Sunday, September 30

Top 5 New Thing Covers

One of the most common ways of paying tribute to an influence or idol is to cover one of their songs. Today, The New Thing brings you our Top 5 nifty cover versions, old and new.

5. Goodnight And I Wish - 'Foundations' (Kate Nash)
4. The Horrors - 'Jack the Ripper' (Screaming Lord Sutch)
3. Project:KOMAKINO - 'Totally Wired' (The Fall)
2. The Horrors - 'Crawdaddy Simone' (The Syndicats)
1. Neils Children - 'Lucifer Sam' (Pink Floyd)

Thursday, September 27

EIOH EP//Band spotlight: ddd

The Shareholders Meeting, the debut EP from Electricity In Our Homes, is finally on its way! The 200 pre-order copies were sent out to the expectant shareholders today, according to Modern Pop Records, and should arrive tomorrow (so, only eleven days late). We at The New Thing will be reviewing it as soon as we get our hands on it, and the review should appear in our first print fanzine, due out in a couple of weeks. Watch this space!

In other news, our band spotlight shines today on ddd, a London duo who are set to play at the Experimental Circle Club's first birthday party in November. Ddd have been making experimental electronic noises, with distorted guitar and jerky vocals - in fact, they sound a little like the paranoid, edgy cousins of The Errorplains - since 2005, when the band was a solo project. They've since added a member, released three sold-out singles, and made various appearances on some almost sickeningly hip compilations. 'Can't Explain', the A-side of their first single, is available for download from myspace. Go and see them at Exp. Circ. - they're very good.

Wednesday, September 26

Theoretical Girl needs a bassist

Theoretical Girl is looking for a new bass player, since Samantha Valentine has pulled out of her backing band to concentrate on 'other educational and musical commitments' - presumably Ipso Facto, among other things. Applicants have to be female, 'very commited, willing to practice regularly, a competent player, and a confident performer', London-based, and 'somebody lovely'. Anyone who wants to apply (which could mean playing Brixton Academy next month) should message Theoretical Girl on MySpace.

Monday, September 24

Boosh and Brazil//A Small Update

Rumour reaches our ears that the new series of The Mighty Boosh, starting at the end of November, will have a guest feature not only from The Horrors, but also from synth-pop pioneer Gary Numan. (The bad news is the rumour also includes an appearance from the Towers of London, but I personally would put up with them for a bit of Numan.)

In other news, Boys of Brazil are having their current London shows filmed, apparently for a television programme. Taping took place at their show tonight at Rockstar @ The Ghetto, and their show at Glo-Ball Hypercolour on October 12th, with The Errorplains, is also going to be filmed. If you fancy getting on the tellybox, then why not shuffle along? (And even if you don't, you should still go and see them. They're fantastic.)

Saturday, September 22

Nick Cave's Birthday Party

Today marks fifty years since the birth of Nick Cave. We hope he's having a good party.

In completely unrelated news, The New Thing will shortly be producing a printed fanzine, featuring an interview with those lovely Spanish promoters The Junkettes, a review of the Electricity In Our Homes EP (if it ever arrives), and some other articles, features, and lists. More details to follow. Watch this space.

Friday, September 21

Band spotlight: Project:KOMAKINO

We really have no idea how this one managed to slip under the radar. Project:KOMAKINO, the one-man musical project of Kris Kane, is another in the crop of bands that emerged from Junk, so by rights we at The New Thing should have picked up on him a long time ago. It's our loss that we didn't, because his music is some of the most beautiful I've heard in a long time.

That's right - beautiful - and that's not a word we throw about a lot. It's reminiscent of late Joy Division, around the time they recorded 'Atmosphere' - sharp, echoing percussion and bleakly gorgeous synths, with cryptic lyrics and deep bass vocals, mixed low. In fact, Kris Kane sounds eerily similar to Ian Curtis, though his voice is also reminiscent of Andrew Eldritch (of The Sisters of Mercy).

He's got an official release coming up on Mute Irregulars, but for now, do yourself a favour and visit his MySpace immediately. You will not regret giving his music a listen. And go and see him live as soon as you can - we're told he's just as amazing on stage as in the studio.

Thursday, September 20

A Beginner's Guide to Siouxsie and the Banshees

...or, 'Why Juju should be subtitled Greatest Hits'.

Siouxsie and the Banshees formed part of the gothic vanguard of the early 1980s, forming a Big Three with Bauhaus and The Cure. Therefore you should, if you haven't already, listen to them.
Now, you could go and get their compilation, The Best of Siouxsie and the Banshees, to get a taste of them, and you'll find it gives a fair representation of the Banshees' entire career. And that is exactly the problem: by including tracks recorded as recently as 1997, the compilation is weighted against quality.

