Category: We Likes…

Art is Hard’s Pizza Club

Pizza ClubA slice of pizza in your inbox on a fornightly basis? SOLD! Sadly though, we don’t have those capabilities yet, but we can join Art is Hard Records’ Pizza Club, so called because, well, who doesn’t love pizza on a Friday? As Art is Hard put it, “The conventional methods of releasing music are pretty much fucked” so they’ve decided, after a year hiatus, to relaunch their fortnightly pizza club. It’s simple really, sign up for the club, anything from the free subscription to £125 and you’ll get a new single sent to you each week plus some extras if you’ve gone for one of the paid packages. Each single will be released as a strictly limited 5″ pizza single, in a pizza box (obviously), but if you’ve just signed up for free, you’ll get an mp3 emailed to you on every second Friday.

All the info for signing up is on the Pizza Club tumblr page and if you are a bit worried that signing up for free means the download won’t be quality, then take it from us, that AIH seem to have impeccable musical chops, in fact, the first release, embedded below, is a beauty. I’d never heard of Falmouth’s ‘Goddam Nobody’ before but I was totally sold on this fuzz-pop ballad. Go forth, seek it out. Join a singles club this year!

Interview: Bergen

Bergen released their eponymous debut EP in January of this year. Thanks to the low-fi offerings and recommendations of the band, Elba have since become rather addicted to the Italian indie scene.  The four well crafted snippets of dream pop on the Bergen EP are as comfortable in their adopted home of Glasgow as their mythological Scandinavian origin but their true lineage derives from the collaborative efforts of Italian duo Nicola Galati and Alberto Bagarello. Their romanticized landscape of sound soars highest on track Wake Up; a flighty and positive highlight with choral rhythm and echoing vocals providing ground for a restless guitar pattern to leap around.

The Bergen EP has been playing on the Elba stereo for awhile now and Nicola was kind enough to reveal, in his own charming turn of phrase, a little of what is behind those luscious tones.

Bergen

How did you and Alberto meet and when did you start making music together?

We met each other around 2009 in Padova, our hometown in the noth of Italy. Alberto replied to my ad on Mercatino Musicale, a sort of local ad site for musicians.

When we think about how we met it seems unbelievable and we always laugh about it. I never saw Alberto before that time which is even more strange considering the fact that we were living quite close. We started playing with a few other guys, doing some covers, spending great times together but in the end, our first project didn’t work much. We kept in touch and we became really close friends, we always shared the love for gigs and several drinks.

Has music always been a part of your lives?

Alberto has played guitar since he was child. He has been involved in different projects and he’s actually helping in another band called The Clockmakers.

I started producing electronic music with an hardcore electronic duo called Orgoglio Mvtilato and then I produced some techno house tracks with the alias Ramadash. I listen to a lot of electronic music and I’m still making beats with Ableton. From 2010 we both worked more on Bergen, which is actually our main project.

Can you tell us a little more about the origins of the band name?

When we were thinking about our name, we felt really inspired by geographical names, towns, mountains and lakes. We both like travel and nature so we wanted to give to the band a foreign name, which would take the mind away from our home country. In the last two years I’ve been traveling around Scandinavia and I was becoming absorbed by this culture. One day, we were both making lists of dream cities in order to find a good name and surprisingly we both wrote Bergen on the top of the list.

Have the sounds of Scandinavia been an influence on the direction of your music?

We would say no, we like to think about Scandinavia more as an ethereal place, a state of mind. We’d like to take our listeners to the Norwegian mountains through the sound of our dreamy guitars, atmospheric synths and effects choirs. Then again, of course, we love a lot of bands from those countries. Among the most we love is The Radio Dept and their sounds but in terms of influences we feel more inspired by other bands.

What would you say your influences are and what motivates you? 

