Monday, 29 September 2008

Small Feral Token

Let me introduce a bit of glamour to your life during these grim times of austerity and bring to your attention Lotta Westholm and Natalie Sjölund, who look like they've walked straight off the cover of an early Roxy Music album. Together, they create an intoxicating mixture of hypnotic electronic pop and go under the slightly less alluring moniker of Small Feral Token, which sounds like a type of fresh roadkill currency, used by Cleatus out there in the hillbilly hinterland. These ladies have been making music from their Stockholm base since 2003, though they have known each other from schooldays, their official debut album 'Digipop' comes out on 13th October 2008, more info at

SFT's music is distinctly tinged with an Eighties New-Wave vibe and hints of Voice Of The Beehive and Alisha's Attic are audible in the vocals, yet the sound has a malevolent beat with claustrophobic sequences giving an ever present threat of something more sinister going on beneath the lip gloss and legwarmers. The lead track 'I am Entertainer' has a sunny girl group disposition about it and is probably the most obviously commercial tune, yet 'A Girl's Best Friend' is probably a better signature tune to sum up the territory SFT are lurking in. It takes a few listens to connect, but slowly yet assuredly, it will creep up and pounce on you, and the song 'Passionate Glue' squeezes into Aphex Twin's minimal experimental musings. The formula of David Cronenberg does eurosynthpop, set to the backdrop of a plush gentleman's club is a heady mix.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

First Aid Kit

I don't know what the Swedish authorities are putting into their water supply, but it must be something pretty potent, this must be the only explanation as to why Sweden is producing so many quality musicians these days. Hot off the 'back to basics' folk conveyor belt, comes a delightful duo called First Aid Kit.

They are sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, who are making some spine tingling sounds, that manages to be sweet, spooky, rustic and graceful, all at the same time. The harmonies are astonishingly accomplished and their voices have a richness and depth that belies their youth, both girls being still in their teens. Throw into the mix the fact that Klara has only been playing guitar for two years, then the possibilities of what they could achieve in the future are breathtaking... They have a mini album out on Rabid Records called 'Drunken Trees' that was released in their native Sweden earlier this year. They even designed the cover, these girls must have hit every branch when they fell out of the talent tree!

Tiger Mountain Peasant Song is a cover version of the Fleet Foxes song, enjoy!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Furry's Blogging tips No.1

Don't leave yourself open to ageist abuse by telling the world what an old woman you've become!!! ;)

Note the zimmer frame has a handy ledge just the right size for a record bag.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Rosie and the Goldbug plus openroom - live review

Location Orange Rooms, Southampton

The first thing I noticed about this venue's ambiance is that the interior designer's job was pretty straight forward, when given the brief for kitting out this overtly cool bar venue... if it's orange and retro.. buy it!

It has to be noted that the promotion surrounding this gig seems to have been virtually non existent, to the point that even the bar staff weren't aware of who was playing. Fortunately we made the effort to turn up, persevering with the rumour that Cornwall's finest trio 'Rosie and the Goldbug' were performing, as part of a promotional tour for their debut album, which has just been released on Lover Records on 15th September 2008. I was pleased and relieved to see the logo plastered across the pavement by the front door, especially as I'd dragged along my saxophone playing chum Platterhorn, with the promise of an evening of top quality off kilter, yet commercial insect rock.

It's a test of a band's mettle to see how they react, when they are confronted with a sparse crowd at a midweek gig, who are mostly interested observers as opposed to dedicated followers. Luckily for us 'The Goldbug' have enough gumption about them to give it some welly and deliver a glittering nugget of a show, despite the less than awe inspiring circumstances. The three piece delivered a frenetic sound that sparkles with energy. I've always thought that the stripped down sound of a trio can often be more essential than a bigger group, when administered correctly. There's no room for any slack in the sound and every instrument has justify it's inclusion, just think of the raw sound Jimi Hendrix Experience or more recently Placebo.

Pixie attacked his bass, ducking and diving like Muhammad Ali in his prime, Plum (previously of Japanese drumming group Kagemusha Taiko) clattered the drums with sheer finesse and in Rosie, this combo have a charismatic performer capable of holding the attention of any audience, leading from the front. It's fair to say that she doesn't just play her keyboard, more like use it as a launch pad for her theatrics. Clatterhorn remarked that the presence of a lead guitar wasn't missed at all in the mix. The chorus hooks are very catchy and have a strong commercial edge underneath the Gothic burlesque frills. It comes as no surprise that Marcella Detroit has had a hand in the songwriting duties as there is a hint of Shakespear’s Sister in the dramatic song structures, El Presidente and producer Jim Eliot (Kish Mauve) have also had a hand in crafting the Goldbug sound.

