The Patch

July 19, 2007

Friday 20th July – Indian Summer/Mercury Music Prize

Filed under: Music & Film — Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 10:04 pm

Indian Summer

With T in the Park now suffering the way of its big brother, Glastonbury, with ticket prices like gold dust in terms of price and scarcity, and a line-up that reeked just that bit too much of NME five minute wonders, this promising young festival appealed enough to me to make it my musical extravaganza of the summer. But was it worth it? Well, read on if you want to find out. This is a review you know.

Last year’s line-up boasted a spectacular diverse range of acts that featured legends such as The Fall and Gang of Four, and some more recent acts that aspire to the coolest frontiers of music, namely Broken Social Scene and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This year was not to be shown up however, with the likes of Wilco, Flaming Lips, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and The Teenagers all attributing to the festival’s ideal of something for everyone.

The morning of the opening Saturday may have struck fear into the hearts of ill-prepared punters however (myself included) as dark, foreboding rain cloud loomed on the horizon and a cool wind blew through the trees. Thankfully, as soon as Emma Pollock’s voice started to sing her set of driven indie charms, the sun came out and heralded the start of what was sure to be a fantastic weekend of music. The former Delgado’s baby blue dress deserved a wonderful sunny day, and she received it, as well as bountiful applause that showed her solo career could be every bit as good as her past music life.

 

Emma Pollock in a lovely dress on the Main Stage.

 

 

With Smashing Pumpkins return proving nothing except that Billy Corgan is still a conceited, arrogant buffoon who really has lost whatever it was that made Siamese Dream so spectacular, it may be worth your while to check out Silversun Pickups for that high pitched grunge sound that worked to great affect here, even if it was still early afternoon.

 

Silversun Pickups, one of whom is in a not as lovely dress, also on the Main Stage.

 

 

Homecoming happens to be one of the greatest songs of the year so far, and The Teenagers delivered with the poise and swagger you’d expect from three of France’s coolest exports, even if their special guest, Louise, plucked out from the audience wasn’t quite up to her part. Their stylish lo-fi indie electro set made for a pleasant soundtrack to relax in the sun to.

 

Louise with Les Teenagers. I was fair mortified.

 

 

Midlake did their best to entertain on the main stage, but, aside from a welcome appearance from Andrew Bird, their simple alt folk ploddings failed to excite.

Though a missing keyboard may have spelled disaster for female trio Au Revoir Simone, they kept face with a trsuty Casio replacement, providing keen observers in the 6 Music Tent a pleasant half hour of hopeful ambient pop, all sung with a smile.

 

Au Revoir Simone

 

 

Sadly, no such sentiments were offered by Explosions in the Sky replacements, Idlewild, whose brand of dull indie rock who brought the mood right down on the main stage. Well, for me at least. The rest of the crowd seemed to lap it up. I’ve yet to find out why.

 

Idle…. Sorry, dozed off for a bit there just writing their name.

 

 

Andrew Bird returned from his Midlake escapades to perform his own solo show in the 6 Music tent, where his inspired use of loops filled the tiny venue with exuberant whistles, aching violins and jaunty pizzicato. Wonderful stuff.

 

He has a violin. And he can play it well.

 

 

Closing the day on the main stage were veterans of North America’s alt folk scene that has probably been the source of this decade’s greatest albums (Modest Mouse, Rilo Kiley, Arcade Fire, Decemberists etc etc), Wilco. Though maybe a tad too reliant on the mediocre new record, ‘Sky Blue Sky’, Jeff Tweedy and co. still created a splendid show that managed to rock, charm and provoke.

 

Saturday headliners.

 

 

Onwards to Sunday then, and after a night spent back at home (there’s no camping at this festival) I was prepared for another sunny day filled to the brim with audio delights. The sky was a perfect blue and my skin was already starting to tan, thus I went jacketless. Oh how sorry I was. It seemed as soon as the gates opened, the cold and wet just decided to team up and threaten the enjoyment of everyone’s day. Even doughnuts and (bloody expensive) tea couldn’t raise my heart.

 

Rubbish sky.

 

 

Brief respite from this solemn mood was found in main stage openers, Make Model, the Scottish band managing to sound at least passionate, if not wholly different from a great many bands currently prying their trade these days. The dueling male/female vocals did interest though, with Aimi’s yelp especially impressing in a way as to make you think this band could goon to bigger things.

 

Make Model, with Vic Galloway in the crowd. That’s him in the middle of the 3 burly men.

 

The Mercury Music Prize judges clearly think the same can be said for Maps, but their performance here was as dreary as the weather and as tired as my eyes. Annuals following up could do little better, unlike Correcto in the 6 Music Tent. Franz Ferdinand drummer, Paul Thompson, showed there’s life outside art rock with this feisty collection of quirk punk.

Sweden’s finest export since Henrik Larsson then took to the main stage as the child like sense of fun each member of I’m From Barcelona possesses spread out into every member of the audience, making them forget the unfavourable conditions for 45 minutes of the most joyful pop this side of Brian Wilson’s head. Confetti, lilos, balloons and all manner of inflatable things provided the visual entertainment, but it was such immediate classics as ‘We’re From Barcelona’ and ‘Treehouse’ that made this such a heartwarming experience.

 

YAY!!

 

Lilo surfing.

