Tuesday, August 31, 2010
It's the first Iron Maiden album to debut at number one in the UK charts since 1992's Fear of the Dark. So far, the album's debuted at Number 1 in 25 countries worldwide. To celebrate, Iron Maiden have launched Final Frontier: The Game, aka Mission II: Rescue & Revenge. Which you can play online here.
Talk about next level shit... Canadian/US indie band Arcade Fire have teamed up with Google and filmmaker Chris Milk for a music video collaboration like no other, featuring "We Used To Wait" from Arcade Fire's recently released new album The Suburbs. Using Google Maps, Google Street View and HTML5, the video's set wherever you grew up (or wish you grew up). All you have to do is visit the website, punch in where you grew up, close all open applications and hope for the best. Don't just watch the trailer, create your own...
The Wilderness Downtown
So what’s going on in Durban besides the sea and the stadium? Live music, that’s what. It’s not always easy. Most of the time, it’s a hard fought battle to survive. But underneath it all, there’s a lot of heart. A lot of soul. And a lot of great local bands that go unappreciated.
I sat down with Matt Wilson (Car Boot Vendors, Sibling Rivalry, Uprising Festival) and Raheem Abdul-Rasheed (Tree Houses On the Sea) to find out more. Car Boot Vendors have just released a new EP called Home Is Home, available from the band. And T.H.O.T.S’ debut full length Return of the Book Thief is available online and from Rhythmic Beat stores countrywide.
How long have you been involved with the Durban music scene?
Matt: Eish… Eleven years. Just under half my life.
And how would you describe your relationship?
Raheem: She cheats on me sometimes. But she’s always there. She’s where home is. There are a lot of things you could say about her, good and bad.
Matt: I read this book about Durban. They were talking about the beachfront. How it’s been changed, built on, demolished again. They kind of described Durban as this faithful, misunderstood whore. Ha ha… She’s faithful, but a little bit seedy. It’s the holiday town that’s trying to be a big city.
Click here to read the full interview on Channel24
Monday, August 30, 2010
© Larry West aka LuvataciousSkull
This August, Japanese guitar prodigy Yuto Miyazawa joined Ozzy Osbourne on stage for every leg of the US Ozzfest Tour. In 2008, aged just eight years old, the Guinness Book of Records named Miyazawa 'The Youngest Professional Guitarist.' Now, aged 10, he's played with legends like Les Paul, G.E Smith and Ozzy Osbourne. Miyazawa tapped into American popular culture thanks to a 2009 appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres show. Followed by a 2010 return visit. Man, I have clearly wasted my entire life…
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Asian Man Records
“This time next September, you’ll always be dismembered.”
The album title’s not just a clever name. Skiba recorded Demos at home on his computer, in-between stints with Alkaline Trio and side-project Heavens. At first, it sounds like a guilty pleasure. One the uninitiated might not appreciate. But the more you listen, the more it starts to take shape and catch up on you.
“I’d love to sing love songs, but I’m stuck with the blues. The razor blade blues,” sings Skiba. “I think it’s time that I told you what goes on inside this deep, dark and haunted head of mine.” The lyrics are typically dark and Skiba-esque, even when he’s being optimistic; “I’m doing way better these days, thoughts of dying only comes in short waves.”
Most of the songs are stripped-down, guitar-only Skiba ballads with a few synth and midi effects: sparse, eerie and haunting. Others sound like Alkaline Trio and Heavens demos Skiba kept for himself. With programmed drums and a fuller, band sound, “Nausea (Cruel and Usual)” and “Into Thin Air” sound like a pretty complete Heavens b-sides.
“How the Hell Did We Get Here?” and “Red, White and You” sound like they were written for Crimson. “Unknown pleasures, burn your sunken treasure…” sings Skiba on “Red, White and You,” an obvious nod to heroes Joy Division. “S.O.S” sounds like classic, catchy Alkaline Trio (minus Andriano and Grant).
