Amelia’s Magazine | Gruff Rhys: Candylion

Chan Marshall is a confusing character, viagra sale you hope for her to be brilliant live but there’s always the niggling feeling that it might just go pear-shaped. She’s always been a little fragile; undoubtedly it’s part of her charm. However as soon a she skips onto stage you realise that tonight’s performance is going to be different.

Chan seems to have overcome, approved or at least learnt to deal with her performance issues. She arrives with a curtsey and a gigantic grin on her face, symptoms and it seems immediately obvious that this isn’t going to be one of her infamous ‘two songs and I’m off’ performances. The crowd sense that she’s on good form and welcome her with a roar of applause, perhaps out of relief as well as appreciation.

Keeping the chit-chat to an absolute minimum, the audience are treated to a brilliant mix of covers including I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction) and Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ (giving us a taste of her upcoming release) as well as songs from her latest and much-celebrated album; The Greatest. A set of pure blues, however the replacement of the Memphis Rhythm Band with The Dirty Delta Blues seemed to leave the arrangement blues-light and admittedly I missed that extra layer of soulful vocals from her regular group of backup singers.

At times I longed for a break from the rather slow pace and the absence of any of her pre-Greatest material was a disappointment. However, there’s very little to criticise about the woman herself and the audience were quick to give encouraging yelps and cheers at every opportunity. At times she seemed overwhelmed and kind of surprised that we’d even turned up, ‘You guys are amazing, you’re going to make me cry’. Of course, her unmistakeable voice was as incredible as ever, she’s one of those rare performers who understands the power of restraint.

Chan isn’t out to prove her vocal abilities by show-off jazz grandstanding; there are no self-indulgent runs or vocal acrobatics. Perhaps a skill born out of self-preservation, Chan sings as if no one is watching. And it’s beautiful.
Well, and I have just spent the last three days intensively shooting the Sheffield band the Harrisons for their press shots – they are currently putting the finishing touches to their debut album in a remote studio called The Chapel in Lincolnshire with reknowned producer Hugh Jones, who has worked with such luminaries as Echo and the Bunnymen. The studio has seen many famous bands pass through it’s environs – the Arctic Monkeys being the most recent to record their block-busting album in what would once have been the alter of the chapel and is now a cosy wood panelled studio. It was really fun, if hard work – getting the boys out of bed early enough in the morning to get moving and actually get enough shots done before a) they had to return to carry on recording and b) the sun went in for good – jeez the days are short, especially in the north-east – was quite a lot of effort. They range in age evenly from 20 – 23 yrs old and it’s just not very rock ‘n’ roll to get up before lunchtime anyway.

I got to sit in on quite a lot of the polishing-up sessions for the final album tracks, and I have to say I love their tunes – they probably won’t thank me for this but the tracks that I’ve heard sound a little Bruce Springsteen-esque, and what with the success of the latest Killers offering this can be no bad thing. Lead singer Jobby has a wonderful voice, (if a rather ridiculous name) that belies his age with it’s rich resonance, and on one of the slower tracks they sound more like The Doors meets the Happy Mondays. I even offered to help out with some hand claps on one track but sadly wasn’t needed.

The Harrisons are happy to be called indie-pop, although they might want to rethink that sharpish, as the last thing they would want is to be lumped in with the likes of The Kooks and anyway their stuff is way better than such standard indie-pop fodder, even if possessed of great melody. Lead guitarist Ben has also penned a song alone and does a great job on the lead vocals. He’s also bloody gorgeous, a real sweetie and major heartthrob in the making – check out the pics. I got on best with the really lovely, cheeky shaggy-haired and teddybear-like bassist Birchy, and Jobby, who is also a great little artist – posting his latest masterpieces on the fridge every day to share with the crew.

We sat around a lot on squashy sofas (which I greatly miss at home), watched a lot of football (well, to be accurate they watched football whilst I carried on editing the mag), ate a communal roast on Sunday, and generally had quite a laff – it was nice to be holed up in a cute cottage in the middle of nowhere. Harrisons are definitely ones to watch for next year, and will hopefully manage to escape the inevitable Arctic Monkeys comparisons, as they couldn’t sound more different.
Running extremely late, order it’s lucky that I now have a boyfriend to keep me company on the phone in the stairwell. Two Gallants are currently at the centre of an interesting newspiece – they were involved in a brawl with an overly eager policeman in Texas, who proceeded to tazer a bunch of the audience at one of their gigs – all because the sound was not turned down in a licensed venue!

