Thursday, 17 December 2009

Far North: adventures in Leeds

Idioteque @ Subculture - 11/12/09
Tiger Trap @ The Common Place - 12/12/09

So, I somehow find myself on a Megabus to Leeds, tearing up the M1 through blankets of pale fog jaundiced yellow by motorway lights. I'm excited to be going: I'm meeting someone at the other end, so I'm listening to a bunch of Detroit rock 'n' roll to stay awake. Two of the best records of this millennium came out of Detroit in the early noughties - the incredible pre-major-label Von Bondies punk-blues album "Lack Of Communication" and the incomparable soul covers record "Ultraglide In Black" by The Dirtbombs. I'm three hours into the journey with an hour and a half to go, stiff and cramped and surreptitiously sipping from a Reyka vodka miniature. But I'm happy. I feel a weird sensation passing through me... so much music at my fingertips in this 8gb phone, a pair of big old headphones on, tearing up the motorway towards exciting times. I feel calm, excited, buzzing, sleepy... and I feel lucky. Lucky to be alive, and lucky to be able to listen.

I pour off the coach into the freezing northern air and spark up a Marlboro Red instantly. Lauren Marie meets me shortly, and at 1am we tumble into Idioteque, in the grimy basement that is SubCulture, for the last couple of hours. A crowd of boozed indie kids cheer every song, and there's a nice atmosphere and a good mix of music. Nothing like comparable indie clubs in London, where stiff limbed posers stand around looking at each other, or clueless, foaming MDMA kids dance ironically to the awful pop music of the moment. This is a proper indie disco. Pavement, Grandaddy, Pixies. A flow of shots and pints. An argument with the bouncers, some taxi queue lols with random drunk lads, a ride home, a sleep, a morning in bed reading the Guardian and watching the snooker. A day spent hardly even peeking past the curtains.

Then to Tiger Trap. It's is a DIY indie night run by a bunch of friendly indiefied kool kids. TT has taken place in various venues around Leeeds, but tonight it's in The Common Place, an endearingly shabby social club tucked away just inside the city centre ringroad. The Common Place smells vaguely of lentil curry and Marxism. It's a friendly kind of place. The assembled indie kids and vaguely lairy lads make a great, receptive crowd. Makes me feel like I've been in cynical London for way too long.

IMP are first up. Brainlove have put these guys on before, at the request of their biggest fan, HRTBPS from Internet Forever. They play what sounds like blutacked together college-rock, with a sat down keyboard playing frontman. It's great - like a less twee Research chasing their own twisted song structures down the street on a clapped out bicycle.

Continuing the DIY vibes are This Many Boyfriends (pictured above), a Bearsuit / Los Campesinos style lean-to indie-pop supergroup that are getting a lot of attention of late. And deservedly so - they positively gush excitement and enthusiasm, expressing plenty of joy-of-being-in-a-band-ness and infusing their enthused mini-anthem singalongs with a sense of enjoyable onstage chaos. The playing is loose, the songs are catchy, the banter is fun and the spirit of the whole thing is completely great. TMB FTW.

Piskie Sits are positively slick by comparison. They play nice enough post-Pavement indie rock, to a high standard. I don't remember the tunes too well, though. Finally, Brainlove's own Napoleon IIIrd. I've been watching James play for five years, but his development in 2009 has been amazing to watch. He was always great, but after the sold-out tour with fellow Northerners Wild Beasts this year, things just clicked together better than ever, culminating in his current mind blowing collection of twisted pop, skronky, soulful indie and woozy psychedelia. Napoleon IIIrd totally bosses the show tonight, skipping from loops to keys to guitar to tape machine with acrobatic ease. He's writing now, and from the crowd's reaction tonight it's pretty eagerly awaited already.

Later, the throng descends on the dancefloor, and I escape outdoors to sit and smoke and stumble and shoot the shit. It's nice to be out of London. Leeds rules. Might just make the trip for the next Tiger Trap...

Tiger Trap Facebook

Written for The Line Of Best Fit

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Pagan Wanderer News - EP / Internet Forever Remix / New album in 2010

To wrap up an amazing 2009, Brainlove Records is to release a final EP by one of the label's mainstays, Cardiff's Pagan Wanderer Lu. The lead track is one of the closing trilogy of songs from Pagan Wanderer Lu's "magnum opus" (Plan B Magazine) album, "Fight My Battles For Me".

"Pockets In Shrouds" is an acoustic folk song, on the very Christmassy subject of death. The song features Laura and David from PWL's sometime backing band The Volunteers, who add scratchy Dirty Three inspired violin, and angelic backing vocals. Piano, violin, plucked strings and pretty harmonies carve out an oblique and engrossing story. "Pockets in Shrouds is a song about betrayal by someone who has died," explains Regan, "and how their death freezes all that went before into a narrative with a happy beginning, not so happy middle, and an ambiguous end. From the point of view of the person at the coffinside there's no more closure to be had, no reconciliation other than through the fantasy of bringing the person back. It is based on true events."

