All entries for August 2006
August 23, 2006
We Landed On The Moon! are Melissa Eccles (Vocals), Stephen Bowling (Bass), John Lambremont (Keyboards, Guitar), Jonathan Kolich (Guitar) and Ryan Rushing (Drums), an explosive pop–rock five piece from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They combine powerful songs with beautiful vocals and lyrics to great effect, and are, in fact, awesome.
Following the release of their eponymous debut album (downloadable for UK fans from iTunes or bought in real life from AwareStore and CD Baby, they've picked up a lot of fans (including myself) on the Internet and we caught up for an interview with Melissa to find out how things were going.
(Listen to these while you're reading the interview. Magic!)
How did things with We Landed On The Moon! begin?
It began with me and John writing songs together. We just really had a connection with music. We were both raised on the Beatles and listening to Radiohead at the time. I know that’s kind of the standard in Britain, but hey, we’re in the states where some of my classmates literally had never heard of the Beatles. And a lot of people here think that Radiohead is for the stuck up people.
We wrote for a while, and went through a couple of lineup changes. And then one by one we found Ryan, Stephen, and Jon and that's when things really started taking off.
How did you come up with the name We Landed On The Moon!?
Stephen actually said it sarcastically to us when we were coming up with a whole bunch of names that were obviously taken. We just kind of laughed and said, “see if the websit’s available”. Make sure and include the exclamation point on it We Landed On The Moon! or he will flip though, haha.
If you could be a planet, which one would you be and why?
I’d be Mars so I could eat more candy bars…
How do you think the Internet has helped promote We Landed On The Moon!?
Well, it has definitely given us some awareness that we never could have gotten just ten years ago. I mean, we’re in Louisiana and you’re in England. How cool is that? I never thought when we were writing these songs that people in England might be cruising down the street trying not to get pulled over by Bobbies while listening to our music. Or maybe on a iPod or something on one of those cool double decker buses. Sorry, I’ve never been to England so I’m just in love with all the cool “only in England” stuff.
We’ll get there eventually. It is amazing when we have people from Sweden and France and other parts of the United States telling us how much they like us. And iTunes is just amazing.
What's your favourite song on the album?
I know it sounds like such a cliché, but I like them all I really do. I have a couple of ones that I have stronger connection to. I like “Without a Sound”, the song that closes the album because we really tried to do something different with it. I also really like the punk feel in “Mourning Dance”. I really get to let loose in that song. “Rabbit Hole” has some sentimental lyrics for me too.
If you could have any guest star alive or dead to perform at one of your shows for one song, who would it be, what song would they guest on, and what would they play?
I think it would be cool if Joni Mitchell came and played “Before the Lights Come Up” with us. My mom listened to a lot of folk music, and Joni’s got the most beautiful voice. We’d do like an acoustic version of “Before the Lights….” with a piano instead of the synth and Joni fingerpicking the guitar part and singing. I’d just try to not to mess it up, haha.
What do you think you'd be doing if you weren't making great music?
I’d be teaching dance or choreographing. I still do it quite a bit now. I’ve been taking dance lessons as long as I’ve been singing. I’d also would be home loving my cats, Bobek and Aja.
What was the first album you bought, and what was the first album you really liked?
I think the first album I bought was the Little Mermaid soundtrack. I really thought I was Ariel. I was very disappointed I couldn’t make my legs turn into a fish tail.
The first album that I really liked? I can’t remember because I’ve always such a big fan of music. The first album I kind of obsessed over was Ok, Computer. Radiohead is a band that I can say that I got into before anyone else in my circle or before it became so critically acclaimed. Now it’s weird because you say you like Radiohead to a music fan, and everyone rolls their eyes and says, “Oh yeah. who doesn’t.”
Melissa, the Internet's certainly had a lot to say about your voice and your own bio talks about the 'powerful yet vulnerable vocals of sultry lead singer Melissa Eccles'... How do you react to comments like that?
Usually, I try not to. It’s always really nice to hear. The reviews and bio, it’s just funny because I just think of me as me. And by that I mean, powerful yet vulnerable me.
Influences are first and foremost when discussing almost any music, but which modern day band do you reckon you could offer some tips to (style, technique or in just writing some bloody songs)? or are you waiting for your tenth album before making any grandiose statements of superiority?
Where do I start?
I’m just kidding, I like a lot of the new music coming out now. Not the mainstream stuff necessarily. I thought there was a lull for a bit in the early 2000s, but then I realized I just wasn’t exposing myself to as much of the music as I should. I recently started really searching for things, reading a lot, and I’ve found a lot of stuff that’s new and good to me.
