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Posts Tagged ‘Ten City Nation’

 

Paul Weller: Wake Up The Nation

Seeing Weller in Auckland in October was my gig of the year. He tore at his set-list with gusto, making the new tracks sound as impressive as Jam or Wild Wood-era solo output. Wake Up the Nation is surprisingly excellent, not just a return to form but possibly his best yet, a rallying call to all those who suffer from apathy and disinterest. Weller hasn’t made a comeback after a couple of iffy albums, with As Is Now and 22 Dreams both good career moves, but few people were expecting him to hit the mark so often, as he does on Nation, especially on Fast Cars/ Slow Traffic and the burning, angry title track.

The Courteeners: Falcon (Polydor)                
Falcon is an album born of the musically-rich north-west of England, the lyrics resonating with Mancunian landmarks, of lovers being in faraway London, and all the things that working class people in the towns across the breadth of dear old England do. There will be comparisons to Editors, the typical “indie-rock band” but the Courteeners are the mature version of the Arctic Monkeys, their tales being of late 20s heartache and exuberance.

Phoenix Foundation: Buffalo (EMI)

Please take a trip with the Foundation through Wellington’s Town Belt and hill suburb of Mt Victoria on Eventually, and take your brolly with you. Be enchanted by the child-friendly Flock of Hearts, be invigorated by Pot and singalong like a mad thing to the wonderfully fruity lyrics of Orange & Mango. Buffalo is a gloriously simple record, one that is very New Zealand in its themes, but also sounds like it could traverse traditional musical snobbery and parochialism, and appeal to, say, indie fans in Manchester.

The Burns Unit: Side Show (Proper Music)                       
Given that the backgrounds of the Unit are folk, alt-country, rap and a band that can best be described as indie-Indian there is a fascinating breadth of ideas and sounds on Side Show. There’s the Kate Bush-esque Sorrys, featuring the enchanting vocals of Emma Pollock, the campfire niceties of You Need Me To Need This and the emotionally, and politically, charged, Send Them Kids To War. With such a range it almost feels like a compilation.

Natacha Atlas: Mounqaliba (World Village)
Mounqaliba is written almost entirely by Atlas and Samy Bishai, who grew up in Egypt, the orchestral players are Turkish and Atlas sings in Arabic, with interludes in French on a Francoise Hardy song and English on Nick Drake’s River Man. Atlas moves easily through the languages, adding beauty and grace to the non-Arabic tracks while adding some bite when she sings in Arabic. It would be difficult to pigeon-hole this album as World, something Putamayo would make a compilation out of, but like a band she performs with Transglobal Underground this is an album that reflects the sounds, sights and feel of the modern world.

Chris Difford: Cashmere If You Can (Saturday Morning Music Club)
A wonderfully Squeezy title from a songwriter who keeps the curious English observational style very much alive. Cashmere If You Can jumps from one joyous catchy singalong to another. On Like I Did, Difford tells a familiar parental tale, of how kids do exactly what they did once: “He’s getting stoned (like I did), he plays bass (like I did), he lays in bed like I did, how can I complain.” Society is awash with vacuous lyrics and music, so it’s refreshing to hear tales of regret, of young men leaving their loved ones to go to war, and the problems of noise in a small house, sung by someone who’s not just observing society, but who has lived some of the tales he puts to tape.

 

Belle and Sebastian Write About Love (Rough Trade)                                                      
The basic tenets of a B & S album are all enclosed: dreamy vocals, plaintive melodies, and beautifully penned songs about relationships that never happened, schoolyard bullying and, a tale of the toxic friend who only calls at midnight when a relationship with a muscleman goes awry. There are some lovely tracks with ’60s bounce; it’s impossible not to be entranced by the hook-heavy I Can See Your Future or the escapist harmonies of the title track featuring actress Carey Mulligan.

 

Ten City Nation: At The Still Point (Sturm Und Drang)
As the band have progressed from their days as Miss Black America, they’ve become even more nihilistic. More guitars, more anger, more Stooges and more Nirvana influences. The opener, Flashing Lights is very accessible – punk with discipline – but Room 10101 is, shall we say, the kind of thing that would scare mothers around the world. At times we need noise in our life. Not the Korn or Green Day form of noise, but something more digestible, even though At The Still Point might give you that bloated feeling after listening to all 12 tracks in one go.

Howl Griff: The Hum (Recordiau Dockrad)
A single, Crash and Burn, is a cosmic outpouring of twee, delirious pop, reminiscent of a lovely Canadian bunch called Cinderpop and shares a sense of the surreal with The Coral. And, like those scousers, Howl Griff tell stories of real characters, such as a lady who “can help you in the dark of night and improve your memory”, on Jean’s Therapy. Meanwhile, on Uduhudu, spirits are raised from the dead in a spangly, manic and effervescent shanty. Glorious, bonkers stuff only the British can do, and the Welsh do best for some reason.

