07.02.2008. the whitest boy alive. electric ballroom, camden, london.

The Whitest Boy Alive

These boys have got it all. The groove, the melodies, the instantaneous desire to just start flicking your hip, you feel the people shout around you and you look at their faces. Her face, the smiles, the hands in the air, the high fiving with a brilliant enthusiastic group of Spaniards off their heads on mdma. the sheer, unbridled joy of the occasion. and suprisingly cool t-shirts (even if I did have to buy a large girls… oh dear… the skininess…)… listen to the video…

‘can you keep a secret?’

the Whitest Boy Alive are the bees knees.

They play at Koko in May on the 21st. [CLICKY THING]


interpol, koko

Ok, for seven days only, here is one of the weirdest things I’ve heard for ages.

Interpol‘s new album, the excellent ‘Our Love to Admire‘, begins with a mournful, thoughtful song ‘Pioneer to the Falls‘. It’s brooding melancholy is set, before the song builds slowly, layer by layer, until a beautiful climax during the song.

Now, I don’t know but I am assuming – and hoping – that this version was scored and put together by Carlos D. Who, as I mentioned a month or so back, is also exploring his potential in classical composition and film scoring.

As b-side to their ‘Mammoth‘ single, I assume and hope it was him. Hear his glory for the next seven days only…

Interpol – Pioneer to the Falls (orchestral version)


Well, it’s not something that will end up listened to as much as other b-sides, or ‘pol album tracks, but I always admire someone who tries something different.

In all honesty, when it reaches the climatic parts, I think it’s excellent but I feel it lacks something when the chorus returns to each verse, I feel is slightly underwhelming. It lacks rhythm at these parts. I feel some of the horns at the start are distracting, but all the way through I think the woodwind colours are excellent whilst the song runs. I also have a problem generally with synthesised brass. They sound shit. If it isn’t synthesised (and I’m pretty sure it is, I’ve only listened twice to it so far) then it just sounds crap. really tinny.

Generally though, well worth listening and full respect for trying something new and expanding the reportoire. Although it’s not exactly going to be performed live… although that’d be an amazing thing for the BBC Electric Proms concerts. Hmmm…


mind over time…

August 20, 2007

interpol, koko

INTERPOL are a very emotive band.

There’s no doubt about that in my mind; Turn on the Bright Lights, Antics and now Our Love to Admire are all filled with songs of loss, love, joy, aggression… well in my mind, everything’s there, I’ve played those records to death.

But unfortunately, there’s just not enough. I become desperate to hear every track with bands I love, I obsess, I hunt them down. Even hunting down obscure tracks on soundtracks to shows like Six Feet Under (Direction, it’s all right).

But why?

Because there just aren’t that many bands that can provoke reactions within me like Interpol can.

So when Love to Admire came out, the first thing I had to do was hunt down any B-sides. I found the Mammoth instrumental version, and then I heard of a song that featured as a b-side to the Japanese release of the album…

Mind Over Time
(seven days only…)

This is beautiful. It’s gorgeous, somehow even managing to get away with Jean Michel Jarre-esque synths in the background. They just enhance the song.

But what makes this song so marvellous to me is beautiful lead in and lead out. The dynamics of the song is just perfect. I think the middle section where it seems to rock out, while still pondering about the meaning, it quite sounds like Idlewild’s last title track on The Remote Part. But that’s all right, I like that song too…

It sticks with you. This song resonates in head after it’s been played. I must press repeat.



Read the rest of this entry »

my dear Glastonbury,

June 30, 2007

glastonbury mud
Oh, how I love you so. How I wait your call to arms, I delight in the knowledge that you’re around the corner, treating me to your music and madness and your temporary insanity.

You are certainly a challenge, but you make it worth every bit of effort I can summon from my skinbag of bones and blood. You eat people up, you consume them and spit you out. You put us out to the elements,  to withstand anything and everything the weather can chuck at us.

You should be painful, but you’re not.

Except for a little bit where  the dried mud pulled out my leg hair, leaving spotted bald patches on my legs. And the aching, and odd bowell movements from the Mexican place. Despite that, you’re (relatively) painless.

Anything can happen at Glastonbury. You could end up covered head to toe in mud, showering for the third time to get the remnants of the mud out of your nails. But you’ll always be fine.

