Another week gone, and another pile of CDs accumulates by the Clash office stereo. Unsurprisingly, its a mixed bag, containing the insanely genius and the genuinely insane. This week, we’ve been typing away to a varied soundtrack, ranging from the old to the new, the borrowed to the rhythm and blues. The top five that stand out this week are as follows:
1. Adem – Takes
Signed to Domino, Adem’s third album is a covers album with a difference. Charting the singer’s artistic development, “Takes” includes covers of songs that deeply influenced Adem in some way. Que an eclectic mixture that takes in Low, Bedhead and – astonishingly – Aphex Twin. Adem’s laid back delivery takes the music of Richard D James and turns it inside out, revealing the Aphex Twin to be quite the tunesmith.
2. Future Loop Foundation – The Fading Room
Electronic genius releases first new material in eight years. Reminiscent of The Orb’s best work, but with a uniquely regional flavour, Future Loop Foundation binds together blissful beats with spoken word samples. Hence, an album that binds together stunning ambient rhythms to decades old interviews with family members. An intimate yet accessible piece of electronica “The Fading Room” is definitely one to look out for.
3. DJ Yoda – Fabric Mix
The force is strong in this one! Fabric long ago established a reputation as purveyors of quite nifty mix CDs, but this one is an absolute belter. Containing crunching hip hop beats, calypso harmonies and some French electronica you’d better takes your passports with you as Yoda is heading on a musical journey. And of course, any compilation that includes Violent Femmes would get our vote…
4. June – OST
A good film but an incredible soundtrack, this will put the twee into your step. Contains Belle and Sebastian, Mouldy Peaches and the NHS specs wearing king of rock ‘n’ roll, Buddy Holly. Soundtracks rarely stand alone from their parent film, but this one does – compiled with obvious care and attention, this proves that there is far more to supposedly ‘twee’ music than cardigans and Beat Happening covers.
5. Jesse Malin – On Your Sleeve
Apparently not a good week for original music in the Clashmusic.com office, this is the second covers album on our list. Containing a vast array of authors, the original artists list reads like a who’s who’s of great music. Lou Reed, Al Green and The Ramones rub shoulders on this alt country troubadour’s salute to the songs he loves, done with respect but no little abandon. Special mention to Clash cover “Gates Of The West”, for obvious reasons.
Seasons come, trends go but The Hives remain one of life’s great pleasures.
Like the spot you just can’t itch, the Swedish garage poppers remain irresistible. With new single “We Rule The World (T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.)” due out on February 25th and new album to follow, it seemed a great time to catch up with guitar player Chris Dangerous…
Why how are you Mr Dangerous?
I would divide all the money in the world more equally between rich and poor/blockquote>
It’s been a while since we heard from the band, what have we been up to?
Well you know we made a record, toured, then toured some more. I guess that’s what we’ve been up to!
New single is called “We Rule The World (T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.)”, if The Hives did rule the world what changes would you make?
Well to start with I would stop all wars. That would be the first thing I would do, with my magic wand. Then I would see to it that there would be no more extinct races of animals, and I would divide all the money in the world more equally between rich and poor – that would three changes!
The new album was produced by Pharrell Williams, noted for his hip hop productions. How did these sessions go?
He did a great job! It was a lot of fun recording with Pharrell, it was very very different from what we’re used to and I think we needed that to keep it interesting for ourselves. We learnt a lot by recording with him. The hip hop guys do things very differently, but it was lots of fun and I think the songs turned out really well.
New single uses artwork designed by fans – what were you looking for in the potential design?
We’ve done all the other covers, and it just ends up a certain way you know? What we looked for was just what kind of ideas the kids out there had, and what they saw in the band. It was a tough thing to do, but its nice to know how other people perceive us. It was a lot of fun and there were some great entries, it was tough to pick a winner.
The chosen design features you portrait on the cover, are you happy with it?
Yeah it looks sorta like me. And I’m gorgeous.
Playing the UK in April, looking forward to the tour?
