The Video Bin 6: A Fahrenheit 55 Special

For my first Video Bin since the prolonged hiatus, I have decided to dip into a particularly limited pool of videos, artists whom I have seen live at Guildford’s Fahrenheit 55. I thought this would make a nice celebration/appreciation of the Wednesday acoustic night that is run there, and a note of the quality of act that plays. Alas, they have yet to book The National for an intimate performance, but I am convinced that it won’t be long until they play the hallowed Strangers On A Train night.

If you’re in Guildford on a Wednesday don’t you dare miss it. And get yourself 3 for 2 on cocktails while you’re at it. Fahrenheit 55.

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Mark Aaron James – Goths Of Summer

To kick things off, here is the first artist I saw headline at Fahrenheit, Mark Aaron James, aka The American With The Permanent Smile. You would think that his desire to dip into unusual subjects to fuel his lyrics (see Kleptomaniac Girlfriend, Aquaman’s Lament) would grate, but it never does. MAJ is too joyous and constantly surprising with his choice of subject matter for it to seem gimmicky. Alas, much of his time is spent in America, so Guildford does not host him too often, but when they do it is always a special night. Happy to perform an acoustic cover of “Don’t Stop Believing”, no matter how drunkenly it is requested.

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Kid Adrift – Oxytocin (Chemical Soup)

So admittedly it is only keyboardist Becky Woolls that has appeared at Fahrenheit, armed with the kind of keyboard skills, unhinged vocals and unique lyrical content that bares comparison to Joanna Newsom, but I would feel badly about myself if I didn’t share this particular tune. Having just headlined the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury, Kid Adrift very much have upward momentum at the moment, their spectacular mixture of estranged electronics and angered vocals can be found on the Oxytocin EP, released July 12th. For now, just enjoy the title track from that EP, and try not to get as addicted to it as I am.

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Byron Johnston – Mia Rumba

Aside from being perhaps the most skilled guitarist I have ever seen, Byron Johnston also helps out as sound engineer at Fahrenheit, even offering to fill half-hour gaps if people have dropped out at the last moment. His skill is mesmerising, moving fluidly between pop covers, flamenco and world music, and slide blues as and when appropriate. He recently, for the first time, played the headline at Fahrenheit, along with the astounding vocals of Randolph Matthews (see below). This is the only video I have of an artist actually playing at Fahrenheit, and it’s a truly astounding performance, as always.

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Randolph Matthews

An album between Randolph Matthews and Byron Johnston is in the works, purpotedly coming out “soon” (see, never say I don’t bring you exculsives). Their collabaration, which unfortunately there seem to be no videos of, is perhaps my favourite set I’ve seen at Fahrenheit. The day a hard copy of their song “Light The Flame” becomes available will be the day I am truly happy. Here I’ve decided to put an intervie which contains clips of Matthews’ music, because it’s rare for me to find a video where an artist is so welcome to give an insight into their music.

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Love.Stop.Repeat – Pillow

Bringing a special aura to Fahrenheit, Love.Stop.Repeat’s magical performances must surely be put down to the amazing Lindsay West, whose vocals could best be described as a soothing combination of Feist and Beth Gibbons.

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I have to, finally, give a massive thanks to Andy “Panpipe” Vale, who as far as I’m aware makes the majority of this possible. If you told me there’s a harder working guy with a better taste in music than Andy in Guildford, I wouldn’t believe you, because there isn’t. Check out the website, check out the Facebook Group, and if you’re in Guildford on a Wednesday night and don’t go, then I’m afraid you’re going to have to the consider the possibility that you fail at life.

The Video Bin 5

LCD Soundsystem – North American Scum

James Murphy seems to be a fan of this sort of stomping rock, which subtly sets about infecting you with its dance vibes even as you keep repeating “No way, man, this is a rock track”. After this and “Daft Punk Is Playing In My House”, I’m hoping that the third, and rumoured last, LCD Soundsystem album will feature a few more of Murphy’s epic blends of guitar and electro when it is released later this year.

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Massive Attack – Inertia Creeps

Listen to Heligoland. OK, it’s not up with their best, but it has been over a decade since their best. So just enjoy the good album instead of pointing out where they’ve “gone wrong”.

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The Good, The Bad And The Queen – Kingdom Of Doom

Oh, Damon Albarn what projects won’t you join?

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Arcade Fire & David Bowie – Wake Up

Sure, this collaboration has been around for ages. Doesn’t make it any less perfect. Anyone who has seen Where The Wild Things Are (or at least seen its trailer) is going to have the song stuck in their heart for a while, unless they dont have one of course. And throwing David Bowie into the mix, well, it just convinces everyone that an indie covers album a la Peter Gabriel’s Scratch My Back must be round the corner soon.

