Archive for March, 2012
Killing Moon Limited, Euphonios, The Recommender and Strongroom Alive are teaming up to put on this superb bill of new music at this year’s Great Escape festival, which takes place in Brighton from 10-12 May.
This particular event takes place at Life on Friday 11 May, and is free entry all day long. Alongside Bluebell, we’ve kindly been invited to spin some records in between the bands. As the lineup features some of our very favourite artists of the moment, some of whom have featured on this blog and/or appeared live at an LFC event, we would have been mad to have turned down the opportunity.
If you’re down by the seaside for the festival, pop along and say hello. We’ll be the ones with the iPod and mix CDs in hand, and (probably) playing tracks from our label catalogue.
Oxford’s earnest indie rockers Spring Offensive released a video this Saturday just gone for their new single “Worry Fill My Heart”.
Musically, we’re deciphering bits of Wild Beasts, Bombay Bicycle Club and fellow Oxfordites Foals in the jerky, stop-start guitars, and vocalist Lucas Whitworth’s confessional lyrics about having a shit job and not being able to stump up the rent (“I asked no one for the life I’m leading”; “I’m counting down the seconds until my shift is up”), as well as an allusion to the frightening inevitability of it all (“How dare I even think I could be any exception”), recall the likes of The Rakes and Hard-Fi, two bands who famously popularised songs about life’s banalities.
It’s an intense and captivating four minutes or so, that will certainly resonate with many of the current recession experiencing generation who might be seeking a creative outlet in the arts, and have yet to make it pay. In that sense – full marks for this lot for quite simply telling it how it is, a trait that, alongside their hard working nature, will help to build upon their already devoted fan base.
If you’d like to hear their tales of urban woe in a live setting, they’ll be on tour around the UK from the 29th March til 5th April. A short stint of German dates follows directly after. Be sure to pick up the “Worry Fill My Heart” single from iTunes too, which also includes B-side “Carrier” (below).
Sydney / Blue Mountains based The Maple Trail is the project of Aidan Roberts, who’s been writing and recording under this particular guise for a good few years it seems – TMT’s just released album, “Cable Mount Warning”, is the outfit’s third.
Much like fellow Aussies The Sleepy Jackson, for example, the dynamic in the group appears to be one with Roberts very much at its helm, playing most instruments on the recordings (everything from vocals to celtic drums to wine glasses, he declares) and appearing as a solitary figure in the press shots, with other musicians dipping in and out and contributing various parts on certain tracks.
We came across the band very recently, and one track off the aforementioned album, “Highwire”, jumped up like a high speed bowling delivery that pitches on a bit of rough, before hitting us hard on the proverbial helmet.
Roberts has cited Bryter Later by the late Nick Drake as an inspiration, and there’s certainly something of him here in this slice of dreamy, summery and uplifting folk, and we can also hear bits of more contemporary artists such as Kings Of Convenience, Bon Iver and Broken Social Scene – the horns that kick in initially on 00:37 (before coming back triumphantly later) take us back to the BSS’ glorious 7/4 Shoreline. If it’s up your alley, check out the rest of the album here.
Continuing our series of music industry interviews is Teppei Miki, founder of one of Japan’s most diverse and eclectic vinyl import shops The Stone Records. Not an actual bricks and mortar premises, TSR is run lovingly from Teppei’s house in Kawasaki, and appears to be constantly on the pulse and one step ahead of the game when it comes to brand new vinyl releases from all over the world.
The shop carries vinyl (as well as CDs and cassettes) from a huge selection of labels, from behemoths like Columbia and XL/Young Turks to US indies like Captured Tracks, Group Tightener, Fat Possum, White Iris and Third Man, to the output of London singles labels like Young & Lost Club, Chess Club, Killing Moon Limited and ourselves. Safe to say that if it’s hot, they’ve probably got some copies in at The Stone Records.
