Thursday, 28 August 2008

Orange Crush

There have been lots of amazing songs this year (I'm looking at you "Black and Gold","The Devil's Crayon", "Sleepyhead"), but I think Camille may well have usurped them all. Never did I think I would write these words and at the risk of sounding like Jools Holland on a 'cool hunt', but the beatboxing at the start is brilliant. I guess that makes me a little too much 1998, but I don't care. And regardless, there are even better parts, such as from about 3:12 onwards, when Camille starts offering out Mariah Carey, in typical ingenue mock diva style of course. That's the "Money Note" right there. That ridiculous "F Sharp 7" has got me all crushed out. French, intelligent, funny and cute; I better slow down before I make myself a hernia baby.

Monday, 25 August 2008

See You On The Other Side

Situationists on the BBC Introducing stage
Ryan enjoying free Alabama Fudge Cake
A genuine massage parlour and no euphemisms
Vampire Weekend

This weekend was a mini-landmark moment for Tough Love. With Situationists playing Reading and Leeds, it was the first time that one of our bands has played a major festival. Sure, HEALTH and Disco Drive have played numerous festivals and high profile gigs, but that had very little to do with us. We weren't integral to the process. We can't take credit for those achievements. This time it felt different, because both us and the band have grown together, somewhat organically these past six months. And it was a heart swelling feeling. It was a father's pride to see them grace that stage with such confidence, charm and above all, great songs. For them to be there it felt like recognition, like a nod in our direction, that people are paying attention. We don't need their sanction or approval, but it makes a difference when you have an opportunity to reach more people. They certainly received a warm response from the crowd too. I even saw one especially enamored fan request a copy of the setlist. That's fame right there. 

The BBC staff were horrendously polite and welcoming, interviewing the band and filming their set for streaming on the site (which you can access here). I'm gushing here, but the whole experience was characterised by friendly faces and open arms. At least at Reading - unfortunately a rather expensive snare was stolen on the Saturday in Leeds. Not cool. Hopefully the free booze and food supplied backstage compensated slightly for that misgiving. AAA passes were an unexpected novelty: a window into an alien world. But I still think I prefer ATP's more egalitarian set-up. I like being able to speak to Thurston Moore without him worrying if I'll steal all of his Doritos and green tea. 

Rather than slide too far in solipsism, we also took the opportunity to watch some other bands that I should probably mention here. Well, the good ones anyway. Pulled Apart By Horses were not only noble gentleman, but a fraught and aggressive live act, with a nice line in Bill & Ted phraseology. The lead singer played hard enough to projectile vomit, which is much better than shitting in a towel. 

Vampire Weekend were tight and absorbing, perhaps attributable to the fact that we were lucky enough to be stood about 2 metres away from them. From the perspective of the stage, thousands of people singing back every word in blissfully tuneless unison is both utterly terrifying and wonderfully captivating. The new song sounded a bit ropey though, like a poorly conceived version of their Discovery side project. 

Flashguns were of the same school of Bombay Bicycle Club (perhaps literally), but with a more engaging frontman. There's a tendency to fetishise youth, as if their tender years some how make the songs better, whilst condescendingly inferring that they'll only improve as they become more adult. It's their youth that instills the songs with charm. These songs couldn't be sung by a band of thirty-somethings. That would be disingenuous, whereas Flashguns have a wide eyed naivety that is tenderly compelling. Apparently Rough Trade have taken note too...

Friendly Fires were the highlight though. "Paris" is one of the pop songs of the year, or last year, or whenever it came out. The specifics are irrelevant, because it sounded as good on Friday as it did the first time I heard it. Ticker tape, a Notting Hill Carnival type troupe of drummers and two Vegas style peacock suited dancers were also instrumental in winning me round. And slinky hips. The lead singer has the most fluid hips I've seen since Boogie Nights. He might like to consider purchasing some clothes that fit him though. Exposed midriffs are so 90s. 

And that's about it. Most of the other bands I saw were terrible or unworthy of mention. But I was only there for one day. I'm making a trip to Offset next weekend, giving me ample opportunity to see all the great bands that were spread across the other two days (Wild Beasts are very high up that list). 

Situationists have promised to write a post assessing their experiences, replete with pre-requisite rock 'n' roll tales of debauchery I'm sure. Or not, given that they're not awful anachronistic cliches.   

Thursday, 21 August 2008

It’s Good To Talk

Whilst it’s never been our ambition to bombard you with posts, I am aware that “its been a while” since my last post. Stephen on the other hand is doing a commendable job and has become the Michael Phelps of the Tough Love Water Cube, nae blog. 

To keep you updated, we are busy plotting away in the newly relocated Tough Love Towers and we will shortly have some new releases to tell you about. We’re also in negotiations with a venue to establish Don’t Go Home…London. Here though is an update of some of our bands upcoming activities.


