Interview: Justin Currie

Justin Currie City Winery

Justin Currie‘s current US tour just took in his first ever Brooklyn show, at Rough Trade in Williamsburg (20th of September), and also included a stop at City Winery (23rd of September). As singer/songwriter in Del Amitri and now into his third album as a solo artist, Currie has ran the gauntlet in a 30-year career.

A slight mix-up means we end up talking before the show at City Winery on Varick Street instead of Rough Trade, it’s my first time to the venue and while I tend to prefer beer stained walls and sticky floors to refined wooden decor and expensive wine, it’s readily apparent that the venue treats the artists well.

Del Amitri’s self-titled debut album, released in 1985, is begging to be rediscovered by a new generation hungry for arty indie-pop (think Orange Juice meets The Smiths meets Television. I know, I hate lazy reference points too, but it’s as good as all those band’s best moments). If that pricks your interest, at the bottom of this post you can listen to the band’s John Peel session from 1985.

After the debut, Del Amitri’s sound moved in a more traditional direction and they scored a string of top-40 hits in the UK over the course of 5 albums (1989-2002) including Nothing Ever Happens, Always the Last to Know and Tell Her This. In the US, Justin is mostly known for Del Amitri’s top-ten radio hit, Roll To Me; it’s one of those time-old examples of “this song is not really representative of the band’s output”. Regardless, let’s not downplay the beauty of a good pop song, however throwaway it may be. There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and Justin Currie’s ability to write moving lyrics for the lonely, heartbroken, misanthropic and disenfranchised; sprinkled with just enough hope for us all to carry on.

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Maxim vs. FREEwilliamsburg – Our Back to Back DJ Sets

Maxim

Making a pit stop at Rough Trade isn’t much of a digression from Maxim’s everyday life. “The setup is quite similar to the one at home,” the London-based Singer, DJ and Producer says while browsing through his favorite vinyls, most of which come from the golden eras of reggae and funk. When faced with the task of building his ideal DJ set, Maxim looks to the songs that he enjoys hearing in a gritty club, as well as representing his buddies and collaborators. “I’ve got to include some Massive Attack, so let’s do Protection; they’re good friends of mine,” he says.

The original Prodigy frontman is embarking on a new chapter in his musical career. Coming to the table with a background in electro-rock, it’s not surprising that Maxim is cultivating a following with his own style of Trap. “I want it to be harder, with a more industrial sound,” he says.

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Kiwi legends The Clean played Rough Trade

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It’s hard to overstate The Clean‘s influence, in a career spanning over 30 years they are arguably the go-to band of New Zealand’s “Dunedin” sound. That they sold out both Rough Trade and Glasslands last week is testament to their enduring popularity; I caught the show at Rough Trade on Thursday.

Their set leaned towards longer, guitar-driven jams, rather than the short and catchy jangle pop with which casual observers may be more familiar (even Tally Ho turned into an extended jaunt). The band have never been the tightest unit in the world, which is certainly part of their charm, but did seem a little under rehearsed with many songs coming to a sudden or unnatural end. Regardless, there were many highlights including the fabulous Getting Older.

Bassist Rob Scott (whose band The Bats are also highly recommended) is the steady hand  that keeps things from going too far off track, while current New York resident Hamish Kilgour’s almost languid drumming style is hypnotic in its own right. As an aside, Hamish’s new band, Roya, opened the show at Glasslands on Friday but I have yet to see them (Roya also features Rahill Jamalifard of Habibi).

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing The Clean four times in total over the years; twice in London and twice in New York (where, as a British person I can sympathise with the Kiwis for being mistaken as Australian). David Kilgour has been making noises recently about how this might be the beginning of the end for the band. From an interview with The Quietus:

…funnily enough this jaunt coming up in the US feels like some kind of last hurrah-style adventure, albeit on the road, but I’ve said that before. I haven’t felt like making any new Clean music deliberately in a studio for a while…

While The Clean haven’t produced anything since Mister Pop in 2009, David Kilgour has released a steady stream of equally good solo material over the last 20 years and has a new album on Merge Records  called End Times Undone. The record contains some finely crafted jangle-pop for which he is known, but it is the Crazy Horse-like guitar fuzz of Down the Tubes and Dropper where the album excels.

