Thursday, 31 August 2017

Beth Ditto performing "Oo La La" Live on KCRW

Because Beth is still very new, as a solo artist, there's not a lot of live material available of her sans Gossip online. This is a session version of 'Oo La La' live on KCRW from earlier this year. Her performance of 'Fire' on Graham Norton is also worth a watch, and I'd keep an eye out for her live later this year.

For a taste of the full live powerhouse that is Beth Ditto, this clip of her owning the stage at T In The Park with Gossip in 2007 should dispel any doubts.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Natasha Kmeto - Inevitable (Live on KEXP)

This is Natasha Kmeto performing the brooding 'Inevitable' on KEXP back in 2015. You can watch her full KEXP set online. For the full live experience, you can also watch Natasha's full set from Bunk Bar back in February 2017. 

Noga Erez - Noisy

Dammit, this girl is just so new that there really is very little live stuff out there online, hence including the latest video for the new single 'Noisy' instead. I have found a live session from the ARTE concert in France earlier this year though.

You can read my review of Noga's album over on The F-Word

Friday, 25 August 2017

Fantasy Festival #7: The Fiercely Futuristic Festival - Lineup

Noga Erez: Noga Erez is a 27 year old new artist from Tel Aviv. She makes sometimes playful, sometimes dark, always danceable to electro pop in the inventive and glitchy vein. Erez has been compared to both MIA and FKA Twigs and her debut album, Off The Radar, is out now. She will be touring the UK in October and will also be playing the Pitchfork Avant Garde Festival in Paris at the end of October.  

Natasha Kmeto: Natasha Kmeto is a producer and vocalist who composes electronic music in Portland, Oregan. Often epic in her emotional scope, she creates shimmering dance music and pared down brooding electro soul. She will be appearing at Le Guess Who? in Utrecht in November. 

Honeyblood: Honeyblood are a guitar rock duo from Glasgow who create frantically catchy songs that seem destined to be teenage anthems. They released their second album, Babes Never Die, back in May, but are not currently touring.

Courtney Barnett: Courtney Barnett is a singer/songwriter from Melbourne. Her 2015 album Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit, included the indie fave 'No one really cares if you don't go to the party', and continued to excite critics and music lovers already inspired by the laid back quirky guitar rock of the single 'History Eraser'. She will be touring the US in the autumn. 

Zola Jesus: Zola Jesus is the stage name of Nika Roza Danilova, an industrial/electronic artist from Madison, Wisconsin. Trained as an opera singer, she was inspired to create her own music by artists such as Throbbing Gristle, Dead Kennedys and Diamonda Galas. She has released five albums, and her sixth album, Okovi, will be released in September. She is currently touring the US and Canada, but will be touring Europe, including the UK, in October and November.

Sleater-Kinney: Corin Tucker. Carrie Brownstein. Janet Weiss. Sleater-Kinney formed in the mid 1990s in Olympia, Washington, became the standard bearers for the later waves of Riot Grrrl, and then went on to became a very good, very credible rock band. After eleven years of writing, recording and touring, they went on a ten year hiatus before returning with the critically acclaimed and fan adored No Cities To Love album in 2015. Their live album, Live in Paris was released in January. They will be playing the Music Tastes Good Festival in Long Beach, California, in September. 

Grimes: Grimes is a Canadian producer, composer, singer and engineer of astonishing and ethereal electronic music. She grew up in Vancouver and her second album, Visions (2012), and third album, Art Angels (2015), were both critically acclaimed. She is not currently touring.

Beth Ditto: Arkansas singer Beth Ditto, formerly of electro punk band Gossip, is now a solo act. Her bluesy, punk rock Etta James voice has been heard recently on the anthemic and brooding southern rock blues single 'Fire', and her debut solo album, Fake Sugar, is out now. She is touring Europe, including the UK, throughout September and October. 