We both like the eighties sounds of The Smiths and The Cure. We listenend to a lot of Captured Tracks releases, especially the firsts from Beach Fossils and Wild Nothing. Ducktails and Real Estate influenced us also, we love their gentle layers of guitar and rhythms. There is a great scene in Italy with lovely dream pop bands like Brothers in Law that we appreciate. We feel motivated by improving our productions year by year and by all friends around us that support our project. When we released the Bergen EP, we received good feedback from a lot of blogs and some small labels from different countries. To be honest we have not attracted as much interest in Italy as we did in the UK.

 Where did you record the EP?

We did our first EP last summer without spending any money using a DIY philosphy. We recorded four tracks in my parent’s mountain house, which is located in a really suggestive town in the Alps called Andalo. Stefano and Guido helped us, providing their great equipment and we transformed the house into a recording studio. Alberto recorded guitar takes in the children’s bedroom and I recorded vocals inside a wardrobe. After that, another cool friend with a long beard called Cristopher mixed the tracks with Francesco Bruni in his professional recording studio (Studio 2) in Venice.

What are your plans for the future? 

We are currently working on a new EP that hopefully will be released at the end of the year. All the tracks we’re actually working on were composed between Glasgow and Padova.  As a natural process, our sound is experiencing some changes. The mood of the new EP will be a bit more dark than romantic, affected by a greater use of synths and less clean guitars. We’ll never leave our chained guitars riffs and our minimalistic dry drums. After that we’re planning to film a video clip of our first single in Scotland and if people love us we’re going to play some gigs.

If the above words weren’t enough to charm you then wander over to the band’s bandcamp page where the sounds, without a doubt, will.

Author’s footnote: draft titles for this post included ‘May the interview Bergen’ and ‘A wonderful Bergen-ning.’ The sub-title is ‘Kim puts on music, falls in love… again. Get ahold of your emotions, woman!’

Asthmatic Kitty Digital Summer Sampler

It is the season for dipping your toe into some new music. Summer samplers seem to be popping up everywhere. One that covers almost all bases and never falters on quality is the Asthmatic Kitty Digital Summer Sampler.

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Asthmatic Kitty is the home of Sufjan Stevens and My Brightest Diamond. If you are not familiar with their wider catalogue then this is the perfect opportunity to remedy that by immersing yourself in this collection of artists. The beauty of this sampler is that it really does feel like a mix tape; like someone’s summer playlist rather than a clunky collection of new music. The contributions are not artists with approaching releases alone. Instead there are musicians whose last release may have been in the fall of 2012 but that sit beautifully within the mix.

Heraldo Negro’s jarring synth sashay Dance Ghost is a fitting opening. The South Florida resident of Ecuadorian descent has recorded sunshine on this track. If this is warming then Lily & Madeline’s Back to the River, from their debut EP The Weight of the World, will cool you back down again. The purest of vocals are backed by the simple yet rich tones of their alt folk arrangement of this hymnal. Other notable appearances include Fol Chen with tracks 200 Words and I.O.U. shining out. I defer to their bio to summarise: they ‘created their sound from field recordings and an electronic junk drawer, splicing compound beats and sending warped vocal transmissions.’ My kind of folk. Raymond Byron’s Death Shaker is built on the foundations of some very addictive bass notes that scrape as close to the ground as your can go. On top of all of this Asthmatic Kitty have thrown in a couple of Shannon Stephens tracks too. In her hands songwriting is at its most beautiful. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy agrees; a cover by him having led to some collaboration between the two.

The label’s uncompromising taste has given the gift of a summer soundtrack and it’s free! Warning: you will find yourself buying a stack of records after you play this collection.

Adventures of a fangirl: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Forming cohesive opinion on a band that you have worshipped for over a decade is difficult. It is the curse of existing as a fangirl. I sit as I write this, staring off into the distance, groping the air with both hands trying to find a linear path through all that I wish to raise about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I don’t believe that I can succeed in a task of such magnitude. As this is the case, I’m just going to scrap that idea and provide you with snippets of thought about the band as they arise. Please note that what follows is entirely personal, self indulgent and tangential.

