Amelia’s Magazine | Latitude Festival 2010: Saturday Music Review

Latitude 2010-Florence crowd by Amelia gregory
The Kissaway Trail by Natasha Thompson.

The music at Latitude can feel like a bit of a byline given that there are so many other options for entertainment. But that doesn’t stop the calibre being suitably high. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Latitude 2010-Martin Creed by Amelia Gregory
Martin Creed by Paul Shinn.

Our first stop on Friday was a musical performance piece from Turner Prize winner Martin Creed and his merry band of sexy young things. Notably all female. I was initially sceptical – I’ve seen Bob and Roberta Smith perform at the ICA and was less than impressed by the cacophony. But this was actually entertaining, viagra especially when Martin sang “What’s the point of it” and “If you’re lonely then this is for you” and “I don’t know what I feel, what I want” against a projection of smashing flower pots, a penis in the process of erecting and a man’s bottom. Combine this with the random movements of a ballet dancer and you pretty much had the ultimate manifestation of middle aged male angst. Brilliant.

Latitude 2010-Kissaway Trail by Amelia gregory
Latitude 2010-Kissaway Trail by Amelia gregory
The Kissaway Trail by Natasha Thompson.

The Kissaway Trail were a band I’ve not really warmed to on CD, but the live performance was a whole different deal. This unbearably cute bunch of Danish boys smashed the Word Arena with their Scandinavian take on epic indie pop. And they even have their very own version of Bez – a hyper excited braces-wearing tambourine player. A real find.

Latitude 2010-Kominas by Amelia gregory
Latitude 2010-Kominas by Amelia gregory
middle age mosh pit by Matthew Ellero
Middle Age Mosh Pit by Matthew Ellero.

Back in the Film and Music Arena US punk Muslim outfit The Kominas entertained a load of rowdy young men… and a very enthusiastic middle-aged woman, who proceeded to fend off the moshpit with the legs of a chair, before beating the youth to the free t-shirt thrown into the crowd. Thoroughly entertaining.

Abi Daker - The Villagers
Villagers by Abigail Daker.

I recently gave the Villagers’ debut album a glowing review, so I went to check out the imp-like Conor J. O’Brien and his merry band of men – of particular note was Conor’s live rendition of Pieces, his wolf howls given that much more stamina in the flesh. Conor has the air of someone heading for major success.

Andrea Peterson Empire of the Sun
Andrea Peterson Latitude Swordfish
Empire of the Sun by Andrea Peterson.

I was thoroughly miffed to have missed an early promo of the Empire of the Sun album- discovered during a clearout to have made it no further than the interns’ office: if I’d heard the album back then I would definitely have been more on the case of this fabulously over the top retro 90s pop electro… down on the Obelisk Stage lead singer Luke Steele looked resplendent in smeary facepaint and a range of over the top Samurai and Aztec/Inca influenced accessories. No expense was spared on the production of this show, which wasn’t even a headline act. The four dancers went through frequent costume changes, my favourite of which was some very cool blonde swordfish. A lot of fun.

Latitude 2010-empire of the sun

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Florence and the Machine. I sort of think I don’t like her very much and then I realise I’ve been listening to her album on repeat all day. So a little conflicted then. This was the first time I’ve seen her perform live since I first met her as a bolshy unsigned artist doing a solo acoustic performance at a PPQ store party. Which doesn’t actually feel like it was that long ago. Three years?

Florence and The Machine by Natasha Thompson.

The curtain dropped and there she was: flowing vermillion locks, check, flowing cream dress, check, massive drum, check. Without further ado she launched into a bunch of songs that I could happily hum along to (I’ve never really been one to listen closely and learn lyrics) pausing only to sing happy birthday to her little sister Grace, who was dragged on stage with their brother – both dressed in animal costumes. It was really rather cute. Predictably You’ve Got the Love was the biggest crowd pleaser. Isn’t it funny how the 90s have crept up on us again without us even realising it? One new song got an airing, and sounded, well, typically Florence. That girl has a super powerful pair of lungs but you’ve got to wonder – does all that caterwauling ever render her speechless?
Latitude 2010-Active Child by Amelia Gregory
Active Child. Photography by Amelia Gregory.