They opened with the spiky Butterfly and then launched old favourite War Of The Roses (Because You Said So) rattled through Strange Girl, current single Lover and It's Electric, before easing up with Springtime Dreaming a slower song that reminded us of Regina Spector and finished up with a smooth slab of Goldfrapp like electro pop Heartbreak. We appreciated all their efforts and special mention must go to the game girl dressed up as a gold bug who spent the evening popping wooden clothes pegs promoting the website onto unsuspecting members of the audience. We look forward to another Goldbug experience, but hopefully the next time our paths cross, there will be a proper crowd to participate in the event, otherwise I might just have to bring my dressing gown and comfy slippers if it's going to feel like a private performance in my living room again and no one should be subjected to that sight!

A quick mention of local boys openroom, a group of five young scamps with asymmetric haircuts, who deliver a pleasing sound that mixes Artic Monkeys with 'Planet Earth' era Duran Duran. These whippersnappers have some very toe tapping tunes in their set, with 'We're Gonna Run' standing out, it's catchy new wave synth hook reminding me of The Soupdragon from The Clangers, which can only be a good thing in my book.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Blood, Sweat and Tears - No Sweat

Now, here we have a prime example of why buying vinyl albums can be such an enriching activity, adding to core experience of listening to music product. Blood, Sweat and Tears were a pioneering prog jazz rock band who pushed the envelope of this genre, back in the late sixties, early seventies. No Sweat was released in 1973 and is one of the finest examples of gatefold fold packaging of this period. The band must have been smoking some heavy gear to have agreed to this particular concept that the cover designers pitched to the record company.

I can only imagine that the meeting went something like this:

Designer: O.K guys, now the title is gonna be 'No Sweat' so we have chucked the concept around with our brightest sparks and after some serious deliberation, thinking waaaay out of the box, the boys have come up with a sauna theme!

B S & T: uh huh, we're cool with that.. Are there gonna be like, nakkid chicks, all lubed up huh?

: Err, not quite, we were thinking more on the the lines of you all dressed up in tux'n'tails.

B, S &T: Classy! we like it... but then we get to strip off next to some broads, yeah?

Designer: Your batting in roughly the right ballpark, but we were imagining a steamy room packed with some guys! fab eh!!

B, S & T: oh guys...

Designer: Yeah old guys..

B,S & T: ole geezers!?

Designer: For sure..all of 'em just wearing towelling.

B, S &T: flabby nakkid ole guys.. !!

Designer: fab ain't it, but you've yet to hear the best part; on the picture on the inner covers, you take your clothes off as well, looking like your taking orders from a guy whose a dead ringer for Uncle Junior off The Sopranos (artistic licence here, stick me me folks)

B, S & T: I'm not feelin' it maaan, sounds like we're going to look pretty daft...

Designer: Guys, guys, it's high concept stuff here, the message is the MAN is having to accept you rebellious longhairs. It's a statement, your fans will love it, yer speaking their street cred, in fact, by the third picture, the ole boys are not just accepting the new world order, but they actually look like they are lovin' been surrounded by you longhairs, you've totally turned em maaaan, they've tuned on, turned on and dropped out! WOW!

B, S & T: I hope the soap ain't being dropped at this point!

Designer: By the final image on the back, you've swept away the old order, leaving just the band members hanging out together soaking up the atmosphere, all just through the power of your presence and some strategically placed towels.

B, S & T: We err.. look manly here, um right? not like we're enjoying each others company, too much?
Designer: Of course..Greek gods

B,S & T: The chicks will still dig us right? we won't look slightly daft, or be portrayed in any manner at all that gives the impression that we're a little bit, well you know, camp?

Designer: Of course not, this'll be the the making of the band, that cover will be the iconic cover of the Seventies like 'Sgt Peppers' you boys will be stellar once everyone sees this, you can trust me on this, after all I am a designer!

B,S & T: Well in that case O.K. let's roll with it, no sweat!,_Sweat_&_Tears

Saturday, 13 September 2008


I recently had the pleasure; along with Morris Chancer; of catching Mimas live at the Talking Heads in Southampton, as part of a short national tour of England. They have now returned to their home base in Århus, Denmark leaving behind a trail of very satisfied gig goers who feasted on their particular brand of atmospheric celebratory post rock.

