Sunday, 22 April 2018

Here to be Heard: The Story of The Slits, HOME, Manchester, Saturday 21st April

This is shaping up to be a good year for women and punk, what with the Poly Styrene film and Gina Birch and Helen Reddington's She Punks.

I heard, anecdotally, that last nights showing of the film at HOME was originally scheduled for Cinema 2, not Cinema 1, but had evidently been moved due to the level of interest in the film. The large queue for drinks in the bar and, especially, to get into Cinema 1 would attest to this.

Here to be Heard, which is directed by William Badgley, seeks to tell the story of the Slits from beginning to end, interviewing not just the classic lineup of Ari Up, Tessa Pollitt, Viv Albertine and Palmolive, but early band members Kate Korus (who later joined the Mo-dettes) and Suzy Gutsy. We also travel beyond the classic debut album Cut (Island, 1979), with a lengthy exploration of Return of the Giant Slits (CBS, 1981) and the band's new lineup, including the teenage Neneh Cherry, and new sounds, including world music and free jazz as well as the more established 'punky reggae' sound. The 2005-2010 lineup was also musically experimental, and included dancehall elements and electronica.

Along the way the film becomes not just the story of the Slits, but a hymn to Ari Up, who died in 2010. She had intended to make her own film about the Slits, and Badgley's film is in essence the completion of that unfinished project.

This is not the first time that the Slits story has been told; Zoe Howe's book Typical Girls? paved the way for a more in depth account in 2009, and Viv Albertine's memoir Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys in 2014 provided another perspective on the band. That said, it is definitely time  that the Slits were given the celluloid treatment.

Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to have been a lot of archive footage of the band from the 1970s meaning that Badgley is often working with material that has been seen before. That's not to say there isn't fresh material in there - there is - more that footage in general appears to be scarce. I don't think the footage that exists has been seen so much that this would necessarily matter, but it does make it harder to make that section of the film as fresh and exciting as it needs to be.

Some of the strongest parts of the film, for me, centred around the reasons for reforming the Slits in the 2000's and the interviews with the later lineup, including the always excellent Hollie Cook. There is a suggested sense that Ari Up wanted to complete unfinished business, or consolidate the bands legacy.

Throughout the film there is the continued presence of Tessa Pollitt, a taciturn, understated figure who not only holds the film together but who, aside from Ari Up, has been the constant presence throughout all the bands lineups. She represents a determination to see the bands importance acknowledged, to respect and document their role within and outside of punk, and their legacy.

The film appears to have had mixed reviews, and I was myself left with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction that I can't quite put my finger on. It is in no way a bad film, or even an indifferent film, it certainly didn't infuriate me in the way that a number of punk films have, and it does have a lot of interesting elements to it, but I still felt something was missing. I just can't put my finger on what exactly.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Henry Green - Another Light (Official Video)

The debut album by this Bristol based producer is out soon, and this has been my favourite track so far.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Let's Eat Grandma - Full Performance (Live on KEXP)

By way of follow up on yesterday's post. This is Let's Eat Grandma doing a set for KEXP in Iceland a year ago. The songs featured are from their first album, I, Gemini, which came out in 2016.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Let's Eat Grandma - Falling Into Me (Official Audio)

Ladies and Gentleman, the sound of 2018...

Precocious is not a word I would use lightly, but it really does apply in this case. June 2018 will see the release of the second album (I'm All Ears) by Norwich band Let's Eat Grandma, a duo comprised of Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth. Their debut, I, Gemini, was released in 2016 and they have been making music together since they were 13.

'Falling Into Me' is a gleeful, skipping pop odyssey that checks off pretty much every pop and electronica musical sub genre you can think of in a giddy effortless style. It demonstrates that, while they are only 17, they are also well and truly epic in their vision and really know how to execute it with ease.

Piccadilly Records await the new album with excited anticipation, as do I.

The band are currently on tour, and will be playing The Deaf Institute in Manchester tonight. You can see the rest of the details of their tour dates on their website.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Jade Bird - Lottery (Official Video)

One of the BBC 2018 talent list, and well worth looking out for. Clearly a girl who knows her Janis from her Grace and her Carole from her Joni.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Basia Bulat - Infamous (Official Video)

I was first introduced to the excellent Basia Bulat via the 2016 Piccadilly Records End of Year Lists. I think the Good Advice album (from which 'Infamous' is taken) appeared in a number of individual staff lists as well as the overall one and it's just a really, really good pop record. Well worth checking out.