John Foxx Live @ The Roundhouse, London – live review

John Foxx @ The Roundhouse, June 2010
John Foxx @ The Roundhouse, June 2010 photo: Simon Pollock

Not normally one for retro gigs, I was drawn to this as soon as I was aware John Foxx would be playing a special concert at the prestigious Roundhouse theatre to celebrate 30 years since the original release of his ground-breaking debut solo album, Metamatic. For this special occasion John Foxx would be accompanied on stage by special guests and a bank of analogue-only synthesizers.

The mood was set with a DJ set from Gary Numan & Ade Fenton of late 1970’s and early 1980’s electronic music, the likes of Nag Nag Nag by Cabaret Voltaire, Are Friends Electric by Tubeway Army and Memorabilia by Soft Cell filled the Roundhouse, a perfect choice of venue.

John Foxx was greeted by very enthusiastic applause and took centre-stage behind a bank of synthesizers. His set was in three-parts; the first being songs from Metamatic, early singles and b-sides from that era. Burning Car, This Town, He’s A Liquid, No One Driving, and of course Underpass (or as one of my friends used to sing ‘Underpants’).

The crowd were mesmerised by the almost motionless John Foxx as he orchestrated proceedings from the front of the stage while a large screen played fitting monochrome accompaniment to analogue songs.

For the second part of the set Foxx introduced Louis Gordon, and played songs from their collaborations from albums from the mid-1990’s. Gordon found it hard to hide his excitement but it was clear the audience were here to hear older John Foxx tracks.

With Underpass already played, the final part of the show had to be something special, and it was. Joining John Foxx on stage to play three songs was original Ultravox guitarist Robin Simon. The crowd went mad for Dislocation, Quiet Man and Slow Motion from the 1978 album ‘Systems of Romance’.

Like his music, John Foxx has aged well. Away from commercial pandering, Top of the Pops limelight and synth pop comings and goings, John Foxx decided to turn his back on commercial success after Metamatic; a move that kept his dignity and fan base intact. Unlike Midge Ure’s Ultravox and the smash hits world of Gary Numan, John Foxx was seen as more thought-provoking and serious about his musical output.

Now, thirty years on, at the Roundhouse, his music lived on.

Washed Out debut EP and tour dates

Washed OutLife of Leisure  is released on 14 June on Mexican Summer.

Washed Out - Life of Leisure

Washed Out is Ernest Weatherly Greene, a 26-year old from Georgia. His debut EP, Life of Leisure, is a pop-bleached, synthesised journey into the ambient outreaches of his mind.

Crafted in Greene’s bedroom, the EP’s six tracks are wrapped in a woozy, woolly mix, where simple, soaring melodies, low-slung frequencies and sunset synthesisers bleed into one reverb-drenched wash of the wave.

Life of Leisure opens with Get Up, which swaggers with a hazy dance floor funk, before gliding into the ethereal thermals of New Theory, a track that blends the psychedelic strains of MGMT with the otherworldly whispers of Angelo Badalamenti.

Based on a sample from Gary Low’s 1983 single I Want You, Feel It All Around perches on the cusp of eighties cheese; the synth vocal, popping baseline and Caribbean percussion interludes all move close, dangerously close depending on your tastes, to Phyllis Nelson.

However, the only bodies touching in Greene’s work are those of a celestial nature. The track is powered by so much reverb that it leaps from Nelson’s grasp on a never-ending, upward trajectory, where it floats free in time and space among the star-burst echoes of Chapterhouse and Slowdive.

Washed Out play six UK dates around the bank holiday weekend and the proposition of seeing Greene live is a fascinating one. If outputs are channelled through the motherboard of all reverb units then expect to take an untethered helium-balloon ride to the other side of consciousness. 

These are Greene’s first European dates, coming on the back of critically acclaimed performances at this year’s SXSW Festival.
Thu 27th May – LEEDS Nation of Shopkeepers
Fri 28th May – GLASGOW Stereo
Sat 29th May – BRISTOL Dot to Dot Festival
Sun 30th May – NOTTINGHAM Dot to Dot Festival
Mon 31st May – MANCHESTER Dot to Dot Festival
Tue 1st June – LONDON Cargo
Wed 2rd June – BRIGHTON Freebutt
Thu 3th June – AMSTERDAM Trouw
Fri 4th June – HAMBURG Indra
Sat 5th June – GENT Charlatan
Sun 6th June – PARIS Villette Sonique

 Visit Washed Out’s Myspace site.

Listen to Get Up, by Washed Out.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhFDqKjP6c0&feature=related

Class Actress – Retro Synth-Pop from Brooklyn New York

Class Actress - Synth-Pop from New York
Class Actress - Synth-Pop from New York

Buzzin Music is always listening out for new artists; and this month Class Actress will be playing gigs in London, Brighton & Leeds.

