Archive for March, 2010




This Portland duo have been on our iPods for ages.  When we say ages, we mean over a decade.  In fact, before we had things called iPods!  They started out with more members, who had names like Dusty Sparkles and Ginger Peach, releasing various EPs, singles, live albums, covers and the Love Love Love eight-track 12″.  Their sound was more akin to the sexy punk that Blondie, or more recently the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, jammed out with style.  In the last few years Glass Candy stripped down to a duo, with the equally well named Johnny Jewel and singer Ida No, producing albums like the excellent B/E/A/T/B/O/X in 2007 and their 2008 disc, Deep Gems, both being a mixture of original singles, B-sides and rarities, alongside some covers, now releasing through the fantastic Italians Do It Better label.  Their sound, although still dripping with 70s connotations and influence, is now purely electronic, with Ida No’s rather echoing, libidinous vocals gliding over Johnny’s disco synths.  Think Fan Death, were they to step out of the (italo) disco and get involved in a breakdancing competition on a street basketball court.  Simple fuzzed chords, with a big bass and loads of atmospheric style, gets banged out whilst the hot Ida No hops around looking as sexy as Kate Bush at her lycra-leggings-best.  The reason they’ve now got their listing on The Recommender is because of a video, apparently and rather shockingly their first ever, from director Travis Peterson, for their track Feeling Without Touching (see below).  It got released last week and is a splendid and alluring piece of work, showing Ida No dancing like those folks who stood in the crowd in the 70s and 80s Top Of The Pops shows.  This Portland pairing may well have been around for some time, but if you can continue producing work this tidy, for this long, then they deserve all the attention we can possibly hand them.   (MB)


Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:        GLASS CANDY – CANDY CASTLE





In precisely the same way that all highly skilled craftsmen create their quality products, when pop music is done well, it appears to be somewhat effortless.  It strikes all the buttons marked ‘positive’ and ‘satisfying’, whilst simultaneously ticking all your inner fun boxes.  We’ve recently been in touch with Rod Thomas who kicked off this new project last summer, following a career spent working inside music distribution (PIAS) from 2004, to eventually setting up his own label, Self Raising Records, in 2006.  With the likes of Andy Chatterley (Unkle, Kanye West, Kylie) and Boom Bip (Neon Neon) backing him in the studio he’s chipped out an album, which is yet to have a confirmed release date, but is at least in the bag.  The below single, released last week, will be it’s first foundation block and now sees Rod deservedly starting to find the edges of the spotlight online.  It’s a gorgeous piece of pop, brightly lit and fizzing with confidence.  If you had a scale of pop with the dumbed-down, cliche-ridden, Simon Cowell-backed style at one end, then Bright Light Bright Light would be found at the opposite.  It’s intellectual, tidy and sophisticated, whilst still being jammed with flowing melodies and catchy choruses.  It’s thrumming soundscape drifts around like an echo over the kind of beat and handclap that would suit a dance routine.  It’s an addictive tune, pulsing along whilst Rod sings of mending broken-hearted moments.  You may have heard his other work, mostly completed under his real name, remixing the likes of James Yuill, The Answering Machine and Ellie Goulding to brilliant effect.  The signature synthetic wall of sound seems to be his trademark, filling the room with every tune he touches.  You can catch our new favourite Welshman on a brief tour starting tomorrow (30th March), then throughout April, taking in London, Tunbridge Wells, Southampton, Manchester and Cardiff.  We may yet ask him to come and play our Recommender party at some point, as a musician working this kind of skilled craft is bound to be a mesmerizing act to watch.    (MB)

My Photos | Bright Light Bright Light

Find him here:        Myspace





S X S W 2 0 1 0

A Local’s Perspective – By Olivia Gable

Well everyone, it’s that wonderful time of year again.  The time when everyone who cares about new music at all is talking up the happenings of this past SXSW Festival and speculating on its aftermath.  Lucky for you, we’re doing our best in this post to be a one-stop-blog for band highlights, photos and anecdotes from SXSW 2010.  So if you couldn’t make it this year, at least we can pass some of the joy on to you here from our humble experiences there.  This year in Austin, I took on the role of the official, one-girl embassy for The Recommender.  This was my fourth SXSW, as rather conveniently, Austin just happens to be the place I also call home.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Austin-based festival, every, and I mean EVERY, available club, bar, coffeehouse, vintage store, museum, park, walkway, car park, toilet and alleyway becomes a performance venue, some more ramshackle than others (*Cough* Purevolume‘s broken stage).  Most of these are free ‘unofficial’ parties and shows open to everyone, badge or no badge.  Covered below are some of the ones I made it to…