“Nausea… I got so sick of you.” Lyrically, Skiba shows off his Misfits-inspired, dark sense of humour. “I can’t hear a goddamn thing,” he sings on “Angel of Deaf.” “Open your ears, stop, drop and roll and listen…” And my favourite, “This time next September, you’ll always be dismembered.”
Overall, the sound’s pretty far removed from Skiba’s more stripped down, acoustic-only, 2002 split EP with Kevin Seconds. It’s a fair representation of Skiba’s entire career. Still, Demos is surprisingly cohesive: moody, atmospheric and melancholic, with Skiba’s underlying catchy, murder-pop sound. In the end, helped by its low-fi, DIY feel, Demos feels more heartfelt, honest and touching than the past few Alkaline Trio albums. No gimmicks. Just Skiba.
Matt Skiba on MySpace
Started in 2000, Devil's Brigade is the side project of Rancid bassist Matt Freeman (on upright bass and Cookie Monster vocals). The "all-star" punk-rock trio also features Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong on guitar and ex-X drummer DJ Bonebrake. The band's debut, self-titled full length is due out on Hellcat Records this August 31.
Devil's Brigade on MySpace
Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
The school I went to back in the suburbs is covered in barbed wire and steel fencing. There’s an intercom at the gate. The small park across the road from the local library is now a high-rise office block. It’s just down the road from the abandoned petrol station. And the open space where you could see the sea on the horizon’s now a giant shopping mall. Where Neon Bible felt saturated and heavy under the weight of its own self-importance, The Suburbs soars.
Click here to read the full review on Channel24.co.za.
Arcade Fire on MySpace
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Gogol Bordello’s 2005 album Gypsy Punks was fresh, new and exciting. I couldn’t get enough. Then in 2007, Super Taranta! took the band’s sound even further. Injecting their underdog, nomadic, Eastern European gypsy-punk anthems with the kind of massive scope destined for stadium and festival-dominating appearances around the world. But for some reason, their major label debut Trans-Continental Hustle didn’t leap out the same way.
It can’t be a simple case of major label, Rick Rubin production kills the raw energy. That’s too clichéd to even contemplate. But something’s different. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe that’s the problem. Every time I listen to Trans Continental Hustle, I get “Wanderlust,” from Super Taranta!, stuck in my head. Which says a lot.
Still, I’ve been listening to the album all week and it’s starting to infiltrate my sub-conscious. “We Comin’ Rougher (Immigraniada)” is a dirty punk-rock song bursting with gypsy violin and Kafka and Don Quixote references. “In corridors full of tear gas our destines jammed every day. Like deleted scenes from Kafka, flushed down the bureaucratic drain,” sings Eugene Hütz .
“Last One Goes the Hope” is the first track that really got under my skin. “When Universes Collide” is an epic five minute ride from light to dark, with Hütz raging like a cursed gypsy God on a mountain top in a lightning storm towards the end. And “My Companjera” is infectious thanks to Russian violinist Sergey Ryabtsev and Russian accordion player Yuri Lemeshev.
“Break the Spell” explores Gogol Bordello’s newfound mainstream appeal: “You love our music but you hate our guts. I know you still want me to ride in back of the bus,” “Like a pro I pack your dance floor but you want me to come in and exit through back door.” At the end, Hütz ’s “Break the spell” sustain sounds like Johnny Rotten at the end of Sex Pistols’ “Problems.”
I guess the trans-continental hustle is Hütz and his merry band of music makers’ rise from gypsy-punk underdogs to worldwide festival owners, American Recordings, Sony, Rick Rubin and Red Light Management. From Hütz famously arriving in America (from the Ukraine) with $400, a trashed guitar and some black-market vinyl, to swanning around Brazil – where he now lives with his Romanian samba dancer girlfriend – with Madonna’s phone number in his pocket.
Apparently, the Rick Rubin hookup came when Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello texted Rubin, saying that Gogol Bordello is the best band in the world. Then Rubin watched them play the Hollywood Palladium, met Hütz backstage and the rest is history. At first, Trans-Continental Hustle comes across a bit flat. More of the same. But the more you listen, the more the songs start to seep in.