Oh yeah. I mean, the thing about this band is that we love to play to people and it doesn’t really matter where it is, but this time will be quite special as we’re back in the UK and its been a while. We’ve toured other places and been in America a lot, but its gonna be great – I’m really looking forward to it actually!
The Hives are known for their on stage antics, what new moves will you be showing off?
…people just wanted something that was old fashioned and yet still new and interesting
We don’t have lions and shit on stage, but we do have a lot of new songs that we’re gonna play. A lot of new things that people haven’t heard before and of course we change all the time without even knowing it, so I guess we have a few things up our sleeve. We wanted be walking onstage with an extra arm or whatever, it’ll still be the five of us.
Are the band looking forward to the UK festival dates?
Yeah I mean we love festivals. The thing about festivals is that it’s not that fun to play when its bright, but if you get a spot that’s later on and is quite big it can be fun. For an audience it brilliant as you get to see so many bands for the one ticket. If I had to chose between playing festivals or our own shows I’d pick our own shows, but we have a great time playing festivals. We don’t look down on festivals, but our own shows are our own shows – the entire crowd are there to see you. It’s a different feeling.
The group are known for being a well dressed band, is there a new look for the tour?
We usually judge our look by the album so what we wear on stage will be what we wear on the record. Which is school uniforms, really.
The new single features a number of remixes, how comfortable are the band with other people interpreting their music?
Its been a really weird thing to do but again its like having people choose the album cover, I think its interesting to get other people’s interpretations of our music. I may not love all of them but it’s a fun thing to do. I’d like to have Daft Punk remix us, but we haven’t had a chance to do that yet. They would do a magic job, I’m sure.
Outside of Sweden, the UK was the first country to really take The Hives to heart. What is it in your music that appeals to British audiences?
I don’t know really, I guess it could be because there wasn’t much rock ‘n’ roll in the UK for a long time. When we came along the whole rock ‘n’ roll revival or whatever got underway. The UK was one of the first countries to pick it up. I mean it was us, The White Stripes and The Strokes, really. I think people just wanted something that was old fashioned and yet still new and interesting, well performed rock ‘n’ roll. I think that’s what made it happen. At least in the UK, at the time there weren’t many rock groups that were popular.
You spend a lot of time in the States these days, are the band based there now?
Oh no we still live in Sweden! We’ve been touring, its just America is so big and there’s so many people to play to so we’ve been thinking that we’ll give the US the same time we’ve given Europe. We just want people to come to our shows, we want fans everywhere. We want to go to places we’ve never been to before, tour South America and hopefully Russia. We’ll always tour Europe, but we want to go to as many places as we can. But we’re still based in Sweden and I don’t think we’ll ever really let go of that.
It’s been 15 years since you formed, where next for The Hives?
I don’t know I think we’re the kind of band who can go on forever woth the exact five members. We’ve been in the band since we were 13, 14 it’s been fifteen years and there’s no real point in stopping because its such fun. As long as we have fun we’ll always go on. At the moment we’re thinking about the next record, so that will come out, then we’ll tour and keep on going. Hopefully for a long time. We’re having too much fun to ever stop, we still like each other and love the music so we’ll keep on going. I couldn’t say in what direction, but I think we’ve changed a lot. We needed it, really, but the next record will be back to just the five of us. Getting a producer in was just something that we needed to do, and it was fun, but the next record will probably be produced mostly by us. We haven’t talked much about it, but the next album will probably go along those lines.
Sub Pop have turned twenty, this year, and what better way to mark its vicennial than with the return of two of its prodigal sons?
Greg Dulli, of The Afghan Whigs and The Twilight Singers, and Mark Lanegan, most notably of Screaming Trees, and Queens Of The Stone Age (plus too many other solo and joint projects to list) return to the place where it all began for them, with the release of their collaborative project, The Gutter Twins.
“I’ve had a Messianic complex since I was eight”/blockquote>
Greg quickly dismisses any air of sentimentality of this occasion, by informing Clash that their choice of label was merely a case of “Better the devil you know – We already knew the people we were going to be working with. It was just the way it panned out: we were talking to four labels, but Sub Pop said the right things and did the right things.”
