Thursday, 25 February 2010

Read All About It | Ladyfest Goldsmiths

by Little Miss B, 25th Feb 2010...

As part of the celebration of ten years of Ladyfest, Goldsmiths College is putting on a host of awesome female-fronted bands at the Goldsmiths SU tonight, including the smoky garage rock of PENS, the bassy, skewhiff riot grrrls WETDOG, and the upbeat punk sounds of BRACELETTES! Shoegaze sweethearts Veronica Falls will be headlining: cripes.

Girl Germs + DaftKunt will DJ, and the Feminist Society & co. will provide cakes. All proceeds go to women's charities.

Only £3 from here and the SU shop, or £4 on the door.

Doors 8:30pm, first band (Bracelettes) on at 9 and last band (Veronica Falls) off at midnight, with DJing till late.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Read All About It | Storm In A Teacup / Fat Quarter Launch Party

by Little Miss B, 24 Feb 2010...

If you have alternative plans for this Friday, I suggest you cancel them. I suggest instead that you get yourselves down to The Victoria in Mile End for the Storm In A Teacup & Fat Quarter launch party.

Storm In A Teacup is a London-based collective set up with the aim of promoting women in the arts.

Fed up with finding no platform for their amazingly talented female musician, writer, poet, artist and illustrator friends, founders Beth and Verity decided to do something about it. The launch, alongside that of feminist magazine Fat Quarter, will feature cupcakes, poetry, DJ's and brilliant band Kissing Kalina.

The Girls Are will be there to support, and I SUGGEST you do too. Lovely jubb.

Review | Bertie Blackman

by Little Miss B, 22nd Feb 2010. All photography by Rachel Ferriman for The Girls Are...

Bertie Blackman @ Koko, 18th Feb 2010.

Bertie Blackman is a fantastically interesting artist. Having started writing songs at the tender age of 14, she is currently promoting her third album at a very young 25 years old. Her first foray into the music mainstream was folk-inspired debut 'Headway', followed by rock-influenced second album 'Black'. Back with the brilliant electro-pop delight that is 'Secrets & Lies', Bertie has produced a foot-tapping, dance-floor-filling eclectic mix of melancholic, ethereal and joyful sounds; this album is set to be a summer hit. We decided to brave the creche that is Koko on a Friday night to see Bertie Blackman in action.

Every couple of months I find myself privy to a performance of utter brilliance, sheer force and astounding precision. This was one of those performances. Sad, then, for it to be marred by a moronic section of the largely underage audience intent on ruining everyone else's night. The aforementioned morons took form in five barely pubescent boys located a few feet from the stage. Not satisfied with infuriating their neighbours by starting a mosh pit (at an electro-pop gig) and thwacking a fair few teeny girls round the head, they then decided to launch 50p pieces at poor Bertie onstage. With good grace she quipped that she would now be able to "afford a bus home" (sorry love, not round these parts), but from that point on it was evident that this phenomenally talented artist wanted to get through the set, and just leave (who could blame her?)

Yes boys, you are SO big. You are SO clever. Everyone was SO impressed.

What can not be faulted however, was Bertie's performance itself. Fierce, enigmatic, faultless, energetic and at times quite touching, she poured heart and soul into every song. Current single 'Black Cats' caused cheers and whoops from an over-excited crowd, and personal favourite 'Thump' was the highlight of the show. Seamlessly fusing tongue in cheek lyrics, electro-clash pop sensibilities and classically solid songwriting, she commanded the stage. Her inimitable voice rang through the entire venue (no small feat in the cavernous Koko), whilst moving furiously across the stage. It is an absolute joy to see such power radiate from a lady of such diminutive stature. Bertie only played a 30 minute set, which with hindsight suited the crowd and venue, but we left feeling sligtly short-changed.

Bertie Blackman is playing Barfly on 27th Feb. I suggest you go.

To buy the album, click here.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Song Of The Week | Swan Island

by Little Miss B, 21st Feb 2010...

Night Owl


Oh woe, woe... Another brilliant band who no longer exist. Thanks to the lovely Ethan who gave me this delicious giftage for my ears.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Read All About It | Ladyfest Ten Fundraiser

by Little Miss B, 22nd Feb 2010...

Ladyfest Ten presents a creative fundraiser...


Weds 3 March, 7pm til late
@The Victoria
pub, 110 Grove Rd, London E3
Nearest Tube: Mile End (5 mins walk away)

Come along and make gifts for MOTHERS & OTHERS DAY. 
Create your customised 'heart-felt' brooches, pin cushions, cards and more.
Materials provided, £3 minimum donation. Feel free to bring along your own scissors, needles etc.

DJs Girl Germs // Dance Magic Dance // Scene Not Herd & CAKE SALE feat. The Great Cake Escape

Whether you're a craft superstar or a craft virgin, girl or boy, young or old...come along! Everyone welcome.
Crafter Dark is a new series of creative and fun fundraising and social events for Ladyfest Ten.

The Week In View: 22 - 28 Feb

by Little Miss B, 22 Feb 2010...

Another brilliant week of shows: let us know of more!