These guys did a nice job of kicking things off Thursday at Mohawk for the Billions Corporation party.  They had a tough crowd at 12:30 in the afternoon but managed to keep everyone’s attention.  Maybe it’s because they sound so huge live!  I’m sure every sound technician at one point or another has wondered if an audience can in fact be crushed by bass.  This show’s tech was clearly a man of action.  It was hard not to be distracted from the band’s percussive prowess and ringing vocals by the walls of bass closing in on my internal organs. Still, if I had to die by crushing, I’d want the culprit to be something as good as Lovesick Teenagers. They also win my Most Amusing Photo award for this gem:

BearInHeavenFunnyTR.jpg picture by odelaybradford

BEST LARGE BAND:   The Bewitched Hands on the Top of Our Heads

It really was a pleasure to catch this French sextet rocking it out at the France Rocks Austin party.  And that’s not only because when I stumbled into the club to catch them I discovered there was free food (tacos, of course), champagne and beer.  Food mecca!  After chowing down, I listened to them weave their lovely melodies and marvelled at their cohesion as a large band.  “Could three guitarists really be necessary?”, I wondered.  The answer is…probably, but that’s mainly because during their choruses, no one singer or guitarist can be picked out.  They all contribute to the resulting lush soundscape.  Their first EP will be released in early summer, but to hear them before that you can catch them live in their upcoming UK tour or listen to their excellent contributions on Yuksek‘s debut, Away From the Sea.

BewitchedHandsTR.jpg picture by odelaybradford


I really just went to see her because I thought she’d put on a good show.  She performed at the Knuckle Rumbler Lounge party at Peckerheads (ordinarily a frat/college bar).  First of all, this girl is tiny.  Secondly, she knows how to dance.  Watching her footwork and dancing to her bass-heavy songs as she rapped over them put a huge smile on my face.  She is so full of energy that it’s infectious.  This show ended a run of performances she’s made at SXSW, but she still managed to get a somewhat reluctant crowd to Shake it to the Ground.  Don’t just go see her because of her association with MIA and Diplo, do it because she’s got some sweet moves, and she’s willing to teach you.  Who knows, she might just pull you on stage as she did with one The Recommender’s favourite bloggers, Sheena Beaston.

RyeRyeDanceTR.jpg picture by odelaybradford


These guys are the perfect example of the whole point of SXSW.  You think, “Oh I have a few minutes to kill, I wonder what this band is like”. Then voila! You stumble into a fantastic show.  Their Myspace doesn’t really do them justice to be honest.  The keyboards and bass roar at you live, while the guitar rips high, whining melodies through the air.  Their abilities as multi-instrumentalists were on show too, as between songs they switch to keys or toss guitars and bass between one another like it’s nothing.  They won over the crowd so much that people begged for an encore (encores aren’t standard at SXSW’s 30 minute sets), so they unexpectedly closed with a cover of The Stone RosesI Wanna Be Adored and we all drifted away for a few dreamy minutes.

SolidGold2TR.jpg picture by odelaybradford


I went to see Mike Diaz at the Poptarts Suck Toasted blog’s party in a crappy club at the end of my longest day.  It was during the evening, when the ‘official’ SXSW showcases were happening, so very few people were there.  A few moments into the first song, which I recognized from his chlorine-dipped summer haze of an EP, Sunndreamm, everything went wrong.  The speakers made an ungodly racket and went silent.  He waited patiently for things to get working again.  They briefly did, but a few seconds later it happened again.  He did his best to salvage the evening, but he knew it was over.  Still, I heard someone who’d been raving about his album mutter that maybe he just isn’t very good live.  At least for us, he has much better luck in the studio.


In retrospect I think the reason I eventually got to see them was because I’d actually given up trying to.  Friday was a general day of failure, so I wasn’t expecting anything to work out.  Overall three of their SXSW shows were late, cancelled or rescheduled.  I finally ended up seeing them because I stuck around after folk artist Lissie‘s performance, but they were still half an hour late.  My patience paid dividends though.  Despite the crowd not fully appreciating the set, for reasons unbeknown to me, I still loved seeing Claire Evans’ model poses and Jona’s crazy energy.  He danced around so much during a choreographed part that one of his braces snapped and was dangling for the remainder of the show.  However, I think we can blame Claire for the crazy cold weather the next day.  She should never have said it “was great to be somewhere as nice as Austin after being in Canada’s freezing temperatures”! I think the city took that as a challenge, which it won.

