:{140 CHARACTERS}: May 2012 //

Being the model of concision that I’m not, stuff that I’ve seen, mercifully reviewed in miniature:

:{ARCTIC CIRCLE}: 6th Birthday Fundraiser @ Westminster Reference Library
The collaborative forces of @poplarpenguin’s musical friends create a celebration of the magical & childlike 4 their birthday fundraiser.
4★
jointhecircle.net

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:{BABEL}: @ Caledonian Park, Islington
An intriguing start & the impressive setting of @BABEL_LDN are undermined by a lack of solid storytelling & a guiding hand on the script.
2★
babellondon.com

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Neil Simon’s :{THE SUNSHINE BOYS}: @ The Savoy Theatre
Richard Griffiths & @DannyDeVito’s embittered vaudeville veterans rule the stage in a rattling revival of Neil Simon’s @SunshineBoysLDN.
4★
sunshineboystheplay.com

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:{GINA YASHERE}: @ The E4 Udderbelly Festival, Southbank Centre
The audience give @ginayashere plenty of scope for winning banter, but time passes at the expense of prepared material &, thus, the show.
2★
ginayashere.com

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More stuff and music to love:
twitter.com/djprolix //

:{IS LOVING…}: THE ASTEROIDS GALAXY TOUR: major //

:{IS LOVING…}:
THE ASTEROIDS GALAXY TOUR: major [bmg] //

listen: hypem.com //
album: out of frequency [released 24th february 2012] //
reviews: metacritic.com //
theasteroidsgalaxytour.com //

I first heard about Copenhagen’s THE ASTEROIDS GALAXY TOUR a month ago when, I’ll be honest, I downloaded ‘Major’ purely on the strength of the band’s name. Imagine my unfettered joy, therefore, when the song turned out to be a funky monkey too.

THE ASTEROIDS claim to be “a psychedelic big band of the future” which the blog, Surviving The Golden Age, interpreted as: “basically, it’s ‘Groove is in the Heart’ mixed with Britney Spears.” I concede I have a soft spot for a bit of retro futurism, which is probably the same reason I like their Nordic cousins, Pepe Deluxé.

My friend, Norman, is beaver keen on THE AGT and bought tickets to see them at The Scala on Tuesday. Foolishly, he went to the Isle of Man instead, but his loss was my gain. Singer, Mette Lindberg, channels Barbarella beauty, the band brings a trunk of funk and, on the singles, ‘Around The Bend’, ‘The Golden Age’, ‘Heart Attack’ and the aforementioned ‘Major’, it’s a potent combination. But, it’s the songs in between which struggle to sustain the momentum across a full set and lack the killer punch.
3★

:{THE ASTEROIDS GALAXY TOUR}:
“As their name might imply, THE ASTEROIDS GALAXY TOUR are somehow less of a band than they are a many-legged, ever-evolving, constantly moving party machine. Since beaming into popular consciousness back in 2008 with Fruit—a debut album responsible for producing the unstoppable, globally ubiquitous “Around the Bend” and “The Golden Age” singles—the band have toured the world, proving themselves to be one of the most unorthodox and uniquely original live bands on the planet.

Unlike so many of their Scandinavian contemporaries—bands that often attack pop music with an almost surgical precision—The Asteroids Galaxy Tour’s vision of pop music is a much more kaleidoscopic, free-wheeling affair—a symphonic collision of big pop hooks, soaring horn sections, retro-synth flourishes, and epic beats. Inspired by everything from Blaxploitation soundtracks to Primal Scream to old reruns of Dynasty, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour evolved from a bedroom recording project between friends into a psychedelic big band of the future.

Now, nearly two years since the release of their debut album, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour return with Out of Frequency — an album that represents the next logical step in the musical partnership of founding members Lars Iversen and Mette Lindberg. Working from Iversen’s studio–itself a veritable museum of collected instruments and vintage gear—the two began assembling a collection of songs that would become a kind of imaginary soundtrack to what one might imagine is the world’s most over-the-top spy film.

