I've been writing for NME since April 2013 – here is a small spread of the sorts of things I've been wanging on about, from a live review of Queens of the Stone Age to frothing about new electronic releases.
I wrote this review and it got cut so here it is on me blog instead. Everyone wins. My full Pitchfork Paris review is up on the Guardian.Sky Ferreira: Live
Pitchfork Festival, Paris
It feels unjust to knock Sky Ferreira when she’s only just found her feet. The 21-year-old spent most of her teens being chewed up by the industry that endlessly tried to mould her sound and image. Now she’s been spat out the other end, she’s become a promising talent on her own terms – a star with style, scandal (a topless album cover, a recent drugs bust) and, crucially, a seductive but spiky pop sound.
As the singer takes the stage of Pitchfork Paris in a black wig, shades and with her hood up, it’s clear she isn’t going to be that star this evening. Perhaps it’s because the crowd are heckling her (mainly to tell her to take off the silly wig). Or maybe it has something to do with the photo she posted of her wearing an oxygen mask on Instagram a day earlier, but her listless, sullen performance is at odds with the stadium-sized power-pop of her superb new album, ‘Night Time, My Time’ (sadly, still without a UK release date).
The dreamily detached vocals of songs like ‘Everything Is Embarrassing’ are part of Sky’s charm, but her voice only really comes to life during her album’s attitudinal numbers. ‘Boys’ is a sparkling electro-rock love song that’s like Madonna, Courtney Love and Best Coast all at once, even though Sky acts like she’s trying to hide behind the mic stand instead of, say, smiling. Recent US single ‘24 Hours’ (see video above), meanwhile, is another massive track, as if Katy Perry's take on 'Pretty In Pink'-era prom-pop, but without any of Perry's frothy fun or her ability to hold a tune.
As Sky finally whips off the wig for ‘You’re Not The One’, there’s faint hope that this sullen show was all just a ruse and she’ll suddenly spring to life with a running knee skid. But that must be a move for another day.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to review End of the Road festival for Drowned in Sound. I was an organisational disaster, but it was a super-lovely weekend in the end, and, best of all, I got to DJ with Anthony Chalmers from God Don't Like It inside a boat suspended above a flashing dancefloor while young children breakdanced. I am currently resisting the urge to say YEAHBEATTHAT. I suppose this is also the part where I tell you that I've been playing the odd record here and there since February and I rather like it.
Anyway, wonderfully, The Guardian have captured a split second of that moment in this short film about the festival.
You can read my review of it on Drowned in Sound here too, if you please. I swooned over Beirut rather a lot.
“I love playing on Sunday,” gibes Canadian sonic polymath ChillyGonzales. “You’ve already taken all of your drugs, so I have you right where I want you: almost sober.” The audience titters, even though he is selling them a little short. For once, the posters dotted around a dingy venue urging gig goers to be quiet for a performance are unnecessary as the opening piano solo escaping from his fingers is intense enough to hush even the booziest of industry types. He pogos on his seat to create a percussive bassline, an electric shock of hair flopping maniacally over his forehead as he pounds the keys, giving him the air of a perma-hungover ivory-tinkler at a Weimar-era speakeasy. He defies you to drunkenly natter in your friend’s ear; he says, albeit without words: shut the fuck up.
Read my full review on Drowned in Sound HERE.
Read my exclusive review of Pete Tong's Wonderland at Eden, Ibiza, featuring Pnau and Crookers, which was originally published on Clash. Or, alternatively, here it is in full below.
“It’s a risk isn’t it?’ says Pete Tong, surveying the glistening bodies below the box at his night Wonderland.
It’s stupid o’ clock on a Saturday, we’re at Eden in San Antonio (the Blackpool of Ibiza) and the revellers are chomping for one more bass-led tune. Risky would be plonking Danny Rampling behind the decks in a desperate bid to re-connect with the ‘kidz’ after his cringeworthy self-help e-book. But it’s boisterous Italian duo Crookers who are pummeling it in the headlining slot, ensuring the camera phones stay permanently in the air.
You can understand Tong’s apprehension. For all its nipple tasseled aerialists, monstrous sound system and plush new décor, Wonderland’s first home, the compact Eden, has always ranked low in the White Isle’s league of dance monoliths. Tong’s decision to move here from glitzy Pacha drew much criticism. 2008, however, looks like the year they’ve elbowed back into tourists’ clubbing timetables.
Perhaps it’s something to do with the stage that illuminates the back of the main room. It’s not for sex shows, but a testament to Wonderland’s growing open mindedness. Since summer-long indie festival Ibiza Rocks swung into town four years ago, the dance destination has struggled to adapt to punters’ growing love of guitars ’n’ electronic hybrids, but Wonderland embraces live acts, who add to the night’s growing eclecticism, and make full use of the stage that illuminates the back of the main room.
On the stage tonight we’re treated to Aussie electro-disco stalwarts Pnau. All heads turn to the rear when the trio erupts into glimmering cosmic synths. Sexually charged signature track ‘Wild Strawberries’ immediately propels the crowd with its juddery Ed Banger-y rhythms and prompts breathy falsetto from Jim Morrisson-styled front man Pete Mayes. He tugs at his shrug as if it’s the last thing stopping him and an Uffie-alike romping on a purple satin bedspread. They stomp briefly through pouty electro pop noir territory with ‘Embrace’ (sadly sans sassy guest vocalist Ladyhawke) but finish on a euphoric tilt when the unrelenting bleep rock chorus of ‘Come Together’ descends into tiresome repetitiveness.
Pnau have been churning out albums since 1999, so the story that they were recently ‘discovered’ by Elton John (of all people) in Oz is quite embarassing, but their long-standing reputation gives them enough muscle to stick steadfast in the UK’s infatuation with post-prom synth pop.
Fast-forward to Crookers’ sonic fireworks and the floor is trembling at the bass. They’ve built their reputation on remix after gut wobbling remix, exploding all over the blog-o-sphere and settling themselves messily between DJ Craze’s Miami bass bothering, Switch and Sinden’s big club fidget house, Hervé’s love affair with 2-step and the post-Daft Punk electro-chopping producers like SebastiAn.
Their Kid Cudi remix ‘Day and Night’ with its infectious vocal line gets a cheer from the dancefloor when its speaker shakin’ crunky beat jitters into yo-yoing sub-bass, while their Busy P remix calls out “Those other DJs aren’t fucking with us” to the rump bouncing mass beneath them. Slick ghettotech pumps in and out while the little ’n’ large pair, trendily dressed in Mischka tees and Nike caps, nod, arms folded, knowing that they own it. Hell, they don’t even like playing Ibiza; their set tonight is two fingers up to the island’s out-dated purist progressive house, techno and trance menu. Their hip hop-hinged belters are hotter than Beyoncé’s G-string – and if anything, that’s a safe bet to sate white isle palettes.
Pete Tong has had a varied career in the eyes of the underground yet his bold new move has done him many favours and his new Wonderland is one that will only swell with numbers and songs of praise. His booking of such forward thinking dance floor dons as Crookers shows that this old rave dog has more than a few old tricks up his sleeves than you would expect…