 New Young Pony Club @ Islington Academy

Mon 22nd: 
New Young Pony Club @ Islington Academy

Tues 23rd:
Liz and the Ligers @ The Underbelly, Hoxton

Wed 24th:
Dum Dum Girls + La La Vasquez @ Old Blue Last

Thurs 25th: 
Dum Dum Girls @ Bardens Boudoir
Acoustic Afternoon @ Ladyfest Goldsmiths
Bracelettes + PENS + Wet Dog + Veronica Falls @ Ladyfest Goldsmiths

Fri 26th: 
Storm In A Teacup/Fat Quarter Launch with Kissing Kalina @ Victoria, Mile End

Sat 27th:
Chapter 24 @ Biddle Bros

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Review | White Rose Movement

by Little Miss B, 20 Feb 2010. All photography by Gemma Trickey for The Girls Are...

White Rose Movement, Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, Thurs 18th Feb.
Support by Think About Life + Live Like Lions.

I was introduced to White Rose Movement by partner in crime, Trickey. We have fawned, adored, and played 2006 hit album 'Kick' to death. Hence, upon discovering White Rose Movement were to be headlining the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen after a long hiatus, we rejoiced. Having missed support band Think About Life at Cargo a few days previously, Tricks and I were keen beans and headed down to the venue, full of gusto at the night ahead.

What we did not account for, however, were TFL dramatics, technical problems and the ever-present issue of fighting one's way through the crowd with expensive equipment. Yet again, we arrived just as Think About Life were finishing up their set. One day, we will actually review this band, I promise.

What with the somewhat chaotic events of the evening, I can only be grateful that White Rose Movement proved to be as good as we expected. Although not packed to the rafters, the room was filled with an air of expectancy and excitement. After the catchy, pop, synth-wonder that was 'Kick', I was keen to see how the new, more mature sound would play out on stage.

There is no doubt about who the performers are in this band. Adorned in tight white jeans, and a sleeveless white T, Finn is the consummate frontman: his statuesque, sinewy, strutting body perfectly befitting the darker, more brooding material being showcased. Poppy on synth and backing vocals, with her short dark shock of hair, her black garb revealing a flash of torso flesh. Owen, Jasper and Ed (obviously, being the drummer) were always a few steps back, maintaing the tight and driving foundations upon which Finn and Poppy soared.

As is the case with performing new material, audience response can be muted. New track 'Helsinki' raised rapturous applause, and the brilliant 'Small and the Witches Revenge' saw Poppy take on lead vocals, with Finn and Owen hammering away at the synth. However, the real swell came from old favourite 'Love is a Number'. This is not to say the new tracks are not great: far from it, but with a revered back-catalague such as theirs, one would not expect anything less.

As seems to be routine at this venue, there were some issues with the sound levels, but largely this was a brilliant show by a brilliant and enigmatic band. Less pop-oriented, and much more grown-up, their new material promises great things from White Rose Movement in 2010.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Review | Tune Yards

by Little Miss B, 16th Feb 2010. All photography by Rachel Ferriman for The Girls Are...

Tune Yards + Trash Kit + Think About Life @ Cargo, Mon 15th feb.

Trash Kit

There was a lot of love in Cargo last night. Hyperactive, anticipatory, gleeful love. Packed to the rafters, we unfortunately arrived just as openers Think About Life were finishing their set (luckily for us, they will be supporting White Rose Movement at Thursday's Hoxton show). Trash Kit followed with their particular and original brand of shambolic and riotous girl noise. As ever, this three-piece put on a brilliant show: pounding, tribal rhythms, short, punchy anthemic tracks, and many a smile-inducing moment. As ever, this three-piece took a few songs to warm up and get into their stride: they experienced timing and tuning issues throughout the set, yet managed to hold it all together with charm and laughter. The only gripe I ever have with seeing this band play live, is that their sound levels are never quite right: considering the two Rachels (singer and drummer) have such great voices and interesting harmonies, it never seems to make much sense to me that the vocals are always the quietest facet of Trash Kit live. Finishing the set with a cover of 'No Limits' (sending the crowd into utter delirium) was the cherry on top of a stirling show.

Tune Yards

I have only recently been introduced to the sheer brilliance that is Tune Yards, and I cannot believe I have lived this long without her in my life. Tune Yards is the brainchild of New Englander Merrill Garbus, and is pure, unadulterated genius. Fusing african beats, world music, reggae, folk, dance, pop and some of the most incredible vocals I have ever heard, she is unclassifiable. Loving her music, but not knowing what to expect from a live show, I was floored. This was one of the most powerful and inspiring performances I have ever seen, and I doubt anyone else in the crowd would beg to differ.

Tune Yards

Two drums, two mics, a dizzying array of pedals and a bass player set the stage. Launching into the opening lines of 'Bizness', an unassuming, cheery, war-painted lady went on to hook every member of the audience, wrap them around her little finger, and not let go, long after the second encore ended (I am still giddy). She seamlessly mixed audience favourites ('Hatari' being a highlight) with new tracks, deftly using the loop pedal and minimal on-stage instruments to recreate
the complex, layered sound of her album. Her fervid, earthy voice caused spine-tingles and goose bumps all round, and such was the volume of the audience's response, this insanely talented lady was forced to perform both new track 'You Yes You', and popular favourite 'Sunlight' during the encore.

Tune Yards

If you only see one show in 2010, make sure it is Tune Yards. If you are not blown away, I fear there might be something seriously wrong with you. As the fantastic Ruth Barnes said to me before we left, I feel we have just witnessed something really quite special.

To hear Ruth's interview with Merrill, head on over to The Other Woman:

To see all of Rachel's photo's from the night, click here.

Introducing the Pleasure Seekers | The Garage Band Roots of Suzi Quatro

by Sini, 16th Feb 2010...