Yes, to accurately represent the Banshees' career, you apparently have to include dross like 'Dizzy' and 'Stargazer'. In fact, only six of the fifteen songs there were recorded by the Banshees at the height of their chilly gothic splendour, when they made three albums that everyone should have: The Scream in 1978, Kaleidoscope in 1980, and Juju.

What that all boils down to is this. The official Best of Siouxsie and the Banshees has two tracks from Juju on it. It deserves to have at least another six, since, of Juju's nine tracks, only 'Into The Light' isn't quite up to best-of quality.

Basically, I'm trying to say that if you're new to the Banshees, you should buy Juju instead of a best-of. It'll give you a much better idea of what the band are about, and how good they really were when Siouxsie Sioux was Queen of Goth, and a band could have a drummer called 'Budgie' and still be taken (semi-)seriously.

Wednesday, September 19

Winklepickers: a history

Just like skinny jeans, the winklepicker shoe or boot is something that no self-respecting follower of The New Thing, male or female, should be without. (If you hadn't worked it out yet, the word 'winklepicker' comes from the sharply pointed toe, which is like a spike used to pick winkles out of their shells, see?). The shoe has an illustrious history, and has clad the feet of many an eminent subculture throughout the 20th Century.

The original winklepicker, although rare, was first worn in the 1920s and 30s, largely in the USA and usually with spats and a suit. The footwear went out of fashion in the 1940s, but when the new generation of 'teen-agers' began worrying their parents in Britain in the early 1950s, dressing in Edwardian suits and listening to rock'n'roll, one of their shoes of choice was the winklepicker.

As these Teddy Boys became Rockers in the 1960s, they started wearing more practical shoes for motorbiking around London, and their sworn enemies the Mods began to wear winklepickers to set off their Italian suits. Their style was to wear pointed Chelsea boots, with elastic down the side and high Cuban heels, and these were adapted by The Beatles to form part of their famous mop-top 'look'.

As the Mod culture died down and Swinging London became a hippy commune instead of a Lambretta parking lot, winklepickers went out of style yet again. But in the late 1970s, when The Jam were fusing modern punk with classic Mod rhythms and styles and The Who's Quadrophenia was released as a film, pointed Chelsea boots became fashionable once more. They leapt the gap from second-wave Mod to followers of both New Wave, who invariably teamed them with skinny jeans, and gothic post-punk.

As these cultures sadly died, the winklepicker slid into obscurity once more (although it did form part of the 'look' for both The Jesus And Mary Chain and Primal Scream, and some of the original goths have stuck loyally to their 'pickers). The current revival, on the feet of various individuals in the New Thing movement, is the most recent in the long chain, and, as well as being championed by many of the bands we feature here, the points are upheld by members of Klaxons, and The Mighty Boosh's Noel Fielding.

We at The New Thing recommend looking on the internet to find winklepickers, since they're still not part of mainstream fashion (again). Underground England tend to have a good range in their online shop as well as in their various stockists, and various goth-shops also sell them. You can also get vegan winklepickers online, if you have a problem with animals becoming fashion victims. Some of the more subculture-conscious shoeshop chains, like Office, also sell them.

Some people say winklepickers can make your feet go pointy. We say, 'fuck it, they look great'. Go and buy some, and bring the winklepicker back.

Tuesday, September 18

Unofficial Horrors Day

Another slightly substitute-esque post today... you find The New Thing semi-anxiously awaiting some news on whether Electricity In Our Homes have pulled out of the support slot for Neils Children at their all-ages concert at the Roundhouse, Camden, in October. If they have, they've been replaced by Plastic Passion (who would be a good substitute, although both bands would be perfect...).

While we wait for an answer to this question, we bring you something a bit odd dreamt up by a couple of American Horrors fans: Unofficial Horrors Day.

Their cunningly-named fansite, The Horrors Fan, announces that October 2nd has been named as the day for this event, and that all Horrors fans are encouraged to 'spread the wonderful, gruesom, random, skinny, dark experience of being a Horror' by doing anything Horrors-related that you'd like. That's pretty vague, so TFH has kindly given us some ideas on how to 'celebrate': 'dressing up for the occasion, listening to Horrors music for hours on end, baking a black-iced cake, and forcing your guy friends to wear eyeliner'.

If you do all of that from day to day anyway, then you won't have to make much effort on October 2nd. If not, you don't actually have to make any effort either. But you might as well give it a go. They even have an animated banner. Now that's what I call dedication.