Goldfrapp: Head First (Mute)                                
Goldfrapp have revisited electro-glam with an album that’s unashamedly steeped in the glorious synths of the 1980s. The opener, Rocket, sounds suspiciously like The Pointer Sisters’ Jump, and is followed by Believer, a beauty that harks back to the radio-friendly Supernature album of 2005. It ends with Voicething which wouldn’t sound out of place on the last Kraftwerk album.

FParom 1977 to 1982 Paul Weller was

the driving force behind the Jam,

a Mod band that had the energy

of punk. All guitars and rousing

statements, the Jam enjoyed an amazing

run of numbers ones in the UK. Cocktail

pop came in the form of his next band

The Style Council and since 1991 has

been a solo star.

In recent years, Weller’s credibility has

dripped and some people have written

him off. However, Wake Up The Nation

is, well a wake up-call, to the Modfather

and to his fans. And to Britain to shake

off its apathetic lumber and get groovy

again.

The 16 tracks here crackle and fizz,

proving that no matter his age (over 50)

Weller remains a formidable force. The

edginess of his early solo career is mirrored

on the opening track Moonshine

and its equably impressive cousin, the

album’s title track.

Paul Winders and The Goodness prove

that the Dunedin sound is very much

alive. You Can Have It All has the kind

of nicely-scripted lyrics, tuneful observations

of New Zealand life and the

easy-going manner that reminds me of

bands like The Chills, The Bats and The

Verlaines, who Winders was a member of

once. Best of Friends is so dammed hummable,

and Thank You is as good as anything

the above bands have recorded.

On our world trip, we now take in

Argentina, the beef, rugby and, above all

football-loving South American country.

And music: ah yes, the tango. The Gotan

Project are its 21st century flag-bearers

giving latino music a modern update,

fusing the traditional dancefloor freneticism

with jazz and a touch of electronica.

Not too much though. Gotan cut and

paste the Argentinean commentary of

Diego Maradona’s Hand of God goal

against England in the 1986 World Cup

and immserse passages of a famous local

novel into Rayuela. Somehow I can’t

imagine Latin America’s biggest star,

Shakira, doing things like that.

 

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Who? The Bravery

Title: Stir the Blood
Label:
Island
Tell me more:
When The Bravery came to Porky’s attention in 2005, they were one of the Bright Young Things, a serious challenger to the wave of exciting bands on both sides of the Atlantic, such as Franz Ferdinand. The self-titled debut was excellent and the hit singles and TV appearances were forthcoming.
The Lowdown:
Given the above, it’s justified to ask what happened to The Bravery. They haven’t come close to usurping their supposed rivals The Killers or gone on to achieve the success of some of their contemporaries. With this third album it seems The Bravery are anything but. Stir the Blood fails to do that, they haven’t really moved ideologically onward and seem to have become hardcore Sisters of Mercy fans. It has it’s moments, however, Slow Poison, is crisp and beautiful in its audicity and the oblique 80s indie feel works. But they still require some lustre and purpose.
Anything else?
Is this something they want us to know – apparently singer Sam Endicott is the writer of Shakira’s She Wolf.


Who? Ten City Nation

Title: At The Still Point
Label:
Sturm Und Drang
Tell me more:
TCN hail from the east of England, a region that doesn’t have the same musical traditions as, say Liverpool or Manchester, but has had some great bands over the past decade and beyond. For more on Ten City Nation please check out the interview I conducted with Seymour Patrick last month, which will be either below or via the link on the right.
The Lowdown:
As the band have progressed from their days as Miss Black America, they’ve become even more nihilistic. More guitars, more anger, more Stooges and Nirvana influences. The opener, Flashing Lights is very accessible – punk with discipline – but Room 10101 is, shall we say, the kind of thing that would scare mothers around the world. At times we need noise in our life. Not the Korn or Green Day form of noise, but something more digestible, even though At The Still Point might give you that bloated feeling after listening to all 12 tracks in one go. This is one Nation to cheer on at the Rock Olympics.
Anything else?
Buy for a very reasonable price at http://www.tencitynation.com

Who? Chris Bradley

Title: At The Outpost
Label:
17 Seconds records
Tell me more:
Second solo album from a member of uber-indie Scottish band Aberfeldy.
The Lowdown:
Jolly pop songs with lightweight melodies and the odd slowdown. Running Song is bursting with harmonies; The Beatles was recorded in a gloriously genre-defying glam-rock manner and Hand-me-Down is the kind of thing Shack do extremely well. Bradley’s got a dandy voice and writes perky songs, but there’s a laboured feel to Outpost, as if it doesn’t really matter if it sells or not.
Anything else?
Curiously, his website puts a lot of focus on his television and radio arrangement works: “Whether you’re looking for live instrumentation or sampled electronica, the limits of a musical solution end only where your imagination does.” Indeed.


