KRISTIN KONTROL: X-COMMUNICATE

23 05 2016

 

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“Change is hard, but I need a change of heart.”

 

Music is a highly personable thing, and how it can make a person think and feel is solely on them. Music can be that friend at 3am when you cannot sleep- at the moment, that’s what I’ve been leaning towards. Sleep doesn’t hang around anymore, and I don’t blame it. So with that, it means I can write about a record that I have been SO excited to hear. I did want to wait until next Friday to do so, but I’m inpatient at times and gave in to the preview. From first seeing play drums in Grand Ole Party to hearing Catholicked for the first time to being awe of the beauty in Coming Down; Kristin has been nothing short of a musical heroine of mine. Her way with words to how she creates songs is mind blowing, and as Kristin Kontrol, she has gone and done it again.

The record starts with the easy grooves of Show Me. A song that requires a person wanting more from another and wanting to give said person more of you. With its slick Sade tones, this song is the perfect opener to this gorgeous record. It’s a song full of reassurance and beauty. The repeating of “There’s no need to change yourself” is just gorgeous. We all need to hear that from time to time.

Next up is White Street. This would sound perfect on the New Jack City soundtrack. It’s got a real 80s New York feel to it, and where some use the 80s an influence and clearly do it wrong- Kristin does it in a way that makes you feel like you are with her in the song. She makes you feel like you’re with her on White Street. The production on this is so so great and makes you feel like you’re in some 80s NYC cop film. This is one of those songs that fill you with an untouchable attitude, you slip into the song and it becomes you.

(Don’t) Wannabe and X-Communicate follow up. I think my feelings towards X-Communicate are pretty clear. I played it 3 times when I had my gig night the other week, I’m ALWAYS listening to it and the words are so brilliant. You can take whatever you want from it. Give up or don’t. But always ALWAYS stick to your decision. The line, “Do I still posses you? Forever and ever. Amen” is up there with the best I’ve heard this year. Sometimes you just want to drape that thought across someone. In either a curious or power-tripping kind of way. Both are fine, and I guess one will always lead to the other.

Many treat “Pop” as a dirty word, as if it isn’t “cool” to make Pop music. That kind of attitude causes minds to be small and record collections to be even smaller. I honestly have no idea what category to put X-Communicate in nor do I want to, it’s one of those records that takes pieces from all over and the end result is a body of sheer joy and genius. Prior to listening to Kristin’s record, I spent a few days listening to nothing but Dum Dum Girls to really understand what she was doing any why she had to do it. It’s pretty obvious why. If you keep doing the same thing over and over, you feel trapped- as if your mind is restricted. I absolutely adore the bones of what she did with Dum Dum Girls, and when I need certain songs they will be there. But on X-Communicate you see/hear another side. This side sounds braver and bigger. X-Communicate is such a powerful record from start to finish, and if you’re going to take anything from it- let it be the fact that you don’t have to keep at something in order to be heard. Change. Change as much as you can, be scared, be a mess but whatever happens- take it.

There are songs on the record that will break your heart such as (Don’t) Wannabe and What Is Love. What Is Love will break you. Or maybe that’s just me being overly sensitive. If it doesn’t cut through you in anyway, then you’re tougher than me. And let’s be honest, it really doesn’t take much. The words are so beautiful, so honest and there’s no way I’ll ever be able to listen to this without bawling like a baby anytime soon. We slide gently into Face 2 Face which is such a prolific track, and easily one of the many stand out points on the record. Something I’ve always loved about Kristin’s voice is that is sounds nothing like anything else I’ve ever heard, but you always know it is her. She’s got this ability to take you to crazy places with her vocal range. The way she sings the hook on X-Communicate to the gentle tones on What Is Love just leave you in awe. I think because her voice is so gentle and so soothing, you truly connect with the lyrics more compared to if she had a gruff voice. The gentleness and the openness is what lures you in, and keeps you there.