You could end up lost in a fiery field in the dark, drenched with rain, no phone battery and no mates in sight. But you’ll always be fine. You could slip and crunch your ankle, falling to lay spread eagled in the  rain, mud and litter and piss. You could eat fatty, greasy food irregularly to fill your stomach with stodge and carbohydrates. By Sunday, you could almost pass for a wino with your beard and cheap wine bar booze*. But you’ll always be fine.

You could end up hitting on strangers, drinking wine (I quote, Morrison’s ‘GOOD SICILLIAN WINE’ in a box) from a plastic bottle, dancing to ‘Come Up and See Me’ next to a burger van in 12 inches of mud. You could end up using the same line each night: “Could you teach me how to dance in wellies?”**

You could get trashed on the last night and then be a little taken back when a scary 50ft clown comes up on the big screen at the Chemical Brothers mouthing “Do it again.”

But dear Glastonbury; as you consume us for the weekend, pulling your pilgrims collectively into your belly-town of fabric houses, marquees and mud, you give us something back. Spirit rises in your people; the rain may be cold and muddy, it may stick to me and become an effort to walk but it will not stop me having a good time. You are a challenge, and each person may approach you differently.

See, you could watch the Magic Numbers in the rain, in more rain, then briefly in a little bit of sun, and feel the smile come across your face when the lead singer looks out across thousands of people in front of the Pyramid stage and says humbly into the microphone, “Thanks for making my dream come true”.

You could see Fatboy Slim, in a dress, stripping to ‘Hot in Herre’ facing 500 welly-wearers, dancing monged in a medium marquee glamourously called a ‘Ballroom’.

You could end up sitting in a tipi, watching the cock dance of a half-naked mate and an old kaftan-clad hippy as they shuffle in their seat, smoke and unconciously (or subconsciously?) flash their willies at you.

You could laugh yourself into stitches when a mate tells you he was pissing hungover into a bottle in his sleeping bag and had too much for the vessel, hence overfloweth.***

You could aim to fulfil an ambition, to see a band that you’ve always wanted to see. But you also know that your stage of debauchery, not you, will define whether you’d get to see them (did: Manic Street Preachers, didn’t: Arcade Fire).

You could wake up in the morning, feeling horrible and form the logic that you can get wasted in order to feel better. And you always, most definitely do.

It’s the opposite to reality there. You communicate and (gasp) people are nice and friendly, they share their resources. They don’t look down at the ground, they look up and smile happy. Glastonbury is the opposite of the Tube.

Two guys even invited us to an ex-wife’s marital blessing at 6pm in the Lost Vagueness chapel. It could have been a lovely story – but unfortunately, you get drunk and forgot. It’s always, always, always the 7% pear cider.

You teach us one thing Glastonbury, reality just isn’t the same. People can’t wander around, getting wasted, watching music, doing what they like legitimately in the real world. The beautiful temporary meetings. Shame on them. But you adjust, you realise that real life isn’t so bad, it does have its good points – family, friends, toilets that don’t make you want to vomit, etc.

But I’ve been there before and I’ll be there again. I love Glastonbury. And I think it loves me too.


*, **, *** (sorry)

interpol; koko; 15.05.2007;
pioneer to the falls/obstacle1/narc/say hello to the angels/take you on a cruise/mammoth/slow hands/leif erikson/the heinrich manuever/evil/not even jail/length of love/stella was a diver and she was always down/pda


interpol, koko

SHOW me the dirt pile, and I will pray that the soul can take, three stowaways; vanish with no guile, and I will not pay, but the soul can wait. The soul can wait.

Not even a word is said before the opening notes tinkle across the crowd and Paul Banks starts to sing. Two years and a month in the waiting, Interpol have returned to me. I just hope by the ‘dirt pile’, he doesn’t mean the 1,500 people sweating and looking up at him with their mouths aghast.

By the time Pioneer to the Falls has finished, many have eased in. The riff to Obstacle 1 hits and the place goes mental. Everyone rushes forward, including myself, and the gig has arrived.

If there’s one thing about Interpol that catches, the elusiveness of the group; their refusal to define or discuss lyrics, their stylish dress and appearance (apart from the bushy moustache currently on the upper lip of Carlos) – it just all adds up and keeps you wondering. How else can you explain people screaming “her love’s a pony, my love’s subliminal” and it each meaning a different thing to different people?

This is a pre-album gig. Hastily arranged, it was one of these magical occasions when you buy tickets and realise that’s actually only 14 days until you see them – and not four or five months as normal. The set is packed with songs that are known. They rampage and roll through classics from Turn on the Bright Lights and Antics, each delivering the crowd into an uncontrolled urge to bounce. Try listening to Slow Hands, before the chorus, and see if you can’t imagine a crowd itching to bounce when the word “spies” hits.

