The current glut of indie pop has been as welcome as it is overwhelming.

The United States seems to be swarming with new groups, weighed down with fuzz pedals and a well worn copy of ‘Psychocandy’. Now it seems that the contagion has – finally – reached British shores.

A host of new groups are emerging on a daily basis, with new labels, fanzines and even festivals forming to support them.

Hailing from Northern Ireland, Girls Names caught our attention via a split seven inch last year. Heading into the studio to work on their debut album, the band make the kind of off kilter guitar pop which fuelled those classic early Pastels albums.

Indebted to the indie pop tradition (that classic lineage of Reid, McRobbie, Murdoch etc) Girls Names are beginning to find their own identity. Debut album ‘Dead To Me’ is a genre piece, for sure, but what strikes you most strongly is that the trio are continually chafing against the constraints of their influences, pushing on to find their own voice.

A determined first step, ClashMusic tracked down Girls Names frontman Cathal Cully for a quick guide to their debut album…

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1.Lawrence
I love the opening to this. It was really simply and quickly done with one guitar through an old tape echo machine. It sets the album up nicely. The name was just a working title that stuck. It’s more of a homage to the Felt song “All the people I like are those that our dead” and not necessarily the man himself.

2. I Could Die
I couldn’t afford much studio time so all the vocals for the album were done in a day and this is the most painful to listen to for me. I sound so nasally after being stuck in a fusty studio all day. I can’t really remember much of the writing process either. I just know that at the time, I wanted to start writing twisted, perverse pop music – A real catchy number but with doomed lyrics.

3. When You Cry
It’s just about non-communication. Lots of scratchy Postcardesque guitars adorn this song – I think there was something like 13 guitar tracks at various points throughout the song. Can we finally claim to be a hi-fi band now?

4. No More Words
Although the guitars are quite clean, they are really abrasive and aggressive in this. Before it was mastered, this really would have cut your ears in two. It’s an older song. “I’m sick of all this talking…” says it all really.

5. Nothing More to Say
Just a throwaway surf-pop ditty born out of frustration. Probably the quickest song written on the album and the shortest. The little solos at the end were only conceived when we were in the studio. It just happened.

6. I lose
This song was previously aborted from a recording session in 2009 as it wasn’t quite ready. I’m glad I stuck at it and sorted it out. It’s the first single that was taken from the album and definitely showed a distinct bridge from our previous EPs to where we are with the album. If you want to know what it’s about you’ll have to ask Brilliant Colors who we released a split 7” with late last year. Their track was called ‘You win’ and so ours is a response to that.

7. Cut up
Again, this one gets a bit noisy with more abrasive, high end, reverb heavy guitars. No digital reverbs were used on any of the guitars on the LP. I have a Danelectro Spring King reverb pedal and we put amps in the stairwell and hallway beside the studio for extra ambiance. All in all I think 5 different guitars where used – 2 Fender Jaguars, a Danelectro U2, a Squier 51 and a Fender Tele Deluxe, and 4 different amps – my Vox ac15, an old Fender Twin, an old Farfissa sold state Organ amp and a Fender Blues Junior. I’m sure there’s a healthy combination of these used in this song.

8. Bury Me
For me, this is the stand out track on the album. It’s cyclical and repetitive and has one of the stranger structures of any of the songs on the LP, but I certainly thought at the time it was the best thing I had written up until that point. The bass line, although dead simple, is key to setting the atmosphere to this one. I didn’t realize how much at the time, but just the other week I noticed that, if you listen to those chord stabs in the background, I’ve borrowed a lot from Rowland S. Howard’s guitar playing and sound. And it’s really not that morbid at all, it’s more about feelings, rather than literal meanings.

9. Kiss Goodbye
I think the drone organ at the opening and end was the last thing to be recorded on the whole LP and it was the one thing we deliberated and split hairs with the most even though it was only one note – a mixture of cabin fever and the added pressure of studio time i.e. money ticking away. It was Neil’s idea to get Claire to do the backing vocals to turn it into a proper doo wop song. She’s got a beautiful voice and it really complemented my rougher darker croon. I also love the piano line he plays in the middle. It’s so faint and ghost like that it’s almost not there, like a distant memory, I suppose.