It's easy, it's cheap, go and do it.

Monday, September 17


The debut release from Electricity In Our Homes, the Shareholders Meeting EP, has been delayed, apparently due to problems at the manufacturing end. Since The New Thing was planning to bring you a review of the release today, we'll fill the gap with...


5// Cool.
John Linger managed to get onto the NME's 'Cool List' in 2004, at number 30. Not so impressive, you may say, but 1// this is NME we're talking about, and 2// he beat Robert Smith by 10 places.

4// Covers. The band have recorded a few cover versions in their time. Apart from their version of Pink Floyd's 'Lucifer Sam' (recorded in one take last year to pay tribute to the late Syd Barrett), they've played an experimental version of 'Tears On My Pillow' (last heard on the Grease soundtrack) and have blended Pink Floyd's 'Interstellar Overdrive', Public Image Ltd.'s 'Poptones', and The Specials' 'Ghost Town' in a live medley called 'Popthings'.

3// Name. A source of controversy. While some say the band are named after 1960s proto-punks John's Children (who are best known nowadays for featuring a young Marc Bolan), the band have also claimed that 'Neil' is an everyday, average name, and that 'Neil's Children' refers to middle-class suburb-dwellers in general. You choose your favourite meaning.

2// Bassists. The band have had no less than three since their foundation in 1999. The first, Tom Hawkins, left after a year and became a sound engineer for pop-punk band The Subways. His replacement, James Hair (who regrettably didn't really live up to his name that well) left due to musical differences in December 2005, and now plays in a jazz-punk band called Vile Imbeciles. Keith Seymour, who took up the role after this departure, had played for post-rock group Hope Of The States before joining the Children.

1// Genres. The Children are more genre-bending than people credit them with. While nowadays they play gothic post-punk, they're most famous (thanks to their best-known song, 'I Hate Models') as snotty punks. But before that, they were definitively Mod freakbeaters - unreleased songs from their aborted first album, 'Demand the Impossible', sound more like The Who than anyone else.

There's a lot more to say about the Children, but it'll have to wait for now. I'm off to change my needle and wait for The Shareholders Meeting. More Top 5 Facts coming soon for your delectation and interest.

Sunday, September 16

Experimental Circle Club: The Secret of Sircles and Spheres

The Experimental Circle Club began in late 2006 as a successor to the popular Junk night. Like Junk before it, the Exp. Circ. Club runs in the basement of the Royal Hotel on Southend High Street (although it started in nearby Westcliff). As of last Friday, seven successful 'experiments' had been completed in Southend and Westcliff, and a new phase in the life of the Exp. Circ. Club was about to start: the first happening in London.

The Eighth Experiment, titled 'The Secret of Sircles and Spheres', was different to any of the previous seven. The date and the details were highly publicised, but one fairly crucial bit of information was left out: where exactly the party was to take place. The location, although confirmed as East London, had been kept secret, and was only released on the day itself, after emailed guestlist applications had closed.

Apparently there were a few reasons for this. The first was to keep the gathering small and exclusive, since East London is accessible to more people than Southend. The second was just in the spirit of experiment and mystery surrounding the club. Chris Error, one of the organisers, told The New Thing, 'People love it. At some points during the week we had an email coming in every minute.'

Even now the night is over, we aren't going to shatter the secrecy surrounding the location. What we will do is give a brief taster, for those unlucky enough to miss out, on what actually took place at The Secret of Sircles and Spheres, Experimental Circle Club, 15th September 2007.

Guests arriving in the general area were guided to the venue by Chris Error, who had adopted the title (and appearance, complete with lab coat) of a Professor for the night. After scrutiny of the guestlist, we were admitted to the inner bowels of the Exp. Circ. Club.

The main room featured a bar, a small stage with the equipment of the night's band (Ipso Facto, making their second Exp. Circ. appearance) set up, flickering monochromatic film projections, and (horror of Horrors) a disco ball; the whole thing was lit by chains of blue lamps, and UV lights picking out all the white details. Outside this room, the corridors on main flight of stairs leading to the roof was littered with bowl-haired people dressed to the nines in black and grey, some wearing Exp. Circ. armbands, draped over sofas and office chairs.

Famous faces in the movement lurking in the main room (if you'll allow us to sound like Hello! for a moment) were Rhys Webb and Tomethy Furse of The Horrors (the latter taking to the booth for an unannounced DJ set), Cieran O'Shea, cover artist par excellence, and of course 'Professor' Chris Error and Ipso Facto.