The band are made up of four Danes Gert Hoberg Jørgensen (bass, vocals), Daniel Malling Beck (guitar, vocals) Lasse Dahl Christensen (drums, vocals) and an Icelander Snævar Njáll Albertsson (vocals, guitar, trumpet). They describe their music as 'Death-indie' but I would describe it as ‘big music’ that make you tingle.

They produced an E.P ‘Hands Will Carry’ which came out in 2005 to their credit. This gained them a slot at the famous Roskilde Festival in Denmark and a first tour of England brought them to the attention of Worst Case Scenario Records who released a split single with The Follow in 2006 ‘Thought Discuss’ gained favourable reviews and widened their fan base beyond their following back in native Denmark. Mimas now release a debut album ‘The Worries’ on 4th October 2008 through Big Scary Monsters Records and have come back in England on a short promotional tour.

We arrived fashionably late and so apologies go out to the support band on the bill, we only caught the tail end of the performance of Komiss. This was due to another special event taking place on the same night i.e. England playing well for the first time in an eon vs Croatia, We had to catch the full ninety minutes of exhilarating football as it’s a rare event for the national team to produce a performance that lively. I shall endeavor to catch up with Komiss in the near future but it sounded the bees-knees from the two songs that we managed to hear. I understand that the support listed Prego weren’t able to make it but again further investigation will carried out in due course.

As Mimas took to the stage a smattering of people drifted in to give the audience numbers an air of respectability, but really it was a shame that more folks couldn't make the effort to appreciate a quality outfit. The lead singer pronounced an introduction, that the band as a whole was tired and missing wives and family. I hoped something was being lost in translation, as my fears grew of a performance, that was going to rush through a minimum number of tunes in a disinterest manner, in order to fulfill a contractual obligation.

However, as soon as they launched into the opening track my doubts evaporated as Mimas became totally focused on music and proceeded to deliver a performance of intensity and majesty with soaring trumpets, tight harmonies and wall of exquisite noise. It’s indicative of a band that’s going in the right direction that they could switch straight into the zone, appearing fully concentrated on producing an energetic sound that fed off each member of the group. The yelping vocals, with English lyrics, intertwined with languid moments of maudlin trumpet solos on 'Dads' and 'Mac Get Your Car' is a sonic maelstrom. At times the guys were lost in their own world, buzzing to the beat, delighting in the sheer joy of creating a huge sound that sparkles.

Mimas is a moon of Saturn and the smallest known astronomical body of the solar system. Mimas is also a band making a large sound: a musical Titan, if you like, befitting their mythological Greek namesake.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Frank Turner

A couple of weeks ago I sent my most heavily whiskered reporter, Morris Chancer, on a mission to the Cambridge Folk Festival to seek out and make note of the most exciting acts that were appearing at the venerable event. He has reported back to base and let it be known that imaginedvillage were wonderful and also worth keeping an eye on is Frank Turner, formally of punk group Million Dead.

He has taken a different musical path since the break up of this outfit and has delivered two albums with a heavy leanings towards folk: 'Sleep Is For The Week' in 2007 and 'Love, Ire and Song' released in 2008.

The leading track from the latest album is especially noteworthy for the lyrics, which surely speak for the generation of whom the advertisers have cringingly pigeon holed as entering 'middle youth' It certainly resonates with me and is set to become an anthem for saga slackers everywhere... altogether now...


Well I guess I should confess that I am starting to get old
All the latest music fads all passed me by and left me cold
All the kids are talking slang I won't pretend to understand
All my friends are getting married, mortgages and pension plans
And it's obvious my angry adolescent days are done
And I'm happy and I'm settled in the person I've become
But that doesn't mean I'm settled up and sitting out the game
Time may change a lot but some things may stay the same

And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all I will not grow up
And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all I yeah I won't grow up

Oh maturity's a wrapped up package deal so it seems
And ditching teenage fantasy means ditching all your dreams
All your friends and peers and family solemnly tell you you will
Have to grow up be an adult yeah be bored and unfulfilled
Oh when no ones yet explained to me exactly what's so great
About slaving 50 years away on something that you hate
Look I'm meekly shuffling down the path of mediocrity
Well if that's your road then take it but it's not the road for me

And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all I will not grow up
And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all I yeah I won't grow up
And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all I will not grow up

And if all you ever do with your life is photosynthesize
Then you deserve every hour of these sleepless nights
That you spend wondering when you're gonna die
Now I'll play and you sing the perfect way for the evening to begin
Now I'll play and you sing the perfect way for the evening to begin

And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all yeah I won't grow up
And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all I will not grow up
And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all I will not grow up

You can rest assured Frank, that here at Scratchy Buckles, we won't grow up either... (fansite)