Not Even Jail stumbled but its sheer force seemed to carry it through. That song just reverberates through your chest as it’s played. Take me on a Cruise eases in and my arms link with the person next to me. The encore rolls on and gives us Length of Love, Stella and brilliantly to end, PDA. A mention should go to the Heinrich Maneuver, received brilliantly by everyone, powering like Slow Hands to a frantic climax, showing just how many fans download music before it’s out.

But it’s Say Hello to the Angels that I remember vividly. That song moves you, rolls you and puts you slap bang in a cathartic event, with people knowing every word, shouting a wave of force back to the band.

And while all this unfolds around you, Carlos is there; wandering around, sneaking glances at the other three and smoking into the microphone.

But it wasn’t perfect. The main disappointment was with the venue, the sound just didn’t translate. During new song, Mammoth, I couldn’t really hear a word of Paul. Arguably, if I didn’t love this band so much I’d pick up on more, but Interpol are emotive, they are there for your involvement and you choose your level; stand at the back nodding your head, bounce with the masses or, like me scream the lines that mean the world to you as loud as you can. No moment gives me shivers like the “you should be in my place, you should be in my space” line in Narc. That song means the world to me.

But it’s great. They come, they go too quickly and I feel exhausted by the end of it. I’ve read some reviews already, with people saying the crowd weren’t totally into it. They obviously weren’t standing where I was and they obviously weren’t in their own little world, as much I was.

So as the sweat dries off and I wander outside, I am resenting a position that’s past resentment; ages ’til the next one. Just as long as it’s not two years again.


josh.jpgA WEEK or so ago, I fulfilled a six year dream. It’s taken me this long to let it leave my head and judge it properly. Maybe this comes off as too personal rather than informative, but tonight was most definitely personal.

Queens of the Stone Age, the magnificent ensemble fronted by Josh Homme, played a tiny gig in central London last week, at the infamous 100 Club. Apparently chosen by the band themselves, the venue was absolutely perfect; intimate, only a slightly risen stage and thin. My friend and I – Mikael – arrived early and decided to queue around 7ish. We met a lovely lass, Michelle, and her husband in the queue, chatted and eventually got in. We got a beer and then actually noticed where we were… and just how fucking small it was. Five or six people were already there, but there was only one place to go:

Right at the fucking front.

But first, some background. I love Queens. Never has such a band had a permanent groove. For years I’ve wanted to see this band and a while back, I got a ticket to a show. Unfortunately, (and not just personally here) the show fell on an awful day – July 7. Needless to say, Queens never played.

Josh and co came back later that year. They just happened to re-arrange the gig at a good venue, Koko in Camden, and even filmed it, along with another show. They made a DVD of it – you may have seen it. Unfortunately I was in Morocco travelling with my friend, Fatboy.

Since then, nothing. Until tonight.

I visit the Rekords Rekords forum now and again, check sites for Queens news and yesterday, while surfing NME for shitty news, I saw the most amazing thing – Intimate Queens Show. I went on, tried to grab tickets, and got fuck all. But I’m persistent.

About 600 F5 refreshes on my Firefox browser at work later… I had two from a resale. Mikael and myself were there. Nothing could stop us now. I had to skip a softball game at work – our debut no less, I know, not the ‘hippest sport’ – but it’s Queens. There’s no choice.

I nearly cried with joy and ended up banging on about it at work for hours. People probably told me to shut up about it. I would’ve realised.

Cut to 9pm, my legs are aching, I have a man’s hand in my back pushing and am wedged between the pushing mosh and the ass of the girl in front. I wish I’d bought another beer. Too late now. Lose the place.

So when they came out it was a huge peak, I thought maybe I’d overlike it. If I’d put out my arm, I would’ve been playing Josh’s guitar. Amazing. The guy is massive. And so it began.

Misfit Love nearly blew my head off and that was the first song, it was forceful, it was powerful, it had groove and it took me about three minutes to realise that the riff hadn’t even changed yet. It was whizzing me by already. I was sweating too. It was just so fucking hot.

Now a lot of ‘critics’ have put their two cents in since and said how disappointing this gig was. Fuck them. This wasn’t for you, this wasn’t for Mr Drowned in Sound I want a greatest hits set – this was to air the new album to close fans. Not journalists. Fans. Sure, you all got in (there’s a LOT of reviews out there for such a secret gig), but that’s down to the management and probably your persistence and mild threats of bad album reviews. That’s why the link for tickets was mailed to only certain people. Sure, I’d love to have heard some of my favourite songs in the world but that’s because I’ve never seen them before. I was more than happy.

