Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Emmy The Great in Liverpool

After the weird rap night, I wake up on my laptop with two new albums in iTunes, a ticket to a show and a train ticket to get to that show. The albums are from Emmy The Great and the ticket for the show is the same in Liverpool. Time to go, this train leaves in two hours and the departing station is across town. What have I done, who the hell poisoned me and why is there a fork in my hand?

Next things next, the great city of Liverpool, known for that one band, funny accents, and being cold and wet. It's an unusual place where speaking understandable English is optional, but I'm not noticing so much as I'm in a rush to get to the Liverpool Guild of Students where the gig has already started. In some hall half the size of a basketball court is a quiet group of young Brits watching the last song from the opening act, Stealing Sheep, who are gypsying around with their harmoniously hippie voices on an uncommonly large stage. There's an empty bar to the left (there's booze everywhere over here) and I'm relieved I didn't miss the main course. It's a three hour train, I missed the first one by stupidness mistake and I'm anxious.

Emma-Lee Moss is more of an emanating force from a far away magical planet than an actual real-life person. That sounds like a huge over-exaggeration for such a small-framed, half-Chinese, half-English twenty-something with a wispy voice and an affinity for 90s rock music, but as it pertains to a commanding presence on stage, turning mortals into drones with wide-open paralyzed mouths, then it's just something you'll have to experience for yourself to understand.

From the moment she floats on stage, alone with her big gold necklace and freshly-paid-for Iron Maiden t-shirt, the crowd is entranced. I stare at the muscles in her thighs (I think she's a runner) just under her black skorts ('cause I'm a perv, you know that) as she pulls up her customized acoustic guitar and begins to sing like an angel. She has an Irish folk singer feel to her, but it's less country and more something else.

In fact, her first album, First Love, plays almost entirely like a folk album aside from a few progressive electrons. That's when people started to notice her east of the states, but something tells me with the newly edged-up record, Virtue, all will change for the bigger and better. It's a more well-rounded and put-together taste of dark and magical flavors occasionally dipping into melodic drones and distant pulses that take my weird mind into Fantasyland. Not a far cry, really, with her lyrics singing of fairy tales and dinosaur sex. It's deeper than it sounds.

The rest of the band comes out in this mostly sold out gig and they jam with Grace in front of what is still a quiet crowd. For some reason, even in this small place and high stage, they've filled the floor with chairs. You can either sit in one or stand by the bar in the back. I sit to be close, but I hate the idea of all that energy being strapped to a seat. The crowds in England are reserved anyway and when I look around, I'm the only soul bobbing my head. They're not bored, they've just been zombified by her spell and into it. Their wooing cheers in the relenting breaks say so. I guess I'm supposed to stare into her eyes more and not so much at her legs to get the full effect.

She occasionally jingles what looks like a dream catcher with bells and crucifixes attached to it to ward off the demons. Song after another, this is hypnotic and blissful. Em to The G are an incredible live performance and while they can be mellow, there's plenty of opportunity for foot tapping. All is taking me to a distant place and I'm thinking about the empty seat next to me where someone I know should be. Then suddenly my buzz is jolted loose by a cover of Weezer's "Island In The Sun" (RIP Mikey Welsh) and I might as well be in a Sonic drive-thru. I don't figure out this decision until later when Google tells me Emma is a huge fan. Her choice, but it doesn't seem to suit her voice or sound and I'm left with curious eyes. She could've at least chosen "Crab," instead.

Luckily, she and the band don't end there and continue on with more velvet vocal volume and my space world starts to sneak back again. In between songs, Emma tests the crowd with some throw-away one-liners you have to be listening to to catch. She's a funny girl, gifted in voice, smart with her writing, and ain't too shabby in the looks department, neitha'. I'm thinking this is one of the best shows I've seen in a while and, later on, I confirm that with my sober memories. Will I see her/them live again? Yes. Liverpool? No.

Catch ETG's upcoming Christmas thing with Tim Wheeler from Ash (whom she's rumored to be dating. Pffffsssshhhhtt). It's called Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler present This Is Christmas and the first track sounds like, well, Ash.