As part of the activity around "Fight My Battles For Me", Pagan Wanderer Lu recorded videos and live sessions to accompany each song on the record. For "Pockets In Shrouds", Pagan Wanderer Lu went to Tinkinswood Burial Chamber to record a live session out in the Welsh countryside. The results can be seen here and the rest of the films are here.

PWL also recorded some live sessions at the London's legendary Dreamtrak Studios. An impromptu band was put together featuring Oli Horton from A Scholar & A Physician, Laura and Chris of Internet Forever, Will "Stairs To Korea" Vaughan, and John from Thee Oracle and Brainlove. Those sessions are included on the EP, along with an Internet Forever remix of "2.0///The Bridge Of Sighs".

A new album "European Monsoon", is currently being mixed and mastered, and is set for release in Spring 2010.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Follow Your Heart

BUY THE EP: iTunes / Emusic / / 7digital / Amazon

Mat Riviere's first single is out this week on Brainlove. It's an amazing track called FYH.

FYH is up for free over at RCRD-LBL, linked above. And if you like it, there's an EP on sale with three tremendous remixes by Napoleon IIIrd, Pagan Wanderer Lu and Dreamtrak, a rather lovely b-side entitled Resist, and an amazing live track called The Garden recorded at Iceland Airwaves earlier in the year.

People have been saying nice things about it, I'll paste 'em in below...

The album, Follow Your Heart, is out in January.

"Genius bleak pop" - NME

"One of the most haunting and mesmerising spectacles you will catch... simply fantastic" - Artrocker

"Doom laden pop with reverb strings" - Drowned In Sound

"Sparse but intense songs, heavy on atmosphere and melody... a pop maverick for the future." - The National Student Newspaper

"If Interpol's bid for artistic recognition had failed and they decided to go their separate ways and just carry on being miserable alone, they might sound something like Mat Riviere... synths that sound like sherbet but taste like warm tears." - RCRD-LBL

"Glitchy, lo-fi, minimal pop heartaches... the newest signing to Brainlove Records bears his soul with a gorgeous collection of laconic, tragic songs" - The Line Of Best Fit

"Delightfully doleful drone-pop." - Pinglewood

"Solo eccentrica from the UK's DIY mecca, Norwich" - Plan B

"Apocalyptic, atonal drone." - Reykjavik Grapevine

"Mat Riviere is the best thing to happen to Norwich since that damn castle was erected. He straddles the honesty that Yoni Wolf created with Why? whilst firmly taking a stand for thoughtful and creative lo-fi music. He makes us swoon." - The 405

"'FYH' resembles Why? with its gothic atmosphere and stark vocal delivery. It's an attention-grabber." - Muso's Guide

More Mat:


Saturday, 5 December 2009

Brainlove Released Two Albums This Year.

Kippi Kaninus - Happens Secretly
Woven organic textures and electronic sounds, with a quick mind and a big heart. LISTEN / BUY

Pagan Wanderer Lu - Fight My Battles For Me
An epic summation of Andy Regan's work over the last few years, this is an indie magnum opus, teeming with ideas and memorable melodies. LISTEN / WATCH / BUY

I <3 Lists

The BRNLV Best of 2009

1. Micachu & The Shapes - Jewellery
Micachu's incredible debut is a smashed together musical shantytown that seemed to spring up from under the concrete of east London. It contains as many influences as you care to name, from chittering mobile phone music heard on buses to dubstep rhythms to Waits-ian instrument invention to blistering noise outbursts and atonal yelps. A creative, open, joyful record brimming over with ideas, spirit and personality.

2. The xx - XX
These indie-darlings-du-jour actually turned out to be totally amazing. The xx play musically economical, stripped down torch songs that sound wise beyond their tender years. They managed to perfectly convey love and intimacy and emotional honesty, without ever sounding cloying or clichéd. And that's a pretty huge deal in these cynical times.
MP3: Crystallized

3. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
This is a full on 'quality' album that Mojo and Q might stick in their top ten as well as the hundreds and thousands or blogs and zines that worship the ground they walk on. But musicianship aside, Grizzly Bear really found their songwriting stride on Veckatimest. 'While You Wait For The Others' is one of the songs of the year, and just jaw-dropping live.

4. Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport
A masterful slab of wide-eyed, hopeful, dancey noise-tronica that sanded off some of the harshier edges of their earlier stuff thanks to producer Andrew Weatherall, gaining some more accessible moments. Inspiring, energizing, evocative music that conveys a surprising amount using no words whatsoever. Listen c/o The Decibell Tolls

5. The United Colours Of Trouble Books
A deeply beautifully album, embracing twee folk vocals, blankets of drone, ambient post-rock sections and even some dense noise passages - all laced with pretty, soft-focus vocal meandering and a very human warmth. Listen on

6. Peter Broderick - Home
A heartfelt collection of genuine, sweet and sad acoustic songs. Listen on Spotify

7. Fever Ray
Karin Dreijer Andersson peeled back the surface of domestic and suburban life to reveal loneliness, neuroses and a strong heart full of solitude and doubt.