Fantasy Festival #7: The Fiercely Futuristic Festival

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Santogold Santigold - Say Aha / The Keepers Live @Made in America Festi...

This is Santigold performing 'Say Aha' and 'The Keepers' live at the Made In America festival in Philadelphia, 2012. Full live sets seem to be in short supply, but you can watch other good quality clips from this concert, including of 'Go' and 'L.E.S Artistes'. Why the crowd are not going ballistic, I do not know...

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Marika Hackman - I'd Rather Be With Them (live at Rise, Bristol - 5th Ju...

This is Marika Hackman playing live at Bristol Rise back in early June this year. There is a sound only bootleg of the rest of this set up online, but it's quite quiet and starts mid set. Similarly, there is a bootleg of Marika's set at Rough Trade East earlier this year available online, but the sound quality is very quiet. The single 'My Lover Cindy' is out now, and earlier single 'Boyfriend' is still very much a sonic presence on radio.

Grace Mitchell - NoLo (Apple Music Festival: London 2015)

This is Grace Mitchell performing 'NoLo' at the Apple Music Festival in London in 2016. Unfortunately, it's not the best live performance I could find, but it is the one with the best sound quality. Because Grace is playing to such a lukewarm audience though, and seems quite (understandably) nervous, I would also recommend watching this live clip of 'Jitter' as, although the sound is a bit quiet, it will give you a better idea of what she's about as a performer.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Fantasy Festival #6: The Pop Festival - Lineup

Grace Mitchell: Grace Mitchell is a singer/songwriter from Portland, Oregon. Paul Lester as The Guardian's New Band Of The Day/Week guru got very excited about her song, 'Jitter' in 2015. She's signed to Taylor Swift and Lorde's label, and makes what I'd call smart pop that takes from a number of genres, but mainly R&B, electronica and rock. Grace has been touring the US and Canada throughout August.

Marika Hackman: Marika Hackman is a British singer/songwriter and multi instrumentalist whose second album, I'm Not Your Man, was released in June.  The lead single, 'Boyfriend' is a swaggering indie pop tale of a female/female/male love triangle becoming increasingly complicated. She will be playing at Leeds Festival on the 25th August and will be touring the UK into the autumn.

Jane Weaver: Jane Weaver first appeared on the Manchester music scene in the mid nineties with her band Kill Laura, a scouse indie pop outfit signed to Rob Gretton's Manchester Records. She later popped up as one of Misty Dixon on the Twisted Nerve label, but it's been her solo work that has won her, at long last, critical acclaim, with its exploration of psych and space pop. Her album Modern Kosmology was released in May, and she is playing the Liverpool Psych Festival at the end of September. She is currently touring the UK.

Stealing Sheep: Liverpool band Stealing Sheep started life as a folk troubadour outfit, releasing two albums of curiously mediaeval sounding folk, Noah and the Paper Moon and Into The Diamond Sun. Their third album, Not Real, released in 2015, revealed their smooth transition to psych pop. The band are not currently touring.

Santigold: Santigold, aka Santi White, is a singer/songwriter and producer from Philadelphia. She has released three albums of immaculate electro pop, of which 2016's 99cents is the most recent. The glitchyness of some of her work, and her sometimes vocal delivery, have led to comparisons with MIA, but her music is ultimately a collage of all sorts of sonic sources: Everything from modern dance music to post punk samples, to ska and Two Tone. She is not currently touring.

Solange: Solange Knowles' 2016 album A Seat At The Table was one of the standout albums of 2016, a poetic mediation on what it is to be a black woman in the US, but also a lively, imaginative, danceable and moving work of art. She played Glastonbury in June and  is currently touring the US.

Lorde: Auckland pop star Lorde, real name Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor, first began to garner attention in 2012, with her self released EP, The Love Club. A year later she released her second, immaculately written and produced, EP, Tennis Court, and debut album Pure Heroine, which featured the single 'White Teeth Teens'. An exponent of knowing, smart, observational minimalist pop, there is a world weariness to her voice and lyrics that contrasts sharply with her age: She is 21 this year. Her second album, Melodrama, was released in 2016. She is in the middle of a huge international tour at the moment, which will bring her to the UK in September. 

