Monday, 28 December 2009

Pictorial | The Awe Kids

by Little Miss B & Rachel, 26th Dec 2009...

Last week, brilliant photographer and wonderful new contributor Rachel and I popped down to Shoreditch to see The Awe Kids play... Feast your eyes.


Elspeth



The Awe Kids: Jon, Elspeth & James


Elspeth

A full review will be running in the New Year. For gig and tour dates, click here.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Song Of The Week | The Pretenders

by Little Miss B, 25th Dec 2009...


2000 Miles

Happy Holidays my lovelies: we hope you have a bleedin' brilliant festive season, and we'll see you all in the New Year!

From all the girls...

x




The Breeders
Betty And The Werewolves 
Kate Bush 
Sleater-Kinney

Monday, 21 December 2009

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Review | An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump

by Little Miss B, 15th Dec 2009...


An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump EP Launch | Buy A Life
 

The Victoria, Mile End, Thurs 10th Dec.
Support by Veronica Falls and Battant.

With a line-up like this, the launch of An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump's EP Buy A Life was always going to be a good night. However, I didn't bank on it being quite SO good. Playing at the brilliant The Victoria in Mile End, a dreary Thursday night was transformed into sheer brilliance at the hands of three phenomenal bands.




East London based electroclash trio Battant churn out dark, moody, synth inspired punk, reminiscent of bands such as Joy Division and Ladytron. Fronted by Chloe Raunet, with Joel Dever and Tim Fairplay playing back up, this band are a surprising live treat. I've heard their music before, but have never seen them on stage, and I'm pleased to say my expectations were well surpassed.
 

Chloe has a presence rarely found in such young frontwomen, made all the more appealing by her fiercely androgynous look, plain white vest and suspendered jeans. Obvious vocal comparisons would be to Ari Up and Siouxsie Soux, but Chloe's lack of vocal dramatics maintain the authenticity of this performance. This is not aping: Battant are very much their own band. Couple this with the interesting polarity of natural ease, and slightly awkward stage antics and you are rendered hopelessly in awe.
 

Unfortunately, a few songs sounded quite similar but there's certainly enough here to get excited about. 'Kevin 1989' and 'Radio Rod' are little gems, and genuinely make me keen to find out what this band will do next. Battant released album 'No Head' in May 09 and have officially become my new musical obsession. Expect to see a lot more about them across the pages of The Girls Are...





If you have never seen Veronica Falls play then I COMMAND and DEMAND that you rectify this epic fail immediately. Imagine pure joy, personified, holding instruments, and you might come close to imagining this band. Veronica Falls are Patrick, James, Marion and lead singer Roxanne, and on this night were pure frackin brilliance. Akin to such shoegaze and C86 bands as Comet Gain and Black Tambourine, this foursome were blissful to behold: Marion on bass, barely moving, eyes down, Roxanne's exuberance on vox, James with his guitar up around his chin and Patrick pounding the drums, every single song was pure perfection.

The boys' harmonies, layered with Roxanne's slightly eerie vocals made for an atmospheric set, with songs 'Beechy Head' and 'Found Love In A Graveyard' pleasing the attentive crowd. As always with Veronica Falls, each song (although not flawless) is just as brilliant as the one that follows. Without a doubt, these guys are one of the best bands around. The January show with The Vivian Girls is going to be incredible. Gush gush gush. Veronica Falls are due to play at tomorrow at Barden's Boudoir on Kingsland Road with Male Bonding, Golden Grrls and Teen Sheikhs.




Photograph courtesy of Layla Smethurst...

If you have ever visited this site before, you will have garnered just how much I adore An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump. They are not indie, they are not punk: they nestle somewhere in the middle. A wonderfully dark place, with Lydia Lunch, Richard Kern, and Kenneth Anger as neighbours. With their distorted bass, intense reverb, gut-wrenching vocals and short songs, these three girls manage to capture the essence of many of the 80's goth bands, whilst thoroughly making it their own.