The night started with the traditional Exp. Circ. 'soundtrack of drone, static, and electronic sounds, building to an eclectic mix of sonic delights'. On this particular occasion, beats and beeps abounded, though this wasn't from any kind of new rave trash but true electronic experimentalists at work.

Since London is a big place, and the venue was a good distance away from our beckoning homes, we at The New Thing were forced to leave prematurely, and as a result unhappily missed out on Ipso Facto's performance, as well as the latter DJ sets. Early departure notwithstanding, the night was extremely intruiging as well as very enjoyable...we hope to attend the next London experiment.

Exp. Circ. Club has now settled down, and takes place on the first Saturday of every month at the Royal Hotel, Southend. The next (ninth) experiment, on 6th October, is a joint happening with UFO Club, and features live performances by Ulterior and Errormental.

Saturday, September 15

Band spotlight: Wretched Replica

Wretched Replica were one of the many bands that emerged from Junkclub in Southend. They originally formed in about 2003, adding members over time to create a great raw post-punk/garage sound with fabulously poetic lyrics. After they supported The Horrors at their semi-legendary 100 Club show in July 2006, the future looked bright for Wretched Replica, and they were hailed at least once as one corner of a skinny, well-dressed Southend triangle, with The Horrors and These New Puritans as the other two. But then the band split up in the Autumn of 2006.

New projects from the various members have been promised but nothing seems to have happened yet. Happily, Replica have left a really quite admirable (if limited) musical legacy. Their few songs and releases are worth looking for - the tracks on their MySpace reflect their more post-punk output, whilst songs like 'Dirty Water' and 'Nathan The Good' are straight garage rockers. Replica were very talented and had buckets of potential, and it was a shame to see them go.

Wretched Replica MySpace

Yes, three band spotlights in three days seems lazy. So, coming up soon (with a bit of luck): a review of the Experimental Circle Club. Watch this space.

Friday, September 14

Band spotlight: Motorama

Just to prove we're not 100% centred around London, the band spotlight today shines on a three-piece from Rostov-on-Don, in southern Russia. Motorama have been playing traditional post-punk for a year, taking a heavy cue from early Joy Division among others - lead bass guitar, obtuse lyrics, and deep booming vocals accompany some very danceable drum lines.

Practically no-one reading this blog is going to be able to see them live until they get a lot bigger and do a world tour (wishful thinking? They deserve the success...). But thankfully they've put up a live version of their song 'Somersaults' on their MySpace for free download, and some really good raw demos of their other tracks are available on their main website. This is a band who you should take notice of. Они очен хорошии.

Thursday, September 13

Band spotlight: Goodnight And I Wish

Goodnight And I Wish isn't, strictly speaking, a band - it's actually Brandon Jacobs' stage name, borrowed from an Altered Images song title. When he isn't doing percussion/synths/backing vox with Neils Children, Mr Jacobs has a highly successful sideline in what he calls 'lullaby pop'. In fact, he describes it more fully as 'hypnotic melodies painted over visual musical layers that create dreams and fairy tales in the minds of those who wish before they sleep'.

What this boils down to is a big mish-mash of psychedelic doodles and whimsical pop, which works surprisingly well. Some songs are simple childlike ballads, with just voice and acoustic guitar (very much in the Syd Barrett mould), while others are heavy with studio effects - backwards guitar, distorted vocals, tape loops, and synthesisers. So far, the project has been very productive, with at least a dozen songs (including a cover of Kate Nash's recent #2 single, 'Foundations') put up on the Goodnight And I Wish MySpace(s) so far.

Since Brandon Jacobs also runs the Modern Pop Records label, it might not be long until some kind of official release from the project. Until then, tracks can be downloaded from his secondary MySpace site - the range of tracks there changes pretty often, so keep checking it! It's free, it's easy, and it's really good stuff.

Goodnight And I Wish MySpace
Goodnight And I Wish downloads MySpace

(There is a little bit of controversy over whether the name is actually 'Goodnight And I Wish' or 'Goodnight And I Wish*', with an asterisk. My personal opinion is 'same difference', but since there's no way to pronounce the '*', I'm inclined to say it's only aesthetic and to leave it off normally. Unless Mr Jacobs himself wants to clear the matter up, just do what you like and don't bitch about people who do differently. It'll help your blood pressure.)

Tuesday, September 11

Review: Twisted Charm's 'Real Fictional' LP

It's not a coincidence that I've only collected my thoughts about Twisted Charm's Real Fictional after owning it for over a month. It is, true to the form they set up with their early singles, a very weird album. The squirming ball of flesh, guitars, tentacles, and faces on the cover is just a taster of the sheer oddity on the actual record: strange instrumentation, eerie production, and fractured lyrics and vocals are Real Fictional's hallmarks, and they don't let up throughout the whole twelve songs.