Greg is unmistakably the more vocal of the two, describing himself as having a “Messianic complex since I was eight,” whilst Mark has been remarkably withdrawn and quiet on the two occasions we’ve met. Clearly, neither of them is particularly comfortable with talking to the press, however.
Eager to uncover the roots of their recent union I asked about how Greg and Mark originally met: “1989. A Party in Seattle.” Greg says, as a knee-jerk reflex and with an air of finality. After some coaxing, he continues, “We kinda became friends and started hanging out in ’99. That’s when we started playing music together in a relaxed way. By 2001 we were starting to play seriously.”
‘What made you start writing together?’ I ask them.
“I think it’s like anything when you meet somebody and you like the same music, or you exchange musical ideas, or you listen to music together. Obviously, We wore our influences on our sleeves, so there was not a whole lot of talking that needed to go on: I knew who he was and what he did, so it wasn’t hard to see that we were gonna get along.”
Greg and Mark played together casually like this for a some time before The Gutter Twins were born of it: Greg, notably, only found out that he and Mark’s project had gone pro when Mark told a journalist about it during an interview and the said journalist called Greg to, ostensibly, inform him of the partnership. “It was just an extension of something we’d already talked about. I was surprised. I didn’t know the name, so that was the most surprising part to me, but it wasn’t a surprise that we were going to work together.” Says Greg. Mark, who has remained silent until this point, dryly, in his trademark low, gravely voice adds, “It wasn’t the kind of surprise that Abraham Lincoln got though.”
When asked where he alone conjured the band name from, Mark says, “It was just something I was asked by a journalist – it came off the top of my head. I didn’t actually expect it to stick.”
Mark and Greg have been conscious not to draw too much from their previous work, scrapping material that they deem to be too similar in style to either of their previous bands, “It’s unique because of the personalities involved,” Greg says, “we wrote the music together, we wrote the lyrics together, and we conceived it together. It’s a combined vision.”
This is one of Mark’s manifold side projects, however, having already worked with Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic, Josh Homme, PJ Harvey, and ex-Belle and Sebastian cellist and vocalist, Isobel Campbell, amongst many others. Impressed by his prolific and varied output, I manage to raise the first smile I’ve seen from Mark, by asking if he considers himself a workaholic, “[laughs] No, I don’t think anyone else would consider me to be one!”
For a brief, shining moment in the early to mid ‘90s, there was a spirit of DIY, punk, musical freedom that Greg and Mark were an integral part of. Grunge’s transformation of mainstream music’s landscape has had far reaching effects and encouraged blossoming underground musical talent to take things into their own hands. Now, more than ever, the major labels are losing their vice-like grip on the music industry, “Music’s easier to make now. Anyone can do it in their bedroom. Anyone can make a record all by themselves. If you’re not hearing what you want to hear, then make what you want to hear. That’s what founded the punk ethos… of any decade. I don’t think there’s ever not been underground music.” Says Greg.
“You can’t stop it. If you try to stop it, you’re Prince and you look like a dick”
The Gutter Twins’ musical background well pre-dates the era of file sharing and MP3, though, and I wonder if they are as embracing of all technology that encourages new music, particularly online distribution. I point out that I have already listened to tracks from their debut album, Saturnalia, on Myspace, prior to it’s release, and have seen them playing live together on YouTube, and ask if they think that’s a good thing for fans and musicians, alike.
“You can’t stop it. If you try to stop it, you’re Prince and you look like a dick. I’m not going to worry about something that I can’t stop. In a way, it’s flattering that someone gives a fuck enough, at the same time, part of last night I was like, ‘look at you people filming us with your cell phones – we’re here right now. Why don’t you just watch it now instead of’ –“, Mark finishes his sentence: “listening to some shitty recording”.
Greg continues: “’You’re missing the point of why you’re here.’ I know lots people who dig bootleg live albums. Most of them sound like shit. I go to a show for the experience – same reason I go to a movie, same reason I go to a sporting event: because I’m in the here and now and I want to be entertained now.”