I would probably tell a lot of bands to stop trying to sound like other bands. I’m not that huge a fan of emo music, but I mean, the kids are out there playing what they feel and know how to play. I’d tell most bands to broaden their horizons and start listening to more music that’s older than five to fifteen years old.
Some songs, such as Mourning Dance and Lovely, are very much reminiscent of Blondie, but others have a more 'modern' feel, for example in Everything is Fine. How would you describe yourselves to someone who hasn't heard you before?
Ah, the million dollar question. We waffled on that for a long time, and finally we just settled on what people we told us we sounded like. I think our sound really varies from song to song, and I like that. I think it keeps the listener interested. I mean, we kind of had an idea of what we didn’t want to sound like, but we never set out to sound like Blondie or synth new wave in the case of “Everything is Fine”. We just kind of wrote each song with the ideas and sounds we heard in our heads and went with it.
But, yeah, Blondie is really what we get all the time. I guess the girl in a dress comparison is too hard to resist. Blondie was amazing. Heck, Debra Harry is still amazing. Just a few months ago in Houston, I had a guy approach the stage and say, “Has anybody ever told you that you look and sound like a young Debra Harry?” I mean, if you get comparisons to a legend like that you kind of have to just say thank you for the compliment and own it.
But to answer your question, if anybody asks you what we sound like, you tell them we sound “like a sexy party”.
What's next for you guys?
Well, we’re going to start touring more and more. We’re going to try to do an Eastern US tour in early 2007. Promotion of this CD starts in earnest this September. We’re doing the College Radio Station thing here in the States. Should be fun to see what type of response we get.
Um… what else? We’re working on songs for the new album already. We probably have about 3–5 that are in some semblance of arrangement, and 3 or 4 more that we’re playing with. We’re going to have about 30 when we go into the studio, so that will give us a lot of material to choose from.
What we really want is Virgin UK or some cool English label to sign us for distribution so we get an excuse to come play around in England for a few months. A friend of ours just toured with a band who basically just uses their band as an excuse to travel the world. That would be fun.
So all of you kiddies buy our CD so we can come and visit. I want to eat fish n chips!
A big thanks to Melissa for the interview and good luck on promoting the album, we hope you guys come to the UK soon :) Make it happen by buying their fantastic album NOW.
August 20, 2006
Made up of three core members (Andrew Moore and the brothers Peter and David Brewis) from Sunderland, Field Music write beautifully crafted indie pop gems. And I say crafted, because each song is littered with production flourishes and sounds that put the music one step ahead of any traditional indie fare you might think of.
People often bring up The Futureheads and Maximo Park with regards to the sound, not just because of the area they are from, but mostly because Barry Hyde from the Futureheads has been a former member and the drummer from Maximo Park (Tom English) often plays with them. Field Music are more contemplative and the vocals more subdued than those two bands and they play down the accents, but they keep the tight rhythms and group harmonies that the related bands have been recognised for. Each song has the uncanny ability to take sharp turns in structure without disrupting the flow or unsettling the listener.
A new album, Tones Of Town is released early next year, and the first single In Context, out in October, is a corker. The taut drum sounds return with the falsetto harmonies but this time with spicier guitar hooks following each line before exploding into a great chorus lifted by stabbing strings.
From Tones of Town (2007):
Field Music – In Context MP3 Expired
The first self-titled album is by no means redundant, with plenty of quirks and tunes throughout its brief runtime. It’s amazing how crammed with hooks and melodies songs like Shorter Shorter and You Can Decide are despite barely breaking two minutes. They’ve also released a rather competent B-sides collection earlier this year (how in-vogue is that nowadays), Write Your Own History, which includes the brilliant Alternating Current, which I’ve included here alongside the free mp3’s they have available on their site.
From *Field Music* (2005):
Field Music - You're So Pretty
Field Music - Shorter Shorter
Field Music - You Can Decide
[buy from Amazon]
From *Write Your Own History* (2006):
Field Music - Alternating Current _MP3 Expired_
Field Music - I'm Tired
[buy from Amazon]
A few more songs can be heard on their MySpace page .
Man, I really am spoiling you…
August 19, 2006
Look! A racing car cake!
Oh, to be six again!
This is for our benevolent group leader and bastion fortress of music love, Mat Mannion, whose glorious birthday it is today (do you think I’m over-doing it a bit?). Because I’m halfway across the world, I humbly present these musical gifts of three over the internet:
I tried to represent the slightly sad (Mr. Bird), the couldn’t care less (Mr. Bowie), and the let’s just use this as an excuse to party (Mr. National) attitudes birthdays always conjure up. Anybody else with a ‘la la la I’m not getting old la la la’ song they’d like to play? I’ll take requests you know…
August 18, 2006
Before starting this blog with the other contributors, a long conversation took place about what the aims should be. I think all of us recognise that we want to share great music with a wider audience, but at the same time we were always hoping to be introduced ourselves, through comments and emails from readers, to a wide range of independent and less well known music for our own personal benefit. This is why we push heavily for anyone with a tip to comment on entries and tell us about it, and also why we encourage bands and labels to Send us CDs for us to review and talk about. I don’t think we ever expected that it’d all be great music, but, dear outside world, you’re 2 for 2 so far.