This can make it very difficult to listen to the album. The strange pitch-shifting of Nathan Doom's vocals - they sound like they've been cut to pieces by the savage saxophone chops of Luke Georgiou and crudely glued back together - and the almost-but-not-quite rhymes can be either incredibly frustrating or utterly perfect, depending on your mood. On occasions they work very well, like on the single 'Boring Lifestyles' or closer 'Your Jealousy'. Other songs have slightly more dubious lyrical content ('world cinema will not change the world/but Kieslowski has morals to tell', for instance) but instrumental touches of genius, such as the synths in 'Cinema'.

In fact, the best lyrical content is in the tracks where Twisted Charm turn a scathing eye on society, criticising 'the hypocrites without a point of view' on 'Phoney People', couch potatoes on 'Television Nation', and 99% of London's population, seemingly, on 'London Scene?'. These and 'Boring Lifestyles' have one target, and one target only: anyone who doesn't think. While I support that criticism, it does make the band come across as more-intellectual-than-thou on more than one occasion, especially the jarring namedrop of John Keats in 'London Scene?'.

That said, if you want an album that does social commentary like a more intelligent Arctic Monkeys and instrumentals like a paranoid New Wave band from 1983, Real Fictional will be right up your street. And whilst some songs are a bit take-it-or-leave-it, and you might not play the album right through more than once, the best tracks make it well worth buying.

Monday, September 10

These New Puritans: album release and tour dates

For those that haven't heard about it yet, These New Puritans have finished recording their debut album. It's titled 'Beat Pyramid', and it'll be released on Domino (internationally) and Angular Records (in the UK) on November 5th - use it to soundtrack your Bonfire Night. The first single from the album, 'Colours'/'Numbers' (a double A-side) will be released on October 15th.

At the moment, the band are in Italy, preparing for the Wah Wah Festival in Venice on Thursday 14th, where they'll be playing with The Violets and Boys of Brazil (as well as Rhys Webb of The Horrors DJing).

After that, they'll be playing the following dates around the UK...

25th Sep: London - White Heat
12th Oct: Leicester - Firebug
13th Oct: Leeds - The Faversham
15th Oct: Newcastle - The Cluny
17th Oct: Liverpool - Korova
18th Oct: Glasgow, Scotland - King Tut's Wah Wah Hut
19th Oct: Edinburgh - Arc
20th Oct: Manchester - Roadhouse
22nd Oct: Oxford - Jericho Tavern
23rd Oct: Exeter - Cavern Club
25th Oct: London ICA
27th Oct: Nottingham - The Social
29th Oct: Bristol - Louisiana
31st Oct: Brighton - Barfly

Go and see them, and buy the album. They're a brilliant band.

Sunday, September 9

Review: Ipso Facto at Beyond Retro

I'd never attended a gig in a vintage clothes shop before, but if any band could pull it off, it'd be Ipso Facto. Their black and white 1960s-style attire made them look right at home in Beyond Retro, off Brick Lane in east London, where the band played on a warm Saturday afternoon to a small but loyal crowd.

Starting with a nice ethereal performance of new track 'Balderdash', punctuated by 'oooh's from vocalist Rosalie Cunningham, the band launched into a great set of mysterious-sounding psychedelic rock. It was amazing how much musical talent the organisers managed to fit between a rack of dresses and a sideboard covered in bric-a-brac.

While Ipso Facto's recorded tracks sound a bit like a children's music box, the prominent and skilful basslines from Samantha Valentine gave their live performance a more threatening, dark sound, especially on a new bluesy track entitled 'Girl', and the penultimate song, which was slightly reminiscent of Theoretical Girl. 'Little Puppet' brought the performance to a close with a piano performance from Cherish Kaya that managed to be restrained and deranged at the same time. Other highlights included a perfectly-intoned 'Harmonise', and a performance of 'Five Golden Stars' with some very skilful drum fills from Victoria Smith.

Speaking to the band after the show, I was surprised to hear that they thought they had performed badly. They blamed this mainly on the equipment. Personally, if Ipso Facto are this good with bad amps, I can't wait to see them again with good ones.

