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   Thursday, July 31, 2008  
I don't know a goddamn thing, thank god*

News of a couple of forthcoming releases which reallyrather is quite possibly entirely alone in anticipating over this side of the water:

:: a record called Art project is being readied by Mascott aka Kendall Jane Meade & her latest cohorts. Back in '04 Dreamer's book got a single thumbs-up and its brightest moments still linger in the mind. 'If Aimee Mann had fended off cynicism, she might sound like Kendall Meade,' reckoned the NYT; 4th of July is the new album's advance party:

:: Benoit Pioulard's Precis ranked no.8 on this blog's list for '06; follow-up Temper is due in October, again on Kranky. 'Acoustic / Experimental / Other' is about right; 'Dream-like / Questing / Just Bloody Lovely' would also fit...
[sample Temper here][benoit revision]

Some of the qualities of Pioulard are also found in the work of Nathan Amundson aka Rivulets. Check out this cool unreleased song, The road, filmed rather beautifully in a Dortmund bar during Nathan's solo tour earlier this year:

And from one ex-Alaskan to..two more. Nelson Kempf & Keeley Boyle form boy/girl combo The Old Believers and adopted home Portland's Local Cut sums them, 'Crushing, refined Americana pop ... M. Ward crossed with the Arcade Fire’s Win Butler'. Three songs from second EP Eight golden greats can be sampled here...
[the old believers]

Talking of M. Ward, Volume One, his collaboration with actress Zooey Deschanel aka She & Him has been easily the sound of this blog's summer so far. That the two covers on this record - songs by The Beatles and Smokey Robinson - are really the only ones which let the side down is testament to the strength of Deschanel's (admittedly derivative) originals and their affectionately knowing treatment in the hands of Matt Ward & co.
While Deschanel's an altogether less singular personality and voice than previous Ward cohort Jenny Lewis as showcased on Rabbit fur coat, her detachment and directness serves these big tunes well. Carole King's Sixties pop pomp is one of the keynotes here while I thought I saw your face today channels pure Carpenters. Change is hard is bathed in a gorgeous, lambent, lapsteel glow and there's yet more lushness on Take it back, Zooey sounding like a harder-edged, bluesier Sally Ellison from Hem. Sure, there's a couple of throwaway bubblegum numbers ripping the Spector/Brian Wilson sound but its all of piece. Just as this blog suspects all involved did and mightily, enjoy...

* Among the Portland posse Ward roped in to flesh out the She & Him sound was Norfolk&Western's Adam Selzer and Rachel Blumberg and the latter also fulfils drumming detail on the latest record from singer/songwriter Shelley Short. Happily still inhabiting her own little world, Water for the day features lashings more of that slightly intuitive downhome style. Delightful highlights include Goddamn thing's characteristic bar-room lilt here augmented by the woody saw of viola/cello(?) and the airy Further & farther's lovely self-harmonizin' and spectral fx. Blumberg biffs her way in on Single minded hero but the old-timey, slightly woozy dance step of The getalong is propelled simply by Short's pluck 'n' strum. Perhaps most satisfying of all is the final May song in which Short's harmonica-enhanced multitracked vocal convincingly claims, 'I know what I've got when I've got it'. That's admirable certitude in which, should you acquire Water for the day, you too could share...
[shelley short][hush records player]
   posted by SMc at 8:13 AM |

   Wednesday, July 23, 2008  
Fogey-ish humourist Craig Brown felt obliged to go to a music festival and, as he told Daily Telegraph readers yesterday, didn't like it one little bit:

'Not all that long ago, if you wanted to pay money to stand with thousands of others to get drenched in a field you would be obliged to go to your local point-to-point. Now, pop festivals fulfil the same function, but they have the added benefit that the queues are longer, the stewards bossier, and you will be charged far more money without the faintest hope of making any of it back.'

Camp Bestival on the Dorset coast was the name of his own personal hell.

'[The land] is owned by a family called Weld: standing in the pouring rain, I could see the lights on in their stately home ("no entry"). I imagined the Welds all gathered around a blazing fire...peering out at the poor people in the rain below and enjoying a jolly good laugh.'

Dear oh dear.

reallyrather reaches for a book from the shelf: 'Charles Weld now runs the estate with the help of an able management team led by his cousin Michael Rous (a member of the family headed by the exuberant Australian Earl of Stradbroke).' Which is curious since this blog has just spent the past long weekend at Latitude, the three-day music & arts fest at Henham Park, a buccolic idyll of several thousand acres in Suffolk managed by Hektor Rous, the eighth of fifteen children sired by the land's owner, yes, you've guessed, 'the exuberant Earl of Stradbroke'. Craig, old bean, it's worse than you think!

But Latitude might be a bit more up his street. This blog can report that, much as last year, it was a largely splendid affair. Getting off site on the Monday was pretty hellish and the weather could've been better but this most civilized event - loads of non-music cultural options, Pimms-a-gogo, lots of families with kids called Freya, Oscar and the like, and an inexplicably massive queue to bag tix to watch rubbish Radio Four show Just a minute being recorded - was, as they claim, a festival for people who don't like festivals. reallyrather didn't care for much of the music & comedy headliners but still found lots of things to do. Some random notes:

:: an elegantly spooky solo set from Nick Talbot aka Gravenhurst, lovely filagreed guitar renderings from this outfit's quietly impressive catalogue. But, given it was a slot on the second-biggest Uncut stage, being without a band was something of missed opportunity - the full force of things like Hollow men would've converted many more bystanders

:: rousing Glitter anthems and touching bathos in the excellent theatre tent courtesy of Andrew Barron's one-man play Up the Gary, the story of tribute artist as collateral damage in a celebrity's downfall

:: it's 2.35 on Saturday afternoon and all three main music stages are silent...brilliant scheduling, not

:: great stuff from Pete Molinari in the Film tent as part of the Mark Lamarr-curated God's Jukebox all-nighter. OK, this is just very accurate, reverential countrybilly facsimile by a bloke from Chatham in Kent but it got the place jumping and the crowd wanted more. His penultimate number was Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison blues ,which puts you right there. He's opening a show for Richard Hawley in August which is entirely apt but Lord Hawley of Croonshire had better bring his A-game...
[pete molinari]

:: the chance to catch films you've half-wanted to see but probably wouldn't have in the end, like Chris Waitt's tragi-comic documentary hoot A complete history of my sexual failures [see]. And lo!, there's the man himself on stage straight after, happily taking questions about the current state of his erections and..stuff...

:: dull, dull, dull DJing between bands at the Sunrise arena. Could do better meself (nude, nudge, wink, wink)

:: but said space did host the only band who occasioned enquiries from random strangers (two to be exact) to yours truly, of the 'hey, that was pretty cool, who were they?' variety. Answer: The Little Ones who must've paid loads in excessive baggage for all that sunshine they seemed to have brought with them from LA and which disappeared almost as soon as they did...
[the little ones]

:: and The Little Ones were fortunate to inherit a crowd who'd been nicely juiced by Yacht whose big beat laptop pop hit the spot for plenty out there in the woods

:: solo Joanna Newsom holding the whole main arena field pretty much spellbound despite being first up on a cool & overcast Sunday noon. So many people, so little noise. Remarkable and not a little moving, frankly...

:: and oh yes, Blondie!! Strangely allotted second-top billing on the second stage, an impressively up-for-it Debbie Harry and co. gave the event the shot of helium pop it really needed. They played greatest hits for an hour and still didn't have time for Sunday girl or Denis...
[someone's wobbly camera footage]

reallyrather didn't take photos but plenty others did...

[Latitude 2009 tickets on sale now!]
   posted by SMc at 4:54 AM |