Wednesday 31 December 2008

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - 17 December 2008, The Lexington

If last night was rocket ships and starbursts lighting up the sky, tonight is tear-jerkingly, heart-explodingly life affirming. There’s an end of term feel as The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have pretty much come to the close of their tour (just a Wedding Present Support slot tomorrow night) and EVERYONE is here, like some kind of indiepop Christmas office party.

The Pains’ songs are glued into my brain good and proper, I’ve been humming bits of them all day, in excited anticipation. Tonight, amidst the fizzing pop whirl is the twinkly ‘Stay Alive’ representing the more ‘gazey end of the band’s spectrum and ‘Kurt Cobain’s Cardigan’ which sounds like The Vaselines’ ‘Son Of A Gun’ (The Vaselines, were, of course, Kurt’s Faves – what goes around comes around, or something).

The Pains hurtle through their set with such glee that a wee mosh-pit materialises as people can no longer restrain the pure pop excitement welling up inside them. It’s hilarious and joyful, big beams all round. How sweet to see a gaggle of 30-somethings-pushing-40 jumping up and down singing “We will never die, no, no we will never die!” I especially enjoy stomping along to the librarian’s anthem bit (“Don’t check me out”) of the brilliantly titled ‘Young Adult Friction’.

Above the stage in the weird overly elevated DJ booth Trev Lostmusic is, um, losing it, creating an aerial one-man mosh-pit. For a brief while the audience’s attention is drawn away from the band as we point and gaze in admiration at Trev’s dedication to the noise. It’s a nice communal moment amongst many in what's a veritable indiepop love-in tonight.

I could happily trip along for, ooh, at least a dozen more nights on the trot for The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, and it’s touching to see how much this tour seems to have meant to them and how they’re wishing they could stay. Darren from the Manhattan Love Suicides lurches amongst the wibbling crowd punching the air in triumph and grinning back at everyone as the last chords of ‘The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’ buzz to a close. We know what he means. This Love Is Fucking Right!

Tuesday 30 December 2008

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart / Comet Gain – 16 December 2008, The Old Blue Last

And suddenly it all makes sense…
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have been making indiepop kids far and wide go a bit bonkerz. Listening to their recordings, I can hear that the band has a cute way with a fuzzy tune, but I’m not quite getting why all the boys and girls are going so Pains crazy. Now I’ve seen them live (was away when they were over earlier in the year so I missed out on their initial slaying of the popkids), I gets it!

The tiny room atop The Old Blue Last is crammed with eager Pains-seekers, some of whom have paid one whole pound to ensure they definitely gain entry to this free Twee As Fuck shindig. The four Pains (three skinny boys, one smiley girl) seem sweet and self-effacing, adjusting their effects pedals before swallow-diving into a sparking sherbet noise-bomb, racing through a short sweet set that leaves us feeling disorientated with delight.

It’s all the songs you know – ‘Come Saturday’, ‘Everything With You’, ‘Young Adult Friction’…sounding vital and wonderful, slamming into your ears and whisking you along in a giddy thrill. Yearning lyrics and dark concerns come wrapped in glowing pop wonderment. You can sit and think about the words at home (and they’re pretty good words, how many songs can there be mentioning microfiche?) Here you need to feel the thrills ‘n’ spills thump of the drums in your solar plexus, shake your head in a blur, skid along on the squeal and squall of the guitars (and look, singer Kip has a white Fender Jaguar, just like Kevin Shields), grin as Peggy chases an unruly swivelling mic to coo out backing vocals or as she just stands a-shakin’ her hair. It’s good hair for shakin’ for sure.

Heard live, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s songs, the songs that make you smile and tap your foot at home, become The Only Songs That Matter Right Now! They make your head do that thing where the world stops spinning and you become intensely aware of this. precise. moment. with the music crashing down around you in little slow-mo snowflakes of electricity. Who knows how or why fuzzy little pop songs can sometimes do this? They just do.

We gather our composure to find Comet Gain getting onstage to play a ‘Greatest Hits’ set (“Then we remembered we don’t know how to play them all”). Rachel is the life and soul tonite, taking centre stage to lead us all on a bacchanalian beat trip, hands clapping, feet stamping, through the likes of ‘Say Yes!’ and the giddy glide of ‘The Fists In The Pocket’. Feck tells us this midget pop gem was going to be a single, but it would’ve been such a success that they would have all gone off the rails. True fakt.

We can’t stay for the whole set, but it’s hard to tear ourselves away, as Comet Gain can be so very moreish. We keep going, ‘Oh I love this one!’ and staying to see what the next song will be. Plus we are having a good laugh watching the Looks on Shoreditch twatsters’ faces when they peer round the door and see the band – they havenae got a clue, ha ha!