The show certainly didn’t feel like they were saying goodbye, so hopefully if they do decide to call it a day we’ll get another send off. With the re-emergence of the Flying Nun record label in New Zealand, coupled with their partnership of NYC label Captured Tracks, it’s an exciting time for newcomers to acquaint themselves with a scene that can rival any other. Perhaps there is no better starting point than The Clean’s newly re-issued Anthology

Folding Legs release new video for “Glorious”

New York City ‘multi-national’s’ Folding Legs just came out with new Lee Peterkin directed video for their song “Glorious”. Catch the band’s record release show at Rough Trade in Brooklyn this Friday at 8pm. Get tickets here.

Folding Legs – Glorious

Rough Trade NYC’s music venue to reopen tonight!

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From Brooklyn Vegan:

After four months of being closed for renovations and soundproofing (a mere week after they first opened), Rough Trade’s music venue finally has the green light to reopen. Tonight (3/21) there’s two shows: Rathborne and Streets of Laredo early, and How to Dress Well late (sold out). Saturday night (3/22) is Elysian Fields, Melvin Van Peebles Menage A Trois, and The Aspiring Me; and Sunday has Genesis Breyer P-Orridge in conversation with JG Thirlwell, which is free, followed by a book signing.

The full line-up is here.

Rough Trade is hosting the world’s largest Moog installation

moogWhile Rough Trade is working out their concert situation, they are celebrating all things Moog with an installation that runs to the end of March. From MoogMusic:

For 25 days in March, Rough Trade NY is housing the world’s largest modern Moog installation as a mile-marker on the road to Moogfest, and Moog invites all artists in the area to stop by and utilize the space for experimentation and discovery. The residency serves as a physical manifestation of the intersection of music, art and technology,and it is meant to be used as an artist’s resource. Although it is free to the public, this is no museum exhibit- visitors are encouraged to interact, engage and experiment with the analog electronics. All are welcome to craft sound as well as bring a recording device to sample the instruments.

The installation is the world’s largest Moog installation and leads up to Moogfest in Asheville, NC (April 23-27). They will also be giving away a free Moogfest ticket on each day of the installation.

Rough Trade concerts cancelled following noise complaints

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Well, this sucks. From the Times:

On Thursday, a day after a scheduled show by Ida Maria was moved to the nearby Music Hall of Williamsburg — which is operated by the Bowery Presents — the store announced that, “following consultation with local residents and local authorities, Rough Trade and the Bowery Presents have decided it would be best to put ‘on hold’ all live performances at the Rough Trade NYC store, until further notice.” The announcement added that the decision was made “to allow additional sound remediation work to be carried out.”

In an email, Stephen Godfroy, an owner of the store, said, “We’re making sure our incredible live P.A. system is equaled by incredible acoustic remediation.” He added, “During this process, all amplified live performances at the store are on hold, but we aim to resume normal service (as it were), as soon as possible.”

The shop is on a largely industrial block on North Ninth Street in Williamsburg, a couple of blocks away from other clubs like Output and Brooklyn Bowl.

Tonight’s show by Tourist has been moved to Baby’s All Right, at 146 Broadway in Williamsburg. Scheduled appearances by Andrew Bird, DIIV, the Stepkids, Lucius and Au Revoir Simone have been canceled; shows by Allah Las, Cults and Langhorne Slim and the Felice Brothers have been postponed.

Watch a time-lapse video of the Rough Trade record store opening

roughtradeVisual artist Stephen Mallon shot this time-lapse video of Rough Trade setting up shop in the new Williamsburg store. Watch [Read more...]