“We didn’t want to bore people with our private diaries, “ says Iversen, “We wanted to make music with a truly filmic quality—songs that feature characters that aren’t necessarily us. Songs with bad guys, heroes, and lovers.” Taking cues from classic big bands, psychedelic Danish children’s TV shows from the 70s, and old Parliament records, Lindberg and Iversen slowly perfected their own version of pop noir—music that manages the clever trick of sounding somehow classic and futuristic at the same time.”

More music to love:
twitter.com/djprolix //

:{RALLY TO SAVE OUR NHS}: Wednesday 7th March //

saveournhsgtw.png

:{RALLY TO SAVE OUR NHS}: Wednesday 7th March //
goingtowork.org.uk/saveournhs

WE’RE ALL DOOMED.
I met up with my family after the rally last night. To put this in context, my sister is a doctor, recently admitted to the Royal College Of Physicians, with a view to specialising in endocrinology. In other words, she’s not a medical student, or even a junior doctor and spends all day, every day, working in a hospital.

Brace yourselves:
She had not even *heard* of the Health And Social Care Bill and is not aware of anyone talking about it at work. I went with a friend and we both tried corralling friends for last night, to little avail. Two people who did join us are doctors and both said their colleagues didn’t know about the rally.

What hope is there of the man in the street kicking off about the Health Bill, if people working on the front line aren’t even aware of it?

31 people spoke last night and, for all the passion and wise words about what was wrong with the bill, I heard precious little about what could be done, in practice, that would stop the bill getting royal assent.

When Liberal Democrat MP, Andrew George, stood up to boos, his first words were to reassure the throng that he had opposed the bill at every stage. This was admittedly received well, but some people continued to heckle, especially when he tried to explain the reality that the bill could be law by 20th March (that’s 12 days).
Idiots.

Ultimately, last night felt like too little, too late.
It was also far too closed and insular, particularly because it was indoors, on a Wednesday and started at 6pm, when a lot of people would still be at work, or not have time to get there. Where is the much more visible, large scale, public march and demonstration, à la Iraq? Or even, whisper it, a strike?

Organised by the TUC, Cameron will not quake at the news that some unions had a meeting where they decided they don’t like the Tories. (They also reached quoracy on the important matters of the sky being blue and that water is wet).

The Guardian’s report is on the front page of their website, but nowhere near the top and it’s not a sensational story, certainly unable to take precedence over ‘Six UK Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan’. Compare and contrast with Britain’s best-selling newspaper, The Sun, and the NHS doesn’t feature at all (understandable when there are pressing issues du jour like ‘I Can’t Have Kids… So I Got 97 Plastic Babies’).

Of course, I hope the bill bites the Tories on the arse, whether it’s sooner or later, but I’m not optimistic about a Labour landslide at the next election. There are several reasons, especially the economy, why Cameron should be less popular than botulism at the moment, but Labour are still not capitalising in the polls.

People get miffed about the economy when money starts disappearing from their wallets. Likewise, I wonder if the majority of people will only care about the NHS when they get sick and it affects them directly. By which time, it will be far too late. We might think this is a horrible mistake but, clearly, Andrew Lansley doesn’t; some changes have already been made and, so far, he’s getting away with it.

To my dismay, I wonder if opposition remains confined to niche, interested parties and hasn’t achieved broad, national traction. If Cameron thought it would lose him the next election, that would make them rethink – until then, why would he change?