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Beach House – Silver Soul

The essence of Teen Dream is very well represnted by the video, while the band themself just go about crafting their moodiest, most addictive and just downright most awesome track ever. Victoria Legrend’s forlornly wails “it is happening again” amidst a strangely calming storm.

The Video Bin 4

Sunday is starting to become official Video Bin day. So maybe I should change its name to Video Bin Sunday. But then I will be obliged. And I don’t like being obliged. That damn Wednesday Countdown has already given me one weekly obligation, a second would just kill me. Because I spend so much damn time and effort on these posts, y’know.

Things I have managed to conclude this morning:

  • Everything decomposes quicker than you want it to.
  • Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe Series 2 was the best series of any TV show from the 00’s.
  • The second album by Foals is worth looking forward to.
  • The creator of the Chocolate Digestive is a God amongst mortals.
  • Fyfe Dangerfield is a lefty, which increases the amount of cool he has, which was already pretty high from having the world’s most amazing name.

Videos:

R.E.M. have been consistently amazing live for pretty much three decades. “The One I Love” has always been referred to as a high point of their career, and it comes off of my favourite R.E.M. album, “Document”, so it’s always good to see it played live when they could be playing exclusively more recent tracks from “Accelerate” etc. The new live album from Dublin may feel slightly unecessary considering it’d been less than 2 years since they last put out a live CD, but that doesn’t make it any less amazing.

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One of these years I really am gonna have to get myself down to Bonnaroo. Every year great artists bring their A Game, and I keep finding out about it on YouTube years later. Here’s one guy who’s always a laugh live, Andrew Bird, playing “Fake Palindromes” at the 2006 festival.

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Firstly, a shout-out to La Blogotheque, which have created probably my favourite YouTube channel for good music. I should’ve mentioned them earlier for giving us Grizzly Bear doing “Knife” a capella. But I didn’t. Anyway, here is Fyfe Dangerfield, showing us his solo skills. His first solo album is currently in the works, along with a third Guillemots album, which I hope will see Dangerfield morph from a guy with a couple of gems in his back catalogue to an artist of consitent brilliance.

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So yeah, Micheal Cera is in an Islands video. Yep.

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I highly recommend the new album “Heartland” by Owen Pallett (formerly known by the moniker “Final Fantasy”). You can see Pallett in action here, crafting a gorgeous cover of the Bloc Party song “This Modern Love”. Single-handedly making violins cool all over again.

The Video Bin

So yes, here be the first post I’ve made in 2010, and I promise you that from here on in, now that we have rid ourselves of the chains of end-of-decade lists, there will be more album reviews, more musical discussion and less faffing about with numbers. That, I think, is my New Year resolution.

For now, however, I am dropping some all-new videos into The Video Bin for your consumption. After the excesses of Christmas and the New Year, consider this treat to be the wafer-thin mint that finally finishes you off. Enjoy.

Things I have managed to conclude this morning:

  • Slightly undercooked sweet potato is surprisingly delicious.
  • C++ is not for the faint-hearted.
  • The Predator-Prey Model is actually quite interesting, given that it displays yet another way in which maths is intrinsically built into nature.
  • Re: Stacks is the best song on “For Emma, Forever Ago”, and Moby’s seemingly crazy claim that it is the track of the decade is starting to look awfully prescient.
  • I am in a playful mood.

Videos:

Was the Daytrotter session I posted a while back not good enough for you? Then after going to the doctor to fix your chronically high standards, check out this superb video where you can see Justin Vernon’s passion as well as hear it. Still waiting on news about the 2nd album, Mr. Vernon.

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Not the best quality recording for this one, but it does still show off Yeasayer at their best, seamlessly combining addictive pop with interesting, creative  sounds. The cry of “stick up for yourself, son” is still bouncing round my head, the sort of hook that multi-platinum pop super-producers wish they had. And I want that fretless bass. I want it more than I’ve ever wanted anything else in my life.

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I love Matt Berninger’s voice, but I will admit he doesn’t get many opportunities to show it off. Generally he is required to be two-tone, switching between a flatline baritone and a screaming breakdown where the instrumentation demands. But here, on one of my favourite songs by The National, he is immense. Backed by a single guitar he carries every syllable effortlessly. He also looks like David Thewlis.

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Not sure why I love Neil Young. But I do. So here he is.

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A sign of things to come? We sure hope so. A lament for the unseen beauty of England, even with just an acoustic guitar for accompaniment, you can hear the rising mood, the snow becoming a snowstorm. A song for all seasons, but one that crystallises to perfection when listened to during the coldest one. Not sure about the hair though.