Photo stolen from Facebook. LaZers added by ES out of necessity.

Emmy The Great // North
Emmy The Great // Sylvia
Weezer // Crab

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Hip-hop show at the XOYO in the cool part of town? Sure. Islington is kind of like a cleaner Williamsburg with a more concentrated dose of beards and Nike high-tops than the rest of London. It's the North to Eastern part of the city and where you want to hang out if you're not trying to chat with dudes in ties. The only problem here for a hip-hop show is that your black contingent goes way down. Like all the way down.

The place has a cool artist's gallery upstairs and a music venue down the steps where large concrete pillars hold up an old ceiling and a decent stage slowly attracts the shy hipsters. As bad fortune would have it this time, I arrive early enough for the opening acts. The first band has an awesome chick drummer and a keyboard player front woman who does her best to pipe out high melodies with little success. Oh well, first band and it happens, we'll move to the next, bigger and better, right? No and I really can't put into words how much weight the word "no" has right now. One guy, black shirt buttoned to the top, gold necklace, swooped hair and a voice that only a (deaf) mother could love. He's pumping out decent loops from his keyboard, but his voice and songwriting resemble what Chis Martin's might had he been dropped from the top floor of the hospital at birth. So...

DELS. Dude, don't let me down after this seemingly never-ending and collective eye roll. Yeah, everyone's doing it. He quietly enters with a hot chick on the keyboards and another hot chick on the bass/keyboards. Drummer's good, music's cool, we're doing well. Kieren Dickins, as he was first called, is a normal and good looking guy from Ipswich who's carrying a wee bit of animation, but is relatively reserved for a rapper with a load of boring white kids on his hands. I always laugh at rappers with English accents (especially ones with tambourines). I don't why it's funny. What makes him unique is his electronic Atari music, his babes, and his bizarre and kind of nerdy lyrics. When he gets into the part about cloud eating, I start the eye roll again, but then realize that's just what this guy does. He watches Star Wars, eats Fruity Pebbles and rhymes about morphing into cars and grass. If you watch his videos, you'll realize he's just kind of a dork. And that's cool with me. On his first full-length album, Gobs, he has a few standout tracks worth a listen. If you're going to a live show, skip the openers.

He still pees on the sheets.

DELS // Trumpalump (feat. Joe Goddard)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pete & The Pirates + Glass

The thing about the UK is that you can watch a show in an underground cavern that's older than America and somehow the acoustics are still amazing. Such was the case at the Cabaret Voltaire in Edinburgh, Scotland where Pete & the Pirates rocked our goofy accents off. If you were to take The Cars and squeeze Franz Ferdinand in the trunk, you'd soon bear five of the cleanest looking geeks ever to lay rock into roll.

The place was half the size of a modest 5 car garage in Malibu, the crowd was tucked in tight but comfortably and the older barely discernible Scottish woman next to me was saying how much better the show would be in Glasgow. "They get really rowdy out there, you'd love it. Yelling at the band, throwing bottles on stage and the bit, it's a real riot." Yeah, that sounds really amaz...WHAT? Then P & The P came on with their tightly cut hair, their freshly pressed plaid button-ups and a properness that only an Ivy League dean could love and jammed out awesomely for a solid 90, giving the north their best. They liked to jump up and down a lot.

Having only their '08 album, Little Death, I abruptly downloaded their May '11 release, One Thousand Pictures, and was impressed at how far this band from Reading has grown and how little they've aged. It's possible they never will. If you're looking for a consistent and constant jam with tight spiraling guitars and a thick English accent, get the whole album. It's worth it.

Backing up to earlier in the evening, there was a fragile-looking frontman leading a band called Glass who was piping out melodies the way David Gray might. His name was Matthew Greener, formerly from a much less electronic Morning Runner and he and his band were putting it to the limit in front of nearly 15 people. In between songs, he'd quietly mumble something incomprehensible, check a hundred things, then start a new song. I bumped into him in the bathroom later and told him how much I liked what he was doing and he talked to me for what seemed like an hour about computers and timing and electricity and shit that apparently has something to do with music. I said "cool" and backed away until I was pretty sure I was out of his sight. Glass is so new, there's not an album, or much in the way to download on the websies so, for now, take this Morning Runner tune and check out Glass' My_____ page here.