Saturna are a 3 piece band from Portland, Oregon (apparantly, that’s not where they make Oregano. I never knew…), which is somewhere in the North West of the US. Their musical influences are mainly cited as The Jesus and Mary Chain (which is the most obvious on listening), Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Doves and The Dandy Warhols, but the ensuing sound has a sense of originality that lends itself to a second listen.
Ryan Carroll’s energetic lead vocals lean the band towards a sound similar to that of The Cooper Temple Clause, but with a less brash outcome, and the stadium-rock esque guitars and drums hark out of a possible influence of old Muse – for a debut EP this is certainly a very polished effort. The one complaint that could perhaps be levered at the EP is that it is so varied in some sounds (particularly on the transition between Pop Rocks and Just For Thrills) that it perhaps implies that the band haven’t really found their definitive sound yet.
But I’m just being picky.
Enjoy your samples and buy the EP, loyal minions!
Both samples are from the ”...All Night” EP, see below for purchase fun.
You can find some more samples and downloads on the band’s MySpace
You can buy the ”...All Night” EP from the following locations:
August 17, 2006
I’m always a bit excited to hear a band for the first time, particularly one that I haven’t heard before. It’s perfectly normal to see me sitting at work with my Last.fm reccommendations radio on with the setting down to as non-mainstream as possible. Equally, when someone reccommends a band to me, I’m a little wary – sometimes you can find some real stinkers who people love – which doesn’t mean that I’m right, I’m just very picky in my taste of rock pop.
I received an email the other day telling me about the small artist Clocks, who I’d seen mentioned on another Warwick blog, and after a listen to a few of the songs that I’d been sent, I found them to be rather good. Unpolished, perhaps, but still very good and enjoyable, and – I quote from their MySpace – they have done a very good job combining “harmonies and perfect pop songs” into something dishy. Pop rock in the vein of The Coral is always welcome…
Clocks, who began life as The Rumours, got noticed when they were scheduled to play a gig in Leicester Square on the 8th of July last year. After the events of 7/7 in London, they were given a last minute gig in Camden which got them a lot of attention – and they have moved from strength to strength since. Their first single, “That Much Better” (see video below) was released this Monday through Hungry Kids Records, and we all love independent music, don’t we children? You can find a limited 1000-copy download available from Hungry Kid or try and find the limited release (100) of the single on vinyl. There’s one on Amazon right now… Go! Go! And watch(?) out for them on Radio 2 this Saturday, apparantly.
Here is the video to Clocks debut single, That Much Better, by Minivegas.co.uk
(Under the band’s previous guise as The Rumours)
Clocks – Call On Me MP3 Expired
Clocks – Down To An Art MP3 Expired
Without wanting to steal some of the thunder from Jim’s excellent Sleep Mini-Mix, it inspired me to create my own, longer version. Whereas Jim made an excellent job of mixing the tracks together seamlessly, I’m rubbish at that kind of thing so I concentrated more on the ordering and making sure that things flowed smoothly from track to track, much like an album ordering… so this is more of a mixtape than a mix :) But enjoy, nevertheless.
Note: If you use the in-browser player, ignore the progress bar – tracks will play one after the other
- Radiohead - Go to Sleep [Buy Hail to the Thief]
- British Sea Power - To Get to Sleep [Buy Open Season]
- Belle and Sebastian - We Are the Sleepyheads [Buy The Life Pursuit]
- Hope of the States - 66 Sleepers to Summer [Buy The Lost Riots]
- Voxtrot - Fast Asleep [Buy Mothers, Daughters, Sisters and Wives]
- Idlewild - Let Me Sleep (Next to the Mirror) [Buy 100 Broken Windows]
- Something Corporate - As You Sleep [Buy North]
- The Postal Service - The District Sleeps Alone Tonight [Buy Give Up]
- The Flaming Lips - Sleeping on the Roof [Buy The Soft Bulletin]
- Eels - I Need Some Sleep [Buy Shrek 2 OST]
- Evanescence - Goodnite [Unreleased]
We all love a little sleep don’t we?
