Archive for the 'female singers' Category

Trespassers William @ Sacred Trinity Church, Salford, 07-10-09

I’ve been wanting to see Trespassers William live for three years now, at least – since The Ledge first downloaded “Lie in the Sound” from their stunning Different Stars album. This gig at Sacred Trinity was the first opportunity and what a great venue for it too! With the high celings, ornate decor and stunning acoustics, the atmosphere would certainly be the perfect way to experience their soft, mournful, shoegazer folk.

First on was Operations – basically Kip from Napoleon Dynamite with a guitar and an effects pedal. He played a chord and then used his effects pedal to string it out forever, changing volume and adding weird, well, effects. They weren’t songs. They were chords and a guy monkeying around. The Ledge commented that it was the sort of thing he used to do in his bedroom when he got his first guitar to see what sounds the effects pedal would make. To call it boring doesn’t do it justice. The “songs” were so monotonous and uninteresting that they could make the dead rise from the grave to find somewhere else to entomb themselves.

Glissando came next and were far more agreeable, playing incredibly slow folky tunes which I enjoyed at first, but lost my interest after while. I’d probably have enjoyed them more if I weren’t anticipating the main act.

Trespassers William were everything I hoped they’d be – quiet, pensive, beautiful – and they left far too soon. With a 30 minute set which consisted of around 7 songs, they managed to sneak in my two favourites – “Different Stars” and “Lie in the Sound” as well as a breathtaking cover of “Videotape” by Radiohead with Glissando providing additional instrumentation and backing vocals and a couple of new songs which were lovely, but failed to surprise (not that this was a bad thing). Singer, Anna-Lynne explained that the band was soldiering on despite both her and guitarist Matt being rather unwell, which may explain the short set.

Overall, although I wish they’d played longer, I can’t complain too much as the gig was exactly what we wanted when we bought the tickets. Trespassers William came to Manchester and played their lovely music for us in a church.

Trespassers William – Different Stars

Video: Trespassers William, “Lie in the Sound” at Sacred Trinity Church, Salford

Video: Trespassers William, “Videotape” at Sacred Trinity Church, Salford

Posted by JustHipper on 11th October 2009 at 3:48 pm | comments (324)
File under female singers,Gig Reviews,sacred trinity church,video.

Gig Review Catchup: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, The Twilight Sad, Fleet Foxes, The Cave Singers

We’ve been to a lot of gigs this summer. We just haven’t had time to write about them. They’ve been corkers though. I’m going to try and summarize some of it here.

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan at Manchester Academy 2On 12th June we headed over to the Manchester Academy 2 to see Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan performing in support of their marvellous second album, Sunday at Devil Dirt. While trying to find out the name of the opening band I did something I never do – I read three reviews from their London gig a few days earlier. They were not praiseworthy, suggesting that the pair had no chemistry and the gig was like watching statues performing. Needless to say, I was mildly concerned – until about the second song. Although they barely moved, much less looked at each other, both Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan were in fine voice and both appeared to be far more wrapped up in what they were singing than in each other. This could be down to the fact that they’ve hardly performed together and are still getting used to the idea. Or perhaps they’re both shy – a possibility since neither uttered a word on stage. Still, it didn’t matter at all as the songs themselves were intense and sultry and really brought out the bluesy elements of both albums, especially “Back Burner” and “Come On Over (Turn Me On)”.

The Twilight Sad at the Manchester Night & DayAfter a couple of days off for birthdays and anniversaries, we headed over to the Night & Day on Monday 16th June to catch The Twilight Sad suppored by Broken Records. Having played the same venue roughly two months earlier and with little promotion in the interim, the tables were out for a very sparse audience at the Night & Day. More’s the pity because they blew their previous performance out of the water, sounding tighter than ever. Final song “Cold Days from the Birdhouse” was simply stunning. Openers Broken Records impressed enough with their manic Scottish folk coming across like a combination of the Arcade Fire and Sons & Daughters with a bit of twang to it.

Fleet Foxes at Manchester RoadhouseWe were also down at the Roadhouse for Beach House and Fleet Foxes’ joint headline gig. We bought the tickets because we’d enjoyed Beach House’s laid back, fluid and relaxing summery tunes while sat on the fake grass at the covered main stage at ATP. By the time the gig rolled around, however, the buzz was all about Fleet Foxes. Beach House proved to be enjoyable and very personable, however their lightness did not translate all that well in the dark, dingy Roadhouse. Although I hadn’t heard more than a couple of tracks before the show, I thought Fleet Foxes, were superb with their harmonious folk tunes. The melodies are so catchy that it’s hard not to be taken in by them and the band were rather charming, asking how the crowd were doing, gushing at their reception and cracking jokes about comedian Tim Allen. If it weren’t for some of the usual idiots in the crowd trying to get in front of the barrier (and blocking my view) and then blaming me rather loudly for about three songs after security moved them on it would have been a perfect show. The encore in which singer Robin Pecknold delivered a solo, nearly a capella song – I think it was “Oliver James” but as I hadn’t heard the album, I’m not sure now about 6 weeks on – was haunting and note-perfect. As they reminded me at times of both My Morning Jacket and The Shins – two bands we love around here – I went looking for their debut album pretty much straight away afterwards.

