Saturday, June 8, 2013

Get Hooked.

Leeds is a good city.  A really good city.  I've been here (with some brief interludes elsewhere) for just under six years now.  I've seen the scene around here change.  When I first arrived The Futureheads were making way for The Cribs, whom we all stood in the pouring rain to see play upstairs at The Library.  We got drunk on fizzy larger, and overheated, and then staggered home via Pitza Cano.
The Pigeon Detectives were momentarily cool in the eyes of the nation, but not of Leeds, and I've yet to meet anyone who didn't at some point have to resist the urge to call Ricky Wilson names.
When I first arrived we spent all our time, and beer money, in the Hyde Park Social Club, and occasionally, just occasionally ventured to the Brudenell.  
In the last couple of years, the scene has changed again, and in the last year, the city has spawned a Mercury Music Prize winning band, and overseen a paradigm shift, towards a multi tonal, multi layered, Phil Spector influenced dense sound with echo's of psychedelia.  A guitar generated wah wah wall of sound, a post punk drum beat and a delivery with swagger.  This is what Leeds is doing at the moment.  And, at the forefront, are Hookworms.  
Hookworms are a band about whom it is virtually impossible to find anything about.  They don't go by names, only initials, they don't have a biography readily available on any website, and in fact, the website they link to from their twitter account only shows their upcoming tour dates.  However, having caught them live at the Brudenell earlier this year, I can say, you don't need to read about the people behind the music, to know that the music is good.  There are times where it would be easy to draw comparisons to a post 'Good Vibrarions' Beach Boys, Brian Wilson with a bit less California, or the Yeah Yeah Yeah's with a bit more early 90's Manchester.  Theres something in it that feels like its what The Stone Roses could have been.  The delivery is not without its punk roots, and the beat makes the entire crowd in a room start to slowly bob.  Its not quite dance music (in the Dutch Uncles, go and have a boogie down the front kind of way) but there's no way you couldn't move whilst this band are playing.  There'll be no standing and staring into your pint glass whilst this is happening.  Its hypnotic, it will really put a smile on your face, you can feel the music resonating through you and its ACE.  

Hookworms are playing on Thursday 4th July with Pissed Jeans at the Brudenell Social Club.  It promises to be a good night.  
Hookworms can also be found on Sound Cloud, and Radio Tokyo is currently making me very happy.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Waxing Lyrical #1

I love lyrics. I listen to some truly awful music because the lyrics are so utterly beguiling. I think lyrics, more often than not, make a song. Sometimes its a single line that catches me, other times its the entire formation, like a poem, a short story, set to music.
I thought it might be fun to write down the lyrics that have me at any given time.
So for today I'll leave you with my current favorite set of lyrics, taken from Elbow's beautiful Scattered Black and Whites from their 2001 album, Asleep In The Back (easily their best album in my opinion.)
The lyrics all get me in this one, Guy Garvey weaves his northern sensibilities into the song almost unconsciously. You can picture the scene instantly, and the whole song just makes me want to run home. My favourite lyric in this are the opening lines, they paint the most beautiful scene:

Been climbing trees, I've Skinned my knees
My hands are black the sun is going down.

Why not tell me about your favorite lyrics. Leave a comment or come find me on twitter @Zi_ish!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Things I'm excited about #1

