Saturday, July 08, 2006

Perusing the T In The Park lineup (part 4)

No time for a full-on, blathering entry (heading up to North Conway for the weekend), but that's quite okay since the band highlighted here is one I never intended to even post about (no offense, lads). Besides, what is there to write about these guys that hasn't been written already?

Franz Ferdinand will be playing the main stage today at T In The Park. Here, the boys from Glasgow cover a song by one of their Sound Of Young Scotland heroes: Fire Engines.

Hear it for yourself. "Get Up And Use Me (live)" by Franz Ferdinand.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Perusing the T In The Park lineup (part 3)

Optimo's Twitch on his infatuation with Throbbing Gristle: "What they had to say," he wrote on the group's web site, "how they presented it, how they made one question and challenge things and most importantly, how they sounded had a profound impact on me."

So it was no shock to see a TG tune on the last full-length from Glasgow's Optimo: 2005's Psyche Out, a hypnotic, psychedelia-themed compilation of DJ mixes -- "head music that doesn't forget the body," as it was described.

The aforementioned TG song is "Hot On The Heels Of Love," from the group's 20 Jazz Funk Greats. That album's industrial-meets-synthpop aesthetic was clearly evident in "Hot On The Heels Of Love": noise absorbed from TG's Sheffield environment and regurgitated onto tape (whip-like cracks, a melody thats reminds one of air being slowly released from a balloon, blasts of sound that could be from a Yorkshire steelmaking plant), and then deftly blended with mesmerizing beats.

"Hot On The Heels of Love" calls to a mind a libidinous, indoor game of hide-and-seek -- the interminent, breathy vocals serving as the hider's "You're getting hotter/colder" hints. The version on Optimo's Psyche Out sounds like it was given a tablet of Bremelanotide by top Detroit techno producer Carl Craig. The music throbs, swells, threatens to burst. The stakes have been raised in that game of hide-and-seek: the seeker now blindfolded, the hider wearing nary a stitch, "gools" a bed with tousled sheets.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Hot On The Heels Of Love (Carl Craig Re-Version).

Optimo -- who founded Scotland's first techno club (Pure, which ran for a decade) -- will be performing Sunday at T In The Park's Slam Tent.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Perusing the T In The Park lineup (part 2)

"So Mince was a stoner, Barry was a car thief, and Jon was just a jon . . . . " (It's no "once upon a time," but I suppose it works.)

And thus begins the story of The Fratellis, one of Glasgow's most ballyhooed up-and-coming bands. The trio (Mince, Barry, and Jon Fratelli -- how Ramones) came together last year, playing their first gig in March of 2005 at O'Henry's Bar in Glasgow. Since then, they've supported Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Evan Dando, made an appearence on "Top Of The Pops," and worked with noted producer Owen Morris (Oasis' Definitely Maybe and (What's The Story) Morning Glory?) on their eponymous EP, which was released this past April.

Dabbling in fast-paced, guitar-drenched rock, The Fratellis -- who are playing the Futures stage at T In The Park Sunday -- cite everything from baggy Madchester tunes to NOFX to Bob Dylan as influences. On stage, their live performances have been lauded as nothing short of fiery and emphatic -- three daft lads with the combined energy of a fission bomb.

"Follow them size five's," Mama Fratelli once said. Hopefully, fans will be following the path The Fratellis make for many albums to come.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Stacie Anne" by The Fratellis.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Perusing the T In The Park lineup (part 1)

"Yes, yes, yes, it's the summer festival/The truly detestable summer festival."
-- Edwyn Collins, "The Campaign For Real Rock"

The second weekend of July is nearly here, so that means the annual T In The Park festival is upon us. Now in its 13th year, the two-day event, held at the former Balado airfield near Kinross, attracted nearly 140,000 people last summer with more than 170 bands playing on 10 stages. A similar sized crowd is expected for this year's T In The Park, as tickets sold out in a record 40 minutes (though many have attributed that to the absence of the Glastonbury Festival this summer).

As usual, the main stage is a mixed bag: bands such as Kaiser Chiefs (meh) and the ubiquitous Arctic Monkeys (slightly less of a meh) jostling with the likes of Maximo Park and El Presidente. The acts gets a bit more tantalizing beyond the main stage: Richard Ashcroft and "The Modfather" himself on the Radio 1/NME stage; Primal Scream and The Futureheads at King Tut's Tent.

Then you have those groups which have earned promotion to the festival's higher divisions -- groups such as My Latest Novel, a five-piece outfit from the Glasgow/Gourock area making the jump to the Pet Sounds Arena (they're playing Sunday). Since performing on T In The Park's Futures stage in 2005, My Latest Novel has toured with Arab Strap, did numerous gigs on the Continent, and released its debut album, Wolves.

My Latest Novel's music is inspired by acts such as Smog and Low, its lyrics by men of letters such as Jack Kerouac and Aldous Huxley. They've also earned the reputation as being a bit on the quirky side, thanks to incidents such as this.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Pretty In A Panic" by My Latest Novel.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A much deserved second listen

During their short, five-year existence, Paisley's The Church Grims had just one tune released on vinyl: "Mr Watt Said," which appeared on Egg Records' 1989 A Lighthouse in the Desert compilation. Only three other Church Grims tracks ever saw the light of day, all on cassette comps: "Plaster Saint" and "Seen It All" on Positively Teenage!!; "Plaster Saint" on St. Johnstoun vs. The Rest Of The World; and "Hardman" on Heol. Five years, four released songs -- no wonder they were uniformly forgotten.

However, thanks to re-issues from Egg Records, as well as The Sound Of Leamington Spa series (see Volume 4), eighties guitar pop bands with brief lifespans are receiving a much deserved second look.

The Church Grims -- who formed in 1986 and lifted their name from British folklore -- were the beneficiaries of two recent Egg Records' re-issues. Two years ago, there was Plaster Saint, a six-song EP showcasing the band's output from 1986 to 1989: the aforementioned four tracks, as well as "Can't Laugh Anymore" and "Think Like A Girls."

Last year, Egg released Bruised Lips, which featured the last material The Church Grims ever recorded (Remember Fun guitarist John Eslick was on board at this point). The EP consisted of three live songs, as well as two tracks recorded at the studio frequented by Trash Can Sinatras (Kilmarnock's Shabby Road) and mixed by one of their noted producers (Larry Primrose).

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Plaster Saint" by The Church Grims. C86-inspired guitar pop, spruced up with a bit of trumpet -- hyper and infectious.