Friday, September 7

Clubbed to death

It's a well-known fact that many of the bands featured on The New Thing formed at or around Junk, a club held in the basement of the Royal Hotel, Southend-on-Sea. Junk, founded in 2002, saw many performances from Southend bands like These New Puritans, Wretched Replica, Theoretical Girl and of course The Horrors, and attracted groups from throughout the south-east of England, including The Violets, Xerox Teens, and Neils Children. Its renowned DJ sets featured some of the most eclectic playlists of the time: synthpop and psychedelia, garage and goth.

The growing movement naturally attracted the attention of the media and the music industry, but the claws of commercialism kept away. Some say that the industry was intimidated by the huge kaleidoscope of styles. However, when NME put The Horrors on its front cover in August 2006, the beginning of the end was signalled for Junk: unwilling to 'become a target for the commercial bomber', Junk held its last night in early September last year.

So, with the main gathering for the followers of the movement dead, what now? Where can you get your kicks of an evening? Well, we at The New Thing will now very kindly list a few club nights for your perusal and pleasure.
The Experimental Circle Club
Effectively the successor to Junk, the Experimental Circle Club features a number of ex-Junk DJs and started in Cobham Lodge Hotel, Westcliff-on-Sea. It has also taken place in Southend's Royal Hotel basement, and Madrid (with the Junkettes) and will soon run its first night in London. As well as DJ sets, it's seen live performances, film and projection screenings, and even the odd poetry reading - the emphasis is on experimentation and spontaneity, with bands presenting new material or side projects. It claims to 'put on a night only if there is something to say', so happenings (experiments) are sporadical - if you wish to attend you are encouraged to 'keep your earballs open'.
Experimental Circle Club MySpace

The Only Fun In Town
This night is curated by Neils Children and takes place in their home town of Cheshunt. The club is named after a song by Josef K and specialises in post-punk and new wave. It was opened on August 11th with performances by Plastic Passion and Electricity In Our Homes, and now runs sporadically, with the next night on 22nd September. Members of Neils Children man the decks, with contributions from guest DJs such as Rhys Webb.

Eyes Wide Open Club
EWO is a happening at the Glasgow Barfly on the first Friday of every month. Their staple era is the swingin' 60s - garage, psychedelia, freakbeat, and rock 'n' roll. Live bands past and future include Neils Children and Boys of Brazil, as well as more traditional indie fare like The Mystery Jets and Good Shoes.
Eyes Wide Open MySpace

Dice Club
Inspired by the novel The Dice Man, chance is the game at the Shoreditch-based Dice Club: your entry fee is determined by dice at the door, and you use the same dice to make decisions throughout the evening. Tracks are also chosen by the DJ at the roll of a dice, and include a good selection of post-punk, surf, garage, and noise rock, as well as a large number of tracks from modern New Thing bands. Upcoming live acts include The Violets playing with The Guillotines and Ipso Facto, and Boys of Brazil have appeared in the past.
Obviously we can't list all the decent clubs, and most of the above are in and around London. If you live somewhere else and know a club night that plays our kind of stuff, or if you run a club and want some promotion gratis, you might want to leave us a comment and recommend yourselves. Until then, have a good one.

Thursday, September 6

Band spotlight: Spider and the Flies

Spider and the Flies is the musical brainchild of The Horrors' Rhys 'Spider' Webb and Tomethy Furse (which presumably makes Tom 'the Flies'). Using a variety of synthesizers and sequencers, with a drum machine and a theremin thrown in for good luck, Spider and the Flies have made a string of throbbing electronic masterpieces, inspired mainly by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (who created the original Doctor Who theme tune, along with incidental music for various other sci-fi programmes). As well as that, they have invented an unlikely but exciting back-story involving clockwork laboratories, human/insect hybrids, and black holes.

If that kind of thing floats your boat (which it should), then their first 7" release is available for pre-order from Pure Groove Records, and comes out later this month.

Wednesday, September 5

The Decline and Fall of the Indie Record Shop

Since its heyday in the 1980s with the Smiths and shoegaze, and its Britpop-fueled resurgence in the mid-1990s, the indie record shop as an entity has undergone a huge cataclysm. The closure of Fopp, the indie chain which went bankrupt in June, was tragic but not unexpected: due to one thing and another, running an indie record shop, particularly in London, has been made nigh-impossible in recent years, and dozens have closed down.

The first reason for this is that the 'digital revolution' and download culture, where buyers pick and choose the tracks they want, have made the album obsolete in mainstream music culture. This, along with the fact that you can now buy the latest Snow Patrol album from Tesco for about 26p, has forced down the price of the average album. Combine the reduction in profits with huge rent increases throughout the country and many indie record shops are being forced out simply because they can't pay to stay.

