Sunday, June 22, 2008

live: the motifs + the crayon fields

It was such a glorious winter's afternoon at the Powerhouse today - beautiful warm sunshine, a cool breeze from the Brisbane River, lemon lime and bitters and, best of all, a free show by two of Melbourne's loveliest pop outfits, The Motifs and The Crayon Fields.

the motifs

I was very keen to see The Motifs play, having listened to and fallen in love with their WeePOP! 3" earlier this year. Everything about their set seemed so unassuming, so easy and so perfect. Alexis's vocals were a pleasure to hear live - my friend summed it up perfectly when she said they sounded like Tracyanne Campbell's vocals on the first Camera Obscura album. It's so true! There's also that hint of The Softies when I hear some of the bittersweet songs - it's like looking out through a rainy window and capturing the darkened beauty of the grey skies. With their short, winsome pop songs filled with handclaps, xylophone, cute casios and extra-cute harmonies, I definitely fell in love.

alexis from the motifs

may from the motifs

While I was there, I picked up a copy of their latest album, "Cross Paths", on beautiful clear vinyl. If you have an opportunity, make sure you pick up one of these - the brown paper album cover, complete with hand painted artwork and the prettiest kitten drawings, will win you over in no time.

the crayon fields

Meanwhile, The Crayon Fields played dreamy sixties inspired pop, which seemed to declare their love of The Zombies very proudly. And why not? It was perfect lazy Sunday afternoon material - drifting away with those jangling guitars, shuffling drums and shoegaze vocals. It's almost haunting, listening to their songs after the show, late at night - it felt wistful live this afternoon, but tonight there's a shadow over their songs. It would be very easy to wrap oneself in Crayon Fields songs and let the hours pass away without worry.

Might I say, too, that it is an utter shame more pop bands don't get to play at The Powerhouse - the Turbine Hall is a wonderful setting for Sunday afternoon shows, and I would love to see the space utilised by more pop bands rather than just jazz etc. all the time.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

get well soon, dorian

The Long Blondes posted the following statement this morning:

On 9th June, Dorian was rushed to hospital after falling ill, and he is still in hospital in Sheffield in a serious condition. Because of this we will regrettably be canceling all our live appearances until the end of July (see below). Dorian is improving slowly and we will keep you updated on his condition. If you would like to leave a message on MySpace, Facebook, or through the website, we would be glad to pass them on to him when we visit.

Feel better soon Dors.

The Long Blondes xx

Everyone knows how much I love the Long Blondes, so to wake up to this news was quite a shock. Besides, Dorian is one of the loveliest people I've ever met ever. I sure as hell hope he is okay and recovering well - godspeed to you!

Monday, June 16, 2008

winter blues

So I am still feeling a little bit glum - I can't really blame it on winter blues, because when the sun's out and it's 23 degrees during the day, it's hardly winter. Here's, I guess, three things contributing to my malady:

1. Studying. God, so sick of it.

2. Not being able to attend An Evening of Edwyn Collins/Orange Juice covers at The Social in London, which is on tonight. This would be incredible, incredible, incredible. Look at that line-up! A C86 film screening! Edwyn Collins all night long! Next time I'm at karaoke I'm going to make sure I get up and sing 'A Girl Like You'. Oh, I could cry - I wish I was going to this show.

3. Finding out that bloody stupid grrr grrr Los Campesinos! have covered "C Is The Heavenly Option". I suppose it's good more people will listen to this song, but it's not a very good cover. I will stand my by my belief that the singer sounds like Toby from Catch. No cover will ever, ever have anything on the original.

On the upside, I bought a copy of the Vivian Girls 7", which I can't wait to play to death. Otherwise, I might just put on some Nico and mope my night away. Raaaaaah.

Friday, June 13, 2008

everett true + new blogs + best tunes

Just a quick update because I am feeling a little lousy tonight. Firstly, the most exciting news in a long, long time - Everett True has moved to Brisbane! I was in Trash Video tonight when Ari told me, and I yelled out, "WHAT THE FUCK?" What crazy news! And just to prove I'm not making it up, he even wrote about our tropical weather in his Village Voice blog.

Another blog to add to your reading list: One Million Kisses for One Million Girls. A super blog name, and a super blog to boot! Amy also makes the Wrap Yr Troubles In Dreams zine, which looks terrific. As far as I know, issue one has sold out, but issue two is just around the corner! I'll be nabbing a copy for myself, because I miss my days of reading and making zines.

