Posts Tagged ‘Neon Gold




Clock Opera recently supported Marina & The Diamonds on her nationwide tour, so when they rolled into Brighton The Recommender caught up with frontman, Guy Connelly, just before he went on stage at Audio.  We found him in an open mood, happy to discuss Clock Opera’s evolution into a full band, the benefits of blog coverage, their recording plans and the dangers of playing Black & Deckers live on stage!

Clock Opera (Photo: PR)

THE RECOMMENDER: Hello Guy, so let’s start at the beginning, where are you from?
GUY CONELLY: Near Bristol, a little dead end town called Nailsea.  It hasn’t got a lot to speak for itself really.  It’s next to Portishead but I’ve never thought of naming a band after Nailsea (like Portishead did).  That wouldn’t really work.  I live in London now.

TR: Like pretty much anybody who’s anything to do with this cool, new, rising electronic pop music.
GUY: I don’t know.  I don’t think that’s true.  That’s just people’s perception, there’s more people in London.  I’ve never really paid much attention to where you come from.  Someone might say Bristol has got a really good music scene and I haven’t got a clue.

TR: There’s different parts of the country that are respected for different things.  Bristol’s supposed to be good for Dubstep.
GUY: It only takes a few people to say that there’s a ‘scene’ somewhere, doesn’t it?

TR: That’s a good point, NME are always trying to find a new ‘scene’ to grab onto.
GUY: Everybody loves a scene… except bands.

TR: When did you start Clock Opera?
GUY: We played our first gig less than a year ago.  March, I think, and it’s come on really quickly.  We had a single out in November and people started picking us up unexpectedly quickly.  We’ve only played about fifteen gigs.  We’re really lucky to get on this Marina tour.  It’s our first tour so it’s pretty amazing that it’s sold out.  I mean, obviously they’re not here to see us.

TR: We’re here to see Clock Opera tonight as much as we’re here to see Marina.
GUY: Thanks, but we’re not kidding ourselves.  What I mean is, it’s wicked to come to somewhere you’ve never played together as a band and play to a room full of people.  That’s what you want, it’s amazing and it’s our first tour.

TR: What made Marina the right person to go on tour with, for you?
GUY: She just asked us really.  It’s not like we’re flooded with offers and it’s a great tour to go on.  I did a remix for her which she liked.

TR: Is that out yet?
GUY: No, people have been asking but we’re just waiting to see what’s going to happen with it.  Originally I did it as just a bit of fun that was going to go up on a blog and then her record label heard it and she heard it and thought ‘why not use it’ so I think it’s going to come out with her next single.  I guess it had something to do with us getting this tour.

TR: There’s a connection between the two acts through Neon Gold (the blog and record label).  That’s where we first heard about you.
GUY: Yeah, that’s how I got the remix, through Derek (one half of Neon Gold) and that’s kind of how it kicked off a bit.  We had a Guardian New band of the day (article) and Illegal Tender wrote about us on the same day and all of a sudden people started swarming a bit.

TR: So, was that all from Neon Gold?
GUY: No, Derek picked us up from that blog (Illegal Tender) – I think they’re mates – and then he wrote about us which I think helped us a lot.

TR: He seems to be massively on-the-money with everything he’s picking up at the moment.
GUY: Yeah, he’s a bit of a golden boy.  There’s two of them, Lizzy runs it with him.  It seems to be a surefire route to success or at least a lot of hype anyway which is pretty helpful.

TR: Have you got plans to release any singles/EPs/Albums in the near future?
GUY: We’re recording at the moment, we’ve been doing some mixing.  We mixed a couple of tracks at the end of last week.  We’ve got loads and loads of stuff, it’s just a matter of getting around to recording it properly.  We’ve got at least an album’s worth of stuff.  We’re recording four (songs) at the moment, we’re just kind of deciding really, doing a tour and seeing what offers come in.

TR: Are you a full band now?
GUY: Yeah, since we started playing.  I wrote a load of stuff before we got together but ever since then we’ve been a band.  I still write it to a certain stage and then we all develop it and play it so we’re definitely a band.  Just because I’m up here and they’re having a beer downstairs.  They’re happy for me to spout a load of bollocks in their absence.  People haven’t been writing enough about them.