10. Séance on a wet afternoon.
No surprise then that this is about the film. Again we played with tape echo machines for the end of this. Every time I listen to it, I’m sure I can hear a man screaming towards the end – a ghost in the machine you could say! It’s probably the darkest song on the album and is a great prelude for our newer material and for what is to come in album no.2 which is shaping up to definitely see us fall deeper into murkier territory.

GIRLS NAMES – Séance on a Wet Afternoon from Girls Names on Vimeo.

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Dead To Me is out now.

There’s many ways to launch a new event but losing your headliner isn’t one of them.

To add to the woes of the first ever Rotterdam Reggae Festival, a second major act didn’t appear either, sparking a row about whether the organisers knew in advance or not (see below).

At least fans arriving at the Ahoy Arena knew before they entered the building that headliner VYBZ KARTEL wouldn’t be making it. Notices on the doors proclaimed “visa reasons”. Obviously with Jamaican artists this raises more questions than it answers, but as everyone knows you can never be sure if a dancehall star will be allowed to board a plane. As compensation the promoters offered a 50% discount to ticketholders for their next festival.

So it was down to the other acts to fill the gap on the night, which they did with style. DUANE STEPHENSON, starting his set with ‘Nah Play’, thrilled the crowd with his great hit ‘August Town’. British dancehall talent GAPPY RANKS on sparkling high energy form, got the audience (filled with couples) hotted up with ‘Heaven in Her Eyes’, and TANYA STEPHENS showed she’s still dancehall royalty with a set including ‘Yuh Nah Ready Fi Dis Yet’. She’s soon to release a new album, as yet unnamed, focussing on her main interest social change, and described as “a lot of discussions”. Enigmatic!

Roots reggae has always been big in Holland and the crowd at the Ahoy (venue for a Bob Marley gig in ’78) loved the rhythms and lyrics of rasta man RICHIE SPICE, especially ‘Earth A Run Red’. To coin a phrase, his ‘Marijuana’ also went down well – in fact it was a night when all the weed songs scored. Speaking of being relaxed, Dutch roots outfit PUNKY DONCH were on particularly confident form, with good new tracks ‘Once More’, ‘Never Seen’ and (my personal favourite) ‘Sweet Sexy Girls’. KALIBWOY and RAS MOTIVATED also hit the mark.

JAH CURE more than filled the gap as replacement headliner. Looking tiny on stage, he showed again he’s a big talent, with a set including ‘Journey’ and climaxing with ‘Call On Me’.

But the night belonged to a blast from the past – veteran double act CHAKA DEMUS & PLIERS, joining forces again after many years and bringing back memories with ‘Tease Me’, ‘She Don’t Let Nobody’ and ‘Murder She Wrote’. And the icing on the cake: they’re bringing out a new album! No title yet but they tell me it’ll mix reggae, dancehall and gospel.

Now, as for Elephant Man. It’s not the first time he’s been involved in an alleged ‘no-show’ situation, but speaking to me after the event he was certainly keen to proclaim his innocence. Insisting that the promoters were told on March 16th he wouldn’t be appearing, he was furious about being branded a no show: “Even though the promoters know I won’t be appearing, they knowingly let my name appear on posters and tickets in order to make more money,” he said. “If they thought I was appearing, where’s the flight tickets? Where’s the hotel confirmations? I should be suing them for damaging my name. If they can show me a contract with my signature on it, let them sue me for everything I own.” Kenneth van Rangelrooy, director of 1st Priority Entertainment (promoters of the event), said “Elephant Man double booked the weekend”. The booking agent, Brad Hemmings of Caribbean Entertainment, told me: “We have Elephant Man’s personal signature. He received payment. He did video drops… artists never do drops without cash”.

Anyway, all the acts were genuinely sad Kartel and Elephant Man weren’t there. Chaka Demus in particular told me he’d have loved to see how the crowd reacted to both acts, since European audiences are more attuned to roots.

Richie Spice said he was determined not to get into any trouble. “So I can continue to come and perform for you”.

Words by Reshma B (http://www.reggaegirlabouttown.com)

Tired of all this Royal Wedding humdrum? Well ClashMusic have nabbed a free to stream mix courtesy of Slumdrum.

So: the Royal Wedding. It’s finally here. Clash Scotland is based in Dundee, literally fifteen minutes from Saint Andrews where William and Kate first met, so we have been bombarded with wedding reports for months now.