Sick Sick Sick, 3s and 7s, Turning on the Screw – these stand out incredibly. 3s and 7s is an amazing riff-driven song that moves on, before inwardly wanking itself off into a joyous tangent. A bass breakdown later and it throws you back into it’s main riff with Homme’s guitar squealing above everything. Outstanding. Sick Sick Sick is probably one of the phattest (with a ‘ph’) songs that I’ve heard live in ages; c-c-c-c-come on.

See everyone there was so joyous, just dancing, ecstatic that they’d even got tickets (I found out afterwards that most of these were the Queens messageboard regulars, who’d helped each other out with guest tickets to guarentee everyone got in).

But some old songs were there, to whip the crowd into a frenzy. I have never heard any drumming like Joey’s in ages. He’s just immense. It was just so relentless, powering and movement-inducing. Mexicola came and went too quickly, as did Little Sister and In My Head. By the time Song for the Dead finished, I felt like I was going to collapse, purely from listening to drumming that quick. If the phrase ‘speed metal’ was ever invented for anything, it was most definitely that.

A girl climbed on stage and kissed Josh whilst he played. Homme raised his Corona to the crowd and drank in tandem. New bassist, Mikey, threw some amazing shapes, stances and twirled his hair like a maniac to the beat. The crowd moved with the beats. Nearly everyone there was awesome, friendly and most importantly… absolutely loving it.

I met one guy, blue t-shirt who’s name escapes me, but singing along to Mexicola with him was so much fun. I’ve really forgotten the simple pleasure of just dancing, singing and thrusting your hand to the ceiling shouting the words of ‘my favourite song’.

And as I sit here writing this now, wearing my skinny white T (£15 from the stand), all I can do is type and listen to them. As Mr Homme and 300 people shouted last week, ‘It’s in my head, and I need it.’


who is Pop Levi?

January 28, 2007


who is pop levi?

the man has style

So last week, at the recommendation of my friend Neilus, I popped out to the WaterRats in Kings Cross to catch a gig. The show was Pop Levi, £7.

It was a while before he came on and two other bands, one with a beautiful lead singer, were on before. Then the lights dimmed, a red light washed upon the stage and Pop Levi, with his goatee and Liverpudlian mophead haircut, strutted onstage.

Now I say strutted, this guy has some style. He pulls some great air guitar faces and switches smoothly from low growl to falsetto trill easily. His music sounds like glam rock updated for this generation, little bit of Merseybeat swing to the rhythms. I was impressed, I liked the guy. Two singles, Blue Honey and the latest one, Sugar Assualt Me, they’re perfect sounding. Sugar Assault Me sounds like a nicely rounded gem of glam poppy rock that scratched into your head.

What happened when we got outside was cool too. Everyone needed to catch the tube home; all things to do tomorrow. I wouldn’t have minded staying; I was in a dancing mood but alas, away we went. So we strolled outside and who was standing outside? The Pop. So we introduced ourselves. His Merseyside onstage twang has faded slightly, his voice all sung out.
‘So what did you think?’
‘Well, I hadn’t heard a note until tonight, but I’ll definitely be downloading it when I get home’
Kind of a shit joke really.
Anyway, he laughed: ‘Cool’.

We said hello, Mikael talked about Ladytron (he was bassist before) with him, and Decanus took a beautiful picture. He looks bit weird though in it, but I like that. That’s Neilus in the centre, me on the right. If you meet someone whose music you like, it always helps if they’re not a wanker. caught the train home and the first thing I did was download some of his tunes. Of course, with Pop Levi’s blessing now, added into the equation.

Some artists, and I suppose I’m thinking of Bolan and Bowie here, I’ve always liked. You can’t quite put your finger on the appeal exactly, but it seems like they are stars. Sing brilliant songs. Pop Levi? The man has style, that’s a good start. I mean, look at his videos…

I’ll be buying his record tomorrow.

x, J.

Sugar Assualt Me

Blue Honey

Dig!I watched Dig! last night, a documentary about the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. It won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2004 and I do rate it, although that’s maybe because I’ve always liked the Dandys and I s’pose as a fan, I just like seeing them close up and real. But was it? Anton Newcombe from BJTM has heavily criticised the film for its portrayal of him. All I can say is, if you’re gonna let a cameraperson follow you around for seven years, taking shitloads of drugs and acting like pricks; what do you expect them to show in the film?