Who? Don Franks

Title: ‘Safer Communities Together’ Blues
Label:
self-released
Tell me more:
Franks is a well-known left-wing activist around Wellington. He also sings and plays guitar. The title refers to the New Zealand Police’s moto.
The Lowdown:
Titles that namecheck unions, the police, the two main political parties, guns, and Mumia Abu Jamal earmarks this album in the “awkward left-wing buggers” section. I don’t have a problem with that, in fact, the more politics the better. Who else apart from Steve Earle or is actually saying something these days? Safer Communities Together Blues is predominantly acoustic with the odd burst of activity, as on Take the guns out of their hands, which frizzles with guitars. He sounds deadly serious, but sometimes comes over sounding like English eccentric John Otway. Adds new, and appropriate, lyrics to All things bright and beautiful and White Christmas (re-named Red Christmas).
Anything else?
The album was recorded in a student flat “between strikes, demos, barbecues, cricket and Workers Party branch meetings.” To buy, email Daphna on wpnz@clear.net.nz

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Ten City Nation are one of the more exciting and independent-minded bands on the circuit in the UK, so it was a great pleasure to interview their frontman Seymour Patrick for this site.

The three-piece were born out of Miss Black America, an English band that gained a lot of deserved attention in the early part of the last decade for their blistering rock that had a certain respect for American indie whilst retaining a quintessential Englishness.

The initial incarnation broke up in late 2002, following a moderately-received self-titled debut and various personal problems. Seymour Glass, as he was called then, was the sole member of that version of MBA to coninue in Mk II. I saw them a few times in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk when I was living there,  this was following the split, and they sounded edgy without setting the heather on fire.

Eventually, with MBA past its sell by date, Glass, met with Neil Baldwin and Mike Smith over a drink and the original MBA line-up was back, under the name Ten City Nation.

I talked to Seymour about the reformation, their unusual methods of working, how he went “completely mad” and the fight against the crypto-fascist British National Party.

In the next Lowdown on the New I will review their second album, At The Still Point.


Porky: The new album sounds quite menacing, such as on tracks like Room 10101. Was there an event, or feeling that resulted in this aggressive sound, or was that the intention from the outset?

Seymour: I don’t think the way an album sounds is ever intentional, but there was a very strong feeling being totally removed from the world when we were making it.  We’re very aware that as far as music scenes go, we don’t fit in anywhere at all, so there’s that feeling of confident insularity, which may come across as menace and aggression.  We’ve learned over the years to be wary of outsiders, which is sad in a way but it also means we turn up to gigs feeling defiant, like a 3-man gang. We’re working on the next album at the minute and there’s that same feeling – that because we’re so removed from everything, all we have to worry about is whether we like what we’re doing.  What I’m essentially trying to say is that as a band, it’s incredibly healthy to have no friends.

Porky:  How did the transformation from Miss Black America to Ten City Nation come about?

Seymour: It was very long, slow, gradual and painful.  Me, Mike and Neil were the original line-up of Miss Black America – we recently celebrated 10 years since MBA started, in that I texted them bemoaning the fact that you get less than 10 years for manslaughter.  We wrote a lot of the songs from the first MBA album as a three-piece, so we already knew that we wrote well together.  The problem in the interim was that during 2001-2002 we toured the UK toilet circuit constantly, living on beer and crisps, my marriage broke down and I went completely mad.  By the end of 2002 Mike and Neil had had enough and quit, which I can’t really blame them for.  They formed a really good band called My Hi-Fi Sister, with Mike as lead singer, while I struggled on in MBA and eventually made a second album, which I was really proud of but the line-up in MBA was like a revolving door nightmare and I ended up having a complete breakdown.  So I’d just convinced myself that I never wanted to be in a band again when Mike and Neil invited me for a pint, completely out of the blue, bought me a drink and asked me if I wanted to form another band – I said “yes” and they finished their drinks and left, and that was that!  It was like something out of a 60s spy movie.  I’m amazed they didn’t turn up in disguise.

Porky: There’s been some comparisons to Nirvana and grungy/ punky US music in the press and in cyberspace. Are they fair or do you feel you’ve been misunderstood?