Pete & The Pirates // Half Moon Street
Morning Runner // When Your Watch Stops

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Duke Spirit - Stop What You're Doing Right Now

I saw these guys at Scala in London a few weeks back knowing only of the few songs I'd heard here and there. Little did I know they'd just set a record free here appropriately titled Bruiser. I'm not usually big on bands that lump in EP songs and singles from a year ago into their full-lengths, but at 11 solidly bruising tracks with simpatico totality, I can't complain. What I previously thought and what I expected to see of the Duke was a fashionably edgy British pop band squeezing out a few local fan favorites, but what I got was a blistering arsenal of thick rock 'n roll with guitars dropped to D in the way that makes them sound dark and totally badass. I was immediately reminded of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, but that didn't explain why my nipples were hard.

Then I quickly realized it was because of the hot-as-f--- front-woman Liela Moss with her favorite gold blazer and short leather shorts and the sex dripping from every pore of her body, climaxing out of her deeply sultry voice. Which, by the way, is one of the best live voices I've heard in a while and made her tightly practiced ensemble sound all that much better. Together, this was an action-packed, energy-laden music orgy and I recommend a live watch if you get the chance.

On Later with Jools Holland. She wore this same thing to the live show which I'm guessing was the same day. Or I hope it was, dirty.

I don't think these guys are doing anything all that original with obvious influences from late 90s post-grunge outfits and their minor-chorded droning counterparts like Failure and Mellowdrone, but sometimes when you're looking for rock 'n roll, you don't need original, you just want rock 'n roll. If you like the idea of BRMC with a high-note mistress, Bruiser is easily a sturdy A-. I don't know when the album hits the states, but if you're anywhere else in the world, go buy it.

The Duke Spirit // Procession
The Duke Spirit // De Lux

Monday, September 19, 2011

Trance It Out with I Break Horses & Austra & The Rapture

I love this weird & moodiful psychedeliatoned Kevin Shieldsy, feel-goodington & rocket-ship-to-Mars type of shit. If the hour is right. And the hour is right. I'm referring first to the aptly named I Break Horses who openly admit their music is heavily stolen inspired by bands like My Bloody Valentine. This isn't trance music, but it'll put you in one.

I Break Horses // Hearts

Next, I'll take my psychotic beats with bare boobs and lingerie lesbians. Austra, led by Latvian-Canadian singer, Katie Stelmanis, and her droney voice, will have your feet moving one way and your brain another as I believe the goal of the band is to steal it. And maybe it eat. That's what I gather is happening right at this moment.

Don't forget the new single:
Austra // Spellwork

Finally, when I don't have to think anymore, just throw me some Nikes and toss me out into the middle of the farm dance floor to wait for The Rapture. While frontman Luke Jenner's voice can seem a tad whiney, it somehow manages to narrowly escape damaging the music. In fact, it works together rather nicely. Their new album, In The Grace Of Your Love, was apparently heavily influenced by gospel music. Growing up in southern churches, I'm struggling to find it here, but either way, I like what they're doing. Check out Luke's excellent gospel mix on these words right here.

The Rapture // Sail Away

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

James Vincent McMorrow Part II - The Late Edition

I don't know where to start. I haven't done this in a while and my last post was an effing advert for burritos. 'Twas misguided and I removed it and I'm starting over. I also don't know where to start with this guy who poetically snuck his way onto the blog last November and has been receiving plenty of praise since. So I'm way late to the game and I don't care. Because while I typically don't get man crushes, this thickly bearded Irishman kind of nudges these nips northbound if you're highin' what I'm fivin.'