The falsetto sounds of Active Child were our new discovery for Saturday morning. American Pat Grossi alone on stage with just his mixer, ed computer… and harp: another lone electro maestro. Soporifically beautiful.

James by Jenny Goldstone.

James were our mid afternoon treat over at the Obelisk Arena – but we didn’t just sit down, rx we lay spark out and enjoyed a full tour through their back catalogue of hits from a horizontal position. I was somewhat surprised to note that the lead singer is now bald of bounce and goatee of beard when I am sure he used to have lots of curly locks and a clean shave – oh the perils of ageing.

Latitude 2010-kids by Amelia Gregory
Latitude 2010-family by Amelia Gregory
Latitude 2010-girls by Amelia Gregory
Latitude 2010-chips by Amelia Gregory

We were surrounded by lots of families, parents obviously revelling in a favourite from their youth, whilst even the teens next to us could sing along to the band’s most famous tune. And it seems we weren’t the only ones having a relaxing time.

Latitude 2010-gaggle choir by Amelia Gregory

In the woods we encountered a bunch of singing girls in wonderful outfits. Now why don’t all choirs dress like the Gaggle? I couldn’t really hear them, but darn it, who cares when they look this good?!

faye skinner FIRST AID kit
First Aid Kit, protected by a burly security man, by Faye West.

I love it when a band I’ve loved forever starts to gain widespread success, and First Aid Kit have now reached a stage where they could draw suitably impressive crowds to the wooded environs of the Sunrise Arena. If you haven’t yet seen them live, then why the hell not? You can read a previous review of their gig at the Union Chapel here.

Crystal Castles by Mina Bach.

Over on the other side Crystal Castles arrived to a cascading wall of squelching beats that had the middle aged couple next to me pulling somewhat bemused faces at each other. Goodness knows what they made of Alice’s performance thereafter. Whilst slugging on a bottle of Jim Beam *rock n roll* she declared that gang bangers should “all be castrated” – the first inkling I had that all was not well at Latitude. Thereafter she was hellbent on crowdsurfing through the entire set, which mainly involved flinging herself into the rather excited male audience down front and then punching them if they grabbed her inappropriately, before being dragged back by security. Oh how the burly men in uniform love it when the singer does that. Rather inexplicably one fan insisted on giving Alice a placard featuring the immortal word TOAST and, yup, you got it, a picture of a piece of toast. There’s been much grumbling online about Alice’s performance but I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if it did look rather like she had to yak at one point.

Latitude 2010-belle and sebastian by Amelia Gregory
sarah martin belle and sebastain by kate blandford
Sarah Martin of Belle and Sebastain by Kate Blandford.

The pace changed down a gear with the arrival of headliners Belle and Sebastian, playing their first gig in many years. First comment from those next to me? “She looks a bit mumsy.” And so what if Sarah does? Belle and Sebastian are not exactly in the first flush of youth, a fact which frontman Stuart Murdoch picked up repeatedly as he declared “they promised us an old crowd” – as usual the front was of course packed out with teenagers whilst the oldies (that seems to include me these days) hung back for a bit of air. Not that I’ve ever been a massive fan of the mosh pit. At one point Stuart threatened to take his top off (he was looking rather fit) which caused a fresh round of adolescent screaming “it would be like walking in on your dad in the shower” he laughed. It was a delightful set that featured an impromptu rendition of the Rolling Stones Jumping Jack Flash and finished with a gaggle of very happy teenagers dancing around on stage in front of the wrinkles and their orchestra. “You just made an old man very happy,” laughed Stuart in his lilting Scottish brogue, “now get off.” You show them who’s boss round here!

Read my Sunday music review here.

Categories ,Active Child, ,belle and sebastian, ,Crystal Castles, ,Falsetto, ,Faye Skinner, ,Faye West, ,First Aid Kit, ,Gaggle Choir, ,James, ,Jenny Goldstone, ,Kate Blandford, ,Latitude Festival, ,Mina Bach., ,Obeslisk Arena, ,Pat Grossi, ,Sunrise Arena, ,union chapel

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Amelia’s Magazine | Born Ruffians: Born Ruffians

One thing is certain on listening to Swollen and Small; Viking Moses is utterly in love with Neutral Milk Hotel. He knows the songs inside out, for sale information pills upside down, and has grown up learning to play along with Jeff Mangum’s melancholic ponderings on life, the universe and everything.