YYYs

Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ eponymous EP, which is often referred to as ‘Master’ due to the necklace that features on the cover, came out in 2002. This makes me feel very old.

It is inappropriate to sing Bang in an office environment.

My trip to Manchester’s Apollo to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs last week was my fifth time seeing them live. Previous performances were enjoyed at The Barrowlands, T in the Park and the Glasgow Academy. I went to The Barrowlands twice if you are questioning my arithmetic. The first time there more women than I had ever seen in one place with a mullet. The second time this was trumped by a trend in bowl cuts. Nice one Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Karen O performed Art Star with a towel over her head in Manchester and I laughed so loudly at this that people glared at me.

It took me a week of listening to Mosquito at least once a day before I finally began to like the album. This is an improvement on the months it took me to warm to Show Your Bones, which I now consider to be on par with Fever To Tell.

The Gold Lion video enhances my enjoyment of the song an unprecedented and unexplainable amount. The Mosquito video creeps the hell out of me.

The most romantic song I know is by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It is not Maps.

At their last T in the Park appearance, they opened with Sealings. This is a track that appeared on the Spider Man 3 soundtrack.

Of their many side projects, Karen O and the Kids’ Where the Wild Things Are OST is probably most loved by me. This is aided by the fact that Maurice Sendak’s tale was my favourite book for most of my childhood. Nick Zinner’s assistance with Scarlett Johansson’s Tom Waits covers, ashamedly, would probably be next in line.

The band’s soundcheck sometimes involves a lady putting Karen O’s microphone in her mouth. That same mic has been shoved down the singer’s shorts and leggings more times than I believe she would care to think about.

I would steal this jacket and legally change my surname to O:

KO

I should stop this now. If there were ever a band who I would recommend experiencing live, well, there is no other who inspire such chaos and joy.  Their current set is an unstoppable and unrelenting smack to the face with no gaps between tracks for you to recover. Their song selection spans their entire catalogue rather than forcing their newest album to the forefront. If you are in their path then get a ticket.

Records or Beer, Records or Beer, Records or Beer…

We’ve been under attack lately, some wee hacker type of thing invaded and tried to sell you all muscle enhancers and viagra. However, after some poking, prodding, umming and ah-ing we realised we weren’t cut out to sort it so we asked our friend Alan to fix it, and fix it he did, we think…Oh, and there was swearing too, lots of swearing, which brings me on nicely, to Beer vs Records.

*note: I love the whole idea of this. It is right up my strasse

photo courtesy of songbytoad.com
photo courtesy of songbytoad.com

 

Beer vs Records is a unique project from the ever excellent (and sometimes sweary) Song, By Toad Records and Barney’s Microbrewery in Edinburgh. The basic premise is that a 12″ of 8 tracks will be released on special edition clear red vinyl and will simultaneously be put head to head against a 4 pack of Barney’s Beer with each bottle containing a download code for two tracks. You get the same amount of music either way but what side do you fall on? Would you rather have a record you can touch and keep forever, or would you prefer to knock back a bottle of Magic Eye Red Rye and listen to the mp3’s of the tracks? I suspect that many will embrace both.

The bands featured are Le Thug, Magic Eye, Plastic Animals and Zed Penguin. They are paired with the following beers

Le Thug Lager 4.8% ABV – Light straw coloured, smooth and a light fruity zing. A clean, dry, finish.
Zed Penguin Pale Ale 3.8% ABV – Gold coloured, a good honest full-bodied pale ale with a subtle citrus & spicy hop finish.
Magic Eye Red Rye 4.5% ABV – made with 2 types of rye malt & German melanoidinmalz. Copper/dark amber colour, with a crisp, toffee apple & fruity taste.
Plastic Animals IPA 5% ABV – Light straw coloured, assertive bitterness, erupting with US style hop character.

We have first hand experience of the pedigree of both the label and the brewer here at Elba. We’ve raved many a time about a release on Song, By Toad and take our word for it, our better half’s have raved at us after a few too many Barney’s.

