Friday, 18 April 2008

CHOPS and APATT uk MINI tour

Yeh Yeh! Two of our favourite UK bands have joined forces for a whirlwind party trip around the UK (sort of), you MUST go check em out as seeing is believing in both cases, in fact we're going to be releasing records by both bands this year too - crazy times!

a.P.A.t.T. and CHOPS minitour
28th APRIL

29th APRIL - CARGO, LONDON with YACHT @ Upset The Rhythm

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

John Maus videos!

I made this post to draw your attention to the fact that the John Maus video for "Maniac" (from his first album, Songs) is back on YouTube. Wooooh!

Those of you who haven't yet been exposed to the genius of the videos of John Maus might also like to see the following videos of the songs Tenebrae and Green Bouzard (both from the new record Love Is Real):

There is also a group of keen fans who make videos for John Maus songs and their efforts are also to be applauded!

And then there is this live footage from John's UK tour in December. This is the infamous song, Don't Be a Body, with some pretty interesting visual effects:

If anyone has any other John Maus videos please let us know!

Monday, 14 April 2008


Go see:

Brendan Fowler, 11/16/07 and 11/18/07, 2007

4 Weeks / 4 Shows at the Rivington Arms, 4 East 2nd St, 1st Floor, New York.
Closing reception with performance by BARR Saturday April 19th 7-9 pm, performance 8 pm sharp.

Sunday, 13 April 2008



New venue Cafe Oto opens tonight (Sunday 13th April)!

Black Dice

I've been wanting to post about Black Dice since the show on the 17th March. If you get the chance to see them anytime soon you must. It was one of the most incredible shows I have ever seen.

The show was an entirely physical experience, beats so loud that it almost made you feel queasy and insistent addictive rhythms that defied you to stand still. The visuals, a work of art in themselves, made this a complete experience. I was so gobsmacked by it that it took a couple of days to really sink in, and I remember trying to articulate the experience to various people afterwards and failing miserably. Props to awesome sets from Chops and Family Underground too. Here's a video from the show.


Next day we got up and out and headed across town to see some of The Smell showcase at the Opera House. We arrive just as the Mae Shi are packing up and say hi to Jim Smith, who runs The Smell and who we’ve seen perhaps at every show this week. I’ve heard from reliable sources that Jim doesn’t sleep, but this man’s stamina is impressive and his party is in an art gallery/store with a car park full of weird shit.

We also catch up with Mika Miko, and there are hugs and the exchange of sunglasses (the best band merch I have seen in ages). No Age haven’t set up yet, so we dash the 25 metres down the street to End of An Ear records to see No Kids play. They have a quiet, delicate soulfulness and a determined pop sensibility. And they are playing next to a painting of the meeting between the world’s tallest man and the world’s smallest man.
Those of you have been bored to tears with me shrieking incoherently about the incredible nature of this meeting will have some idea of how cool this was. I watch about four songs and dash back round the corner.
On the basis of a moulded icicle making it feel cooler than the scalding car park, No Age play in the art filled cave. It was a real contrast to last night as it was a really intimate performance.

We chat to Dean, Randy and Jim after the show and discuss some of the finer details of the May tour. We’re not organising it, but Chris is driving it. Randy is apparently making a spreadsheet to work out how many chalets they need at ATP. Mika Miko play next, outside, in the sun and I can feel myself burning to a crisp.

They are great as always, lots of energy and sass and they almost suit playing outside at lunchtime. I was pretty gutted that we weren’t going to see them again this week.

I have never seen so many bands play outside before. I realise it isn’t much of a novelty in the US, but in the UK it does not happen, except as part of a stunt or an organised festival. I don’t know if this is a result of the perennial problem that we don’t have any space (like why basement shows don’t really happen, because everyone’s converted their basement into a two bedroom flat) or if it is something to do with the authorities and the criminal justice legislation that basically criminalised outdoor parties in the 1990s. We’re missing out.

After Mika Miko finish we say fleeting farewells, catch a glimpse of our watches and hightail it over to Ms Bea’s, which is miles away, for the party we’re doing with Todd P. We try to get a bus (duh!) and give up, trekking several blocks. I could have kissed the cab driver that turned round in an eight lane highway to pick us up. Austin isn’t sympathetic to those of us without cars.

