Tag Archives: music

Aaaaaaand We’re Back!

5 Nov

metronomyWow, that took a while. Sorry for the 12-month outage chaps. Contrary to reports in the media I have not hung up my chopsticks for good, I just couldn’t locate my inner rant. I might well have left it in the back of a Hong Kong taxi to be honest. Well, now your friendly neighbourhood Noodle is back, with all the inevitability of an unloved season, and primed to explode over this city like hot porky broth on a ramen shop floor. (I’m going to be doing some jokes).

To kick things off, though, I found this little gem lurking in the bottom of my tatty porcelain noodle bowl of fun. An interview with arch electro-plinky plonkers Metronomy from back in 2008 – ie before they was as famous as they is now – replete with original line-up and arguably better songs. Stay tuned for original content coming soon…

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Metronomy is not a band to play by the rules. In fact, they don’t even know where the rule book is. And if they found it, they’d probably burn it, in a wooded area, next to a no-smoking sign. So it comes as no surprise to find these three deceptively well-spoken and civil young men having a cheeky fag in one of the numerous threadbare rooms inside Camden’s Koko. It’s a couple of hours before they’re on; the nth date on their never-ending tour to promote their unique brand of electro plinky-plonk, perfect pop harmonies, falsetto choruses and affected, meticulously choreographed dance moves.

Here at Canvas we don’t rate the more obscure bands for the sake of their obscurity, but Metronomy are different, we’ve decided; they pretty much provide our very own litmus test of friends and acquaintances. Heard of Metronomy? Yes? OK, thumbs up. Like them? Alright, you can be our friend for life. Which isn’t actually to say that Metronomy are obscure – songwriter and band founder Joseph Mount has remixed everyone from Kate Nash to Goldfrapp.

“It’s nice now because people are quite up for having their stuff remixed,” he says. “KD Lang wanted something quite radio-friendly, so I did what I thought was radio-friendly but it wasn’t really what she expected. Taking entertaining risks is good fun, it’s a nice way to while away a few hours.”

You might have already come across Metronomy in broadsheet articles heralding the so-called Nu Rave scene alongside Late of the Pier and Does it Offend You, Yeah? among others – but it’s about as cohesive a scene as anything invented by a Guardian journalist, ie not at all. “I guess you have to expect that,” muses Mount. “But it’s actually quite nice now because we have people interviewing us and they’re saying ‘ we don’t know how to describe your music’.”

So how do you describe Metronomy’s music? According to the MySpace page, the band hail everyone from Bowie to The Ramones as an influence. In their own words though, they rate Usher and Timberlake for their unique credit-crunch defying dancing skills, Timbers coming in for special praise by virtue of being “like Beatles-lite”, according to Mount. A cross between the Beatles and Nirvana is how they’d like to describe their own music though – ie a combination of Revolution # 9 and Polly, apparently.  Hmmn, maybe you should just go out and buy a record for yourself, or even better, see them live – their unique stage show involves rather large push button lights slung from each band member’s neck, being pushed on and off at regular intervals in time to the music, and statuesque posing behind their keyboards. If you’re very lucky there’ll also be a troupe of dancing girls behind doing a jig in time to the tunes. But don’t let this put you off, there’s a boyish playfulness – a knowing wink to the audience that this is all just a bit of a larf and not some art school pretentious wank – that means they can just about pull it off. But are they worried the gimmick will be a curse as more people discover “that band with the lights”?.

“I went though the paranoia that maybe we should change this idea but actually it’s brilliant – it’s a strong look,” says Mount. “I’d argue that there’s not that many other bands that have something so visual linked to them. So some people may catch us at a festival and not know who we are but remember the show and then stumble across our music a few weeks later.”

The music has evolved a lot since Mount wrote the first album in his bedroom – figuratively anyway. Recruiting school chums Oscar Cash and Gabriel Stebbing for the live shows has led to a more expansive, lyrical and, god forbid, radio-friendly sound. Tunes like Heartbreaker, Radio LADIO and Heart Rate Rapid featuring infectiously catchy choruses and little flourishes which marry perfectly to the band’s cheeky on stage antics.

“It’s been quite a gap between the first album and this and it’s been quite a natural progression, influenced by the fact that we’ve been playing live and me realising what Oscar and Gabriel are capable of … and what they can’t do,” says Mount. “When the first album was done, songs like Trick or Treatz were written by me but the reason I didn’t sing on them was because I wasn’t confident enough to sing like a girl … but that’s all changed now.”

So what’s the ultimate goal for the band? Can they or do they want to reconcile their unique sound and growing band of followers with the mainstream and super stardom? Well, their aspirations are typically modest; Gabriel wants a Saturday morning kids TV slot, apparently, while Oscar would just like it “if a few more people heard of us because we deserve it”.

“It would be a shame if we were dropped by our label because people didn’t pick up on it quickly enough,” adds Mount. “It would just be nice if more people got it, although we’d have to do fucking badly to get dropped by our label.”

So look out for the new album in September kids – “driving music” perfect for 45 minutes in the car, according to Mount. Or better still, catch them at one of numerous London and festival appearances over the summer – you won’t be disappointed, although they might be if you don’t bother coming, and so will we. Not angry, just disappointed.

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Clocks still flapping? Clockenflap 2012

4 Dec

One of the most frustrating things about living in Hong Kong for any length of time is the absolute paucity of good live music. I’m not talking about Hong Kong’s burgeoning local indie and rock scene – um, wherever that is – but world class bands and DJs.

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Enter Clockenflap 2012, a music and arts festival held on a scrap of disused land in West Kowloon. It is quite simply the only thing going on here, bar the odd club night and an occasional flying visit from a DJ with every ‘s’ in his moniker replaced by ‘z’. It started off life in 2008 in Cyberport – unfortunately not as cool as it sounds – with a mission to bring decent music to HK and provide a platform for local talent.

This year was the first to charge for entry and by all accounts was the busiest yet (Hong Kong-ers prefer the idea of paying for stuff). Even if the quality early doors left a bit to be desired, there were six stages, a film tent and several after-parties…which in my book is not a bad set-up at all.

Klaxons killed it on Sunday, De La Soul were surprise hit of the weekend and Primal Scream just about made it to the end without collapsing or forgetting where they were. And Black Bart DJs – bedecked in neon-coloured Native American headwear – were as understated as ever.

With a backdrop like Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, there’s not much that can go wrong. Cheap-ish beer, decent food and some heroically skimpy festival attire (female) ensured the weekend passed by in a blur of alcohol, terrible dancing and bumping into things. The bankers-on-their-day-off vibe (you wouldn’t see expensive red wine being glugged at T in the Park), the massive queue for the bogs, and the unfathomably risk averse security staff who took offense to any shoulder-climbing, just added to the charm.

Can’t wait to flap our clocks in 2013. I’ll see you down the front, yeah?