Sunday, 9 October 2016

So it *is* still there...

The last twelve months or so - maybe more - have been a desert, in terms of new music, for me. Incredibly, those conversations with friends about the tragic demise of MySpace, of all things, still come around (another thing to blame Rupert Murdoch for). It got so I was hearing so little music, that almost *any* new song would give me tingles. Incidental music overheard in a shopping centre, maybe. Some poor tune twisted into a po-faced version of itself an advert for an app. Daytime radio, god help me (ok, I admit, I'm making it up, now). Where do young folk - any folk - find their music nowadays? They don't have MySpace! They don't have mix CDs! It's a mystery, at least to a man who's never really gotten along with that Spotify. Where do they find it? Not on my unwritten blog, that's for sure. It's a comfort as a blogger to know that one sure reason no-one might be reading your blog, is that you haven't written it in the first place, anyway.


I know that there is fantastic music coming out all the time, but nobody needs me to tell them about David Bowie or Radiohead or PJ Harvey. So here are some things I heard that I loved, lately, and made me think maybe it's still worth listening out for things after all.

Faith Elliott's 'Insects' is on Song, By Toad records and if you don't think that Pyrite Ammonite is a beautiful poem of a song then you probably shouldn't listen to anything I say ever again:

And Penelope Isles have this out on Art Is Hard records and they are apparently a brother-sister duo, which as we all know can only be a good thing and what we all have to say next is "are there really only two of them, how do they make that sound?!" Actually their Facebook lists four of them in the band, which is definitely cheating as far as that's concerned, but cheating is allowed if you end up with something like this:

Also, Thought Forms are crowdfunding for their 65 Days of Static support slots and you can still pledge for CDs and t-shirts and extraordinary unique things but we are not going to talk about the beautiful beautiful purple vinyl which has sold out because we will both just weep about it if we do. Okay? Okay.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Free download, today only. Excellent Birds' Patti Smith cover, 'Ghost Dance'

Excellent Birds [Annie Gardiner of Hysterical Injury in her solo electro side project] has sprung out of nowhere a free download of her cover of Patti Smith's 'Ghost Dance'. If you want it, you'll need to download it now, because it's going back to streaming-only at some point tonight.

I love the bells and vocals on this cover of one of Annie's heroes' songs. It's a track she's often incorporated into the extended outro of 'Rainbow Thunderclap' at Hysterical Injury live shows, which she and Tom tend to improvise at length.

'Like' Excellent Birds on Facebook

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Nastly Little Lonely - 'Son of the Flies' EP

Nasty Little Lonely were previously known as 'Rock In Your Pocket'. Or, they're a new band with exactly the same members as 'Rock In Your Pocket' had when it was laid to rest - take your pick. It would barely merit mentioning - seeing as, for example, the new band/name has gotten itself twice as many 'likes' you-know-where as the previous had in no time; so they appear to have shrugged off the old skin with some aplomb. But what strikes me is what hasn't changed - 'Little'. 'In your pocket'. Still with the diminutive. This isn't an attempt to reframe the band as a behemoth - it's simply refocusing on the emotive. It's a curious phrase, too, 'Nasty Little Lonely'. After the first two you expect the third word to be some kind of pejorative noun; 'nasty little beggar' or similar. But the rug's pulled out with 'lonely' - it's just another adjective, and a sympathetic adjective at that. What's a 'lonely' look like? And is the nasty little thing just looking for a friend..?

So it confounds expectations, a little. At once cutesy and macabre, NLL's new name (like the old one) has something of the feel of a Nightmare Before Christmas, or any number of customised My Little Ponies, or a lesser Daemon in Warhammer - creatures, on the whole, with big enough eyes to let you get close, but sharp enough teeth to leave a mark if you do.

All of this does rather suit the music. "I took you to my heart / but you ate it!", Charlie Beddoes exclaims in the title track of their debut EP, 'Son of the Flies'. The delivery is between a whisper and a squeal, and she sounds, here, delighted in at least equal measure as she is disgusted by the prospect of having her vital organs devoured.