New el-blog feature: Things I’m excited about.
I’m not sure something counts as a feature if you don’t do it with any level of regularity…and I’m not prepared to put a time scale on myself here. Lets be honest, I’m not good with deadlines.
Things I’m excited about will pretty much do what it says on the tin. It will tell you things I’m excited about. Mostly in a musical sense. However if I ever manage to buy a pair of shit kicker boots on ebay or eventually cave and get a cat then they might constitute something that I’m excited about and warrant a look in.
Anyhoo. This week’s thing I’m excited about is: drum roll please…Nat Baldwin. (Yes more American music, I’m sorry, I’m clearly feeling a bit under the weather at the moment!)
Coming to us all the way from Maine; one of those states where I fear that not much other than drinking coffee and being a bit artsy may happen, Nat Baldwin describes his music as experimental and minimalist. His music to my mind is ineffable. Initially it reminds me of Regina Spektor, it has an American collegiate drone to it created by the clever use of a double bass with a clearly improvised wood wind frill around the edges yet its darker that Regina Spektor, there’s no cynicism to it. The other Baldwin’s music is reminiscent of is early Interpol, a really stripped back, minimal sound done in a dark rock-y way not a folk-y way, in the slightest. It’s the kind of music I can imagine east coast college kids lapping up, with REM white label vinyl and original (not re-issued) Smiths records. Get me a beanie and a coffee, because I want in.
Weights by Nat Baldwin by western.vinyl
Nat Baldwin is playing a FREE gig tomorrow night at the Brudenell Social Club. I will be there with bells on. Let me know if you’re going!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Etta James: Thank you, and good night.

A voice that could stop traffic, silence a room and bring a tear to the hardest of eyes. One of the definitive voices of modern blues and a total legend to boot. I was bought up with Etta James records. Dad loved the great women of Jazz, and Etta James singing Billie Holiday covers were Sunday afternoon regulars. Personally I loved the more mowtown influenced Etta songs, Tell Mama being a wonderful example of the power of her voice to sing pop songs in almost a 60s girl group style.
The thing I loved best about Etta though was how easy it was to believe her. During a phase of crippling unrequited love I must have listened to At Last on repeat for hours, telling myself that one day, "at last my love would come along." When you listen to that song, you can believe Etta, one day everything will be OK.
I think there is nothing more glib than a twitter response to the death of a person. "OMG RIP Etta" just isn't going to cut it for this woman who yesterday lost an eighteen month battle with Leukaemia. And so to Etta James, who convinced me so many times that everything would be OK with nothing more than a simple song I say this:
Thank you, and good night.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Howling at the moon

I sing in the shower. Personally I consider it to be one of my more endearing qualities. This is debatable, my house mate, who is not a morning person, thinks its fucking anti social, however another one of my friends has been known to stand by the door when I'm in the shower and join in with me wailing along to James (Laid...obvs) or Kate Bush (Running up that hill...obvs). Why am I telling you about my shower singing activities? Well. I like a song I can have a good wail along to. Generally I like music that isn't lyrically void, however for singing in the shower one needs to be able to howl. This is where The Vaccines entered my life. Post Break Up Sex is a song which gives one plenty of room for prancing about in the shower doing ones best Ian Curtis impression (does anyone else hear Joy Division in The Vaccines?) whilst having a good old how to something that is quite frankly lyrically nonsense. I was lucky enough to go and see the Vaccines in Leeds in November, and it was a splendid gig. I drank lots of Jack Daniels and had a good jump up and down in a hot sweaty mosh pit with one of my dearest friends.
Whilst watching the vaccines I was lucky enough to see another shower howling band...Howler describing themselves as a Surf/Trash (contradiction much?) band hailing from Minneapolis I think this band are destined for great things. Their songs are catchy, not lyrically deep, but equally not lyrically void either. If you like your music catchy and bouncy with potential to howl and a nod to Sheffield, Ian Curtis and the Beach Boys all rolled into one then may I suggest you go check them out.

They are also playing at Leeds Cockpit next month. May I recommend them. I'll be HERE!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blast from the past...