Sheffield’s finest are playing the BBC Introducing Stage at this years Reading and Leeds Festival;

Reading - Friday 22 Aug - 1330-1355
Leeds - Saturday Aug 23 Aug - 1315-1340

The sold out This City Holds Us All EP will be followed by a second EP this autumn.


Honeytrap are in a state of flux at the moment, with half the band in Coventry and the other setting down roots, and god knows what else, in London. The London branch are dusting themselves down - they are chimney sweeps now, you see - in order to play the Vyner Street festival this Saturday.


William would like you to buy their album, as would we, in order for the band to begin recording a follow up single/EP/album or tape. If you’re one of those people who need other people to tell you how good something is before you buy yourself then you’re reading the wrong blog. Here's what the press think:

"Blending Pavement with heavier bands that still know their way around a good pop hook 8/10." - Rocksound Magazine

"Rhythmic, overdriven guitars, from one hook straight to the next... and it's decent stuff."- Drowned In Sound

"William create the impression of a young, up-and-coming indie punk band that would be a live revelation." - Noize Makes Enemies

"Vocals that devour your defences and leave you admitting, yes this is a great pop record 4/5." - Subba Cultcha

You can buy that album and our T-Shirt here

Fear of Music

Foals @ Cross Kings, London

There's that old adage that you should judge a man (sic) by the company he keeps. If I were to apply that same logic to music, Foals would have been dismissed before playing a note this evening . Playing what they admit themselves is their smallest show in a long time, the less than 300 strong crowd is comprised of the worst of people. Ignorant, fawning and identikit, alcohol bores through their bloodstream and I crave prohibition, or Ian MacKaye and a megaphone full of spite. Maybe I'm bitter or misunderstanding here, but at least I've still something beating in my chest. 

As the 'secret', or at least low-key nature of the gig suggests, it's a partisan gathering too. Foals probably don't have to do much tonight save turn up. The opening few songs confirm my suspicions, the crowd lapping up some relatively formless, predictable jams that I very much doubt will make the second record. Yannis himself even acknowledges that they're filler, which makes you wonder why they bothered.  That could be a concern for the band, but with the sheer volume of shows they've played in the last year it's hardly surprising they've had little time to write new material.

They do trot out the more well known songs in "Cassius", "Balloons" and "Hummer", but the stand outs are the album tracks that dispense of the clipped-guitar-bouncing-hi-hat formula and breathe a little. Fittingly, "Olympic Airwaves" is the first real highlight of the night, with a warmth and lushness not apparent in their more spiky dancefloor moments. It's songs like these, as with "Red Socks Pugie" that Foals remind just why everyone was so excited in the first place. I think they know it too, hence their decision to omit the popular early singles from the album. 

The much documented conflict with David Sitek has shown they're focused and single-minded. Let's hope they can harness that stubborness and turn it creative on their sophomore effort. They're technically talented enough to do whatever they can imagine and their much cited influences alone show they've rich sources to draw upon - can there ever be enough Q And Not U? And it's still the best rhythm section to bother the charts in as long as I can remember. 

All attention was obviously on Foals tonight. Even Matt Horne was there, until he got bored four songs in. They went back to their roots (they do have indie kudos via Try Harder, after all) and waltzed through Antidotes with ease, earning sychophancy to spare. It was an easy victory, like Usain Bolt in a empty field. And well deserved, I'm sure. But, there's another aphorism I'm reminded of here: it's a fool that looks at the hand pointing at the sky. Foals reference a lot of great bands and at times they channel the same electric, ambitious impulses of their influences. Although the new material tonight doesn't make this apparent, the newer songs on the album suggest they're pushing in the right directions and stretching out their aesthetic. I suspect however that they might lose a few of the assembled bandwagon jumpers with their eyes fixed firmly on pointed fingers. And thank god.  Indie elitism I know, but I want music back. Most of these people don't deserve it. 

Monday, 11 August 2008

No Age/HEALTH/Lovvers

I've often commented on here about our lack of audience, as if we're firing shots behind a soundproof screen. However, on tonight's showing, I'm convincing myself that everyone in the front five rows tonight read my post and decided to prove me wrong. I'm self-important enough for that to stick. As the title of this post suggests, No Age, HEALTH and Lovvers played a gig together tonight at the Scala in London. What the title doest tell you was how excellent it was. 

On Friday's showing and with a warning that the sound in the Scala can be worse than terror attacks, I was bracing myself for another night of excellent music played in poor conditions. I needn't have bothered. Filling in for a passport-less and stranded in Portugal Dan Deacon, I arrived just in time to see Lovvers tear through "Wasted Youth" in their typically insouciant, bratty manner. Churning and sloopy, they stumbled and pissed their way through a set so nasty and brazen it could've fallen out of the SST West Coast scene sometime 15-20 years ago.  If they don't have a song called "19fuckin'91", then they should really try a little harder. But they do certainly try, as much as they probably like to pretend they don't and they're superb for it, even if the crowd do seem a little scared. There must be an album arriving sometime soon, surely? 

