Tuesday, April 14, 2009


All of the Sugar and Noise team are writing one poem a day for all of April

Charlotte's are here

Richard's are here

And mine are here.

We love you. x

Friday, February 01, 2008


So I kept telling myself that I'd do a first post here and I still haven't and it's been a month now and that's sort of shocking really. So hi - I'm Charlotte or Charly or whatever the fuck you want to call me and I spend an awful lot of my time listening to music. I wasn't sure what to make a post about in particular, so I'm just going to list some bands and songs that I think are awesome and you should check out, with reasons why you should check them out as well, obviously.

1. Final Fantasy - The Power of Love (Celine Dion cover)

O disbelievers, stop laughing and curse at the crowd that continue to laugh after Owen has started singing. His voice could make most things sound beautiful, I think, although here it doesn't sound like it's just his voice doing it; is it possible that Celine's had it right all along, has he just made it clearer? Maybe, but then again probably not. I confess this makes me no more likely to listen to the original, but that's okay, this cover is becoming definitive for me. Just hear the crowd realise that this is not a laughing matter and fall silent as the violin cuts through and makes even you, O disbelievers, listen to a song that you and I decided long ago wasn't worth a penny.

2. The Felt Tips - Boyfriend Devoted

Because nothing will ever be okay again.

3. Electrelane - To The East

I was late to the party and I still don't know this band very well, although I do know that they're on an 'indefinute hiatus'. But oh, this song. It never gets too loud or frantic, just keeps beating, keeps beating, keeps beating itself back home.

4. The Parselmouths - It's Not So Bad

I'm going to tell you a secret. Harry and the Potters were always a better idea than actual band; what could be more punk than American brothers singing songs about Harry Potter in libraries? Well, quite. Harry and the Potters are not the best wizard rock band, The Parselmouths are - bitchy teenage girls singing about Harry Potter and why being in Slytherin doesn't suck as much as people think is so much better, even if I did always sort of expect that I'd end up in Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff due to my lack of ambition and cunning and my ever-growing collection of books.

5. The Indelicates - Unity Mitford

I was working in a bookshop until the middle of last month, and at some point I discovered that one of the biggest selling books of the year that wasn't part of a promotion was one about the letters of the Mitford sisters... I sort of missed all of that, didn't really know anything about them (except someone once tried to make me read Love In A Cold Climate but I could never really get beyond the perfect title). This song is as glorious as it is beautifully, dreadfully, amazingly wrong. I prefer the acoustic version from The Last Siginificant Statement EP, but have a listen to the live one on their myspace - amped up and rocking their hearts out, listen to Simon whisper.

6. Emmy the Great - Easter Parade

Yeah so it's all a bit twee and you're probably expecting me to write a sort of sub-Amelie stream of consciousness ramble to live up to it. Fuck you. Sometimes I like feeling defeated. There is no Jerusalem here, no Arcadia, no ghosts.

7. Laura Marling - My Manic and I

Most of these links are just there so that you can hear the songs, but for this one you should watch the video, and then watch her doing 'New Romantic' on Later with Jools... Laura Marling is seventeen, younger than me (although not by much) and... she's awesome. She's not wearing makeup and she clearly hasn't been combing her hair, but that's cool, neither of those are priorities for me either. If I had to pick a face for the kind of teenage girl that I am from the current popscene then it'd be her, but she's not really a face for anyone other than herself. In the video of her performing New Romantic you get some wide shot of just her, tiny and bright in a massive blanket of darkness. She doesn't tend to look at the camera. But why should she? She's fantastic, just listen.

8. Lupe Fiasco - Little Weapon

I know pretty much nothing about hip hop, so I can't say much about this without revealing how true this is. But this is amazing, just listen to that intro, oh, and then when it starts properly with "I killed another man today" it just hits me. The production's really awesome, too.

9. Yeasayer - Sunrise

I like handclaps in songs. The opening of this is just awesome and I'm still not really sure about how I feel about the singer's voice... but I think I like it. At the moment I'm really all for layers and soundscapes, because I'm trying to write and sometimes I need to shut out words and just listen to noise and sounds and cymbals. This is the sort of stuff that helps.

10. Los Campesinos! - Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks

I'm not talking about the album yet. All that matters for these almost five minutes is this, this, Gareth telling us that sharks don't sleep and his cheeks are bruised and the chorus itself hits as hard as a blow to the head. This is my favourite song to walk home to.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The International Tweexcore Underground

Will indeed, save us all. Los Campesinos, when you're ready...