It’s all fairly exhausting. Keeping us sane along the way have been a series of quirky musical events to strip the event of all the boredom inducing pomp and ceremony.

The latest is an alternative Royal Wedding mix from Slumdrum. Opening with The Sex Pistols – an obvious choice, but still a classic – the mix is a dancefloor centred affair which is a world away from the tracks William and Kate would probably choose.

Stream it below…

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Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen (EMI)
Leftside & Esco – Tuck In Your Belly (VP Records)
Leftside & Shaggy – Jump Around (Keep Left Records)
Beenie Man – Bookshelf (K..Licious Music)
Sasha – Dat Sexy Body (VP Records)
Sean Paul – Deport Them (K..Licious Music)
Shabba Ranks – Ting a Ling (Shang Muzik)
Talen ft. Sizzla – The Vibes (Stereotyp Remix) (Mouthwatering Records)
New Flesh – Armshouse (Suicidedogz Remix) (Big Dada)
Seductive – Underground Sound (Rolvarious Rework) (Nervous Records)
Afrojack & Gregor Salto – I’ll Be There (Wall)
Digital Manges -Manges (Sharkslayer Dub) Palms Out Sounds
Boy 8-Bit – Baltic Pine (This Is Music)
Lil Silva – Night Skanker (Night Slugs)
Andy Milonakis – Chickentown (White Label)
Audiobullys – Snake (Source)
Heartbreak -King Kong (Unreleased)
Datsik -Firepower (Munchi’s Moombahcore Remix) (Rottun Recordings)
Dead Dread – Dread Bass (Back 2 Basics)
Renegade & Ray Keith – Terrorist (Moving Shadow)

– – –

Now if you’ll excuse us we have Union Jack bunting to take care of…

worriedaboutsatan are set to launch a new side project, with Ghosting Season confirming details of a new EP.

Quietly going about their business for the past five years, worriedaboutsatan make truly otherworldly electronica. Difficult to pigeonhole, the group have raised their profile recently with a string of rightly acclaimed remixes.

Now Gavin Miller and Thomas Ragsdale have decided to launch a new project. Ghosting Season is a new name for a new direction, with the producers taking their brooding sound in a more dancefloor friendly direction.

Plotting a new EP this summer, you can watch a new video from Ghosting Season below…

Ghosting Season from worriedaboutsatan on Vimeo.

– – –

Meanwhile, the duo are plotting a few live dates this summer. Playing a series of one off events, Ghosting Season will also perform a handful of headline shows previewing material destined for their debut album.

Ghosting Season have confirmed the following shows:

May
6 Lancaster Bar Continental
12 Brighton Great Escape
18 Manchester The Star and Garter
19 Liverpool The Kazimier
20 London TBA

June
17 London The Lexington

Click here to buy tickets for Ghosting Season!

Lykke Li has unveiled the video for her new girl group inspired single ‘Sadness Is A Blessing’.

Phil Spector might be in jail, but his music lives on. The 60s girl group sound has rarely been so widespread, with everyone from Glasvegas to the Vivian Girls admitting a debt to The Ronettes.

Lykke Li focussed her songwriting on a pop direction for her second album ‘Wounded Rhymes’. A terrific step forward for the Swedish singer, a series of UK dates earlier this year saw the album unveiled in full.

Now Lykke Li has confirmed details of a new single. The singer will release ‘Sadness Is A Blessing’ on May 16th, with the track owing more than a partial debt to those classic girl group recordings of the 60s.

Watch the video below…

– – –

Meanwhile, tickets are on sale for a special show at the Roundhouse. Taking place on November 1st, Lykke Li will bring ‘Wounded Rhymes’ to life during a special concert in the historic London venue.

Lykke Li has confirmed the following show:

November
1 London Roundhouse

Click here to buy tickets for Lykke Li!

PJ Harvey has unveiled the latest video from Seamus Murphy inspired by her album ‘Let England Shake’.

It’s a public holiday so we’ll keep this down to the bare essentials…

PJ Harvey returned earlier this year with her new album ‘Let England Shake’. Not only is it a concept album centred on the collision between warfare and British national identity, but the record stands as one of the finest of the singer’s career.

Which, given her solid output for over a decade, is really saying something.