On this night, they blew me away (unsurprisingly).

They are one of the most hypnotic bands you will ever see: you literally cannot tear your eyes away. Smouldering, insanely hot, and just so effortlessly cool, the Experiment girls OWN the stage. All multi-instrumentalists, their set is fluid, with each girl taking turns on bass, vocals and drums. Visuals aside, being in the same room as these ladies playing is akin to being suffocated with noise. You cannot watch idly. You cannot have a conversation with the guy standing to your right (why would you want to when these girls are on stage??) You are forced into aural submission and when it's this lot making the noise, it's a pretty great place to be.

Their cover of Sonic Youth 's '100%' was received with cheers from the audience, and personal favourite 'Lights Out' was the standout track of the evening. X-Bird's vocals were akin to someone smacking you in the face, reaching into your torso and pulling your still-beating heart out, and showing it to you. In a nice way. One cannot help being utterly floored by this band. D-Bird really shines when drumming: head down, arms in the air. C-Bird really comes into her own on bass, hair swinging in her face. Outstanding.

You can buy Buy A Life here, and I recommend you do with urgency. Your life is incomplete without it.


www.myspace.com/battantbattant
www.myspace.com/veronicafallshard
www.myspace.com/anexperimentonabirdintheairpump



To read more reviews by Little Miss B, click below:
Spinnerette 
Laura Marling 
L*dyGarden

Introducing | The Awe Kids

by Little Miss B, 16th Dec 2009...



As the ever-wise Sheryl Crow once said, "a change will do you good". A change is as good as a rest, if it ain't broke don't.... Ok, so that last one went a little bit off track. My point is, that sometimes all a person or a project needs is a bit of a change for its true potential to come to fruition.

The Awe Kids are a prime example of this: originally forming in early 2009, lead singer and founding member Elspeth became unhappy with the direction the band was taking. Cue a complete overhaul leading to the recruitment of members James (keys), Jon (guitar) and Dave (drums).
Having only been together since October 09 they have already played Oxjam Brixton Takeover and more recently had their track played at Club NME London.

Although only early days, this 'electro-pop' four piece possess a quiet confidence that assures the listener they are destined for great things. However, the self-identified electro-pop tag is a little misleading. There is a moodyness to their songs that far outreaches 'pop' bands. Dark, atmospheric tracks like The Pressure and Stuck In London are almost reminiscent of Bronski Beat (without the falsetto vox). Frontwoman Elspeth's fascinating voice regularly swings between sweet and girly, and booming, dramatic baritone. There is far more to this band, than merely electro-pop. They are not yet a slick, tight unit, and they have bumps to iron out in their songwriting, but this only adds to their charm. This is a band you can believe in. This is a band whose success you will encourage with no reservation. This is a band who you can bump into in the pub and they will have a chat with you. No pretense, no ego. Swell.

Head down to The Macbeth on Sunday night to check them out:






The Awe Kids are currently busy preparing new material before beginning to tour in the New Year.


Head over to Myspace to check out their tracks:

http://www.myspace.com/theawekids



To read more Introductions by Little Miss B, click below:
PENS
Billy The Kid
Minnie Birch
Selah Sue

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

I Really Need You Tonight | Ultimate Power Ballads

by Little Miss B, 14th Dec 2009...

This one goes out to my big sister, Miss Ali B: karaoke wizard and awesome human being.

One of my biggest pleasures in life is karaoke. Not the posturing, 'well how unexpected of you to say so, I never noticed I had such an astounding voice' kind. Lord no. Rather, the eyes-closed, fist-clenched 'I'm going to lose my voice in the morning and make a right willy of myself in the process' type. There's nothing more gleeful than singing loudly, singing badly and not giving a darn who sees.

Now, everyone has their own personal karaoke staples. Dusty Springfield, The Righteous Brothers, Girls Aloud (you know who you are)... For me, nothing beats a power ballad. A song so powerful it can physically hurt you. A song so moving, there's just no holding back the tears. A song so epic, that is destroys the need to appear 'cool' and renders the listener at the mercy of raw, back-combed hair, guitar-shredding emotion.

