Thursday, 23 April 2009

fránçois & The Atlas Mountains... bonjour Bristol


fránçois 'Golden Lips'



Even if he was back of a bus ugly like the singing woman fix-up on that Simon Cowell thing there'd still be plenty more to like about Bristol resident fránçois... like, say, his actual music.

The French ex-pat arrived in Bristol in 2003 and wasted little time in serving up his UK debut long-player in 2004. 'Les Anciennes Falaises' (probably doesn't translate as 'my false teeth taste like aniseed', but would be nice if it did) is terribly lo-fi even by lo-fi standards, but you can hear it's all there, you can hear what's to come - the deft touch with melody, the breathy bi-lingual vocal, the odd-sounding instruments, Casios, toy trumpets et al... and then he found a band, and with it his feet.

The Atlas Mountains collective are good, very good. They add that extra ping to fránçois. It would appear that they are to Bristol what The Fence Collective are to Edinburgh. And on closer inspection, Bristol would appear something of a hotbed. Try The Mountain Parade, Arctic Circle and The Bumblebees to name but three. Maybe Bristol can be my new Manchester...

Anyway, couldn't decide which fránçois track to wrap your ears in, so if you like this I can only implore you to hunt down 'Tour De France', a magnificent, bruised and swollen romp of a song. Oh, hang on... consider it hunted. And then there's the excellent 'The People To Forget' album, which for a mere £7.29 you can get from Norman Records. Look out also for a new 10-inch called 'Her River Raves Recollections', which is due soon.

More hear...
- A surprising amount of stuff to have a look-see at. First there's the proper website
- Then there's the old MS
- And lastly but not leastly, there's some record labels, where you should be buying his records... first, Bristol's StichStich, who also have a MS, and second, from Spanish Spain, the curious Lesjos Discos
- How about a last.fm page?

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The Answering Machine... Manchester calling, again


The Answering Machine 'Oh Christina'




Maybe it's just me, I don't think it is, but what is it about Manchester? I did seem to spend an inordinate amount of time there or there abouts in the olden days, so maybe it got into my blood, dunno, but as my regular reader will know, I am strangely drawn, virtually at least, more often than not to Manc music.

Poking around as usual tonight, and the Manchester correspondent in me kicked in once more while playing the friends of friends of friends of game on MySpace.

The Answering Machine are one of those bands that make me wish, like a lot of bands do these days, that Melody Maker was still around. We'd have been all over this lot like a rash. Rattling along, and with the kind of licks that could do a 99 in mere seconds, The Answering Machine have a hint of The Undertones about them or maybe it's a little bit Wedding Present-y. There's the mereist glimpse of early Blur in there too. But not only do they sound corking, they look pretty natty too. The complete package if you will.

Anyway, once again my research has proved incisive - by looking at their picture I know there is four of them and one of them is a lady, who plays bass. I suspect the other people in the picture do things like singing and playing other instruments that aren't the bass. I know Lamacq has given them a run out and there's a Riley session in the bag too. I should pay much more attention, but you know, I'm kind of glad I don't, I'm glad I can dip in and out and find gems like this.

Note to self - Keep up the good work.

More hear...
- The MS, natch
- And rather nicely, they provide a handy blog for reference
- They're on tour right now, dates on the MS
- Buy their new single, 'Cliffer', right here
- Finally, but not leastly, their record label, Heist or Hit, has a site. Nice.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Swedish Shoes... sweet sole music


Swedish Shoes 'Sleep And Eat'




What's red and lies in the gutter? A dead bus. Or in our case, two or three, because see, they all appeared at once when we decided we were open for business again yesterday and all died of shock when we served up our second post in as many days. It won't last.

While I was rummaging yesterday, I came across Swedish Shoes on the previously mentioned swedesplease.net. This much I know - they're called Ola Angleby and Joakim Näslund, who may or may not look like the above picture. And that's it. I'm not even sure if they're just called Shoes, adding the Swedish bit to differentiate themselves from all those bands called Shoes in other parts of the world.

What I know for certain is they sound - to quote my old pal - literally quite good. Cleverer people than me have already said there's a hint of Antony off of the Johnsons, which you'd have to agree with. Not sure where their Depeche Mode comparison comes from though. No entirely sure it's necessary for the end of the song to descend into its odd folk wigout, but hey, who am I to complain when there's handclaps too. Who's anyone to complain when there's handclaps? Enormously likable stuff.

