Trish Keenan RIP

I’d say Broadcast were one of my favourite bands, only my relationship with them would make other acts pray not to show up on my Facebook profile. I first heard them in ’96, when The Book Lovers EP was on rotation on the Mark And Lard graveyard shift. Its combination of insistent, brain-tugging harpsichord riff and Trish Keenan’s intoxicatingly distant vocals pulled at me. I hummed it. I sang it. I taped it off the radio. Continue reading

Live music: 65daysofstatic

The Thekla, Bristol, 4 July 2009

65daysofstatic(Photo by seanjp, used under Creative Commons license.)

Power means nothing without precision. The huge, headstomping, heartshaking noise that 65days generate is shaped and sharpened by the extraordinary unity of their playing. When they speak to the crowd between songs, it’s with the relaxed tone of people doing something they love with friends; when they play, it’s with gang fury, bound by sound and storming the audience. From the first note of the set, 65days are incredibly loud, and they never back down – the audience cheers ecstatic throughout (but especially when Radio Protector and Retreat! Retreat! come out) and it’s obvious that this crowd belongs to 65days. We want them to be bigger, noisier, fiercer, to fill us with sound and make us a part of their explosion. The electronic sounds that squall on record, thunder live; the band play with huge gestures, guitar necks blurring and drumsticks raised high, but never with any slack. Astonishing.

© Sarah Ditum 2009.

Live music: Katie Stelmanis

The Porter, Bath 18 June 2009

The Porter Cellar Bar is a tiny, low-ceilinged space. When Katie Stelmanis begins to sing, her operatic voice swells and fills the vaults, and it’s almost too much: from the first note, she is clear and powerful, swooping cleanly through the octaves. Her own songs seethe and bubble on a combination of dark synths and martial percussion (provided by Maya Postepski) which cohere behind the glorious vocals to create a dark hymnal splendour. Behind her keyboard and tiny as she is, Stelmanis has huge presence, her face gleaming as she sings. When she comes to a cover of Roy Orbison’s Crying (which you can hear on her Myspace page) she sings with a rich solemnity, rising high on the song’s shivering sorrow. New single Believe Me marks the climax and sounds like an anthem to the perfect conviction of the performance.

Katie Stelmanis Porter posterDownload the album Join Us from Zunior.

Download Believe Me from the NME.

Katie Stelmanis Porter posterThe Porter Cellar Bar is a tiny, low-ceilinged space. When Katie Stelmanis begins to sing, her operatic voice swells and fills the vaults, and it’s almost too much: from the first note, she is clear and powerful, swooping cleanly through the octaves. Her own songs seeth and bubble on a combination of dark synths and martial percussion (provided by Maya Postepski) which cohere around the glorious vocals to create a dark hymnal splendour.Behind her keyboard and tiny as she is, Stelmanis has a towering presence, her face gleaming as she sings. When she comes to a cover of

New favourite song: Vic

How did you spend your precious teenage years? I spent mine staying up too late in my bedroom, listening to the radio to hear songs of failure and frustration by older men. Yeah, I know. The Mark Radcliffe Graveyard Shift was my lodestone and I would listen with my finger twitching over the record button of my bedside radio/cassette player so I could capture the songs that would never, never come to my one local record shop. I know it sounds appalling but there wasn’t any internet.

One day, Radcliffe and Riley were away and Mark Lamarr was hosting when Animals That Swim came in to play a session. Singer Hank Starr was barefoot and, after loads of teasing from Lamarr about how he should wrap his feet in newspaper like a tramp, I drew some socks and faxed them in. (Faxed! There wasn’t any internet.)

Animals That Swim were principally wistful. Their songs were often condensed narratives: East St O’Neill tells an unsettling story about stealing floral tributes which shifts nervily from first to third person just before the middle eight, Pink Carnations is about recovering from a car crash in hospital and hints at sub-narratives for all the other patients on the ward. And Vic is about remembering going to see Vic Chesnutt play a London pub and shouting out a drunken request that gets a wry putdown from Chesnutt. The guitar shuffles and pauses in sympathy with the lyrics’ embarrassment; it’s all over in less than two minutes and gives the laugh at the end to Chesnutt.

Listen to Vic