wears the trousers magazine

sail away ladies
November 30, 2009, 12:52 pm
Filed under: stuff 'n nonsense, video

An animated video by Anika Mottershaw of top blog Anika In London and Wears The Trousers editor Alan Pedder, made in 9 hours in Alan’s kitchen last Friday. Who needs a budget when you have coloured paper, White-Tak and a bit of imagination?

cate le bon: me oh my (2009)
October 26, 2009, 1:19 pm
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Cate Le Bon
Me Oh My •••••
Irony Bored

Cate Le Bon is the latest musical export from deepest, darkest Wales. Well, Cardiff anyway. Despite some attention gained from last year’s Welsh-language EP, Edrych Yn Llygaid Ceffyl Benthyg, and a self-released single, she remains relatively unknown across the border. Now, with a little help from her friends, that looks set to change very quickly. Super Furry Animals chief Gruff Rhys, whose Mercury Music Prize-nominated Neon Neon side project featured Le Bon on vocals, is repaying the favour by releasing the artist’s debut album, Me Oh My, on his brand new imprint, Irony Bored. Despite the cover depicting Le Bon holding a golden egg, there’s nothing embryonic about this accomplished collection of songs; Me Oh My is fully formed and well matured, showing just how far Le Bon has come since her early performances.

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dragonette: fixin to thrill (2009)
October 14, 2009, 10:05 am
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Fixin To Thrill ••••½
Dragonette Inc.

Capitalising on the minor success of their debut album, 2007’s Galore, Canadian group Dragonette return with possibly one of the best electro-pop albums of the year. Largely dispensing with the electric guitars and made-for-American-radio sound that appeared on much of their debut, singer Martina Sorbara, husband/producer Dan Kurtz, guitarist Chris Hugget and drummer Joel Stouffer have reinvented their sound into a spliced up palette of ’80s synths, hefty beats and pulsating basslines that marry huge, hook-laden choruses with the kind of lyrical chutzpah Sorbara has become known for. This new direction might have had something to do with their recent collaboration with Cyndi Lauper on last year’s Bring Ya To The Brink; the result, ‘Grab A Hold’, was a wonderfully retro ’80s number that called to mind Lauper’s own She’s So Unusual, and it is from this classic album that Fixin To Thrill takes many of its musical cues.

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charlotte hatherley: new worlds (2009)
October 12, 2009, 9:33 am
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Charlotte Hatherley
New Worlds •••½
Little Sister

Charlotte Hatherley’s musical career to date has been well documented: rocking in the grunge influenced outfit Nightnurse by 15, she was plucked from obscurity to become the fourth member of Ash at 17, discarding her A-Levels and a normal life to do so. When she left Ash in 2006 to pursue a solo career, it seemed a bold move on the part of someone who had some serious guts to go from being in a successful and established ‘day job’ to going it alone. However, what isn’t so well documented, and which has only just recently been revealed, is that it was actually Ash who asked Hatherley to leave, wanting to return to their trio status. So this somewhat changes the perception we have of Hatherley; she went it alone full time because she had no choice, not because she was gutsy. Although her first solo album Grey Will Fade was released while still in the band, subsequent works are now more than a side project created while on a winter break. Now the solo work is the day job.

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nancy elizabeth: wrought iron (2009)
October 10, 2009, 10:26 am
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Nancy Elizabeth
Wrought Iron •••••
The Leaf Label

In the best of all possible worlds, everyone would have a grandma from the Faroe Islands. Or at least, given the paucity of Faroese population numbers, any musician broadly operating within a folk milieu. Nancy Elizabeth Cunliffe has just such a grandma, and wrote much of her second album Wrought Iron in that particular ancestral home. And if this anything to go by, there is nothing like the tough romance of Europe’s chilly island peripheries for imbuing what you do with a shock of understated naturalistic ardour. From the piano-led instrumental landscape poetry of the opening ‘Cairns’ through to the wispy mesmeric season blues of the closing ‘Winter, Baby’, an intense thematic sense of isolation pervades. The Faroes can’t take all the credit though; rural Spain and, closer to her Wigan home, The Lake District also played their part. No doubt too did the 17th century cottage in North Wales where the album was recorded without too much contemporary trickery. The result? A gorgeous piece of work in the downbeat yet uplifting pastoral contemporary folk tradition of Nick Drake.

