Thursday, 16 December 2010

Video of the day (Kermit The Frog & John Denver - The Christmas Wish)

This is my last post of the year and I really can't think of a better way to finish.

This has to be the best Christmas song ever.

Have an awesome Christmas and happy new year and I'll be back in January.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Best gigs of 2010

2010 has been an incredible year for gigs. I have seen so many amazing bands in so many amazing places and organising them into any sort of ranking would just be impossible. Below is a list of the ten gigs that sticks out in my head for one reason or another. Photos by me, unless ptherwise specified.

Japanther and Ninjasonik @ Hoodstock, NYC, USA - 22nd May 2010
This was an insane night. Incredible bands, playing in amazing space.

(photo by Rebecca Smeyne, Village Voice)

Loads of photos from the night can be found here.
Village Voice slide show from the night, with more photos

Nana Grizol – The Silent Barn, NYC, USA - 4th June 2010
It's hard to go wrong with such an amazing band, playing in such a small quirky "venue".

Andrew Jackson Jihad – The Gaff, London - 8th October 2010
They've been around for ages, but I only really discovered AJJ this year. If two people using only a double bass and an acoustic guitar can get a massive moshpit started in North London, they are definitely doing something right. Great show.

Jad Fair – The Salvage Vanguard Theatre, Austin, USA - 14th March 2010
I stumbled upon this show by accident. I'm a huge Half Japanese fan, so seeing Jad play was a very special treat indeed.

Withered Hand – The Wilmington Arms, London – 22nd January 2010
The first show I put on this year and a roaring success, despite equipment issues and the venue being too small for the demand. An incredible show.

Times New Viking, Pavement ATP, 14th May 2010
ATP was all about Pavement, but in levels of fun Times New Viking was hard to beat. From the first distorted note to the very last, the whole venue was just one giant moshpit of smiley happy people.

Trouble Books – The Betsey Trotwood, 14th September 2010
I have nothing to compare it to, so I don't know if this was particularly great Trouble Books show. One thing is certain, though - I absolutely adore this band and seeing them in the tiny Betsey Trotwood basement was always going to be special. It was the first time I'd seen them and I doubt they'll be back any time soon.

Best Fwends – Houston, USA - 13th March 2010
I was jet-lagged, drunk and lost in the weird and not especially wonderful world that is Houston, Texas. Best Fwends were running around like crazy, screaming along to a backing track of bleepy electro-punk and wrestling giant inflatable gargoyles. Obviously this was absolutely amazing.

Allo Darlin' – British Music Embassy, Austin, USA - 20th March 2010
I've seen Allo Darlin' over 30 times this year, but the one that sticks out in my memory is this early day-time show in Austin. It was great atmosphere, with free food and a free bar and the band just played a perfect set.

Les Savy Fav, Electric Ballrom, London – 22nd November 2010
What can I say? You had to be there. Absolutely insane.

Photo by Tim Boddy. More here.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Albums of 2010....the list

It took a while, but here it is. Originally, the plan was to make a podcast of all the best tracks, but then my computer died, so that's not going to happen now.

Anyway, here they are...the albums that soundtracked my year more than any reverse order...

10. Ninjasonik – Art School Girls
I think it's fair to say that Pitchfork are not fans of Brooklyn rappers Ninjasonik. The final sentence of their album review speaks for itself really - "Can an album truly be bad even if it achieves exactly what it intended to do? If your intent is to make shit music, I don't even see how it's a question at all." And the final score of 1.9 out of 10 makes it one of the worst reviews I've ever seen on the site. But then it's Pitchfork. They were never going to approve of this. Yes, this is not a deep and meaningful record. It's silly, stupid and hideously un-PC at times, but for some reason that's part of it's appeal. It just feels like an honest record and I guess serves as a document of a certain scene - a record for friends made by friends, with all the references and in-jokes that goes with that. We all talk shit when we're with friends. I guess, most of us just don't put those conversations on a record.

(track: Ninjasonik - Daylight Remix)

9.The Thermals – Personal Life
I didn't expect much from the new Thermals record. I guess I kind of thought the band was a closed chapter for me. Then I heard I Don't Believe You and all that changed. I can't really pinpoint why I love the song so much, but it's definitely one of my tracks of the year. And although nothing else on the album quite reaches that level of awesomeness, it is a very strong record. It's fun and bouncy and never boring. That's all I ask really.

