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Archive for August 2008

Jersey Live- Day One

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So we come to the opening day of the Jersey Live festival and it’s a scorcher, and no I’m not just talking about Foals fretwork. It’s hotter than the surface of Mercury today and it’s just going to get hotter. Those skinny jeaned patrons will find it even tougher than usual to peel themselves out at the end of the day. Are skinny jeans the worlds greatest natural contraceptive?

Events so far have involved seeing various Zutons members enjoying the delights of various St Heliers bars and catching a few eyes. Big news of the day is that Crystal Castles have pulled out of their main Stage slot for tomorrow night.  Who will replace them is yet to be said… but perhaps we could have a 45minute bass solo from weekend compare Mani!!

All that’s left to be said for now is thank you to event organiser Warren Le Sueur for giving me a lift down this morning. Top man.

Now I hear Black Stats storming the stage so it’s off to collect more tales of the day….

…So Black Stats were cool, and the Brighton based Jersey ex-pats The Valentines have been on.

Only contencious issue of the day is the number of fucking wasps. Have they instigated some crazy breeding program during the long dark summer because there are thousands of the fuckers. Wasp repellant ideas please!!


Written by Jonathan

August 30, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Posted in Live, Reviews

Tagged with , , ,

Roots Manuva – August 2008

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This article originally appeared on Subba Cultcha.

“Oh the Roots of 1999 would not have liked this record (Slime and Reason), I’m not making bachelor bedroom hip hop anymore.” Rodney Smith, aka Roots Manuva premier elect of UK hip hop, is responding to the question of what has changed in the UK hip hop scene and in the Roots Manuva world in the decade since he dropped ‘Brand New Second Hand’ which, crazy as it seems, will reach double figures next year. Has it really been 10 years since everything?

Roots Manuva is back with a brand new LP, the glorious ‘Slime and Reason’, launching with two devastating singles that in two easy strokes have created a one man battle for song of the year. First off the dirty frolicking slice of scuzzed up dancehall that sees Roots laying down sweet temptation for the ladies of Hackney by offering promises of such stunning rituals as pulling a wheelie in exchange for some intimate attention. It’s the first example of three collaborations from Slime and Reason to feature the mystical skills of baby faced producing prodigy Toddla T. The two seem to have found a harmonious balance that allows Roots to sounds as free as at any point in his career, sliding freeform lyrical meanderings over tight beats and pelvis agitating bass. Secondly, in follow up single ‘Again and Again’, Roots has produced a track who’s melodies will stick to your with 10 times the staying power of anything Duffy or her cohorts ever produce. The Shy-FX produced single version featuring a horn section that sucks up a lethal dose of summer and injects it straight into your heart like a reggae loving extra from Pulp Fiction. It’s a knockout one two that declares Roots Manuva is back and has produced the album that may finally see the masses become aware of what many have been shouting from the rafters since 2001s touchstone ‘Run Come Save Me’ LP.

Talking with Roots Manuva is not the easiest thing in the world, anyone who saw him capitulating at chess against Trevor Nelson in Ibiza will know he’s a man who can easily lead you off on a wily tangent to avoid speaking about his craft and simply let the music talk for itself. Those of you who follow his Twitter updates from his site will know he recently had to fly to Paris and Berlin to service what he sees as the promo beast and he is as duplicitous in interview as on record. His records and his persona straddle the line of observational, biographical and socially informed and the dryly comic. It’s a line that has in the past caused him some discomfort with Roots remarking about his last album ‘Awfully Deep’ “I’m less concerned with trying to be Mr Stand Up reflecting on life this time. I was pretty disturbed by the misinterpretation of the last record!” It’s still a juxtaposition on Silme & Reason, for every Again and Again there’s a “The Struggle” detailing the travails of Roots’ personal life so it might explain the overtly comic nature of his recent videos. The videos of Slime & Reason come across like an urban Benny Hill flying around in ice cream vans and suffering a mishap laden afternoons cricket. “I hate making videos man”, cries Rodney when asked how much he likes to get involved in the process. “But I come up with the ideas, like the cricket idea (Again and Again) was mine. I usually come up with the idea I’ll hate the most and pick that. I love videos but I hate the process of getting that idea to the screen. they’re hard work!”

This summer has seen some big one off and festival shows such as Ibiza Rocks, and the upcoming V Festival and Bestival. Asked what he thinks of these shows compared to the more intimate headline stops he notes. “With my shows they can pretty much go off anywhere you know. It depends on the mood, on the audience but they can go off anywhere. With a festival show you got to play a certain type of show. It’s more about the hits. Bt the new stuffs gone down really well.” Being a uniquely british urban voice is there a barrier to breaking through outside these shores? “ Nah man, Europes just a different vibe, they approach it in a different way to the UK fans, in the UK you get some who only like the first album or some who only like the second album and I think on the continent it’s more of a blur so yeah, they’re good shows to play.”