This EP is a collection of four NMH covers, all played uniquely but strangely similar to the original tracks, with the emotion and devotion of a true disciple of the band he obviously so loves.

Having played with the rock stars of the alt-folk movement over the last five years (Devendra Banhart, Will Oldham, Cat Power), Moses has finally decided to do the self indulgent thing of strumming away his favourite songs for all to hear… And I’m damn happy that he did. It’s an interesting selection of songs he has decided to cover, three from the lesser known On Avery Island, and the dance floor filler Holland 1945 (from In the Aeroplane over the Sea), all of which are done justice.

Viking Moses has the same sort of off -beat, powerful and delicate voice as his idol and pulls off the long high drawn out notes in a wonderful, same-but-different manner from the originals. His rendition of Holland 1945 is truly spectacular, edging away from the rollicking, percussion driven original and opting for a quieter and all together gentler rendition which allows for the heartbreak of the lyrics to really come through.

It’s basically a one man and his guitar affair with occasional slide guitar and harmonica, percussion coming from the pounding of palm on guitar, working particularly well on Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone; a brilliant original and a worthy cover. As goes for the rest of the record.

This debut single from hotly-tipped Cardiff students Los Campesinos! suffers from the same problem as past efforts from the very similar Leeds band The Research and Bristol-based Kid Carpet. Namely, more about the whole thing reeks of a kind of contrived wackiness. I’m all for simple pop – The Ramones, shop for instance – but there’s simple pop and then there’s children’s music, and this – so sugary and kooky, veers towards the latter. And yes, the Americans say “math” – how amusing.

The press release for this EP not only offers the terrifying prospect of a “jazz flute” but also the use of something called a “shlang dan”. Thankfully, purchase the prospect of a muso jamming session – high on fannying about, viagra sale low on actual tunes – fails to materialise. That’s not to say, however, that Born Ruffians are particularly tuneful – they’re not. They play an ultimately frustrating kind of country rock reminiscent of Neil Young at his most MOR. What’s more, Luke LaLonde’s singing voice is so whiny it makes the vocals of infinitely annoying Clap Your Hands Say Yeah front man Alec Ounsworth sound like Johnny Cash.

Categories ,Band, ,Born Ruffians, ,Country, ,EP, ,Rock

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Amelia’s Magazine | Bishi at BFI Southbank: Live Review

Bishi by Margaux Cannon

Bishi by Margaux Quayle Cannon

It was a chilly evening on London’s Southbank, but still buzzing with Friday night revellers, skateboarders and tourists sampling the wares of the newly opened Christmas Market. Nestled beneath Waterloo Bridge, the BFI Southbank was my refuge for the evening, for Bishi’s Albion Voice show. There were a few glamorous individuals (including one half of Robots In Disguise, namely Dee Plume) in the crowd waiting patiently for the doors to open, some looking as though they were auditioning for a Roxy Music album cover. A bit unexpected for the various film goers passing through! As we took our seats inside the plush NFT1 auditorium, there was a brief introduction by Stuart Brown of the BFI’s Sonic Cinema, who had helped organise tonight and, as the lights dimmed, we were underway.

Bishi Albion Voice by Shy Illustrations

Bishi by Shy Illustrations

Bishi at BFI_by Dom&Ink

Bishi by Dom&Ink

A classically trained musician, after learning the sitar, bass and ukulele and developing a love for vintage synths and electronics, Bishi branched out into performance art and DJing, as well as playing with the likes of Patrick Wolf and Róisín Murphy. Acclaimed by the New York Times, no less, as the “New British Diva”, she also features in Julien Temple’s wonderful documentary London: The Modern Babylon. Albion Voice, her second album, is an ambitious exploration of Britain ancient and multiculturally modern (inspired by Michael Bracewell’s book England Is Mine: Pop Life In Albion From Wilde To Goldie), fusing English folk, minimal drones and lush orchestrations, and incorporating the writings of Milton, Chaucer and Mary Elizabeth Frye.