So when my darling sister suggested we all troupe to Ultimate Power for my birthday celebration, I came pretty close to an excitement induced coronary. Hand on somewhat weakened heart, I can genuinely say that I have never had a funner time at a club night. Mass microphoneless karaoke/air-guitar championship/phenomenal cheese fest, Ultimate Power combines the requisite components that make karaoke the awesomest thing a human being can do; permission to belt out every song some with serious welly, space to dance, no judgement whatsoever, and a playlist containing nothing but cheesy delights.

*swoon*

The next day, whilst nursing my epic hangover, I got to thinking about what makes a good power ballad, and by my zillionth cup of tea, I'd nailed it. The joy of power ballads is that they are not meant to be listened to. They are meant to be performed. They are meant to be FELT. A good power ballad has a key change. A good power ballad provides ample opportunity for power grabs, air guitar solos and genuine belting. A good power ballad should literally bring you to your knees.

Because I love you all so dearly, I've put together my top 5 lady-made power ballads. So close your eyes, plant your feet hip-width apart, clench that fist, and sing it like you mean it.

5. The Pretenders | I'll Stand By You





4. The Bangles | Eternal Flame





3. Roxette | Listen To Your Heart





2. Alannah Myles | Black Velvet







1. Bonnie Tyler | Total Eclipse Of The Heart



To read more Top 5's by Little Miss B, click below:



Cover Songs
Bands I Miss The Most
Guilty Pleasure | The 90's

Monday, 14 December 2009

Read All About It | Album Extravaganza

by Little Miss B, 14th Dec 2009...

Oh, it's a bleedin good time for new albums! Over the past few weeks, many a good'un has been released...



Comanechi | Crime of Love

East London duo and The Girls Are favourites Comanechi released their debut album Crime of Love on 7th Dec. Expect: screechy, scratchy vox, stroppy guitar & drums. Buy it here.

Myspace.
Morningwood | Diamonds and Studs

Pop-rock outfit and Little Miss B's guilty pleasure Morningwood released sophomore album Diamonds and Studs on Oct 27th. Expect: unapoligetically catchy pop, vocal sex. Buy it here.

Myspace.
Tegan and Sara | Sainthood

Everyone's favourite twins Tegan and Sara released their sixth album Sainthood on Oct 27th. Expect: the unexpected - the twins get synthy. Buy it here.


Myspace.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Conversational | Cold In Berlin

by Little Miss B, 8th Dec 2009...





When approaching the end of the year, I tend to get my Nostradamus-on and feel somewhat prophetic. Previous insights have included the sense that I would drink an awful lot during 2009, the knowledge that eventually, the mere existence of The Saturday's would make me want to remove my own eyeballs and lastly the exact time and date of Michael Jackson's death. (That last part is not true). I am rarely wrong and therefore, I feel wholly confident and assured in the prediction I am about to make for 2010: Cold In Berlin are going to take over the world.

Be it my ungenerous nature, my innate snobbery or perhaps merely my aural impairment, but it is rare that I come across a 'new' band that genuinely excites me. A band that I can get creepy and fan-girl about. A band that gets better with each listen. Enter Cold In Berlin...

Previously Death Cigarettes, the band met as students in York and have been gigging in London for the past two years. They've been gathering steam and have recently garnered some great press and industry interest. Quite right too. Having just released double A-side Destruction/What Went Wrong on label 2076, I caught up with frontwoman Maya to find out more...


Thanks for talking to us Maya. Congratulations on the launch - What Went Wrong might just be my favourite song in the world at the moment.

M: Thank you. Most people (radio included) have preferred Destruction, but What Went Wrong is more 'me' I guess.


You were Death Cigarettes, you're now Cold in Berlin: a band's name is an integral part of their identity, especially after having garnered positive press, industry recognition and a solid following. How has the transition between names played out?