Idiot. If you’re gonna be on camera, on smack, shouting about your demons, what part of the footage do you think they’ll show. Even though Newcombe is deranged (especially in believing every word he says), he’s got to have some grasp of the real world like that. He’s inspiring in a weird kind of way though. It’s him and his talent. And that’s it.

The Dandys take a lot of flak off people. Yes, they’ve tried re-invention etc, most notably when they went all Duran Duran with Welcome to the Monkey House, but I don’t see that as a criticism. The Dandys have always been a band in which style mattered, especially to Taylor-Taylor, pouting and preening and this is what the band are. They make some beautiful downtime music and some cracking tunes and it’s about an ethos I feel, not necessarily trying to follow a trend, but maybe trying to start one.

taylor/newcombeThey’ve written some brilliant songs though. The mood and builds or crescendos of their songs are always spectacular. One thing I remember from the film though, and I think this is a great philosophy in life was said by Taylor-Taylor when summing up his band’s career and all the hits/misses/flops/sellout success they’ve had over the years:

“The lesson is if it’s good it’s fun, and if it’s bad, it’s funny.”

Long live the Odditorium.


faith no moreYou know when you rediscover a band that you’d almost completely forgotten about? My current one is Faith No More.

It started a few weeks ago when my friends, who play in a Mr Bungle tribute band, Bungle Jnr (aside: they’re brilliant), were talking about a gig they were playing. After seeing them, I was just completely inspired to listen to as much Faith No More as possible. I hadn’t listened to them properly for at least a year – I’d completely forgotten how good they are.

Formed in the 1980s, this band were completely and utterly unique and went for around 15 years or so I think. Every LP is so diverse and creative and illustrate a band with almost too many ideas. The musical style? Well, I was discussing this last night with my friend Mike, I think they’re like an experimental hard rock act; he would argue more metal than hard rock. Either way, it’s still fucking brilliant. ‘Angel Dust’ is probably one of the best albums of the ’90s and songs are packed with wit and invention. There’s no need to rehash over old stories, as they’re all on the Internet, but the best one involves a song on ”Angel Dust‘ – ‘Land of Sunshine’.

This song was written whilst singer Mike Patton was on a three-day sleep deprevation experiment (firstly, that sounds like a brilliant idea for songwriting!) and every line of the lyrics is taken from the daytime TV, self hope shows and . Oh, and a couple from a fortune cookie! It’s absolutely exceptional and his operatic delivery of three words from the middle of the song (“varicose/comatose/senile”) is one of the funniest things I ever heard.

extract: ‘Land of SunshineAngel Dust LP
Does life seem worthwhile to you?
Do others push you around?
Is age against you?
Sing and rejoice!
Does life seem worthwhile to you?
Does emotional music
Have quite an effect on you?
I can help you help yourself!”

There’s a FNM long argument about singers; original (Chuck Mosely) or the longest one (Patton)? For me – and maybe this is because I discovered toward the end of their career – Patton was the best thing that could’ve happened to Faith No More. As a singer, he is completely inspiring, creative and unafraid of any challenge. My favourite example of this is another song from Angel Dust

Probably my favourite song of them ALL is ‘King For A Day‘. Apparently known by the band as just ‘Acoustic’, the chiming guitar is central to its development, jangling throughout before it kicks in the middle section. Bookended with a similar outro and haunting, repeated refrain (‘Don’t let me die with this silly look in my eyes’) it runs out beautifully – it’s a brilliant song.

Their influence is immense, at the start of their career they were merging rap and metal long before their peers. But now, with it over, and the majority of music so boring – you just want more of them.

I haven’t checked out Peeping Tom yet, Patton’s new project, but I think I will now. Faith No More; ashes to ashes.faith_no_more1.jpg

Listen to Faith No More (MySpace).
Read about Faith No More
Visit their rubbish website

– Bit shoddy that all in all. But I’m off to Germany for a week and I wanted to leave something up in the time while I’m away.This band were brilliant though. Back soon. J. (by the way, ta to the people who left comments for the last few entries… I almost got a bit excited!)

why ITV is shit.

November 1, 2006

Channel 4 thinks it’s cleverer than it is, but it’s the best nonetheless. BBC’s good, I respect it and think it’s essential to our society. It should be subsidised forever. Five is crap. So what about ITV?

