music

Dispatch: Field Music, Glasgow School of Art

Since 2004, Field Music have been busy lads - the core of the brothers Brewis (David and Peter) has produced five albums, a soundtrack, a covers album, a dozen singles and two albums with side projects apiece. As soon as you hear a new Field Music song, you know it's them, but that doesn't mean they've become stale or dull - far from it, in fact, as Sunday's gig at the Art School proved. Purveyors of complexly structured artpop they may be but this was no chin-stroking, egg-headed exercise in pomposity. This was funky and sweaty, if taut and intelligent with it. The brothers and their assembled touring band played a broad selection from their back catalogue, numerous cuts from their excellent new album Commontime included, and exuded a quiet confidence looking like they were having a lot of fun - almost as much as the (rather vocal) audience. The band is doing the rounds now, miss them at your peril.

Photos by Erika Sella. Words by Andrew R. Hill.

Come To My World: Sarah Records Reappraised

Come To My World: Sarah Records Reappraised

Sarah Records was a Bristol-based independent label run by Clare Wadd and Matt Haynes between 1987 and 1995. Committed to socialism and feminism and influenced by the fanzine culture and the DIY attitude of earlier UK music scenes, Sarah was as much about politics as it was about music. Equally revered and loathed, the label came to define a certain kind of wistful, melancholic indie pop (the kind that detractors - usually male rockist music journalist - often called 'twee', 'insipid' and 'sexless') whilst making agit-prop statements through their fanzines, written communiqués and objet d'art (their 50th release was a board game). 

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Dispatch: Ultimate Painting, The Bellybuttons and Vital Idles at Mono

Mono is barely at half capacity when Vital Idles take to the stage at Mono on Friday night, and more's the pity - they steal the show. Featuring former Golden Grrrl Ruari MacLean on bass, Vital Idles have a scratchy, garage-y vibe (some kind of loose triangulation of Flying Nun, Slumberland and 53 & 3rd), a droll coolness, an understated intensity.

 Not many bands can pull off a Smiths cover, but they make 'Jeane' their own and it isn't even the best song in the set, not by a long shot. They're into the music, and they don't give a fuck if you're even listening - you should, of course, because 'vital' is an entirely apposite descriptor.

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The Bellybuttons have a tough act to follow, but they have a certain free-and easy swagger about them that makes them easy to like (they also appear to have the happiest bass player in the world). They sound a lot like Pavement, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but a relatively long set renders proceedings more samey than they ought to be.

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By the time Ultimate Painting take to the stage, the venue is rammed. They are the obvious professionals of the night, everything is very together, and that's understandable given Jack Cooper and James Hoare have toured so much over the last few years with their different bands (Mazes and Veronica Falls/Proper Ornaments respectively). It's frustrating to listen to a set where all the songs are the same speed (mid-tempo), especially when they have so much potential. They have a great sound and melodies in spades - how couldn't they given their pedigree? - but there's a lack of dynamic variation and a certain spark, an energy, that they could do with carrying across from their other bands. Their potential is massive, but they need to remember to shift gear every now and then.

Photos by Erika Sella. Words by Andrew R. Hill.

Songs They Never Play on the Radio: Arthur Russell

Songs They Never Play on the Radio: Arthur Russell

It’s questionable now that you would in actuality never hear this Arthur Russell song on the radio. Not so long ago many an eyebrow would have been raised at the notion that you might, but in the time since I first knowingly heard him on 2008’s superlative Optimo (Espacio) mix Sleepwalk (never mind his death in 1992) his popularity seems to have grown exponentially. The song on the Optimo mix was ‘This Is How We Walk On The Moon’, and even on that strange, nocturnal, hypnagogic record (a record that I would happily call one of my favourites) it stood out as particularly otherworldly

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Songs They Never Play on the Radio: Dadamah

Songs They Never Play on the Radio: Dadamah

...aaaaand we’re back. And with the least conventional Songs They Never Play on the Radio yet, at that. Like many bands from the NZ ‘scene’ teetering on the fringes of the famous (yet still inadequately documented) Flying Nun, there isn’t much information on Dadamah, even in the sometimes seemingly comprehensive expanse of the internet. 

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Songs They Never Play on the Radio: Fall of Saigon

Songs They Never Play on the Radio: Fall of Saigon

So, after a bit of a break, another Song They Never Play on the Radio. This may be the most obscure entry yet, although there is some competition - a band formed in Montpellier that only released one EP on Atem in 1983 (although further tracks appeared on a CD compilation in 2011). Only six songs long, Untitled (as it's titled, or, er, not) is a fleeting but absorbing listen. 

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Songs They Never Play on the Radio: Magazine

Songs They Never Play on the Radio: Magazine

Over the last couple of years, Magazine’s debut Real Life has gradually crept from the fringes of my consciousness to become one of my favourite albums. I’ve owned it for three or four years (or maybe even longer) but other than ever-brilliant Shot By Both Sides, early listens failed to pierce my heart, mind or sou

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