 

 

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! May have fallen out of the limelight of late, with little publicity and poor reviews for their last album, but they still managed to put on probably the most rocking of the weekend’s sets. The class cuts from their debut were of course the highlight here, but the new stuff was certainly none too shabby, and gives hope that they can turn around their fortunes come album three.

 

Clap Yo’ Hands.

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space may be one of the great British albums of all time, but a stripped down Spiritualised, minus all the prog theatrics that make that record a classic, is not a good idea, with their mournful set a stark a contrast you could get with the awesomely fun spectacles of the previous two acts. And indeed the headliners.

Wayne Coyne doesn’t do things small. If he wants an inflatable ball to roll around the crowd on, he gets it. If he wants the 20+ members of I’m From Barcelona to dress up as Santas and aliens, he gets it. If he wants big blue balloons, a metre in diameter, to be let loose in the skies of Glasgow, he gets it. And if he wanted an adoring audience to take this all in with the glee of a toddler, he certainly got it. Such a spectacle wouldn’t be so special if the actual music was not up to scratch of course, but ‘Race For the Prize’, ‘Fight Test’ and ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah Song’ are all just delicious and could bring a smile to the most hardened of faces. Glorious.

 

Balls.

 

 

Woot.

 

 

 

Mercury Music Prize

Though probably still the most respected of music awards in the UK, it seems the Mercurys get more ridiculous year by year. There have been some eyebrows raised in the past, mainly at the lack of nominations for Up the Bracket, The Lost Riots, The Bends and Ladies and Gentlemen…, and its odd decision to have included Athlete, The Thrills, M People, Spice Girls and Take That over the years, but this year’s awards look like being the weakest, most commercial yet. The Mercurys used to pride itself on being an alternative to the other big awards out there, recognising less well known, but just as talented acts, and awarding the prize purely on musical merit rather than any fad going around or image that was cultivated. But just look at the nominees this year. It’s sickening. It really, really is. Where’s the innovation? Where’s the originality? For God’s sake, where the fuck is the best British album of the last year? Well, it’s in your record stores, probably in the rock/pop section under ‘T’ for Twilight Sad and entitled Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters. The judges disregard for this album, along with a whole host of others (Cherry Ghost, Jarvis Cocker, Little Man Tate, The Hours, Candie Payne etc) is just shameful, and even more so when you see who’s below.

Amy Winehouse: ‘Back To Black’
Certainly the ‘in’ artist at the moment, and favourite to pick up the prize. But why? She certainly doesn’t need the press or the money, and nobody can surely say that her album is the greatest album of the last 12 months. Still, she might be entertaining at the awards ceremony

Arctic Monkeys: ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’
Similar to Winehouse in that they really don’t need the attention nor money, and their (deserved) win last year shall certainly make a win this year even less likely. But they do have a trick up their sleeves – their album is actually very good.

Bat For Lashes: ‘Fur And Gold’
The latest ‘wow, OMGZ SO KOOKY!?!?!?’ artist to be picked up by liberal art students (see Anthony and his Johnson, Patrick Wolf, Regina Spektor), but Natasha Khan remains an artist that bores more than bewitches. Bjork she is certainly most not.

Dizzee Rascal: ‘Maths And English’
Certainly nothing compared to his stunning debut, that startling voice remains however, even if the lyrics have now turned into your standard poorly spelled rap fare, i.e. ‘Suk my Dick’. Oh dear.

Maps: ‘We Can Create’
Pseudoelectro dullards. This year’s Hot Chip.

Jamie T: ‘Panic Prevention’
Gained somewhat of a following over the last year, but it’s hard to see why. A couple of nice singles aside, there’s nothing special here to make this the greatest album of any month, let alone year.

Klaxons: ‘Myths Of The Near Future’
Klaxons have still not crossed the threshold of annoyance yet, and their songs still sound fairly intuitive and fresh. Certainly my tip for the win, though maybe not a deserved one.

The View: ‘Hats Off To The Buskers’
Inarticulate Libertines tribute band. Nobody asked for you to form, so go back to whatever it was you were before you started irritating the nation.

New Young Pony Club: ‘Fantastic Playroom’
Oh for fuck’s sake, are these judges deaf?

Basquiat Strings: ‘Basquiat Strings With Seb Rochford’
Only one token jazz entry this year. Not heard, but shall endeavour to ‘check out’ as it were.

Fionn Regan: ‘The End Of History’
Again not heard. Like Dylan apparently. Could be interesting.

The Young Knives ‘Voices Of Animals And Men’
My liking of this trio has been recorded before on The Patch, and I’m not ashamed to say it, I really, really like The Young Knives. From these nominees, they certainly have more integrity and reason to win than anyone else, and with an album full of edgy punk pop hooks akin to Gang of Four, they are certainly worthy nominees. So balls to you if you don’t like them.

 

 

 

Record of the Week

At Indian Summer, we came across the Oxfam tent in which you could buy a lucky dip of 5 CD singles for a pound. Here are the results. Download them all. You have a week.

 

Lo Fidelity All Stars – Disco Machine Gun
Bit rubbish electro.

Geneva – Into the Blue
Nice little pop number. Like The Manics 10 years ago.

Ruth – Valentine’s Day
Really nice Air Traffic piano pop.

Rude Club – Foul Mouthed Punter
Bit more rocky. Not much going on though.

Nut – Crazy
Looks like Alex Park (you know, from Fame Academy) and proves to be hummable.

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