With Slime & Reason landing in september and a full scale Uk headline act in the autumn there is going to be a lot more of the promo beast for Mr Manuva to cope with, but backed up by an album that, despite not being his masterpiece is his best and most accessible work to date it will be a sacrifice worth making. The only reasonable choice this autumn is to get yourself good and Slimey!

Roots Manuva

Written by Jonathan

August 19, 2008 at 12:15 pm

Maths Class – Brighton Interview July 2008

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“I don’t know how the hell he found that out! Someone’s talking and he’s not telling, even when we got off air. He’s not telling.” These are the slightly alarmed remarks of Tim Sketchley, vocalist of ascendent stars Maths Class, recounting the bands recent experiences recording a live set for BBC 6’s enigmatic Marc Riley. The Big British Castles ex Fall man bamboozled the band by recounting tales from their murky past involving a spot of gonzo golf from atop Brighton train station. That even some of the newer members amongst their ranks were not privy to these events shows the reach of Rileys inquisition! Attracting the Columbo like attentions of such premier taste makers is something Maths Class are going to have to get used to mind, as their angular, post punk repertoire and bacchanalian live shows are sweeping through the playlists indie prospectors, in short; they’re gonna be big.

Completed by Piers Cowburn (Synth/vox), Andy Davies (Guitar/vox), Aleksander Damms (Bass) and Michael Gartside (Drums) Maths Class laid down a marker with the double A side bombast of ‘Emporio Laser/ Cushion Glamour’ in November of 2007, following that up this summer with the ‘Now This Will Take Two Hands’ Ep they are proving that their progress is swift and emphatic. Tracks like ‘Branches’, ‘Jonny Got The Jawline’ and the contagious ‘Nerves’ show a band pulling in a hundred directions at once but sounding all the tighter for it. Tim muses that this could be down to the collaborative nature of their writing process, “we all chip in with the vocals, so a song like ‘Nerves’ would be made up of an intro by me, then Piers added the first verse, I did the second verse and we kind of leapfrog like that. It’s the same musically, so it’s kind of they’ll write a bit and I’ll write a bit and then when it comes to practice, I used to play the drums so I can get quite involved with the drums, but we’ll piece it together. A lot of the process is actually taking away bits from the songs, editing down because we write too much. We want to write to jump around with these songs not to be hunched over our instruments focusing on every note. We love playing this music but sometimes you realise that no-one is going to want to listen to this or buy it. So we edit it down, we always write for the song, I think that’s how we differ from a band like Battles”. The band are also experimenting, driving forward to their ultimate goal of recording a defining album and creating a body of work. “There’s another Ep in November we hope and that’s the next step towards making an album. We’re very much gearing towards writing for an album, when we get there we want it to be perfect, 100% ready and we’ll pick 10 songs out of 20 and be able to say these are the best that represent us as a band at this time. The guitarist (Andy)… wants to write an album that we’ll be able to look back on in 20 years time, that will stand up.”

We need Maths Class, because we need to dance, we need a band to make this music fun again, to give the staccato riffs, rhythmic u-turns and cut up time signatures heart, to make us want to scream blue murder and dance on tables We need them to destroy that repugnant math rock tag, to bludgeon it into the ether with the weight of its own hyperbole . Isn’t this emo all over again, trying to separate the Rival Schools from the MyChemical bynumbers? Maths Class make music for the heart and music for the feet. I’ve got about as much chance of quitting ‘Now This Will Take Two Hands’ as Ennis Del Mar had of quitting anything. There’s influences galore pouring out of the speakers like a wine giving up its secrets to an enquiring nose. They mix elements of bands like The Robot VS, Art Brut, Pavement and, 24 seconds into ‘Nerves’, they kick it up a level, managing to give me the same free-fall exhilaration on record I got shoehorned into a london sweatbox to see The Blood Brothers way back when.

