28 Jan 2010

Smoke Fairies live - listen again here!

Thanks again to the brilliant Smoke Fairies for playing live, and playing us a brand new song...

Kaf and Jess have been singing together since they were 11, they've travelled the world - well mainly all the blues-spots in the States, and caught the sharp eye of Mr Jack White, who plays on their latest single Gas Town. 

Listen again here for more:

   TOW Smoke Fairies 270110  by  ruthbarnes
*Ghost You Echo - Blood Lines - http://www.myspace.com/ghostsyouecho

*Francis - I Was Never Bored At All - http://www.myspace.com/francisishere

*Nedry - Condors - Condors (Monotreme)

*Vivian Girls - Survival - Everything Goes Wrong (In The Red)


*Angus & Julie Stone - And The Boys - Down The Way (Flock)


*Jenny Bjorkqvist - To Heal Your Wounds - http://www.myspace.com/jennybjorkqvist


*Beach House - Zebra - Teen Dream (Bella Union)

*Trash Kit - New Face - http://www.msplinks.com/MDFodHRwOi8vdHJhc2hraXRydWxlcy5ibG9nc3BvdC5jb20v

26 Jan 2010

Interview: Cassie from Vivian Girls - listen here!

Cassie Ramone plays guitar and is one of the three harmonious vocalists from lo-fi punks via The Shangri-la's - Vivian Girls

Photo by Laurie Scavo

The Brooklyn band have just toured the UK in support of their second album Everything Goes Wrong, out now on In The Red Records. 

In 2007 VG's released their self-titled debut album to much hub-hub in the bizniz, and to a loud cheer from fans who felt like they'd been waiting for this band for their whole lives. 

TOW caught up with Cassie about touring, the buzz and, yes, being one of three girls in a punk band:

  Cassie from Vivian Girls  by  ruthbarnes

Check out the fabulous The Girls Are blog for a full review of tonight's performance at Hoxton Bar And Grill.

25 Jan 2010

6 Music: Jenny Bjorkqvist and Twin Sister

Every week TOW is lucky enough to pick two songs for Tom Robinson's brilliant BBC 6 Music show, the spot goes out every Monday morning at around 2:30am.

Pick 1 - Jenny Bjorkqvist - To Heal Your Wounds

Jenny Bjorkqvist is from Sweden. If, like me, you are constantly astounded at the quality of pop music that comes out of that country then have a listen to To Heal Your Wounds, it's simply stunning. 

Jenny only has two friends in her 'top friends' on myspace, Nick Drake and Bjork - I'll say no more. There's very little around online about this Swede with the glorious voice, but many thanks to brilliant new music uber-blogger Swedesplease for putting me onto her.

Pick 2: Twin Sister - I Want A House

Twin Sister are a five piece from Brooklyn, who've given me a track for my best songs of 2010 round up already. 

Andrea Estella provides the vocals and I wonder where she's from, as there's an accent which I can't place. The band's blog is full of great stuff, and most of all FREE music. 

Everything they've done so far, including noodlings and experiments are posted to be downloaded by you for free.

The band invite their fans to witness the growth of their songs, watch and hear them go from musings to full blown ideas. 

This track is from their EP Vampires with Dreaming Kids, it's been around for a while. Thanks to Wears The Trousers (again) for pointing me in the direction of this band just in time to be first on the list for their first official release, Color Your Life, which is out soon on Infinite Best Recordings

Hunter Giles, who runs this indie label based in Brooklyn, has told me to 'get excited', oh I am Hunter, I am!

20 Jan 2010

Mira Calix on The Other Woman - listen again!

Listen again to Mira Calix - her playlist with her inspirational tracks is below. Except Twin Sister, that's ours...

  TOW Mira Calix 200110  by  ruthbarnes

*Twin Sister - I Want A House - Vampire With Dreaming Kids (Twin Sister)

*Clifford & Calix - In Her Room - Lost Foundling (Aperture)

*E.S.G. - You're No Good - Come Away With Me (99 Records)

*Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions - Feeling Of Gaze - Bavarian Fruit Bread (Nettwerk Productions)

*PJ Harvey - My Beautiful Leah - Is This Desire (Island)

*Pram - The Mermaid Hotel - The Museum Of Imaginary Animals (Merge)

*Clifford & Calix - Myrie - Lost Foundling (Aperture)

19 Jan 2010

6 Music: Trash Kit and White Hinterland

Every week TOW is lucky enough to pick two songs for Tom Robinson's brilliant BBC 6 Music show, the spot goes out every Monday morning at around 2:30am.