Just caught ten minutes of the National Television (Advertising) Awards and it’s just displayed what a complete and utter lump of bollocks it is. Advertising is bad enough, let alone having it rammed down your throat, four times an hour, twenty-four hours a day. But ITV loves it, it makes it run at its profit. But ITV and everything it produces is trash, cop dramas, advertising vehicles (a.k.a. programmes) or jokey news with smarmy wankers presenters. And they really ruin football matches. And they make programmes like Rio’s Ferdinand’s Wind Ups. I don’t like that bloke either.

Nothing represented the channel’s lack of creativity more than its choice of music for its montage accompanying Sir David Attenborough’s . Now, everyone knows about the success of Planet Earth on the BBC earlier this year. Famously (or at least to us geeks) they used Sigur Ros’s Hoppípolla to accompany its trailer publicising the programme.
So, ITV are honouring Sir David Attenborough; of course, he is a man of nature. So for the montage honouring him, what do you think the creative minds at ITV came up with?
Yes, you’ve guessed it. But it’s better.

They used FOUR tracks (sæglópur, heysátan, gong, glósóli) from same LP that Hoppípolla comes from, 2006’s Takk.

This distinct lack of creativity sums it up in a nutshell.

They also played a clip from Emmerdale in the nominations for best soap. I think that’s ITV, I don’t know. They had this explosion in the programme. It was ridiculous. One thing exploded first on the first floor and then the whole house collapsed don upon each other, leaving just enough time between each floorboard breaking so the characters could give each other longing looks of love. EastEnders won I think and that’s just as crap.

Sir David Attenborough, though, what a legend. A true man who deserves to be called Sir.

into the blue again. the album leaf.The Album Leaf

The Album Leaf’s new album came out today. There was only one copy in the HMV near work and they seem to get no press. The Album Leaf is James LaValle, it’s a nice project, he has a set of regular musicians who drift in and out and some who tour with him. Their music is perfect light mood, Sunday morning, awakening and chilling music. The most beautiful timbres slide in and out of the music, evoking pastoral visions. I like LaValle, his music sounds like it’s been poured over and every detail is gently tweaked to produce his sound. I think it sounds organic, yet many of the songs feature synthesised beats. He says that he has fears about more vocals on this album. He has an unusual voice, that’s for sure, but it does mix beautifully on some tracks, sounding hushed and innocent.
After listening, and admittedly this is only twice through at the mo, it’s good, but it doesn’t quite top In a Safe Place, their previous. This record is great. Buy it.


Below: Short, making of Into the Blue Again.

treggie.jpgRightiho, I’ve got this obsession with Reggie Perrin at the moment. Not only is it brilliant, but my sister has it all on DVD! The series carries huge nostalgia value for me too. I remember watching repeats on Sundays with my sister and parents at home, eating some toast and jam just after Catchphrase had been on.

This section of the Leonard Rossiter site (http://www.leonardrossiter.com/reggie perrin) carries a wealth of information, video clips, quotes and pictures from the three series of ‘The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin’. The character, created by David Nobbs, not only fronts a great ensemble comedy, but it is also a powerful critique of modern living and life. All its issues are all pretty much applicable today, especially the constant late running of the trains.

Yes, it is catchphrase/farce comedy (but then so was Father Ted…) and yes, this site doesn’t have the greatest design, but much like Reggie, sometimes it’s all about intention rather than success. After all, ‘I didn’t get where I am today without recognizing a great comedy when I see one…

gotta get myself into it.

September 5, 2006

the rapture; hmv oxford street; 04.09.2006;
get myself into it/sister saviour/house of jealous lovers/w.a.y.u.h./the sound.

