New wave post-punk indie-poppers So What Robot are set to release their new single Girl Who Readson 22nd August.
Friends since childhood, the quartet hail from the north where they played in bands Odd Shaped Head (Rob and Paul) and Indigo Colony (Pip and Jamie) before coming together as So What Robot little over a year ago.
The band have been touring the UK in that space of time, establishing pockets of fans across the country. Now as we hurtle through the summer months, the group are set to release their debut single on 21st August (preorder here). Influenced by the likes of the Young Knives, Talking Heads, Adam and the Ants and the new wave/new romantic set of the late 1980s, So What Robot combine electronic synth pop with fresh drum beats and swinging vocal harmonies.There undertone of classic punk is not to be sniffed at either as these guys blend genres to produce a really fresh sounding and infectious number.
Falling under a similar umbrella as fellow northerners Mammal Club, Vinyl Jacket and Everything Everything, Girl Who Reads is a really great summer tune. Make sure you download it from 22 August online here.
This week we have a guest-piece from one of our American Readers Joel Patterson from Mountaintop Records, New York who talks to us about why we should love his local blues act Holly & Evan. And he’s convincing…
Brutality, anyone?Holly and Evan have just finished playing one of her searing, original numbers, here in this crowded and hazy bar on a gritty backstreet down by the river. It’s titled ‘123’ and, like all of her tunes it’s built around a few simple words strung out over a few choice blues licks. “1,2,3, baby. It’s just that easy.” Stark and riveting, it sounds like some classic lamentation from the Delta.
The next one has a pounding, enraged rhythm. “Hurry up! Hurry yourself! I’m losing my mind!” Holly’s voice is effortless, a soft husky growl – her guitar playing struts and swaggers. Evan attacks his upright bass like he’s tussling with a schoolyard playmate, lurching to and fro, nearly strangling it, keeping up a steady slapping beat on the strings like a snare drum – he’s a whole one-man rhythm section. The two of them together create a slinky, irresistible, bobbing, swaying groove. But instead of stark rivets, the patrons here drone on oblivious, lost in their dreary Wednesday night.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’d realize these two have become a fixture on the local scene, but it seems like no one here has ever heard of them. (Such are the anomalies of local scenes – this thirty-something pair were described in one local paper recently as “that teenage folk-rock duo.”) There’s not even the smattering of applause that’s usually a reflex action. But the waitresses on their hurried missions toss them glances of heartfelt approval, and by the end of the evening a small crowd is dancing before the alcovish stage.
So this is Holly and Evan, 2011– finding their footing in a harsh, indifferent world- fragile, klutzy creatures obsessed with rootsy, lusty acoustic blues music. This is their story.
The pair met at an open mic night in 2009; Holly was looking for a way out of the pseudo-nightmare her life had settled into, supported by her second husband, with kids from a first marriage – a bitter detente that was nevertheless an improvement over the first marriage (betrayal, thievery, the whole soufflé.) She revived her guitar practice and started writing songs spiced with autobiographical lyrics. “I’d rather be dead/ by the side of the road/ than to spend one more minute of time/ with that man of mine.” A pivotal encounter with a video documentary of the 1930′s blues legend Robert Johnson opened up a whole world to her, with its charred landscapes of emotion and pain and without understanding much in the way of music theory, she taught herself to mimic the progressions and began to experiment.
Evan had been in various bands – as lead and sideman – since high school and was at the open mic with his bass guitar to accompany a friend. “This girl plays two songs, one of them’s good,” he remembers being told. Evan actually liked the other one, the one with a slick key change. He volunteered to play with her and even if that first performance was a disaster, they found an instant rapport, showing up at open mics as a team, texting constantly, each of them finding in the other a perfect cohort and partner and not to get too sappy about it, a friend.
Two years later, they are playing a steady gig-and-a-half a week. Evan’s Hyundai Accent gets packed like a game of Tetris with his bass, Holly’s guitar, and all their various and sundry PA and gear; a briefcase with “Holly & Evan” stencilled on it; the latest preamp/direct box Evan’s fashioned for Holly’s guitar; copies of their live CD, while Evan slaves over the studio debut, scheduled for the fall, using real tape and vintage gear he’s personally rebuilt.