More hear...
- Erm, there's just the MySpace, which is here

Monday, 23 February 2009

hjaltalín... mjög góður örugglega


hjaltalín 'Traffic Music'




Gosh, is that the month already? The sharper knives among you will have noticed we completely dropped out back there, and for some considerable time too. So long in fact we missed Xmas, New Year, the entire month of January and, indeed, most of February.

If this was a proper job and not our own do what we like, when we like sort of place we'd have been sacked some time ago. Thankfully, it is our very own do what we like place. Ha.

Easing ourselves back in like you'd ease yourself into a very cold swimming pool, we were stumbling around with our cloth ears flapping madly when we discovered The Music Alliance Pact.

Essentially a collection of MP3 blogs from around the world, serving up a track a month, we found MAP on the rather nice swedesplease.net and spent a happy evening listening to stuff from Brazil and Argentina, Canada, Chile, New Zealand... February's selection features tracks from 22 countries, the pick of the bunch, hands down, is Iceland's magnificent hjaltalín.

We're not sure how many of them there actually are, but we've studied pictures and have counted between seven and nine. A mini orchestra then, they come fully loaded with violins, cellos, bassoons, clarinets, accordions, trumpets, trombones, french horns, singing, the lot. They remind us of the very finest moments of Mr Jake Shillingford's My Life Story polished with a hankie from the very top draw of (inevitably) The Arcade Fire. There's probably some Paul Heaton in there too for good measure. Some say it's a bit Mercury Rev, which you suppose it might be.

hjaltalín are hardly a secret we know, but give us a chance. We're easing in slowly. They are uh-mazing. Louise, you will love them, but Simon won't.

More fine new music soon. No, really.

More hear...
- This year we will be mostly bigging up last.fm. Hear more hjaltalín here
- We will also be continuing to point out that every band in the world has a MS
- And it would be deeply amiss of us not to point out you can actually still BUY music. Their very fine debut album, 'Sleepdruk Sessions' is here for less than a tenner.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Ivan Campo... they shoot, they score


Ivan Campo 'The Curse'




Mancester's Ivan Campo have been brewing via my headphones for a few weeks now, I should have written about them an age ago, but haven't. Apologies Ed. There's a good reason I've been so tardy though - I can't decide which flipping song I like best. I can't.

Named after the notorious big-haired Spanish defender (who is currently being over-looked for a place in the back four at Ipswich Town), I've been travelling a lot recently and the eight Ivan songs in my possession have been every mile.

I think 'Forgetful Fred' might be my favourite. I've listened to it a lot. A. Lot. How can you not like something that gently swells with delightful sunshine calypso? Where Manc lads get sunshine calypso from is anyone's guess. With not one song wandering over 2'40", it's easy to listen again and again and again. I have done and can confirm it's easy. 'Lotus Eater', with its Merseybeat bounce, is straight off the set of 'Ready Steady Go', while the foot-tapping twang of 'Rat Race' ambles off up I Am Kloot street, but i think, by a nose, the gentle shimmering plinky-plonk of 'The Curse' gets my vote.

If you need a peg to hang your coat on, it lands them in territory occupied by near neighbours The Coral, as does 'Darling Diva', which is just lovely, and it's alarm clock percussion is a delight on a stick. There's that proper off-kilter sensibility that we like so much round these parts, they also have a quite brilliant knack for a tune, and the kind of soul only bands from the North-West seem able to muster. And as your default Manchester correspondent, I should know.

As an aside, their new EP, 'Super 7', is produced by Yorkie who, fact fans, was in a band called Space. It feels odd having to explain who Space are. In the late Nineties they were properly famous. They were top boys, and I enjoyed their company enormously when I spent time with them for a Maker cover, which was a rare thing - enjoying the company of pop stars, not me writing Maker covers, no, no. I particularly recall Yorkie's football talk and finely tuned sense of humour. Glad to hear he's still making good use of himself.

You'll be hearing more from Ivan Campo I'd wager.

More hear...
- There's the MS then, but there's also a proper site with a ton of music that's NOT on MS. We like that.
- Their new EP, 'Super 7', will be with us in March 2009.