When I was 17 I met a boy. For the record, he was a lovely boy. I don't see as much of him as I would like to any more, I suppose life gets in the way. For a few years we were very much in love. He was ace. The best thing about this boy was that he pushed my musical boundaries. He made me listen to things that had never even entered my frame of reference. He took my love of Green Day and showed me the joys of Skunk Anansie, Live, Radiohead, A, Midget and Therapy? (To name but a few!)Then when life got in the way, and we both moved on and I met someone who hated my taste in music. I spent the next three years speaking to someone every day who thought I only ever listened to miserable music sung by Northerners. So I stopped talking about music. This is not a sob story or a cry for help you understand. This is a simple statement of some facts.
Just before Christmas I was in the pub, having a drink with someone I didn't know very well, and I was talking about Rock City. My musical home. Being from a crappy little town just outside Nottingham I've seen more bands in that place that I'd care to count, I've pulled a pint at the bar, been sick in the corner and fallen asleep in the loo...more than once. Anyway, I digress. I was telling my friend that the last time I was in Rock City I had requested a song by Therapy? and had been told that I needed to go downstairs to the "Classic rock" room to hear such songs...What. The. Fuck. In my head Therapy? sounds as fresh as it did in 1994. And in my head, 1994, was not that long ago. It was. However I realised I'd made a new friend for life when the acquaintance I was having a drink with nearly dropped his pint, his face lit up and he exclaimed "you know Therapy? !" I've spent the last three weeks talking about nothing but music with him, going over some serious blasts from the past, and getting very over excited about The Long Pigs (remember them?), Stiff Little Fingers, Midget, Skunk Anansie, Queens of The Stone Age, Iggy and the Stooges, Phoenix and of course, Therapy?
I suppose this post is not so much a pontification about what is cool now, or what will be cool in the future (may I direct you all back to my post about Michael Kiwanuka?) but about being grateful to those people who formed your taste in music, and value your thoughts about things that are important to you. Its a love letter to standing up and being counted, and loving what you love, regardless of whether anyone else gets it. Just never stop talking about it. What you like is good...because you like it. And fuck everyone else.
I suppose this is also a well over due apology and letter of thanks to that boy who met 17 year old Zi, and helped me turn into this. You know who you are, and you did more to help me become who I am than you'll ever know. I'm so glad you're happy. I'm happy too. I'm sorry if I ever hurt you, but as you're mother once said to me, "it'll all come out in the wash." Look after yourself, hug your loved ones extra tight, and lets go out and have a rave soon? Yea?

Monday, October 17, 2011

New Music: Lindi Ortega

Normally when I go to gigs I take notes. I'm just that kind of girl. Even before I was blogging I would write myself little notes about the songs the headline act had sung and, if deemed worthy, the name of the support act. My notes from last Tuesday's James Vincent McMorrow gig at Leeds City Varieties just say one thing next to the heading support act..."WOW." I bothered to capitalise and everything. It was that good.
Lindi Ortega bought to the beautiful surroundings of the City Varieties her own brand of country-pop-folk that could not only bring a room to a stand still, but it could also make the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Ortega appeared alone, with her signature little red boots and began to wow almost instantly. It's all too easy to compare artists, especially female singer-songwriters. They all seem to get lumped together names as disperate as Alanis Morisette, Emiliana Torrini, Dolly Parton, KT Tunstall and Laura Marling all get chucked around. And frankly its lazy journalism. Although comparisons could be drawn between Ortega and say Dolly Parton and KT Tunstall they are all fairly superficial. Yes, Lindi Ortega is a girl with a guitar, and her music has a country music lilt but her music is all her own. Singing from her own experience about love lost and shoes worn Lindi winds a tale like a country singer of far more advanced years. However as someone who sings opera at sheep when let out of the tour bus Ortega maintains a youthfulness that is so refreshing. She isn't jaded or angry like many of her contempoaries, she's upbeat, quirky, sexy and fun. And most definately worth checking out.

Lindi Ortega is playing at The Hope in Brighton, and The Lexington in London next week, unfortunately she hails from Canada and so spends most of her time on the other side of the pond. If you don't get a chance to sample her live go and check out her myspace and may I heartily recommend listening to Litte Red Boots and Little Lie!

Lindi Ortega - Little Lie from Last Gang Records on Vimeo.