Yesterday, I was addicted to two things: I Smiled Yesterday #3 and the Slow Down Tallahassee album. Both are really, really phenomenal. I want to hunt down copies of everything on the ISY podcast - it was wonderful to hear The Delmonas again, and I am so damn hooked on the Vivian Girls (and cursing the fact I missed out on a first pressing of their record). And Slow Down Tallahassee? I adore every single bit of it, and I had to giggle when I listened to 'Kiss Me Again' for the first time - quite possibly one of the sweetest and most deceptive songs I have heard about fucking. So good!

Oh, and a new Manhattan Love Suicides CD compilation of their recent 7"s and rarities comes out on Monday! Best ever!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

popfests: one happy island + mahogany + boy genius

So, this weekend heralds NYC Popfest, and it's probably best I say little more about this event, or else I will cry lots of tears of jealousy. If you are going I hope you have a brilliant time and make sure you have a biiiiiiig dance for me! Indie pop dance parties plus the most amazing bands around - my heart breaks into a million little pieces. Sigh.

Anyway, two NYC Popfest bands I really love right now are One Happy Island and Mahogany.

I've been hooked on quite a few songs of late, but one that's creeped into my conscience in a sneaky yet very welcoming way has been 'Potential' by Boston's One Happy Island. I think it's the ukelele that does it - I'm fairly certain it can win me over at any opportunity. (An aside: the first time I saw Jens Lekman, it was just him and a ukelele, and it was the best show of his I've seen.) But what else? They have this winsome charm, earnestness and sense of DIY fun about what they're doing that makes them truly endearing - I mean, they harmonise along to a kazoo! I think they have a new release coming out on WeePOP! really soon - I will have to hunt this one down for sure, because their last one has already sold out.

I know everybody has been listening and loving Mahogany for quite a while now, but, as with most things, it's taken me a little while to truly understand how magnificent they are. Last year I received 'My Bed Is My Castle' on a mix CD and was instantly taken with how deep the song was, yet how it had this haunting element that whisked me off to the clouds. I don't know how to describe it. I finally followed up this initial encounter in London, when I picked up "Connectivity". I just love this album - like 'My Bed Is My Castle', it takes me to another world almost. I know how terrible and cheesy this all sounds, but it's an amazing record, and I would really love to see how it's recreated live.

Even though they're not playing NYC Popfest, I'm still endeared to Brooklynites (is that what you call them?) Boy Genius. I wrote about them after hearing their "Eureka" EP, and now they've gone and turned out an album, "Anchorage". Yay! "Anchorage" builds on the collegiate sound introduced on "Eureka" - they've re-recorded some of the tracks from the EP, and in high fidelity and with new production, they sound well polished. I love the addition of trumpets and little subtle guitar flourishes added to my favourite track, "Radio Silence", and Jason's vocals keep getting better and better across the entire album. "Anchorage" is the type of album I would put on whilst driving back from the beach - sunburnt, sandy and with the afternoon summer breeze blowing through the car. Perfect for everyone in the northern hemisphere! I'll make do with playing it on my weekend drives to anywhere. They're playing Athens Popfest in August - yet another festival to make me envious.

I might just make do with the Alex Bedroom Popfest, then.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

blog happenings

Well, after a busy weekend of studying, watching rock and roll and floating away with Jacques Prevert's "Les Enfants Du Paradis", I am back on board. I have since realised that spending three weeks away from the internet, and taking another three weeks to catch up on internet happenings has left me flailing behind with a million and one pop purchases to make! Luckily I am catching up on that fairly quickly - last week I ordered Slow Down Tallahassee's debut album "The Beautiful Light" from Thee SPC, which, by all accounts, is utterly smashing and I cannot wait to listen to it myself. Besides, how can I resist a cover as lovely as this?

I went looking for a pair of seamed pantyhose in the department store sales yesterday and I could only find one pair, which were too large for me. I definitely need to hunt down a pair, as well as some delicious Dorothy-red shoes and find myself a brick lane. Oh, and I should start making myself some insanely catchy girl-group inspired pop songs, with some punky sass thrown in for good measure.

Then, just before I ordered the new Slumberland "Searching For The Now" split 7"s!

This is super exciting: #3 features sunny splits from A Sunny Day In Glasgow (covering The Pastels) and The Sunny Street, while #4 teams The Pains of Being Pure at Heart with Summer Cats. How can you resist? You can't! While you're ordering make sure you buy lots of other Slumberland stuff - I did. I bought myself a Lodger t-shirt and I can't wait to wear it out and about.

Now what else is there left to buy? For starters, there's the rest of the Summer Cats releases - a 3" on WeePOP! and a Cloudberry 7", not to mention lots of other listening treats from these two super little labels. Then, I might buy myself The Bon Bon Club 7" from Thee SPC, new Bubblegum Lemonade from Matinee....uh oh, where has all my pay gone? So much more to get, too!

