Wednesday, 19 August 2009

music, music, music, music....all the time

Back in London after another long weekend of playing and watching music. It's been a bit full-on recently. In Edinburgh I did my first radio session ever, which was...pretty terrifying. I think I did alright, but it does sound like I'm about to break down in tears at any point. This was the first time I'd ever played any of our songs without Bill. Eek!

Interview with me + 16,000 km

It probably didn't help that Dan from Withered Hand did his session just before me...

Interview with Dan (Withered Hand + Cornflake)

I do you follow that?

On Friday we headed to Newcastle for an all-day music event at the Tyne Bar. It was us, Allo Darlin, Hexicon, The Just Joans and a bunch of local bands. Should have been awesome, but it was a bit weird for a number of reasons. First, I don't think people were really there to see either of us. Then, most of us played before anyone really showed up....I think Allo Darlin did best. They were on late and by then people had had a few drinks.

Paul Hexicon

The Just Joans

Despite the lack of people, it was great seeing the Just Joans again, though. I hadn't seen them since the WeePOP! anniversary show at The Enterprise last summer.

On the Sunday we all headed to Edinburgh for Retreat!, a free all-day event taking place in The Bristo Hall. With an incredible line-up this was one of the musical highlights of the summer.

Both Moustache of Insanity and Allo, Darlin' were invited to do acoustic sessions for, an online video series similar to France's Takeaway shows.

Allo, Darlin's session went smoothly (as you'd expect), but the Moustache one was rather chaotic (again, expected). First, we had to climb over a closed gate to get into a city centre nature reserve. When we finally started playing, a rather scary-looking man started waving a giant bottle of White Lightning Cider at us. In the end he didn't kill us, but came out to watch. I'm pretty sure our fear will be reflected in the videos so keep an eye out on the website. They have a bit of a backlog, but it shoudl be up at some point in September.

Enfant Bastard

Enfant Bastard was my musical highlight of the weekend. Apparently, they played a set of songs by singer Cameron's other band, The Love Gestures, rather than Enfant Bastard songs, but having listened to his records the boundaries seem a bit blurred. Anyway, playing gritty anti-folk with quirky and slightly self-depracating lyrics, they came across like a Scottish mixture of Half Japanese and early Jeffrey Lewis. Most excellent stuff. Check them out.

Enfant Bastard myspace

The Love Gestures myspace

ok...that's about it...all musiced out for now.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Back from the homeland

It's cold, grey and miserable. The most important news of the day is the death of a big fish. Yes, I'm back in Britain. Coming back from holiday is always a bit traumatic. Late nights, sleep-ins and loads of fun is suddenly swapped for early nights, early mornings and a lot less fun. I guess it could be worse. At least I like my job.

Anyway, the past week has been amazing. Arrived in Sweden last Tuesday and found ourselves on a boat hotel (boatel if you like). On paper, it sounded cosy, sweet and rather romantic. In reality, it was rather….erm….shit. A cramped little cabin with a super small bathroom. But, we weren't in Stockholm to sleep so it wasn't a big deal.

At least the view was nice

We skipped the first two days of music to catch up with some of my old friend from high school. Since I hadn't been to Stockholm since I was twelve it was useful to have someone point out the various places/areas of interest. It was also a really weird feeling being a complete stranger in your home country.

Anyway, on Thursday we headed to the Southside Cavern (an Irish pub, run by Australians in Stockholm!) for our first Cosy Den evening. The line-up was great, with Tafra, Let's Whisper and Johan Hedberg all playing. I remember the first time I saw Tafra in April 2007 at The Good Ship. Back then he was a shy and awkward boy with a ukulele singing sweet songs about birthday presents and over-sleeping. The second time I saw him was in November that year, by which time he had armed himself with a vintage Casio, electric guitar and a Japanese back-up singer. Now, almost two and a half years after my first introduction to Niklas Tafra he had gone through a slightly more extreme transformation. Hunched behind a laptop, with Peter Gunnarsson (from Suburban Kids With Biblical Names) on drums, it was quite a surprise. Barely recogniseable from their original incarnations, the songs were drowned in electronic noise, fuzz and odd drum beats. Tafra seemed to have ventured down the darkest roads in popland and speaking to him afterwards he seemed in no hurry to return to brighter places. Fascinating for sure and the songs sound great no matter what he does to them. I can't wait to see how he will sound next time.


Let's Whisper were great as usual, and despite this being the third time I'd seen them in less than two weeks, it all felt as fresh and fun as the very first time.

Let's Whisper with Elizabeth helping out

After too many beers and with too many people (mainly Smittens) to talk to I missed most of Johan Hedberg's set. Ah well. These things happen.

Friday was a beautiful day and we met up with The Smittens & Co and headed for Långholmen, an island in the south of Stockholm, where you can go swimming. Like the dork that I am I managed to forget my trunks, so that didn't happen.

In the evening The Smittens played at Lasse i Parken, yet another ridiculously over-priced (but rather nice) bar with an outdoor stage. Having missed their set at Indietracks it was nice to get a second chance. The audience loved it…of course. Smitterrific! Bumped into Andy (of Pagan Wanderer Lu) which was a pleasant surprise, but utterly random since he wasn't even in Stockholm for any Cosy Den-related reasons.


Eventually, we all headed to Southside Cavern for the after party/Twig gig, but by then me and Elizabeth were pretty knackered, so we didn't stay for too long. It was sad to say goodbye to all the Smittens, but I'm sure they'll be back at some point next year. They better be. Or else.

Saturday was the big day, the reason we went to Stockholm in the first place. With the whole of Allo, Darlin' now safely in Sweden we headed over to Gula Villan, a legendary venue in a yellow house in Haninge, just outside Stockholm. It's an incredible venue. Small, but cosy and just perfect. The beer was cheap, the music ace and the lake was five minutes away. What more can you ask for?

Vit Päls were great. I'd heard the name before, but never any of their music. They sort of reminded me a bit of The Wave Pictures with their dryly comic take on everyday life. Their album can be downloaded for free at their myspace (

I'd never heard of White Town until Jyoti Prakash Mishra came up to me at the merch desk at Indietracks and asked if we could sell some seven-inches for him. I later found out he had a UK #1 hit in 1997 with the song 'Your Woman', but it must have passed me by. I kind-of-but-not-really recognised it when he played it. Anyway, he played a great set and was a really nice guy.

Allo, Darlin' time and they really brought the house down (figuratively speaking). Elizabeth bounced all over the place and the audience bounced with her.

Allo, Darlin'

It had been a long time since I saw Suburban Kids With Biblical Names (two? Three years?) so I was really looking forward to their set. They certainly didn't disappoint. Sooo good.

Suburban Kids...

...With Biblical Names

What else? Hmm. Oh yes. Cats On Fire hit the stage and you know what? They were pretty damn good. I guess I never really "got" them before and maybe they weren't at their best when I saw them in London a few months back. I'm not sure if it was the booze or the music, but it just made sense. We danced like loons until someone (name withheld) pushed a lamp too hard and it came off the ceiling. The dancing continued, albeit a little less loon-like.

Cats On Fire

In hindsight I regret leaving early, but that's what we did. I would have liked to have continued drinking and seen Erik De Vahl…but, but, but….there was no booze left and the last train was about to leave so we made our exit.

Sunday was the last day in Stockholm and we headed for the archipelago. A cold beer on the ferry, followed by polka ice cream and a swim at Vaxholm. Back in Stockholm, we had the biggest pizzas known to man. There are worse ways to spend a day.

Sweden is a rather lovely place. Maybe I could live there again…maybe.