Saturday, 25 June 2011

Velvet Owl Turn Ons - June 2011

Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know - New album due in September. Everything is alright with the world.

Foster the People - Pumped Up Kicks - Despite its outrageously summer vibe, this song from LA's Foster the People hides a dark heart 'All the other kids with the pumped up kicks/You better run, better run faster than my bullet'.  The trenchcoat mafia may have a new anthem. Beats Marilyn Manson I suppose.

My Morning Jacket - Holding On To Black Metal - One of the most joyous uplifting songs of 2011. If the woah, woah, woahs don't send a shiver down your spine, then you're most probably clinically dead. 

Jonathan Jeremiah - Happiness - Not another fucking bearded troubadour I hear you scream. Yep. And the video has him moodily walking along a railway track. Cliched twat! Lovely song, mind. 

Destroyer - Kaputt - I love this video. I love this song. The soft rock revival starts right here, right now.

Tyler the Creator - Yonkers - Another great video for one of the darkest and dirtiest songs of the year. I would love to see the white middle-class ladies shake their booty to this at the local street dance fitness session. 

Explosions in the Sky - Last Known Surroundings - One for the lights off and headphones on. An incredible piece of music from Austin, Texas' post rock dreamweavers. 

Vetiver - Wonder Why - A quite lovely piece of blissed out acoustica from Andy Cabic's new album The Errant Charm. 

tUnE yArDs - Bizness - If Joss Stone had been making records like this, I reckon those two keystone kidnappers would have stayed the fuck away from her home due to the fact they would have thought her insane.

Sleigh Bells - Rill Rill - Despite the wintry name, this Spectoresque new single from NYC's Sleigh Bells is a perfect accompaniment to these balmy summer days we are enjoying.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Drever, McKusker, Woomble, Holmbridge Village Hall, Huddersfield

It's not often (never, in my experience) that a gig starts with an announcement regarding 'A spot of housekeeping'. But that is exactly how tonight's show gets underway: 'Lavs at the exit to the right...meat tray raffle at the interval'.  You could never imagine something like this at the MEN Arena prior to a Kings of Leon gig - 'There is no plan for a fire alarm test this evening, so if the alarm sounds, please make your way towards a fire exit....and now please welcome to the stage the stars of tonight's show... KINGS OF LEON!!!!!!'

The ramshackle, slightly amateur feel to tonight's proceedings actually add to the sense of occasion as we took our seats (does sitting down make it a concert rather than a gig?) in the draughty surroundings of Holmbridge Village Hall filled to the rafters with locals - some of whom look as if they have just stepped off the set of The Wicker Man - to catch three of Scotland's finest songwriters performing here as part of the Holmfirth Arts Festival.  Accompanied by Heidi Talbot, the group run through a number of tracks from their 2008 album 'Before The Ruin' and have the attentive and appreciative crowd on their side from the start. With Kris Drever and Idlewild front man Roddy Woomble sharing the vocal duties, songs such as 'Into the Blue' and 'Silver and Gold' sound incredible as they resonate through the hall, and with the accompaniment of multi-instrumentalist John McKusker and the honeyed tones of Talbot on backing vocals, the band's alluring sound made for a bewitching night.  In the presence of great musicians such as we were tonight, folk gigs can often be a little too reverential for my taste, but the atmosphere and rapport between the group and their audience felt natural and relaxed and suited the welcoming if somewhat ungig-like surroundings. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Kills, Metropolitan University, Leeds

Describing the time he first set eyes on Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton said:

"She was so extraordinarily beautiful that I nearly laughed out loud. She ... [was] famine, fire, destruction and plague ... the only true begetter. Her breasts were apocalyptic, they would topple empires before they withered ... her body was a miracle of construction ... She was unquestionably gorgeous. She was lavish. She was a dark, unyielding largesse. She was, in short, too bloody much ... Those huge violet blue eyes... had an odd glint... Aeons passed, civilizations came and went while these cosmic headlights examined my flawed personality. Every pockmark on my face became a crater of the moon."

I thought about what Burton had said, as I watched the interplay between former lovers Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart (off of The Kills) and wondered if anyone had written lyrics that captured the exhilarating rush of being in love as well as Burton. Following some serious consideration, here's the Velvet Owl top 10:

The Crystals - Then He Kissed Me: 'He kissed me in a way that I've never been kissed before, he kissed me in a way that I wanna be kissed for ever more'

The Beatles - I Want to Hold Your Hand: 'Oh yeah, I'll tell you something, I think you'll understand, when I say that something, I wanna hold your hand'

Elbow - One Day Like This: 'What made me behave this way, using words I never say? I can only think it must be love'

Elvis Presley - Burning Love: Lord almighty, I feel my temperature rising. Higher and higher it's burning through to my soul'

The Flaming Lips - Do You Realize: 'Do you realize that you have the most beautiful face?'

Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run: 'Together Wendy well live with the sadness, Ill love you with all the madness in my soul. Someday girl I don't know when we're gonna get to that place where we really want to go, and well walk in the sun, but till then tramps like us, baby we were born to run'

Etta James - At Last: 'At last, my love has come along, my lonely days are over, and life is like a song'

Lamb - Gorecki: If I should die this very moment, I wouldn't fear, for I have never known completeness like being here. Wrapped in the warmth of you, loving every breath of you'.

Nick Cave: The Ship Song: 'Come sail your ships around me and burn your bridges down. We make a little history baby every time you come around. Come loose your dogs upon me and let your hair hang down. You are a little mystery to me, every time you come around'

The Beach Boys - God Only Knows: I may not always love you, but as long as there are stars above you, you never need to doubt it, I'll make you so sure about it'


Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Johnny Foreigner, Norwich Arts Centre

Performing before a backdrop of the recent film version of "Where The Wild Things Are" seems a little incongruous in tonight's setting - if the Owl wished to see a movie there is a perfectly good cinema five minutes up the road, and a wet Thursday night in Norwich is definitely not the place to find anything wild - but it is the dilemma facing Johnny Foreigner as they attempt to enthrall a somewhat meagre crowd.  It is, in fairness, an evening that deserves greater support, with six acts playing across the two rooms of the Arts Centre, all for the recession-busting fee of five quid, but the sparseness of the crowd does not appear to deter our nominal headliners.
Indeed, JF pull something of a fast one, with the boy/girl vocalists craftily placing themselves among the crowd as the drummer alone takes to the stage, before belting out the opening number unamplified whilst standing amongst the "throng".  It makes for something of a spectacle, albeit a low-key one.  I look forward to seeing them repeat the trick at the O2. 
Unfortunately, once back on stage and plugged in, the remainder of the set makes for quite lumpy fare, heavy on perspiration but light on the thrills we seek in a Jack n Meg free environment.  Regrettably, a detailed knowledge of the Pixies back catalogue does not automatically turn you into tunesmiths in the Black/Deal mould, and a few more surprises tonight would have helped divert our attention from the wild beasts performing over the band's shoulders.