On July 1st we opted to skip seeing The National in Leeds as we were going to catch them at T in the Park a couple of weeks later and instead we went down to the Night & Day to see The Cave Singers perform a full set. Their debut album Invitation Songs is one of my favourites of the year and hasn’t been far from the CD player since around February. They had impressed us with their live show opening for Band of Horses so much that I expected a packed out venue. Instead, the tables were out across the front of the stage and were barely full for the band’s arrival. Nonetheless, fresh from Glastonbury, they delivered a captivating, if subdued, performance which included a couple of new tracks. The new songs didn’t sound much different but were enjoyable and the album tracks made me want to sing along – which would have been a bit silly given the setting. As always “Helen” and “Dancing on Our Graves” were spectacular. It will be very disappointing if they don’t acquire a bigger following because their sparse, rhythmic country folk is quite unique and incredibly gratifying.

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Salvation
The Twilight Sad – Cold Days from the Birdhouse
Fleet Foxes – Oliver James
The Cave Singers – Dancing on Our Graves

Posted by JustHipper on 2nd August 2008 at 1:08 pm | comments (3)
File under female singers,Gig Reviews,Isobel Campbell,manchester academy 2,Mark Lanegan,mp3,the cave singers.

Gig Review: Laura Veirs at Manchester Night & Day, February 5, 2008

Contrary to popular opinion amongst my friends (and perhaps anyone who’s read my gushing endorsements of The Decemberists), I bought my first Laura Veirs album, her current one, Saltbreakers, not because she duetted with the lovely Colin Meloy, but rather because a friend whose taste in music I trust said it was a fantastic album. It is. While I had previously avoided her studiously as I thought she might be another one of those boring, faux-quirky female acoustic singers with whom we have been assaulted over the last 18 months, much to my chagrin; it turns out she writes lovely songs that mention water somewhat regularly and that she has a very pleasant, soothing and friendly voice.

So, we took ouselves down to the Night & Day expecting a pleasant evening – which is pretty much what we got.

The opening act was Clyde, a singer-songwriter from Seattle who sings in a band called Your Heart Breaks. I listened to a couple of their songs on MySpace prior to heading down to the gig and they were warm, quirky, lo-fi numbers that reminded me of the Moldy Peaches in tone, if not in content. Funnily enough, Clyde mentioned being friends with Kimya Dawson, formerly of the Moldy Peaches. In person she was warm, funny and very self-deprecating and if lyrically some of her songs were a bit lacking, she made up for it with enthusiasm and some very entertaining storytelling. I was smiling when she left the stage and feel like I really should go back to the Your Heart Breaks MySpace page and download a few tracks.

We were expecting Laura Veirs to be touring with a full band, as Saltbreakers has a lot of instrumentation on it, but it seems we missed that jaunt a few months back and this time she was on her own, because, she told us, she likes to see how the songs stand up alone occasionally. They sounded lovely, in fact. Despite some problems with her monitors, she put in a faultless performance that even saw a couple of songs on the banjo and some old folk covers as well as a set covering not only her most recent album, but all the ones before it that neither I nor the The Ledge have heard. That is, all her albums except the first one which she reckons is a bit crap as she was still learning her trade at the time. The audience were entranced by her, with a gaggle of young women at the front of the stage singing every word along with her.

The only problem, really (apart from someone standing nearby who really needed a stick of deoderant and the omission of “Drink Deep” from the set), was that not knowing most of the songs meant I couldn’t fix on the lyrics very easily and so the overwhelming experience was her voice, which doesn’t really change much from song to song (not that it would without effects which would kind of defeat the purpose of an acoustic performance), and the melodies which started to blend together without the help of a range of instruments to give the songs musical depth and variety. I don’t think this was an issue of songwriting but rather my lack of familiarity with the songs. A full band would have kept my attention better and given me more to hear and see.

On the whole, however, Laura Veirs put in a great performance and is clearly a songwriter whose back catalogue is well worth exploring further.

Laura Veirs – Nightingale

Laura Veirs – Drink Deep

Posted by JustHipper on 10th February 2008 at 8:44 pm | comments (2)
File under female singers,Gig Reviews,gigs,Laura Veirs,mp3,night & day,Reviews,Your Heart Breaks.

Beth Ditto really needs to get over herself and see a doctor

Now, we’re not usually ones to comment on nonsense in the gossip columns here at Indie Cred, but a story I read this morning on Teletext really got me seething. Beth Ditto has apparently issued a press release thanking Keira Knightley for saying she has an “amazing body.” Now the irony of that strange celebrity pairing aside, I have, frankly, reached breaking point for being showered with a one-trick pony of a singer constantly drawing attention to herself by making it all about her weight.