(track: The Thermals - I Don't Believe You)

8. Säkert – Facit
I don't really understand how non-Swedish speakers can listen to Säkert! Sure, the music is stunning, but for me it's all about the lyrics. It's sad and uplifting in equal measures. It's a rare skill to be able to express yourself to such an extent in two languages, but Annika Norlin never struggles with words. Every bit as charming as her songs in Hello Saferide (her English-language band) this is, again, an extremely personal and very beautiful record.

(track: Säkert! - Får Jag)

7. Matt and Kim – Sidewalks
Matt and Kim are all grown up these days, doing Bacardi ads and playing giant festivals. Sidewalks is miles away from both their self-titled debut album and the follow-up Grand. But, you's still Matt and Kim, one of the happiest, most life-affirming bands on the planet. I'm always going to love these guys, no matter what they sound like. And don't get me wrong, the album is great. It's nowhere near as punky or fast as the previous ones, but still alot fun and catchy as hell.

(track: Matt and Kim - Block after Block)

6. Of Montreal – False Priest
I don't understand what people were complaining about. So, it's not a new Hissing Fauna. False Priest is still fucking great. Famine Affair is one of my all-time favorite Of Montreal songs. That's all.

(track: Famine Affair)

5. Standard Fare – The Noyelle Beat
I wasn't overly impressed when I first heard Noyelle Beat, but over the course of the year it has just grown and grown on me. It's really a stunning record. All the songs are great, but songs like Fifteen, Dancing and Philadelphia really stand out...all pure indiepop classics.

(track: Standard Fare - Fifteen)

4. Trouble Books – Gathered Tones
Just another absolutely stunning record from Ohio's finest.

(track: Trouble Books - Arms Full Of Lemons)

3. Tiger Tape – I Woke Up In Hökarängen
I already wrote a post about this record somewhere. It's AMAZING! 'nuff said.

(track: Tiger Tape - Skanstull)

2. Nana Grizol – Ruth
Hmmm....getting bored of thinking of things to say now. Nana Grizol's debut record Love It Love It was an incredible effort, so follow-up Ruth had a lot to live up to. As is quite common, it's a much more polished record, but none of the charm is lost. An extremely addictive record, with lyrics and melodies that will stick in your head for months and months.

(track: Nana Grizol - Cynicism)

Which brings us to the number one...

1. Japanther - Rock N'Roll Ice Cream

During the past nine years Brooklyn punks Japanther have produced a seemingly endless amount of material. I've lost track on how many full-length albums they've released, but each has added something new and fresh to their sound. This constant re-invention continues with Rock N'Roll Ice Cream, an album that marks a slight departure from their usual lo-fi fuzz and distortion. The record is by far their most "produced" and "clean-sounding" effort to date. They've even called in some female assistance to provide some extra vocal layers. Despite some initial hesitation, I quickly grew to absolutely love this "new sound". Since I first got my hands on the record in the beginning of the year, I've listened to it an insane amount of times and it still shows no signs of losing its appeal. It's just great. Bursting with positive energy, with just the right dose of angry thrown in, it's a record that I can count on to drag me out of the shittiest of days. Big words, but Japanther are really my favourite act in the world right now, both on record and live. They have a great attitude to recording and performing and I just can't wait to hear the next one.

They're coming to London in February! Seriously, you need to get tickets.

(track: Japanther - She's The One)

OK...that's it...Bring on 2011!!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Video of the day (nordloef - Buddy Holly (Weezer cover)

I first came across Swedish chiptune artist nordloef a year and a half ago on the 'Weezer - The 8-bit album' compilation. It features 14 classic Weezer tracks, covered by 8-bit/chiptune artists, including Anamanaguchi and I Fight Dragons. The whole compilation is great, but Nordloef's version of Buddy Holly definitely stands out as one of the best tracks.

Weezer - The 8-bit album can be downloaded legally for free here.

nordloef on myspace

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Videos of the day (Anamanaguchi x 3)

Yes, yes...that top-10 is still coming at some point. I've just been too busy.

In the meantime, I just can't stop listening to Anamanaguchi's Dawn Metropolis. It's an incredible album. And they have amazing videos for every track! They're all great, but here are a few favorites. NINJA!