We remember Suzi Quatro as a jumpsuit-wearing glam/boogie rock goddess from the 1970s who was very much ‘one of the boys’ when fronting her otherwise all-male band. Not many know that when her first hit ‘Can the Can’ was released in 1973, she had already been performing for nearly ten years. The road to stardom was long and rocky (read Suzi’s autobiography Unzipped to find out more) and required her to relocate to England to work with famed producer Mickie Most. Nevertheless, the story started back in 1964, when 14-year-old Suzi formed an all-girl band with her sister Patti in Detroit, Michigan.
According to Suzi’s autobiography, the Quatro sisters were inspired to form a band after seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show (it seems most garage band stories start like this!) The first line-up featured Patti on lead guitar, Suzi on bass, Mary Lou Ball on rhythm guitar, Nancy Ball on drums and Diane Baker on piano. Vocal duties were at this stage shared, even though Suzi sang lead on most numbers. However, between 1964 and 1969 the group had several line-up changes and became even more of a family affair as two more Quatro sisters joined the group (Nancy as lead vocalist and Arlene replaced Diane on piano).
Whilst it has been commonly thought that the band were named after a 1964 Ann-Margret film, Suzi states in Unzipped that the group in fact took their name from a dictionary; the definition for ‘hedonist’ caught their eye and they thus became the Pleasure Seekers. Their first gig was at a popular local teen club called The Hideout, and the band soon became a well-known live attraction at the club. The Hideout was the place to be for teenagers in Detroit in the mid-60s, and other acts that played regularly included The Underdogs (remembered for their fantastic version of ‘Love’s Gone Bad’), the Four of Us (featuring young Glenn Frey of The Eagles!) and Bob Seger before his 1970s heyday.

The Hideout empire also boasted a record label, which released the Pleasure Seekers’ classic 45 ‘Never Thought You’d Leave Me’/’What a Way to Die’ in 1965. Both of the songs were written by Hideout maestro Dave Leone, and while the single pretty much bombed in the 60s, it has later become a much-valued collector’s item. ‘Never Thought You’d Leave Me’ is a driving but melodic (and melodramatic) garage girl number which proves that, by garage rock standards, the girls were rather accomplished on their instruments. The song was sung by drummer Nancy, and featured girl-group style vocals – there is even a spoken part à la the Shangri-Las in the end of the song. ‘Never Thought You’d Leave Me’ is a great piano/vocal-driven number, but the real treat here is the garage punk smash ‘What a Way to Die’.

Most girl garage songs from the 60s are stylistically somewhere between garage rock and girl groups, and they deal with boys, dating and the inevitable heartbreak. ‘What a Way to Die’ was something else: a song about heavy drinking performed by a bunch of teenage girls (in this context it is hardly surprising that the song didn’t become a hit in the US)! The narrator boasts: ‘When I start my drinking/my baby throws a fit/So I just blitz him outta my mind/with seventeen bottles of Schlitz!’, and remarks that even though her boyfriend has a body that makes her ‘come alive’, she’d still rather drink beer. All this is rather risqué for a young American girl in 1965. Musically the song is repetitive (especially for the drummer) but effective, and young Suzi’s vocal delivery suits the track perfectly. She growls in her lower register and spits out the lyrics with such punk arrogance that very few garage vocalists from the era were able to do the same – eat your heart out boys!
After their mid-60s Hideout days, the Pleasure Seekers became a more professional act. They toured all over the US, and played with the likes of Chuck Berry, Eric Burdon and Gladys Knight and the Pips. They were signed to a major label (Mercury Records) for a while, and even entertained the troops in Vietnam in 1968. Nevertheless, national and international success evaded them. Musically, they became remarkably poppier (just listen to 1968’s ‘Light of Love’), but by the end of the decade they had changed their name into Cradle and started playing hard rock. Suzi moved to England in 1971, but Cradle soldiered on until 1973 when they called it a day.
In the late1960s, Michigan became a hotbed for loud and nasty-sounding rock ‘n’ roll bands such as the Stooges and MC5 who came from a similar garage band background as the Quatro sisters. For me it is a shame that the Pleasure Seekers did not take a similar path – I have a feeling they would have rocked out big time!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Conversational | White Rose Movement

by Little Miss B, 13th Feb 2010...

If you have ears, any semblance of taste and have drawn breath in the last few years, you will have heard and appreciated White Rose Movement. A wonderful blend of late 80's synth, electro-clash, brooding melancholia and impossibly catchy melodies, White Rose Movement are set to return to the fore, with news of a second album, and a headline show at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen on the 18th February. Oh happy days!

Critically acclaimed, adored by loyal fans, and writers of one the most exceptional songs of recent times, this band have been keeping busy in the four years since releasing debut album 'Kick'. They've toured the world with the likes of NIN, Placebo, Bloc Party, The Kills and Gary Numan, withstood a line-up change and nearly driven two producers to mental illness during recording of their new album.  All in a day's work, non?

White Rose Movement
are Finn Vine (vocals/guitar), Jasper Milton (guitar), Owen Dyke (bass), Ed Harper (drums) and Poppy Corby-Tuech replacing original member Taxxi on keys.
Having played singles Love Is A Number and Testcard Girl practically every day since they first burst into public consciousness, The Girls Are, needless to say, jumped at the chance to grill synth wizard Poppy ahead of Thursday's show.

White Rose Movement

Hi Poppy: first of all, thanks for talking to The Girls Are!
You're playing in Hannut tomorrow, London next week and Istanbul shortly after: it would seem 2010 is off to a good start?

