Thursday, 14 June 2012

Lil B: At the altar of the BasedGod

First published in Loud And Quiet, June 2012

This is a long-form interview-cum-essay about the rapper Lil B, for fans and newcomers alike. In an ideal scenario you might mark this to read later on your smartphone, or if you're feeling less cutting edge you could perhaps print it off and staple it together. Enjoy.

“Ellen DeGeneres! Swag! Ellen DeGeneres! Woo!” Flanked by a brick wall of security muscle, a snake-hipped Californian, little more than 5'7'', is whipping the crowd into a froth of flailing arms and pumping fists, blue light glinting off his gold teeth and shades as he announces himself humbly as the 'BasedGod'. It can only be hip hop's most divisive figure for a generation: Brandon McCartney, or as you probably know him, Lil B.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

LIVE: Cate Le Bon's whimsical rock and roll is deceptively odd

First published in Loud And Quiet

Cate Le Bon
23 April 2012
Village Underground, London

Marking the release of her excellent second album, Cyrk, the mop-topped Cate Le Bon is softly spoken in her chatter but surprisingly strong-lunged on the mic, adding a spiky vigour to her usually more fragile bedroom-pop songs. The Welsh songwriter spent last year touring America solo in support of St Vincent, but this time Le Bon's backing band of friends and collaborators suits her, as she gets stuck into guitar while a ramshackle ruckus kicks up and the beat stays steady but loose, like the best kind of '60s garage band.

White horses flicker into Siamese twin skeletons in the background, providing a jarring visual addendum to some deceptively odd lyrics: “If it pours in the daytime, we'll have to stay indoors, I'll milk the time you're sat with me.” Any folky comparisons encouraged by her lo-fi recording style can be binned, though – the Velvets-y shuffle of 'Falcon Eyed' and the gloriously ugly final bars of closer 'Ploughing Out Part 2' are pure rock and roll in the whimsical vein of her label boss Gruff Rhys, while her solo encore is a deliberately dirgey and weird thing, her voice clashing joyously with harsh organ keys. Bon, you might say.

Despite the name, Teen Daze delivers an exceptionally well-behaved debut

First published in Loud And Quiet

Teen Daze
All Of Us, Together
Lefse Records

Teen Daze comes from British Columbia's picturesque Fraser Valley, not far from Vancouver. He got his degree from a Bible college and likes to keep his music – three EPs and now this full-length for Lefse, home to Neon Indian and How To Dress Well – separate from his daily life, not even giving out his full name.

Despite the Teen Daze moniker, he cites literature and basketball as bigger influences than clubbing or drugs (he abstains), so it's no surprise to hear that All Of Us, Together is a warmly inclusive and exceptionally polite record.

Inspired by an encyclopaedia of 'Utopian Visions', he taps into the non-committal ambience of chillwave and adds a dancefloor pulse that's more Manitoba than Manumission. The gorgeous 'Erbstuck' touches on club-ready euphoria, but elsewhere, like on the unfortunately titled 'The New Balearic', he elegantly scrapes the rungs on his way down.

In a limbo between life and infinity on The Invisible's 'Rispah'

First published in Loud And Quiet

The Invisible
Ninja Tune

The art-pop genre-blenders' second album is an 11-song threnody, an ode of mourning following the death of frontman Dave Okumu’s mother. Named after her, Rispah is bookended by a loose choir of African voices like those Okumu says he heard at the wake, articulating the sorrow and joy entangled in this record, which acknowledges with a heavy heart that even death can bring a renewed passion for life.

As you’d expect from the The Invisible craftsmen, it's lusciously produced – drums flutter and fade as Okumu’s breathily angelic voice drifts into a limbo between life and infinity. The mournful electronics owe much to Radiohead (and the guitar on ‘Surrender’ is straight out of In Rainbows), but the decayed funkiness built up from distorted drums and shivering guitars is uncannily voguish, echoing the exhumed ‘80s R&B we've heard lately on records by Kindness and others.