Going Thru The Motions is probably one of my favourites, lyrically. I do try my best to distance myself from music when I write about it compared to when I listen to it. It’s pretty tough, especially being a fan so I just stopped trying and stayed being a fan. Going Thru The Motions is one of those songs that just resonate with you, regardless of how you feel. You can be completely tough but there are songs on this record that will break you down more than any person could.

The record comes to an end with the euphoric Smoke Rings which reminds me a little of Tamaryn.Every song on this record fits perfectly into each other. The order of songs is just gorgeous and Smoke Rings is the perfect song to end this record on. It leaves you pressing repeat on Smoke Rings one more time, then you go right back to the start. There are moments on this record where you will have a cry but there are moments where you’ll want to flail your limbs about in time to the music. Maybe you’ll do it all at once. This is a record to fall out and in love to. It’ll heal you, even if you thought you didn’t need it.

What I love about X-Communicate is how much heart, soul and passion is in it. You can easily sense how much work and devotion has gone into this record, but at the same time Kristin just makes it seem so easy. Her words are pure poetry for the soul, and people with this kind of talent aren’t everywhere. I do still stand by she’s my generation’s Patti Smith. Her way with words is careful but not precious. Honest but not brutal.

If you’re looking for a record that’s going to take you somewhere sacred and make you feel things you didn’t know you could, then you know what you need to do this Friday (27th May.) Even in my non-biased opinion, this is truly one of the best records of the year. It’s in my top 2. My number 1? Wait for September/October and I’ll tell you.

X-Communicate will be released via Sub Pop.





DUM DUM GIRLS: Covers.

21 03 2015

When a band/singer covers a song and it sounds exactly like the original, it’s pretty dull. When they take the song and make it their own, that’s when you know you’ve found something rather special. Cat Power’s covers usually sound better than the original because she seems to put a lot more into it. She’s someone who makes it easy to pick up on every feeling imaginable when you hear her sing, whether it be her own song or a cover.

Dum Dum Girls have covered a number of songs and I probably should just list them all to make it easier (for myself) but I’ve managed to narrow it down to a solid 5. I’ve looked over it a few times and so far, I don’t think I want to change it but there’s still time.

Sorrow (The McCoys)- Aside from being known for their massive hit, Hang On Sloopy, The McCoys sang the gorgeous Sorrow which has been covered by many mod bands in the 60s. Dee Dee’s take on the song is stripped back and her voice adds vulnerability to it which is slightly missing from any other version I’ve heard. All this song does is show you how delicate Dee Dee’s voice is and how she makes you feel she wrote this song for you to really REALLY feel in your gut. With all songs Dum Dum Girls have covered, they manage to make you feel like the song was never created by another, and it is such a hard thing to do. It’s a hard thing to do well,and they truly exceed any expectations someone may have from a cover song.

Sight Of You (Pale Saints)- Their cover of this makes me want to take a long walk through New York City in the bitter cold during a blizzard. They make this shoegaze classic into a psychedelic whirl, you feel as if you’ve dropped acid and are in the late 80s/early 90s at some kind of Mancunian party with The Stone Roses. It is a stunning cover, it’s one of my favourite covers ever because like with The McCoys cover, you really do feel as if Dee Dee sat down one day and poured her heart and soul into this timeless song. Sight Of You is one of those songs (for better and worse) that makes you think of someone your brain shouldn’t. It happens to us all, it doesn’t matter who you are. There’s less pain in their version but more sadness. Sure the two are linked, but pain and sadness can be so different at times which is why I love their version of this song. It’s a euphoric gem, DDG style.

Be My Baby (The Ronettes)- Maybe I shouldn’t mention this one because the quality of the video online isn’t too great, but Be My Baby is easily one of the greatest songs ever written and many who have covered it have really not done it justice at all. What caused me to become a fan and fall freely in love with Dum Dum Girls music was their ability to sound like a 60s girl band, mixing wall of sound with a strong Punk DIY ethic. I adore that so much, and a lot of bands I love manage to capture that feel in their music. Personally, I feel Dee Dee’s vocals are wonderful to listen to because she reminds me so much of singers I love such as Ronnie Spector, Shirley Manson and Patti Smith. When you see DDG live, you can see the attitude and strength of those singers when she performs. If anyone can do this song justice, it is Dum Dum Girls.