P: Yeah, it feels good to start the year on such a positive note. There's something about the new year that clears your brain a bit. I'm excited about 2010, it feels significant. I'm off to Hannut at 5am tomorrow and really looking forward to it, Belgium is always good to us. I need to start packing and not watching the top 100 greatest hits of the 90s though... 

(Editor: woman after my own heart)

News about the upcoming Hoxton show is starting to do the rounds, and is already causing quite a buzz. Are you looking forward to a more intimate gig, having just played a festival?

P: Definitely. We played at HB&G last year and it really was an amazing show, really rammed and with such a buzz. We feel like this time it's really a showcase for our new material and and that's exciting. Club gigs and festivals are so different and there's nothing like being up in front of a huge crowd but with this upcoming London show, it feels like an appropriate place.

You joined the band in 2008 after former keyboardist Taxxi (Erica McArthur) left to return to art college: how did your induction into White Rose Movement come about?

P: I received a rather ominous text message from Owen. I was in Spain at the time with my cancan troupe and he was being very shifty, he wouldn't speak to me on the phone about it so I had to wait until I got back to England a couple of days later. He ended up asking me to join the band at my aunt's 50th birthday party on a Norfolk beach in a drunken haze. I'm not entirely sure whether it was the alcohol but I couldn't really say no. I'd known the guys for a long time - Finn is part of my extended family - and I think that when Erica left they wanted someone who they knew well and who could fit in without catching up on years of friendship. The band set up is quite unusual; we share family, friends, grew up in the same parts, the same schools, it's really very close knit. The only one I didn't really know was Ed but it turns out we went to the same high school and grew up within a few miles of each other. It's a pretty incestuous set up you could say.

You were studying fashion at the time: did you ever see yourself becoming a full time, touring, professional musician?

P: Not at all. I'd had fashion in my mind since a very young age and never anticipated joining a band. I guess there's always a little part of you that dreams of being in a rock band but it never seemed a feasible scenario. I was at fashion college when I joined White Rose Movement. It was my final year and I'd had a worrying realization that this may not be my port of call. Being asked to join a band seemed like a thoroughly inappropriate idea - especially three months before graduation - but somehow  it made total sense to me. Finn likes to think he saved me. Without being dramatic I think it did in a way.

I'd never touched a synthesizer before I joined White Rose Movement. My background was classical; Chopin, Satie, Debussy. I've always been a big music fan but played classical piano. My grandmother was and still is an incredible pianist and really encouraged me to take lessons as I was always making up melodies and playing my favorite pieces by ear. When confronted with a synth for the time I was slightly terrified of all the buttons, especially when I started using a sampler aswell. Then I realized that playing a synth is just the same only it becomes a toy that you get to fuck around with.

When you joined, the band were recording a new album: what was it like to join during such an intensive, creative process?

P: Well I joined the band quite a few months before we began recording. When I started, the guys played me their demos, which were a various stages of completion. I remember Cigarette Machine practically being done but some of the others didn't have vocals, or were just bass and drums. There were so many, we spent a good six months in the studio trying out different things, changing the structures around, adding riffs, vocals etc. By the time we began recording, we had about 25 songs and some of those evolved massively in production. We didn't know which ones were going to make the cut so we just did them all. I also had to learn the old songs from 'Kick' so in fact it felt more like learning 40 new songs! I was finishing up my degree so it was somewhat intense but I found that intensity productive and it really made me absorb a hell of a lot of information.

How much creative input have you had on the new album, in terms of songwriting?

P: At the time I joined, I felt like a lot of the work had been done. In retrospect, a lot changed during those few months and I actually feel like I was more involved than I initially thought. I spent a lot of time in studio recording my parts for the new album and that was a real learning process for me and something I really enjoyed. Our producer Robert Harder really took that on board and asked me to work with him on a track, unknown to the others. We came up with our version of Icicle which is a stripped down electronic track that's on the new album. Possibly the most terrifying experience though was recording Small and the Witch's Revenge. It was this strange instrumental track that Jasper had been working on for a while and it didn't have much of a structure, it was really just a rhythm, a bit like Green Onions. He had an idea to record french vocals and being bilingual, it was my job to do so. I became Joan of Arc for the day and yelped and screamed to get that vocal. I was petrified and stressing like a maniac, making the others leave the room. I felt really pissed off that I was being told to sing(ish) as I'd signed up for playing keyboard. But yeah, in the end, it felt good to be involved in that creative process but a part of me is still fucked off I now have to get up stage and perform the damn song.

Poppy: photography by Elementaki: Flickr here.

Your sound is multi-faceted and many-layered: how do you achieve this? Describe your songwriting process.

P: It totally depends. Primarily it's Finn and Jasper who write the songs, specifically the lyrics. Sometimes they can be fully formed songs, other times something much more vague. A a band we're pretty democratic and we all like to have input, I think even more so with this new record. As we've spent so much time in the studio over these past two years we've had a lot of time to jam and naturally that has resulted in the creation of new songs. I think as time goes on and you get to know each other more, the music evolves into something that's much more coherent and honest. I feel like this record is pretty honest. Our influences are varied but we somehow get each other's tastes and understand what the White Rose Movement sound is so there' s usually a good balance to have.

Finn has been quoted as saying that your presence not only positively affected the sound of White Rose Movement, but also the way in which you approach things as a band, yet it must have been tough to feel as though you could really make your mark at that particular time?

