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By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 7th November 2012 at 4:00 pm
As part of the ongoing 60th anniversary celebration of the Fred Perry brand and the relaunch of the Fred Perry Subculture Web site, Subculture has offered up these fantastic live videos from the Dot to Dot Festival in May of some of the brightest stars in music right now.
The live video below from Jake Bugg, currently on tour in America with headliners Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Snow Patrol, will be familiar: it’s the song that broke him to the masses, ‘Lightning Bolt’. Kyla La Grange (pictured at top) is no stranger to TGTF either; we’ve got a video of her performing ‘To Be Torn’. And last but not least, we’ve also got live video of San Diego noise rock band Wavves playing their song ‘Bug’. Enjoy all of these videos below.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 10th October 2012 at 6:00 pm
Kyla La Grange‘s video for ‘Been Better’ is a gorgeous one, with some lovely animal costars. (Damn, I want a peacock now.) Watch it below.
Split Festival has the finest grass in all of fest-dom. Even though the square of the Ashbrooke Cricket Club at which it is held is fenced off, the outfield still proudly displays its evenly-cropped blades, a far cry from the slopping mud too often endured by festival-goers elsewhere. This year sees Split subtly bigger and improved: there is a vintage tent, an arts tent selling the crop of local music photographers’ work and a veritable globe’s worth of international cuisine. The Creole food deserves a particular mention. But the real treat is a comprehensive musical programme, with a distinct tilt towards the regional – unsurprisingly, as local heroes the Futureheads are in charge of the whole thing.
As with all good, small festivals, there are two stages; as one band finishes in one arena, another starts in its counterpart. The slight figure of Kyla La Grange belies her impact; her epic gothic-tinged songs are as if designed to be played on an outdoor stage, at once majestically swooping and delicate. The avuncular King Creosote is up next in the acoustic-themed tent: his performance is a masterclass in understated delivery; with just a djembe and bass for accompaniment, there’s a surprising amount of dynamic on offer, and with material as strong as his, it’s a fine way to gently shift gear into evening.
And shift gear is what Leeds’ Pulled Apart by Horses most certainly do, in a whirlwind of coruscating grungy noise and a frenetic stage show. Nobody seems to be injured – a rarity apparently for a PABH gig. Whilst not strictly punk, one has the feeling that the noise and aggression on display here is directly inspired by the antics of Rotten and his peers over 30 years ago.
Before we get to him, there’s folk headliners the Unthanks. Sisters Becky and Rachel, backed up by a string quartet, grand piano, and band, produce a captivating set of gentle drama and fragile beauty. There’s no artifice or pretention; the sisters’ best trick is taking the sound of authentic Northumberland-influenced folk music, updating it with more mainstream arrangements for a wider audience. That and the clog dancing. Probably the most unlikely support act that Johnny Rotten has ever had, but not less effective for that.
The anticipation in the air of the main tent before Public Image Ltd take the stage is palpable, and to cut to the chase, the crowd are not disappointed. Rotten has an instantly recognisable stage persona, at once cheekily humourous yet genuinely threatening. His singing voice is a strange thing – one can’t really claim that his vocal lines have proper melodies, but it’s never really out of tune; his oft-employed keynote-drone-with-microtonal-variations technique wouldn’t sound out of place reciting echoing Koran verses in some dusty Eastern European mosque. His lyrical content wouldn’t be welcome, however. Naturally, there’s plenty of anti-establishment rhetoric, and even a moment towards the end of the set where the audience is exhorted to worship Rotten-as-musical-deity, which they are only too happy to do.
The band are razor-sharp, particularly Fagin-esque unsung guitar virtuoso Lu Edmonds: swathes and shards of his guitar overlay the pulsing, deep bass and tireless drums. Lydon is an enthusiast of dub reggae, and there’s plenty of this influence on display, but towards the end of the set the band turn up the tempo and become essentially a live dance music act, more akin to the now defunct Faithless than any traditional punk outfit in spirit and sound, with Lydon gargling brandy and preaching from the pulpit like a demon priest.
His one misstep involves a throwaway comment about the police, cumulating in the line, “the boys in blue aren’t all bad… well maybe they are,” a clanger of monumental bad taste considering the tragedy in Manchester just a few days previously. His opinion on Jools Holland is too scabrous to repeat here, and considerably more amusing, considering the band’s date on his show the following week. In case nobody knew, PiL are a challenging, uncompromising listen, led by one of the greatest frontmen of all time, still firing on all cylinders. Is there any higher praise?