SAVE OUR NHS:
Sign The E-Petition
Adopt a Peer // Change your MP’s mind // Write to the Editor // SMS for the NHS

nhs-cameron-cam-nhs1.jpg

:{IS LOVING…}: PLAN B: ill manors //

:{IS LOVING…}:
PLAN B: ill manors [atlantic] //

FREE the prodigy remix: rcrdlbl.com //
album: ill manors [released 14th may 2012] //
time4planb.co.uk //

I remember hearing MJ Cole’s ‘Volcano Riddim’ and thinking that it was halfway to being an amazing tune, but that the jagged, processed strings and beats didn’t quite add up to a cohesive whole. Two years later, Plan B’s strings are full of the same foreboding, allied to a menacing, urban, state of the nation vocal, informed by the fallout from last year’s UK riots.  (A staggering) 18 years ago, The Prodigy were also concerned with political matters affecting Britain’s youth, due to the Criminal Justice Act. The beats on ‘Ill Manors’ would have been right at home on ‘Music for the Jilted Generation’ and, coincidentally, The Prodigy have also remixed the track. Gone are the sweet, Smokey Robinson pastiches and polished blue-eyed soul; Strickland Banks may not be dead, but he’s definitely resting.

More music to love:
twitter.com/djprolix //

:{IS LOVING…}: CHAIRLIFT: i belong in your arms //

:{IS LOVING…}:
CHAIRLIFT: i belong in your arms [young turks/columbia] //

listen: hypem.com //
album: something [released 23rd january 2012] //
reviews: metacritic.com //
chairlifted.com //

Plus, RCRD LBL are hosting several FREE Chairlift tracks, including Sinden’s whopping remix of ‘Evident Utensil’.

:{COLUMBIA RECORDS}:
“Chairlift, a multi-instrumental two-piece, currently hailing from Brooklyn, New York, play a thoughtful, dream-filled pop music, combining the timelessness of unforgettable melody with spare and sophisticated production, a meta-psychedelic worldview, and a classical avant-garde sensibility resolutely and merrily embracing the future.

Chairlift is: Aaron Pfenning, an experimental minimalist guitar player, who creates the delicate haunting quality of Chairlift; Caroline Polachek, a Connecticut-born singer whose vocals shape-shift from the ethereal to the earthy to the evanescent, depending on the particular needs or lines of a song; and Patrick Wimberly, a Nashville native whose decision to study jazz and orchestral arrangements at university first brought him into the radius of the band.”

More music to love:
twitter.com/djprolix //

:{THE BRIT AWARDS}: 2012 //

:{THE BRIT AWARDS}: 2012 //
brits.co.uk //

I’m not sure what I think of this year’s BRIT Awards; which is to say that I know what I think of them, but I’m not sure I like it. Cutting Adele off mid-speech to make way for Blur was a minor disgrace, especially when Blur’s speech had rambled aimlessly for a good three minutes before. But, that has become even more of a talking point, because there was so little to talk about.

I correctly predicted 9 out of the 10 awards on the night, but that gives me little pleasure (partly because I hadn’t put any money on it). If it was so obvious that Adele and (the surely not that interesting?) Ed Sheeran were going to divide the spoils between them, why bother with nominees and a ceremony? Save us all the bother and pop the gongs in the post.

As my friend, Drew Savage, once told me: play the quizmaster, not the quiz. With this in mind, the job was made even easier; poor Chase & Status were never going to win Best British Group, a category voted for by the listeners of Radio 2. Although, I’m slightly gutted I didn’t hear Jo Whiley trying vainly to explain dubstep and urban music to a non-target audience – “oh, I give up, ask your grandchildren”.

And, I don’t know if this marks a sea change in British music, or if there’s currently an enduring fashion for slightly quirky, yet bankable female solo artists, but Emeli Sandé was no surprise for the Critics’ Choice award, following Adele, Florence + The Machine, Ellie Goulding and Jessie J.

A lot of money is thrown at the production and, admittedly, there were plenty of pretty lights. And, whilst I enjoyed Rihanna’s Jackson Pollock in a Damien Hirst box performance, there wasn’t enough sparkle throughout. Much is usually made of exciting BRITs collaborations but, unless I missed something, the sum total was Chris Martin playing piano for Noel Gallagher, in the style of Schroeder from Peanuts.