We’re Courting Dreams, We’re Snorting Dreams: Fave Tunes November / December 2008

Water II – Hush Arbors Lilting space folk that sounds like it could be some olde rickety recording from yesteryear. Or from the stars

Glitches ‘n’ Bugs – The Shortwave Set There’s a good bit in this that sounds like the theme tune to ‘The Double Deckers’(bang up to date pop-cultural reference there, cheers). The rest of it is pretty ace too.

Meadowsweet – Wyrdstone
Nice to hear the sound of sunlight and treetops on a murky wynter day

Rocketship – 63 Crayons

Departure - Crystal Stilts
JAMC & Joy Div & The Organ riding on a ghost train whilst you punch the air in glee

Cancelled Flight – The Young Sinclairs Byrdsy jangling with added skulls ‘n’ treetops magical mysticism

Skeleton Tiger - Tame Impala ‘Meet the Australian Dungen’ says Time Out, ‘Ooh, yes please!’ says me

Big Black Sky – Sunking!
Sparkly! And their Myspace says ‘Sounds like: Sleeping in the grass and awaking to rabbits that pull you out in the sun drenched fields to dance’ Yeah!

The North Wind Blew South – Headless Heroes
Swooping fairytaleness

Tell The World – Vivian Girls For the cute clanking droningness of it and for the critters rocking out here:

Saturday 20 December 2008

The Vivian Girls – 9 December 2008, Rough Trade East

Jeez, this is dangerous, hanging out in Rough Trade for an hour, killing time idly flicking through the seven inches and the garage LPs and Krautrock compilations and old copies of Shindig! and contemplating the Suspiria soundtrack and here’s that Love DVD I’ve been looking for and…and…too much ace stuff, argh! Oh here are The Vivian Girls to distract us with a snappy set of fizzbomb fuzz songs.

This is the perfect gig – straight from work with not too much waiting for things to happen, no tedious support bands to wait out, then a quick bus ride home in time for tea. And free.

The Vivian Girls are excited. They’ve just noticed the Rough Trade Christmas tree has a copy of their album dangling from it. This is the good thing about the band, they’re still buzzing with the fun of visiting new places and playing their songs for folks. Despite having to drive themselves around the country, getting stopped by the police for doing illegal turns* and being boo-ed in Coventry the night before**, they’re still full of joie de vivre, engaging the audience with cute anecdotes and endearing banter as much as with their skittery tunes.

The reverb is ramped up, harmonies echoing in a spooky mist against the spit and sparkle of buzztoned guitars and rumble-de-thump drumming. It’s thrashy and trashy and not very competent, but burstingly good noisepop fun. And of course there’s the fab ‘Tell The World’ sounding like witchy fingered trees blowing in a hail storm. And a stoopid story about a lost cat and a friend’s put-on in English accent (note: none of The Vivian Girls can do an English accent).

Pleasingly, the three Vivian Girls come in three different flavours of hair, so you can choose your fave. They also have very interesting and colourful tattoos which somehow add to their charm. Katy (the red one) has saved her best dress for today as they’re playing two shows (there’s Madame JoJos later). The zip isn’t done up, but I think she’s just being punk rock in a devil-may-care ‘zips are for bourgeois phonies’ kinda way. At the end of the set, she discovers her sartorial faux pas and is a bit horrified. I feel bad that I haven’t said anything about the zip. Sorry.

* The audience has to explain to the band what the term ‘prat’ means, as the Old Bill used the term ‘pratnav’ to describe The Viviuan Girls’ rubbish satnav system which made them go the wrong way.
** The London audience automatically boos Coventry as a concept, even before we’ve heard of their dastardly treatment of the Girls.

Saturday 6 December 2008

Everything With You – The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (Fortuna Pop!)

“Strange teenager, waiting for death at 19…” hmm, another fuzzpop hit from The Pains, sending the pop kids squealing for the dance floor, singing along. Whereas ‘Come Saturday’ slyly constructed an icing-sugar recreation of ‘Sunny Sundae Smile’, ‘Everything With You’, sweet and twinkly and laconic, is MBV’s pencil shavings pre-‘Strawberry Wine’. Which is to say it’s still scraped knees and interesting bruises, dazed dreams and ice-creams, it just doesn’t leave you gasping for air quite so much.

The other track on this single is called er, 'The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart' and excitingly, you can sing The Mary Chain’s ‘The Hardest Walk’ over the top of it – hours (as in minutes) of karaoke/mash-up fun!