Bishi by Angela Lamb

Bishi by Angela Lamb

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Taking centre stage, with a dazzling array of animations playing on the big screen behind her, Bishi ran through the songs from the album with an equally dazzling array of costume changes. On pieces like the epic Dia Ti Maria, the combination of hypnotic images, with vocal harmonies and a resonant church organ run through the BFI Southbank’s crystal clear PA, created a mesmerising effect. Bishi strapped on a sitar for the album’s title track, Albion Voice, and duetted (on screen, at least) with her mother, Susmita Bhattacharya, on Gram Chara (with lyrics by Rabindranath Tagore, who, in 1913, was the first non-Westerner to win the Nobel Prize in Literature). There was an instrumental interlude for The Last Of England, accompanied by an excerpt from Derek Jarman’s film of the same name (featuring a young Tilda Swinton). One song that didn’t feature on the album but which did appear was St George And The Dragon, recounting the legend of Dragon Hill. A thoroughly awesome set finished with Ship Of Fools, with Bishi inviting the audience to join in with its singalong finale.

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Ship of Fools.Bishi_by Dom&Ink

Bishi by Dom&Ink

As Bishi left the stage to rapturous applause, and with the possibility of another performance at an East London gallery in the New Year, it looks like Albion Voice is finally going to get the exposure it deserves.

Categories ,Albion Voice, ,Angela Lamb, ,BFI, ,Bishi, ,Chaucer, ,Dee Plume, ,Derek Jarman, ,Dom&Ink, ,Julien Temple, ,Margaux Quayle Cannon, ,Mary Elizabeth Frye, ,Michael Bracewell, ,Milton, ,New York Times, ,Nobel Prize, ,Patrick Wolf, ,Rabindranath Tagore, ,Robots in Disguise, ,Roisin Murphy, ,Roxy Music, ,Shy Illustrations, ,Sonic Cinema, ,Southbank, ,Susmita Bhattacharya, ,Tilda Swinton

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Amelia’s Magazine | Simply Madonna â

I have been a Madonna fan for years and years. When I was younger it bordered on obssessional, but has lessened now due to her ill-advised recent collaboration with super producer, Timbaland, where she just sounded like a guest vocalist on her own album. To say I’m disappointed doesn’t even come close to an understatement. But let’s not dwell on this, as luckily, this collection does not focus on this period – but on the good old glory days, well decades actually.

Described as a collection of memorabilia, there definitely is a lot of Madonna paraphernalia on show here in the Truman Brewery. In the huge concrete car park of the brewery evidently.
The biggest draw being costumes she wore on stage and in films. However, when looking at them, something wasn’t feeling right. Look at the picture below:


At first glance you would not think this was part of an exhibition about Madonna. Yes, this collection of outfits come mainly from her conservatively dressed role in Evita, but it’s not just that. The clothes don’t fit properly on the many cheap looking identical mannequins:




I guess for an exhibition about the notorious perfectionist Madonna, you would expect the same high level of professionalism from a show dedicated to her, and that just was not evident here.
Also, considering there is a disclaimer saying that Madonna had nothing to do with it, they have copies of her record and divorce contracts, her old credit card from the 1980’s and pages from her personal diary. I know you can acquire these through auctions but you are left wondering how they have these items, you are also left wondering if, in fact Madonna is gagged and bound in one of the dark corners of the car park, as the ultimate piece of memorabilia…



Although fascinating to see on a voyeuristic fan level, there was an unsettling atmosphere to the whole experience. Perhaps it was the sparse venue, or perhaps it was because Madonna is such an icon with so much history, an exhibition dedicated to her could have and should have been spectacular. This sadly, was not.

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Tom Brosseau – introducing new album Grass Punks

Tom Brosseau, Green Punks by Kerry-Leslie

Tom Brosseau, Green Punks by Kerry-Leslie.

LA resident and folk troubadour Tom Brosseau hails all the way from the enigmatic sounding Grand Forks, North Dakota, and Grass Punks is his first solo release in 5 years and his 7th studio album to date. It draws on universal themes of emptiness, false dreams, loyalty, betrayal and perseverance to paint a subtle picture of a life where sweetness is shot through with pain. The album title was taken from a phrase belonging to a San Diego based artist who would perform her soft, low voiced poetry over cafard melodies on the piano.