Pick 1: Trash Kit - Cadets

Pet hate: Music journalists using the phrase 'spikey guitar'. Why? Because it's usually referring to some two-bit indie skinny jeans boy band who are desperately trying to channel their inner Franz Ferdinand. Listen to Cadets here... aaargh! I've tried in vain to come up with something more creative and thoughtful but 'spikey guitar' is rattling round my head along with that oh-so-damn-catchy riff. 

I had to blog about this band because they are poised to be the 'it' band of the not so distant future. Ros Murray from Electrelane/Lesbo Pig is joined by Rachel A and Rachel H - who were massive fans of Ros's and one thing led to another. Rachel A and Rachel H also play in The Madrigals and Columbus and Crusoe and with Ros in Ray Rumours and the No-Eyed Deers. Keep up!

Tonight they play with MEN in Soho, featuring the awesome JD Samson from Le Tigre... and in a couple of weeks catch them at the east end's Cargo with Tune Yards, with whom TOW is obsessed. So many great 'DIY' bands out there and so little time.

When the thoroughly LOUD queer-punk duo Drunk Granny came and played live on TOW they couldn't stop raving about TK, and TK are name-checking them in interviews too. It's a very loyal scene. You can see DG play live at our myspace page.

Trash Kit are live in session on TOW on February 3rd - yippee!

Pick 2: White Hinterland - Bow & Arrow

TOW can't take any credit for coming across Casey Dienel, or White Hinterland as she is now known. The Portland, Oregon-based singer was brought to our attention by Alan Pedder who runs the excellent Wears The Trousers magazine. 

Alan's been onto her since she was making less psychey and more folky music as just Casey Dienel. All we can say is this track Bow & Arrow, which you can only hear if you listen back to Tom's show, really blew us away. Otherwise check out Icarus on her myspace page, Stereogum are giving it away free.

Reasons to be Cheerful in 2010 pt 2: Madam

Madam - aka Sukie Smith (I am never 100 % sure which way to put that round... her name is Sukie Smith, she sings and plays as Madam) is working on a new album.

Photo by John Lee BIrd

Last night I met Sukie for a 'coffee' which turned into two pints on an empty stomach, for us two lightweights that means we were ranting on about something of which I can't really remember much... by around 7:30pm. Good work.

Madam released her debut album In Case Of Emergency in 2008, and followed it up swiftly with Fall On Your Knees, an EP in the summer of the same year. Both gorgeous, spooky, slightly weird and utterly fabulous records. The reviews flooded in, and phrases like: 'The fragile-voiced chateuse' were thrown around left, right and centre.

Since then she's recorded film soundtracks, made an album in Peter Gabriel's Real World studios and played live all over the shop. Sukie's not feeling very 'fragile-voiced' anymore. Listen to her version of Odetta's Waterboy, which she recorded for Wears The Trousers brilliant tribute album and you'll get the picture.

I've had a sneak preview of a new song. To prove just how finely tuned my musical ear is, I pointed out just how much I liked the recorders. Erm, those would be flutes, Ruth, flutes...

Madam's turning the vocals UP and singing out LOUD on this new material, we can't wait to hear it.

Watch this space for news and TOW will cajole her into the Resonance studios as soon as we can!

13 Jan 2010

6 Music: Lucius and Standard Fare

Every week TOW is lucky enough to pick two songs for Tom Robinson's brilliant BBC 6 Music show, the spot goes out every Monday morning at around 2:30am.

Pick 1: Lucius

Lucius are two women making music in an old music school in Brooklyn. The story on their myspace reads as every young wannabe musician in New York's wet dream. Jess Wolfe & Holly Laessig found the place on Craigslist - Bromley House in Brooklyn, had been a music school and recording studio for 60 years, now THAT'S positive karma. 

Their debut album Lucius is really very gorgeous, full of beautiful melodies and their voices go together like peanut butter and honey (on toast). Check out TOW's favourite Dear Tom on their myspace page. 

Pick 2: Standard Fare 

Andy, Emma and Danny hail from Sheffield and play some of the purest indie-pop TOW has ever heard. The words to 'Fifteen' are so utterly cheeky and brilliant, set over the quirkiest and happiest of guitar riffs, "Your'e only 15... what was I thiiiiin-kiiiiing...", you know it's only going to get better. 

Released on legendary label Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation it really is independent. 'Indie' gets thrown around so much these days, it's nice to hear a real 'indie' band - doing what indie bands should do in the true, cosy Belle & Sebastian sense of the word.

'Fifteen' is taken from their debut album The Noyelle Beat, which is due out in March.

New music tip for 2010 3: Divorce

"This is the future!" shouts one enthusiastic fan at a recent Divorce gig in east London. I was there watching the uber-loud, uber-shouty five-piece from Glasgow and had my hair blown back by what felt like an industrial-sized bad-ass hair dryer.

