Friday, 30 November 2012

DIGITAL WORDS / Spector Live Review

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“So this is what ‘sold out’ looks like,” Fred Macpherson observes as he surveys a packed out Shepherds Bush Empire. “I’ve never seen this many people in one room.” And so it is that Spector  wrap up this 22-date UK headline tour on a high note, Macpherson recalling the band playing to a significantly smaller and less enthused crowd just a year ago than the one they find tonight. Lining the front of the stage are a series of Spector look-alikes, all slicked back dos and thick-set spectacles. They front what is a no less than rapturous audience all night, summed up by an enthused fan who unwisely chooses to crowd surf during ‘Twenty Nothing’ – the first song of the night – and is ejected before the gig even really gets going. Such displays of plain fandom are confirmation that after his Les Incomp├ętents and attempts at indie front man success, Fred Macpherson has finally settled on a routine that sticks.
And quite a routine it is. Fred makes his eagerly awaited stage entrance in a Daz-white suit with a trench coat draped over his shoulders – it’s clearly there for display purposes only as he flamboyantly peels it off and tosses it to a waiting roadie moments later. At numerous points throughout the set, meanwhile, he takes a plastic comb from his pocket to slide it back through his hair, despite not a follicle actually being out of place. It’s all rather affected and gratingly obnoxious, but the crowd eat up his showy antics, and, hey, it’s practically written this review for us.
And what about the music? Spector are an impressively solid and professional live act. They empty out the entire contents of ‘Enjoy While It Lasts’ with ease. The crowd are lead through mass sing-alongs, arms aloft swaying and wind themselves up into indie dance floor hysteria to the gentlemanly pop of ‘Friday Night, Don’t Ever Let It End’ and ‘What You Wanted.’ The rest of the band functions as a spruced up backing group, without names or voices. Hopefully they in particular are enjoying it while it lasts; it’ll be interesting to see if their overtly ambitious leader sees them as intrinsic to his next career move or not.
Kate Allen 
Written for THE FLY

Monday, 26 November 2012

DIGITAL WORDS / Royal Trux "Accelerator" Review

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The next in a long line of re-issues from the back catalogue of Chicago grimy rock duo Royal Trux, 1998’s "Accelerator" is back in print and being re-released by Domino. No frills and no special edition extras here, just a short sharp jab of Royal Trux’s crafted scuzz.

For the uninitiated here’s a brief history of Royal Trux. It was a simple conception: tired of being a part of D.C. garage outfit Pussy Galore, Neil Hagerty left and formed a band with his then girlfriend, Jennifer Herrema. They released their debut album in 1988 but it was their second, Twin Infinitives, a dense avant-garde double disc that defined their lo-fi, experimental capabilities. More infamous than famous, the pair were known for their antagonising attitude and being cool to the point of alienation. Their open use of heroin might have had something to do with their reported difficult reputation. They recorded their third album with just $150 having blown their advance on drugs.

Like many of their indie contemporaries they profited, financially at least, from the post-Nirvana hunger major labels had for outwardly edgy acts. In 1995, Royal Trux signed a million dollar, three album deal with Virgin but it wasn’t a contract that was made to last. Virgin made severance payments to the band rather than let them fulfil their contractual agreements. Recognising that a major label didn’t understand what they were driving at, Royal Trux took the album that Virgin paid not to release to Drag City. That album was Accelerator.

In a conceptual triptych of decade-dedicated albums, Accelerator was the final instalment of a trilogy of records. Thank You channelled the 60s, Sweet Sixteen looked at the sounds of the 70s, with putrid artwork, which seemed like the symbolic nail in the coffin for Virgin’s hope of making Royal Trux crossover a success, and Accelerator was all about the 80s. However, one does need to be directly told this as the band themselves have said that the records in question don’t actually sound anything like the decade they are supposedly based on. Rather the band employed methods and signifiers of their inspirational time frames.