Like wizened old men trapped in the bodies of skinny indie boys, Two Gallants provoke the sort of intensity from their instruments that seems to come from another era. They are humbled, the drummer says, to be amongst so many friends. “It can be lonely travelling for so long away from friends and family.” He says this through a curtain of lank hair that shields his face and swings wildly as he clatters against his drums. They make a hell of a noise for only two people, and can swing from beautifully mild, with some gorgeous whistling, to absolute mayhem. By the time they sing of their collection of regrets I turn, open mouthed, to see the entire crowd is singing along.

Well, ask the Purple Turtle is nothing like I expected; after years of cycling past it I finally got to go to a gig there, troche and I was very pleasantly surprised. It looks like a studenty-goth cum fantasy games shop from the outside, and yet it is spacious with a cute little stage and a great little lighting rig. The website is really user-friendly too, so all in all a good egg.

First up are Touriste, which come across as a sort of Coldplay for chavs – the multi-instrumentalist Lonsdale-wearing singer swigging pints whilst swapping between keyboards and guitar.

“Fuck it – well out of tune” he says, as he bounces his Adidas-clad legs through another epic number. I thought they were reasonably good and would have given them a weak thumbs up for enthusiasm alone, had the singer not got in an unprovoked altercation with the guitarist from my mate’s band Blue Sky Band, (who were headlining the night) and was unceremoniously ejected by the bouncer. Obviously a nobber, then.

Having had a hellish journey down from Birmingham – which resulted in car breakdowns and borrowage of parents car to get there in time, –Blue Sky Band are somewhat flustered and un-sound checked. This is to result in large amounts of feedback, but that is often-times drowned out by the reverb from the bassist. The songs are a mixed bunch, sung with fervour by their angel-voiced, shaven-headed singer. Some are instant classics and some don’t quite drag you in by the balls as they should. They need to start working on new material and hitting the gig circuit with more ambition, and then they could well be on their way to bigger and better things than breaking down on the M1. Tourbus, boys, and a proper tour, that’s what you need!

I don’t normally relate to Ronit Zilka that much, cialis 40mg but she had some very cute little tie-waisted dresses and a lively little 70s bird-meets- japonoiserie print. Clarks Originals gets better every season. Accompanied by a very quirky catalogue where the shoes are related to a variety of very English food fare, I particularly liked the embroidered patchwork wedges. For men, there is a very dashing pair of gingham brogues.

Fred Perry are also going great guns with all their different collaborative projects. The main collection gets stronger with each passing season too. Even a simple tennis dress is elevated to new heights in the simplicity of its blackness, and men’s tops with reversed seaming and different coloured stripes on each arm are a beautiful reworking of the classic for the boys. Their shoe range has grown astronomically and the women’s pumps in particular are absolutely adorable – coming in a range of sweetie colours in lots of sweet patterns too. Apparently Paul Weller’s classic limited edition polos are eliciting a ridiculous amount of interest online and are set to be issued in a whole range of colourways. Comme have done some wonderful great big rough prints in spots and stripes. With Peter Jensen they have done a small but perfectly formed capsule collection of pieces in yellow, red and forest green, with lovely little bows and ties at the neck. But it is Jessica Ogden’s collection which is the star of the show. She has produced the most adorable range of clothing in her own inimitable style and muted colour range. Low v-neck quilted cardis sit alongside flared reworkings of the polo shirt staple, and even her hand tie-dyed pumps look set to join the clothes in the shops, such was their popularity on the shoot.

Puma have also got in on the act with cute suede shoes, and some peculiarly shaped affairs by Alexander McQueen. But quite the best thing that they have to offer for next season is some glorious gold hi-tops from their collaboration with Mihara (who sadly is no longer working on a clothes range for them.) They are big and lairy, and did I say they were GOLD – just how I like ‘em.