If Lovvers (and No Age) look to the past for influence, HEALTH have got their sights firmly on the future. Playing a set heavy on new material, they're the best I've seen them. The new songs retain the aggressive edge of the first album, but there's a little less calculation in their delivery, a little less mathematical in their formulation. Mid-set stand out "Party Zone" is a feel good hit of the summer, fall and winter in waiting, owing a little to Fuck Buttons in its dance macabre, but still undeniably HEALTH in its metallic spikiness. Their new T Shirts are also extremely excellent. They've got the whole Gesamptkunstwerk thing down, just have No Age have, with merch spilling over the table in the lobby offering a firm reminder of their aesthetic. Stood waiting for the band to finish selling to chat 12", I saw about 15 people buy T shirts and not one record was sold. Worrying? The mention of Fuck Buttons is important too, as both them and HEALTH are doing for noise what Mogwai did for post rock (and let's not forget that Mogwai always had great and extensive merch); dragging it into a wider frame of reference without diluting what it's about. It also helps that they look really good.

With HEALTH having played earlier than scheduled, No Age are given time to watch the venue fill and by the time they take to the stage, it's sardines. And this is when the unexpected happened. Gathered at the front are about 50-100 teenagers who precede to go Peter Buck-on-a-plane as soon as No Age start playing. Five songs in, their on stage, spilling beer (naughty naughty: they're all about 12), jerking like electrified synapses  and cutting out guitars. No Age love it and thank their "enthusiasm". It's amazing to see such willful abandon (even if it's a little "kneel down and you shall believe"), especially given the cold as ice reception of the too-cool-for-school bores on Friday. More gigs like this please. And when did No Age get so popular? It's deserved though.  

I was meant to post some photos of the night here, but as my camera doesn't have a USB port and the memory card doesn't fit in any other camera in the house, they're stranded on the shit thing. Technology really shouldn't be this hard. 

And one more thing to add: we just watched HEALTH at Rough Trade. The new songs really are as good as I thought last night. They need to take a rest from touring so they can get them recorded!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Mirror! Mirror! played at the Old Blue Last (Vice owned London bar) last night and despite it being a free show, a Friday night, a very busy Friday night, the crowd reaction was a little underwhelming to say the least. It was like the 9/11 of enthusiasm. Dead-eyes rolling just enough to be able check if that was still the right thing to do. Such feigned indifference should perhaps be expected in a bar run by Vice, but at least that magazine is funny. I didn't see many people laughing last night. Maybe long time Londoners are spoilt by an embarrassment of riches? Maybe city life is too tiring to muster a simple clapped appreciation? And it wasn't the band's fault. They were typically awesome: the right combination of the visceral, aggressive and playful, fleeing the stage with bare torsos attempting to engage the crowd in some way, any way. And some down the front did dance, let their machismo spill over and got in a bit of a pissing contest. But as soon as the music stopped: silence, save the Tough Love contingent thrusting accentuated claps in annoyed faces. That was funny actually. 

I think people need to purge their tired notions of what they think is cool, stop being so self-involved, so self-conscious. I can't think of anything more redundant than pretending not to like something. What's to fear? It's a little ironic that the Vice sycophants (although they'd never like to be classed as such, as that would constitute stating a preference, an affiliation that could be shot down) are so willing to blindly fit a mold shaped by a magazine that coined it's own distinct sensibility. But I can't blame Vice for the hipster Stepford Wives. That's like blaming the Jews for Hitler.      

Thursday, 7 August 2008



Popular Workshop

This has taken far too long. I should have posted these weeks ago. But it's here now. The best of times for sure. I can hardly remember anything from the night other than a vague feeling of elation (thank you, alcohol) and time has helped zero in elucidating the memory. Thank you, then to Gary Keenan for documenting what my brain was too weak to recall. Some truly fantastic images. Despite said memory lapses, I also somewhat hazily remember Dananananykroyd surfing the stairs outside Taylor John's, the lead singer of Mirror! Mirror! eating 4(!) burgers, a step ladder, the HOTTEST room in the history of temperature, the worst turn-ups and the longest long boat, and "Aperture". Thank you to everyone that came. We're planning on starting something new in London, but where and when is yet to be decided. I've also posted a link to Danananananykroyd's video tour diary, which includes some special footage from the birthday party, including said stair surfing. I wish I was able to use this blog properly and arrange the photos in some sort of order after this message, but I cant as I'm stupid....I feel obsolete