What's replacing them are the big chains: Virgin Megastore and HMV. The reason that the big chains are succeeding where the indie shops is failing is partly because they have the financial muscle of a large corporation, partly because they can fool the masses into buying albums for £16, and partly because they can organise tax-dodges by bulk-buying from the Channel Islands. This, and their online presence, make them much more successful than the indie shops. But, the problem is that not only do these shops have little or no interest in stocking anything outside the charts, they're also run by people who don't care about music.

That's very different to the average indie shop, where the staff are not only very helpful but also generally knowledgeable and genuinely interested in the music they're selling - Rounder Records in Brighton demands 18/20 from all its staff in a test matching band names to album titles. Fopp was taken over by HMV after it went into administration; they've only managed to reopen six branches, saving about one in ten of the former Fopp workers from unemployment. I haven't visited a Fopp since the reopening (none of the six are in London), so I'm not sure how much has changed. But if they reopen any more former branches of Fopp in future, I'm willing to bet that they won't count the ability to recommend the best album by The Cure as a valuable skill for their staff.

Another reason that indie record shops are valuable to the discerning customer is that they tend to stock a lot more vinyl than the average branch of Virgin Megastore. This gives them an edge, partly because fanatical fans want vinyl-only B-sides, and partly because vinyl is just cooler than CDs. In fact, the vinyl revival (which is still growing) looks likely to be one of the lights at the end of the tunnel for the indie shop.

Despite this, the big question is still what we, as supporters of indie record shops (if you aren't one, why are you reading this?) can do to fight back against this wave of commercial chains. Well, the obvious thing to do is boycott them. We at The New Thing refuse to buy anything from HMV or Virgin - you can buy pretty much all new releases at your local indie (if they don't stock them, ask them to order them in), and old stuff will be available either there or at another local shop. If that fails, lots of indie shops have online sites where you can order their entire catalogue.

If you have to shop at HMV (if some ignorant friend buys you a voucher or something like that), make a point of asking a member of staff whether to get the 'Nuggets' box set or the original compilation, or anything else to confuse them. Otherwise, join the boycott and save the indies!

Some really good indie shops in London include Rough Trade and Banquet Records. Leave us a comment below, telling us about your local, and we'll (probably) link to it on the main site. Thanks for your contribution!

Tuesday, September 4

Band spotlight: Ipso Facto

Ipso Facto are four London-dwelling ladies who make psychedelic pop. The best way that we can describe their sound is as a musical version of a scratched black-and-white photograph from the 1900s. While the melodies are sweet and childlike, with a sort of musical box quality to them, there's a darkly mysterious, slightly dangerous air to their lyrics. The production is rooted firmly in 1969, which is no bad thing in our book. Incidentally, half of the band are also members of Theoretical Girl's backing group.

Monday, September 3

Coffin Joe's guide to making skinny jeans

This is our first fashion post, and it's concerned with two things that mean a lot to us: skinny jeans and the DIY (do it yourself) aesthetic. There are several ways to convert a pair of old baggy jeans into fertility-hamperingly tight drainpipes, but one generally approved method is the 'Coffin Joe'. Here's how the Horrors drummer described his technique in the first Horrors fanzine.

1) try and buy a pair of jeans with a bit of stretch to them. don't have to be ones that you would necessarily pick up and love but ones that you like the colour of. the stretch helps the drainpipes to become a bit tighter (and easier to get on and off!).

2) start by turning the jeans inside out and when inside out put them on. if you have pins, safety pins or anything like that roughly pin the jeans so they are reasonably tight to your leg. the tighter they are to your leg the tighter they're going to be.

3) it's usually better to take in the jeans on the outer side of your leg just because of the way the groin works and hangs (trying not to be vulgar). it's actually easier to do them on the inner side!!

4) either way you've pinned it, pull the jeans off and lay them on the floor. real drainpipes are actually completely straight all the way down, but you can take it in further at the knee and just above the ankle if you want them really tight (usually for girls but I like this personnally for boys!).

5) roughly draw a line or pin a line a bit bigger than you want them, as you can always take them in more, and then, using a sewing machine, sew down the line. the next process is just trying and seeing if they are right or not. if not, take them in as preferred in different places.

6) when sorted out, double over the line, using the sewing machine, as when putting on drainpipes, it usually stretches the stitches and can sometimes snap the thread. pay more attention towards the ankle of the drainpipes as this is where most stretch will occur.

7) hopefully the end, and a perfect pair of drainpipes.

This is probably the most requested piece of Horrors-related literature on The Horum, their official forum, and so hopefully posting it here might stop people posting new threads asking for it.

