Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Year's Eve

Thursday, 31 December 2009

If you're still undecided on what to do on New Year's, and house parties are not your's some suggestions:

At the Borderline, an indie gig venue in the heart of Soho, London's longest-running indie club night, the Christmas Club, present their New Year's Eve bash. DJ Tom Smith spins tunes by The Stone Roses, The White Stripes, The Verve, The Charlatans, MGMT, Primal Scream & many more....Entry is £7, or £6 with a flyer.

New York
Husband & wife indie pop duo Dean & Britta play an early show at Brooklyn's Southpaw venue. Tickets are US$20 via ticketweb.

Afterward, if you're low on cash, a good option is seeing the anti-folk acts perform at New York's SideWalk Cafe (intersection of Ave. A & E. 6th street). Cost is US$0 with 2 drink minimum. The year I went anti-folk hero Lach served free champagne at midnight. If money is not an object, from $250, you can go see Courtney Love at New York's Boom Boom Room. Seriously.

Edinburgh pulls out all the stops for New Year's Eve with their Hogmanay celebration. The street party's main act is Coventry's The Enemy and a DJ set will be provided by Mylo. Many festivities are already going on for Hogmanay, so if you're in Scotland, check it out.

Indie gig venue, The Annandale Hotel, is having a New Year's night of Celebrity Zombies. I'm not too sure what this all entails, but it sounds like fun....and someone named Miss Death will be dressing up as a zombie Amy Winehouse. Tickets are AUS$20.

Happy New Year!! And see you in 2010!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Top Albums of 2009

Tuesday, 29 December 2009
I'm back! Hope that all of you who celebrate Christmas had a nice one and that all of you are enjoying these lazy days until the New Year.

This list was really hard to compile, and I'll probably change my mind about it within minutes after posting. It seems like every music blog and magazine has complied the Best Albums of the Year (and/or Decade) so not to be left-out (plus I feel that some albums deserve more credit), here is my short, but sweet Top Albums of 2009.

01. Manic Street Preachers - Journal for Plague Lovers

Why? Journal for Plague Lovers is on top of the list due to the fact it was the only album this year that I got ridiculously excited about and listened to all the time for weeks. As a testament to the Manics' departed-friend and former bandmate, Richey Edwards, every song on the album features his lyrics. Some of them are (intentionally?) amusing and of course, sometimes cryptic. Journal for Plague Lovers still isn't as brilliant as the Manics' 1994 masterpiece, The Holy Bible, but it is arguably their best album in the past decade.

Download (the giveaway bonus track):
Manic Street Preachers - Bag Lady.mp3

02. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!

I first heard this album in nearly its entirely while browsing through Glasgow's Avalanche Records in April. The track that grabbed me the most was "Heads Will Roll". I wasn't a fan of the YYY's previous albums, but considering I am a fan of synth-pop, it's no shock that "It's Blitz!" made quite an impression. The stand-out tracks include the singles "Zero", "Heads Will Roll" and the lovely ballad, "Hysteric".

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll (A-Trak Remix).mp3

03. The Horrors - Primary Colours

Back in May I saw the Horrors support the Kills at Webster Hall in New York City. Their transformation into a, some might say, one-trick pony goth band into a credible, talented act, complimenting their sound with elements of shoegaze, was amazing. They had Primary Colours for sale at the gig before it's official release date, so I grabbed a copy and listened to it constantly for days after. My favourite track on the album is still "Scarlet Fields", although none of them are less than great.

04. The Black Ryder - Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride

After supporting acts such as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Charlatans, The Raveonettes and Brian Jonestown Massacre, Sydney's The Black Ryder released their debut album, Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride. The album is a swirl of melodic, haunting vocals and airy, heavenly melodies. The harmonica featured on album's track, "Sweet Come Down", is provided by Peter Hayes of BRMC and the downloadable track below, "Let it Go", is also a free download on and features Ricky from Brian Jonestown Massacre.