Beer vs Records will launch on Record Store Day (20th April).

Also, whilst we’re mentioning them, Song, By Toad will release the excellent new album ‘Murderopolis’ by Sparrow and the Workshop in May. You can pre-order it here.

Not forgetting about Barney’s, they

will be hosting Summer(Beer)hall on May 24th and 25th which will include brewery tours, music, bratwurst and pretty much anything you could want from an afternoon or evening enjoying some excellent craft beers. There’s much more info, and details of how to buy tickets here

The State Broadcasters – Ghosts We Must Carry

I considered just writing this post without acknowledging the fact that we’ve not written anything on here for months, yes, literally months, but decided against it. You see, it’s not all been lying on the sofa in our underwear eating peanut butter kit kats, we’ve been doing other stuff (i’ve definitely written this before) and if truth be told, a bit underwhelmed by things to write about. A sweeping generalisation maybe, but it’s been coming for a while, and a good rest was hopefully all we needed.

It can be quite hard sorting the wheat from the chaff and in all reality, we simply don’t have time for all the wheat either. Metaphor ends. We hear good music all the time but find that moment or sound sometimes spoiled by trying to put it into words on here. Writing a blog and reading other blogs means that you are bombarded with such a massive amount of music, that you need time just to step back and absorb it (or avoid some of it) for the good of your health.

And now, I must get to the subject of this blog. This was an album which I received just as we’d taken what then turned into a two and a bit month hiatus. It was an album that I immediately downloaded and was really looking forward to, the only problem for me was, that it arrived during those isolated months where all I would listen to was the old favourites. This is no reflection on the music, just the loss of my excitement about new music.

We published a guest blog earlier in the week after I had seen the author write about the subject on Facebook and I started listening to that playlist on my iPod named ‘New stuff for listening’. The State Broadcasters were first up and it was a gem of a listen. I knew reading the press pack a few months previous that i’d like this, I just needed to get around to listening to it.

There are shades of King Creosote on opening track ‘The Only Way Home’ but it was ‘Trespassers’ jaunty waltz that got me tapping my feet. One of those songs that defines the sound of an album. ‘Kittiwake’ sounds like it has it’s roots firmly in the mid-west of America but the vocals and lyrics are unmistakably Scottish. It reminds me a bit of people like Sufjan Stevens and Andrew Bird.

The track

that stands out for me though is ‘This Old Table’. It’s one of those songs which I felt the impulse to repeat again and again. It’s a track laid bare with the drone of harmonium, a cluster of vocals and an emotionally poignant theme.

The more I listen to this album, the more I pick up each time. I don’t want all my listening to be groundbreaking or like nothing I have ever heard. There’s a lot to be said for a well written, well put together and musically good album and The State Broadcasters have got it on the money.

The State Broadcasters play Wellington Church Hall in Glasgow on Oct 21st, more details can be found on their website.

Ghosts We Must Carry is out now on Olive Grove Records and can be purchased here

when you get a song stuck in your head (Saint Max, Meursault and The Pure Conjecture)

for those moments you just can’t get that little ditty out of your head

We’re spoilt for new releases this week. All three of these tracks were released yesterday and they are all, at different points of the day, stuck in my head.

Saint Max and the Fanatics – Let Em’ Have It Sunshine

This one caught me completely off guard. Taken from their debut EP, this track has a raft of ska horns and lyrical chops to match. Apparently he’s not a real Saint either but I’m going to let him off because the whole EP

Next up, is Flittin’ by Meursault. To be honest, it’s the whole album here, not just this track. I made no secrets at just how much I loved Meursault’s previous release ‘All Creatures Will Make Merry’ and have been looking forward to ‘Something For the Weakened‘ for quite a while now. It is a little more polished and it is a little more epic but it’s still undeniably Meursault. This track Flittin’ and the grandiose ‘Settling’ are particular favourites.

Finally, we have ‘The Throat’ from The Pure Conjecture. I had no idea what to expect from this album at all, yet, when I heard this track I was immediately taken in by it. Again, the whole album is brilliant, but this track and opener ‘The Power of The Notes Is very Good’ are album stand-outs for me.