Fantasy Festival #6: The Pop Festival

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Monday, 14 August 2017

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Overcoats - 23 - Audiotree Live (4 of 6)

There was a severe lack of live concert footage of Overcoats available online, so I've chosen to revisit their session for Audiotree back in May. Which gives a good sense of what I live gig might be like. You can watch the full Audiotree session online.

Speech Debelle Performing "No War ,No Peace" Live @ Moth Club, Hackney #...

This is Speech Debelle performing 'No War, No Peace' live at Moth Club in Hackney in 2016. Again, sadly full live sets are in short supply online, but I do recommend you watch the film made for 'Live For The Message' in 2013. Eerily prescient.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Georgia - Kombine - Live (Eurosonic 2016)

This is Georgia performing 'Kombine' at Eurosonic in 2016. Full live sets are in short supply online, but you can watch a good clip of Georgia performing 'Nothing Solutions' live at CMJ in 2015 as part of a BBC Introducing showcase.

Connie Constance | Stars - Live at Adidas Futurehouse || GUAP

This is Connie Constance performing 'Stars' live at Adidas Futurehouse. There are other lives clips available online, but full sets are in short supply. I do recommend you watch the video to last years single 'Clouds' though. 

Friday, 11 August 2017

Fantasy Festival #5: The Florence Festival - Lineup

Connie Constance: Connie Constance is a London based singer/songwriter who originally trained to be a dancer, became a poet, and then moved into song. The single she recorded with Jelani Blackman, 'Clouds', reflects this combination of poetry and song. She was tipped by ID as a future soul star in their Class of 2016 piece. She played the Afropunk festival in London late last month.

Georgia: Former footballer and drummer for Kate Tempest, Georgia released her 'post punky hip hop soul' debut album in 2015. She played a number of festivals in 2016, including British Summer Time and Eurosonic, and has just released a new E.P 'Feel It'. She has just played LeeFest, and will be playing Lost Village festival later this month. 

Speech Debelle: Mercury Music prize winner Speech Debelle is a London based rapper and social activist who makes understated, multi layered, narrative urban survival music. She has released two albums and, last year, a self released EP. She is currently touring the UK and is playing Shamabala Festival and Greenbelt Festival in late August. 

Overcoats: Overcoats are a folkatronic or 'folk-soul' duo from New York whose music has been likened to Simon & Garfunkel. They released their debut album earlier this year and are touring the US throughout the summer and autumn. They would have played at all three of the Dot To Dot festivals in late May, but pulled out in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing.

Kate Tempest: Musician. Novelist. Poet. Playwright. There is seemingly nothing Londoner Kate Tempest cannot do. She headlined The Great Escape in 2015, "moved people to tears at Glastonbury 2017", and was the guest director at Brighton Festival in May. Her current, extremely timely, album Let Them Eat Chaos was released in 2016. She is playing a large number of festivals this summer.

Angel Olsen: Angel Olsen is a singer/songwriter from St Louis, Missouri. She began her musical career with Will Oldham (Palace Brothers, Palace Music) but her 2014 debut took her away from alt. country territory and into dark indie rock. 2016's My Woman married folky strumming to Velvet Underground infused guitar pop and garage rock distorted vocal stomping, all with a dash of eighties synth pop and sixties girl group melodies. It gained fans amongst the staff at Piccadilly Records in Manchester, Florence Welch, and Helen McCookerybook, amongst others. Angel is currently touring Europe, including the UK, and will be touring the US throughout the autumn. Her date at Green Man festival next week has sold out. 