Not every single gig has cash rewards, but well-attended and karmically blessed shows will net them $100 apiece on a good night. Their monthly gig as the house band at a New Orleans themed restaurant is less but includes dinner and gives them steady exposure. The intelligensia of the venues they play at have no trouble recognizing that something’s happening here, but by the same token, they don’t have a bunch of screaming buddies traipsing to their shows and riotously whirling around like dervishes, like the “cults” surrounding some of their contemporaries. Beyond these gigs, neither of them is technically “employed,” so the support of their families is the linchpin and accelerator pedal and automatic transmission of their career.
Evan’s mom has been tireless in seeking out opportunities and radio airplay and promoting them – relentless in a good way – unfazed by the often baffling inconsistency or downright craven bastardry of the people she has to deal with. There are bitter ironies involved in playing music for fun and profit – the joys and rewards of performing and the grim real-world bartering- -overlapping, in infinite shades of greyscale.
Why should you love Holly and Evan, British readers who’ve never seen them play? You should love them because they don’t really know what they’re doing. They pursue their goals not always objectively but always passionately, and they are fun to watch. The time is ripe for a stipped-down, back to basics approach to music. And this revolution will be televised.
Got a band that you love and think everyone else should too? Tell Creature about it!
If this press shot doesn’t make you feel deliriously happy at the current offerings in the world of music, then this free download will. Offered up by Stayloose, the group are celebrating the first UK string of performances by Louisiana quintet Givers with this remix of ‘Up Up Up’. This track is like an edorsement of the magic of full-fat coke, with enough sugar content to having you bouncing through the ceiling. They take the charming aspects of the likes of Gypsy The Cat, MGMT, The Beachboys and a wave of psychadelic surf-poppers and add a splice of good ol’ Southern ent’rtainment.
Download it above, or if you prefer your music like your flavour Doritos – ‘cool original’ – then why not cast your glance over the music video instead. The band release their debut album In Light later this year.
Band of the moment and on the rise are most certainly Toronto three piece Austra – pronounced “Owstra”. Comprised of vocalist Katie Stelmanis, drummer Maya Postepski and bassist Dorian Wolf, they have created a gothic-tinged and danceable sound or in Stelmanis’ own words “classical music with really fucked up, distorted crazy shit on there”.
Signed to Domino Records, their first release as a trio ‘Feel it Break’ offers glittering, synthy beats and layered vocals that neatly blurr the line between electronica and classical influences. Stelmanis originally trained as a classical musician, singing for the Canadian Opera Company as a youngster whilst also learning to play the viola and piano. But it was only after delving into the world of electronic composition via MIDIs whilst scoring orchestral compositions and soundtracks that she began to track her own career as a DIY musician and finally accepting the electronic creation of music as a form of composition it its own right. ‘It took me years to not think of MIDI as a substitute for real instruments’.
After opting out of further college education in favour of saving to go on her first tour -a task that was around five years in the creating- she appeared on Fucked Up’s The Chemistry of Common Life and supported Coco Rosie on a string of US shows, all of which culminated in the release of her debut album Join Us back in 2008. This self-composed and solo recorded effort was praised for its enchanting beauty and “Do-It-Yourself” attitude that brought her wider success, six tours and a showcase of her talents to many of the “more open” European audiences.
Now a three-piece, we can hear echoes of Kate Bush, Bat for Lashes as well as songs laden with imagery of the synthy ’80s new wave Brit scene. Getting away from comparisons to current ‘poster girl’ for the electro-gothic genre Zola Jesus could well be tricky, especially seeing as both frontwomen benefit from classical and operatic upbringings that have created for each a vocal sophistication. But for Stelmanis and Austra it is perhaps the subject matters where the widest departure is found in their music. Not one to shy away from her sexuality which in her own mind is synonymous with the music she makes, she has noted that ‘being gay is a huge part of who I am and definitely affects the music I make. I’d like to be recognised as someone who makes interesting, experimental music and also identifies as queer.’ With musical influences ranging from Bjork and PJ Harvey to The XX and Nine Inch Nails, Austra hope to strive for a music that ‘people [will] be able to dance and completely lose themselves in [in] a more physical way. If I can emotionally stimulate the mind and the body through music, I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished something significant.’
With a headline show at London’s Cargo in July followed by a Stateside tour in support of Cold Cave, Austra’s a voice not to be ignored and we’re adding our trumpet to the fanfare of praise for this talented trio.
The weekend is finally here, leave all that work stress behind! Here’s to perfect song to pop on over breakfast courtesy of recent Polydor signing Matthew P. With so much love and kharma flowing around, there’ll be no chance of those toast crumbs geting stuck in your throat…