Stay tuned: Martin’s roundup of Sunday’s bands at Split 2012 will post early next week.
The tent is packed away. The wellies have been demuddied and chucked in the back of a cupboard, not to be seen until next year. By September all the big summer music festivals have been and gone in a haze of traffic jams, mud, and the occasional transcendental musical performance. But for the music fan that wants more, there are a few notable events still yet to come – of which Split Festival in Sunderland is one. A modestly-sized, two-day, outdoor-but-under-cover shindig just outside the city centre, Split has a great local feel to it, showcasing a superb blend of North-East talent and national acts.
Following on from the success of 2011, which saw the Drums and the Charlatans headline a rich and varied bill, 2012 promises to be even bigger, better and brasher. The pièce de resistance, perhaps curators Futureheads’ greatest coup ever, is the appearance of Public Image Limited in their headline slot on the Main Stage on Saturday night. Johnny Rotten’s post-Sex Pistols outfit reformed in 2009, and in May released ‘This Is PiL,’ their first album of new material in 20 years. Expect a razor-sharp band featuring guitar virtuoso and Fagin lookalike Lu Edmonds, and coruscating bar-room banter and plenty of brandy-swigging from Lydon himself (pictured right at Primavera Sound 2011). As the last PiL date before their American tour in the autumn, this is simply a no-brainer. One to savour.
Elsewhere on the bill we find a double dose of West Yorkshire noise in the form of Pulled Apart by Horses and That Fucking Tank, postmodern chanteuse Kyla La Grange, the dreamy pop of St. Etienne, and finally our hosts The Futureheads wrapping things up on Sunday night on the Main Stage. If the ears finally succumb to noise, there’s a fine tent of folk at the Tunstall Hill Tent on the Saturday (Kathryn Williams, King Creosote, followed by The Unthanks to close out the night), which turns noisy again on the Sunday with headliners Future of the Left. Last year saw a food tent with international delicacies galore, and a wide selections of real ales to dig into, both of which make a welcome reappearance this time around. Split is a great way to wrap up to a fine season of festivals, and with tickets a veritable steal at £40 for the weekend and day tickets for £25 for either Saturday or Sunday also available, it’s bound to be Rotten.
Artists that tread the line between pop and the underground these days do so with certain levels of danger involved. The choice for the artist seems to be whether to aim for the chart sitters or push for the more honest sound that comes from not being Katy Perry. Coming out of the more folk side of the pop spectrum in the last few years has been the likes of Laura Marling and emerging talent Lucy Rose but one that’s not been mentioned whilst quietly climbing up the venue sizes in the last few months has been Kyla La Grange.
The release of her debut album ‘Ashes’ last week sees La Grange finally show her hand and signals the directions she’s going to be pressing to in the next few months. Opening with single ‘Walk Through Walls’ signals to the very top as its pop chorus and build into one of the most promising opening tracks of the last year. This is then quickly pushed aside by the steady progression into darkness, leading the listener further into the web of La Grange’s emotions. In parts, she’s laid bare as her remarkable voice echoes through you: take ‘To Be Torn’ for example, which is an atmospheric backing track to an almost piercing vocal line. Her voice won’t be for everyone, but to those who will listen its something that toys with eeriness and beauty in equal measure.
After this comes the centre points of ‘Vampire Smile’ and ‘Been Better’. They’re the highlights of an album that starts to sound quite same-y after this. La Grange employs a variety of interesting lyrical and audible styles from the lyrics through to her wails and loops but they don’t quite add up to hugely entertaining music. From start to finish there’s something that keeps you listening though. Its catchy without having many hooks, its listenable in most situations regardless of mood set, and pending your mood you’ll notice something different about its layering. There’s something very enticing about this record but in equal measure, you could play any one track on shuffle and move on with your life. By almost all of her points of merit, La Grange lacks in the killer finish, and that’s why this record feels disappointing without ever being genuinely weak. From a first record, you expect more than that. We all do.
Kyla La Grange’s debut album ‘Ashes’ is out now on Sony Music.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 18th July 2012 at 4:00 pm
Kyla La Grange played London’s Village Underground in May and her next single, ‘Walk Through Walls’, which is out on the 30th of July, was filmed for posterity. You can watch the performance video below. We posted the official music video for the single previously as this Video of the Moment earlier this month.