P: I'm not sure how things were before! It's nice to think that I've brought some positivity into the band, that probably derives from the fact that I'm a pretty optimistic person and counteract some of their borderline goth tendencies! Having a new presence in a group that's spent so much time together must change a lot of the dynamics and I guess that must have been refreshing in a way.  I suppose I did initially worry about making my mark and not just being a replacement but over time and as we got got busier and I more involved, it didn't seem a concern. I certainly threw myself into as much as I could, from the management to the creative side, so I felt a part of the band in that way too.

At the time you joined, the band were also still playing the old set across Europe: did it feel strange to be playing someone else's parts, or could you view it as useful live practice?

P: Yeah, definitely strange but quite amazing! I'd been a fan of the band for a while so being in my first rehearsal and playing Love is a Number with them felt good more than anything. And it felt even better playing it on stage. The fans love those songs and it's nice to get some love when you play them. Hopefully we'll get that with the new record too.

Finn has also been quoted as saying of Taxxi's departure, "it can't have been easy travelling the world with a bunch of blokes". How have you found touring?

P: Touring is probably my favourite part, I really love it. I love going away, gigging, hanging out with these guys and having a laugh. I'm not particularly girly and certainly not prudish; my sense of humour has become considerably more filthy and twisted but that can only be a good thing. I've spent ten days on a tour bus with 13 guys from Ulterior and Romance and had the best time ever. People always ask me how I cope being with blokes all the time but it's never even been an issue. I can imagine that being in a band with a bunch of girls would be far worse!

Magazines like Wears The Trousers were born out of the desire to correct the under-representation of women in music: do you feel that women are under-represented? What importance, if at all, does gender play in your identity as a performer?

P: Men are easily seen as musicians whereas women have to struggle for that recognition. Especially those with a strong image. Having style seems to undermine you as a female artist, it might confirm you as a fashion icon but rarely a music icon. I think that comes from that very old fashioned view of women being judged purely on aesthetics and men for their artistic merits. There have been many incredible female artists yet somehow they get grouped together purely because of their hair colour or the fact that they play a synthesizer. I think it's important to assert yourself as a female, whether you're a sexed up diva or a tomboyish crooner, and celebrate it. Gender plays an important part of White Rose Movement. We've always felt of androgyny as a factor of the band but I think it's the morphing of androgyny that makes it interesting, the unclarity of gender and fucking around with it. The boy/girl aspect of the band plays a part in it too, it affects the sound and the perception, the way we don't fit in to a typical indie rock band nor a pop band. 

The majority of journalists mention A Flock of Seagulls, Joy Division and 80's electro-clash in the same breath as White Rose Movement. If you were forced to genre-identify your music, where do you feel you most comfortably sit?

P: I think that's really lazy journalism. Just because a there's a hint of flamboyance to a band doesn't mean you're channeling The Human League. People always feel the need to compare a band to another in order for it to make sense. I think those labels were often thrown around without people actually listening to the music, they were just looking at it. I'm not sure what our genre is plus I think the musical style has evolved into something quite different with this new record but I certainly wouldn't compare it to A Flock Of Seagulls!

What is 2010 going to bring for White Rose Movement?

P: Our new album! A Chrismas number one!

What current bands do you rate?

P: Dave I-D, the new Usher stuff

And now for some questions we ask everyone:

Describe your sound in 5 words:
P: Sound like White Rose Movement

What are your guilty musical pleasures? 
P: I have severe R&B tendencies

What the world needs now is:
P: 'Love, sweet love'

What's next?
Bed! I'm still watching that 100s greatest dance hits of the 90s and they're playing 'Good Life'

You are headlining your dream, all-star tour: who would your tour mates be?
P: I'd love to be a backing dancer for Justin Timberlake

White Rose Movement: Helsinki

White Rose Movement will be headlining Hoxton Bar & Grill on Thurs 18th Feb. For tickets, click here.

White Rose Movement are currently putting finishing touches to their as yet untitled follow-up to feted 2006 debut ‘Kick’, scheduled for an early 2010 release.To get a taste of White Rose Movements’ forthcoming electronic opus, download Helsinki here.

The Week In View: 15 - 21 Feb.

by Little Miss B, 15th Feb 2010...

Some wicked lady shows this week: let us know of more!

 Tune Yards to play @ Cargo

Mon 15th: 
Trash Kit + Tune Yards @ Cargo

Tues 16th: 
Bertie Blackman @ Water Rats 

Wed 17th: 
Hole @ Shepherds Bush
I Blame Coco @ Hoxton Bar & Kitchen
Bertie Blackman @ Flowerpot

Thurs 18th: 
White Rose Movement @ Hoxton Bar & Kitchen
Bertie Blackman @ Madame Jojo's
Invasion + Bo Ningen @ Brixton Academy

Fri 19th:    
Bertie Blackman @ Koko

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Read All About It | Joan Armatrading

by Little Miss B, 14th Feb 2010...

Joan Armatrading to play Royal Albert Hall in April

Oh happy days! The wonderful, beautiful, mesmeric Joan Armatrading will spend the next three months touring the UK and Europe in support of her upcoming album 'This Charming Life'. She will only be playing one date in the capital, on 12th April at the Royal Albert Hall. Get your tickets soon people: they won't be around for long.

Album 'This Charming Life' is available for pre-order now, and will be available to buy in March. For more information and gig dates, visit here:

Song Of The Week | Kelis

by Little Miss B, 14th Feb 2010...