People like Teppei – and shops like TSR – represent Japan’s fanatical niche for independent music from the USA, the UK and beyond (and the much publicised upturn in vinyl’s commercial fortunes), something that’s also manifested at its Western themed rock festivals Fuji Rocks and Summer Sonic, which take place annually in July and August respectively. In a country where domestic music rules the charts, the desire to seek out different genres of music has created a thriving underground scene. We thought we’d pose a few questions to a man at the forefront of it all.
LFC: How long has The Stone Records been going?
Teppei: I started the store in 2008.
LFC: Is The Stone Records well known amongst indie music fans / vinyl collectors in Japan?
Teppei: I would like to answer yes. But there are many import indie shops in Japan, and I don’t think it’s quite as well known as some of the other indie stores.
LFC: Do you participate in Record Store Day?
Teppei: Yes, I’m participating in it. But I’ve never done something special on that day. Every year I think I should do something but I’ve always had no idea!
LFC: What type of releases do you specialise in?
Teppei: I stock vinyls and cassettes mainly, and some CDs. I’m not particular about genre of music especially, because I like any indie music.
LFC: How do you find new bands / releases?
Teppei: Basically I don’t find new bands and new releases so much by myself because good labels and some good people tell me about good releases. I just choose from them. I feel I’m always supported by many people.
LFC: Which are some of your favourite record labels?
Teppei: This is difficult question because I like all labels which distribute to me. But if I had to choose, now I like Portuguese Lebensstrasse and Czech label AMDISCS. Both are not born in major indie music countries. I’m very interested in each of their releases because I can feel they’re always looking for any music and bands from any country.
LFC: What is the market like in Japan for new indie bands from places like the UK, US and Australia, and what genres of indie are popular in Japan right now?
Teppei: I think Japanese indie music fans may be the most fanatical in the world. Here there are many import indie record shops and I feel that limited edition vinyl might amount to fifty percent of their sales (though this is just my expectation). I think some people like guitar pop influenced from the 80s/90s like Captured Tracks or Slumberland, and LA’s Not Not Fun/100% Silk’s electro/dance music is loved especially by some people. But I always feel many Japanese people like UK rock like LFC releases.
LFC: Do you have any plans to release records yourself at any point?
Teppei: I don’t have any plans to release. Now I’m satisfied enough to only sell and listen to the records.
LFC: Who are your hot tips for 2012?
Teppei: I like so much now Sheffield’s garage rock band Best Friends! They’ll release new EP soon on the amazing label Art Is Hard Records.
The LFC 7″ single tracks, “Into The Sun” and “Mercy, Hallelujah”, are both included, the latter an alternative take “played like The Smashing Pumpkins would”. Honouring their New Jersey roots, short covers The Misfits and Bruce Springsteen also made the cut, as did a couple of other tracks from their debut full-length “If You’re Young”.
From what we can see, Glastonbury town’s In Gratitude were a touring and recording band back in 2010 who released an EP (“Only In Youth”) to some mild fanfare before disbanding shortly after. As of December last year, their Facebook page informs us, they’re back in action, and have two sparkly new recordings to show for it.
“Only You” and “Eighteen” are the tracks they’ve chosen to usher in their new era as a band, and both suggest a group who aren’t overly keen to be slumming it on the pub circuit for too much longer: it’s ambitious, high-sheen and widescreen indie rock, with an eye on the larger theatres of the country at the very least (and almost certainly the more lofty slots at the annual shindig that takes place in their backyard).
The four members clearly have a plethora of influences between them – everything from The Smashing Pumpkins to U2 to Delays to The Temper Trap is decipherable somewhere in their sound, with front man Matthew Guttridge’s falsetto (and slightly androgynous) vocal bearing a resemblance to the singers of these bands at different points in either song.
In any case, it’s perfectly executed, hook-filled, feel-good and enjoyable stuff – which promises much for the rest of the year. Gigs will surely be on the agenda in the not too distant future, and we strongly suspect we’re not the only party keeping a beady eye on any such announcement right now.