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nerina pallot: the graduate (2009)
October 10, 2009, 10:07 am
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Nerina Pallot
The Graduate •••½

“I wasn’t built for too much philosophising,” Nerina Pallot muses at one point on The Graduate, “I get tired of thinking about things”. That may be true, but it’s clear that a lot of reflection and thought has gone into the Jersey-born singer-songwriter’s long-awaited third album – her first since 2005’s Fires – an unsurprising fact given the life-changing events of the past four years. Not only did she bravely interrupt the momentum provided by previous hits ‘Everybody’s Gone To War’ and ‘Sophia’ to go back to university and complete a degree in English Literature, she also married a man to whom she became engaged within half an hour of dating. This blend of incisive reflection and reckless romance – a deep engagement with the emotions as much as the intellect, though perhaps not both at the same time – is present throughout the knowingly titled The Graduate.

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free music friday: charlotte gainsbourg
October 9, 2009, 10:31 am
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fmf_charlottegainsbourgCharlotte Gainsbourg

For those who are still struggling to get over Charlotte Gainsbourg’s disturbing performance in Lars Von Trier’s ‘Antichrist’, perhaps a little taste of her forthcoming third album IRM will help those images burned black onto your retina to fade. The follow-up to her critically acclaimed, half-million selling 2006 release 5:55, which saw her team up with Air, Jarvis Cocker, Neil Hannon and producer Nigel Godrich, IRM was recorded and produced by Beck at his Los Angeles studio and looks set to push Charlotte’s music into several previously unexplored directions. The title track makes an excellent case for it with Charlotte’s very clinical, almost robotic vocal delivery conjuring up images of a tense hospital drama – IRM is MRI backwards, dontcha know – with lyrics that reel off medical terms over an urgent drum and synth rhythm that creates an interesting frisson when set against Charlotte’s almost nonchalant enunciations. Add in some ghostly male backing vocals and you have a highly effective set piece that should do much to generate buzz for the album’s release on January 25th through Because Music. MP3 after the jump.

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karen o & the kids: where the wild things are OST (2009)
October 4, 2009, 10:01 am
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Karen O & The Kids
Where The Wild Things Are OST ••••½

There are some of us who have somehow never stumbled upon Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are; perhaps we are just not quite the right age, or conceivably it’s because this masterpiece of illustrated children’s literature just wasn’t quite as popular here as it was Stateside. But that’s all about to change as a much hyped Spike Jonze film adaptation, six years in the making, hits the big screen in December. The band name adorning the sleeve of this accompanying soundtrack is Karen O & The Kids; Karen O being the iconic Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman and The Kids being, well, an untrained choir of youngsters. However, they are not alone; this extraordinary and peculiar set of songs is aided by a veritable supergroup of indie-rock elite including Dean Fertita of Queens Of The Stone Age, Bradford Cox of Deerhunter, Jack Lawrence of The Raconteurs, Greg Kurstin of The Bird & The Bee and, of course, Karen’s fellow Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Brian Chase and Nick Zinner.

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paloma faith: do you want the truth or something beautiful? (2009)
October 4, 2009, 10:00 am
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Paloma Faith
Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? •••½

Let’s get the Duffy comparisons out of the way first. Paloma Faith’s voice does share similarities with the Welsh soul-pop chart-topper, and even Amy Winehouse and Gabriella Cilmi on the odd trill and low note, but that’s pretty much where the resemblance ends. She is by no means a pale imitation of these artists, though there’s the nagging suspicion that if the archly titled Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? had been released at this time last year it might well have received the kind of critical savaging many new artists never recover from. However, since Duffy’s blockbusting Rockferry was released the musical landscape has drastically changed. Synth-led electro-pop has taken over the charts and all of a sudden Faith’s debut seems like an oddity, a throwback, but all the more glorious for it. She could have opted for a sound akin to Lady GaGa, La Roux or Little Boots et al., but standing firm on the ‘soul sound’ best suited to her voice and style adds something of a stubborn charm to the album.

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pens: hey friend, what you doing? (2009)
October 1, 2009, 1:29 pm
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Hey Friend, What You Doing? ••••½
De Stijl

There’s nothing like a little controversy to inflate the buzz around debuts, but for London trio Pens the kerfuffle in question has come squarely from critic-to-critic politics rather than any attention seeking gimmicks from the artists themselves. Pitchfork’s damning review of the band’s recently pressed LP, Hey Friend, What You Doing? – which came complete with heaving sighs and ‘now now, we know best’ style tuts – incited a scathing response from legendary muso Everett True, who quite rightly countered their reviewer’s claims that Amelia Braekke-Dyer, Helen Taylor and Stef Orlando “can’t play their instruments”. No press is bad press, as the saying goes, and karma has most definitely cartwheeled on this one as Pitchfork’s bemoaning only helped to alert everyone to this awesomely necessary band and their giddy riot of a debut.

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