Plese all go out and buy this on 22nd October and get it to Number 1 and make me very happy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Live Review: Interpol and the Maccabees.

So last night I went to the Birmingham Academy to see Interpol. I got there at 6.55 and there was already a rather long line from the door. After getting in and realizing I'd forgotten my camera (annoying considering we got past security without even a glance and they were confiscating cameras from other people) I got a place as close to the front as we could. Alas, tall people with big hair got even closer but ho hum.

The Maccabees were the very-out-of-place support, although the three Maccabees fans in the audience went crazy for them. Generic British Indie. There was some nice guitar lines and the rhythm section was very competant but the singer's voice just annoyed the bejesus out of me.

Still. They were over pretty quick and they we had to stand around for an hour in the ridiculous heat waiting.

Pioneer to the Falls opened the set and made that wait worthwhile. It's a great big lush epic of a song and I was pleased that there were people singing along. I was afraid it might be an ultra-serious crowd. They proved themselves to be anything but, and there was dancing apleanty to Slow Hands and the like.

Carlos D commanded the right side of the stage, dressed in his usual dandy/cowboy attire and working a bass guitar like only he can, whilst Daniel Kessler played some mighy fine guitar on the opposite side. There was a wonderful moment where Daniel hit a wrong note and Carlos and him shared a look. Interpol: They're human beings now, no longer robots! As if to prove that Paul talked to the audience a bit. Mostly just "Thank you" but also "That one's called Mammoth" and "This one's a love song". I'm not joking. There was a nice mix of material from all three albums and Say Hello to the Angels, NARC and Pace Is the Trick alike all sounded great.

The main set ended with the epic Antics highlight Not Even Jail followed by PDA which arguably has one of the finest endings to a song ever.

We then had to work very hard for the encore. I think it may well have been a full five minutes of clapping and cheering and chanting. Once again the effort was worth it though, and we were rewarded with the midtempo brooding Leif Erikson and the storming full on post-punk attack of Obstacle 1

A good time was had by all. I believe Interpol's current tour is sold out, but do your damndest to catch them when they return in November. Our Love to Admire is out now and whilst perhaps not being as good as the first two albums, is still definitely worth purchasing. Failing that, the Mammoth single is out September 3rd.

Stay groovy. Next live review: Rilo Kiley.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Summer Sundae 2007 Review

In which Miles reviews his lovely local music festival, Summer Sundae, which is held in and around De Montfort Hall, Leicester.

So I've been putting this off for a week due to laziness.

Let's begin with an overview: SSW07 was absolutely brilliant. It is my favourite music festival, by far.

What? What do you mean it's the only one I go to? I don't see how THAT is at all relevant.

I'll get the dross out the way first. The Pigeon Detectives were completely awful. In fact, Neil of eFestivals said that "they bored much of the crowd rigid, to the point where said Pigeons were slagging off the crowd between each song for ignoring them". Awful awful awful. No talent, no charisma, no good songs.

All three of those could also be applied to Kate Nash whom I obviously avoided seeing but could hear from the campsite. Her voice still hurts and her lyrics are still rubbish. I guess I do get to do my Nash bit again: If you think Kate Nash's lyrics are "so true", that doesn't mean she's a good songwriter. That means you've made some TERRIBLE life choices.

!!! turned out to be a bunch of rather good musicians fronted by an extremely irritating frontman who I would not mind shooting. He totally ruined them for me.

Right, The Good Stuff!

Spoon were always going to be a highlight for me. They played a great set (including my favourite Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga cut, Black Like Me which I wasn't expecting) and I met Rob afterwards and got him to sign their setlist and he was lovely. Other highlights: Don't Make Me a Target and The Beast and Dragon, Adored. Oh and of course The Way We Get By got a good audience reaction.

Jeremy Warmsley was a nice surprise. Prior to the festival I only knew Dirty Blue Jeans and was expecting either a one-man-and-his-laptop or an acoustic-singer-songwritery set. But no! Full band indie pop was the order of the day, and rather wonderful it was too. Dirty Blue Jeans was a real stormer and a somewaht epic piano ballad closed the set in great style.