TR: Everywhere else we’ve read about Clock Opera it ‘s been ‘Guy this’ and ‘Guy that’.
GUY: It’s a bit annoying because they (the band) put a lot in and they bring a huge amount and I want that to be represented.  I think it also says a lot about lazy journalism, somebody writes something about just me and it multiplies but the truth is, we’re a band.

TR: The first couple of tracks we heard, White Noise and Alouette, don’t sound like they’re being performed by a band.  They sound like there’s a lot of laptop jigging, looping and sampling. Did you write and record that before the band?
GUY: I write as I record so a lot of the samples are ones that I’ve made at the start and they never change.  Then we add live instruments as we go along and arrange it.  We add different bits and bobs but the samples are what I start with so they always stay the same really.  We recorded those a while back but this new lot (of songs) have got more of a live sound because we’ve played about with that a lot more.  For one song, the original demo is completely different because there’s a whole new percussion section, loads of live drums where previously it was all based on computer stuff.  I really like that combination, I think that’s really important.  I love electronic music and that’s partly what we do but it also needs a grounding in reality somehow.  Likewise with the samples, they’re all digitally manipulated but I want them to have some kind of human feel to them.  You can tell they were once a real instrument, they’re not just wires generating sound out of nothing, there was something playing at the beginning.  I think that’s what I like about being a band, it brings that out more.

TR: How does it work?  You’re in your house and you hit something and you think “I like that noise”.  Do you record it in your house or do you take it to your studio?
GUY: Well, my house is my studio.  I’ve used washing machines and drills.  I really want to get a power drill solo in one song.  It sounds amazing it’s just about matching the speed with the note you want to play.

TR: You’re actually going to do that live?
GUY: I want to, it’s the threat of danger that I quite like.  It takes you away from just playing instruments on stage and maybe makes the front row step back 6 inches.

TR: You could have a whole tool orchestra, like playing a saw with a violin bow.
GUY: Yeah, I like that, I really like that.  We’re pushed for time with setting up at the moment but when we get our own tour I think you’ll see some Black and Decker on show.

TR: You seem to have mastered that tricky blend of being experimental, whilst still having killer melodies and big choruses.  Do you think it’s still possible to be original and achieve commercial success without having to compromise either?  Is commercial success the main aim?
GUY: No, it’s not the main aim but yeah, you can definitely do it.  It depends what you define success as.  I define success as having enough people loving what you do that you can play a show and get to meet people who are into the same stuff.  The measure of success is what is necessary to propagate whatever else you want to do.  So of course you can do it, there’s loads of bands that have done it.  The majority don’t but if I didn’t believe it could be done then I wouldn’t be trying.

TR: What’s next for Clock Opera after the Marina tour?
GUY: We’ve got a few remixes coming out.  There’s the Marina one, I’ve done one for The Phenomenal Handclap Band which is coming out in March and I’m doing one for The Golden Filter at the moment which might be used.  I don’t know, I’m never sure.  I’m mainly doing that then we’re going to get back in the studio and get more songs done.  Hopefully we’ll have three or four more done by the end of next month and then fill up the album.  We’ve got a few more gigs booked but we’re not planning on playing too many gigs at the moment just so we have time to figure out more songs.

TR: We’d like you to come and play at one of our monthly parties.
GUY: We will play one of your nights, I promise.

TR: We’ll hold you to that. Finally, we always ask the bands we interview to become an honorary Recommender and suggest a band that we might not have heard of.
GUY: Well, there’s a band I really like in London called Magic & Fur. They’re really cool.

TR: Thanks, we’ll check them out, good luck with the show.

And what a show it was!  A remarkable performance, packed with many very strong tracks.  This is one talent that is bursting with creativity, ideas and ability.  We cannot wait for the promise of an album in due course, but one promise we will be pursuing is the offer he made to play The Recommender’s gigs.  Watch this space, but rest assured we will be proudly shouting it from the rooftops when we confirm the booking…
(MA & MB)




Starsmith, (real name Fin Dow-Smith), recently messaged us an update, which we’re pleased to say clarifies his current position.  To date we’ve known him as the producer behind Ellie Goulding‘s album, as well as playing alongside her live.  With her debut album due for a release in early 2010, we knew Fin’s work was virtually complete there, so what was a well connected talent such as Starsmith going to do next?

