PREVIEW FREAK FOLK COCOROSIE Classic Grand, Glasgow, Wed 12 May
Although it might be pushing it a bit to describe CocoRosie’s new album as sounding ‘grown-up’ (there’s a track called ‘RIP Bum Face’ for crying out loud) it’s undeniably more mature. The child-like operatics and wobbly, baby voices of Sierra (Rosie) and Bianca (Coco) Casady return on Grey Oceans (see review, page 63), along with their intoxicating, sweet-and-strange mix of fairytale harps, wonky electronica and twinkling children’s toys. And if you can temporarily ignore the blue candyfloss beards and druid hoods on the accompanying artwork (nope, we don’t have a clue either) there is plenty to like.
A few years before the mystical,
hippy-electronica of Bat For Lashes, and riding the same freak folk wave that Joanna Newsom arrived on, CocoRosie released their lo-fi debut, La Maison de Mon Reve in 2004; a creepy, yet comforting swoon of acoustic guitars, distorted beats and found sounds. (Is that popcorn popping in the background? And was that an elephant’s trumpet just then?) Now on their fourth LP, their music is still just about as beautifully bizarre and eclectic as it always was; they are just finding new noises to tinker around with. There are crackly vocals from their mother singing in Cherokee (found on a cassette amongst her things), jazz piano from new band member Gael Rakotondrabe, and Bjork-meets-Psapp storytelling about lonely hotel rooms and helium balloons. Although they wander into seriously nutso territory at a couple of points (‘Hopscotch’ sounds like orphan Annie experimenting with drum & bass beats and Western saloon pianos, for example), the overall effect is a sparkling, otherworldly wash of weirdness. (Claire Sawers)
PREVIEW J-POP / ROCK SHONEN KNIFE King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, Mon 10 May
‘When I finally got to see them live, I was transformed into a hysterical nine-year-old girl at a Beatles concert’ – the now immortal words of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain on Japanese punk-pop trio, Shonen Knife, who make their welcome return to the UK this month. Formed in 1981, the influential triumvirate have amassed something of a cult following with their ultra-happy power- chord thrashings over the years, particularly in America and the UK where they won the affection of the late, great John Peel among others.
Now, as they gear up for a lengthy nationwide jaunt – including a weekend at Butlins courtesy of the Matt Groening-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties – it would seem
an arduous task, to say the least, to cram the best of a back catalogue spanning nearly 30 years into just an hour. ‘Picking a set list is always hard,’ agrees
guitarist/vocalist, Naoko Yamano – the band’s only remaining original member. ‘We have more than 100 songs to pick from to play live so I have to adjust and consider what kind of gig/what kind of audience. The balance of new songs and best songs is important too,’ she adds. ‘I want people to have fun!’
When quizzed on whether or not the band are particularly excited about their Scottish excursion, Yamano gets straight to the point. ‘Yes!’ she gushes. ‘We’ve toured before with BMX Bandits and played with Teenage Fanclub in the 90s – I can’t wait to go music paradise!’ (Ryan Drever) ■ www.myspace.com/shonenknife
PREVIEW ELECTRONICA COLD CAVE Captain’s Rest, Glasgow, Sun 9 May
‘I grew up in the wasteland of the American 80s,’ explains Cold Cave’s founder Wesley Eisold. ‘[Its] sound has been with me as long as I’ve been here. Otherwise, what influences me varies. Music, film and books like everyone, but more the confusion and thoughts that exist in your head that seek a way out. For me, I love how an album sounds when the sleeve suits the music.’ He’s writing via email from his Brooklyn home, but just from that statement, you get a picture of a band in tune with the existential electronica of the UK during Thatcher’s decade. There are hints of early Human League, even Throbbing Gristle if you listen hard enough, but it’s early New Order whom Cold Cave resemble most on debut LP Love Comes Close – when Joy Division’s urban gloom was transferred to an electronic setting. Eisold has previously fronted hardcore punk bands, including Boston’s Give Up the Ghost. ‘I needed to lash out at 18 to a world I felt was attacking me,’ he says. ‘I said my piece and moved on. Now I’m 31 and a much more refined gentleman.’ So refined, in fact, he co-runs his own publishing imprint, Heartworm Press, although Eisold’s literary ambitions are currently focussed on writing lyrics. ‘All summer I’m writing and recording our next LP,’ he says. They’re also bedding in a new member: Jennifer Clavin (ex Mika Miko) recently replaced Caralee McElroy, alongside Dominick Fernow on tour. ‘I’m excited to play with Jennifer as she has made our miserable band so much more enjoyable already.’ (David Pollock)
60 THE LIST 29 Apr–13 May 2010