Perhaps I expect too much, though, and maybe I forget that the BRITs are, more often than not, just like this:
The Brit awards 2012: predictable and parochial’ by Alexis Petridis
“This was never going to be a year to branch out. These days the record industry’s shindig has an eye for commercial success.”

:{THE BRIT AWARDS}: 2012 Winners
British Male Solo Artist: Ed Sheeran
British Female Solo Artist: Adele
British Breakthrough Act: Ed Sheeran
British Group: Coldplay
British Single: One Direction: ‘What Makes You Beautiful’
British Album: Adele: ‘21’
British Producer: Ethan Johns
International Male Solo Artist: Bruno Mars
International Female Solo Artist: Rihanna
International Breakthrough Act: Lana Del Rey
International Group: Foo Fighters
Critics Choice: Emeli Sandé
Outstanding Contribution to Music: Blur

:{IS LOVING…}: JAGWAR MA: come save me {the bumblebeez mix} //

:{IS LOVING…}:
JAGWAR MA: come save me {the bumblebeez mix} [the blue rider] //

FREE download: soundcloud.com //
listen to original: hypem.com //
original released: 27th february 2012 //
jagwarma.com //
thebumblebeez.com //

:{NB}: the video is for the original, not The Bumblebeez remix.

To dismiss ‘Come Save Me’ as a more radio friendly ANIMAL COLLECTIVE would be damning with faint praise, but they share a love of Beach Boys melody and the opening is certainly redolent of PANDA BEAR’s ‘Comfy in Nautica’ (especially when JAGWAR MA is played at the wrong speed).

The Bumblebeez reworking is altogether different, casting any retro yearnings through the nearest window, slicing the original in two with a bleeping, squeaking bread knife and dancing about on its grave singing “Hallelujah”. A difficult sensation to articulate, but it feels like a remix where it helps to hear the original first. Either way, it’s a lot of wonky fun, which they usefully describe as “a journey from Peru to Pluto, meeting Hendrix along the way.”

:{ABEANO MUSIC}:
“When I was living in Berlin we would go to a bar called Club Bassy, where they only played vinyl from the 40s/50s/60s and we would dance our pants off.” says Jono of the band’s early days “Afterwards we would go to Panorama Bar, where they only play vinyl from the year 2000+ and we would dance our pants off to deep, deep techno and house. There was something about that journey each weekend in Berlin that I really loved and I guess Jagwar Ma follows that in a way: I wanted to start a project that somehow combined those two unlikely worlds.”

More music to love:
twitter.com/djprolix //

:{IS LOVING…}: PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING: roygbiv //

:{IS LOVING…}:
PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING: roygbiv [test card] //

listen: hypem.com //
released: 5th march 2012 //
publicservicebroadcasting.net //

“Constituent parts being: J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth. Musical entity based in London. Teaching the lessons of the past through the music of the future. Proud wearers of corduroy. Informing, educating and entertaining since 2009.”

‘ROYGBIV’ is not only a very good piece of music, but a fine example of the (currently niche) genre, banjotronica. Not to be confused with ‘ROYGBIV’:

“Public Service Broadcasting are releasing their debut single ROYGBIV (Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet) – celebration of the birth of colour television. Public Service Broadcasting is the brainchild of J. Willgoose, Esq., who combines a guitar, a banjo, a computer and a theremin with samples from old public information films to create new, exciting and decidedly eccentric music that informs, educates and entertains in equal measure.

Played regularly on BBC 6Music, Tom Robinson has described PSB as ‘absolutely, sensationally brilliant’. Having performed to rave reviews in the London area since 2009, in 2010 PSB took a live show which added synchronised video (played on a 1960s TV set) to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for 7 nights, generating considerable word-of-mouth. Late 2010 also saw the debut of PSB’s occasional drumming partner, adding yet another dimension to the live show.