“May the sound of our contaminated beat sweep all the Nazi purists off their feet…"
Gogol Bordello on MySpace
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Ha ha, if only life had been this easy. I don't know if anyone else remembers this shit. Dane Boe sure as hell does. Check out the rest of his work here. Although I'd advise against watching any of those Annoying Orange videos. It's not just a clever name...
Saturday, August 21, 2010
This reminds me of the time Joey Tribbiani sold Ichiban Lipstick for Men. Western stars have been cashing in on Japan for years, safe in the knowledge that the rest of the world would never see how low they're willing to go if you throw a few zeroes on the end. Now, thanks to the wonders of YouTube and Japander.com, their shame has been uploaded for our amusement. Why does everyone in a Japanese commercial always look about two seconds away from a full-blown psychotic episode? And what's with all the energy drinks?
Everyone's done it, from Quentin Tarantino and Kiefer Sutherland, to Britney Spears and Eddie Murphy. But nobody tops the Governator. Just have a look at his full Japanese filmography. And for more, check out Japander.com.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Not Like This
Dead Broke Records
Fans of Dear Landlord, You, Me and the Atom Bomb and The Flatliners, take a bow. And how could I not mention Dillinger Four, The Lawrence Arms and Hot Water Music? Still, for every band that gets the formula just right there's a million other imitators that don't even come close. The kind of bands you listen to once, eject and forget. Luckily for them, Iron Chic paid attention in (Punk) Rock 'n' Roll High School...
Not Like This is a perfect combination of catchy pop-punk riffs and gruff-around-the-edges melody, where pretty-when-they're-drunk guitars swoon with filthy basslines. It's storyteller punk-rock with a story worth telling. Really, it's all about the feeling. The relatable beauty of lines like, "I taste the grief. Feel that old anger bubble up. It makes it hard to breathe. It makes a case for throwing up. So I medicate, and when my eyes are red enough, I start thinking straight and I can face the day." I bet Iron Chic remember when Jawbreaker rocked "The Boat..."
Fans of disbanded New York punk-rockers Latterman won't be surprised. Iron Chic features ex-Latterman vocalist Phil "Bear" Douglas and guitarist Brian Crozier.
Download Not Like This from Iron Chic. Just name your price.
Iron Chic on MySpace
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Can you believe it? First Legally Blonde and Sister Act, now Spider-Man. Is nothing sacred anymore? Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is an upcoming Broadway musical based on the unsuspecting Marvel webslinger. "WTF?" I hear you ask. But wait, it gets even more unbelievable. The show features lyrics by U2 frontman Bono and music by his effects-pedal-craving sidekick The Edge. Altogether now, "What the fuck?"
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was meant to premiere this February, but following several "cash flow" issues (I can imagine) and actor walkouts (Evan Rachel Wood was supposed to play Mary Jane and Alan Cumming was the original Green Goblin), it's been pushed back 'til December. Ignoring the signs, the show's set for a preview run form November 14 at Broadway's Foxwoods Theatre. And the official opening night's scheduled for December 21.
Just when you think things can't get ANY weirder...
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
We Chase the Waves
Asian Man Records
"It's time to sink or swim, sail on or anchor in..."
Lawrence Arms guitarist Chris McCaughan’s second solo album We Chase the Waves opens with a brooding crash of thunder, rolling deep under the wistful first line, “The air is filled with dust and smoke…” Recorded during a summer electrical storm, it was a totally random inclusion. “We listened back and I looked at Neil (Hennessy) and we were like, um, I think we should keep that.”
Again, McCaughan turned to Lawrence Arms and Smoking Popes drummer Neil Hennessy for basslines and collaboration. And We Chase the Waves was recorded over an eight-month period in Hennessy and McCaughan’s apartments in Logan Square, Chicago. Just like his debut, Four One Five Two, McCaughan’s wrung his heart dry over another batch of sentimental storyteller acoustic folk: “I’ve got dreams as the crow flies,” he sings. “I dance to the here and the now.” McCaughan’s images are worth a thousand words.