Portishead – Chase The Tear

Yes, I know, a second post in one day? This is madness! There is a reason, however, and it is not Sparta. It is a little proof on my part that sometimes, every now and again, I am on the cutting edge of what is Hip and Happening. In this case, I refer to a new Portishead track which they have recorded for the human rights organisation Amnesty International. The song will be available for download from tomorrow, but a video has become available which showcases the oddly-titled “Chase The Tear” in all its glory. Video below.

Wow. Holy… Did that just happen, you guys? It did. Well…

Not sure about you, but I was addicted on first listen. Beth Gibbons can do haunting, tortured vocals in her sleep (which may explain why nobody wants to stay a night at the Gibbons household), and of course it’s hugely impressive, but that is about par for the course for Portishead. It’s the beats that back it, the slowly entering horn stabs and that constantly racing drone, the keyboards barely change in terms of melody but it changes in texture and form as cries of “holding off tomorrow’s sorrow” eminent around loose clean guitar. That’s what makes this stand out so forcefully. This is “We Carry On” mixed with the Countdown theme. It almost feels like a race against the clock, towards an indeterminable finish line.

I had to share this with you. I just had to. We can assume, perhaps, that this track is considered not good enough for their fourth album, a reasonable assessment, and one that leaves me praying to the gods of Quantum that I happen to be in the parallel universe where this comes out in 2010. Magic is at work here. Enjoy it while it lasts.

The Video Bin

Time to add a few more YouTube videos to The Video Bin. Why? Because it’s Sunday and I need coffee and it’s my blog. Is that reason enough? Hope so. This time I may be so bold as to add captions to each video, rather than allowing the music to do all the talking. If the music could do all the talking I’d be out of a job. And by job I obviously mean hobby.

Things I have managed to conclude this morning:

  • Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer is a good album.
  • I am fairly certain what my top 5 albums of 2009 are.
  • I need coffee to make sentences structure good
  • It doesn’t matter that I’ve been distracted by blogs, emails and of Montreal, I am still going to get this bloody lab report done today

Videos:

By popular demand, here is Mumford & Sons performing Little Lion Man from their Bookshop Acoustic Session. Check out the other songs they did in this session, The Cave is also really good. I was almost tempted to post the Taio Cruz cover of this song, but then I realised I didn’t want to make your ears bleed and your soul vomit.

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I have had a tiny bit of a Neutral Milk Hotel week, and I have also had a tiny bit of a Fanfarlo week, so to find one covering the other is nice. I like the off-the-cuff feel of this video, and though the vocals of course don’t match up to Jeff Magnum, I think that Fanfarlo do the song justice, and give a little extra credence to my remarks a few weeks ago that covers were damn necessary in music.

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Animation in music videos is always cool, from “Paranoid Android” to the classic “Take On Me”, and it’s used very well in this Frightened Rabbit video. The fact it seems to run alongside a clever (if not particularly well portrayed) thought experiment on the nature of choice makes it appeal to me even more. And the song is awesome, all music geeks of a certain disposition will fall head over heels for the line “this is the last song I’ll write about you”.

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Part 2 of this week’s Neutral Milk Hotel double-bill, and yet again it isn’t actually NMH giving the performance. Jeff Magnum gives a solo performance of Two-Headed Boy that does nothing to explain how such a technically unaccomplished singer can be so amazing live. This is one of those songs where you hang onto every word, because each one is so crisp, special and perfectly formed. It is a master class in how to be a singer that can’t sing.

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No. Obviously this isn’t possible. There’s no way that two guys, one with an acoustic, can just stand there on a handheld camera with poor sound quality and create such a stunning performance. There’s some sort of witchcraft involved. I adore this song, and consider it one of Grizzly Bear’s best, but the effortlessness with which they carry off a little-known song on the back end of an EP is just crazy.

Look out for my top 15 albums of 2009, coming soon.

The Video Bin

So I watch a lot of music videos and live music clips on YouTube. There are a lot of gems for fans of music as a visual artform as opposed to merely audio. And it is surprising how often the videos are high quality, as well. So as to link this particular medium of enjoying music with my blog, I have created The Video Bin, every now and again I will dump a few YouTube links here for your viewing pleasure, if you so wish. Recently there’s been a surplus of odd-ball music videos being made, perhaps to run parallel with the surplus of odd-ball bands. And where does that surplus end up? In The Video Bin, of course! What would be the point of this exercise if they didn’t?

Anyway, I’ve just drunk a litre of Tesco brand energy drink, and can’t focus too well. Have these various videos to while away the time between now and the release of the new album by The National. That’s coming out soon right? Please say it’s coming out soon, Matt Berninger. Please do.

Don’t ask if this will be a regular thing or not. I have no idea. Just enjoy the plasticine and sliding Jarvis Cocker. And the four-headed man. And Beth frikkin’ Gibbons. That should be enough for you.