M: It has been weird. We have had so much positive response to the name change: it still feels a little strange. We were DC for a long time, but I don't think we lost any fans or anything. I think everyone was just a bit like 'well now they can get on making music'. No confusion over affiliation with a product (all be it a great and honest product) and so no confusion about whether we are endorsing cigarettes. Just good honest noise.


You've mentioned in a previous interview that Cold in Berlin feels more personal than Death Cigarettes: what's the story behind the new name?

M: DC feels so young now, we were very young when we started writing. I had been Maya 'Cigarettes' for long enough. We all felt a bit like that; like our music was different now, like we are different. Our response to life has always been through our music so it was just a natural part of growing up as a band together.

We weighed the positives with the negatives and got down to writing a list; we each brought a list to the group and we heartlessly voted yes or no. Any name with the full four votes, which wasn't many, were then on the final list; it was quite pragmatic but still hard to go through.

The actual name came from a story I had shared with Adam Foster from our label 2076 about a trip I had taken with Ad (the guitarist) to Berlin. We had been so skint and it was so cold. We were literally 'cold in Berlin'. It was one of the best breaks ever; the bleak frozen city as a back drop to our hungover days shuffling between museums and shops to stay warm. Budgeting how many coffee stops we could make until the venues opened and we could see a band and start dancing again. I have always had a quite romanticised view of cities with such an emotive history; Berlin, Prague etc. They seem full of art and music but quiet and modest, without any of the brashness you can find in London or New York.



Courtesy of WildBlanket photograpy.

Being one half of the songwriting team for The Backlash, I'm always interested in how other people write. Describe your songwriting process.

M: We write pretty much every song collaboratively. We all have very very different influences so we can always bring something different. I feel so lucky to be part of such an organic process. Sometimes if it feels good we can jam for hours, or weeks or months. When we have finally finished it might go into a set and we see how it feels live. Other times it comes very quickly and feels great so we just grab the moment and shove it in the set.


I'm also a vocalist, and often manage to really rag my voice: you go hell for leather when playing live. How do you keep your vox in shape?

M: I try to take care of my voice but I am quite lazy. I try not to eat much dairy and only have one or two (if I am really tired) cups of coffee a day. Plenty of chamomile tea, hot water with lemon and ginger so there is no milk and during the days I try and rest my voice as much as possible; but obviously you have to talk. I don't always get time to warm up- but if you look after your voice well or occasionally lose you voice, you should always warm up really. Also: steam. Hot, hot showers in a steamy bath room if there is not time for an actual 'steam', works pretty well. There are all kind of professional tips: how you stand, hold the mic etc. that can help but I often get carried away and forget them!


As the only lady in a band with boys, do you feel women are under-represented in the music industry? What importance, if any, does your gender play in your identity as a performer?

M: I think gender plays a massive part in every ones sense of self. The fact that I am a woman doesn't mean it has more or less of a role but maybe it means I am more aware of being 'different' as the music industry still seems to rely upon archaic gender stereotypes to sell music and make money.

Women aren't under-represented in the music industry or in most parts of culture; you can see our impact in literature, film, art and music. It is whether that representation of us is true or not that concerns me. I am not convinced that the playing field has been totally levelled. I am not convinced that I, as a woman, have had experiences that would let me say, honestly, I am proud of what a women can achieve when she plays by the rules. Fuck the rules.

I
 just want to make noise; real noise, not airbrushed, dressed up, made-up, 'feminine' noise but heartfelt, emotive, loud female lead noise. Noise that is as powerful and strong as any male noise, not prancy or fucking ladylike.



Courtesy of WildBlanket photograpy.

You've had a busy year: Artrocker appear to be a little bit in love with you, Courtney Love has said she has a girl crush on you, you've changed your name, and now you're launching your singles. In an ideal world, where would you be in a year's time?

M:
Hopefully the album will be out. Its tentatively due in May, and we'll be playing lots of places we've not been before.


And now, some questions we ask everyone...


Describe your sound in 5 words...
M: Raucous, dark, loud, impassioned, fearless.