Accelerator is by far the strongest and most compelling album of the triple collection. One suspects that in order to appease their big buck investors they curbed their unconventional impulses on Thank You and Sweet Sixteen, but it is on Accelerator that Royal Trux strike the ideal balance between experimentation and accessible riffs to create what is, essentially, excellently organised chaos. You can hear their awe for the Rolling Stones through the fuzz of ‘Yellow Kid,’ Herrema’s grainy, androgynous vocals are of the raspy kind that Alison Mosshart can only but wish for (Royal Trux are pretty much the band The Kills will never be), and you can detect the seeds they were sowing on the rock blues ballad ‘Stevie’ that would eventually develop into the White Stripes.

This re-release is not in aid of anything; Royal Trux are not celebrating any kind of anniversary, nor has Accelerator been tarted up with any long lost audio or outtakes, and they are most certainly not looking to make a comeback as a reunion has been absolutely refuted. It’s simply an exercise of appreciation and making damn sure that more people have access to the louche rock and roll crashes of Royal Trux.

 Written for IDOL

Friday, 23 November 2012

I had my hair put up at Hershesons on the weekend. 
I'm yet to take it out. 

Monday, 12 November 2012

DIGITAL WORDS / IDOL's Top Five: Music Tracks

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Indiana – Blind As I Am
This piece of haunting, soulful electro comes from Indiana, an upcoming singer-songwriter from Nottingham who will be releasing this as her debut on NO ROMEO Records next week. The video is every bit as eerie as it’s soundtrack with filming having taken place during the night at a disbanded school. 

Tensnake Featuring Syron – Mainline 
Unashamed old school ‘90s house anthem vibes and aesthetics flood this collaboration between German nu-disco DJ Tensnake and teenage South London songstress Syron. This is your new guilty pleasure.

Milo Greene – What’s The Matter
LA newcomers Milo Greene are making subtle but sizeable waves with their stirring indie folk that calls for comparisons to Fleet Foxes. They’re already making a name for themselves Stateside having toured with the likes of Grouplove and The Civil Wars. Now they’re launching their rich melodies here in the UK with this, their first single, being released next week and their self-titled debut album expected to drop sometime in January 2013. 

Flight Facilities – Clair De Lune
A Debussy-inspired darkened soundscape is the latest release from mysterious Australian duo Flight Facilities. Complemented by vocals from New York talent Christine Hoberg, this track is a serene seven minutes of atmospheric calm. Listen here:
Sky Ferreira – Sad Dream
One of the more unexpected tracks from Sky Ferreira’s Ghost EP is the next to get a single release. The downcast, acoustic ballad Sad Dream is accompanied by a video starring a gun toting, shop lifting and forlorn Ferreira. 

Written for IDOL

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

DIGITAL WORDS / Five Minutes With Splashh

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(L - R: Toto Vivian, Jacob Moore, Sasha Carlson and Thomas Beal)

What was the last film you saw?
Jacob: The Lincoln Lawyer. That’s a good film.
Sasha: Old School
Tom: I can’t remember the title of it... I’ll get back to you.
Who would your dream date be?
Tom: Alexa Chung.
Sasha: You can’t say that.
Tom: Why? Because it’s Toto’s dream date?
Sasha: Probably an actress. Scarlett Johansson.
Jacob: How superficial are we? [Laughs]
Toto: I’m going to say a supermodel. I don’t know a name.
Sasha: Who’s that girl from Ted? Mila Kunis. Or Natalie Portman – that’s who I should have said.
If you could be good at anything, like a sport or skill, what would it be?
Tom: Building houses. I don’t know.
Sasha: High jump. It’s pretty sick.
Toto: Flying.
Jacob: Skateboarding.
When you were younger what posters were on your bedroom walls?
Sasha: Michael Jordon and skateboarders.  
Tom: Geri Halliwell.
Jacob: The Beatles and skateboarders.
Toto: I had surfboarding posters; big waves and girls in bikinis.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
Sasha: Flying Lotus.
Toto: Collaborate musically?
Tom: No, sexually [Laughs].
Toto: We’re not good at these questions, are we?
Sasha: Maybe Mozart or Beethoven.
Jacob: Tame Impala would be good.
Sasha: James Murphy would probably be top.
Jacob: And Beck.
Toto: There’s so many. We could go on and on. What about Timbaland?

Splashh’s new single 'Vacation' is out now.

Interview by Kate Allen
Photography by Samuel Bradley 
Written for IDOL