Film maker Seamus Murphy has been entrusted with providing a visual accompaniment, which has become a terrific stop off point for fans not yet acquainted with the album. The latest video is ‘In Dark Places’…

– – –

And here are the rest…

1. ‘Let England Shake’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2Qlb0qFLFE

2.’The Last Living Rose’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWBrWhrKchQ

3.The Glorious Land’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8urGMpYqX2c

4.’The Words That Maketh Murder’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Va0w5pxFkAM

5. ‘All & Everyone’
Unveiled next week

6.’On Battleship Hill’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rryc8Kjzx6M

7.’England’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDjIGB7GJoQ

8. ‘In The Dark Places’
(see above)

9.Bitter Branches
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-piHXFcd8E

10.’Hanging In The Wire’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfAvoVDQaAo

11. ‘Written On The Forehead’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saksKorZEoc

12. The Colour Of The Earth’

You could be forgiven for thinking that indie pop is now an exclusively North American concept.

The Trans-Atlantic conversation has become distinctly one sided of late. However a host of newcomers are adding a distinctly British flavour to the genre, with fresh bands emerging every day.

Hailing from Northern Ireland, Girls Names are among the most prominent. Signed to cult label Tough Love, the band released a split seven inch last year which alerted us to their talents.

Shimmering guitars, effortless vocals and sublime melodies – with one track we were hooked. Mainland tour dates have been in short supply, adding to the mystery surrounding the Northern Irish band.

Released this week, Girls Names’ debut album is a confident affair. Steeped in vintage indie pop, the record has all the ramshackle charm of those early Pastels seven inches combined with the guitar rush of Ride.

Out now, the record is part of a flood of new indie pop to come from this Sceptred Isle. Standing out by virtue of its songwriting poise, Girls Names could be set to make a big impression this year.

Listen to ‘I Don’t Mind’ below…

Girls Names – I Don’t Mind by Tough Love

Girls who are boys who like boys to be girls who do boys like they’re girls who do girls like they’re boys…The chorus of Blur’s ‘Girls And Boys’ tapped into a certain moment in the ’90s when gender-bending and androgyny were the height of fashion, with teenagers smelling of the unisex cKone, club kids taking an ‘anything goes’ policy towards dressing, and a whole raft of floppyhaired, sensitive indie bands coming across a bit fey. The preceding decades had also seen their ‘trans fashion’ moments, with New Romantics and Blitz Kids in the ’80s and glam rockers and Bowie boys in the ’70s.

The current face of androgyny is male model Andrej Pejic, whose long blond tresses, fragile facial features and pale, slight frame caused a double take when he made his catwalk debut during the Paris menswear shows, walking for designers as diverse as Paul Smith, Raf Simons and John Galliano. He has since taken to the catwalk in womenswear shows, appeared in editorials for magazines including French Vogue and i-D, and is currently fronting the Marc by Marc Jacobs ad campaign.

The current trend is not just about androgyny, but also gender extremes, recalling the glam days and dressing-up of the ’70s and ’80s. The launch of Luis Venegas’ Candy magazine has been instrumental in both popularizing and reflecting the phenomenon. The cover of the current issue of this glossy annual publication features actor James Franco sporting a full face of drag make-up. The fact that it’s acceptable for an A-list Hollywood heartthrob to present himself in such a way would seem to say something about the tolerance of our times. Venegas also recently collaborated on a ‘transvestite, transgender and cross-dressing’ collection with Acne, the Swedish fashion brand, featuring a range of Western-style shirts adorned with ruffles and bows inspired by the fierce female leads from ’80s TV series Dynasty. Rather than being unisex, Venegas wanted the shirts to “create a bit of gender confusion”, or “tranny shirts for everybody”, as he put it.

Last winter also saw designer Marc Jacobs grace the cover of Industrie magazine dressed as ‘Mrs. Jacobs’. It was his friend and frequent collaborator, editor and stylist Katie Grand, who put him up to it, dressing him in her own archive of his designs. “I had the idea in the summer and just thought it would be nice for them,” Grand explains. She also explores the gender-bending theme further in the new issue of her magazine LOVE. “After the shoot with Marc I’d been interested in ‘camp’ and ‘androgyny’. It started out as a small part of the issue and then took over. It was important for me to keep it very glamorous though, and keep it unpolitical. The broadsheet newspapers have reported in great depth about transsexuals. I wanted to celebrate glamour and decadence.”

