester amongst others.
It’s a festival to get yourself lost within – to imbibe and let live long in the memory. It feels organic, it feels vital, and it’s going to feel even moreso if you’re going to find yourself in work answering telephones up until 5 o’clock that very same day. May 1st is the day to jot down in your diary, £18 the amount you need to keep in your bank account for a ticket (plus enough money to ensure The Old Pint Pot is drank dry again). All the relevant information can be found at the SFTOC website below:
You know that you’re getting old when you actually start to worry about the levels of decency in society. Rihanna’s S & M being a case in point – if the lyrics in Rudeboy made you cringe a bit when schoolkids sang along to their ringtones on the bus, the thought of them humming along to lyrics like ‘sex in the air, i like the smell of it’ feels positively dystopian. But if a song discussing how whips and chains excite a twenty three year old who’s target audience is the young is in relatively bad taste, then an artist being called Daterape really is beyond the pale.
Maybe it means something else in Brisbane. Etherway, rather than getting fired up with bile and invective over a bloody name, it’s best to let the music itself do the talking. The primary source of inspiration seems to be the distorted slowed-down hip hop of witch house. rather than leaving the cold, stretched, mangled skeletons of drags tracks as they are, Daterape reheats them, forcing them back into being something approaching a downbeat dance track. The aesthetic, broadly speaking, is the same as pretty much every other band you’re going to come across this year – black and white photographs, a hint of the occult, but at least these are tracks that you could imagine yourself dancing to (as long as you can override your gag reflex).
Just when you thought all the decent puns had been taken in low-level electronic music, Sunny Blondes pop up with their Masonic Youth EP and knock it out of the park. You know the drill by now – marginally mysterious act, the odd use of a symbol, some decent photo editing and the use of hipstamatic coupled with some expansive, melodic beats that fizz bitter whilst you let it wash over you. When it’s good – notably on latest track No. 6, an effort that sounds like it’s the kind of track to be played at chillwave’s funeral – it’s pretty astonishing, but still not the kind of thing that your mother is ever going to be ringing you up, asking for a copy for Christmas.
Considering their are people from Manchester trying to make sunny, happy pop music, it only makes sense that somewhere on the opposite side of the world, where sunlight and warmth is in abundance, that there would be someone making relatively downbeat tunes. Not all of them hit the mark, and the inclusion of an interlude feels like stepping back a decade, but this is more silver lining than cloud.
Just as certainly as Manchester is always going to have it’s fair share of Liam Gallagher wannabes, Brooklyn is forever going to be pumping out the most exciting aspects of modern pop music. In past eras, it’d have taken the right contacts and the right shows for news of them to get out into the wide world, but now all it takes is a copy of garage band and… well, still the right contacts, but at least it’s a slightly more democratic model.
Youth Castles have a name so unforgettable and clichéd that it takes more than a little resistance to override your gag reflex. But beneath that generic veneer is a band that manage to make some genuinely interesting garage-pop song. The Pains of Being Pure at heart brought a certain sort of energy to the table when they started making their shoegaze tinged pop, and there’s remnants of that here, though with the camp exuberance swapped for a sort of gritty realism – shoegaze with an aggressive hangover, perhaps. there’s a 6 track EP to be released in spring, and given the fact that they’ve already got a booking agent and PR set up, it’s likely that you’ll hear about it before the band themselves do. For the minute, there’s a trio of tracks for streaming, and they’re all excellent enough to make your heart ache because you were born on the wrong side of the Atlantic.
If you’re bereft of musical talent, the creative process one must go through to craft a song is utterly inconceivable, something alien to normal life and procedure. The fact is that a lot of bands, the manor in which they produce their output is more a case of seeing what’s gone before and following it as closely as possible without getting caught. Beach Justice is a project by someone who’s clearly had enough time on their hands to check out a blog within the past 12 months, both their name and and the use of the triangle symbol indicative of someone who’s clearly understand what it takes to make the pulse of a lonely wannabe muso race.
The music itself seems to concocted in a similarly backward, distorted way. As ever, reverb and synth play important roles, but the main thrust of the tracks are still that of a 80’s metal ballad being played back over a battered VHS whilst someone does a bizarre, distorted impression of David Byrne over the top of it. Predictably, it’s pretty brilliant – largely derivative, far from original but almost beyond irresistible. God knows how these bedroom producers do it or how they’ve all managed to find the formula – maybe it’s in the same place they keep the hipstamatic shots – but it’s excellent either way.