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