The Black Ryder - Let it Go.mp3

05. The Big Pink - A Brief History of Love

I was first was introduced to the Big Pink's music by my partner back in April, months before their debut album's release. Their demos featured on myspace were amazing (well, for demos!) and I anticipated the album's release all through their recording sessions at Electric Ladyland Studios in New York. Finally in September, A Brief History of Love was released. A solid favourite that never gets old is "Velvet", a track that deserves more credit than their "mainstream" 2009 hit, "Dominos" (even though that is a great song as well). "At War with the Sun" is another brilliant track, as is "Crystal Visions" and "Too Young to Love". Also, love the album's artwork.

The Big Pink - Velvet (Gang Gang Dance Remix).mp3

Other mentionable, brilliant albums of 2009:
The Raveonettes - In & Out of Control
Gliss - Devotion Implosion
Amazing Baby - Rewild
Girls - Album
Fever Ray - Fever Ray
The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die
Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
Super Furry Animals - Dark Days/Light Years
Logan Lynn - From Pillar to Post
Factory Kids - Factory Kids
The xx - The xx

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 24 December 2009
Taking a short break from blogging for Christmas.....until then, here are a few of my favourite Christmas videos!

Eartha Kitt - Santa Baby (the original from 1952)

The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl - The Fairytale of New York

Saint Etienne & Tim Burgess - I was Born on Christmas Day (performed on "The Word")

Super Furry Animals - The Gift That Keeps Giving

Happy Christmas! x

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Holidays with...Poppy & The Jezebels

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Wrapping of this year's holiday questionnaire feature, here is Poppy from one of England's most exciting new bands, Poppy & The Jezebels.

Which holiday do you participate in, Christmas, Chanukah, other?

What are your plans for the holidays?
Dom is off travelling in India, the lucky devil! For the rest of us, it'll be the traditional Xmas at home, and all off to the pub on Christmas eve!

What was the best holiday present you ever received?
When I was about 3 I got an amazing plastic toy drum-kit with a huge cartoon hawk on the front of the bass drum. I didn't know I'd end up being a drummer in a band at the time, of course, but I do think that that particular gift helped me on my way!

The best Christmas song is:
WE come from the home of Christmas glam-rock hits! Slade and Wizard are both from The Midlands! We are so proud!

What is on top of your wishlist?
This year I've asked for lots of make-up from Illamasqua... white eyeliner, gold paint... The kind of stuff that'll be great for gigging in!

Share a fond holiday memory from your childhood:
Waking up at ridiculous o'clock in the morning to begin the grand opening of the presents!... Christmas on Sesame Street video... Using the same slightly bedraggled paper decorations on the tree that I made at school countless years ago...

The perfect holiday party consists of:
Mince pies, cashew nuts, a somewhat inappropriate party dress (look away, nan!), and gin. Lots of gin.

At midnight on 1 January 2010, I/we will be...
Looking forward to an insane year. We've got an album to record, a tour to complete, and a decade to smash!

Thanks, Poppy! x

Poppy & The Jezebels' myspace
Watch: Poppy & The Jezebels' video for "Rhuburb and Custard"

The Flaming Lips' "Christmas on Mars"

It might be too late to buy The Flaming Lips' psychedelic space trip, "Christmas on Mars" on DVD by the 25th, but for instant viewing, it's available on iTunes for $9.99 from the Christmas on Mars' Official Site.

The Flaming Lips - Christmas At the Zoo.mp3

The Flaming Lips' Official Site

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The Holidays with...This Car Up

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Paul from the former great indie band, This Car Up, shares his holiday memories and more...

Which holiday do you participate in, Christmas, Chanukah, other?
Christmas, and as I get older it becomes more stressful, but I still enjoy it.

What are your plans for the holidays?
Going home to Northern VA to hang with my family, my twin and his wife's twin boys. First Christmas being an uncle! Should be a good one. I also will get together with some long time friends and get our fix of Mexican food.

What was the best holiday present you ever received?
An electric guitar when I was 14.

The best Christmas song is:
There are some ones that I like more so than others. I like "O Holy Night".