More guides for fashionistas to come in the not-too-distant future!

Sunday, September 2

Looking back/looking ahead

So, September has started. Summer is over. (Ironically, the weather so far has been better than most of August.) Therefore this is a good time to review the summer and to have a look at what's going to be happening in the world of The New Thing throughout the four months left in 2007.

The summer was when all the biggest festivals happened, of course, and we were lucky enough to be able to see The Horrors perform at both the Glastonbury and Reading Festivals, in June and August. A very muddy Glastonbury saw two appearances from The Horrors: a small set in the Queen's Head tent and their main performance on the John Peel Stage. The third Horrors fanzine, 'Heartbreak Ahead', was available at both shows, bundled up with a free CD of classic 1960s girl group tunes chosen by Faris Rotter. Reading put The Horrors in a much larger tent, which meant a bigger crowd but a lot less atmosphere (although, for fans who wanted to get closer to the band, NME organised a signing session afterwards). The Horrors' set was broadcast by the BBC in all its glory, and is available (for now) in .WMV format by clicking here. (It'll probably be on YouTube soon, if the file times out.)

In London, the 1-2-3-4 Shoreditch festival filled the baking-hot Shoreditch Park with what the organisers called 'now-wave', including appearances by Neils Children, Twisted Charm, Hatcham Social, and Errorplains. The after-festival party also featured Boys of Brazil.

So much for reviews - now for the news.

Upcoming releases include...
  • Electricity in Our Homes - The Shareholders Meeting: a new limited edition 7" EP including a numbered shareholder's certificate. Pre-orders are sold out, but more will be available from Rough Trade and a few other shops from the 17th September. On Modern Pop Records.
  • 'What Am I Supposed To Do?' - the upcoming Neils Children single.
  • ...and the first full-length Neils Children EP, Pop: Aural. The release date is still unsure - but hopefully it'll be out by Christmas.
A few Horrors-related whisperings and tidbits...
  • A big live event, known to some as 'Horrorpalooza', is being planned. So far, Faris Rotter has said that it will involve 'circus freaks', but details are pretty scant. Even date and location are unknown. London at Hallowe'en? Watch this space - we'll be bringing you the news as it comes in.
  • The band will be going back into the studio in the autumn to record a cover version of 'Dance', by classic post-punk act Suicide. After that, there'll be a period of writing, leading (eventually) to recording of a second LP. Bernard Butler of Suede and James Ford of Simian have been mentioned as potential producers.
Finally, watch out at the end of November for the return of The Mighty Boosh, the surreal television comedy, to BBC3 for its third series. As well as being a fantastic show, the Boosh holds special interest to followers of The New Thing this time around, because there's a guest appearance in one episode from none other than those busy Horrors. This show, first put forward by Boosh writer/actor Noel Fielding last year, is now in the can and will hit your screens on a Saturday evening soon. Keep reading The New Thing for more information on exactly when!

Saturday, September 1

An Introduction

Welcome to The New Thing. First of all, a few words: this isn't a scene. Lots of the bands discussed here may share common characteristics, they may be from roughly the same place, and they might be good friends with one another, but the word 'scene' dooms creativity, so we won't be using it.

With that out of the way, we can give you a rough idea of the sort of music we're talking about. Some bands within our sphere at the moment include Neils Children, Boys of Brazil, These New Puritans, and The Violets. As well as these semi-famous groups, we'll be discussing smaller associated groups such as Hatcham Social, Plastic Passion, and Electricity In Our Homes. In fact, the most famous name that will appear in these pages in the foreseeable future will be The Horrors, arguably the leaders of the pack in what we're not calling a scene. You've probably realised that our site's name is a phrase borrowed from the title their latest single.

Practically the only thing which all our subjects share is a deep inspiration from music's past, so that'll be our second topic of discussion. This will be in equal parts 1960s garage and psychedelia (from The Sonics to Syd Barrett) and 1970s/1980s post-punk (Gang of Four, Joy Division, The Cure, Public Image Ltd., et cetera).

The third topic of discussion on The New Thing will be the culture - fashion, art, literature, film - associated with these bands. There's a wealth of this, taking in The Picture of Dorian Grey, winklepicker shoes, Tonite Let's All Make Love In London, and the cover of Unknown Pleasures (just off the top of our heads).

Keep checking us, as we'll have news (as and when it happens), reviews of concerts and releases, and features posted as often as possible. We might even put up the occasional MP3. (As a sampler so that you can go out and buy the actual release more confidently (preferably from an indie record shop), of course.)

Lastly, thanks for visiting. We hope you find The New Thing a useful resource.