Apart from catching up on all my favourite blogs, I've also found a few more to add to my reading and listening list:

Like Sugar is an indie pop and electro podcast blog from San Diego. I love how Eric mixes the best pop songs with old and new synth stuff - it's fun to mix these things up. I can't wait to listen to his summer podcast, even though it's supposedly the middle of winter here.

The Outpost is one of my favourite, favourite stores in Brisbane. Take a look on Matt's blog and you'll soon see why. If you ever have the chance to visit Brisbane, I will make sure you go there and buy yourself some of the coolest clothing and toys ever. Also associated with The Outpost is I Used To Skate Once 4, a skateboard art exhibition which seems to grow exponentially each year. The delightful Cat will be exhibiting once again, and I can't wait to see what menagerie she creates this time around.

I've mentioned it previously, but I wish I spoke other languages, particularly Spanish. When I look at 7iete Pulgadas (translated as Seven Inches), I really really wish I didn't have to rely on babel fish translators to help me understand. And, boy, what a collection of 7"s there are to share. It reminds me of Bruce's terrific Side Room Singles podcast, and I am really pleased there are people out there who are able to share their magnificent singles collection with the world.

Now, what else is there to catch up on? Ah yes, last night's episode of Skins. Yeah!

Monday, June 2, 2008

why i love brisbane sometimes

Probably the best part of living in Brisbane is having access to the Gallery of Modern Art. Sure, it's trying to be more than what the city's cultural scene can support, but it's where I go to watch lots of old films for free, see hip exhibitions and loiter in one of the best bookshops around. Oh yeah, and it's two minutes from my work and right down by the river!

During the recent Andy Warhol retrospective, the Gallery featured an 'Up Late' series on Friday nights, featuring bands and discussions on Warhol-related topics - I previously wrote about seeing Caribou at one of these nights. This time around, for the Picasso exhibition, they're offering another Up Late program. Sure, not everything is to my taste, but OH MY GOD Friday 1 August: Les Idoles - 60s French Pop night. Did somebody scream alex heaven or what? I was even intending to travel to Sydney on the same night to see Devo, but little can keep me from dancing the night away to my favourite French pop.

In honour of this event (oh, just another two months away), here is a clip of my favourite favourite actress, Anna Karina, singing one of my favourite ye-ye songs, "Roller Girl".

Sunday, June 1, 2008

seven inches: the besties + velour + the school

I finally found some time this weekend to slow the pace down a little bit - with all this rainy weather, I've snuggled up with some new books, watched some films (I watched If.... earlier today and thought it was just incredible) and ate delicious homemade soup. Oh, and I've made acquaintances with my record player once again, and it eagerly embraced all the new 7"s I've acquired from recent travels.

Before I left on holidays, I ordered a copy of The Besties' "Bone Valley Deposit" 7", but it landed while I was away. Upon returning, its sleeve of white vinyl goodness landed on my turntable and turned my bedroom into a pop dancefloor. How good is 'Bone Valley Deposit'? Very very good, I tell you! And I really like the artwork as well. These Brooklyn kids are a whole lot of fun, and they're playing NYC Popfest. If you're lucky enough to be attending (like my Brisbane pal Fergus is - I am awfully jealous!), make sure you get your shake on just for me.

My love (and cute boy crush) on The Lodger is well documented - I'm not sure if I have mentioned yet, but their new album "Life Is Sweet" is really good, and has taken up residency in my car. Anyway, I found a split 7" of theirs whilst browsing at Rough Trade East (as you do), released last year on Germany's Noise Deluxe label. Apart from a delicious floral wallpaper cover, the split single features a killer song called "Stereogirl" from super Danish band Velour. I've been listening to the songs on their Myspace page all night and I am hooked - they're fun, cute to boot and have the perfect combination of summer melodies, 60s throwback guitar hooks and lovelorn lyrics in their songs.

Also while at Rough Trade, I picked up the "All I Wanna Do" 7" by Cardiff's The School. According to my notebook, I promised myself to write about this seven-piece back in January, but they must have slipped to the back of my writing mind with all the other pop discoveries I've had since. I'm glad I bought this pretty, fairy-floss pink single, though, because The School are just darling - with their tales of love and heartbreak against sixties girl group melodies, they're unthinkably sweet. "All I Wanna Do" reminds me of Kirsty MacColl's classic "They Don't Know" - considering this is one of my favourite songs EVER, it's high praise for The School. They have a new single out on Elefant - "Let It Slip" - which you should definitely buy. I sure will be!