Seymour: It’s entirely understandable because we definitely don’t sound British when compared to 99% of British music that’s happening right now, at least in the mainstream – and by “mainstream” I don’t necessarily mean bands who sell lots of records, I mean bands who lazily conform to the rules of how a UK indie band is “supposed” to sound.  That whole costume cupboard trust fund indie sound means absolutely nothing to us, so we have no interest in developing what’s currently seen as the “UK” sound.  There are a lot of bands currently getting press for sounding exactly like early Creation Records bands, but they only seem interested in apeing those bands rather than creating something of their own and they tend to be Anglophiles from elsewhere in the world. There are a lot of very good bands in the UK doing their own thing, it’s just that very few people have the balls to write about them or play their records on the radio.  We do sound like a lot of UK bands used to sound in the early 90s, particularly stuff like Th’ Faith Healers, Jacob’s Mouse and early PJ Harvey, and we’d be lying if we said we didn’t love Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age and Fugazi.  But Mike sings in quite an English accent really, and my voice is a lot less grating and emo than it used to be.  We just don’t milk our plums like so many indie singers do when they want to sound “English”.

Porky: What’s your future plans?

Seymour: Album number three, and lots of gigs.  We’re planning a Love Music Hate Racism compilation EP with R*E*P*E*A*T Records first of all, then a couple more EPs on my label, then the album.  We’re also planning UK festivals and tours in Germany, Japan and hopefully the US.

Porky: If Ten City Nation were to be killed a group of Cornish nationalists on Tuesday week what would your legacy be?

Seymour: Mike’s legacy would be his paintings and his collection of 2nd World War memorabilia.  Neil’s legacy would be an almighty flood caused by all the women on Earth weeping uncontrollably forever.  My legacy would be … a really, really good collection of T-shirts?  And I buy ace presents for my family, which I’m sure would be treasured.

Porky: Is downloading music good for TCN and for indie music in general?

Seymour: Yes – more people have heard TCN’s albums with minimal publicity than ever heard MBA’s records, which had the full hype machine in operation behind them and cost everyone involved thousands and thousands of pounds they’ll never see again.

Porky: How important is your involvement with Love Music Fight Racism and fighting against the British National Party?

Seymour: It’s very important to me, but what causes me a great deal of frustration is that it shouldn’t be my job to try and help convince people not to vote BNP: it should be the job of the other parties to show themselves as something other than a bunch of cretinous, self-serving wankers and to make the British public believe that they actually have more inside them than a gaping vacuum where a soul should be.  A vital job of any Government should be to make its citizens – regardless of background or ethnicity – feel that their best interests are being served.  Either this Government isn’t doing that, or they’re doing the worst PR job in history, and the other main parties seem incapable of offering anything that even resembles a tempting alternative.  Meanwhile, the BNP are going door-to-door and talking to people like they actually matter, in their own language rather than in the language of politics, and are offering scapegoats for their woes that seem logical in the context they’re given, so of course people are voting BNP.  I dream of a time when I actually want to vote FOR a party rather than AGAINST the ones I hate most.  But that time ain’t now, so we’re left with idiots with guitars like me handing leaflets to people who probably agreed with me in the first place.  It’s a shocking state of affairs and if I ever meet Gordon Brown, I’m going to punch him in the tits.

Porky: Any other Bury St Eds/ Suffolk bands the world should wake up to?

Seymour: Cure Caballo just won the BurySOUND Band Competition and their song Predators is ace, I’m looking forward to hearing more stuff.  Thee Vicars are brilliant, but you’ve probably already heard of them.  Tell It To The Marines started with the standard post-hardcore/emo sound and are rapidly turning it into something entirely their own, which is quite an achievement – we’re hoping to do lots of gigs with them this year.  And we also love Kunk, from Norwich, and The Resistance and Hyman Roth, who’re from Cambridge.  You can’t afford to worry about county boundaries when everyone everywhere is basically trying to rise above the same old crap.
Porky: What’s the weirdest or most outlandish gig you’ve done?

Seymour: In MBA we played at Soham Village College while Ian Huntley was still the janitor there – it was literally a few months before he killed those girls.  That’s only weird in hindsight, but thinking about it still makes my blood run cold.   In terms of actual gig weirdness, MBA were once asked to play at an actual Masonic lodge in Otley, West Yorkshire.  There are clips from it in the video for the Miss Black America single (it’s on YouTube).  And last summer, TCN played at a festival in a rural life museum in Farnham, supporting Jethro Tull and Mungo Jerry.  They had a TARDIS in one of the sheds.  We drank locally-brewed cider under the string lights, then Neil commandeered an abandoned stall, put some Northern Soul on the boombox and caused a mass pile-up of grooving revellers.  It was fantastic.

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