YACHTTR.jpg picture by odelaybradford

SADDEST TO HAVE MISSED:   Washed Out with Small Black

This one kills me.  I tried so hard to see this set with both artists playing together at the tiny, dingy Lovejoys, for the I Guess I’m Floating party, but in keeping with ‘Failure Friday’ as I dubbed it, the set was incredibly late.  This year’s SXSW overall saw way more late shows than ever before, which meant in some cases all plans were out the window.  This particular show was going to be over an hour late, and I’d already been waiting in that extremely loud bar for three hours.  Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore.  So I logged it away as ‘Biggest Disappointment’ and left for brighter horizons.  Luckily YACHT’s groovy dance tunes made up for missing them.


It’s impossible to mention every awesome person I met or every band I wanted to see but couldn’t.  That’s part of what makes this festival so unique and impacting.  People get more time with each other, whether it’s over free breakfast tacos and beers, or just in the street.  There are so many wonderful brief encounters that can change entire plans for the day.  Here’s a wrap up of all the little memorable moments and aspects I can, well, remember…

FromHypeMWindowTR.jpg picture by odelaybradford


Catching bands I never expected to see (Rye Rye, Solid Gold, YACHT, and yes, even GWAR).  Having my city once again transformed by thousands of new faces, smells (mostly good), and sounds.  All the free drinks and food that as strangers we were able to bond over.  Exploring clubs and bars in my own town that I didn’t know existed.

PastePartyCowboyHatsTR.jpg picture by odelaybradford


Using Twitter to find people I’ve never met nor know what they look like.  It worked some of the time.  It’s astonishing how Mike (Recommender’s editor in the UK) managed to introduce me, whilst he was online, to people in real life, via his connections on Twitter.  That wafting smell at Red River and 6th.  Yeah, you know the one.  Discovering that, despite careful planning, I can in fact go a whole day without seeing any of the acts I planned to and the experience is just as rich for it.  Trying one last time to save ‘the day that wouldn’t be’ and having the universe tell me bluntly, with a kick to the head, “It ain’t happenin’, Honey, just go with it.”  Watching a t-shirted town in the midst of Spring transform into a blustery winter wind tunnel overnight; in mid March no less!

Street2TR.jpg picture by odelaybradford


Meeting some of the great people from Hype Machine, Mewbox, Strangers in Stereo, and  Chatting with the silly guys from Bear In Heaven totally made my week.  Watching friends get excited about seeing Sean Lennon like it was John Lennon himself in the flesh.  The constant accessibility of bands was awesome.  To simply be able to say, “hey there, you have a minute?”, and suddenly find yourself stumbling through Frenglish with an adorable drummer or two.  Meeting folks that are from all over the world who are just gushing about Austin.  It truly makes me proud to live here.

RoadBlockTR.jpg picture by odelaybradford


Buried under all the tons of rubbish created by the thousands who came, there remains the pieces of your memories and your hearts that you’ve left behind.  All the more reason to come back next year.  Just tell us when to pull out the taco fixin’s.  We’ll be here and we’ll be ready.    (OG)



We are still buzzing after our last impressive show headlined by Velo. Those guys have all the ingredients to be huge.  :Kinema:‘s support was the perfect match too and it’s good to see they’ve got onto The Guardian’s ‘New Band Of The Day‘ listing since.  We hope Velo will return to play our planned showcase at The Great Escape Festival in May.  More details to follow on that one in due course…

Looking ahead to our next show, we will obviously bring back the amazing Eleni Mettyear and her photobooth, which is creating it’s own reputation amongst the crowds, so make sure you look gorgeous.  The legendary Recommender Mixtape, (4th edition), will be ready and handed out in gift packs, alongside our badges (seeing them on lapels all around town now!) and stickers, amongst other items.  See the mixtape mp3 listed below that was handed out at our last party.  Lastly we will be providing some amazing music to help make our first Saturday night go with bang, no, make that a BOOM!


TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

Artwork | 'The Sleep Tape' by The High Wire (image by Louisa Mair) | The High Wire

THE HIGH WIRE – First up on tonight’s showcase will be this London trio who make utterly astonishing, angelic pop music.  Having released their debut album, The Sleep Tape, earlier this very month, we know that we can expect a set packed with extraordinary songs.  Come see them live and we promise you will get as convinced as we are that this is a very special band.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

My Photos | | Foreign Office

FOREIGN OFFICE – Feel the evening change gear as this quad of fantastic songsmiths arrive to play the last gig prior to the launch of their single, Leaving The House (29th March). It’s as strong as any indie track we’ve heard in recent times and the buzz is building up. They’ve recently supported other Recommender favourites, such as Wave Machines, O.Children and our headliners for April, Wild Palms. Watch it hit fever pitch as these upbeat melody makers storm our party.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

casiokids-final.jpg picture by odelaybradford

CASIOKIDS (DJ SET) – If you know about the Casiokids then you know how expert they are at whipping the crowd into a frenzy, so we expect no less from their DJ sets. However, if you don’t know the Casiokids (!?) then prepare yourself to witness the dancefloor taking off. They return from their recent supporting tour of Hot Chip and a successful SXSW Festival in the USA. There really couldn’t be a better way to enjoy a Saturday night.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford


BATTERY POWERED DJs – Our resident DJs will round off the evening, playing tracks exclusively from the blog, so expect cutting edge, razor sharp selections. If you want to know what tunes you should be listening to this year then check out this set from Brighton’s scenester DJs.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

Tickets are available from Ape, Resident and Rounder Records. If you can’t get to the shops in person, simply phone them up and ask them to put a ticket on the door for you and they’ve agreed to help. It’s only £4 advance and £6 on the door for access to all of the above amazing entertainment, as we seriously don’t want anyone missing out on the action. This is a night gathering some serious buzz around Brighton, so come see what the fuss is all about…




Welcome back to The Recommender.  Those regular readers will notice that we’ve changed up a little from previous posts.  This time we plan to do one single recommendation at a time, rather than the traditional three, so we can focus more on each band and post more frequently.  It’s all designed to improve the Recommender experience.  One thing that will certainly improve it are the fantastic music selections such as Jukebox Collective.  You will see in the below post, (Recommender 78), that we had located our new favourite band with The Tins.  As amazing and adored as they still are, they’ve already had to be bumped off our metaphorical top spot by this new four piece from London.  We suggest you put your ears back in the box and return to sender if this band don’t top yours too.  Consider the liveliest of beats, frantic spiked guitars, awesome riffs and choruses that will have you dancing, clapping and singing along like you just had 10,000 volts up your ass!  Think of the kind of guitar hooks and energy that The Rapture or Gang Of Four jammed out, or the more modern synth version that it evolved into with The Sunshine Underground. It’s all rolled up with some awesome styled vocals, from Kev Sewell, who sometimes sings, but sometimes speaks the words, in the way Julian Casablancas did, if he had Scroobius Pip‘s Essex accent.  It’s an outstandingly smooth ride, considering they’ve only been together for just over a year, with Greg being the main architect.  We spoke with the South African-born Greg earlier today, who’s been over in East London for the last seven years.  As former members of Havana Guns and Dakar Raleigh, they’ve now formed this new project, together with the Supremo Music label, which they’ll release on, at least initially.  They’re playing our Recommender party in Brighton on Saturday 24th April with Wild Palms, so head down if you like what you hear.  If you don’t like what you hear, we suggest you locate your brain’s reset button, it’s in their somewhere.  (MB)

Find them here:        Myspace






This latest find is the direct result of a little blog scanning, so credit where credit is due for one of our self-nominated parallel blogs, Pretty Much Amazing, with whom we share many ideals.  They in turn located the band from We All Want Someone, another excellent kindred journal.  You see, there’s this kind of primeval hunter/gatherer service that’s going on for you with us bloggers.  We love music, we go out and get music, we bring back music, you devour it.  Well, I guess in this case, we let others go out and grab it, then we devoured it ourselves and we’re now handing you the already digested leftovers.  Um, not quite so nice.  We digress.  Where were we?  Oh yeah, The Tins are bloody fantastic!  A three piece out of Buffalo who might just have wandered into our new favourite band category with ease.  They’ve been together for several years, having formed at college, and they’ve clearly spent that time properly tackling their instruments and more importantly wrestling their sound into a perfect submission, that’s now ready to be released as a self-titled five track EP.  Tight, masterfully layered jams, that build and fold into honest, captivating tracks such as these are actually very rare.  Spending a little time gliding through the tracks available on their Myspace was as about as rewarding as a Californian road trip in a soft top, as full of sunshine and musical vistas as you’re likely to find anywhere this year.  There’s several enjoyable sections within the songs, that work hard at not only finding a fantastic refrain, but keeping it going as long as the listener wants it to.  Oh just another eight bars of this please, Yes!  It’s not just the high standards on show that impresses, but the sheer consistency that’s so astonishing.  High praise for a band that’s totally aiming high.  Let’s hope for some more blog regurgitation to help raise awareness of this awesome find.  (MB)