“Sweetly spectral vocals over lush 80s synths and dance beats” (Nylon)

If icy, Italo-influenced sweet sounding 1980’s retro synth-pop is your kind of thing, then you won’t go far wrong with Brooklyn’s Class Actress.  They are set to hit the UK with a debut EP, Journal of Ardency on 5th July 2010. It will be released through Chris Taylor from Grizzly Bear’s label Terrible Records.

“A swooning, magisterial number from the debut EP of this Brooklyn band, it’s redolent of The Human League, or Eurythmics, thanks to Ms Harper’s feathery voice, the chugging guitars fading in the distance and the synthesizers hitting each other ay hard right angles” (NY Times)

Described as “Brooklyn’s very own Madonna” by the New York Press, Class Actress started out of songwriter Elizabeth Harper‘s bedroom in Greenpoint. Now joined by producer Mark Richardson and some choice vintage synths, Journal of Ardency has come to fruition.

The five-track EP features the production work of live drummer/collaborator Scott Rosenthal and Jorge Elbrecht of Lansing-Dreiden/Violens.

The band have already been creating waves in the US.  Elizabeth has recently had a double page spread in SPIN and has appeared in Marie Claire, New York Times and Nylon.  When home grown talent Little Boots toured the US recently it was Class Actress who supported her.

Class Actress are also fresh from storming appearances at SXSW and Erykah Badu’s secret album launch show at Damon Dash’s club.

The UK is catching on quickly with the NME doing a What’s on the NME Stereo piece recently and BBC 6Music’s Lauren Laverne supporting the band on her morning radio show.

“The New Yorker has discovered chilly synths and minxy personas, and so we have the p-p-pow dark disco of Class Actress; don’t call it Italo; it’sd much more evil than that” (NME – What’s on the NME Stereo)

Class Actress have also been confirmed to support BBC Sound of 2010 runner-up Marina and The Diamonds at this year’s Great Escape Festival in Brighton.

“[Harper’s] passion proves to be the same kind of compelling counterweight to frosty sonics that helped make the music of her influences so memorable.” (Pitchfork ‘Rising Artist’)

Class Actress UK Live Dates:

Fri 14th May – LONDON – White Light @ Lexington (with Natccu)
Sat 15th May – BRIGHTON – The Great Escape (supporting Marina and the Diamonds)
Wed 19th May – LONDON – Bardens Boudoir
Thurs 20th May – LONDON – ULU (Supporting Stornoway)
Fri 21st May – LONDON – Stag and Dagger Festival @ CAMP
Sat 22nd May – LEEDS – Adventures in the Beetroot Field

For more information visit www.myspace.com/elizabethharper

The Red Bull Bedroom Jam Event

The Red Bull Bedroom Jam – Monday 14th September 2009

I have only just recovered from the launch of the second season of The Red Bull Bedroom Jam at the Sanctum Hotel in Soho, London.

While the Sanctum did not seem the obvious venue to host the post-hardcore-emo-pop-punk-rock party, Red Bull pulled out all the stops to make sure that the second annual party was about as stereotypical rock n roll as possible – from hot tubs to naked rock stars running around the patio!

Throughout the night Attack! Attack! (not to be confused with the American Attack Attack!), Saving Aimee and Young Guns played short sets in the Penthouse Suite.

With the mattresses pushed up against the walls and friends and fans sitting in bathtubs,  the only word to describe the atmosphere was intimate.

Disappointingly, the plug was pulled on The Blackout after only one song, as the council decided we were all having a little too much fun… okay, well there may have been some noise complaints as well.

Due to very limited space each in room-come-venue, I really only had a chance to see Saving Aimee and Attack! Attack! However, neither disappointed.

Saving Amiee delivered upbeat  1980’s influenced synth pop rock, and although not all that original, the set was a lot of fun and the band exhibited great energy, particularly during the performance of their new singles  ‘Fresh Since ‘88’ and ‘We’re the Good Guys’.

Next up were the guys from Attack! Attack! from  Wales.  These guys have been creating a lot of buzz in the UK music scene recently and I was quite excited to get the chance to finally see them play. Clearly drawing influence from bands like the LostProfits and Fall Out Boy, this four piece also had impressive energy as they belted out their infectious pop-punk songs. So infectious in fact that my friend (who would have rather been at a Beyonce gig) even started tapping her foot.

As the music came to an early end, the party continued well into the night, with mattresses moved over in front of the windows to try and muffle the noise. As one guest put it while running around the patio in his boxers “It’s a Fucking Pop Punk Party!”

The Red Bull Bedroom Jam was started in order to help unsigned bands gain exposure through an online platform.

In order to have an opportunity to be showcased bands must upload videos of themselves performing in their bedrooms. People then login to the Red Bull website to vote for their favourite acts, and the lucky winners are given the chance to play a live gig. It is a great idea and way to support up and coming acts.

You can check out videos from the night on www.redbullbedroomjam.com.