Low are a band I've always meant to investigate and never got round to, but I was instantly converted by this live performance. Their vocal harmonies are just astounding, I think I could listen to them forever. Highlights: Canada (which I am now addicted to), (That's How You Sing) Amazing Grace and Dragonfly but really their whole set was one big highlight.

Oh and I high-fived Alan Sparhawk. It was awesome.

The Divine Comedy were thoroughly wonderful on Friday night, bringing sophisticated lush chamber pop, spot on critique of modern society and, um, smut to the main stage. Neil Hannon sounded amazing and probably had the best rapport with the audience of any act I saw this year. Highlights: Opener To die a virgin, unexpected Regeneration slow burner Mastermind, the romantic gallop of Tonight We Fly and dramatic mini-epic closer Sunrise.

Malcolm Middleton was wonderful on the main stage midway through Sunday afternoon. Break My Heart and We're All Going To Die may be gloomy, sad songs but they certainly made me happy.

Maps put on a great live show and packed out the indoor stage, sounding much more expansive than on record. I'm still not sure what to call them. Shoegazey-postrocky-electrotwee? To The Sky was a highlight for me because it's the only one I know.

Candie Payne was unexpectedly quite good. Bond-themes, circa the 1960s. Also this might be a big lie but I want to say it: surf-rock meets Northern Soul.

Gruff Rhys put on a great show on the indoor stage a little later, from behind his giant cardboard TV. In fact at the moment where, after playing and looping a whole variety of different instruments to build up a giant wall of sound, he sat back and put on a pair of 3D glasses - he was the coolest man on Earth. The full 19 minutes of Skylon! was great and the two girls who danced (and I mean properly danced) all the way through it are my heroes.

Ending the festival on Sunday was Spiritualized doing their Acoustic Mainlines show which, frankly dear reader, was nothing short of beautiful. Possibly the most amazing thing I've ever seen live. Highlights: Anything More, Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space (which inspired a mass sing-a-long) and a new song called Soul On Fire.

So, yeah, great weekend. Roll on next year. Or in my case, Monday. Weeeeee, Interpol!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

An August Update

Hello. My, it has been a while. Just a few quick things.

1. The Hard Fi album art thing. The "No Cover Art" thing. They've failed, it quite clearly has cover art. Deliberatley chosen colours, font, words. That's cover art. And so there is as little to be excited about on the outside of the album as there is on the inside.

Oh come on, it's Hard Fi. They're rubbish. FACT.

2. The new Rilo Kiley album. HMMMMMMM. On the one hand, I am sad that there is none of Blake's usual giant walls of guitar rock. On the other, they're making really really nice pop music. I think I'm gonna like it, but sort of wish they hadn't brought in the hip hop producers.

Go here and listen to Silver Lining from it. And admire the album art. Oh, Jenny. *swoons*

3. GIGS. I'm actually attending some for once. I know, natty. 1 - Summer Sundae this weekend. 2. Interpol at Birmingham Academy on August 20th. 3. Rilo Kiley at Birmingham Academy 2 on August 31st. Feel free to say hi, on the tiny tiny tiny off-chance that anyone reads this that doesn't know me already.

4. I may work up a full review but if not: Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is fantastic. Buy it already.

Right, y'all stay groovy. I'll try and remember this thing exists more often.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Talk To Me About: The Mountain Goats

In which one half of Sugar and Noise’s indie boy journalist duo interviews the other about his favourite band.

M: When did you first hear The Mountain Goats?

R: I was looking for something I don't even remember now on Limewire, probably bad pop-punk. I found you could see a list of files from the user you were downloading from, so on a whim I click it, and got tracks by the bands with the most interesting names. One was The Exploding Hearts, the other was The Mountain Goats. The song was No Children, it was beautiful and bitter and really, really funny, and you could sing along to it. It became one of those single tracks I listened to when I had no albums I wanted to hear. It was a good little song, but I had no idea who they were.

M: Wow. So in an alternate reality, your favourite band is The Exploding Hearts? (Whoever they are…)

R: They were a trashy, amps-up-to-11 punky pop-rock band, who you'd probably like. They released one album called Guitar Romantic, which was like The Undertones on speed. Then three of them died in a van crash.

M: Huh. Ok. No Children is probably my favourite of theirs, by the way. Now that you've been a serious fan for a while, has another song replaced it as THE Mountain Goats track for you?