I'd hate to compare him to Bon Iver, but I know you already have, so I'm going to mention it. Doesn't help that he wrote this debut album, Early In The Morning, in "an isolated house by the sea" and shares the Wisconsian's affinity for stripped down melodies, layered vocal harmonies and a heavy dose of falsetto. And of course it also conjures colorful transitions and life changes as all albums like this seem to do.

But he has something especially different that stands out here. That change behind the lyrically dense and sometimes haunting melancholy is immediately felt. The entire album is, from the first touch, full of enrichingly vibrant and life-changing stories that constantly whisper into your ear that you're not as whole as you want to be.

McMorrow, as I hear him, is the lost dog. The one who left his pack to go find the lady fox he saw drifting on the other side of the river. He made an entire journey out of sneaking away from his past and entering a land he knows nothing about. A land where rabbits and squirrels have wings made of dead boats and buildings and trees carry giant framed portraits of rifle-clenching deer. He's the first wolf with opposable thumbs and a paint brush crafted from melted ocean plastic. That fox, to him, is worth every stroke he'll brush.

At least that's what I'm getting, but I'm also on heavy tranqs right now. Maybe you'll hear something different. This is the best complete album I've heard in a long time.

And yes, I used "advert" on purpose.

James Vincent McMorrow // Ghosts
James Vincent McMorrow // This Old Dark Machine

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Summer Dust

Under the autumn leaves
I found to my surprise
The rings we worn summers since
The flowers were still alive

They say that our own bodies
Are made of bones and dust
And how we lie beneath the maple tree
And pray that the leaves don't cover us

Our hearts were beating
Like humming birds that night
A restless wind blew them open
As the birds were taking flight

Young hearts are bright
And just as light
And blowing in the air tonight

She said I want to believe
That we can laugh
But I know that it's tough when your lost in the leaves
And I'm in no rush
But if we try to unite then we might just turn back into dust
It's only natural for us

Walking through this old town
I'm reminded
Of all the trees that we tore down
To let the sun shine in

We buried our beating hearts
Under the rocks and dirt
And now mine is filled with the fallen leaves
And if you're not here it's going to burst

Our hearts were beating
Like humming birds that night
A restless wind blew them open
As the birds were taking flight

Young hearts are bright
And just as light
And blowing in the air tonight

The Love Language // Summer Dust

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Light Vibes

kunde vara solsken.

Light Vibes // Wish We Had

Monday, June 20, 2011

Under the Covers Monday: The Cure & Bat For Lashes

Pounding steamy pavement this morning to the beat of "Daniel" made my tummy rumbly for the next release from Bat For Lashes {she's in the studio, until then you can gnaw on the Two Suns special edition}. And there's an excellent covers listing here, with Natasha Khan taking everything to a more mystically inky level. It was enough to make me sparkle-up my eyelids and jam on my feathered headdress for the rest of the day.

Bat For Lashes // A Forest
The Cure // A Forest

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Naked and Famous

This has a similar initial affect I can {unashamedly} say Lisztomania had nearly a year ago. Call it the season, call it the humidity, call it a fervent belief that I'll always be 19.

I'm not even positive I LIKED 19 all that much at the time, but it seems pretty romantic from this side of 27.

New Zealand's The Naked and Famous have heavy hints of some of our American sweaty dance favorites - Passion Pit, M83, Yeasayer, Temper Trap. The kiwi's electro-pop single from late 2010's "Passive Me, Agressive You" gets a breathless remix from lacy muse White Sea.

The Week's Once Over

Sultry dirge from Circle Pit
Recent release from City and Colour
Illmatic reincarnation from Elzhi {Dustin Artz}
Under the Covers Tuesday. Just this once. Courtesy of Radiohead.

I'm slipping into this weekend on swift hourglass sands towards big change, and a massive adventure. More on that soon. Kiss on that ol' fox of a father; I'll be out with mine doing unpaid child labor in his "garden." The fact that he used to pay me a dime for each 5 gallon bucket of sticks I picked up on his canadian-natl.-park-maintained property simply endears him to me. Now.


The Naked and Famous // Young Blood (White Sea remix)