Anamanaguchi's Official and totally awesome website

Friday, 3 December 2010

The past few days of gigs (Bobby Conn, Withered Hand, Enderby's Room, Dan of Green Gables)

So, I was planning to publish my top-10 albums of the year yesterday, but that didn't happen. I'd quite like to have a podcast to go with it, so I just have to postpone it a little. Should be revealed at some point in the next couple of days though.

Some photos from the past five days...

Bobby Conn (Brixton Windmill, 27th November 2010)

I love Bobby Conn. I have seen him a number of times and he's never been less than amazing. It had been extremely quiet in Conn-land for the past few years, so I was very excited when the gig was announced. A kind of pseudo-'Don't Look Back' show, the band played the Rise Up! (soon to be re-released) in its entirety.

Unfortunately, I just wasn't in the mood. It was really busy and The Windmill is a bit awkward when it's mobbed.

Bobby Conn on myspace

Little Scream and Withered Hand (AAA, 1st December 2010)

Sorry, but I'm gonna moan again. Kensington is a pain to get to. And it was snowing and cold. On top of this, the bar was ridiculously expensive. The bands were great, however. Sadly, Viking Moses had to cancel due to border-crossing issues.

Little Scream

Withered Hand

Little Scream on myspace

Withered Hand on myspace

Enderby's Room and Dan of Green Gables (The Hideaway, 2nd December 2010)

I used to live just ten minutes walk from The Hideaway, but had never ventured inside. A shame really, cause it's a lovely bar, with a great basement for gigs.

Last night was promoted by Stroke Your Beard, who had covered the floor with astroturf, giving a lovely picnicky vibe to the evening.

Highlights were Enderby's Room and Dan of Green Gables.

Enderby's Room

Dan Of Green Gables

Wednesday, 1 December 2010's December...the season of best-of lists!!

It's finally December and I can now officially accept all the Christmas malarky going on everywhere.

I must say I struggled a bit when I first started compiling my favorite albums of 2010 list. It felt like it had been a pretty quiet and boring year. Then I realised I've just been so so busy this year, that releases from February might as well have been released ten years ago and I had just forgotten all the great records that had been released. So, I went back and had a look at the albums I'd bought and loved and suddenly I found myself with quite a large list. It took quite a while, but finally I had it all narrowed down to 27 albums. But, you can't do a top-27, can you? It has to be 10 or 20, 25 even. But not 27. Oh no. So, in the end I opted for a top-10, with 17 honorable mentions sharing the 11th place, in no particular order. Lazy? Possibly.

So, here goes. The most surprising album on the honorable mentions list I guess is the above receord, Allo Darlin's debut album. Of course it should be in my top-10. But, at the same time I feel I can't really include it there. I've been too personally involved in the making/promoting/touring of this album. I designed the artwork for the album and the four singles, I've taken most of their photos (both for artwork and for press), made two music videos, been on two US tours and one European tour (all in all I've seen the band more than 30 times this year) and mentioned them in many, many, many blog posts. That is why I made the decision to leave it off my top-10 list. It just feels wrong, almost like putting my own release in a best-of-the-year list and that's not on, is it? It's an amazing record and by far the one closest to my heart. It wins that prize without any competition whatsoever. So there.

OK....after much thought and headache...all absolutely great and in shared 11th place:

11. Allo Darlin' – s/t
11. No Age – Everything In Between
11. Bonnie "Prince" Billy & The Cairo Gang – The Wondershow Of The World
11. Best Coast – Crazy For You
11. Shrag – Life! Death! Prizes!
11. Wavves – King of the Beach
11. Male Bonding – Nothing Hurts
11. Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be
11. Blonde Redhead – Penny Sparkle
11. Les Savy Fav – Root For Ruin
11. Darren Hayman & The Secondary Modern – The Essex Arms
11. The Radio Dept. – Clinging To A Scheme
11. Love Is All – Two Thousand and Ten Injuries
11. Adam Green – Minor Love
11. Quasi – American Gong
11. Avi Buffalo – s/t
11. Caribou – Swim

My top-10 will (probably) be revealed tomorrow. [EDIT] at some point [EDIT 2]at the weekend before the end of the year. Been too freaking busy.