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (The Smiths)- For me, covering a song by The Smiths or Morrissey is sacrilege. But, I can make exceptions when the cover is equally as great as the original. The Smiths version makes you feel alright with feeling lost, vulnerable and alone. Dum Dum Girls cover is a breath of life. It isn’t as sullen as The Smiths, but there is something equally fragile about it. There is no other band that I can think of that could make this song feel right as a cover. This song is one I hold dear to me, like most fans of The Smiths/Morrissey do. If they were to cover another song by them I would definitely love to hear them take on Please,Please,Please Let Me Get What I Want. There’s no doubt in my mind that Dee Dee could hammer home the vulnerability and sacredness of that song. They could probably cause you to breakdown if they covered I Know It’s Over.

Zombie (The Cranberries)- I found this clip on YouTube by accident, and sometimes accidents are wonderful things. This live clip is bloody brilliant. Dee Dee gets the pain across in this song, Zombie is full of pain and rage. Dee Dee unleashes this so beautiful with Andrew, Sandy, Jules and Malia adding fuel to the fire. This is definitely my favourite cover they’ve done so far. You can tell they’ve played this song over and over, and have paid close attention to every tiny little detail in the song and created their own version which doesn’t shy away too much from the original. I would love them to put this in their live shows as it really shows how strong they are as a band. Dee Dee has a delicate voice, and is so clear. With this cover of Zombie, even a non fan of the band would fall in love. Although it doesn’t take much from the original, they all manage to convey the message of the song and make it still as powerful and relevant more than before.

Of course it is worth mentioning that their version of Oh Those Eyes (The Vagrants) and Baby Don’t Go (Sonny Bono) are nothing short of stunning, and there are so many songs I’d love to hear them take on. In particular I’d love to hear them do a version of I Think I’m Paranoid and/or The Trick Is To Keep Breathing, and probably You Look So Fine by Garbage. That would be perfect. Ask The Angels by Patti Smith, I Wanna Be Adored by The Stone Roses and Who Loves The Sun by Velvet Underground, maybe something by Nick Cave for sure. I could go on and on, but you get my point. They just take songs and make you forget they are covers. Not only does it make them stand out as a band but it just makes me love their music even more.





DUM DUM GIRLS/CROCODILES. Scala. 1st May 2014.

3 05 2014

 

Live music is a powerful thing; seeing your two favourite bands live on the same night is truly something else. You don’t always think it will happen, but when it does you immediately feel part of something. And as an unsure and uncomfortable 27-year-old, I can safely say that music makes me feel part of something. I’m not sure what, but it’s just me and some music. I guess it’s not really anything at all, but we cling onto what we have because we’ve been without for so long.

Before the show I interviewed Dee Dee in the toilets backstage and we shared some whiskey. I’ll write it up over the weekend, when I feel like I am able to do so. It’s one thing to have a quick photo with a band you admire but it goes beyond words when you get to talk to them for half an hour about their music, Patti Smith amongst other things. I’ve spent part of today wishing I had asked Dee Dee some other things, but maybe next time. Who knows.

Both bands are very dear to me, and to finally see them live together was a beautiful experience. Crocodiles set was just Charlie and Brandon, just like how they first started. I never got to see them live as a duo, so this was really special. What did it for me was Jet Boy Jet Girl, a cover song originally done by Elton Motello. The song oozes sexual decadence and sinister wit, themes which sometimes flow through songs by Crocodiles. A brilliant cover and sounds even better live. They even played one of my favourites from Sleep Forever; Hollow¬† Hollow Eyes. Their shows as a duo is equally as passionate and as bold as it is with a full band, and for me it was a pleasure to witness live as I fell in love with their sound back in 2009 when they were still performing as a duo. It was honestly like falling in love with your favourite band all over again. I’m fairly sure I could have worded it better, but if you were there and you love them as much as I do- then you’ll know exactly what I mean.