Cello, piano and backing vocals partner on Four One Five Two Jenny Choi seems to have disappeared and We Chase the Waves is even more straightforward than its predecessor. It’s straight-up singer-songwriter folk: “And I got strings… and calloused fingers, a scratchy throat, a melody that lingers. I’ve got paper, I’ve got ink, I’ve got a bunch of notes I scribbled down, I think, I could make a song somehow.”
“Whales and Sharks” borders on cheese – anyone else and I’d be retching. But that’s my only complaint. Songs like “In the Flicker” and “As the Crow Flies” are instant classics. “Mouth of A Tiger” is probably my favourite (so far). It’s a vivid, nostalgic trip, crashing through memories I’ve never experienced: “I’ve got clichés to write, I get high as a kite.” McCaughan’s sentimental poetry gets you deep in your lower spine and holds you there, his simple, acoustic strums and lead solo accentuating the raconteur feeling in his voice.
Showing off his love for Chicago and old poetry, “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” is a not-so-subtle nod to Franklin Pierce Adams’ 1910 baseball poem dedicated to legendary Chicago Cubs double-play trio Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance.
Sundowner on MySpace
Asian Man Records
Monday, August 16, 2010
August 13, Highfield House, Hillary
Turn left at the train tracks. Pass the pawnshops, bottle stores and brown paper bags on the corner. Ignore the scary-looking towies revving engines at the petrol station and keep going ‘til you’re officially on the other side. The turnout’s weak. “It’s Durban,” says Steve Fataar at the bar. Car Boot Vendors don’t care. They’re on first, giving it all they’ve got.
The Vendors pick up instruments like hobos at a soup kitchen. This time, they’ve added banjo to their acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, ukulele, harmonica, cowbell and tambourine ensemble. Tonight, they’re fired up, blending Thailand, Durban and Gainesville into another bleeding-heart set of acoustic punk rock.
British songbird Gemma Ray’s up next. She’s like something Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez might have cooked up. “I love you but I hate you” she sings, part ‘50s femme fatale, part serial killer, like a twisted, sexier take on Lily Allen.
Her setup’s intense – a stark comparison to the straight-up, handmade acoustic sound of the Vendors. At one point, she’s playing guitar with a kitchen knife. She drops to her knees, turns the dials on her pedals with a heart-shaped ring and twists a tattooed foot in her ruby red slippers. She swaps microphones and loops herself back ‘til she’s a wailing mess of scorn and heartache.
Like two burning headlights on an abandoned highway, Gemma Ray’s sound’s haunting and eerily beautiful, like she’d smile sweetly at you as she yanked the bloodstained knife from your back – how did she even get that thing through customs?
Ramblin’ Bones has changed a lot since the last time I saw him. He’s lost the neat, smooth sound of his debut album Watching & Waiting and added a much more urgent, ragged-toothed acoustic punk-rock edge that suits him.
His guitar strap’s a piece of old string and his beard looks like a Fisherman’s Friend. And with Baron Von Danger on drums, Bones’ new sound’s much more rough-around-the-edges and ready to rumble, a gritty combination of acoustic folk and his Fuzigish roots.
On my way out I buy a homemade, R20 reboot of Bones’ album, recorded live with “Rusty the dog from the wendy house.” Even the title’s got more bite to it: Drunken Sessions & Silly Demos Vol. 1 (including NOFX and Rancid covers). I leave singing "Down with the bourgeoisie, down with the bourgeoisie..."
View the full gallery
Gemma Ray on MySpace
Rambling Bones on MySpace
Car Boot Vendors on MySpace
Friday, August 13, 2010
The Longest EP
Rolling Stone won't kick up a fuss. Howard Stern won't mention it. And David Letterman won't invite them over to play. But you know what, fuck 'em! There's no stopping NOFX. Due out August 17, The Longest EP isn't an EP at all. It's an hour-long, 30 song collection of EP tracks, "out of print stuff," rarities and previously unreleased outtakes, from 1987 to 2009.
It's like a collector's-only sequel to their 2002 release 45 or 46 Songs That Weren't Good Enough to Go On Our Other Records. And for NOFX historians, the EP cover, designed by "the same dude that illustrated the cover of The Longest Line," looks like a big fat pencil crayon reunion party. Everyone's there, from Timmy the Turtle and Nubs, to Hippy Jesus and Cokie the Clown.