Well, the 21 year old is putting his music degree to good use, making sure he carves out his own solo career, rather than simply being the big bang behind other future starlets.  Having first arrived with the backing of the independent Neon Gold label, he has now signed his own record deal with Island (!) and we are pleased to confirm that he’s finally setting about producing his own songs.  He hopes that his own debut album should be ready for September 2010 and it will of course include Ellie Goulding as a guest vocalist, with the first single due around April.

Of course signing to a major record label, confirming guest vocalists of that caliber and planning release dates is all rather surprising, considering he hasn’t yet written or recorded any of his own original material!!  Well, when you have Ellie’s extraordinary tunes, as well as his plentiful remix catalogue, the picture becomes a lot clearer.

It’s this remix material that we are focussing on today, and our Remix Specials are fast becoming a set of hallowed halls, having previous listed giants such as:  Soulwax,  Bloc Party,  The TwelvesThe Golden Filter,  The Shoes and DiscoTech on past editions.  Starsmith’s golden touch adds his trademark wealth of electro synths, shameless 80s influences and bouncing beats.  Looks like Ellie’s going to have some stiff competition in 2010 then…


If there’s any others we’ve missed then we’d appreciate you informing us in the comments section.  We know others are out there somewhere.  Also, it’s worth you knowing that we’ve nearly finished our Best Tracks Of 2009 post, so we will upload that in the next few days.  Yet another exciting reason to head back here before the year/decade ends.



Who agrees with Speech Debelle becoming the Mercury Prize winner then? Comment your opinions please. We covered her in a recent post, so we have to say that we backed her. However, we’ve also covered Friendly Fires, La Roux, The Invisible, Florence & The Machine and Bat For Lashes on here before, so we could have backed them all!!

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Indie, dance and rock music is undeniably our three specialities here at The Recommender, but these days the genres can cover a very wide stretch of artists and sounds, so it’s a loose ‘speciality’. This is no bad thing as it opens our doors to many great musicians. We are even happier to cover DJ’s like V?, as his skills also jumble up a wide variety of genres. In his outstanding remixes you will find chopped beats, awesome samples and he regularly allows most of the original lyrics to stand. There’s often an adventurous sampled guitar rocking in it, or a French rappers vocals, but it’s essentially music to dance to. As with most great remixers it’s his (eclectic) selections that make him shine. He picks tunes that are essentially already enjoyable and doesn’t simply head for the pounding 4-beat or heavy synths, like so many other French DJs. The James Yuill tune, No Surprise, which he entered into a recent Discobelle remix competition, is probably our favourite (added below), but there’s more in his locker that are worth hunting out. In an overcrowded world of remixers (2009 has seen them appear on a massive scale – just check the Hype Machine‘s top 100 these days!), it’s even more impressive that this Parisian resident steps out from the crowd.   (MB)

Find him here:         Myspace

Hear him here:         JAMES YUILL – NO SURPRISES (V? REMIX) (ysi)

REDLINE.jpg Red line picture by odelaybradford


Excuse me but I must start with a short geography lesson. The term Polynya is the Russian word for a natural ice hole but is also the term used for areas of the Arctic and Antarctic that remain unfrozen for most of the year round, here ends today’s lecture hope it wasn’t too heavy for you. Analogies aside, this five piece from North Carolina produce an esoterically adventurous brand of indie, which takes it’s sound from a diverse range of influences. On the stand out tune Island their vocals come across as a more subdued Deerhoof and Sonic Youth whilst musically it sounds like the rhythm section of Can playing along to a synth driven swirling rendition of Half Asleep by School Of Seven Bells. Brooding between full on space rock and 80s shoegazing, Polynya manage to tie together all the many musical strands that have effected them and produce an interesting multi-layered sound. The new album Crop Rotation is out now on Childhood Pet Records.    (DV)

Find them here:       Myspace

Hear them here:       POLYNYA – ISLANDS (ysi)

