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28 March 2010

midnight and hauntings and nights on the fly


i went to the bush hall last night to see the school and allo darlin. two bands that have made two of my favourite albums of the year so far. i first fell a little bit in love with allo darlin when i bought the henry rollins don't dance single from last year, after jude rogers had written about it in the guardian, but the new album has taken that little bit of love further than i ever expected. it really is a beautifully sweet and funny record. their set began with just elizabeth on stage with a ukulele, before the rest of the band joined her. such a nice way to begin a set though. and i had no idea bobby from the pipettes was the other singer on their new single, dreaming. i'd even seen him beforehand and was wondering why he suddenly disappeared when the band came on. it made sense when he came onstage to sing it with them. it's got a lovely new video too, which bobby features in, and which seems to have been shot on super eight by someone who gets increasingly drunk as the video goes in.

i love videos that just have footage of bands wandering about doing nothing much in particular. they finished their set with just elizabeth on stage again singing heartbeat chilli with a ukulele and a slide guitar. i love this song. it steals the line "i keep a close watch on this heart of mine" from i walk the line, but makes it sound so sad in a way that i'd never noticed before when johnny cash sang it.

it was great to see the school again last night too. i've really missed them since we toured with them last year. i felt a little bit sad seeing the school shop open for business, remembering all the fun times we had on tour together. i always worry when i write something like that, afraid that they might not have had fun times at all. anyway, i'd never seen so many of them onstage together before as there were last night. i counted eight i think. they never brought that many out when they played with us. perhaps they only bring them all out for special occasions like headlining the bush hall and making pop videos. they were the best i've ever seen them last night though.

i've had their the new album for a couple of months now and it's so good. liz has my favourite girl singer voice in pop right now. most of the songs i knew already from the singles or from seeing them live, but it ends with a duet between liz and rob from voluntary butler scheme which i'd never heard before in full, and that has officially become my joint most played song in march according to my ipod. in case you're interested, the other most played song was 'born a woman' by sandy posey, which i'd never heard before until i heard it on the first part of vanessa engle's women documentary series on bbc four, but i completely loved listening to in march it seems. that's for another time though.

while i'm writing about things i love and that are being released at the moment i should definitely mention that our label too young to die are releasing a new singe tomorrow by amanda applewood. our recorder and keyboard player with the boy least likely to. it's called pretend (we're in love) and there aren't many copies of the seven inch, only a couple of hundred. so if you want one you should probably be a bit quick about it. rough trade have got some copies if you can't find it in your local record shop. i think it's a fantastic record, but it seems a bit silly to write that when we're putting it out on our own label because we wouldn't be putting it out if we didn't think it was great. it really is though. and if you haven't got a record player it is coming out digitally but not for another month or so.







18 March 2010

looking for love in all the wrong places




i went down to the barbican on thursday night. to the curve gallery, to see the installation by celeste boursier mougenot. the one with all the zebra finches playing instruments. there are about twelve or so horizontally mounted guitars, some of them bass guitars, some of them les pauls. and then there are some upturned cymbals, some of them have got water in and some of them have got bird seed in. and the zebra finches fly around you, flitting between the instruments and when they land on the guitar strings they inadvertently pluck them or scrape them, and they peck the cymbals with their beaks too. all the guitars and the cymbals are going through amplifiers and it sounds amazing. i think if there was a recording of it and i had to file it somewhere in a record shop i'd probably put it under 'post-rock'. it's certainly experimental, but really quite beautiful too. a bit like some of mogwai's more delicate moments. all the birds seemed pretty happy. i think they kind of liked being in a band.




i did see two birds that made me a bit sad though. the floor of the gallery has got sand on and marram grasses planted in it, and these two birds were picking up bits of twigs and grasses in their beaks and carrying them back up to one of the les pauls. it was obviously a doomed attempt to build a nest on the pick up of the guitar. the bits of nest just kept slipping off. it was so sad and frustrating. i left the gallery feeling a bit worried for the two of them. i comforted myself with the thought that they were just trying to build a nest for fun, because building nests is just something that zebra finches like to do from time to time.





but then i read in the newspaper this morning that on tuesday night the gallery was hurriedly closed because an egg had been laid on the frets of one of the guitars. no wonder they were trying to build that nest so desperately. apparently at one point the egg rolled perilously close to the edge of the guitar, before it stopped still and was able to be taken away to an aviary by the breeder so that another bird could sit on the egg until it hatched.

i think i might have to go down to the barbican again to see it while it's still on. it really is a lovely thing to experience. and they've installed boxes in the gallery now so that the birds can nest if they want to. i just hope it doesn't get in the way of the band.