It’s true that when you’re standing behind someone who’s filming the experience on their mobile phone, it’s pretty fucking irritating. I wonder why anyone would want to mar the live experience by spending the whole gig holding a phone aloft, worrying about keeping it steady and in focus, and viewing the show they’re actually attending through its crappy little screen – making it a second hand experience for themselves. “You just said it exactly.” Greg agrees, “It’s a second hand experience that you put on yourself, in order to be the guy that has your name up on – your little [credit] on YouTube. Good for you. If that’s what you’re into: cool. But I would never do that.”
As little as I can wheedle from them about their creative process, I am, however, assured that we can expect more material in the future from Messrs Lanegan and Dulli, Mark telling me: “I’m sure that we’ll make another one [album]. We enjoy the process. We enjoy each other’s company. We enjoy the final outcome of it. I can’t say the next thing we’ll do will be another Gutter Twins record, but I’m sure there’ll be another one at some point.”
Famed for the amazing live show Muse have finally documented it on celluloid and you could win tickets to attend it’s premiere.
Their HAARP concert film will be shown at a special screening at the Vue cinema in London’s Leicester Square on 11th March and we have 5 pairs of tickets that you could win.
Recorded on the Sunday date of their Wembley Stadium gigs last summer, it catches the band at their peak, buzzing from the success of their chart slaying ‘Black Holes & Revelations’ album.
Released on DVD and CD on March 17th, this is your chance to watch it on a cinema screen, surely the best way to experience such a visual retina frazzling live band.
To enter our contest click on the question below –
Pop innovators Sparks are searching for new groups to support them during their 21 night residency at Islington Academy.
The band are set to perform their back catalogue in its entirety, moving from 1971’s “Halfnelson” to their brand new album. The group were oddballs even in the glam era, centred around brothers Ron and Russell Mael Sparks have always had a very individual approach to their career.
Bands wishing to support Sparks in this endeavor should upload a video to youtube and send the link to the group’s management. It should be noted that there will be no support when Sparks premiere their 21st album.
Sparks play the following dates as part of their residency:
May 16th – Halfnelson / Sparks
May 17th – A Woofer In Tweeter’s Clothing
May 18th – Kimono My House
May 20th – Propaganda
May 21st – Indiscreet
May 23rd – Big Beat
May 24th – Introducing Sparks
May 25th – No.1 In Heaven
May 27th – Terminal Jive
May 28th – Whomp That Sucker
May 30th – Angst In My Pants
May 31st – In Outer Space
June 1st – Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat
June 3rd – Music That You Can Dance To
June 4th – Interior Design
June 6th – Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins
June 7th – Plagiarism
June 8th – Balls
June 10th – Lil’ Beethoven
June 11th – Hello Young Lovers
June 13th – Premiere of 21st Album (no support)
Lightspeed Champion looks so relaxed and right at home on stage. He casually chats with the audience as he switches from playing guitar to the keyboard. It’s just like watching a Bright Eyes show and hey that ain’t a bad thing at all. One man with beautiful, simple lyrics backed by an incredible band to create a really emotive and powerful sound. Lightspeed Champion was a joy to watch.
It was made very clear who everyone at the Astoria was there to see. The evening belonged to The Young Knives, their catchy pop rock tunes and crowd banter had everyone in high spirits. I can never quite put my finger on it but the Astoria doesn’t do bands the justice they deserve, the sound seems to drift off into space.
They played a selection of tracks from the debut album, b sides and cracking new tunes from their soon to be released album ‘Superabundance’, the new single ‘up all night’ very much a crowd favourite. The boys were joined on stage at one point by an enchanting string quartet, successfully adding a new depth to the live show. The fat jokes continued throughout, though the joke certainly isn’t on these guys as they played a brilliant set.
Acclaimed Welsh folk festival Green Man has revealed more acts for its 2008 event, and these will include left field US act Beirut.