What is on top of your wishlist?
Nothing really. Well, I take that back. Healthy little nephews.

Share a fond holiday memory from your childhood:
I later found out, but our grandfather came by our house when we young and while we were in bed, he threw rocks on the roof. We thought it was Santa.

The perfect holiday party consists of:
Booze and breakfast.

At midnight on 1 January 2010, I/we will be...
In Boston somewhere at a house party.

Thanks, Paul! x

This Car Up's myspace

Monday, 21 December 2009

Ringo Deathstarr: New Single "You Don't Listen"

Monday, 21 December 2009

Photo: Jess Williamson

Ringo Deathstarr have released a brand new 7" single, "You Don't Listen", nearly 4 minutes of where pop and shoegaze clash, making it one of the band's best tracks to date. This is the first single from their upcoming LP due in 2010. The single's b-side, "Everytime I Leave You", has drums reminiscent of The Jesus & Mary Chains' "Just Like Honey" accompanied by by fuzz guitar riffs, melodic bells and beautiful melancholy lyrics which create a heavenly masterpiece. You can download it below...

Ringo Deathstarr - Everytime I Leave You.mp3

Buy the 7" single at Custom Made Music.

Ringo Deathstarr's Official Site
Ringo Deathstarr's myspace

The Holidays with...Tim Chaplin

British singer/songwriter Tim Chaplin answered some questions for the holiday feature....this is what he had to say.

Which holiday do you participate in, Christmas, Chanukah, other?

What are your plans for the holidays?
Work, mostly

What was the best holiday present you ever received?
A little photo book

The best Christmas song is:
'Father Christmas Still' by Factory Kids... or maybe 'Teenage Christmas' by the Jacobites (electric or acoustic - take yer pick)

What is on top of your wishlist?
A fairy

Share a fond holiday memory from your childhood:
I'm still in the middle of it

The perfect holiday party consists of:
No other people

At midnight on 1 January 2010, I/we will be...
A lickle bit drunk

Cheers, Tim! x

Tim's latest solo albums The September Sessions and For Real in the Real World are now available on iTunes.

Tim Chaplin's myspace

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Gifts for Music Lovers

Saturday, 19 December 2009
It's less than a week until Christmas, and you still can't figure out what to get for the fussy music lover in your life? Here are a few hopefully helpful tips....

For the synth-lover: Stylophone

Called the "retro pocket synth", not only can it emulate synth-like sounds and fit in your messenger bag, but it's also affordable. Buy it at Think Geek for $19.99. I also saw stacks of them at Fopp Record Shops in the UK for £15.

For the Psychedelic Pop fan: Singapore Sling's latest album

Friends with BJM headmaster, Anton Newcombe (Fjordson), Iceland natives Singpore Sling's previously hard-to-find latest album, Perversity, Deception and Death is finally available on for the not too scary price of $22. If you still can't decide if the album is the perfect gift or not, check out one of the tracks (and my personal favourite on the album), the icy "Godman":

For the Indie Rock lover: Indie Rock Colouring Book

Be a grown-up kid with colouring the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Rilo Kiley and Bloc Party. I asked for this for Christmas, but have heard since then that while it's a nice idea, it's only consists of a few pages. Still, if you fancy this, Buy it for $9.95 at

With a little more dosh, and if they live in America, get them a 2-year subscription to The Big Takeover magazine for $20. You can ask them to rush the subscription in time for Christmas.

For the Manic Street Preachers fan: Jenny Saville Art Book

One item I would recommend for a Manics fan is a book of paintings by Jenny Saville, who is responsible for the artwork of 1994's The Holy Bible and 2009's Journal for Plague Lovers. I own this book and think it's brilliant, so even though the $31.50 price tag might be a bit high, it is definitely worth the money. Buy it from

Cheaper items include Patrick Jones's new CD (Nicky Wire's brother) which features Nicky Wire, James Dean Bradfield, Billy Bragg, et al. for £5 or Gustav Klimt Stickers for $1.50 at amazon. One of my friends gave some to Nicky Wire and he used one for a a recent Manics letter. Bless.

and for those Super Furry Animals fans: The Psychedelic Guide to Monsterism Island

This new CD compilation by Pete Fowler (who is responsible for the majority of SFA's album artwork) features Gruff Rhys and is full of "musical treats that make perfect sense". Buy this for a tenner and find much more of Pete's works at his shop.