Last night, at around 5pm, people gathered in the sweltering heat inside HMV, Oxford Street, London. Standing bored, between isles and isles of media products, they picked up random CDs, looked at the covers and discarded them back to the racks.
therapture_03interior2006.jpgOver an hour later, four skinny guys who looked like they’d just walked off the street walked through the ‘STAFF: NO ENTRY’ doors and came out to applause.  Luke Jenner (vox/guitar), Vito Roccoforte (drummer), Matt Safer (vox/bass), Gabriel Andruzzi (sax/percussion/keys); big hair or floppy fringes, tight Tees and skinny jeans all around. They could be Topman models. But one thing stood out – you could see the cowbell and saxophone waiting, just itching to be played. This was to be a dance show, just as much as a rock show.
The Rapture’s first album, Echoes, came out in 2003. Before it came Out of the Tracks and Onto The Races EP (2001) and Mirror (1999), an 8-track LP.
Echoes was critically acclaimed, especially for its breakthrough single, House of Jealous Lovers, which became an anthem for indie discos worldwide. This became known as their sound; thumping bass, shouted wailing vocals, percussive dance rhythms, raw guitar and of course, the cow-bell.
Their new album, Pieces of the People We Love (mid-September), shows that they’ve finessed their sound. New single, Get Myself Into It (Sept 4), reminds me of Connected by Stereo MCs. A great sax line is the root of the groove and it’s all about having to ease yourself in to a night out or a holiday. Everyone knows the feeling, if you don’t get involved, you know you’ll have a shit time.
For the album, one of the producers they’ve teamed up with is DangerMouse, who’s getting quite a reputation as ‘the’ producer of the moment. What you notice immediately (in the new songs I’ve downloaded), seem more layered than before. With Echoes, many of the slower, emotional, intensive songs relied on the fragility of Jenner’s voice (e.g. Open Up Your Heart, Infatuation). The slower songs on this album can be characterised by a fuller sound, for example, Live in Sunshine. Another thing too, the drumming is exceptional in every song, leading the group as always.
The Rapture - Pieces of the People We LoveThing is, this is predominantly a dance band and as such they’re made for dancing. New songs, The Sound, W.A.Y.U.H. (Whoa, All right, Yeah, Uh Huh) are real pumping tunes, The Sound being the heaviest cut of those I’ve heard. Other songs I’ve heard, The Devil, Calling Me, Don Gon Do It and Pieces of the People We Love are less dancefloor. Don Gon Do It deserves extra attention as an excellent album opener, hynotising the listener as a slow-grow, easing into the rhythm of the album.
The Sound, W.A.Y.U.H., The Devil are great songs. The first two especially should be thumping the walls at a club very soon if there’s any justice. They are pounding songs, building to climaxes and you can’t help but start to move. Hopefully, you’ll feel your hips start to wobble and will give in to the rhythm, again, if there’s any justice.
So as they took to the stage last night, you had to feel for them. As they came out, Jenner immediately proclaimed that he wanted this gig to be better than when Madonna played the HMV, although he soon added that they’d never top Yes, who’d also had the privilege of taking the minute stage.
It was always going to be hard to get people moving in an artificially-lit, limited-floor-space record store. But they tried their best. It seemed most people were there to ‘check’ them out and weren’t already converted fans, which also didn’t help.
After one song, Jenner had realised. He tried some audience participation (to muted responses) for Sister Saviour, and then asked everyone to help out:
“Come on, imagine you’re in a dark club, middle of the night, E’d off your tits or something.”
Still, despite the fact that people weren’t ready to shed their ‘cool’ in HMV at 6pm, a few people (myself included) did start to dance and gradually it livened up. Problem was, they were only playing for five songs and by the time everyone was into it, it’d already passed.
The highlight of the set was the two new songs at the end. The Sound, played last, was almost a way for the band to show their aggression at the bad management and booking of this gig as Jenner played a ridiculously high, hurt-your-ears-it’s-so-loud guitar line throughout. Thrashing with each bar, the beat led until the end climax of thrashing and smashing.
Even better was the new W.A.Y.U.H., which is a cousin, if not a sibling of House of Jealous Lovers. More on this below, although it does feature a wonderfully gratuitous, throwaway lyric, sung by Safer: “She said you’re allegory is far too blunt/I said this ain’t no labratory, you’re a cunt…”
As the band left the stage, Jenner was grabbed by screaming 12-year-olds who were crying with joy at hugging the object of their affection and then they stayed to sign records. For all the good will, you couldn’t help feeling that you’d be a pissed off in their situation. They were genial and friendly and smiling afterwards, but all I could think was what it could have been, even if just the lights were turned down. When some people can’t be seen, maybe they might shed some of that cool, get off their asses and start dancing.

Maybe we could all learn a lesson from the Rapture. Lighten up, move your hips, stop trying to look cool and dance your ass off. You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel. It reminds me of the end refrain from one of their new songs, “W.A.Y.U.H.”, which urges us to dance, dance, dance:
“People don’t dance no more,
They just stand around like this,
They cross their arms and stare you down
and drink and moan and piss…”

No-one really got the irony of this being sung out to the fans. Except the band of course. They knew it when they wrote the lyrics. It just takes us a while for everyone else to catch up.



