Thursday, 26 August 2010

Michel Gondry x Uprock

I’ve been a fan of Michel Gondry for a while now, from his incredible videos for Daft Punk, Bjork and the White Stripes through to the dream-like beauty of his movies. When I got married my wife even walked down the aisle to our favourite song from Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

So on my birthday last year, when my brother told me that he had commissioned Michel Gondry to draw a portrait of me I was pretty excited. The only downside, Ric explained, was that he was busy directing films and stuff so it hadn’t arrived in time for my actual birthday.

Turns out Gondry stayed busy (although he sent nice apologetic update emails) and by the time my birthday this year rolled around the picture still hadn’t arrived.

To make up for it, Ric made me this video of his imaginary trip to California tracking the picture down…

A couple of months later an airmail envelope finally arrives in Suffolk from Beverly Hills, with an amazing portrait immortalising a midriff-baring moment from Uprock's New Years Eve party:

But in a surreal twist, also slipped inside the envelope was a note from Gondry himself, who had somehow found Ric's video message online and taken issue with at least one bit of the content:

So the lesson from this story – always respect the Gondry. And if you can’t be kind, rewind.

As a nod to the great man, here are three of my favourite Michel Gondry videos – enjoy.

Daft Punk - Around the World

Massive Attack - Protection

The White Stripes - The Hardest Button to Button


Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Give it up for the Chemical Brothers

The Chemical Brothers return with a track that sounds like a sequel to Star Guitar, until the drop comes in and makes everyone in earshot stand up and say 'what's that?'

Few artists successfully continue to produce stunning return singles - think It Began In Africa, Salmon Dance and the whole Battle Weapon series, normally released as 12" teasers.

And then there are the videos. The Chemical Brothers have produced some classics, including the aforementioned Star Guitar which came courtesy of Michel Gondry - who we have a very good story about to share with you shortly.

But best of all....still has to be Spike Jonze's Eletrobank, which remains a masterpiece.


Sunday, 15 August 2010

In Dave we trust

Reading Steve's blog on Janelle Monae's appearance on Letterman reminded me that I had seen a tweet today saying that M.I.A. had had a great performance recently as well.

I wish we had Letterman.


Monae for old rope?

I've been listening to the Janelle Monae album a lot over the last couple of weeks and it's providing a good soundtrack to the summer.

She's blended a lot of styles on there, equal parts future and retro soul, to make something fresh.

The influences extend to her visuals too - in the video for new single 'Cold War' she puts a real-time spin on Nothing Compares 2 U...

...while on Letterman she channels the spirit of James Brown for 'Tightrope' (which sounded good played loud at Uprock last week)


Meat is murder

In the last post Ric mentioned that he played 'Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell' at Uprock last Saturday.

We then started talking about why Taco Bell has never found its way to the UK. After watching this clip I feel less like we've lost out.


Monday, 9 August 2010

You can dance if you want to

UPROCK on Saturday night was good fun. It's always nice to hear/see people react to the music we play - a friend of a friend posted a Facebook status calling it 'immense', we had a drum n bass dj pop his head under our window to say hello, and there was some impressive dancing from a trio of women in the pub.

One of the issues (used in the lightest possible sense considering what real issues there are in the world) we have is on how dancable we should make UPROCK. In the Cock & Pye days we had a dance floor and it was great to gauge that instant connection with what we were playing - but it also meant we could get stuck in floor filler mode.

On Saturday I played TEETH's Stolen Spaces and it reminded me of this quandary.

One of the enthusiastic dancers told me it was too dull and requested something more danceable, like The Jackson 5's I Want You Back.

We all love the Jackson 5, and still play stuff from them, but a big part of our original aim for UPROCK was for eclecticism, the joy of not being confined to one genre and the freedom to play what we want. At the Cock & Pye, once people were dancing it could be difficult to move away from classics.

At The Swan we get the best of both worlds - the laid back atmosphere means groups are often comfortable dancing amongst themselves, but we don't have the pressure of keeping a dedicated dance floor happy all night and so we can jump between genres and tempos to our hearts', and hopefully all of those present, are content.

So we get to play stuff like Wu Lyf:

Which I think sounds amazing but appreciate it can sound harsh or out of place for people wanting a good time on Saturday night.

So if we leave you disappointed, we apologise. We don't do it out of spite or to be pretentious.

And if you stick around, there will always be a song come along soon after which will make you dance.

And finally, we had a rare disagreement in music on Saturday, with Andy calling this track rubbish.

I like it. Comments welcome below or on Facebook.


Log Log Log!

A few weeks back I got a copy of every episode of Ren and Stimpy from a friend. I first got into the series back in the 90's as it was on after The Fresh Prince of Bell Air. Watching back some of the episodes I could understand why Nikelodeon had such a battle with the writers as this stuff shouldn't be shown to kids.

Eventually the fun had to stop but some of the creators went on to do SpongeBob SquarePants.

Whilst finding clips for this post I came across the picture below. For part of Stussy's 30 year celebration they brought out this Ren and Stimpy Shirt. Although it was only released in June I fear that I may be too late.