For the Goth (and/or Mighty Boosh fan): Goth Juice

Vince Noir made "Goth Juice" a popular name in hair-care products, and Lush delivers the product itself. Apparently it makes your hair sleek and gives a nice hold. Buy here or at Lush stores for $15.65 or
£6.85 at the UK shops.

Hope that helps .....good luck!

& Happy Holidays. x

The Holidays with...28 Degrees Taurus

Continuing the Girls Sold Out holidays feature (the first was with Logan Lynn), here are Jinsen and Karina from the brilliant Boston-based 28 Degrees Taurus with their holiday plans..

Which holiday do you participate in, Christmas, Chanukah, other?
Jinsen: Only Christmas... not in a religious way, but to just see family, exchange presents and what not.
Karina: Christmas.

What are your plans for the holidays?
J: No plans this year, just going to my parents' house for Christmas... My other relatives aren't around this year so its going to be quieter than usual. Other than that, looking forward to seeing some friends that are coming back to the area too.
K: Spending it with my grandparents. They are 87 and 88. Should be fun!!

What was the best holiday present you ever received?
J: $300 in cash
K: Talking Cabbage Patch Kid. 1989?

The best Christmas song is:
J: "Frosty the Snowman" by the Cocteau Twins
K: "Oh Holy Night"

What is on top of your wishlist?
J: A mu tron 2 phasor, an alesis microverb 4 and a mixing board.
K: 1950's Formica kitchen table.

Share a fond holiday memory from your childhood:
J: First Christmas I can remember, I got the train set I always wanted... the start of a pretty idyllic childhood.
K: Ripping open presents with my brother Sunny.

The perfect holiday party consists of:
J: A party in Andover with lots of ham, appetizers, lots of booze and old friends to go around.
K: Pigs in a blanket, MUSIC!

At midnight on 1 January 2010, we will be...
J: Drunk as usual like every other night of my life. Not sure what we're doing this year at all... I'm open to suggestions.
K: Dancing.

Thanks Jinsen and Karina! x

28 Degree Taurus' myspace

Friday, 18 December 2009

Amsterdam xxx

Friday, 18 December 2009
Sorry for the lack of posts, but I was busy stomping around Amsterdam, one of my favourite cities in the world. I lived there as a teen and hadn't been back in 10 years. Music and/or artsy posts will resume tomorrow, but here are a few of my favourite photos of a currently frigid cold, but lovely Amsterdam:

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Series Two Records Christmas compliation - out now!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

George Square, Glasgow

Nebraska-based indie label, Series Two Records, released a new Christmas compilation this month. Only 120 copies have been made, so get one while you can. To order, send US$8 to The price covers all shipping & handling charges, even internationally.

The CD consists of 26 tracks, with over 75 minutes of music.

The tracklisting:
1. And, Oh So Slowly He Turned - Baby Jesus
2. Back In Judy's Shack - Footsteps In The Snow
3. Before I Got Convenient - all the good things
4. Betsy and a Ukulele- I thought I'd write you a Christmas song
5. Broken Down Lorry - All I Want For Christmas Is A Bit Of Peace And Quiet
6. Cleemann - Santa Claus lives (in Nebraska)
7. Flannel - AKARI
8. Joe Holtaway - wintering
9. Johan Cederberg - December
10. Later - an old excuse
11. Like This Parade-The night is peaceful all around you
12. Malkovic - 1st Snow Night
13. Old Time Radio - Do You Remember
14. Ossian Ekenger - Christmas in July
15. Paper City - Paris In The Wintertime
16. Petter Findin Himself - xmas song for my darling
17. Seaside Stars - Santa soon
18. Sebastian Schmidt - Als ich ein Kind war
19. Sunny Intervals - Winding Down For Christmas
20. The Blue Chairs - It’s Christmas
21. The Legendary Ten Seconds - Sitting in this trench
22. The Mother Z's - Christmas Card
23. The Nithings - now it truly feels like Christmas
24. THE YELLOW MELODIES - Christmas time
25. Thehelpmeplease - Hear The Bells Ring
26. Wool Strings featuring Table Music Meeting- White and Blue