Cat Power: Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall, from Atlanta, Georgia, has been making music since the early 1990s. Her early work featured choppy guitar work and raw vocals. She then went through a slow, minimalist phase, a critically acclaimed soul phase, and has in recent years emerged as a full blown soul electronica artist with anthems such as 'Cherokee' and 'Ruin'. She played a US date last week, but it looks as though no other dates are planned at the moment.

Florence + The Machine: Londoner Florence Welch formed Florence + The Machine in 2007. The name derives from the stage names Welch and keyboardist Isabella Summers gave themselves when writing songs together as teenagers: Florence Robot and Isa Machine. The bands first appearance at Glastonbury in 2007 was later described by Welch as "A complete shambles" and comprised of a muddied, sleep deprived and tearful Florence singing her set acapella until her guitarist arrived. These days, ten years and three albums down the line, Florence + The Machine are a veritable orchestra (there were twelve of them at the last count), no strangers to the festival circuit in the UK, US and Europe, and have headlined Latitude in 2010, Glastonbury in 2015, and British Summer Time in 2016. The band are not currently touring.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Helen McCookerybook returns with timely new album The Sea

In late June, the same weekend as I was feverishly working away at my piece on women and music festivals for The F-Word, I received a lovely surprise in the post.

The new Helen McCookerybook album, The Sea, complete with illustrated songbook.

You can tell, not just from the songbook, but from the CD packaging, what a labour of love this album's creation has been: It looks DIY in the best sense, an artefact painstakingly created with a lot of love.

Sonically, this is an album that has a clear and unfussy production that perfectly complements the minimalism of the songs. It seems odd to say it, given Helen's origins in the UK punk scene and post punk scenes of the late 1970s and early to mid 1980s, but the word that springs to mind most often when listening to this collection of songs is 'Gentle'. That said, it is perfectly possible to be gentle but scathing, quiet but raging, fierce but melodic.

Vocally, Helen's voice reminds me a bit of Kirsty MacColl, and the songs themselves have a timeless quality that mean that they could have been classics in a number of different eras from the 1940s onwards. There is the highly evocative 'Summer Days', an ode to summer with a looping guitar and crooned melody, the quirkily Doris Day ish 'Feathers',  and the silvery voiced 'Give Us Another Chance'.

There is also the very catchy and very timely 'Big Brother', a plea to resist the madness of walking unresisting into a cage of surveillance. A gilded cage hung with all sorts of bright sparkly things and bells and whistles, but a cage nonetheless. "You think you're free as a bird: Open your eyes" she cautions. Set alongside Noga Erez's recent take on social media addiction and Tacocat's take on the impact of the smartphone on modern day relationships, we do now appear to be entering an age where people are interrogating the recent and very fast impact modern technology is having on our lives. Which can only be a good thing.

With this in mind, it is worth pointing out that Helen McCookerybook has a very good line in wry observational, often very poignant songs, about relationships going wrong. 'Don't Be Silly, He Said' has a classic feel to it, with a gentle rolling melody and fierce and knowing lyrics detailing the duplicity of a marriage where one partner is straying and the other suspects that this is so. There's also the hauntingly beautiful, wry and vulnerable, 'Happy Ever After Man', a jaunty tune coupled with poignant lyrics. This is not a love song in the conventional sense: It is romantic disappointment, thinking you've found The One, and then discovering that you haven't.

'Who's That Behind The Camera Lens' is, by contrast, a spooky and unsettling affair, which in some respects has a similar lyrical starting point to Siouxsie and the Banshees 'Red Light', in that in both cases the camera becomes both a lyrical character and a sinister voyeur. In this case though, it's not a fashion model but a woman at the seaside who is being imprisoned in the lens, adding a chilling dimension to the jollity of the seaside holiday.