Get Myself Into It (video):

Ever fancied hearing something completely unique?
Modern music has never heard anything quite like Orpheus: A Rock Opera. Masterminded by my good friend, Mr Richard Campbell, Orpheus: A Rock Opera is a collection of some of the most crazy, intense, rocking music around. Complete with lush orchestration, snarling drums, tearjerking ballads and thrashing guitar 6-minute rock-offs, the dramatic story clocks in at just over 51 minutes and 13 tracks.Richard Campbell's Orpheus: A Rock Opera
Seething with energy, the opera conveys the story of Orpheus & Eurydice – an age-old tale from Greek mythology. Orpheus, the greatest musician to have lived, is able to entrance everyone with his beautiful sounds. He is desired by all of womankind but is alone until he meets his love. But when Eurydice, now his wife, tragically dies fleeing danger, he embarks on a dangerous quest to the region of the dead to find her again. The gods stand between him and his one and only. Will they release her to him?

It all started for me last year. Richard, who is a founder member of our band/side project, red zebra, got in touch asking whether I was interested in writing some lyrics for a new idea he had. Whilst off travelling in Morocco, I scribbled down lines of material touring the country, whilst Richard plugged away creating his masterpiece in own studio. After spending two hours typing them out on an Arabic keyboard (which is not easy!)in a Marrakesh cafe, I emailed them off into cyberspace and Richard’s inbox. I had no clue of any melodies or tone or what on earth the finished songs would sound like.
Last night, I sat down and heard his compositions for the first time with my words. I was blown away. I know that Richard has amazing talent, after working with him on our red zebra creations, the random kollexion LP and random monkey corruption EP, however, this is something else. It’s very cleanly produced and features a cast with pure, clean voices, exactly what you need for telling a tale of such purity.

Orpheus: A Rock Opera, as I say, is completely unique. If we were to look towards influences then a starting point would have to be Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. Richard is also a huge fan of Dream Theater and I’m sure their influence will be heard by some of you.
Richard says of Orpheus: “It’s 50 minutes worth of ‘though-i-say-so-my-self-bloody-brilliant-ness’, split into three acts.
“It is, so far, the best thing I’ve ever done. Ever. My greatest personal achievement, and I absolutely love it.”

Orpheus: A Rock Opera is available for download from the website of Hunger for the Crash, which is Richard’s main, day-to-day band. Check them out too while you’re at it.
It is highly recommended that you also download the lyric booklet, which will allow you to follow the story more closely and follow the story’s dramatic developments.
If you think you’re open-minded, have a good ear for music, can acknowledge that love is the most powerful emotion we can feel and fancy rocking your nuts off…. Then follow the links below:

Orpheus: A Rock Opera

Orpheus: A Rock Opera (lyric booklet)

Full track listing and information:

Richard Campbell’s Orpheus: A Rock Opera

  1. Prologue
  2. The Lyre
  3. The Proposal
  4. The Wedding Part One (The Ceremony)
  5. The Wedding Part Two (The Wedding Night)
  6. Tragedy Part One (The Longely Shepherd)
  7. Tragedy Part Two (Grief)
  8. Journey Into The Region Of The Dead
  9. Declaration
  10. Return From The Region Of The Dead
  11. Seven Days At The Gates
  12. The Attack
  13. Epilogue

Written & produced by Richard Campbell; Words by James Grainger/Richard Campbell;
CAST – Toom Boon as Orpheus, Heather Loxston as Eurydice, Alex Broad as the Narrator, Laura Burrows as the Thracian Maidens, Lefteris Ioannidis as Aristaeus.

Over and out,


sweaty john & morroco.

June 28, 2006

A couple of pictures have been added. These are an image from the Majorelle garden in Marrakesh, and the 180-metre waterfall at Cascades d’Ouzoud, three hours drive from Marrakesh.
My friend, Fatboy, and myself visited Morrocco in late 2005 and spent time at Ouzoud, chilling, sleeping in a berber tent and chatting to a wise man from the nearby Sahara. We stayed at a campsite near the ‘falls, called Camping La Pinard. It was immensely, immensely cool. Pictures can be seen here.
Also added is a short story, ‘Sweaty John’ written years ago at university whilst under the influence. I haven’t re-read it yet, but I have yet to upload additional stories, so I think it should go up! It’s posted under the writing & stories section- here.
My good friend, Shandy T. McDonald assisted me, I vaguely remember(!). He’s a top bloke, but he does insist that he’s Scottish, when he was born in Reading.

Also some thoughts on a Tool concert, 14.06.200, at Hammersmith Apollo.