Girls are getting their share of the action too, with Lady Gaga adopting ‘man drag’ to portray adopted male persona Jo Calderone for last winter’s issue of Vogue Hommes Japan. Female to male transsexuals also have their own fanzine in the form of Original Plumbing, whose photo spreads show just how diverse the transgender spectrum is.

The current message seems to be one of fun and flexibility when it comes to gender and fashion. There is a serious political side, but as with many issues cultural forces, fashion and music can start to infiltrate society’s acceptance in a more subtle way. So whether you follow Jessie J’s advice and ‘Do It Like A Dude’ or choose to slap on some guyliner before your next night out, remember its what’s inside that counts but what’s on the outside is up to you.

Words by Steve Morriss

Brownswood signing Gang Colours is offering a free preview of his debut EP ‘In Your Gut Like A Knife’.

Brownswood seems to ruling the roost of late. Gilles Peterson’s imprint has rarely been more on the button, having gifted music fans ‘Brownswood Electr*c’ and Ghostpoet’s debut album already.

Now it seems that the Ghostpoet connection has alerted Brownswood to a very provocative new talent. Hailing from Southampton, Gang Colours (Will Ozanne) makes down tempo electronics which share the same claustrophobic atmosphere as Burial.

Label boss Gilles Peterson: “Ghostpoet tipped us (Brownswood) off about Gang Colours. They were MySpace friends… Of course we immediately got in touch and I started playing his music on my radio show. I guess we fell in love with Will’s music gradually…he seduced us…but pretty soon we were head over heels. I think he’s gonna have the same effect on a lot of people.”

Gathering some of those stand out early tracks on his new EP, the title ‘In Your Gut Like A Knife’ does not refer to the visceral nature of the material. Gang Colours may use violent titles but the music is dreamy, containing an organic simplicity which has much in common with supposed post-dubstep produced such as Mount Kimbie.

“Garage had a dance element and it had the emotion, the evocative side. And that ticked my boxes” he explained. “But the groove of garage, and the tempo – those are characteristics that were really inspiring. The Streets’ ‘Original Pirate Material’ – just that track alone, especially the use of piano, really inspired me to push to make something that might have a profound impact on people.”

Fancy a sneak preview? Use the player below…

Gang Colours // In Your Gut Like A Knife // EP Teaser by Brownswood

– – –

With a full length album in the works, Gang Colours could be set to deliver something very special indeed.

Gang Colours will release debut EP ‘In Your Gut Like A Knife’ on June 6th. Tracklisting:

A1. Village & City
A2. Fireworks In Pocket
B1. Dance Around The Subject
B2. In Your Gut Like A Knife

Young Knives are set to release their new single ‘Human Again’ on May 30th.

Returning with their fourth album, Young Knives are not about to break new barriers. The band’s acerbic brand of indie punk is continually moving forwards, but not at the expense of their identity.

‘Ornaments From The Silver Arcade’ was released earlier this year, and saw Young Knives refine who they are rather than push into areas where they are not welcome. Spiky guitars, witty lyrics and well honed songs abound on an album which delighted fans.

Out now, the album will be followed by the release of new single ‘Human Again’. Set to drop on May 30th, the track is one of the centrepieces on ‘Ornaments From The Silver Arcade’ and will be given a new lease of life.

Adding a 60s jangle to their guitars, ‘Human Again’ is rapidly becoming a highlight of the band’s live set. Recently added to the bill of Summer Sundae Weekender, the band are now looking forward to a full British tour.

Playing a one off date in Leeds this weekend, Young Knives will play the Northern city on April 30th.

Following this, the headline dates begin on May 16th with a show in Newcastle. Stretching around the country, Young Knives are set to play shows in Glasgow, Birmingham and Sheffield.

Ending in Hertfordshire on May 28th, tickets for the upcoming shows are on sale now.

Young Knives are set to play the following shows:

April
30 Leeds Live At Leeds

May
16 Newcastle O2 Academy 2
17 York Fibbers
18 Glasgow King Tuts
19 Birmingham O2 Academy 2
20 Liverpool Sound City
21 Sheffield O2 Academy 2
22 Cheshire Friends of Mine
24 Oxford O2 Academy 2
25 Bournemouth Old Firestation
26 Bristol O2 Academy 2
27 Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
28 Hertfordshire Forum

Click here to buy tickets for Young Knives!