We get to Ms Bea’s just in time. Todd P had let us choose a bunch of bands for the Friday evening, and between us we rustled up a pretty special show. Ms Bea’s is a great space, a tiny bar full of locals making a killing out of bean tamales, a patio out back where bands play for about 12 hours a day, a car park where bands sell their merch and a grassy field where you can chill out when you’ve had enough music.

Todd arranges his parties there with two stages, so that there isn’t much waiting round between bands. He is a fine stage manager and somehow manages to keep things running to a rough schedule. He does good work in New York and it was an honour to be asked to participate. I’m not going to write about everyone that played, but these were my highlights.

Lucky Dragons played at sunset and it was an emotional communal experience, akin to watching a magician spellbind a group of children.

I hadn’t seen the performance with the rocks before, where Luke moves a series of rocks across an electronic device, giving the impression that the rocks themselves are creating the sounds. Outside, framed by trees, sat in the dirt, this was remarkable.

Luke also did the piece with the touching wires, which he’s probably most well known for now. I’ve seen this several times and the initial pleasure of participating and helping others to participate have been overtaken by watching the group, in the way Luke skilfully choose people on the fringes of the group and the absolute joy you see on people’s faces as they realise they are responsible for the sounds they hear.

Telepathe were up next. I’d seen them Wednesday and their close-cupped vocals, immaculate production and group harmonies were impressive.

This performance was more laid back, and suited the feeling of the early evening.

High Places followed, and although the two bands are often compared with each other, the only real point of similarity is sub bass and more sub bass. We have loved everything we’ve heard by Rob and Mary, and we were first alerted to them when they toured with Vice Cooler a few years ago.
Their sound live is immense and tonight, they provide the loudest set, despite the fact that they weren’t using all their speakers. But the volume isn’t brutal, it gives a pounding bass narrative to their songs, which are carefully crafted, with Mary’s ethereal vocals hanging over them. The instrumentation is incredible, a whole mass of shakers and claves that add a layer of extra textures and rhythms.

High Places are a band that have perfected their sound and they are that rarest thing, a band that sound completely like themselves. Like Lucky Dragons (their touring partner of recent times), their sound, which is primarily electronic, feels completely organic and so their performance beneath the trees is particularly apt. I’m afraid our filming might not do Rob and Mary justice, as we were right at the front where it was super-loud!

Lexie Mountain Boys brought pot plants and props aplenty for their triumphant performance piece. There was as much laughter on stage as there was off it, and an impressive display of gymnastics.

Their songs are surreal vocal rounds, with percussion from plenty of foot stamping and clapping and it completely lived up to my expectations.

Foot Village were also a treat. Sounding way more polished than I had been led to expect from other videos I’d seen, they arranged the crowd around them on stage to witness their tribal drum patterns at close quarters.

The most bizarre set of the night was that provided by Kimya Dawson. I still don’t know how Todd P managed to wangle this, but I wasn’t entirely surprised when the tiny patio at Ms Bea’s was stormed by several hundred adoring fans.

Luckily, most of these people stayed for John Maus. I don’t know what they thought to John’s performance, but as far as I was concerned it was an overwhelming triumph.

It was the first set I’d seen at SXSW where the crowd seemed totally amped. And there were two encores. He did all the hits and on the video you can hear plenty of people singing along (including Chris UTR, who must have forgotten he was filming!). Really inspiring stuff.

Due to a few line up changes, KIT made it on to the bill for a short set and they were frenetic, Kristy bounding around even more than usual.

They really suited the outdoors space, ducking in an out of the crowd.

Death Sentence Panda closed proceedings with a far more aggressive and immediate set that we saw the night before.

It was a fitting finale to an awesome day and our last show in Texas.

More Texas

Okay, it’s taken a while, but we’ve been revelling in the relative quiet of the last week. A minor rebellion has taken place as we’ve been working on some of the other things that we do that aren’t UTR. Shh. Don’t tell anyone. (Rest assured, we’ve also been planning some cracking shows for the next few months. More soon.)