So to the future. The tail end of 2008 is going to be a period of giant strides for Maths Class, in late August they will be supporting mercurial tunesmith Stephen Malkmus across the country, as well as heading into the studio to lay down the tracks for that November Ep. Following that September sees the band undertaking a 6 date mini tour of the land of the rising sun. “We got offered this tour of Japan by this record label 1977 who also offered to put out the Ep over there”, notes Tim, “it’s a 6 date tour and we’re playing this chain of clothes shops. It’s going to be awesome. Actually we have a group of Japanese fans who already come to the UK shows.” Then when they return they’ll be more shows, “like a proper band”, more songs and more videos, a prospect that the band will clearly relish as Tim enthuses that producing the inspired clip for ‘Nerves’ was “the best experience. It was done by some friends of friends on such a small budget. They came to us with about 10 different ideas and we sat down together and went through and decided which would be appropriate for us. It worked out amazingly. 120 minutes was on at Piers brothers house and it was the first track that came on. That was such a cool experience as we I used to watch 120 minutes everyday after school when I was 16.” Before departing Tim notes there are rumblings also of their EP making its way onto desks at the Aussie tastemakers JJJ, that everyone should be check out Brighton bands Elle Milano and Heels Catch Fire and that no Maths Class party is ever complete without Cherry Lambrini. Japan, you have been warned!

Written by Jonathan

August 18, 2008 at 10:51 am

Restlesslist – Brighton, July 2008

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This article was conducted for The Beat Happening magazine.

There’s something about island and coastal dwellers. Perhaps it’s an imbalance of sodium in the veins, maybe its the incessant threat of falling foul to some Hitchcockian seagull related demise or the muggy vapors of those lost at sea wandering the streets, eulogised on harbour wall plaques. Whatever the provenance the proximity of the sea seems to break down the normal restraints of human self control, creating a palpable frisson, an infectious theendisuponus spirit that fuels wanton creativity and overt depravity. It is apt then that scintillating Brightonian instrumentalists Restlesslist have produced an album perfectly encapsulating that essence of the modern British seaside town. ‘The Rise and Fall of the Curtain Club’ is aural schizophrenia, a cut up combination of the classic funfair facades and the punch drunk explorations of relentless house parties and 3am deckchair liaisons.

Conceived in the cradle of modern bandom, the converted bedroom studio, as a natural extension of the friendship between Benjamin Elliot (art, hearts and ink) and Mathew Thwaites (you know him from Electric Soft Parade) and fired by house party discussions and DJ slots the two quickly decided they wanted to fuse their creativity. As they noted what they were creating quickly demanded an audience outside those privy to their homestead and they begun the onerous task of assembling a full band. “It hasn’t really been a bedroom thing for a year maybe two,” offers Ben before Matthew adds, “we still write in their though, we’ve got a converted studio about the size of this.. (Small arm gestures)”. “We didn’t really think about it, it was just a hobby that we kind of kept to ourselves but then we got a gig and had to put a band together,” “couldn’t” notes Ben chuckling, “yeah couldn’t so got dropped from the gig, and then just carried on. A few people have come and gone but now it’s a band.” A band indeed and currently employing the very able talents of luminaries such as Brakes man Thomas White along with Matthew Davies and Max Erle. “It’s been good because of the way it’s gone”, continues Ben, “because we didn’t start with any idea of how we’d sound or how we’d look it’s bee a very natural progression. It all makes sense.”

Many of the bands compositions, such as ‘Dirty Pint’, for which they recently completed a gloriously compulsive video, and ‘Mint Sauce’, lilt menacingly between elegiac seaside organ evocations and complete sfrozando. They take imperialistic British seaside whimsy and subject it to a Burroughs tinged cut-up groove surgery, the resultant heady brew conjuring scenes of Billy Childish channelling the ghost of Ennio Morricone and the pair cruising the bars and boardwalks glassing organ players left and right before torching the whole damn mess. It’s a ragged edged soundtrack that will launch a million filmmakers amongst its listeners. Interestingly though many of the key signposts surfacing in their reviews, such as Morricone, are surprising the band themselves. “I actually got into Morricone through reading one of our reviews,” states Matt, “the name kept coming up so I looked into it.” Matthew does go on to reveal an insightful addiction to collecting Disney soundtracks proffering that The Little Mermaid may just be the pinnacle of modern fairy tale embellishment. Though a brief mini tour of their house reveals endless mountains of bizarre instruments and scattershot piles of vinyl turning up everything from scandinavian elf Bjork to BBC field recordings reflecting the eclecticism that translates to record.

For all their lo-fi bedroom roots Restlesslist have started 2008 in gloriously high profile form and have been garnering high praise from all quarters with BBC 6’s resident ex-Fall man Marc Riley declaring ‘Butlin Breaks’ the best record he has heard. Alongside Album Of The Week accolades from Huw Stephen’s, endless spins from Colin Murray and Steve Lemacq and triumphant live turns at the like of Truck festival and The Great Escape, Restlesslist are poised to make huge waves. Every life is better soundtracked, and Restlesslist are grand masters of the art.

Written by Jonathan

August 18, 2008 at 10:45 am