wears the trousers magazine

kate nash says bollocks to poverty

In honour of International Women’s Day on March 8, development charity ActionAid has launched a new initiative as part of its ‘Bollocks To Poverty’ campaign to raise awareness of women’s issues among music fans and beyond. Not only are they encouraging music lovers to throw their own fundraising gigs and parties but they’ve also recruited Kate Nash to put together a digital playlist of songs that “sum up what it means to be a woman”, which can be purchased as MP3s through 7digital. In keeping with the louder, more aggressive sound of her forthcoming second album, the ten songs she’s picked include tracks by Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Le Tigre, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Helen Love and Shrag, alongside favourites from Björk, Destiny’s Child, Emmy The Great and The Flirtations.

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wears the trousers albums of the decade #25-1

part onepart twopart three

Here’s the fourth and final part of our albums of the decade countdown, 25 albums so fantastic they should have sold millions (and, lo, some of them did!)…

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Shannon Wright
Maps Of Tacit

[Touch & Go / Quarterstick, 2000]

Distilling everything that was good about her former band Crowsdell and her first album flightsafety, and stripping them of their twee chirpiness and indie-pop sensibilities, Shannon Wright created her finest, and darkest, work in Maps Of Tacit. A multilayered tour de force, the guitar is aggressive without being brash and the creepy, stirring piano swirls with all the innocence and foreboding of a decaying calliope; the overall effect is both intricate and cinematic. Together with some creative use of sampled sounds, dense poetic lyrics and Wright’s alternately silky and caustic vocals, it all adds up to a delightfully chilling labour of love.

Terry Mulcahy

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wears the trousers albums of the decade #50–26

part one | part two | part four

Here’s the third part of our albums of the decade countdown, running from #50–26.

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Queen Adreena
Drink Me

[Rough Trade, 2002]

Casting aside the disparaging comparisons to “Kate Bush on crack” bestowed upon her in the wake of Queen Adreena’s debut album Taxidermy, KatieJane Garside upped the ante with Drink Me, tearing whatever hinges that were still attached right off with a blisteringly manic grunge-metal fervour. Among her Wonderland’s re-energised malice, the softer moments found Garside’s raging voice shrunk mouse-high, whispering seductively as if through the keyhole, or chillingly into a void. Richly imaginative and manically enjoyable, Drink Me remains one of the decade’s most vigorous and visceral thrills, disturbing to the very last note.

Alan Pedder

read our interview with KatieJane

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leila arab: better living through living
September 10, 2009, 1:49 pm
Filed under: feature, words in edgeways | Tags: , , , , , ,

Leila Arab has been announced as the support act for Aphex Twin’s upcoming show at London superclub Matter on September 26th as part of Warp Records’ 20th anniversary celebrations – this gives us an excellent excuse to post this extended version of our interview with the lady herself, with some fascinating insight into her relationship with the legendary label.

If you’d like a print copy of the Leila interview, issue #7 is available here.

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words in edgeways with leila arab

“Did you turn right instead of left out of the station?” says an anxious voice on the phone. It belongs to Leila Arab, Iranian-born cult electronica artist, and she’s right to be concerned. Betrayed by Google Street View, I am utterly lost. Under her guidance I retrace my steps until finally I reach our rendezvous point. Leila stands across the street with one hand in the pocket of a large woolly coat and the other guiding a cigarette quickly back and forth from her mouth, her pale skin and thick curly mane of jet-black hair standing out from the familiar grey of the city. I wave at her, relieved, and cross through the traffic.

As we settle down at a table outside of a nearby café, we both order a non-dairy smoothie and settle down to some questioning. Leila is in a very laidback, chatty and pleasant mood, and her razor sharp answers quickly establish her as an intelligent, articulate and down to earth woman with an all-consuming passion for her work and absolutely no time for, or interest in, anything smelling remotely like bullshit. “The thing is with me,” she begins, “is that I’ve never approached anyone about my music, they’ve always approached me. I think because of my character, people must assume I must think I’m like, amazing or something. But I’m just quite shy and I don’t think art should be ingratiated like that. But then, that’s why people get managers. But I don’t fucking want a manager, so it’s a complex one.”

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björk: voltaïc (2009)
June 21, 2009, 11:32 am
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , ,


Voltaïc ••••
One Little Indian

Has it really been two years since Björk’s last album, Volta, landed on our planet? How time flies. As every Björk album has proved, however, whatever instant appeal they may or may not have had for some peoples’ tastes, they tend to need time to ferment and are usually best judged on reflection. This is normally aided by the arrival of another new album, but after two years’ solid touring for Volta and her recent campaigning for economic and ecological stability in her home country, the world’s most famous Icelander is taking some well deserved time off before putting together her next release. This does leave Volta hanging in the balance slightly, and if ever there was a Björk album that perhaps needed a little more explanation, reflection or analysis, it’s this one.