REDLINE.jpg Red line picture by odelaybradford


We are pleased to finally get the chance to visit the latest promising foal to come out of the Neon Gold stable. A few months back the owner of the record label, Derek, was with me during a recent gig at Scala and he leaned over and whispered in our ears that we need to look out for Penguin Prison in the near future. For sure, any hot tip like this from the likes of the young taste-maker Derek should not go ignored. Prior to this post, we had only ever heard Prison Penguin’s outstanding remix of Marina & The Diamonds‘ I am Not A Robot (below), so it’s with great pleasure that we finally heard this New Yorker’s first original tune. It has a sense of fun all over it, in that familiar 80s pop bounce. Cool synths flick about alongside the random lyrics “I wish Mike Tyson was my friend, then I would tell him everything”! It’s so pop that George Michael may well pursue becoming his friend first. It’s simple and occasionally sickly, but totally charming and in fact it’s always the keyboards that make sure it never veers off cool street too far. Think of Frankmusik were he snapped up by Stock, Aitken & Waterman and you get the idea.   (MB)

Find him here:        Myspace

Hear him here:        PENGUIN PRISON – ANIMAL ANIMAL (ysi)

REDLINE.jpg Red line picture by odelaybradford

As a footnote to The Mercury Prize winner we thought we would attach a sweet acoustic video version of her track The Key, done by the awesome film makers, Watch Listen Tell.



Having championed Marina & The Diamonds from day one on this blog, it only seems fitting that we submit this great video for single ‘I AM NOT A ROBOT’. Excitment over this outstanding artist is currently at fever pitch since she joined the ranks for the September/October NME Radar Tour (more on this soon).

The video below was directed by none other than the leading fashion photographer, Rankin. It had Marina in full body paint and was shot over 16 hours. It’s a remarkable use of imagery and style, which seems precisely two things that Marina has in bundles. It’s great to see an artist growing in confidence with every step she takes.

The single is part of the Crown Jewels EP, out on the Neon Gold label. Her full debut is yet to be completed and no date has been agreed for a release, but rest assured that The Recommender will keep you posted the second we hear…




Here we are with another lip-smacking fumble of new artists for you to indulge yourselves in. They range from brand-spanking new, to a rare treat from a more established fellow. All are worth a turn of your head…


And so yet another somewhat outstanding act plonks out the other end of the amazing Neon Gold record label machine. How they achieve it is beyond us, but suffice to say, keeping up with the number of awesome Indie bands they spit out is almost a full time job in itself. We first found Wolf Gang playing at an after party held by said record label during the recent Great Escape festival. They play delightful, sweeping soundscapes, with epic Pop proportions. The similarity of the voice of the main music maker, Max McElligott, is so close to David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) that he will be sick of the comparison before long. It’s no bad thing however, as just like David Byrne they are equal parts creative and charming. Their first track, ‘Pieces Of You‘ is available from here. It’s perhaps their strongest track to date, but we attach below the song that initially hooked us, ‘Night Flying‘, in it’s demo form prior to any production. Here’s hoping it hooks you too.   (MB)

Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:       WOLF GANG – NIGHT FLYING (ysi)


We would be doing you a disservice to compare this lot to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and in particular Karen O’s frontwomanship, exactly as a queue of critics have taken to doing in regards to this London 4-piece. OK, so they are fronted by a pretty and stylish female singer, who packs in the attitude and goes by the name Ali Cat, but the Indie-Pop music is a far less slick and lacks the same emotional depth. We would suggest they’re more of a Ting Tings for 2009, with their Pop hooks, simple chords and clap-your-hands-pace. Sadly, as enticing and fun as their creations are, they lack the true connecting punch that they clearly long for, with horrific lyrics, “everybody on the dancefloor“, and pointless swearing “put your mother fucking hands up“. It’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs for thirteen year olds. All this aside, they fizz with energy and Ali’s pulse is definitely plugged into her teen punk band roots. Her killer looks, (she used to model for Glamour and Elle shoots), will get them noticed, but only time will tell if it’s a more a case of style over substance.  (MB)

Find them here:        Myspace

Here them here:       GHOST CAT – THIS IS A BUST (ysi)


Here on The Recommender we rarely write about acts that are well beyond their debut material, except for those that we either shamefully missed first time around, or that are now producing music on a level that’s impossible to ignore with their second outing. Well Tiga has become the latter with his album, ‘Ciao!’. Whilst always being someone we were well aware of, we often found the Montreal DJ/Producer to blow hot and cold. With a circle of friends that include the likes of Soulwax and James Murphy it would be foolish to dismiss him entirely. He’s a busy guy, managing to produce many remixes for a wide variety of people from Scissor Sisters to LCD Soundsystem, whilst also owning the Turbo Recordings label. Although his latest album continues his hit/miss inconsistency, at it’s best his trademark minimilist Electroclash sound moves your feet with far more vocals and groove than we ever heard on his first album, ‘Sexor‘. It’s far better for it and lifts the tracks from the often repetitive nature of his older work. We list below a shining example in the funked-up track, ‘Shoes‘.    (MB)