Hopefully a couple of these tracks will play on repeat in your head today.

Awesome Deal! SAVE 100% – £0 for new Cuddly Shark single 'Overpriced'. Usual price £20.59

That’s right, with today’s deal you can get Cuddly Shark’s latest single ‘Overpriced’ for the bargain sum of £0.00! A saving of 100% on the listed price of £20.59.

Please find details below of how to claim this offer!

===========================

* Attend Cuddly Shark show tonight (26th June 2012) at the 13th Note, Glasgow tonight

* Find yourself one of

the sharks, probably the shouty one

* Get discount code

* Redeem online

(We assume this is the rough process)

£4 spend required to get into rock show – however, you do get sets by Cuddly Shark, Hey Enemy and Malice for that cost.

If that hasn’t done enough to convince you, watch their wee angsty faces in the video below

Clarence – The Final Word

I wanted to sign off on these Clarence ‘Big Man’ Clemons posts by getting Bruce to write a guest post, but he won’t return my calls. He’s on tour, I get it! So instead, I’ve settled for a video message.

I watched this again over the weekend when I

started putting these posts together and the whole performance is incredibly powerful. When Clarence appears on this track, for me it summarises the impact he can have on a track. Enjoy!

Books You Say…? 'Big Man' – Clarence Clemons

In 2009 Clarence Clemons released his ‘memoirs’ of sorts, co-written with his close friend Don Reo, the title…BIG MAN!

I received this book as a gift almost immediately after it’s release. However, for one reason or another, this sat on my shelf until around about this time last year after the news of the passing of Clarence Clemons when I knew I had to pick it up. What followed was an absolute blast.

Firstly, I’d like to touch on the term ‘memoir’. This is addressed in the foreword of the book by both the authors and Springsteen, this book is a collection of stories by storytellers. The whole book is a selection of stories, in no particular order, which vary from tales Clarence was told as a child to hilarious stories about Bruce, The E Street Band and other famous friends and situations. Throughout the read you question what is real, what is enhanced for dramatic effect, and what is total BS, but that’s what makes this read so much fun!

‘Big Man’ also gives huge insight into the friendship of Bruce & Clarence and great insight into the man Bruce Springsteen and not just the rock star. I have read a fair number of Bruce Springsteen biographies and always felt a little short changed by never really learning anything new about him as a person. This book blew my mind with personal stories of these two friends who grew old together in the coolest way possible.

Now it’s impossible for me to write a review of this book without giving away some of it’s contents, so I’ve decided rather than write a huge review I will simply say if you are a fan of Clarence Clemons or indeed a fan of Bruce Springsteen, buy this book. It’s fantastic. Below are 3 of my favourite tales from the book that also involve Bruce. Go find them for yourself…

1) Clarence & Bruce meet for a drink in a biker bar in the back end of nowhere. They are sharing a drink and swapping stories when a ‘fan’ approaches and asks for a photo. Clarence says ‘sure’ so the guy passes Bruce the camera and poses with Clarence. Bruce takes the photo and when the guy leaves he says to Clarence ‘Say hi to Bruce for me’

2) The story of where Bruce got the red cap for the cover of Born in the USA…

3) On the last night of The Rising Tour the moment hits Clarence back in the car Bruce notices and asks ‘You okay?’ … after a short chat… “Hey Man…Thanks” said the Big Man. “For what?” asks Bruce. “For everything” replies Clarence.

OK, so far it’s been all Bruce & Clarence but this book is so much more. Stories of Clarence playing pool with Fidel Castro, meeting fans and meeting his wives are all fantastic but some of the best stuff in this book are also the chapters written by Don Reo. He tells the story of watching your best friend grow old. His understanding of who Clarence Clemons was is as important to this book as the insight

Clarence Clemons gives into who Bruce Springsteen is. Go buy it! You won’t be disappointed!