While we were away: The Shipping Forecast, Sound City aftermath, Pavement ATP, Ariel Pink & The Invisible


British Telecom accidently managed to cut me off again recently, so here’s a quick catch up of what’s been going down while I’ve had no interweb.

The last time my internet ties were severed I moaned at length. This time round, despite my Jack Dee impersonations to various BT balloons chunnering into their headsets, I was somewhat content with an enforced break from webworld.
After the annual Manic May double-header that is All Tomorrow’s Parties (more of in a mo’) and Liverpool Sound City, it’s fair to say this body and mind needed a break. Well, anyone that knows me, knows I don’t really do breaks, but at least I wasn’t chaining myself to this blog after heavy sessions on the tiles.
Heavy sessions have been on the menu for sometime now (Nick on the sportsdesk says the bender has been on the go since Dubai Sound City. He may be right), but there’s been such a plentiful supply of muso-orientated happenings it’s hard to move down a gear.
Anyhoo, here’s what you may have missed, if you weren’t involved.
i) Numerous trips to Liverpool’s new venue, The Shipping Forecast, have provided varying levels of entertainment. The music is, for the most part, spot on (Saturday, The Juan Maclean‘s The Future Will Come, piped into the downstairs open-bricked cavern, which as James from Bicycle Thieves correctly pointed out resembles a prison cell).
However, I’m not going to pretend to be blown away by the place quite yet. There are nice touches; the selection of ales (though pricey) and the staff are dead on and the daytime comfort food is good too.
The decor is expensively rough and ready but decidedly unimaginative and the layout is a tad confusing. It certainly hasn’t the atmosphere of Korova‘s original Fleet Street home.
But it’s early days. And Saturday’s The Invisible gig provided one of the genuine highlights of 2k10.
Having waxed lyrical over their debut and foamed at the mouth during their Sound City blitz last year, treats were sure to be had, but the 45 minute trip on Saturday was something close to outrageous.
It didn’t look too hot when technical hitches provided a stop-start opening. And patience was tested further with the annoying distraction of two camera men and a videographer annoyingly wafting around the tiny stage throughout.
But there’s something truly special with this lot; a telepathic groove – rarely have a band seemed so loose yet so nailed together, a stylistic fusion that’s as soulful and playful as it is dark and menacing, and it can’t be emphasised enough the musicianship on offer.
This is brought to the fore quite magically during a finale which segues Time Waits – a tougher, steely rockist track – quite a departure from their trademark funk – which segues into a spacedisco cut which spirals into a 12-minute outro straight from the Parliament Mothership canteen.
Leo Taylor‘s kit work – handkerchief applied to deaden – leaves jaws dangling while Dave Okumu‘s deft fretwork has me dribbling Red Stripe in between stifled laughter at the brilliance showering The Ship’s dungeon.
Post-gig Okuma says there’s a good chance this finale – already laid down for their follow-up record, will hopefully make the cut. These ears can barely wait.

The Invisible: OK
ii) All Tomorrow’s Parties: Curated by Pavement.
Another killer ATP, of which the highlights were numerous. Non-music standouts were drunken chats with The Dirty Three‘s Jim White, walking 100m across the handrail of Centre Stage’s upper tier while Grails applied the sitars and playing skittles with the Southern Records collective led by Ms Lauren Barley.
Musically, the riches were muchly: Avi Buffalo kept up the ‘first band = amazing,’ tradition proving you can be ridiculously young and ridiculously ace at guitar, Boris were excessive and excellent, particularly during an emotional rendition of Feedbacker, Surfer Blood‘s Swim was pure heaven, Faust managed to combine smashing metal, chainsaw sparks and blissed kraut to perfection, Still Fylin’ won Happiest/Funnest/Most Members On Stage Hopping And Smiling At The Same Time Award – narrowly pipping rivals Broken Social Scene who should employ more trumpets, Wooden Shjips were bonza but my memory can’t recall actually seeing them (but somewhere my brain says they were far out), Wax Fang were BIG and BOSS while Mark Eitzel was perhaps the standout for delivering a staggering stand-up routine of stories and music which very nearly brought a tear to the eye. Serious.
And then of course Pavement – superb stuff, and perhaps champions of the biggest mass singalong, during Stereo, these ATP-ears have witnessed.
It was an incredible four days and also notable for being our mate Stewart’s stag do. Congrats, lad.

Missing Wax Fang doing Purple Rain back to back was a real bummer, though.
iii) There’ll be a serious catch up of the albums that’ve been turning me on recently but here’s a cut, called Miami, from Foals‘ rad new record Total Life Forever It royally shits on the U2 song of the same name.

iv) While most of you enjoyed a Bank Holiday weekend, The Post & Echo sportsdesk was office-bound, so my ‘hols’ consisted of a work-free Wednesday and Thursday. Which was fine as the sun was out in force and two days of fun included watching alt-country bands, including The Grande (decent, understated melancholia), in Studio 2, Chris Morris‘ disappointing yet still amusing take on terrorism in Four Lions, catching up with Sound Of Guns‘ Lee, Puzzle‘s Lucy and Sex Education‘s Chris in Le Bateau and waking up with a kitten.
The highlight though was a get-together with the Liverpool Sound City team for a meal at Host on Hope Street with drinks at Peacock afterwards – a world away from the mania of last month’s festivities – last Thursday was relaxed and altogether grand – a nicer group of people you couldn’t hope to meet.
v) My favourite new band: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti in session at 4AD. Their record Before Today is out Monday.

Ariel Pink: Round and Round
I’m not sure whether I like this, but for fans of Girl Talk, I’m sure you’ll dig.
This week Getintothis will tidy up the dregs of Liverpool Sound City – there’s a lot of goodness to be wrung out yet and reviews from Liam Frost and gnarly metal pensioners Slayer. Plus a month or so’s best tunes.