Kelis | Caught Out There

I loathe Valentines Day. I'm enormously uncomfortable with expressing genuine sentiment, I desperately hate schmaltz, and public displays of affection make me want to tear my own eyeballs from my head. Secreted in my writing den, far from hand-holding, rose-carrying, amorous couples, I've spent a blissful V-day listening to as much anti-valentine material as I can lay my hands on.

This one goes out to the haters: I love you all dearly.

 Kelis - Caught Out There

Conversational | Loene Carmen

by Steph Phillips, 14th Feb 2010...

Memphis, Nashville, Georgia; the U.S Deep South is where you would expect to find a blues queen hiding. She’d be singing in a bar, beehived, heartbroken and ready to tell the world. So you will be as surprised as I, to find one bonafide blues queen based in another Deep South: Sydney, Australia to be exact.

Loene Carmen (pronounced Lo-ween) fuses soulful blues, folk and pop, creating a curious and unique bond between Dolly Parton and PJ Harvey. On the eve of her latest album launch, 'It Walks Like Love’, Loene Carmen talks to The Girls Are about her musical family, wearing heels as a child and Bob Dylan’s Immersion Theory.

Loene, thanks for talking to The Girls Are... For those not already acquainted with your music, tell us a bit about Loene Carmen.

My father, Peter Head, is a pianist and so I grew up surrounded by music, trailing around after him to his gigs at piano bars and beer gardens.

I was a strange child who spent a lot of time alone. I was obsessed with reading and music and theatre and would go with my father to any shows he'd let me come to. I was regarded with suspicion by other children for wearing high heels and lipstick from age 5 and being a vegetarian and hyperactive to boot. My speciality was doing impressions of The Who and Mick Jagger. I started writing songs early and performed my first proper gig at ten.

I loved to sing but I was always pretty tuneless. My dad taught me how to play guitar as a teenager. I got really into Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn and eventually got brave enough to start a country band, The Honky Tonk Angels (original I know!).

My dad advised me to start doing things under my own name. It was good advice, and I really took it to heart. I went and did an audio engineering course, borrowed an eight track and sat in my bedroom recording my first solo album, Born Funky Born Free, with various guests.

You used to act in films. Which was your first love: acting or music?

I was cast as the lead role in a movie that was quite successful, The Year My Voice Broke, when I was 16 so that was a great experience and exposed me to a pretty amazing world as well as giving me the opportunity to travel internationally for the first time, promoting it. I get offered the odd role and I've been lucky enough to do a few really special small roles along the way. I find acting comes very naturally but music is definitely my main focus.

Tell us about your new album, 'It Walks Like Love'.

L: It was a pretty tight turnaround, all done in a week or so, including mixing, so it was a bit of a pressure cooker.

It was the first time for me recording a whole album in a big studio, with a producer. I had been playing with the musicians on the album live for quite a while, so despite not knowing many of the songs we knew how to play music with each other without having to think. We all put in stupidly long hours, and recorded it all live together.

There were certain songs I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve, like Gauloises Blue with the Band/Dylanesque piano feel courtesy of my dad. Songs like Oh Apollo! were played for the very first time in the studio.

What is your favourite track?

Hmmm, it changes all the time, but maybe Gauloises Blue today.

I really love Mimic the Rain; what would you say the song is about?

'Mimic The Rain' is basically about how everything we need is already in our hands...and that nature is the most powerful force there is. I read in a gardening book that the most effective way to water the garden is to 'mimic the rain' and it set me off wondering why we need books to advise us that 'mimicking nature' is going to work better than any fancy preparations and tricks, and that you can choose to live in some kind of harmony with the world around us - or not - it’s just about choice and common sense really.

Your vocals are heavily influenced by blues. Have you always adopted this style, or would you say your voice has matured into it?

I really taught myself to sing by singing along with singers whose phrasing I love like Etta James, Nina Simone, Bobbie Gentry, early Tina Turner, Jimmy Reed. I read once that Etta James learnt to sing by listening to Jimmy Reed so I figured I ought to do as much of that as possible, because I definitely needed all the help I could get. Around the same time I started recording solo, I also started a 'obscure soul covers' band called Slow Hand, which I reckon taught me more about singing, songwriting and performance than any other band I've had and I could literally hear my voice getting stronger from gig to gig. To have the opportunity to really immerse myself in those incredible songs was really a fantastic education. I think Bob Dylan calls it 'the immersion theory' and I'm sold on it.

The Girls Are celebrates women working in music, and aims to provide a supportive platform for artists. What have your experiences of being a female musician been like?

Most of my musical collaborators are male and we work together like a dream. I don't think I've ever felt ostracised for my gender, in fact I've always felt very welcomed in the world of rock'n'roll.

Which female musicians have inspired and influenced you?

Suzi Quatro was my first musical love, as a little girl, and I still love her as much now, I idolised Kim Wilde as a young teenager, then Joan Jett and Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette who got across so much provocative and down to earth content in pretty conservative times within cleverly couched lyrics, in so expressive and heartfelt a manner.

In general, who are your favourite artists?

Well besides all the lovely ladies we just mentioned, artists I turn to again and again are Will Oldham, Bill Callahan and Tex Perkins in any formation they choose to present themselves in.

What does Loene do for fun?

Listen to music, dance with my two year old. Paint sometimes. Learn French.

What is the Australian music scene like? Which current bands do you rate?