Here’s another mini-mix dedicated to those days where you’d just love to stay in bed five more minutes…I decided to have a go at making a little seamless mix, I’ll upload the separate files in a day or two. I don’t think I’m ready to handle more than five songs in a row…I think I’ve just about managed with this. Post about your own sleepy soundtracks!
I’m Only Sleeping – MP3 Expired (a la discotheque Mini-Mixtape)
1. The Vines – I’m Only Sleeping (The Beatles cover) [buy I Am Sam soundtrack]
2. Coldplay – Sleeping Sun [buy Talk single]
3. The Postal Service – Sleeping In [buy Give Up]
4. Stars – Sleep Tonight [buy Set Yourself On Fire]
5. LCD Soundsystem – Never As Tired As When I’m Waking Up [buy LCD Soundsystem]
Following on from the unintentional plagarism post, what do you reckon the odds are that James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem really was intentionally completely ripping off The Beatles with the solo that ends this mix?
August 16, 2006
Goldfrapp’s recent release, Supernature was glam, futuristic, with this icy mistress ushering vocals out inbetween the electronic flourishes. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve lived with it longer, but Black Cherry, their second album after the atmospheric Felt Mountain, is so much more exciting and daring. The styles tackled here are more loose, more dirty, bringing in the harsher elements of electronic music to add to the tender songs they filled their debut with.
And with Goldfrapp, the attention is not always entirely on the music. Supernature was released along with glitter horses and air (or is it space?) hostess chic. The videos and photos for Black Cherry were full of animal heads and huskies, stockings, suspenders and ‘interesting’ dance routines (see Train video below). It makes for some great visuals. The art above was drawn from the Strict Machine video, another surreal collage of machines and animals.
Goldfrapp – Black Cherry MP3 Expired
Goldfrapp – Tiptoe MP3 Expired
Goldfrapp – Strict Machine MP3 Expired
[Buy Black Cherry]
August 15, 2006
For those who don't know what SxSW (South by South West) is, it's a festival that takes place every Spring in Texas and usually has over a thousand performers for music and film (generally independent). With over a thousand artists to listen to, obviously people can't hear everything, so they release a sample song of every band that's performing on the SXSW Showcases website. This allows music fans who are going to the event to pick who they are going to listen to, and also allows me to pick a load of artists to showcase here as I've listened to all 973–odd of the buggers.
The Soft Lighties - Black Skinheads in White Pants - MP3
Captain - Frontline - MP3
Laura Veirs - Galaxies - MP3
The Mammals - Father William - MP3
Man Man - I, Manface - MP3
Lady Sovereign - Hoodie - MP3
Tapes N' Tapes - Cowbell - MP3
Metric - Monster Hospital - MP3
Amos Lee - Colors - MP3
K'naan - In The Beginning - MP3
The Cinematics - Chase - MP3
Talib Kweli - Right About Now - MP3
August 13, 2006
This summer, I've been mostly listening to…
Trojan is a Jamaican record label most active in t' 60s–70s. Art work on these boxes is simple and baddass.
The general set up for this series of limited edition boxsets, issue from 2000, is 50 songs over 3CDs. Most sets are for a certain style of Jamaican music. So there's: Rocksteady, Roots, Jamaican R&B, Dancehall, two volumes of Ska, two volumes of Dub, Skinhead, Suedehead, Ska revival, Mod Reggae, Lover's Rock, Calypso, some Chilled Reggae, Carnival, and then one dedicated to songs about Rudies, the Rude Boy Box Set, there's one just for the Upsetters, a "Tighten Up" box, one for 12 inch singles, several rarieties collections, hits collections, DJ box, producers series, Rastafari box, and on. Maybe some more I can't remember. Most greats are here. Toots & the Maytals, Lee "Scratch" Perry, The Untouchables, I–Roy, Derrick Harriot, Desmond Dekker, Bob Marley/Wailers, more. Distinct absence of Prince Buster. Well disappointing. Think it was cos he had a big argument with Derrick Morgan, who unsurprisingly appears often on the ska comps.
Naturally I have all of them. To save you some time, I have decided to tell you the great ones and the shite ones. I'm nice like that.
The Rocksteady box is an absolute must. It's the best one. You can really see the influence of American R&B.
After that come Skinhead, Ska, and Rude Boy.
Do not bother with: Ska revival, Calypso. The Reggae Chill–Out box is rarther patchy, but there are some gems hidden, so worth downloading, not buying.
One bad thing is there is some overlapping. Then again, what kind of dickhead would leave "007 (Shanty Town)" off a ska comp, or, God forbid, a Rude Boy comp.
Put it on and enjoy. Also, check out Damian Marley – Welcome to Jamrock. Summer may be over, but you don't have to act like it is.
You have your instructions.
I just found a piece of glass on my face. That can't be good.