Originally hyped to be something of a commercial return to pop (thanks to the cautiously anticipated collaborations with Timbaland), Volta was indeed the most consistently melodic and vibrant Björk has sounded on record for some time, but by no means was it any less angular, experimental or exotic than its immediate predecessors. Not only this, but Volta was to become a very conscious experiment on her behalf to redress the balance between her studio time and her stage time. Having not toured since 2003 was clearly something that was going to be remedied with the release of Volta. The album was a blueprint; almost a preamble for the epic live circus that was to follow. Its production was kept surprisingly basic, despite the usual amount of stellar collaborators, and the instantly catchy singles and chillingly haunting moments aside, it did feel a little unfinished in places. Then again, what’s the point in reading the book if the plot is revealed in the introduction?

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free music friday: bell
January 30, 2009, 5:57 pm
Filed under: free music friday, mp3, review | Tags: , , , ,

‘New Bridge’

Heavily championed by Stereogum, the first we heard of Brooklyn-based Muscovite Olga Bell was when she cropped up on their tribute to Björk’s Post (free to download here) with a striking cover of Ms Guðmundsdottír’s own brassy take on Betty Hutton’s ‘Blow A Fuse’ (aka ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’). Since then a trickle of songs have filtered through to us, largely from her wonderful self-titled EP, including a lovely version of the classic ‘Moon River’.

Bell is much more than an interpreter of other artists, however, make no mistake. A classically trained pianist since the age of seven, her pedigree is beyond reproach. Still, it’s unavoidable to mention Björk when, within the first 20 seconds of ‘New Bridge’, Bell lets rip with one of those soaring multi-layered vocal swoops that instantly bring it on back to the queen B, but thankfully the song settles (mostly) into its own groove from then on in. Written as part of a campaign fundraiser for President Obama, it’s surprisingly brooding and vaguely ominous, the only light breaking through the skittering, echoing backdrop coming in the form of occasional uncluttered snippets of a hopeful piano melody before the song’s last 30 seconds finds her clearly repeating “You must drive in your mind to that shore” over treated handclaps. As metaphors for change go, it’s a good one. MP3 after the jump.

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singles of the year: readers poll results (part IV of V)

Singles of the year: #10–6


Florence & The Machine
‘Dog Days Are Over’
Moshi Moshi 

‘Dog Days Are Over’ is all about dynamics, cresting over huge percussion that builds up from simple handclaps, tumbling in and out of spookily echoing vacuums, but above all resting on Florence’s swooping, thundering vocals. Inspired by a sign Florence saw on Waterloo Bridge by contemporary artist Ugo Rondinone, it’s a vivid little changeling of a song, a celebration of those times when we break out of stagnancy and yield to life’s wild ride. Or, y’know, join some freaky forest cult like in the video. From the 7″/download single ‘Dog Days Are Over’/’You Got The Love’ (Moshi Moshi, 2008).



Nina Nastasia
‘What She Doesn’t Know’

Five albums into her career, Nina Nastasia finally issued her first ever single, and what a single it is. An outtake from the recording sessions for 2006’s On Leaving, ‘What She Doesn’t Know’ is yet another of Nina’s hushed but vivid character studies – this time of an ‘other woman’ coolly examining the predicament of her affair – and hums with a yearning to reveal the true force of her feelings. “I couldn’t think of what to say,” she sighs, resigning herself to keeping it secret. Poignant and quietly stunning. From the 7″/download single ‘What She Doesn’t Know’/’Your Red Nose’ (FatCat, 2008).



Jolie Holland
‘Mexico City’

‘Mexico City’ is Jolie Holland at her best. Cleverly embodying the spirit of Beat Generation muse Joan Vollmer – before her shocking accidental death at the hands of her gay common-law husband William S Burroughs in the titular metropolis – she weaves a deceptively upbeat tale of drug-fuelled camaraderie with Edie Parker and Jack Kerouac, laced with regret and a sense of longing. From the album The Living & The Dead (Anti-, 2008).

FREE MP3: Jolie Holland, ‘Mexico City‘ [thanks to Stereogum]



Björk feat. Antony
‘The Dull Flame Of Desire’
One Little Indian

This slow-burning romantic epic with its shifting oceans of brass seemed an unlikely candidate for either a single release or a remix project when Volta first dropped last year, but it kind of made sense as the fifth single. (Who gets five singles from an album these days anyway?). The Modeselektor remixes (‘For Girls’ and ‘For Boys’) are pretty good but Sinden’s reworking of the Timbaland collaboration ‘Innocence’ is a waste of vinyl/hard drive space. From the album Volta (One Little Indian, 2007).



‘I Feel It All’

Yet another evergreen song choice from Feist’s all-conquering third album, ‘I Feel It All’ was always an obvious single and a chartworthy successor to the iPod-shifting megahit ‘1234’. Its strong showing in our poll is not really surprising. Feist’s label have been pushing The Reminder just as hard in 2008 as they did in 2007, too much, perhaps, for even Leslie herself. When she recently retreated to plot her next move the label’s response was to reissue the album with a bonus disc of remixes and other extras. Enjoy your rest Feist, we suspect you’re gonna need it. From the album The Reminder (Universal, 2007).

FREE MP3: Feist, ‘I Feel It All [Gonzales remix]