What are your guilty musical pleasures?
M:
Starship, Footloose, you know, all the greats.


What the world needs now is....
M:
Just more Cold In Berlin, that's it really.


What's next?
M: Well, the second single is out (or is it the first since the name change?) on 2076. The third single will be out sometime late March or early April. Followed by the Album in May if everything goes to plan. It is quite exciting.


You are headlining your dream, all-star tour: who would your tour mates be?
M: I would love to tour with Electric Wizard, Patti Smith, Hefner, Spiritualized, Zu, John Cooper Clarke and The Band. I think that would be pretty good.


Cold In Berlin: Total Fear (Micron63 remix)




Cold In Berlin are due to play Proud Galleries in Camden on 16th Dec.

www.myspace.com/coldinberlin



To read more interviews by Little Miss B, click below:

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Read All About It | Vivian Girls and Veronica Falls

by Little Miss B, 9th Dec 2009...



January can be a gloomy month: the post Crimble anti-climax, the time of broken resolutions, self-loathing and excess winter-weight... Of course, this only applies to people who have not heard about the Vivian Girls show at The Hoxton Bar & Grill on 26th January! With support from the wonderful Veronica Falls, this is a helluva way to end the month.





Buy tickets here.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Read All About It | An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump

by Little Miss B...




Buy A Life Launch Party

Don't forget to stop by the Victoria in Mile End this Thursday 10th December for the An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump EP launch: free entry all night, with support by the brilliant Veronica Falls. Promises to be frackin brilliant!

We'll be reviewing the show here at The Girls Are... so keep your eyes peeled.

Buy A Life EP available through Rough Trade here.


Monday, 7 December 2009

Song of the Week | Betty and the Werewolves

by Little Miss B, 7th Dec 2009...

Euston Station

It's my birthday today, so in actual fact you should all be buying ME gifts... Lucky for you, I am a giving sort. From me to you, Betty and the Werewolves. Enjoy.




To hear more SOTW selections by Little Miss B, click below:

Friday, 4 December 2009

The Girls Are... Sleepy

by Little Miss B, 4th Dec 2009...

L*dyGarden, Wed 2nd December, Lock Tavern, Camden.

I'm getting old. Going out on a school night is a thing of the past, belonging to the days when I had a quiff, clear skin and nowt to worry about besides remembering to turn up to tutorials and paying my £400 a month rent. *sigh*

But in the name of lady-support (am not referring to brassieres) I decided to pop along to L*dyGarden this dreary Wed night. I'm currently taking antibiotics, so was not planning on drinking; I'd stay to watch the band, listen to some tunes and be on my merry way by eleven o'clock. Except of course, I got hideously drunk and stayed out til 8am. Oops.

It was, however, completely worth it. Anywhere that plays Kate Bush and Le Tigre within a few hours of walking through the door will always get my vote.
Hosted by three ladies so fit it hurts a bit to look at them, this was destined to be an effortlessly 'cool' affair.

Band Chapter24 were brilliant, turning the heads of every person in the room. The stage being the size of a shoebox, it was difficult to get a sense of what they are normally like live, but it was thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless. Catchy songs, enigmatic vox, a whirling dervish of a frontwoman, I would definitely reccomend this band to a friend.


Some parts of the night, however, were less fun. The venue was very very small (upstairs at Lock Tavern) which was fine for a first night, but had the smoking balcony not been there, it definitely would have been a bit sardiney.
I can only see this night going from strength to strength, and with that needs to come a bit more space. It's great that the place was so packed, but should I have wanted to throw some shapes, it would have proved troublesome. It was difficult enough trying to walk from one side of the room to the other (that said, the alcohol might have had something to do with this).

My main criticism
would be that there just wasn't ENOUGH lady music: bring your vaginas and if you don't have one, you can find one here. But you might have to look quite hard to find it. I've got to be honest. I think London has been crying out for something like this, and I was a little disappointed that more wasn't made of the lady part. A female frontwoman and three female DJ's doesn't quite necessitate so much attention to be drawn to vagina's. I understand that exclusively playing lady music might limit one's audience, but I do feel that if you say you are going to do something, you should do it properly.