Willgoose is an erstwhile geography teacher and public information film enthusiast from south-west London with far too much time on his hands. He likes to put a smile on people’s faces, whether it be through the music, the quotes, the videos, the corduroy or the bow tie – and, as several punters have happily confessed, they have never seen anything quite like this before.”

More music to love:
twitter.com/djprolix //

:{IS LOVING…}: ALEX WINSTON: choice notes //

:{IS LOVING…}:
ALEX WINSTON: choice notes [v2] //

listen: hypem.com //
FREE remixes: rcrdlbl.com //
album: king con [released 5th march 2012] //
alexwinstonofficial.com //

Whilst I take issue with the curious production decision to record Ms Winston’s vocals in a tiled bathroom, at the bottom of a well, this remains sugar packed, full fat, perfect pop. Such is its irrepressible charm, I apologise in advance if you’re whistling ‘Choice Notes’ for the rest of the weekend. And, if you like this, the benevolent chaps at RCRD LBL have got a bunch of FREE remixes for your downloading pleasure.

:{V2 MUSIC}:
“Originally from Detroit, most of the songs on Alex’s debut LP are inspired by books and documentaries about marginal subcultures in America, with the resulting record almost acting as a musical adaptation of the works of Errol Morris and Louis Theroux. ‘King Con’ – the suggestion that an Elvis impersonator is the ultimate con – came to Alex after spending several months in an Elvis costume herself whilst promoting her recent single ‘Velvet Elvis’. ‘Velvet Elvis’ itself is inspired by objectum sexuality and the documentary ‘I Married the Eiffel Tower’.

Alex’s previous releases, including an acclaimed mini-album, were recorded on Garageband and ‘King Con’ sees her take a step up in terms of production, working with the likes of Charlie Hugall (Florence and the Machine, Ed Sheeran, Crystal Fighters), Bjorn Yttling (Lykke Li) and The Knocks. Winston sings in the international language of pure joy, producing a giddy, heart-stopping sound. However, beneath that Sixties pop-tinged soul exuberance lie hidden depths. On ‘Benny’, a poignant warning of Benny Hinn – a preacher whose healing powers seem to be in proportion to church donations – Alex sings “Benny Benny / Takes my penny / Then he skins me to the bone”.

Not wanting to deride the subjects of these stories though, Alex translates them to everyday situations. In ‘Run Rumspringa’, she applies Rumspringa – the condoned acts of adolescence rebellion in the Amish church – to a relationship. ‘Sister Wife’, inspired by polygamy, is about not wanting to share something you love. Traces of her Motown influences can be seen on ‘King Con’ and it is full of Alex’s signature melodies, from the stunning, propulsive percussion on ‘The Fold’ to the eerie harmonies of ‘Fire Ant’ and the soaring chorus of ‘Choice Notes’.”

More music to love:
twitter.com/djprolix //

:{IS LOVING…}: GOTYE feat. KIMBRA: somebody that i used to know //

:{IS LOVING…}:
GOTYE feat. KIMBRA: somebody that i used to know [eleven/island] //

listen: hypem.com //
album: making mirrors [released 13th february 2012] //
gotye.com //
kimbramusic.com //

26th January is Australia Day and the only way to celebrate is listening to :{ABC TRIPLE J}: Hottest 100:
“triple j’s hottest 100 is one of the largest public music polls in the world with millions of individual votes counted since it started in 1989.”
It’s just been revealed that this year’s number one is ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’. The song has a stripped down elegance which reveals itself gradually over the course of four minutes. If it sounds familiar, the main guitar figure puts me in mind of the opening to XTC’s ‘Senses Working Overtime’:

And, the strategic bleeps and bloops could be an understated ‘Bongo Bong’ by Manu Chao:

But, the actual source is an instrumental piece called ‘Seville’ by the Brazilian guitarist and composer, Luiz Bonfá:

More music to love:
twitter.com/djprolix //