Organised by folk duo Its Jo And Danny, The Green Man has grown to become one of the biggest and best folk events of the festival season. With a bill that mixes traditionalists alongside more experimental acts, the festival will this year host legends such as Richard Thompson, as well as left acts such as Howlin’ Rain.
Among the latest to be confirmed for the bill are the afore-mentioned Beirut, Black Mountain, The National and acclaimed American singer Nina Nastasia.
Green Man takes place between August 18th – 20th.
U2’s recent concert film U2: 3D (read a review here)may just bring about the resurrection of the concert / tour movie.
A much maligned form – most notably in mockumentary “This Is Spinal Tap” – the tour movie is one way the fans can get close to their favourite artists. Whether they like what they see up close, though, is entirely debatable.
With more tour films to come from such live giants as Muse, the time is right for Clashmusic.com to count down ten of the best from an under-rated genre.
1. Rolling Stones – Cocksucker Blues
Famously banned, this 1972 tour movie caught the Stones at the peak of their debauchery. Director Robert Frank simply gave the entourage portable cameras and allowed them to film the hedonism – drug use, promiscuity and downright filthiness prevailed. Famously, the film can only be shown if the director is in the threatre, a result of Mick ‘n’ Keith seeing their face in the mirror and deciding the reflection wasn’t quite up to their standard.
2. The Band – The Last Waltz
So farewell, then, to The Band. After revolutionising rock ‘n’ roll with Dylan, Robbie Robertson and co. decided in 1976 that enough, frankly, was enough. Cue a cast of musical legends ready to say farewell: Dylan, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young all stepped up to pay tribute to the one-time Hawks. Shot by Martin Scorcese, this is one of the most beautiful musical documents put to film. Intriguing trivia: editing was held up as Scorcese had to avoid showing a large lump of cocaine attached to the nostril of Neil Young.
3. Sonic Youth – 1991: The Year Punk Broke
The grunge explosion captured on celluloid. Now slightly dated, the mere novelty of watching Babes In Toyland and Dinosaur Jr in the local multiplex must have seemed revelatory at the time. Aside from the groundbreaking music what shines through this film is the sense of camaraderie between the bands. All had struggled before ‘91 – after, none would have to wait in line again. This film represents a golden chance to see the lost American underground, including the innocent young eyes of one Kurt Cobain.
4. Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense
One of the most daring tour films ever created and its lasting legacy? An enormous suit. How David Byrne must rue the day he told his tailor to leave it long on the sleeves. That said, this film documents one of America’s most gloriously innovative and idiosyncratic bands in all of their live glory. Well staged and expertly shot, “Stop Making Sense” more than justified the $1.5 million the band themselves pumped into the project, redefining what it meant to produce a concert film.
5. Bob Dylan – Don’t Look Back
Essentially plotless, difficult to follow and featuring a heck of a lot of dull conversation, DA Pennebaker’s “Don’t Look Back” has a surprising amount of faults for a work of genius. Yet it remains a classic, documenting Dylan’s snotty, narcissistic era perfectly. The scene where Dylan dismantles an enterprising young journalist working for a student newspaper is just one of many delights in this remarkable account of what it means to have an entire generation live by your every word.
6. U2 – Rattle And Hum
Poor old U2. They always promise to incorporate new elements into their music yet are dependably the same, dreary band that lurched into the UK post-punk scene nearly 30 years ago. The one area where they have definitely expanded artistically is in tour films – they’ve made loads of them. “Rattle and Hum” was the first, and captures them at their band = social force zenith. Bono: he can make lame men walk but he can’t turn “Discotheque” into a tune.
7. Pink Floyd – Live At Pompeii
For all those who say the Floyd went sane with the loss of Syd Barrett, behold! “Live At Pompeii” features the world’s greatest prog band playing before an audience of volcano-induced ghosts. Cowering in the ruins of an ancient amphitheatre the band seem to find their perfect setting, with the classical buildings matching their grandiose chords. Covering the era between Syd’s departure and “Dark Of The Moon” extravagance, this film is a one-off chance to witness a band changing direction, and setting controls for the heart of the sun.
8. Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains The Same
Now that the ‘Zep have reunited and everyone’s hunky dory with their overblown blues thievery its probably a good time to point out how hilarious this film is. Any movie that shows Robert Plant charging – on horseback – across Wales searching for the Holy Grail is worth seeing. Add in the fact that the film also shows infamous manager Peter Grant being carted away in a police car and it’s practically a must see. All except for Atlantic founder Ahmet Ertugan, who fell asleep during the premiere.
9. Social Distortion – Another State Of Mind
Punks today don’t know they’re living. When early hardcore act Social Distortion took to the road alongside compadres Youth Brigade, punk meant being spat on in the street, assaulted at clubs and struggling to eat. Documenting a typically disastrous 1982 tour, directors Adam Small and Peter Stuart unwittingly documented the heart and soul of the early American punk scene. The film ends with the break up of Social Distortion, friendships broken and dreams scattered. When asked if it was all worth it, Youth Brigade member Shawn Stern is unequivocal: “Yeah, I’d say it was worth it”.
10. Stax Records – Wattstax
The ‘black Woodstock’ set in an area of crushing poverty in Los Angeles, with the iconic Stax roster performing to over 100,000 people. As much an exercise in exploring black identity as a film about music, “Wattstax” features appearances from African-American icons such as Jesse Jackson and Richard Pryor. With Watts still reeling from massive race riots, the price for the concert was kept to $1, to enable anyone – no matter their means – to attend. A towering cinematic and musical achievement, as well as a testament to one of soul music’s greatest ever labels.
In the early hours of tomorrow morning there’ll be the biggest earthquake to hit the UK in a quarter of a century. It only lasted about five seconds, but it was pretty exciting at the time and made me and my accomplice for this evening laugh.
One band that isn’t going to shake the world to its foundations are Glasgow’s The Haze, but they’ll give it a good go ‘cause they’re pretty bloody loud. Covering every notable moment in the history of lad rock, from Oasis (Liam-aping frontman James Cairns) through to The Fratellis (the curly-haired guitarist, stage left), with all the right references to The Who, Led Zep and baggy (forthcoming single ‘Ghostdancer’). And who would have thought that white noise – which is what Cairns sounds like through the megaphone he uses on ‘Guns & Bullets’ – could have a Glaswegian accent?
The Hold Steady, though, is a band that seems to inspire absolute devotion from the all-ages beered-up hoards here tonight. Not as beered-up as Craig Finn, mind, whose trademark drunken dancing-for-joy is as good as ever. And no matter how inebriated, he still outsmarts the audience members trying to second guess him on the spoken-word intro to ‘Hornets! Hornets!’
There’s plenty of songs taken from ‘Separation Sunday’ as well as ‘Boys & Girls in America’ this evening, with ‘Your Little Hoodrat Friend’ and ‘Multitude of Casualties’ pleasing the THS faithful in particular. The two new songs, ‘Constructive Summer’ and an untitled one, also hint at a return to the punk-rock undertones of earlier records and further nods to Hüsker Dü.
It’s the numbers off ‘Boys & Girls…’ that obviously go down best though, like the sentimental mush of ‘First Night’ (the start of a stellar encore which also includes ‘How A Resurrection Really Feels’ and a rapturous ‘Killer Parties’); while ‘Chips Ahoy!’ and ‘Stuck Between Stations’ are dream songs (spot the John Berryman reference, poetry fans).
And then there was a mini-earthquake. Our world was rocked in every way.
Vegan slap head Moby has announced a new single, named “Alice”, which is due out on March 17th.
Boasting a Nigerian / English rap crew, “Alice” is the first single from his forthcoming albumm ‘Last Night’, out March 31st.
After the huge commercial success of his ‘Play’ album and it’s car advert soundtracking songs, Moby has gradually been clawing back his credibilty, (he was a hardcore punk rocker initially you know), helped no end by his amusing appearance on last month’s Buzzcocks.
New single “Alice” is released on March 17th.