Series Two Records' myspace

Monday, 14 December 2009

New Young Pony Club's new single!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Back in 2007, I visited London's Tate Modern and saw an exhibition where each piece of art was accompanied by a song from a new band. This is how I discovered New Young Pony Club, and after the exhibition went straight to the Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street (R.I.P.) to buy their debut album, Fantastic Playroom.

Over the past year or so, I thought that maybe they had fallen victims to the short-lived "nu-rave" scene that seems to ignite and then fade out like a glo-stick, but I was wrong.

Today, and today only, you can download their new moodier, Siouxsie-esque new single, "Lost A Girl" at their official site.

& here is the video:

They will also be headlining a UK tour in the new year and their 2nd album, "The Optimist" will be released in the UK on 1 March 2010.

New Young Pony Club's myspace

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Blondie's Free Christmas Single

Sunday, 13 December 2009

It seems like more and more bands are releasing free Christmas tracks every year. This year's new offering is by one of the greatest bands to come out of 1970's New York, Blondie.

Go to to download their Christmas song, "We Three Kings". Also, Blondie has announced they will be releasing a new album in 2010! It doesn't look like they are retiring anytime soon.

Here is Debbie Harry performing John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" with The Middlechurch East Village Choir at Santo's Party House in NYC last year:

Blondie's myspace

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Ms. Shirley Manson

Saturday, 12 December 2009
For the second week in a row, I'm spending the weekend in Edinburgh. Music-wise, the first time I was introduced to Edinburgh was when I started listening to Garbage and noticed their fierce lead vocalist, Edinburgh-born Shirley Manson.

I was so into her, that I made my own version of her skirt during this MTV Beach House performance in 1996 (still think it is amusing they played in such a setting) and paid US$40 (which was worth more back then) to see Garbage live, supporting Alanis Morrisette (who I was NOT a fan of, just to clarify!). Lately, I have been listening to Garbage's debut album and it is still as good as it was back in 1995.

Also, recently Shirley Manson has been back in the spotlight, modeling for Oliver Peoples with Elijah Wood.

Here are a couple of my favourite (and kind of rare) Garbage tracks:

Garbage, #1 Crush (Goth Mix).mp3
Garbage, Lick The Pavement.mp3

And some of the best videos:
Garbage, Stupid Girl
Garbage, Push It
Garbage, Androgyny

Garbage's Official Site

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Dean & Britta's Single Giveaway

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Photo: Michael Lavine

The dreamy pop duo of Dean Wareham (ex-Galaxie 500 & Luna) & Britta Phillips (ex- Luna), aka Dean & Britta, are giving away two holiday songs, "He's Coming Home" (originally written by The Wailers, from the Pacific Northwest) and "Old Toy Trains", which is a collaboration with their friend Pete Kember, aka Sonic Boom (ex-Spacemen 3).

Download the tracks for free here. The code is "oldtoytrains".

...and while you're at it, you can buy some brand new Naomi Yang-designed t-shirts, copies of their Andy Warhol Screen Test DVD and other swag at Dean & Britta's online shop.

Dean & Britta perform at Southpaw in Brooklyn on New Year's Eve. Tickets available here.

Dean & Britta's myspace
Sonic Boom's myspace

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Holidays with...Logan Lynn

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

photo: Ray Gordon

From now until Christmas, Girls Sold Out is asking some favourite artists all about the holidays. First up, is the wonderful and talented Mr. Logan Lynn...

Which holiday do you participate in, Christmas, Chanukah, etc?
I participate in any holiday that involves me getting fed and being given
presents. My family celebrates a very loose Christmas-type-celebration
but it's more about peace and love and caloric intake than the baby Jesus.