Find him here:        Myspace

Hear him here:        TIGA – SHOES (ysi)

So that’s it for another bout of punchy rounds. Hope you enjoyed the knockout tracks just as we did. See you back here soon for more right hooks in the near future…



Welcome back to another fresh batch of selected goodness. It’s been an amazing month for The Recommender, as lots of great things are happening in the background which will only serve to help grow the blog. More news will follow once everything’s finalised, suffice to say, world domination is definitely still on the cards. Nice…


If you like your music with a lot of charm and down-beat pace, then look no further than this lot. This is a new ensemble put together by the music machine, Seth Kauffman. He’s released solo albums prior to this, but now he’s turned to getting a backing band together and their debut release, Citizen Dick, came out in April. Refusing the commonly used computer-aided instruments and samples so often found in modern music, his stripped-down approach has produced some truly refreshing and beautiful songs. Shuffling drums and a wonderful, melodic guitar that feels and sounds like it’s being played live, create an atmospheric set of songs that are warm to the touch. Songs that cover subjects such as lost love (“I’m trying to forget my dreams again”) and hopelessness  (“I can’t take more than 50 lashes”) are sung over some rather sunny, floppy music. This 4-piece from Black Mountain, USA, have produced an album of many highlights, one of which we list below, so hunt it out, kick back and enjoy.

Find them here:       Myspace

Hear them here:       FLOATING ACTION – MARIE CLAIRE        (ysi)


This is the exact reason that we all need to surf the blogs on a regular basis. On the odd occasion you will find tidy gems like this newly-formed band. It’s as if they’re almost invented purely to reward the hardy mp3 treasure hunters. This particular bounty was plucked from the awesome blog and record label, Neon Gold. And so to this New York pair, who prove to be more than familiar to us already in a couple of different guises. They’re actually a side project from Rostam Batmanglij, who play keys for Vampire Weekend and he’s paired up with the lead singer from Ra Ra Riot, Wes Miles. Both bands share that similar breezy, delicate, indie sound, but with this project they’ve dropped the guitars and developed a focus on an electronic, synth style and an almost R&B backing beat. It’s still slowed and light, but carries their ability to construct a melody along on the waves as they drift past your ears. It’s gorgeous stuff and we are informed that there is a planned full LP due for a release this summer! Cue plenty of blogs all over the world dribbling at the thought.

Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:        DISCOVERY – ORANGE SHIRT        (ysi)


What a long way the West Country has come since The Wurzels! Especially since this bouncing trio emerged from that sleepy corner of the UK. They arrived kicking out lively, spikey, Rock-Pop, with tunes that are full of guitars, piano and the occasional drum machine. Tracks on 2008’s self-titled debut album swing wildly in the mix. Often utilising Rosie Varnier’s sexy vocals brilliantly (‘Butterfly’), then changing style to a pounding dance tune (‘Heartbreak‘). It’s a mish-mash, but often very enjoyable. There’s plenty of early No Doubt in there (‘Contain You’) and influences from Cindy Lauper bring an 80’s feel to some tracks. Self explained as “Kate Bush on crack” perhaps takes it a little too far, but judge for yourselves. Don’t get us wrong, this band is not re-inventing much here and is borderline annoying with their candy sound on occasion, but it’s their recent release of what is probably their strongest single to date, Heartbreak, that they once again come under our radars. We have another of their tunes, ‘You’ve Changed’, listed as a taster for you below. 

Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:        ROSIE & THE GOLDBUG – YOU’VE CHANGED        (ysi)

Two tracks there to kick back to in the sunny weather and that last track should wake you up some. All good though. If you enjoyed them, let us know in the comments box as always.

We are currently on the hunt for a contributor from the US of A, so if you’re a budding blogger/writer, (with immaculate taste obviously), and come from the other side of our pond, then let us know at and we’ll take it from there. Look forward to searching out some talent…


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