Monday, 29 April 2013

RIP Chrissy Amphlett

Chrissy Amphlett, vocalist of The Divinyls, died last week after battling breast cancer and multiple sclerosis.
The Divinyls were formed in 1980 and scored a worldwide deal with Chrysalis Records in 1981 after their debut single Boys in Town reached No. 8 on the ARIA chart. They went on to record five studio albums between 1982 and 1996, when they split up.

Without a doubt, the band are most known around the world for their 1991 song I Touch Myself, which reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, No 10. in the UK and No. 1 in Australia. Chrissy and the rest of the band were so much more than just that one hit though.

Chrissy was known for her onstage outfit of a schoolgirl uniform with fishnet stockings. Her image was "controversial", but only in the sense that she was a woman unafraid to express her sexuality or of appearing "ugly".

It was a rarity to see a woman fronting a band (let's face, it's still rare to see in the mainstream charts today) and Chrissie helped break down the male-dominated mold of what a rock band should look like. Through her lyrics, she talked about masturbation and women's sexuality, slut shaming and abusive relationships, subjects that we still don't talk about enough, and she did it without ever holding back.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Charli XCX - True Romance

Over the past few years, pop music has become "acceptable" again. The genre has been snatched back from The X Factor (disclaimer: it's also perfectly fine to like those bands/artists - I just don't think they should be all that's on offer!) and more diverse artists and intelligent lyrics have been sneaking their way up to the radar.

These days, it's not just acceptable, it's almost cool to enjoy a bit of pop with your uber-underground (uberground?) indie. And that's a good thing, because artists like Charli XCX deserve to be heard.

When I first listened to this album, the term "goth pop" seemed like an appropriate description of Charli's sound; poppy but with a darker edge. Some of the beats and sounds even remind me of some industrial bands I listen to.

Divisive rapper Brooke Candy makes an appearance on Cloud Aura, one of my favourite tracks on the album. It's interesting to hear auto-tune being used more for the sake of effect, rather than an as a necessity, during the chorus.

The industrial influence can particularly be heard on tracks like Black Roses (imagine a goth Marina and the Diamonds) and previous single You're the One. Even on the dreamier, almost shoegaze-like tracks, the pounding beats are still prominent, making for a really interesting and addictive sound.

Overall, a great debut album and definitely worth the wait for Charli XCX fans! It sounds like black glittery eyeliner, of neon daydreams in abandoned spaces. 

Rating: 4.5/5
Favourite Tracks: Set Me Free, You're the One, Black Roses
You Might Like It If You Like...: Marina and the Diamonds, Grimes, Sky Ferreira, Kerli, The Birthday Massacre 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Kate Nash + The Tuts - Warehouse 34, Newcastle

If you've read my blog before, or been on my Tumblr, then you'll probably know I'm a huge fan of Kate Nash. This week I finally got to see her play live for the first time, and it was amazing! So here's my little review of the night...

This was my first time at Warehouse 34, and I really liked it as a venue. It literally is a warehouse, just the one room but the perfect size - I love smaller venues because the atmosphere is so much stronger.

It didn't take long for the room to fill up, luckily I managed to get right to the front. I have to say that the music played while we were waiting was great! Some Hole, Joan Jett, Peaches, Le Tigre, Destiny's Child...

The Tuts are supporting Kate on this part of the tour, and I'd already fell in love with their music last year after Kate posted one of their songs on her blog. It's always great when you're looking forward to seeing the support band almost as much as the headliner, and if I'm honest, I enjoyed their set just as much as Kate's.

The Tuts are an indie-punk band made up of three amazing girls, Nadia, Harriet and Beverley. They took to the stage and from the start, you could tell how much they enjoy being onstage and playing music.

They played all four songs from their EP as well as their recent single Tut Tut Tut (which you should all download by the way, links at the end!), plus some new songs which left me really hoping they release another EP soon! They came across as really fun, chatting to the audience between songs and getting people dancing.

It was also great to see Kate and her band dancing alone at the side of the stage, it's always great to see female musicians supporting each other!

After a pain-staking wait, the lights changed and a video of Kate Nash lip-syncing to Lesley Gore's classic You Don't Own Me was projected onto the backdrop, as well as playing on the old television sets dotted round the stage. This went into the opening scene of Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! before Kate and her band members took the stage and launched into one of my favourite tracks from the new album, Sister. It was a perfect way to start a set and really set the tone for Kate's sound of riot grrrl inspired punk mixed with 60's girl groups.

The setlist was great and featured songs from all three of her albums. It was fun to hear her earlier piano-centric songs with a more guitar driven sound, like Foundations and, one of my favourites, Mariella. I was so happy she played Mariella as I know she changes the setlist around quite a lot and, being from her first album, wasn't as likely to be played as her newer songs.

All of her songs have such a great energy when you hear them played live and you can see how much the lyrics mean to Kate. She also really engaged with the crowd between songs, and it was clear how much she appreciated her fans.

The Tuts had been jumping around in the crowd during her set and during Under-Estimate the Girl facilitated a mini stage invasion (until security got in the way!). I hope those girls who got onstage feel inspired and went home to start their own bands! 

Personal highlights for me were All Talk, Mariella, Do Wah Doo and OMYGOD.

After an encore of Meredith Brooks' Bitch and We Get On, I headed over to the merch table to see what was on offer. The Tuts were already there and were chatting to everyone - they were so friendly and signed my EP.

Kate came out after about five minutes - I can't count the number of times I've been to a gig where the headliner says they'll be around afterwards and take a ridiculously long time "getting ready", so this was a pleasant surprise!

She was lovely, so approachable and taking the time to talk to everyone - there was no rush, as you really got the sense that she would be sticking around until everyone had gone. I gave her a letter and two badges I'd made, a Hole one and a Buffy one. She seemed genuinely grateful, and gave me a hug before posing for a picture with me.

Overall, I can't say enough how great this gig was. There was such a great atmosphere, it just felt like such a positive and inspiring space. I hope she tours again soon - I'm greedy!

Kate Nash's Blog
The Tuts