"NOFX, recycling the same music for 25 years..."
Basically, Fat Mike's put The Longest Line, The P.M.R.C Can Suck This, Never Trust A Hippy, Cokie the Clown, 13 Stitches, a bit of Regaining Unconsciousness and a bunch of rare tracks that weren't good enough for 45 or 46 Songs That Weren't Good Enough to Go On Our Other Records together, for your easy digestion. Tying up loose ends so you don't have to.
Love 'em or hate 'em, or feel indifferently about 'em, it's NOFX! And The Longest EP's a nice trip down memory lane with a few tasty surprises. Shit, I guess it beats actually band practicing. And I bet the vinyl version looks awesome!
"I'll never fly S&M Airlines again..."
Order The Longest EP from Fat Wreck
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (aka Guitar Hero 6) will make history as the first video game packaged with a retail music CD. The game's due out at the end of September and the CD in question is Telephantasm, a new compilation album by recently reformed grunge legends Soundgarden.
I don't know, Guitar Hero games all kind of blend into each other. Played one, played 'em all, right? Check out the trailer. Looks more like Warcraft or Brutal Legend...
Thursday, August 12, 2010
“Yusuf, come here!” shouts Tom the enthusiastic sound and lighting guy mid cable uncoil. “Remember that time you played me a Billy Talent demo, about five years ago? Now they’re here. Crazy.” “Oh cool, so did you get into them since then?” I asked. “No, not really. Do you think you could dig up and old Slayer demo and play that to me?”
Watching Canadian rock band Billy Talent soundcheck is an almost surreal experience. Here in South Africa, we’re starved of international touring bands. So every time a bunch of famous faces off MTV pop in to say hello, it’s kind of a big deal. You know, bands in their prime. Modern contemporaries. Not aging, middle of the road rockstars on their last legs.
I sat down with Billy Talent guitarist Ian D’Sa and bassist Jon Gallant before their Durban show at Wavehouse.
Biggest surprise so far?
Ian: How amazing the food is. Best curries I’ve ever had in my life.
Click here to read the full interview on Channel24.com.
Click here for the gallery on Facebook.
For the past few years, Kele Okereke's Bloc Party bandmates have endured his increasing dance music tendencies. Now it's got to the point where it's like, "Okay man, you go off and do your own thing. Call us when you're ready." First impressions: he's gone too far. He's officially dropped Okereke from his name, hit the gym and his album art looks more like the latest Kanye West, R. Kelly or Lil Wayne disc than the thoughtfully sensitive Okereke you might remember from Silent Alarm and A Weekend in the City.
It's got to suck being the rest of Bloc Party. Secretly knowing that what you had was special because of your combined elements. And now watching from afar, as your lead singer swans off on his own, barely recognisable from the Silent Alarm era Kele Okereke. But it must also suck to be Kele the electrohead, trapped in Kele Okereke's angsty, intellectual, indie-rock body, desperate to break out and see the world, one dancefloor at a time.
"Forget where you've been, cut your ties to the past and wave it goodbye."
Listening to The Boxer, the songs that jump out immediately are "Everything You Wanted" and "Unholy Thoughts," the least dancefloor-thumping, most Bloc Party-ish songs on the album. "Unholy Thoughts" has even got some guitar in the mix. And "Everything You Wanted" is full of the sensitive, delicate beauty that suits Okereke (better than his new, forced-sounding persona Kele).
It almost feels like the muscular DJ Kele on the album cover beat the shy, introverted Kele Okereke to death, burnt all his scarves and jerseys and bought a whole new range of electro caps and tight fitting T-shirts. Musically, you could hear the final stages of the changeover on Bloc Party's last album Intimacy. But it's nothing like this. "I never listen to indie anymore, I find it boring," Kele told the NME.
