The festival of dreams

With Primavera Sound 2011 just around the corner, I got reminiscin’ about last year…

Here’s a review I wrote for www.clashmusic.com

I SIMPLY CANNOT WAIT.

Primavera Sound 2010: the review

 Oh Primavera Sound, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Sun, sea, sangria, sex shows, a semi-naked Tim Harrington and of course, a deluge of awesome sounds. Hosting the cream of the leftfield crop, this year’s line-up saw old and new acts collide in what could only be described as an indie kid’s wet dream (with an exotic peep show of sweaty rave-led beats)…

But what is it about Primavera that makes it so damn attractive? The absence of camping makes for a more beautiful crowd of revellers, that’s for sure. And everything looks better in the sunshine. Even Thursday night’s unprecedented drizzle seemed all the more pleasant for it being in Spain. Like me, you may have left your purse, or your dignity, on some miscellaneous grassy knoll with a Spanish motorbike mechanic called ‘Carlos’, but chances are you were probably having too much fun at the time to give a fuck.

That’s the thing about festivals. As any hardened reveller will tell you, pain and loss are sometimes unavoidable consequences of having a good time. And a very good time was had by all at Primavera Sound: from the moment we stepped inside that arena on the Thursday right up until the bitter end, waiting for our Sleazy Jet flight all broken, battered and bruised, we still managed to force a smile.

I could regale you with anecdotes aplenty about obnoxious waiters, donkey tattoos, and z-list celebrities, but I’ll save that for a rainy day. Here are a few musical highlights from Primavera Sound 2010 instead…Ole!

Thursday
Complications with our apartment meant arriving late on the Thursday night, just in time to feel the sea breeze and hear The xx softly weeping from within the walls of a stony amphitheatre, to crowds of restless hipsters. A rather subdued way to kick off the party proceedings, it must be said. But as day gradually turned into night, bathed in an irridescent glow and shrouded in wisps of smoke,The xx and their gentle minor chords suddenly seemed like the perfect way to ease us into that woozy festival dream world.

After catching the tail-end of Broken Social Scene’s baffling pep talk (“Everything is going to be OK, we promise”) it was the moment we had all been waiting for: Pavement ‘s time to shine.

And like a diamond in the rough, boy did they shine. Before you could say “take me back to the nineties when I was a massive geek in corduroy,” Malkmus appeared on stage perilously brandishing his guitar, looking as nonchalant as ever,  totally unphased by the thousands of drooling fans at his feet. Pavement’s decision to open with ‘Cut Your Hair’ was a very well informed one indeed, as swarms of denim clad revellers threw caution to the wind and dived straight in. Pulling all of the hits out of their Mary Poppins’ sized bag, Pavement’s reunion set quickly metamorphosed into something of wonderfully epic proportions, naturally.

Now while the occasional cynic may have quaffed at the sentimentality of it all, nineties’ kids like me found themselves genuinely overcome with emotion, screaming along to scorchers like ‘Stereo’ and ‘Unfair’. And by the time they got to ‘In the Mouth a Desert’, I had somehow lost my shoe and my friends.  They found me some hours later, perched upon a dusty slope watching Fuck Buttons with my eyes shut, repetitiously pointing towards the heavens. Visceral. Noise. Violations. Body. Violently. Convulsing. Higher plane….Whoah. When I eventually came to, I looked down at the sea of thriving bodies and couldn’t help but notice one particularly amorous, half-naked couple thrusting their pelvises in time to the beat. What a show. On both accounts. And just when I thought the night couldn’t get any better, Moderat had to go and blow my mind. When it comes to techno, the Germans always do it best. Heart-racing, head pounding, speedy bleeps and explosive bass lines, this was a full-on Euro rave and once my shoeless feet started to dance, they simply couldn’t stop…

Read the rest of the review HERE.

Beacon of joy

Vivian Girls – ‘Share the Joy’

8/10

Originally published: www.drownedinsound.com

The careering prominence of New Jersey by-way-of Brooklyn trio Vivian Girls has been charted not only by their own celebrated musical offerings but also in their ability to monopolise the contemporary girl group market. After original drummer Frankie Rose quit the band to start up the eponymous outfit Frankie Rose and the Outs, her replacement Ali Koehler jumped on board then swiftly left again to join Best Coast. ‘Kickball’ Katy Goodman assumed a solo identity herself earlier on in the year with her side project La Sera and more recently, Cassie Ramone decided to branch out with The Babies. So they like to get around, that much is true.

Provoking divided opinion from the off, cynicists and unbelievers took an immediate dislike to the girls on account of Cassie’s unusual, off-key vocals and the band’s rather haphazard approach to instrumentation. But anyone who thought that their musical career was going to be short-lived has most certainly been proved wrong.

Fully embracing the world of hi-fi music making, Vivian Girls somehow teeter on a prog lined precipice with this third album, a steady and unyielding record which positively beams with a newfound sense of confidence. Augmented track lengths are testament to a more accomplished musicality and help to chart The Vivs’ development. From a self-titled debut comprising largely of two-minute blasts of ramshackle lo-fi, to a second LP encapsulating a darker lyrical perspective and boasting a more coherent style of songwriting, this latest effort comes with a sparkling new pop sensibility, a more defined narrative and a refined sound to boot.

The boy with the Arab Strap

Interview with Aidan Moffatt

Originally published: www.dazeddigital.com

Assuming a number of different musical personas, Aidan Moffat is perhaps known best for his work with miserablist folk outfit Arab Strap. He has been a regular fixture on Glasgow’s indie scene since the 90s and was even immortalised in song by indie-pop luminaries Belle and Sebastian, whose iconic 1998 album ‘Boy with the Arab Strap’ paid homage to Moffat and his band. Beard in tow, he returns with the candidly entitled ‘Everything’s Getting Older’, a collaborative effort which sees him pair up with fellow Scot and alt-jazz hero Bill Wells for a Valentine’s Day inspired album of spoken word and delicate, multi-instrumentation. We caught up with the hirsute poet to get the lowdown on his hotly anticipated performance at Dazed Live

Read the rest of the interview HERE