8. Gus Gus - 24/7
Techno reinvented the Icelandic way. Daniel Agúst takes his komrades' compulsive flat-beats and pulsing synths and adds glamor and sex appeal via a towering soulful vocal contribution. Utterly brilliant.
MP3: Add This Song (truncated version)

9. Skeletons - Money
Dark, fucked up, jazzy alt-everything from these awesome muso-nerds who reinvent themselves (band name included) for every record.

10. Telepathe - Dance Mother
Telepathe seemed to develop before the eyes this year... from a cool but introverted duo muttering over plaintive backing tracks, they found themselves a lush, mature sound via the production input of TV ON The Radio's Dave Sitek. Listen On Spotify

11. Frankmuzik - Complete Me
Pop music reworked, by punchable hipster Vincent Frank. 'Complete Me' falls somewhere between Max Tundra and Robbie Williams. Shame about the shit ballads and the sulphurous smell of marketing spends, but there are some real pop gems in here.

12. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion
Much feted at the time, but repeated listening revealed the patchy nature of this rich audio tapestry. Still, there are some amazing moments amid the fog of sound - 'In The Flowers' and 'My Girls' are themselves enough to make it essential.

13. Horrors - Primary Colours
An awesome return from the bargain bin - Primary Colours saw the flamboyant garage rockers digest the history of krautrock and shoegaze and come out with something perfectly formed but oddly detached. A highly successful exercise in musical study and synthesis. Listen on Spotify

14. Casiotone For The Painfully Alone Vs. Children
Following on the wall-to-wall amazingness of 'Etiquette' was never going to be easy, but this was a sweet and careful album placing American lives under the microscope. Listen On Spotify

15. Bleeding Heart Narrative - Tongue Tangled Hair
Euphoric post-rock crescendos tied together with anthemic singalongs... big things to come for this lot.
MP3: Colours Turn Colours

16. Sufjan Stevens - The B.Q.E.
Sufjan is pretty clearly out of his gourd, as illustrated by this densely orchestrated, neurotic and expansive album. "Traffic Shock" provided the surprise-attack jaw-dropping listening moment of the year. Listen on Spotify

17. Helios - Unleft
A subtle record of rippling ambient electronica. Get it on Emusic

18. Atlas Sound - Logos
Bradford Cox's latest was less awesome than his recent output, but who the hell could keep up the standard he's set himself? Logos is more like a collection of songs than an album, so pick out your favourites. MP3: Walkabout

19. Mt Eerie - Wind's Poem
This album opened with a ferocious black-metal pummeling. No fucking about. Massive riffs, tumbling drums, and those heart-piercing vocals from the Microphones lynchpin Phil Elverum. Flags sometime. But worth having.
MP3: Wind's Dark Poem

20. Antony & The Johnsons - The Crying Light
More top-drawer stagey, heavyweight emotional angst for Mr Hegarty.


Here's a list of the albums I loved most this millennium. From the expansive poetry of Joanna Newsom to the brutally, mind-meltingly fierce metal of 80's MBD, the heartbreaking sadness of David Thomas Broughton to the revelatory intimacy of Bjork's Vespertine or The XX, the late-night introversion of The Knife to the Dirtbombs all-time-best reading of garage rock 'n' roll to the arch, intellectual pop of Simon Bookish and the wide-eyed optimism of Fuck Buttons' euphoric noise... these are the very best albums I've heard in the last ten years.

1. Joanna Newsom - Ys.
2. The 80's Matchbox B-Line Disaster - Horse Of The Dog
3. David Thomas Broughton - The Complete Guide To Insufficiency
4. Björk - Vespertine
5. Boredoms - Vision Creation Newsun
6. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
7. of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? / Skeletal Lamping
8. The Knife - Silent Shout
9. The Dirtbombs - Ultraglide In Black
10. Simon Bookish - Everything/Everything
11. Micachu & The Shapes - Jewellery
12. Arcade Fire - Funeral
13. Radiohead - Kid A
14. Mice Parade
15. Sonic Youth - Sonic Nurse
16. Beach House - Devotion
17. The xx - XX
18. Burial - Untrue
19. The Microphones - The Glow Pt. II
20. Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Etiquette
21. Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing / Tarot Sport
22. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell
23. Why? - Elephant Eyelash
24. Final Fantasy Has A Good Home
25. Patrick Wolf - Lycanthropy
26. Clinic - Internal Wrangler
27. Tom Waits - Real Gone
28. The National - Alligator
29. Hammock - Maybe They Will Sing For Us Tomorrow
30=. The Streets - Original Pirate Material
30=. Skeletons & The Kings Of All Cities - Lucas
30=. The United Colours Of Trouble Books