Lacoste is also getting in on the really cute bright look. Their belts are covered in mini crocs and rainbow stripes, and they have taken the 80s to heart with wristbands and hair bands in bulky quilted cyan and magenta shades.

Paul & Joe do wonderful things with menswear all the time – forerunners of the current peacocks, they have been doing great prints on shirts since, well, forever. I love their packaging on their make-up range too. There was also a nutty cape-cum-dress for the more eccentric ladies – could well be worn around the house if you were going through a particularly demented phase, and would surely scare the neighbours a treat.

Diesel have got some lovely shapes for next season – in what I think is the strongest collection I have seen from them too – they seem to be gaining more and more of their own identity. Sci-fi inspired big shoulders and cinched waists are rendered in creams and denims and work well with Diesel’s signature love of zips on all things. I loved the barrel bag as well – all curvy, seductive-shaped redness.

Paul Smith have a new accessories designer and it shows. Their bag collection is much better now – check out these wonderful heart- shaped studded bags. Loving the flower print pumps too.

55 DSL are repositioning themselves in the light of Diesel’s bid for a more high range positioning in the fashion world. 55DSL’s subterranean themed collection features some very cute prints – swirling lines and splattered splodges reminiscent of waving seaweed – camo for underwater divers. They have done a wonderful hoodie jacket with a comic-novel inspired print that falls under the hood – this is an item that could be worn and worn but would still look original and wonderful. Womenswear is also as cute as hell – lots more madras style checks and vaguely nautical colour schemes of blues, whites and reds.

J. Lindeberg are also in the process of repositioning – they are now fully located in their London offices, despite being originally fully from Scandinavia. Stand out in their JL range was this lovely white cardigan for men – slightly at odds with the more sportswear feel of the range, it wouldn’t look out of place at a horsey outdoor function – until someone spills their wine on you, that is! Their mainline range is full of lovely little wearable shapes in greys, creams and aubergines.

Antoni & Alison are also getting better and better with their prints – lots of bugs here, on clothing and bags wasps feature – unlike with new Russian label Emperor Moth which is covered with mosquitoes and ants.

Emperor Moth is my new favourite thing! I have no idea where this label comes from, but judging by the gold edged brochure featuring Devon Aoki, and by their website that features Kate Moss, there is some money behind this particular venture. And I LOVE IT! Wowser – I was in heaven. Think sequinned sharks and velour foiled mosquitoes scrambling over leggings, high-ruche-necked zipped cardis. Think jumpsuits and batwings, neon and pastel candy stripes. Ohmigod, it is my new favourite thing – I just hope the backers aren’t the Russian mafia. But I can’t quite imagine the new jetset wearing this – it would look more at home on a member of the wowow crew, so goodness knows who Emperor Moth’s target market is! Me? In an alternate universe where I actually have money and am uber slim…

Tarina Tarantino is fairly new to the UK. She makes jewellery for the rich and famous in LA, and it is certainly individual. Little pussycat vignettes nestle amongst Swarovski crystals and chunky beadings – it’s daring enough to make you stand out in the crowd without being dangerously unique.

Manish Arora specialises in bright embroidered shapes – rainbow appliquéd swing skirts and tulip shaped sunset silhouette dresses. Bonkers, and probably not that wearable, but nonetheless great.

Kind is from Amsterdam and they do cute quirky images on cashmere and t-shirts. Check out the mouse with cheese and the cat’s eye – abstract, but a story too!

Caterina Zangrando has worked with the Powerpuff girls on her Perspex collection – kitsch, young and all great fun.

Which is what it should all be about, really. Fun, young, bright and brilliant prints, styles and shapes. Bring it on.

So, information pills I am back at the Scala for the third time in as many weeks, this time to see Brazilian uber-art-rock group Cansei de Ser Sexy, otherwise known as CSS. This fantastically exuberant six piece appear to have at least four guitars and bass on stage at once – a real reminder why people have gone back to playing instruments – because it’s just so much fun, damn it! Why play air guitar when you can have the real thing? CSS are living out the dreams of every art student in this land and beyond – their androgynous figures kitted out in the same kind of art-school mix ‘n’ match clothing that is worn the world over.