Thursday 13th March seems like an age away even though it is less than a month. But this was the day of our showcase. This post includes photos and videos. The videos are introduced by some little vignettes of our trip.

Yes, our showcase was on the back of a truck. Outside. In a car park. Somehow it worked.

First up was Hawnay Troof. Vice ripped it up as usual and broke out a new suit. Even at this early hour, there were willing participants (ok, some were willing, some may have been pushed) who made it up on the stage to join in. It was a perfect start. The eagle-eyed amongst you that were there will have noticed Rob Barber (High Places), Jona Bechtolt (YACHT) and George Chen (KIT etc etc) joining in. I was completely thrilled that other artists hung out at the showcase and that the bands stuck around to watch each other. It makes you think about the label in a completely different way. More on this later.

In a pretty dramatic change of pace, Gowns followed. This was the second set I had seen of theirs this afternoon. At Ms Bea’s earlier in the afternoon their performance had been almost unbearably intimate, with the wind catching Erika’s vocals, their vulnerability exacerbated by their exposure to the elements.

This set was more strident, and their sound fuller. They have a new line up, now a three piece with Corey Fogel returning on drums. Their overall sound is harsher, more poignant. You can see for yourselves.

I’d been looking forward to seeing Soiled Mattress and the Springs. We’d caught them doing slots at Mohawk the night before and spent part of two evenings catching up and drinking beer, so it felt doubly weird not to have seen them play their set.

And they were awesome. The exuberance of the record is ten-fold live as the band have an enormously physical presence. This is especially true of Matthew, whose bunny hops defied belief. I’m really looking forward to their tour in May.

Another Upset the Rhythm band who I hadn’t yet seen was High Places.

Several people over the last few months had expressed disbelief that we hadn’t met Rob and Mary. Tonight was the first time and it was a pleasure. I’ll write more about them later too!

KIT were amazing tonight. There is a confidence and power to their sound, and their energy is truly astounding. I heckled George like hell, but it’s true George, you shred! I feel all the ingredients are equally balanced now.

Taking decent photographs of KIT is a near impossibility, they move faster than any other band I’ve seen.

Death Sentence Panda certainly won the prize for the most beautifully turned out band of the evening. I was honoured.

No, seriously. I feel as though I’ve watched them develop over the last few years and it was a pretty emotional experience to see them at SXSW.

They sounded immense, cerebral and their performance was masterfully measured and full of suspense. They provided an example of the same sort of energy we saw with KIT, but projected completely differently.

John Maus followed. It was really good to see him again, it feels like a long time since December. It is fascinating to see how John is starting to get recognition for his music and there were plenty of curious faces there. There were also some impressive fans that sang all the words. There was one super cool kid who didn’t sing the choruses, he just smoked a cigarette and swayed, until the verses came in.

John’s performance is even more impassioned tonight, there’s an extra urgency and a raw physicality. John quickly comes off the stage, into the audience and onto the ground. It was intense.

No Age finish up the show. They tear through their set. The new songs are sounding really good and there’s even some pushing and shoving down the front of the stage.

Things get a little hazy this point as I’ve been drinking Tecate (very cheap Mexican beer) but I know that Chris and I dance like fools as I saw the footage on Kristy’s phone!

After the show was all a little bit of a daze. It was a strange and powerful experience to see so many people that we’ve worked with in the same room (okay, tent) and it hasn’t really gone away. I can’t thank everybody that played enough for their efforts, not only for playing for us but for everything; for believing in us and for being such good friends.

I remember talking to people about the showcase when I got home and how it had made sense of the label. This probably sounds ridiculous, but it was the first time I had appreciated the label as an entity, rather than as a sequence of releases. In addition, the showcase felt like the label was a community, and this goes absolutely beyond what I ever thought the UTR label would be.

After the showcase, around 2am, we headed out to the party at the children’s museum as we wanted to catch Lucky Dragons. We were faced with a bizarre scene of depravity as extremely drunk adults were draping themselves across the exhibits and passing out on the floor. We were completely freaked out and realised we must have missed Luke, so decided to call it a night. Later I heard that during Mika Miko’s set, which we missed by virtue of being at the showcase, someone stood on a balcony above the band and puked on Kate’s drums.