"Now is the time for guts and guile"...

A little more conviction in the theme wouldn't have gone amiss. It also would have been great if more bands had played (although from what I understand, the other band pulled out so I can't really criticise. Shit, after all, does happen).

All this aside, waking up at lunchtime the next day, feeling as though one might die from alcohol poisoning, and finding one's spectacles secreted under the beautiful giant sleeping next to you, generally tends to mean one has had a pretty good time. Which I did: a really bloody good time. The Witches of Eastwick played some hella good music, the band were a nice surprise and best of all, it's FREE to get in... Next time, come down and shake your groove thang.

But remember kids. Don't drink whilst taking antibiotics.
Is foolish. Very very foolish. 


To read other reviews by Little Miss B, click below:
Laura Marling
Spinnerette

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

My New Favourite Band | The Hysterical Injury

by Little Miss B, 1st Dec 2009...

Editors note - I have invented a new feature purely for the purpose of gushing about this band. I could not write a 'regular' piece on them. I have no objectivity, whatsoever. *smitten*

I cannot believe I've only just had my mole-like eyes opened to this genius. It seems impossible that a mere month ago, I did not have The Hysterical Injury in my life. How did I survive? What was the source of all my joy? What song did I play on repeat to the point of causing loved ones, peers and neighbours to weep desperately, to beg for peace, to collapse from 'hysterical' ear bleeding?

I have one man to thank for introducing me to my true love.

Robert Phoenix: inspired artist, professional encourager and bearded delight. (Incidentally, Robert was the also the chap that handed me the book, and said the words that ultimately made me quit my soul-wrecking job in telly in order to pursue scribing. He's a bit good).

The Hysterical Injury are Annie Gardiner and Lee Stone. Formed in 2007, they parted ways with third member Robert Jackson in September of 2008. They tour a lot in Bath and Brizzle, but seem to be intent on depriving London Town of their wonder. Let us stalk until they mend their ways yes? YES? Brill.





www.myspace.com/thehystericalinjury

The Girls Are going to L*dyGarden...

by Little Miss B, 1st Dec 2009...




When setting up The Girls Are, I envisaged our online community one day evolving from a virtual to a physical space. Gig nights, club nights, lady gatherings... For there is a distinct sparcity of lady-musical gatherings in London Town. This is still firmly a part of the plan, but imagine my surprise and JOY when coming across L*dyGarden, a new night to be hosted in Camden on Wed 2nd Dec! Tomorrow, for all of y'all who don't have a calender. Providing a "leg up for female fronted bands, performers and DJs in the London music scene", L*dyGarden is hosted by terror-trio The Witches of Eastwick and promises to be a right good'un. "Expect a heady combination of riot grrl, rockabilly, rock n roll, powerpop and party classics", not to mention live band action from Chapter24 ('Like the Slits playing psychedelic rock' according to NME). More L*dyGarden events will follow, and we at The Girls Are intend to keep you in the lady loop.

My girls and I will be attending.
Get your girls and come down too.

Remember: bring your vaginas... if you don't have one, you can find one there.


Lock Tavern, 35 Chalk Farm Road, Camden. 8pm - 12.

The Girls Are Podcast No. 1

by Little Miss B, 1st December 2009...

The wonderful Dee from An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump is our very first The Girls Are podcast host, and we are mighty pleased to welcome her to the fold. Download half an hour of pure aural pleasure:
thegirlsarepodcast.mp3 


The Girls Are Podcast No. 1

Fever Ray - If I Had A Heart
Mika Miko - Take Hold
Lydia Lunch - Spooky
The Shermans - Dumbhead
Dum Dum Girls - Ship of Love
Mazzy Star - Ghost Highway
Blue On Blue - See You In Day
Camera Obscura - Eighties Fan
Theoretical Girl - O Holy Night