Animal magnetism: a #13for2013 mixtape

One of the wonderful things about growing up in the ’80s was being a child of the mixtape age.

The CD player came out in 1985 but only posh people had one, so the rest of us made do with a melodic education in a 5 x 7 box.

So in homage to those days spent unpicking magnetic tape from tangled spools, I submit my animal-themed, albeit digital, mixtape, as challenged by my fellow blogger, GemStGem.

1) Stay Here and Take Care of the Chickens – The Wave Pictures

The Wave Pictures recently revealed at a gig that this track is inspired by the Humphrey Bogart film, The Enforcer. They mysteriously added the phrase, “Stay here and take care of the chickens,” could have any number of meanings, depending on who you imagine is saying it… Discuss.

2) I Wanna Be Your Dog – Iggy and the Stooges

In the video montage of my life, the years I spent picking myself up off the floors of dingy Manchester bars will have this as the backing track. And I always felt rough as a dog the next morning, so it seems fitting.

3) Pussyfooting – Fujiya and Miyagi

No, not the ambient album of a similar name by Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, but a song by a trio of Brighton boys. Their songs rarely make sense, but their hypnotic style is a grower. See also: Cat Got Your Tongue, if you’re feline inclined (pun intended).

4) Hounds of Love – Kate Bush

A cross between a Twin Peaks outtake and a bad dream, the Hounds of Love video pulls off melodrama in a way only Kate Bush can. Crazy bitch.

5) What’s a Girl To Do? – Bat for Lashes

Not chosen for its ‘bat’ reference, but because Natasha Khan spends the video riding through a dark forest followed by bikers in animal masks. Perhaps she looked to Kate Bush for inspiration?

6) Gold Lion – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

According to Wikipedia, the song ‘Gold Lion’ was named after the two ‘Gold Lion’ awards won by an Adidas advert for which Karen O contributed vocals. I really hope this isn’t true cause because I really like this song and now it’s tainted with the brush of capitalism.

7) Elephants – Warpaint

There’s no mention of the word ‘elephant’ in this song except in the title, but some of the high notes are at a frequency only dolphins can hear, so it’s a double-mammal whammy in my book.

8) Wolf Like Me – TV on the Radio

At last, a song whose literal title reflects its lyrics. None of those metaphorical smart-arsey allusions, what we’re dealing with here is a man turning canine at the mercy of the moon. That being said, the lyric “writhing under your riding hood” crosses the line between literary and letchy.

9) Concrete Jungle – The Specials

Someone once had a habit of describing London to me as ‘’, which I always found a bit bizarre. Not because they were wrong, but because I’d never heard anyone say ‘dot com’ with sarcasm. Incidentally, The Specials do seem to be describing your average night out in Hackney, so maybe she wasn’t that far wrong.

10) White Elephant – Ladytron

Granted, not one of their best tracks. To make up for this I’m going to share a fact about the phrase “white elephant”, namely that it is an idiom for a valuable but burdensome possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth. Not to be confused with the phrase “elephant in the room”. Extra points for the animal masks in the video, which were a bonus I was unaware of until just now.

11) Urchin – She’s a Roller

I’m trying to win the Obscure Animal Award with this track. Urchin were together in the late 70s for about as long as it takes to say “lager shandy and a packet of crisps.” But before frontman Adrian Smith found a far more lucrative career in Iron Maiden, he was the brainchild of Urchin, and an urchin – according to the Oracle otherwise known as Google – is a medieval word for ‘hedgehog’.

12) Would You Like to Swing on a Star – Bing Crosby

On the surface, nothing to do with animals. But you’re wrong! It’s all about animals! Fans of Hudson Hawk will understand, Bruce Willis just wanted a cup of coffee…



Eight reasons to go to Beacons

BEACONS festival is only a week away and the line-up is crammed with a ton of super cool bands worth seeing.
But the festival curse hits us all hard and between time conflicts, wading through furlongs of mud and hours spent queuing for a sick-free portaloo/warm pint of cider, it’s impossible to see them all.
So to make life easier for you, me, and everyone we know, here’s a few that are worth making the effort to see.

Tom should've gone to Specsavers


The elusive Tom Vek deliberately dropped off the radar five years ago, giving conspiracy theorists half a decade to spread half-baked ideas about his untimely death.

Though I have it on good authority that Vek is very much alive and spent the back end of last year producing an EP for South Londoners, Breton, it wasn’t until April this year that he made a sly return to the airwaves with comeback single, “A Chore”.

Naturally, an explanation for his sabbatical hasn’t been forthcoming, and masterfully, his fans were tortured with a further two month tease, including the whiff of tour dates and eventually, the release of sophomore album, Leisure Seizure – giving music journalists everywhere permission to gush forth with superlatives.