What are your plans for the holidays?
I'm going to be in Portland so I'll be spending much of it with my
extended Dandy Warhols family, which starts this Saturday and continues
for the next few weeks. Those guys don't fuck around when it comes to
having fun on holidays. They are doing these "Italian Christmas" shows in
Portland and Seattle this weekend and then there's a big holiday party
with all the bands on the label next week. Gonna be so fun. On Christmas
Day itself I'll be with my Mom, Dad, Brother, pregnant Sister-in-law and 2
year old Niece. I love holiday time with both families, biological and

What was the best holiday present you ever received?
Casio SK-1 keyboard, age 8. The day electronic music entered my life.

The best Christmas song is:
The one kept to oneself. I fucking hate holiday music.

Have you finished your holiday shopping?
Yeah. Everybody either gets my new record or a high-five. Their choice.

Share a fond holiday memory from your childhood:
I have many fond memories of waking-up Christmas morning while visiting my
grandparents' house around this time of year when I was a boy. My grandma
always wanted to get us exactly what we wanted (instead of giving us what
grandparents her age might have thought we wanted) so she would always
have my mom give her a list of what to get. I recall the BEST presents on
my list coming from those mornings with them. She made this salty chex
mix stuff that I would never eat now, but used to inhale by the handful
back then. There was so much love and color in that house. It was an
amazing place.

The perfect holiday party consists of:
Someone not drinking with me amidst the crowd of drunks, periodically
making eye contact from across the room to remind me that we are there
together and that we'll be leaving the sea of drunk party-goers together
soon. That sounds perfect to me at this stage in the game. I'd like a
virgin egg nog, please...but one made without raw eggs. SICK!

Logan's album From Pillar to Post is now out on Beat The World Records.

Logan Lynn's Official Site
Logan Lynn's myspace

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Big Pink's "Sweet Dreams"

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

They might be over-rated. They might also be considered the biggest "scenesters" to come out of England this year. Despite this, I have a fondness for The Big Pink. Besides being a great live act, I've found their debut album, A Brief History of Love to be one of my top albums this fall, if not for the year.

Recently, during a BBC Live Lounge session, they covered Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams". Turning this pop hit into a dark, moody, alt. tune.....I really like it. Hope you do as well.

The Big Pink - Sweet Dreams.mp3

The Big Pink's myspace
The Big Pink's Official Website
Video: The Big Pink's "Velvet"

Friday, 4 December 2009

Christmas mixtape!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Columbus Circle, NYC

Christmas is approaching fast, so here are some of my favourite tunes of the season...Something to listen to while you have your holiday parties, go shopping, bake sweets and the million other things you do at this time of year...

Side A
The Dandy Warhols - Little Drummer Boy download
Billy Childish & The Musicians of the British Empire - Santa Claus download
The Raveonettes - Christmas Song download
The Sonics - Don't Believe in Christmas download
Saint Etienne - My Christmas Prayer download
The Fall - Jingle Bell Rock download
Run DMC - Christmas in Hollis download
The Management - Come On Christmas download

Side B
Band Aid - Do They Know it's Christmas?* download
Elastica - All For Gloria download
Jacobites - Teenage Christmas download
Sparks - Thank God It's Not Christmas download
Wham! - Last Christmas download
The Ramones - Merry Christmas download
Factory Kids - Father Christmas Still download
Tom Waits - Silent Night download

* the original 1984 version. all the others are rubbish!

Also, the winner of the Christmas swag competition is Lisa from Germany!! She'll be recieving a parcel full of Christmas sweets, CDs and other things soon...

Happy Christmas! x

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Upsidedown

Thursday, 3 December 2009

One of my favourite bands is Portland, Oregon's The Upsidedown. With Sarah Jane, formerly of The Out Crowd (Matt Hollywood's previous band) as well as ex-Bella Low member Jsun Atom, and musicians Brett Kron, Matt Moore, Tristan Evans and Bob Graham Mild, they quickly gained a reputation for themselves across the American Northwest, achieving critical acclaim. Their album, Human Destination, has been a staple on my stereo this year...From the Strokes-esque intro to the title track to the 60s-influenced stomping beats of "Silver Wind" to the flowing grooves of "Light", this album is recommended for anybody who's into a bit of psychedelic pop.