Lovefoxxx, their diminutive singer in yellow hi-tops, jumps up and down and waves her hands in the air in a slightly off-beat and overexcitable way – it’s a rough approximation of every kind of dodgy 80s dance ever encountered. “We love alcohol,” she yells, on introduction to the song that describes how much, “we always get a nice response to this song in Britain! Let’s dance together!” she says, before disappearing for the umpteenth time into the heaving moshpit, anxious security guards craning their necks to check on her progress.

Somehow remaining effortlessly cute despite all the sweat – she hides her head inside her t-shirt and dons specs at one point – Lovefoxxx frequently thrusts the mike at the audience and demands that they join her in the “dance of the day” which is apparently balletic but mainly “just play wid your hands!”

Let’s face it – with CSS it’s not really the musicianship or lyrics that are the point – they just want to have a good time, and floor bouncing, they certainly deliver that.
California holds proud its musical tradition of sun soaked, page golden sugary pop. Los Angeles’ The Little Ones showcase their efforts to uphold this tradition here on their Debut 7 Track EP Sing Song. Unsurprisingly then the Little Ones’ sound is heavily reliant on the brilliant conceived vocal harmonies employed by The Beach Boys in their pomp – but thankfully, order there are echoes of many other classic pop acts throughout this mildly enjoyable record that at no point do The Little Ones sound like a tribute act. There is tribute and there is homage – The Little Ones fall into the latter category. This is most definitely a good thing.

Opener Let Them Ring The Bells bursts into life with a gush of multi-layered vocals, rx before settling into an understated descending melody that is pleasant enough. Bass fills and more vocal explosions allow for an opener that if nothing else encourages you to listen on. The more urgent Lovers Who Uncover follows. Simple staccato guitars, and warm sounding keyboards are rife, in a song that works in a rather unspectacular manner. What follows is a downturn. Cha Cha Cha is overworked to the point of desperation. The song lacks clarity and melody, and despite a few moments of exciting instrumentation there isn’t enough here to sufficiently paper over the cracks.

So far, so middling then. But this problem continues throughout the record. For every positive, there is a negative, for every good song, a bad one. The Little Ones fail to grab you, as they are just too anonymous to really matter. Yes, there are some moments to savour here, and early single Oh, MJ is a perfect slice of pop that brings together all the snippets of brilliance scattered throughout the record into 3 minutes of perfectly minted pop. But again, what follows is disappointing. Face The Facts lives up to its unimaginative title and is simply by the numbers, autopilot pop that is hard to engage with.

A lack of originality throughout means that the bad outweighs the good. There are slightly more ‘take it or leave it’ songs here than ones that really leave a lasting impression. Oddly as well, for a band that wear their classic pop influences on their sleeves, many of the songs clock in at three minutes plus, and so the record doesn’t breeze by as you might expect from a record of this nature, but instead stumbles along.

The Little Ones do show promise though and this is by no means a record that should be seen as a disaster, rather as a work in progress. Give them time and they may shine.

Philadelphia musician Brian Christinzio is back with his own brand of music referencing happier past times– everything from barbershop quartet to Beach Boys to 70s era Wings to Carole King to Ben Folds. The hodge-podge works well and is apparent from the get-go with the first song Suffer For Two. But the best song is the next one Lord, order I’ve Been on Fire, rx which is filled with dark undertones, order sugar-coated into a well crafted pop song.

The album is filled with piano, twinkly sounding percussion, harmonica, and trumpet in addition to sweet vocals, where the Brian Wilson comparison cannot be denied (listen to Grey Young Amelia). Nor can the whimsical overtones, but the songs on Blink of a Nihilist are always grounded in real-world emotions and heavy stuff, such as mental illness and regret. Despite the heavier content, the melodies themselves are charming and offbeat and demand the repeat listen.
There’s a certain beauty in disorder. And when that disorder finds itself in a head on collision with the doomy expanse of melancholy, viagra 100mg then I for one am there. Upon the initial wary listens, Apartment’s debut offering: The Dreamer Evasive, desires its place in this elusive set, where it might not quite reach the throes of darkness, it’s certainly making itself known in the turning point of twilight.