Beddoes' vocals sound throughout the EP like mischievously imparted confidences - they are the juicy bait that lures you in. The instruments (including her own bass) are then the three-barbed steel hook you're made to wriggle on.

'Lizardbrain' is the standout track, its central riff like a Marshall amp falling down a flight of stairs in a Warner Bros cartoon; and is packed full of those tempting-but-deadly, poison apple images, embedded in internal rhymes - "A rose with a thorn is, just one of those warnings" - the band utterly revel in the squalor of it, evoking memories of Daisy Chainsaw or a roughed-up Garbage - while the remaining tracks, 'Turn the Screw' and 'Jesus Complex', go off and get stoned together to a Nirvana b-side.

Without wanting to overdo the Katie Jane Garside pointers, there is something of that tone to Beddoes' delivery and the flavour of the imagery. With QueenAdreena apparently on indefinite hiatus, their fans could do a lot worse than to look to Nasty Little Lonely for more anti-lullabies. Beyond that, there's a whole world of Emily-the-Stranges and her would-be-boyfriends out there just waiting to stumble on a band like this. 'We're all in the gutter', as the band have said in interviews past, 'but some of us quite like it here'.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Kutiman does Tokyo

If you don't know Kutiman yet, think of him as the ultimate mash-up artist. The Israeli producer caused a storm a few years back with his Thru-You project, which took scores of hitherto unknown musicians' YouTube clips, and (unknown to the musicians themselves until it was released) blended their sounds to produce 7 totally new pieces of music, crediting every one of them along the way. The results are inspiring and at times surprisingly emotional. He used the same technique for My Favorite Color, with similar results.

Since then Kutiman's been going out and finding original sounds from musicians all over given cities - including quite movingly his hometown of Jerusalem - making audio-tapestries that capture something of the spirit of the place and again show off numerous individual musicians to spectacular effect. This week Tokyo got the Kutiman treatment. See also the pieces made in Jerusalem and Krakow, and the ultimate Led Zeppelin cover, below.

Now... how do we get him to come to Bristol...

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Experience an ANTA gig on your own tabletop

Just press play, and then click the image.


You can buy 'Centurionaut' from ANTA's bandcamp.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Playlist from Drunken Werewolf

This month, the Bristol-based music magazine Drunken Werewolf sought and achieved £3,000 of funding to give the publication an invested future, and which will hopefully see the re-instigation of their print edition.

I chipped in a fiver (I'll admit a vested interest - the magazine and its editor, Tiffany Daniels, have long been major champions of the band I manage. The longer and louder they're able to shout, the better, as far as I'm concerned...)

My pledge was for a personalised playlist to a theme of my choosing, and after a few moments thought, I plumped for one themed around the title of this blog. So this is the 'Heartbeat of a Rabbit' playlist by Drunken Werewolf, and anything connected with heartbeats and rabbits was fair game.

I asked Tiffany to say a few words about each of the songs, which will appear directly after your musical video slideshow...

Drunken Werewolf editor Tiffany Daniels on her Heartbeat of a Rabbit playlist:

Tori Amos – Mr Zebra
Taken from her Boys for Pele album – the same one that features Tori suckling a pig on the back cover – “Mr Zebra” is like a backward Alice in Wonderland, with Tori singing as the white rabbit lost in a Russian landscape. It deals cryptically with her miscarriage of the same year.

Florence and the Machine – Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)
This song doesn’t signify my tastes at all, but it’s so obvious I found my fingers writing down its name despite myself. I don’t know what it’s got to do with rabbits, but the video is pretty debaucherous in a Madhatters tea party kind of way.

Annie – Heartbeat
I was absolutely addicted to this song when it came out. It’s fifty times better than her breakthrough single “Bubblegum” and it puts Robyn to shame.