I think Australians are very blessed musically, something about growing up so far from everything maybe, but we have a hell of a lot of really great artists and bands. Girl wise, check out Bridezilla, Cathy Green (probably the coolest woman in Australian rock'n'roll), Penny Ikinger, Crystal Thomas and the Flowers of Evil, HTRK, Butcher Birds, Super Wild Horses, Abbe May, Renee Geyer (Australia's Queen of Soul).... The Drones and the Holy Soul have very cool female bass player/drummer respectively and are both incredible bands.

Will you be going on tour or playing any festivals in the near future?

L: Nothing locked in yet but I hope to make it to UK/Europe mid year.

Finally, do you have a special message for people in the UK?

L: Let's get it on! 

Introducing | SPC ECO

by Dee James & Little Miss B, 13th Feb 2010...

Rose: Photograph courtesy of Billy Sprinkles.

Wash of sound, psychedelic beauty, wistful, mellow fuzz, warm breezes... All words that flow endlessly through my imagination as I listen to new favourites SPC ECO. So enamoured am I with this band, that I am prepared to make a pretty bold statement: this three piece have revived what My Bloody Valentine did so well, but SPC ECO DO IT BETTER. I challenge you to challenge me.

I have listened to a fair few ‘shoe-gaze’ bands in my time, but took a shine to only a small percentage. I am often disappointed by overly manufactured, overly-saturated same-old same-old acts, never distinguishing themselves from the preceding indie flavour of the month. SPC ECO are not one of these bands. Preferring the term 'Nu-gaze', SPC ECO lend this much visited genre a good name. In fact, any identifier they desire to use is truly honoured to have them as a contemporary guide, a hopeful head brownie with a flashlight in the saturated-electro pop wilderness that is the current UK music scene. 

Dean: Photograph Courtesy of Brian Wotnot.

UK based SPC ECO (pronounced 'space echo' after the vintage Roland 201) are Rose, Dean and Joey Levenson, with Harry KG on live guitar duties, and have been causing quite a stir since the release of their self-penned, self-produced 2009 album, 3-d. Reminiscent of revered bands such as Curve, Ride and Spiritualized, SPC ECO have already worked with esteemed producer Alan Moulder (NIN, Curve, Depeche Mode) and look set to firmly make their mark in 2010.

SPC ECO are playing @ Victoria, Mile End on Sat 20th March, and are currently recording a new EP.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Read All About It | Ladyfest Ten Logo Competition

by Little Miss B, 12th Feb 2010...

Calling all creatives, artsters and people what are good with crayons: Ladyfest Ten needs you!
Preparations for Ladyfest Ten are well on their way but you may have noticed that we are mysteriously missing a logo. Well that’s where you come in.

We are offering you the chance to become one of Ladyfest Ten team and design the official logo for the tenth anniversary of Ladyfest! Your design will be used on flyers, posters and everything Ladyfest related and you’ll get a free pass + 1 to the festival.

Ladyfest Ten celebrates ten years of international diversity, support and discourse amongst feminist communities, comprising artists, musicians, creatives and activists.

If you think you have the creative know-how, start whipping up a cracking logo with these requirements:
  • Two versions of the logo in black & white + color (if needed)
  • The logo should read ‘LADYFEST TEN’
Submit a .jpg or .tiff file of your design to before the 24th of February with your name and contact details.

For more Ladyfest Ten information, please visit

Monday, 8 February 2010

Conversational | Battant

by Little Miss B, 8th Feb 2010. All photography by Rachel Ferriman for The Girls Are...

The first time I saw Battant play was enough to render me really rather intrigued: the slightly awkward on-stage demeanour, the intensity of performance, Chloe's rhythmic, precise, punctuated vocals, and the surprisingly melodic way that the above manifested... They were interesting. Further research revealed multiple line-up changes, a jump between labels and a burgeoning career across Europe. Continued listening, and a spot of gig-stalking confirmed Battant's consistency, charisma and songwriting prowess. Battant are an ace package. So why the dickens don't more people know about this band? The Girls Are picked frontwoman Chloe Raunet's brain for some answers...

As you may have noticed from previous posts, we have become a little musically obsessed with you guys. For those who are less acquainted with the band, tell us how Battant formed.
C: Obsessed? Hope we live up to your expectations…
The initial incarnation of Battant was formed a while ago. Started out as me, my mate Mole, a couple of songs and a laptop. Tim was recruited to play guitar and we began writing more material. In the early days we were affiliated with the now defunct electro club, Haywire. Our sound was a lot harder, almost veering towards industrial (even supported Nitzer Ebb). We released our first EP with moderate success on Haywire’s home label, but never really took off. Then Mole left, Joel joined and we worked our way through various different bass players.
It wasn’t until we signed to Kill The DJ and started working with Tim Paris and Ivan Smagghe that we really came into ourselves. 

In previous interviews, you've admitted that you're "a little bit unknown in this country" and many reviewers have remarked upon your 'euro-friendly' sound: would you say Europe has traditionally been more receptive to electro music and therefore provided you with a better foothold than Britain? 

C: It’s funny – here they say ‘euro-friendly’ and there they say ‘British’. I guess it depends on what you define as ‘electro’ but if anything I’d say the closest sounds to ours originated in the UK: Joy Division, The Human League, Young Marble Giants, Throbbing Gristle etc, etc.
We’ve never been associated with a UK scene though (Haywire doesn’t really count – didn’t fit in) and doing our thing didn’t attract many British labels. But it did interest Kill The DJ. They have a high profile in France, which helped us a lot there, but lack the machinery and influence that seems necessary to push a band here. These days even a small indie band needs a lot of promotion, a lot of networking and a lot of err cash… but I suppose that’s to be expected when the small indie band wants exposure and commercial success. And it is easier to crossover here in the UK than anywhere else so… maybe we’re just not right for this country. 