Find them here:           Myspace

Hear them here:          THE TINS – THE GREEN ROOM

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford


We never got to hear of these guys when they had their first punt on the industry back in 2007, releasing their debut album, Messages, on XL Records.  The album launched into it’s pacey 80s synth tirade from the outset, rolling through various catchy but ultimately prosaic hooks. The ‘trying too hard’ signs were flashing, but within their neon walls there was evidence that life could still be located.  So after a brief hiatus, they’re back and this time seemingly not struggling quite so much, which initially looks like it’s allowed their tunes to improve.  The synth glitz is toned down and the 80s references, although still abundant, aren’t quite so sickly.  Keeping the punches and the hooks that previously worked, the tracks now have more variety and range, with a clever maturity and plenty to enjoy in each song.  It seems it was perhaps a worthy hiatus then.  Well, before we leap into a barrage of adjectives, there’s a couple of minor irritations.  The lyrics are in a generous need of repair, never talking about anything much, with dull subjects such as horizons and pylons (!).  However, lyrics are often harder to attack as we’re sure they mean something to the writer, just not the rest of us.  It’s also worth noting that this isn’t music that aims for your inner intellect, it’s for your smile, or your feet.  Tracks such as Us & The Wind, certainly blow enough breeze to drift in through an open window, while tunes such as The Grid turn it up and will turn you on as a result.  This seems to be a band with ideas and the odd clever trick, but who equally fall into the cliché trap when they try too hard.  A classic case of learning how enjoyable it is to cruise when you take your foot off the pedals a little.  Their new album, The Habitable Zone, is due out in May.  Whether they learn to go for the smooth ride, or continue to put their foot down, at least the signs now suggest they’re driving in the right direction.    (MB)

My Photos | To My Boy

Find them here:         Myspace

Hear them here:         TO MY BOY – US & THE WIND

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford


At first glance this is yet another slice of the synth pop cake that blogs serve up until you vomit.  Indeed this isn’t going to be for anyone who’s tired of this current trend, but there’s actually a lot of soul found on show here and that should hold your attention.  We should also mention that anyone reading this who was a teen or older during the 80s will likely feel this is a little too familiar, with it’s direct Lionel Richie descendancy.  A bloodline that doesn’t quite get the edgy, artistic, experimental side of our brains fizzing in all honesty, but who cares if all you want to do sometimes is indeed dance upon the ceiling.  The synths are on show and the cartoon basslines, although sticky as a spoon lost in the sugar jar, reliably jump the tracks along from one hopped beat to the next.  We notice that this new duo, born from one half of the double act BoyGirl, are from Boston, which makes us think of Yes Giantess and the whole Neon Gold crew, who always adored that distant Miami-fuelled decade, as if the 1980s were one long, fantastic cocaine party with Kevin Bacon.  The music on show with these two, although as defiant as Yes Giantess’ sexually-charged synths, is actually more akin to Kinema, who come from, um, our home town of Brighton, UK.  Oh well.  This is strawberry milkshake pop music, with songs that select the only subjects that this style could: partying and girls.  The more you hear the track, Let’s Go Together, which usefully just got picked up by Kitsune for their latest tastemaking compilation album, (number 9), the more you are lured in.  Resistance is pretty much useless and, like all the best forays into the 80s, the second you hold back from enjoying it the sharper your pretentiousness comes into focus, and that’s never nice.  Put on your most fearless smile and enjoy this simple, but entrancing piece of funky, soulfully-vocalised pop.

gamble/burke | Gamble and Burke

Find them here:          Myspace

Hear them here:         GAMBLE & BURKE – ISOLATED (WITH YOU)

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March 2010



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CLUB SMITH (Previously known as THE HAIR)


Mike Bradford (MB) - Creator and Contributor (UK)

Olivia Gable (OG) - Contributor (Austin, USA)

Matt Allfrey (MA) - Contributor (UK)

Natasha Ryan - Photographer (New York, USA)