Tom Brosseau

How did music infiltrate your life from an early age, and what are your fondest memories of this time?
My uncle Jon played the piano, and he played it well, a lawyer-pianist, though pianist, that was his métier. Still plays. Check out one of his albums, Some Ragtime, Blues, Boogie & more.
The radio provided me a broader spectrum of music: Oldies, Country & Western, Rock, Pop. My hometown, Grand Forks, North Dakota, had the university, UND, so I grew up listening to college, which introduced to me contemporary singer-songwriters, like Suzanne Vega, Iris Dement, Traci Chapman, and Alt-country, like Son Volt, Grant Lee Buffalo.
MTV was very important to me, the supreme form of musical expression, especially the early days, when the videos and the tone of the songs were in good tandem, like “Tom’s Diner” and “Rockit”. Then there seemed to develop this tradition of incorporating film footage or photos within the video, mild aggression, and sometimes something burning, like Shock the Monkey by Peter Gabriel, The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get by Morrissey, Sunny Came Home by Shawn Colvin, Nearly Lost You by Screaming Trees. After that, I stopped watching MTV.
The most influence on me, though, was the actual music I learned and sang during school and at church. For instance, at Calvary Lutheran we had sheet music to the John Jacob Niles song, “I Wonder As I Wander”, and because the melody was so haunting, the final “wander” of the refrain had such a lilt to it, this effect seemed to push the song past the church choir room walls, into another realm, and me, into another time and space. Music and singing- my uncle Jon’s playing, the radio, MTV, church- I thought of as truly a magical thing.

Tom Brosseau by Lisa M Dalton

Tom Brosseau by Lisa M. Dalton.

When and why did you decide to live in Los Angeles, and how has this influenced your music making?
I moved to California in early 2001, by way of the Sundance Film Festival, where I held seasonal work in the Logistics department. I was a liaison to the festival volunteers, ran packages of whatever sponsor products from here to there, set up “no parking” signs, cones, blockades. I met a gal there, who also held seasonal work, an SDSU film student, and kind of fell hard for her, traveled back with her after the festival ended to where she lived. That is how I got to San Diego.
But also, I moved by way of the wind. I mean, I was just out there in the world at that time in my life, a young man, like a loose leaf, and like how a leaf then trembles before it is carried away by the wind, this is how I landed in California.

Tom Brosseau Grass Punks album cover

What was the process of making the Grass Punks album?
I had composed a good deal of songs in between Posthumous Success and the making of Grass Punks, so when Sean Watkins and I got together, and because we weren’t bound by anything- not time, not money, because there was no deadline, there was no budget- we began every session with one song, and one song only, working on the arrangement of that song at the kitchen table of Sean’s house, near the 101 Highway, Hollywood, California. Cradle Your Device, the track that kicks off the album, was in fact the first song we recorded. It’s a one string song when I play it solo, but sitting at the kitchen table at Sean’s, playing him this tune, by the second pass he had already come up with a complete, distinctive part on his acoustic guitar, which, on the recording, the way he picks his guitar in relation to what I’m doing on my guitar, sounds like something off a Washington Phillips record.

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Tom Brosseau – Today Is A Bright New Day.

You’ve toured and worked with an amazing roster of musicians, do you have any stories you could share from your time on the road?
I think I have mainly kept my eyes open, my mouth closed when I’ve traveled with some of the folks I’ve traveled with. Probably if you were to ask some of these artists their impression of me they either wouldn’t recall I was ever there or they’d say, “Yeah, quiet kid, stuck to himself.” I’m afraid what I could offer here would be more on the shorter side of an anecdote or less, eye-blink observations, interesting only to me. Allow me to remain silent, spare your readers the banality;-)

Tom Brosseau by Sangita Kumari

Tom Brosseau by Sangita Kumari.

Are there any great unsung American folk artists we should know about (but probably don’t)?
Bradley Kincaid.

Tom Brosseau by Ruth Ferrier

Tom Brosseau by Ruth Ferrier.

What are you most looking forward to when you return to the UK?
The travel, people, the food.

Grass Punks by Tom Brosseau is released in the UK on Tin Angel Records.

Categories ,Bradley Kincaid, ,Cradle Your Device, ,Grand Forks, ,Grant Lee Buffalo, ,Grass Punks, ,interview, ,Kerry-Leslie, ,Lisa M. Dalton, ,North Dakota, ,Posthumous Success, ,Ruth Ferrier, ,Sangita Kumari, ,Son Volt, ,Sundance Film Festival, ,Tin Angel Records, ,Tom Brosseau, ,Washington Phillips

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