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Watching Charles play the guitar is totally mesmerising, he just makes you wish you could hold a guitar and play it in the most brutal way possible. Throw Brandon’s haunting voice in there, and you’ve got a solid duo that have a sound that towers over the mundane shit you are exposed to. Crocodiles music really comes to life when you see them live. They are quite simply, a band you’ve got to see live. Brandon and Charlie make you want to find a like-minded individual and make your own noise; it’s never too late. Remember that. It’s so good to see both of them lose themselves in the music; Charles throws his guitar about and Brandon gloriously flails his limbs on stage. I just love their sound.

photo 1*My photo but not my hand.

I don’t know where to begin when writing about Dum Dum Girls, but they take to the stage and open with the gripping Mine Tonight. End Of Daze was (and of course still is) a truly beautiful EP. An EP that makes you want more and more from the band, but is also the perfect way to follow-up on previous releases. The setlist from their Scala show was nothing short of perfect; from the enthusiasm that echoes throughout Bedroom Eyes to the sheer romanticism flowing through Rest Of Our Lives. What I adore about Dum Dums is that when you see them live, you really do witness a band that love what they do, and of course, they love each other. The thing Dee Dee wanted the crowd to take from this show (and the rest of the tour) is love. Love for each other, for their fans and for what they do. As you watch them on stage each of them fall into the music in their own way. Malia moves freely on the stage with the bass, Sandy beats the shit out of the drums and leaves you in awe of how someone can play like that, Andrew sways at the back in an angelic fashion (and has beautiful hair), Jules smiles at the crowd as she sees those who are really feeling the songs and Dee Dee prowls the stage like a wild cat. Each of them lure you in with their sheer passion for what they do. If you don’t love what you do, then don’t do it.

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Like Crocodiles, Dum Dums are a band I would (and won’t) ever grow tired of seeing live. The way the songs come to life on stage is enough to make you have a little cry. I’m not ashamed to admit I got teary eyed during Are You Okay (it’s the “I’m reckless at night, I’m sorry for days”line that really hits me in the heart) and of course, the last song of the night Coming Down does something to me that not many songs do. Anyone who has heard this song knows which part exactly that does something to them. As soon as Dee Dee hits that high note, you feel weak but also a wave of strength hits you. Coming Down is a song I turn to when everything just seems askew, and to finally witness it live and to sing it back to the band is a gorgeous experience. If you’re going to do a review of a show, you might as well put your all into it. I really don’t get why you wouldn’t. I wish I had the money to have gone to more than one show, because they really are one of the strongest bands I have seen live. To see them lose themselves in the music and to bring it all to life is nothing short of inspirational.

photo 1(1)*Again, not my hands!

One thing I have noticed (okay so I’ve only seen them twice) is that those who attend a Dum Dums show make for a lovely crowd. There is no dickish or loutish behaviour. People are there for the most important thing; the music and the love for it.

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DUM DUM GIRLS- Rimbaud Eyes (video)

24 04 2014

 

Next week Dum Dum Girls are coming back to the UK along with Crocodiles for let’s face it, the best tour of the year. Nothing else really matters because these two bands are quite simply, the best at what they do. In my biased opinion, Too True is the best record of the year. Dee Dee has a gorgeous way with words (just listen to Trouble Is My Name and you’ll see how she truly gets to the core of nagging emotions.)

Their next release is the ethereal Rimbaud Eyes which is another creative collaboration with Tamaryn who directs the video. Personally, I think Tamaryn should just work with DDG on every music video because their relationship really does bring the music to life. It is just a beautiful collaboration.

Rimbaud Eyes video has a similar psychedelic feel to it that is found in Bedroom Eyes (taken from Only In Dreams) and what I really adore about Dum Dum Girls music is their way to always make you feel as if you’re in a dream. The video is part cartoon and part wishing you could swish your hair about like them. Especially Andrew’s heavenly locks.

I don’t need to write anymore about how stunning the video is, just watch it:

Go get yourself a ticket to their shows next week!