At the recent show at Cargo, a hyperactive Frenchie demanded I note in this article that "English people watch bands as though they HATE them" (arms folded, solemn faces). Is Britain an unfriendly place to make and play music?

C: I think that’s a big city thing.  You could say the same about Paris. The further north you go, the warmer the crowd.  But I would point out to Frenchie that indie audiences can be a bit geeky and cool (especially in England) and that a small band playing a place like Cargo isn’t necessarily performing for a room full of fans. I doubt all those people were there to see us.  

How do you feel the music scenes in Britain and the rest of Europe compare? 

C: I’m not out enough these days to know what’s going on, but from my front room I don’t seem to be missing much. I know we’re in a transition period but it seems the second something new (or regurgitated) comes along, it’s jumped on, commercialized and killed before it can make have any real impact. Because of this cycle, whatever edge the UK used to have is disappearing. In the rest of Europe a small scene can be “cool” for a bit longer, before it gets eaten, digested and thrown back up to the masses. 

The genre labels that the press most frequently apply to Battant are electro and post-punk, neither of which I feel adequately identifies your sound: given that you have previously been quoted as saying "people have never been too sure where to place us", where do you feel Battant fit into the current musical landscape?

C: I have no idea. Getting wrapped up with where you fit in is a deathtrap. We’re already drowning in homogenized culture so I’ll just keep my head down and concentrate on making music, leave the labeling job to you journalists ;) 

Something quite special happens when you appear onstage: are you more comfortable performing live or recording in the studio? 

C: I think it depends on the day – where I am, how I’m feeling. There are more external factors at play with a live performance. As well as the music, I’ve got band, audience, venue, lights etc… to influence where I go with things. Recording’s the complete opposite. I’m alone in a room, wearing headphones and completely immersed in the song.  Any journey I’m gonna take is inward so I suppose the end result’s more intimate. 

Vocally you've been compared to Siouxsie Sioux, Ari Up and Carrie Brownstein. Who would you say were your biggest musical influences? 

C: I like a whole lot of music but it’s really hard for me to specifically say who’s influenced me… there’s no one I’m directly trying to copy but I’m sure all the artists I love have given me ideas. 

You've written some killer lyrics (Kevin said he'd fuck the AIDS outta her/that stupid barmaid cocktease whore). Where does your inspiration come from? 

C: Kevin is one of the more literal songs. A mate was refurbishing a pub and found a diary behind this wall they’d knocked down. A guy called Kevin wrote it in 1989 and my lyrics are interpretations of some of his entries. Inspiration for my other songs come from all over… personal experiences, places, films, books, paintings, topical events, my views on the world. Most of them tend to follow a narrative - I’ll have an idea or opinion and I’ll develop it through an imaginary character or situation. Sometimes the words come first, sometimes the track. In the case of the latter the music normally triggers an image/emotion in my mind and I go from there. In the end, all my songs have mental pictures and their own definitive lighting/colours to go with them. If I visualize that, I’ll remember the lyrics. 

Magazines like Wears The Trousers were born out of the desire to correct the under-representation of women in music: do you feel that women are under-represented? What importance, if at all, does gender play in your identity as a performer? 

C: You could write an essay on this question. I think it’s not so much under-represented than mis-represented. The music industry is still incredibly chauvinistic which is why I’m very happy to be where I am. Kill The DJ is a label with strong ideas on gender issues politics, and the perception of women is something I deal with in a lot of my songs (directly or indirectly). I think every female performer has their own way of playing with the codes of being a ‘woman on stage’ and in my case, revealing it would be counter-productive. 

You released your album 'No Head' in 2009: what is 2010 going to bring for Battant? 

C: We’ve taken some time off the gigs to concentrate on writing and recording the second album. It’s going well. Should have a single coming out soon and will be ready to start playing again with some new material. We’re developing the live act too. Bit of a line-up change, more going on. I’m really excited about it all. 

Which current bands do you rate?

C: I haven’t been following enough new music recently. My favorite album and live of 2009 has gotta be Micachu though…

And now for some questions we ask everyone... 

Describe your sound in 5 words... 
C: Raw, ghosts, twang, inner-tension, Conny Plank  

What are your guilty musical pleasures? 
C: Take That Live (comeback not back in the day) to play the game. But who says I should feel guilty? Some prick behind his desk at The Cool Bureau? 

What the world needs now is.... 
C: An alternative to Capitalism 

What's next? 
C: Only fools want to know. 

You are headlining your dream, all-star tour: who would your tour mates be? C: Young Marble Giants, Elliot Smith, Sister Rosetta Thorpe, The Velvet Underground, The Cramps, Tindersticks, (this isn’t making much sense… don’t think we’d sell many tickets), Neu and Dolly Parton. She’d be my best mate. 

As part of a new feature for The Girls Are, we'd like you to recommend that we interview a musician or band who you love.We will then ask them the same question, and start a chain of links and recommendations.
C: Dolly Parton would be amazing but…
Micachu, if you haven’t already had her?
Or “the other” Chloe at Kill the DJ, who is releasing her album “One in Other” in March. She’d be more than suitable.

To see more from this photoshoot, click here.