Check out their videos for "Silver Wind"

& "Human Destintation"

On 12 December, The Upsidedown are playing a Christmas show at Portland's Wonderland Ballroom with their mates, The Dandy Warhols.

You can buy their album from Beat The World Records...and even get a new Dell computer to match, thanks to The Upsidedown's cover artist Robert Hardgrave featured as an designer for Dell's new studio ready laptops!

The Upsidedown's Official Site
The Upsidedown's myspace

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Interview: Highspire

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Here's my recent interview with Alex and EJ from shoegaze/dreampop band, Highspire who are also in the Melbourne-formed, but currently New York-based psychedelic pop band, The Morning After Girls.

Where did you get the name Highspire?

Alex: I had a crush on this girl and went to pick her up for a date at this place called Highspire Road. The date was a bust, but the name stuck in my head as having some meaning and unique quality. There's also a town in central Pennsylvania called Highspire, but that's not the inspiration.

You formed in 1999 and stopped playing live in 2003. It says on your myspace not to ask, but...why did you stop playing live?

EJ: A combination of moving away from Philadelphia after being robbed of all my equipment and not being able to get the band to sound the way I envisioned live. Really just a combination of many small things that added up to one big headache.

Alex: On top of that we had problems with bandmates who really didn't understand our music or care enough. They were always trying to steer things away from our vision.

You guys are currently playing in The Morning After Girls and are also set to release new material with Highspire. Is it difficult to divide up your time between the two bands?

Alex: No. I'm usually too focused on The Morning After Girls to spend much time on anything else. Although there's always that rare moment during rehearsal when the others have left the room and E.J. will play the bassline to "Portsmouth" or "No Day Like Today" and I will have a sing through it.

We're tracking and mixing everything at my home studio so it's not too difficult now that I don't have a day job. I wake up at 8 or 9 a.m. every morning and work most of the day on music. So when I'm not on tour, away for practice or recording Morning After Girls demos, I'm working on Highspire or some other projects.

Your songs, particularly "Fade In A Day", "Until the Lights Go Down" and "Portsmouth" are quite ambient and have a retro-feel to them. I think your music is quite unique compared to most contemporary shoegaze/dreampop acts. Where do you get your influences from?

Alex: I'd say The Stone Roses first and foremost, followed by Verve, The Charlatans, Bowery Electric, Blur, and Radiohead. And I would also add Ride, The Doves, Catherine Wheel, Slowdive, The Gorillaz, The Dandy Warhols, and Portishead to that list. I don't think there's anything unusual about our influences, but it's our mixing of different elements that makes the songs eclectic.

EJ: All the same bands Alex mentioned and My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse, early Boo Radleys, Adorable, Spacemen 3. I have a ridiculous late 80s, early 90s vinyl collection of British music. I'm a big supporter of the more underground shoegaze bands of the past 20 years. I've been the webguy for Clairecords for five years. So I've kept pretty current with the scene via tonevendor. I've been a supporter and friend of Malory, Airiel, Ulrich, Air Formation, Oliver Ackermann's bands, Resplandor for years. Martin and Sacha of The Morning After Girls have a different approach than I'm used to, as I'm more a music first guy and they're much more vocal first so they've been an influence lately. Though ultimately I think I'm more influenced these days with messing about in my studio as I don't really listen to anything too much so not to be too influenced.

Who were the coolest bands to play with back when you were touring?

Alex: The Warlocks, Aesobi Seksu, Dirty on Purpose. Although we were probably the most fun to play with out of anyone because something strange would always happen at our gigs. Club owners seemed to like to blame us if some underage kid was in the show or if someone vandalized the toilet. One time we were ejected from Canada as a band because of suspicion of illegal substances, but I stress that was untrue.

