[Album review] Reverieme – Straw Woman

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Reverieme

Reverieme is the alter ego of Scottish singer-songwriter Louise Connell. She has toured with Emmy The Great, and occupies a similar territory in storytelling pop, with strong lyrics and pretty vocals. The cover of Connell’s new album, Straw Woman features one half of her face in normal makeup, the other in heavier a Day of the Dead style facepaint. It’s a pretty decent analogy for the mix of sounds that make up this record. Her voice is very lilting, and some songs are delicate, like Fairy Stories the twinkly Venus  but others, like Nocturnal Babe hint at a rockier, heavier influence. The standout track is Everyone Else, which has the kind of lush string arrangements that recall Nick Drake or Vashti Bunyan.

Sure is the kind of catchy indie pop fayre that is ripe for syndicating on a US TV show (hello, Gilmore Girls) and has an infectious chorus that shows of her impressive vocal range.  There is pretty much a tune to suit any mood on this album. Plankton is beautifully melancholic, the soundtrack to the sort of day when all you want to do is shelter from the outside world. All Up To Me is sadder still, “You can’t force me to stop this, and you can’t understand” over a haunting Tanya Donnelly-esque backing vocal. Straw may not be the sturdiest subtance, but there’s a strong troubadour spirit on this record.

Straw Woman is out now on 9th Story Records.

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[Video] Daniel Haaksman – Rename the Streets

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This is an amazing exploration of the colonial legacy of Berlin, in Daniel’s own words “In this video I´m trying to show how deep racism is rooted in Germany´s public consciousness. These streets that I show are named after questionable colonial figures since the late 19th century and though it has become known what these guys have committed, these street names are still around.”

Echoes here of the recent controversy around Oxford Univeristy’s statue of Cecil Rhodes, or the question of whether Bristol’s Colston Hall ought to be renamed.

Rename the Streets was released on 22nd January. An album, African Fabrics, follows on February 26th

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[Podcast] The KV Podcast, Episode 12

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It’s fair to say the KV podcast has been a sporadically issued affair. Episode 11 came out in July 2013 and then nothing. Until today that is. I’m happy to say Episode 12 is now live, featuring some choice new songs and a couple of reissues. You can stream it below or directly download it here . And, of course, you can subscribe on itunes.

The show is hosted by me, and the playlist is

Mikael Tariverdiev – My Younger Brother

Lily & Madeleine – Hourglass

Woodpigeon – Faithful

Carter Tanton – Twenty Nine Palms

Bert Jansch – Lapwing

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Out Today: Radiation City – ‘Milky White’

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Radiation City

Radiation City

Portland, Oregon quintet Radiation City release their new single Milky White via Polyvinyl today, and have announced a slew of European tour dates this spring. The band will be taking in

20.04.2016 Hamburg (DE), Aalhaus
21.04.2016 Berlin (DE), Kantine am Berghain
22.04.2016 Leipzig (DE), Baustelle
23.04.2016 Schorndorf (DE), Manufaktur
25.04.2016 Munich (DE), Café Muffathalle
27.04.2016 Duedingen (CH), Bad Bonn
28.04.2016 Heidelberg (DE), Karlstorbahnhof
29.04.2016 Namur (BE), Belvedere
30.04.2016 Brighton (UK), Green Door Store
02.05.2016 Glasgow (UK), The Hug & Pint
04.05.2016 London (UK), The Victoria
05.05.2016 Paris (FR), Espace B
06.05.2016 Duisburg (DE), Grammatikoff
07.05.2016 Groningen (NL), Vera

You can listen to the single here

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[Live Review] Courtney Barnett + Big Scary @ The Forum, London 25.11.15

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CourtneyBarnett_Forum (7 of 13)

It’s a Melbourne rock ‘n’ roll residency as Courtney Barnett brings her local pals Big Scary with her. Kicking off the first of two nights at London’s Forum.

Definitely worth arriving early for, Big Scary are fitting opener for this sell out show. Officially they’re a duo comprised of Tom Isanek and singing-drummer Jo Symes, but their touring band also consists keyboards, bass and a saxophonist. Their sound conjures a vibe that I would best describe as a moody party. It is droney funk with infectious choruses. Recent single Organism is a blend of dirty bass and sax and smoky vocals that recalls Morphine and Jimi Tenor.

Another song sounds a bit like the Rapture, and they put one shouty audience member in their place after they inanely request ‘something happier. “What’s happier than a disco song?” quips Jo Symes in reply. What indeed, defiantly, they follow up with a moodier, piano number to end their set.
Courtney Barnett and her band emerge a short while later, playing a grungey set, largely comprised of her excellent debut album Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just Sit. The band generate a glorious racket for just three people, but there are times when the distortion obscures Barnett’s vocals, which is a shame as her lyrics are razor sharp and deserve to ring out loud and clear. When they can be heard though, they resonate deeply within me, particularly on the telling Are You Looking After Yourself  “Have you got some money saved up for those rainy days? / You should start some sort of trust fund, just incase you fail” she sings, wistfully.

She is a shy performer, not engaging much with the crowd, but when your songs are stories, perhaps it’s enough to let them do the talking. Barnett is a real shredder too, a passionate guitarist, tearing up the stage with riffs and solos in amped up renditions of Dead Fox, Nobody Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party, Elevator Operator, Pedestrian At Best while psyched-out animations provide a suitably trippy backdrop behind her.

There are quieter moments too, she tries to hush a boisterous shouting contingent with “I’m going to play a quiet song called Depreston”, which is a more polite shushing than they deserve. The real standout for me is Kim’s Caravan, the band are bathed in half light, perfectly framed in a David Lynch haze as the guitar drone takes hold of me and carries me away for a while.

Playing larger venues is clearly something that she is taking time in getting used to, and she may have to navigate some even bigger stages yet. But, I’m glad I’m watching her at this stage, on the rise but not yet fully swallowed whole by mainstream rock.

The encore is buoyant cover of Know Your Product by The Saints, joined by Big Scary and she ends on the song that got me into her, the pun-loving Avant Gardener.  And with that, she waves and wanders off, in the same unassuming manner in which she arrived.

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[Album Review] – Mikael Tariverdiev – Film Music

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Mikael Tariverdiev – Film Music

It is something of a dream for many music enthusiasts to discover something special and unknown, and to be able to bring it to a new audience. Last Friday saw the release on Earth Recordings, co-ordinated by Stephen Coates of The Real Tuesday Weld, of the first compilation of Mikael Tariverdiev’s film scores available in the west. Coates was apparently sheltering from the cold in a Moscow cafe and became intrigued about the music that was playing. On asking a waitress, he learned it was ‘something from the old times’. The journey that followed led to the release of this 3CD or 3LP retrospective, curated with the assistance of Tariverdiev’s widow, Vera.

Working in the Soviet Union from the 1960s, Tariverdiev scored over 130 films in his lifetime. His was an eclectic style, incorporating classical, folk, pop and jazz elements as well as found sounds and his own gruff vocals, somewhere between Tom Waits and Serge Gainsbourg, but in Russian. This is an evocative record, and although the full two hour plus experience of playing all three discs end to end is quite overwhelming, it does give you the great feeling of having a soundtrack to your day. There is such a wide array of styles here that comparisons are difficult, perhaps some of the piano and accordion music could be compared to Yann Tiersen’s soundtrack work, some of the poppier moments to the 1960s pop of Gainsbourg and Leonard Cohen. This is a fabulous collection, meticulously assembled, and very deserving of investigation.

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