The album kickstarts with Paid In Full, a bass driven atmospheric assault, the guitars are calculated to the thrown in at a certain point, the drums thrashing away, all in all resulting in a comfortably swirling, impressive noise. Apartment tend to take favour with the far and wide school of influences, which in turn is both advantageous and has somewhat perturbed me a tad. Stylistic shout-outs aplenty, the cacophonous jangle of the intro to one of the stand out tracks Fall Into Place evolves into an acoustic melody, complete with a harmony laden, Robert Smith style yelp, chronicling the all too usual canon of hopes and aspirations versus irritation and exasperation, but very commendably done and merits the comparison.

David Caggiaris’ vocals certainly have that grandstanding angsty quality about them, setting up scenic landscapes with ease. It would appear that Apartment have had The Smiths intravenously injected, with reference points coming in thick and fast.

The concept of doom-hope-doom-hope-facemelting unknowness works well for Apartment, it is an obvious strength and one they should pursue. Everyone Says I’m Paranoid is a delight, with a heavy dollop of everyone’s favourite gloom chroniclers Interpol, sits your albums note worthy track. The tickling guitar work, intricately woven around the taut bass and concise drumming is a resident feature, each track appears to add, expand or embellish this dynamic.

Ghost Of An Unforgivable Past is akin to the dark hallucination of a trapped mind, which in turn further cements the premise of The Dreamer Evasive: the heavy crushing bosom of doom weighing down on your form ain’t such a bad thing.
Anyone looking for an album that epitomises British Indie music post -2005 could do a lot worse than investigate the debut release from London quartet Good Shoes. Relentless trawls around the toilet circuit have garnered the band a loyal fanbase already and this has served to fuel feverish anticipation ahead of this long touted release. Thankfully the anticipation has not been without merit.

The social commentary of ‘Morden’ kick starts the album. Full of comically damning observations and slightly awkward rhymes (“A Superdrug and a KFC/Is this everything you need for a cultured city?”), hospital it manages to work in what seems an effortless manner. Single release, the slightly off-kilter ‘All In My Head’ is tinged with the darkest wit whilst offering frank confessions of insecurity. Its disarming chorus is perfectly apt.

Elsewhere, doctor songs such as ‘Blue Eyes’ and ‘Sophia’ offer everyman takes on relationships and are sure to strike a chord with broken hearted teens up and down the country. Here, as is typical throughout the record, musicianship is second to none – varied, intricate and warm sounding without ever sounding mechanical. Good Shoes tick all the right boxes.

The record breezes by – 14 tracks in under 40 minutes, but its substantial enough to leave a lasting impression, and after a handful of plays it’s hard not to find yourself singing along. ‘Think Before You Speak’ is choc-full of brilliantly catchy, intelligent pop songs. What’s most important though is that it’s infectious charm stands up to repeated listens. It appears the future is bright for Good Shoes.

Psyche-pop, look Welsh, twee… That’s probably about as close as you’ll get at describing Gruff Rhys‘ new album, Candylion. With songs like Skylon! – a 13-minute epic about the ‘master of the skies’ and Gyrru Gyrru Gyrru which, as far as I’m aware, means something along the lines of “can I have a Coke please?” this album doesn’t make sense. But it’s rather nice.

Yes, saying music is ‘nice’ is like describing your fat cousin as ‘healthy’. It lacks conviction, and everyone knows it. But this album is nice. It’s pleasant, malleable and any other middle-of-the-road superlatives you may want to throw in.
It does come across as a little bland upon first listen. Peeping and squeaking occasionally it inspires nothing more than, “Oh, this is agreeable”. A cheap frill from up-tempo Cycle Of Violence, is followed by a slow trot through the remaining 30 minutes – half of which taken up by Skylon! Is there really that much to say about a “single stage, turbojet-based, air breathing orbital space plane”? (See Skylon entry in Wikipedia)

But play the album again and suddenly it shakes off the flaccid hue of your first encounter. There’s a warmth and life-affirming quality to the album that accompanies moody winter days with a strange irony. Album namesake Candylion is everything pop should be; non-threatening and easy to digest. It flits from mild excitement to a casual gloom. Never straying too far or making you think too hard. And for that, the album’s a winner.

Don’t expect too much from Gruff and he’ll make you happy. Hurray.

Categories ,Album, ,Candylion, ,Gruff Rhys, ,Pop

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