EJ: Malory live are usually just straight up amazing. Like make you want to quit playing music amazing. Skywave was always fun. Loudest band outside of My Bloody Valentine and possibly Dinosaur Jr. I've ever seen. Except Skywave would just rock like one halfstack each for guitar and bass. Modified to be crazy loud of course. Emerald Down was a great, underrated shoegaze band as well.

What are your current favourite albums?

EJ: I listen to the same stuff I was listening to 10 to 15 years ago mostly. Or stuff I'm doing. Some newer bands that I've liked what I've heard are 93 Million Miles from the Sun, Ringo Deathstarr, Fleeting Joys, LSD and the Search for God. I listen to a lot of obscure 60s and 70s psych bands. According to my iTunes the last five artists I listened to are Sweet Jesus, The Dylans, The High, Suncharms, and Pale Saints.

Alex: I don't listen to a lot of new music. So my current albums in rotation are classics like Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, and Let it Bleed from the Stones, Electric Warrior by T-Rex, and newer classics like People Move On by Bernard Butler and Lost Souls by The Doves. That said, I like 2 by Darker My Love and the new Doves record.

I read that Highspire has gone through 15 band members. Is that true? Is anyone joining you two on the upcoming EP release, or are you making it all your own?

Alex: No. Pure hyperbole. Perhaps including studio musicians it could be true. But I can only count 10 actual members of the band including me and E.J. We have a drummer participating in the new Highspire material. But that's it so far.

I sort of consider our first band together, which was called Intro to India, as early Highspire. We didn't really know exactly what we were doing, but we were part of the "Psychedelphia" scene of the late 90's. But towards the end, the music was essentially the blueprint of what Highspire would be. Actually, The Morning After Girls is technically the fifth band Alex and I have been in together. I can't get rid of the guy.

Do you think they'll be any Highspire gigs down the road?

EJ: No. Unless it's just for kicks, semi- acoustically. I'd love to as a full band as I think I can now make it sonically possible with the right people the way I'd want it to be. But logistically it'd be tough to practice a band up and travel to do anything at this point.

Alex: We talk about doing a Highspire tour, and I for one would be very keen to do it, but we would want it to be well thought out and executed with the right people backing us on stage and money and time probably will not allow that.

What's been the most exciting moment in the band's now 10 year history?

Alex: The moment I realised that all the shit things that happened to us in 2002 made us stronger musically and spiritually. Among other things, our whole band quit on us, then E.J. lost his prized Rickenbacker in the burglary he mentioned earlier. It would've been easy to pack it in and just say it was far too much trouble to continue, but we didn't. We made an album about it instead.

EJ: It makes me feel good whenever someone comes up or writes that they appreciate what we do. Since we've never gone out of our way to do anything but make music we want to hear, it's exciting when others also enjoy what we've done. It's almost a form of communication, a secret handshake if you will.

Is there anything (previously unknown) about your band that you'd like to share with the world?

Alex: We are truly humbled and appreciative when someone likes what we do.

Where can people buy Highsphire's previous albums as well as the new EP and upcoming re-released EP?

EJ: The EP's will be released on our own label on iTunes or via download through myspace/website. I'd like to make a fairly limited amount of CDs and eventually a vinyl release. Let's face it, most people are gonna download it free off internet blog sites. Unfortunately money ends up mattering for small bands to keep going and recording, at least recouping. Which is part of the reason why we haven't released anything in a while. That's why I'd like a vinyl release at some point. If a majority of people are like me and they like what they downloaded and it comes out on vinyl, they'll get the vinyl. I'm seeing the future of music formats as digital and vinyl at this point. At any rate, we don't do this for profit or anything other than it's just what we do. If other people enjoy it, that's icing. That's a brilliant feeling.

Alex: Also you can get the physical CD of "Your Everything" at or iTunes. There's also a cover of "Dagger" by Slowdive on iTunes and that we're rather proud of.

Thanks, guys! x

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The Morning After Girls' myspace

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