R: Well, as the introduction it's always going to have a special place in my heart. I think you've heard the mp3 of the show where John's sick and plays it, barely able to whisper the chorus, and the ENTIRE CROWD sings every word for him. I can't think of anything better than being the guy who wrote that song at that moment.

M: Heck Yes.

R: But, it's the 'big single' really, so once I delved further into the vast discography I found a lot more, less often-aired stuff that was just as skull-shakingly amazing. Right now, I'm head over heels for Crows, You're In Maya and Grendel's Mother.

M: That John Darnielle sure likes his quirky titles, huh?

R: Half of them don't seem to have any particular relevance to the song, but they're great whatever the hell they mean. I think Maya is what the Hare Krishna call the earthly state of greedy materialism, and Grendel's Mother is a Beowulf reference. He did an English degree, so he's also big on the Latin.

M: Nice. Devil's Advocate: Whilst he writes mighty fine songs, the music is at best average and forgettable. Response?

R: John himself said something like 'I see the music as a way to slip the lyrics under people's doorsteps', and I totally agree. There's only so much one man with a rudimentary knowledge of the acoustic guitar can do, and the words practically obliterate it. I do prefer his faster strumming to the softer meanderings, cause they give more bite to the songs, but in general I think it's functionally irrelevant. It's just there, there has to be some backing otherwise they wouldn't be songs.

M: I on the other hand think that some of the softer moments are the best. Woke Up New, for example. Any comment on the shift in style and production over the last few albums?

R: The production thing doesn't bother me as much as some hardcore Goatists (I think they prefer Mountaineers, but let's be imaginative) - as I said in the last one, the lyrics are the key and being able to hear them clearly is a bonus. I love the lo-fi sound too, but sometimes the sense of the song is basically eaten by the tape-trash, and that's not what we want. So I'm happy for him to be in the studio - for one thing it shows he's succeeded enough to get to that stage. And Get Lonely isn't my favourite album, but it fulfils its own purpose, so I can live with that change in style. The next one should probably be back to a more varied palette.

M: Ok. Whilst I'm sure (and from experience in fact, I know) you could talk about them all day, let's wrap it up. Sell me (and the rest of the world) one Mountain Goats album in less than five sentences.

R: One album? OK, since the majority of the listening public might be slightly alienating by the ever-present whirr of a boombox, I'll pick one from the studio era: Tallahassee. I'd recommend Tallahassee to anyone who likes their songs to tell them a story, and even more so if the kind of stories they like involve copious amount of cheap alcohol. It's about John Darnielle's most prominent characters, the Alpha Couple, and the mess they're steadily making of their lives. From upbeat fucked-up love songs ('I am not gonna lose you/We are gonna stay married/In this house like a Louisana graveyard/Where nothing stays buried') to wistful, defiant elegies to something/someone that can't be saved ('I will walk down to the end with you') to rattling post-punk death-trip madness (the whole of 'See America Right') and finally that perfect, buoyantly destructive closer, 'Alpha Rats Nest', 'Tallahassee' has all you could ever want.

M: And finally, to fulfill the needs of the part of my psyche that wishes it was in a Nick Hornby book - A) Top 5 Mountain Goats Songs and B) The Mountain Goats explained in classic "[band] meets [band]" fashion.

R: Top 5? You’re killing me.

M: Do it man. Do it now. On the fly. Go.

R: I’ll just tell you the first good five I think of.

M: Oh, fine.

R: Old College Try, Grendel's Mother, Elijah, Commandante, Broom People – all up there.

M: All ones I've never heard. Which says it all really. Are you going to do a painful Pitchforky band-meets-band, or can I?

R: The Mountain Goats = Bob Dylan meets The Great American Novel [not a band] with punk spirit and added nasality

M: Craig Finn meets Bright Eyes after a weekend of drinking and reading Fitzgerald and they decide to write 5000 songs together.

R: That too.

M: Thanks Richard.

Lookee, Mountain Goats mp3s!
You're in Maya [Live]
Lion's Teeth

Richard's little update: They're more like Neutral Milk Hotel than any of the bands mentioned above, though he's a big fan of Craig Finn's work. Possibly not so much of Fitzgerald's, since when I asked him about 'The Beautiful and Damned' he hadn't actually read it. But he'd read a bunch of cool shit that I hadn't, as you can see here: 3:AM Interview.
We also highly recommend this article: yeah, that one, which sums up John's writing and discusses their sound and content a lot more intelligently than I could.