Look, The Boxer's not all bad. "Rise," "Everything You Wanted" and "Unholy Thoughts" are actually pretty cool. But the overall effect's lukewarm. Instead of playing to his strengths and doing what he does better than anyone else, Kele's moved to a whole new realm completely, where he doesn't have superpowers - just a need to move his (now muscular) body. If he wasn't famous already, I doubt anyone would care as much.
Keeping themselves busy, Bloc Party bassist Gordon Moakes has joined Young Legionnaire and guitarist Russell Lissack's touring with Ash and restarting his electro-pop duo Pin Me Down (maybe they've all got inner electroheads). And last I heard of drummer Matt Tong, he was keen to try something else.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
It must be great to live in America, start an indie band, get on the Billboard 200 and play fests like South By Southwest. Better still, how about a batch of glowing debut album reviews from the likes of Spin, Q, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Sputnikmusic and whoever else will listen to a bunch of fun young indie kids pulling silly faces in bright coloured clothes. And these days, that's just about everyone.
Mostly, it's Astro Coast's combination of old and new, their quirky lyrics and their laid-back honest jams that grab your attention. Well... delicately caress it. There are moments that sound like Vampire Weekend. Moments that sound like the Pixies. Moments that sound like (blue album) Weezer. And an overall nod to the '50s pop melodies of Buddy Holly. But overall, it's a pretty original sound.
The refreshing thing is the lack of desperation. Nothing sounds force-fed and unconvincing. Surfer Blood don't sound like a young new indie band climbing the online cool ladder, one blog at a time - even though they are. Potential single "Take It Easy" sounds the most Vampire Weekend, Afrobeat-ish, but the rest of the album's surprisingly old fashioned and chilled. Don't get bogged down by the hype, Astro Coast's an impressive first album that's fun to listen to. Optimistic and likable.
Surfer Blood on MySpace
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Saturday, August 7, Origin, Durban
Boo! was the first cool band I ever saw. I remember seeing them on Live@Five with John Vlismas. Then live at the BAT Centre with Sibling Rivalry. Chris Chameleon spoke a weird language on stage, translated by his octopus-limbed, instrument-hopping sidekick Ampie Omo. Then Chris Chameleon went off and became the Afrikaans version of Barry Manilow.
Now they’re back. Just like that. With a new album and a new drummer. Tonight’s the first time they’ve played Durban since their big RamFest reunion. And Origin’s filling up fast. The crowd’s an unusual combination of older alternative types, young Durban hipsters and double Jameson-swigging Origin regulars.
Click here to read the full story on Channel24.co.za
Click here for the full gallery on Speakerbox.co.za
LA nerd crew Weezer have released the artwork for their new album Hurley, due out on Epitaph in September. "There's definitely going to be more raw rock energy on this one," said Rivers Cuomo in a recent interview with Gibson.com. "We just wanted to use that picture of Jorge Garcia's face on the cover. It's such an amazing album cover, and we didn't want to have any other words on it, so we just figured everyone was going to call it Hurley, so that's what we call it," wrote Cuomo in an email interview with Pitchfork.com.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Bit late, I know, but if you're in the Pretoria area tomorrow (August 4), get to Wolves Cafe for Between 10 and 5's Serenade Your Walls illustrated poster exhibition. The Cape Town edition happened on August 1 at Am I Collective Garage in Kloof Street (the work's still on display now). And the show features illustrated posters for bands like Pity the Fool, HAEZER, Heuwels Fantasties, Van Coke Kartel, Desmond and the Tutus, Gazelle, aKing and Jax Panik, by artists like FlySchool Design, Am I Collective, Kronk, loveandhate, Merwe Marchand le Roux, Arno Kruger, Onehorsetown and Job Solario (Argentina).
Click here to view and order posters from Between 10 and 5's online shop.
Monday, August 2, 2010
If you're a fan of The Mighty Boosh, Noel Fielding's latest crazy doodle art show, Bryan Ferry VS The Jelly Fox, opened at Maison Bertaux, Soho on July 3 (and runs 'til January 5 2011). Click here (artwednesday.com) for a full gallery of the opening. You can even email Tania Wade for a full price list and order some of Noel's work, if you're feeling flush.