The first I heard of The Gossip was at ATP two years ago where I had a couple of people tell me I should watch their set. They praised her amazing vocals, her stage presence, the fire behind the music, the merging of indie and retro electro sounds, of the sheer danceability and catchiness of the band’s sound. Not once did anybody mention her weight. In fact, the only person who mentioned Beth Ditto’s weight that day was Beth Ditto – when she apologised for being constantly out of breath and having to keep stopping for long breaks because her weight made it hard for her to keep up the pace.

A year later and The Gossip were everywhere with their mediocre teen anthem “Standing in the Way of Control” and suddenly Beth Ditto is in the media not talking about the band and the music she writes, but constantly talking about her weight and how people should see her as beautiful. Now, pardon me, but it seems to me that Miss Ditto seems to constantly go on about her body shape because she seems to need some reassurance that it’s ok to be morbidly obese, and she needs to know that her fans don’t mind the fact that she can’t perform as well as she should because she’s just too damned fat.

Now, certainly nobody should be judged on their appearance. We shouldn’t buy records because someone is attractive or unattractive and weight should never be an issue in whether somebody can sell records or write songs or, hell, run for public office, become an astro-physicist, etc. What all of this body image nonsense that comes out of Beth Ditto’s mouth ignores is that the issue with weight – whether you have too much of it or not enough – is health. We don’t find obesity unattractive because we’re anti-fat, we naturally find it unattractive because somebody who is morbidly obese is more likely to have health problems and die young from those health problems and, quite frankly, that is in itself highly unattractive.

The fact of the matter is that Beth Ditto already has trouble doing her job to the highest possible level because of her weight so no matter how many times she tells members of the press that “fat is beautiful” and it’s some sort of media conspiracy to say otherwise, she is simply wrong. I’m not talking about being a few pounds overweight or struggling to keep to the perfect size 10, I’m talking about someone who clearly struggles to perform on stage because she’s carrying so many extra pounds around that she gets out of breath easily. The media saying she’s beautiful and praising her body image is frankly just as bad as the media pointing to a stick insect like Keira Knightley and saying that should be some sort of beauty ideal (frankly their weight shouldn’t be a major issue in the media at all, but hey ho). A person at either weight is going to feel vile most of the time and have associated health issues.

Now all this nonsense about how the media should promote an atmosphere which makes young girls think it is ok to be so overweight as to be unhealthy so they don’t feel ugly aside (personally, I’d rather be skull-crushingly ugly than suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes and be prone to all sorts of cancers and other nasty illnesses), the remark that really pissed me off was Miss Ditto saying “I don’t judge women for feeling they have to be thin, because they’re conditioned their whole lives to ‘hate yourself, hate yourself, hate yourself’. I judge the world for being so anti-female.”

Now excuse me, but what?

The whole world is anti-female because magazines have a bad tendency of showcasing unhealthily skinny models?

Ok, yes, telling young girls that they have to be ridiculously thin is wrong, and saying that women should aim to be the ideal size 10 is idiotic because we’re all differently sized and shaped. But how does this make the world anti-female, and how does this amount to conditioning women to hate themselves?

Women are universally worshipped in art, in literature, in music. According to Greek mythology, two countries fought an all-out war over a woman. All around me all my life I have always been told that being a woman should not stop me from achieving anything I wanted, and never once did any of this come down to my weight or appearance.

The fact that girls want to look pretty and want to emulate their heroes has nothing to do with society as a whole having it in for its women or forcing them to starve themselves to meet some vile idea of beauty. Surely the problem is more that we give far too much space in the media for vapid “celebrities” and we suggest that girls should strive to be famous rather than striving to make the world a better place. The problem is that we are making the wrong people role models for our children by equating visibility in the media with greatness.

Beth Ditto, in my mind, is doing just as much harm as any vastly underweight celebrity by telling girls that they should be focussing on body image and by suggesting that it’s ok to be unhealthy and that society has it in for them and by also focussing on these same vapid, useless celebrities instead of the types women they should be trying to emulate.

Surely a strong female role model should be encouraging impressionable young women that they can be however they want to be so long as they don’t sell themselves short or settle for less either by thinking they have to accept their body shape if it stops them from feeling healthy and doing things that they want to do or by allowing anybody to tell them that something is out of their reach simply because they are female. We should be encouraging young women to strive for more than five minutes on the news or a story in a tabloid. We should be telling these girls that their appearance is not important, that what they do for the world they live in is key; that having a snapshot in a magazine is hardly an achievement when they could be working to educate people, to save their lives, to find cures for diseases, create great works of art, invent things that will make people’s lives better, work towards peace, towards helping end poverty or any of these great ideals which drive society forward, not hold it down by keeping it engaged in a pointless debate about whether some moderately-talented singer should be on the cover of some useless music magazine simply because she has an unhealthy diet.

And now for some strong, female music to wash that rant down:

Sonic Youth – Swimsuit Issue

PJ Harvey – 50ft Queenie

Echobelly – Give Her a Gun

Posted by JustHipper on 20th December 2007 at 1:05 pm | comments (112)
File under female singers,Random comment,Rant.