The title track, 'The Sea', is an absolute tour de force of a song. Opening with a  mournful choir, intoning 'Go home... to your war zone', this beautiful and haunting song uses complex lyrical imagery  evoking the peaceful scenery and calm sea with the raging waters and the 'monsters in the deckchairs' who 'damn you to hell'. The arrangements are gorgeous, which only enhances what is a mournful testimony to the past couple of years of inaction and folly when dealing with the refugee crisis. Following on from Helen's collaboration with the Charlie Tipper Conspiracy, 'Femme Fatale', late last year (which was sold in aid of Refugee Action) it is thoughtful and powerful.

'Women Of The World' is a gentle, positive, feminist, call to arms. It has a timeless feel to it so that you could  almost imagine it being used to summon women workers to the ARP in the 1940s just as much as you could imagine it being taken up as a feminist anthem in the late 1960s. A call to 'peaceful arms', it fits nicely between the folky but fierce marching song that is Pretty Girls Make Graves' 'Parade' and the biting post punk long look at history of Martha and the Muffins 'Women Around The World At Work'. I know that this song will definitely endure.

The album ends with a yearning for a utopian future via 'Think Of A Brand New World', but this is no hippy vision, just a quiet wish for something better; What, she asked, if we could start the world all over again? And do it properly this time.

A dream to live by.

Monday, 7 August 2017

M.I.A. - Double Bubble Trouble at Glastonbury 2014

This is MIA performing 'Double Bubble Trouble' live at Glastonbury 2014. You can watch most of the rest of the set on YouTube, but not as a single stream. This might be because bits of it were edited for political reasons by the BBC. You can watch 'Paper Planes' here. 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Fantasy Festival #4: The Confidence Festival - Lineup

Katy Carr: Katy Carr is a London based singer/songwriter and multi instrumentalist with a sweet, powerful, commanding voice who draws on Polish history and traditional folk music to create music that can be both small and large in scale. Her album Polonia is out now and she will be appearing live at the Lexington in London on 1st October alongside Helen and The Horns and Honey Birch. 

Helen McCookerybook: Helen McCookerybook began her musical life as a punk bass player in Joby in the Hooligans in 1977, she was later a bass player in The Chefs and guitarist in Helen and The Horns. She returned to music making about ten years ago and has just released her latest solo album The Sea. She is currently touring and will be playing The Lexington on the 1st October as part of Helen and The Horns, alongside Katy Carr and Honey Birch. 

Pale Honey: Swedish duo Pale Honey are comprised of Tuva and Nelly. They have been a band for a couple of years now and have recently transitioned from noisy indie rock to a more glacial sound.  'Why do I always feel this way?' was a tense, epic and understated single, and their most recent release is a Pixies/Breeders esque rendition of ABBA's 'Lay All Your Love On Me'.

Basia Bulat: Basia Bulat is a Canadian singer/songwriter whose 2016 album Good Advice was one of Piccadilly Records picks of the year. I would liken her sound to a more indie sounding Adele, which sounds very odd given that Adele is signed to XL (an Indie Label). Basia is playing in Canada this summer.

Hollie Cook: Hollie Cook cut her musical teeth as a keyboard player in the final lineup of The Slits. She has since released two flawless albums of modern day lovers rock. Twice, the most recent of the two, was released in 2014.

Shonen Knife: Shonen Knife, the garage punk band from Osaka, have been around since the early 1990s. Feted by Kurt Cobain, the band have gone through a number of lineup changes but remain resolutely joyously the same.

MIA: The poster girl for modern day agit prop, rapper and provocateur MIA grew up in Sri Lanka and West London. Her unique take on agit prop has inspired a host of other artists, including Santigold and Noga Erez. Her most recent album, A.I.M is out now and she is currently touring. She will be playing the Boomtown Festival on the 13th August.

Christine And The Queens: Heloise Le Tissier, aka Christine and The Queens, created a splash in the UK in 2016 with her single 'Tilted', taken from her first English language album, Chaleur Humaine. A pop star in her native France, Le Tissier's androgynous image and proclaimed pansexuality marked her out as a breath of fresh air and the dramatic and sophisticated electro pop of Chaleur Humaine marked it as a classic.