Sinead Youth's vocal stylings make my throat ache in sympathy. The 20 year old (yes, 20) screeches and yells her way through the four tracks on their debut EP Divorce: 'Early Christianity', 'Pipedown', 'Juice of Youth' and 'Scissor Fight'.

Listening to the EP you'd imagine this banshee-voiced chanteuse as a total hard nut punk, far too scary and intimidating to ask for an autograph. However, onstage Sinead cuts a rather sweet figure in a little green dress and a big pink hair clip to keep her thick blonde curly locks out of her eyes. When I talk to her after the gig she breathlessly thanks me and then introduces me to her Dad, who has just witnessed his first Divorce gig - his eyes were ever-so-slightly wild.

Backed by Andy, Vicky, Hillary and VSO this band are a sight to behold. Full of energy and with a punk spirit that is so, so, so addictive - yup, this is the future.

12 Jan 2010

New music tip for 2010 2: Rayzaflo

Rayzaflo is from Jackson, Mississippi and she makes phat rhymes. Yup, there's nothing sadder than someone like me trying to get down with the kidz and the flow. So I am going to stop. 

This young rapper is no doubt going the same way as Rye Rye who we fell for in 2008. The young star from Baltimore was picked up by DJ and producer Blaqstarr and then Ms. Paper Planes herself MIA swooped down from on high and took her under her wing. It seems the same is happening to Rayzaflo if her top friends are anything to go by.

'MYSELF I GOT MY OWN SWAGGA SO GET YOUR'Z!!!' she says on her myspace, leaving me head in hands wondering about whether I've ever had any 'swagga' and what the hell I've been doing with my life.

New music tip for 2010 1: Vuk

Vuk is a Finnish-American force of nature, who says "the pump organ is a very underrated instrument". But of course! Her second album Plains is out now and I missed her perform at Barden's Boudoir a few months ago. Darn it. 

Vuk, is mainly the lady in the picture with the fox on her head. Ah-hem. She writes everything and plays what you hear on her albums, but live she enlists friends Loupine and Janne Lastumäki to form a trio. 

Vuk are genre-busting, if there was an impromptu rap on one of the tracks I'd say that would pretty much do it. What album is complete without an impromptu rap? Now that's a whole other topic for another time. Dark, mysterious, funny and completely melodramatic - TOW loves Vuk.

11 Jan 2010

Reasons to be cheerful in 2010 pt 1: Nina Nastasia

Click on the player and you will hear Nina Nastasia's new single 'You Can Take Your Time'.

I first met Nina Nastasia in 2006. She was over from New York playing some shows in London supporting her then new album On Leaving - her first for Fat Cat Records.

John Peel was a massive Nina fan and champion, she played no less than 6 sessions for his Radio 1 show and became firm friends with the broadcaster and his wife Sheila in the years before his untimely death in 2004.

My friend Louise Kattenhorn was John's producer at the Beeb and so had also become good friends with Nina. That's how I met Nina and her partner (and musical organiser) and Rasputin-look-a-like Kennan Gudjonsson.  

Nina played one of my earliest sessions for The Other Woman, I was still nervous and finding my feet as an interviewer (yup, still am) so when Nina explicitly said she didn't like being asked the question, 'So... how do you write your music?' - creasing my brow into a 'thoughtful and insightful' expression I went right ahead and asked just that. 

It's a lazy question and I am amazed she didn't freak out and yell, 'I just told you that's a ridiculous question and I hate being asked it you total numpty!'. She answered patiently and quietly about how she doesn't really think too much about it, the songs just come. Luckily, I've seen Nina and Kennan over the years since for Vietnamese food in Dalston and to hang out at Lou's place and she hasn't written me off, to my surprise and utter relief.

Nina is the artist's artist. Ask any respectable singer songwriter about her and they will tell you that without doubt the New York-based musician is one of the greatest songwriters of a generation. 

Nina should be one of the most talked about and over-played artists, however I am still appalled at the amount of people who have never heard of her. She attracts some fanatical fans alright, who'll follow her around Europe to every tiny gig in every tiny bar talking to her intensely after each one - but when will she be in London selling out the Shepherd's Bush Empire, or headlining the Park Stage at Glastonbury...? 

Pixies/Nirvana producer and general big-man-on-campus Steve Albini has produced the major chunk of Nina's output and has raved about her in interviews. So why hasn't the mainstream music press bitten? Even the good people at Volvo saw the light, using the whimsical 'Our Day Trip' in one of their ads. 

Nina's last album You Follow Me was recorded with Dirty Three drummer (and regular Nina band member) Jim White and was a staple on The Other Woman's playlists in 2007.

I can't wait for her imminent return in 2010 with a new album on Fat Cat Records.