Vek’s geek-chic reputation as the coolest one-man-band around has the weight of expectation to contend with, but no doubt his handful of summer performances will make up for the extended silence.

Don't ask me, I don't know what that dial does either...


Even more synonymous with The XX’s rocket rise to fame is Jamie Smith’s flourishing reputation as a first class remix artist.

Pushing the haunting heartbreak of the band’s debut album to one side, Jamie XX  is filling in between albums by carving out a niche as a dub-step DJ, deft at blurring genre boundaries.

Most notable is his rumbling rework of “New York Is Killing Me” by the late Gil Scott-Heron,  though some would argue that his biggest achievement is vastly improving Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”,  a feat for any producer, no matter how talented.

Elizabeth was plotting when to throw out Jeremy's jumper


A healthy dose of happiness comes on the side as standard when you order Summer Camp  – what with all those lush sunshine vibes and chill wave glitchiness.

The virtually unknown duo of Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey spread their rose-tinted nostalgia thickly onto slabs of warm and fuzzy tunes worthy of being filed alongside Best Coast.

Think hazy Polaroids, knitted tank tops and the first flush of love and you’re halfway to indie-shmindie heaven. And why the fuck not, summer camp always looked fun in the movies.

Can you adjust the arial?


The industrial stylings of Factory Floor are an acquired taste, much like gherkin or The Daily Mail.

But their four track mini-album certainly piqued the critics’ interest when it pulverised eardrums last year.

The untitled release harbours a fundamentally bleak nature harking back to the low budget production of early Joy Division – heavy on emotionless soundscapes and a deadening loop of blunt percussion.

It’s the musical equivalent of Tarkovskiy’s Solaris – an unrelenting, dystopic mission devoid of any hope – and on the whole, its grim ambience is a bit depressing.

 But it’s a feat of musical structure that shouldn’t be missed live.

From left: Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Gala, Cox...


Israeli nine piece The Apples are a modern jazz-funk outfit expertly flirting with vintage brass and bass.  

Their un-ironic cover of Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of” is known to slay crowds from the outset and no wonder, what with the combination of a double bass, turntablists, and two saxophonists to sex it up.

Their debut album Kings – a work that fuses elements of dub, fusion and middle-eastern rhythms – is a testament to the rich strands of culture that bind the group, taking traditional jazz and wrapping it up in tape delays and scratchy dub samples.  


Louis never went anywhere without his Factor 50


Leeds soloist Louis Jones, aka, Spectrals wouldn’t have been out of place on Sun Records back in the 60s, nipping at the heels of California’s golden boys.

Squeaky clean guitar licks conjure up whimsical images of old-fashioned ice cream parlours and coke floats, laced with romance and endearing glockenspiel chimes.

The only thing to shatter the Americana ambience is Jones’ obvious aversion to tanning, but we can’t hold that against him. His natural talent for producing a slew of happy-go-lucky love tokens is hypnotically delightful for lazy afternoons, sunless or otherwise.

Is it hot in here?


Look “ethereal” up in the dictionary and any of the synonyms could apply to goth-poppers, Paper Crows. It’s a lazily obvious comparison, but vocalist Emma Panas clearly spent her youth listening to Kate Bush in the dark.

Single “Follow the Leader” has the production of Madonna’s “Frozen” to thank for its haunting atmosphere, while “Stand Alight” channels the likes of Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan pumped up on dub-step steroids.

For guaranteed chills, Paper Crows are best enjoyed in the drizzle at dusk.

Anika was bummed to receive her electric bill


“A German journalist joins a band” sounds like the start of a piss-poor joke, especially when it’s backed up with an album largely comprised of covers.

But in the case of Anika and her self-titled collaboration with Beak – the brainchild of Portishead’s producer Geoff Barrow – a Nico-like presence is unleashed upon us.

While a rendition of Yoko Ono’s “Yang Yang” borrows the disco-funk accessibility of early 80s sister-troupe, ESG, the deadpan delivery of “Masters of War” quivers with a Dylan-meets-dub momentum.

The album owes a huge debt to minimalist Kraut-rockers as its vocalist flatly warbles through a mix of tuneless oratory and detached melodies.

She stays so low in the mix it could be mistaken for the whispered wailings of a mad woman, which makes for a distracting self-awareness.

It’s unapologetic in its crass era-stealing style, uncomfortably ghostly and somewhat unsettling. But somehow it carries it off with Teutonic panache.

And finally, a few more that are worth a look in….

The Horn The Hunt… Echo Lake… D/R/U/G/S… Mazes… Dutch Uncles…

Visit for the full line up.