You Say Party! We Say Die! – Monster (RAC Remix)
You Say Party! We Say Die! are great in their rowdier moments, but I find their synth based songs need an added kick, which is why I’ve listed the RAC Remix of “Monster” rather than the original. See also the Los Campesinos! version of “Laura Palmer’s Prom” for heartbeat inspired lyrics set to an infectious tune.

Warpaint – Lissie’s Heart Murmur
Warpaint are one of those bands who are simultaneously amazing and frustrating. I don’t know what it is that compels me to listen to their debut album; at times I find it lacks something crucial but other times I’m completely captivated by it.

Ill Ease – What Makes Your Heart Go Boom (Napoleon IIIrd Remix)
Another song in need of a remix, though in fairness Napoleon IIIrd has dared to tread where no others will go. Most of Ill Ease’s music is stripped back no-age, but here the Leeds producer makes her sound almost twee.

Bright Eyes – Down a Rabbit Hole
The first Bright Eyes album I ever bought was Digital Ash in a Digital Urn. I soon realised I was shouting his praises under false pretences, and though I’ve grown to appreciate his acoustic based material, I really wish he’d continued this creative highway.

Emmy the Great – Two Steps Forward
One of the few artists whose lyrics I know well enough to sing every song aloud, Emmy the Great likes falling down rabbit holes. My sister did that once and she got her foot stuck, it wasn’t funny.

Find out more about Drunken Werewolf here.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition 2013: Who I'd Have Picked

I don't think music blogs, in general, are the kind of publications that seek or require any kind of external or pre-existing justification for their existence - but if I ever did feel I needed one for this site, it'd be my close involvement in the set up and first four years of Glastonbury Festival's Emerging Talent Competition [or 'ETC'].

That's where I came to realise what a huge amount of amazing music there is being made constantly in this country and beyond, that I feel a lot of people don't really have a chance of hearing unless they actively go looking for it (but, if you do, there it is... it's not hard). Happily Glastonbury now post their whole ETC longlist of 120 acts, chosen from thousands of applicants by a select band of music bloggers (which is a great way to do it), on their website.

This also means obsessives like me can spend days trawling through all those songs, in the name of seeking out who they'd have put in the finals if it had been up to them. And my own picks are below.

I was careful to avoid learning who had made the actual finals before drawing up my own list, because I didn't want that to influence it either way. As it happens, the official list is of eight entirely different acts, which doesn't surprise me at all - but there could easily have been a lot more crossover.

Some disclaimers:

- This is not in any way intended as a diss to any of the Festival's picks or the finalists themselves (or the bloggers who longlisted them).
- This doesn't mean that these artists 'would have got through' when I was working for the competition. I was one of a panel of listeners who drew up the longlist - some things I loved didn't get through, some things I wasn't personally over the moon about did. Also, most years, the selection of finalists *from* that longlist was done by the main festival bookers.
- If you're one of the bands I've listed here, no, I'm very sorry, I can't get you a Glastonbury slot. Also, don't get too excited, nobody reads my blog ; )
- There was some really great stuff on the longlist that would easily have made the list in place of some of these on a different day. I kept it to eight because that's how many acts are in the actual finals. I think there should be a lot more!

Without further ado, and in no particular order... Who the Heartbeat of a Rabbit blog Would Have Picked from the Glasto Emerging Talent Competition Longlist, 2013:

1. Super Squarecloud
(longlisted by Neon Filler)

2. Nadine Shah
(longlisted by Neon Filler)

3. Katie Cruel
(longlisted by Oliver of

4. We/Are/Animal
(longlisted by the405)

5. Croupier
(longlisted by Faded Glamour)

6. Sandunes
(longlisted by White Noise)

7. The Gorgeous Colours
(longlisted by Crack in the Road)

8. Packt
(longlisted by Song, By Toad)

Hope you found something there you liked. Please leave a comment.

Here's the whole longlist, and here's who actually made the finals. Who would you have picked?