The XX (formed 2005, in London)
The XX are an alternative rock / pop outfit from London, England. The original four members met at Elliott School in London. The school is notable for having spawned a number of artists and musicians, such as Burial, Four Tet and Hot Chip. The XX are now a three-piece, after keyboardist Baria Qureshi left in 2009. The remaining members of the band are Oliver, Romy and Jamie.
The XX: Music
The XX rose from underground to cult success with the release of their debut album on Young Turks, entitled xx. The album was received well amongst a wide range of music critics in both the UK and the USA. The album was self-produced, despite the band having previously worked with Diplo and Kwes.
The album was recorded in a garage that was a part of the XL Recordings studios. Much of the recordings were done at night, which reportedly contributed to the hushed nature of the album's content.
Many of their songs have been used to soundtrack TV commercials, especially the track 'Crystalised', which was also selected as iTunes (UK) Single of the Week in August 2009. Similarly, their cover of Womack & Womack's 'Teardrops' was used on the online Eastenders spin-off, E20 and 'Islands' featured on an episode of the Grammy award-winning Grey's Anatomy. The fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld used 'VCR' as the soundtrack to part of his autumn / winter collection show in 2011.
When the creator of The Simpsons was asked to curate the All Tomorrows Parties festival in Minehead, UK, he invited The XX to play, along with Iggy & the Stooges, Spiritualized and Joanna Newsom.
In 2010, The XX won the Mercury Music Prize, ahead of artists such as Biffy Clyro, Dizzee Rascal, Paul Weller and Corinne Bailey Rae.
What can we expect on the third LP from the Mercury Award winning trio?
The XX are a band who have achieved the rare accolade of matching their critical success with a commercial viability after the minimalist electronic strains of 2010’s self-titled record altered the face of popular music forever. Without the prevalence of The XX’s sultry and deeply affecting electro, artists so clearly influenced by their sound would have turned out hugely different than they did today. The likes of James Blake and London Grammar, for instance, would certainly be viewed with wholly different eyes has The XX not impacted so extensively.
Fans can expect a change in direction and mood on the new XX record.
For their upcoming third release, tentatively entitled LP3, the group have decamped from their native London confines to the climes of some fairly unorthodox locations. In-house producer for XL Records Rodaidh McDonald, who previously worked with the band on second album Coexist, has revealed the band has worked on the new record in Texas and there are trips planned to Iceland and France during the coming summer. As the band absorb the sounds of different continents, McDonald has indicated such international influence will greatly affect the direction of the new record. “There are songs which came out of our experiences in New York and Texas that would never have come out in London” he stated, “the colours and the ideas and the moods on some of these songs are just not things you could write in London.”
Continue reading: What Can We Expect From The New XX Album?
With less than 24 hours to go before Glastonbury Festival opens its doors at the Somerset site, it's always good to know which bands to see and when.
With such a ginormous festival site at 900 acres, and plenty of drunken hoardes and muddy puddles to fight through, the simple act of walking from one stage to another can be a difficult task. Throw in a lost mud-sucked welly and inebriated disorientation and you haven't a hope in hell of deftly navigating your way in between acts - even with that overpriced festival lanyard you spent half your first day's budget on.
Glastonbury returns in 2013 after having taking a well needed break in 2012 - the Eavis family, the cows and the grass all had a rest whilst the portaloos and crowd barriers were in London for the Olympics. The festival this year marks it's revival with an exciting line-up, including The Rolling Stones, Mumford & Sons, Arctic Monkeys, Chic feat. Nile Rodgers, Chase and Status, and Public Enemy.
However, with all star-packed line-ups comes inevitable clashes: fan of both Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds AND Smashing Pumpkins? Too bad - they're both on around 20:30 on the Sunday with a good half mile hike between stages, meaning you'll have to forego one sullen frontman for another.
Continue reading: Glastonbury Festival 2013: Your Guide To The Biggest Clashes!
The Great Gatsby movie may not have received universal praise and critical acclaim since its silver screen release but that doesn't mean you should write off or disregard its soundtrack. What do critics know anyway? There seems to have been far too much analysis of the film's sub-text and possible parallels with the global economy rather than old fashioned cinematic enjoyment. Is the world more greedy now, more star struck, more in need of fame and fortune? Have we all become more self-absorbed, self-obsessed, materialistic and vacuous or is it just that, nowadays, it's more in plain sight, easier to identify and more readily hyped and publicised. (The film adaptation is, after all, taken from the F. Scott Fitzgerald book published nearly ninety years ago.)
Setting aside any need to put the film on the psychiatrist's chair (to see whether Fitzgerald's cautionary tale of excess rings true) and taking the film and its soundtrack merely on musical merit alone, I think it safe to say that without doubt it is a triumph. Any suggestion that it is 'style over substance' is missing the whole point. The Jazz Age was all about style, all about how opulent and how lavish you could possibly be. Yes, it may have been a little vulgar but it was all about extravagance and living the dream, even if the dream was ultimately a lie.
The soundtrack of The Great Gatsby captures the very essence of the post war age, an age of optimism and high spirits where the grim realities of the not too distant past could be suspended. You can lose yourself in the cocktails, flapper dresses, pearls and spats, cigarette holders and dinner jackets quite easily. The allure of the decadent lifestyle being flaunted by the charming and charismatic Jay Gatsby has an intoxicating appeal that is difficult to resist. Both Baz Luhrmann, the film's director, and executive music producer Jay Z have done a meticulous job in making that come to life, brilliantly mixing a twenties thread through a contemporary score.
Continue reading: Various Artists - The Great Gatsby OST Album Review
Baz Luhrmann placed Jay Z in charge of the soundtrack to his latest movie
Excitement mounts as a sampler for the Great Gatsby soundtrack has been released online. Fans of Jay Z and Beyonce may find themselves disappointed though, as neither of their tracks are included on the sampler. Beyonce covers Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ and jay Z also performs ‘$100 Bill’ for the soundtrack, though neither are present in the online selection.
Of course, they’ll be wanting to leave fans hungry to hear the two tracks that are clearly going to be the most highly anticipated of the lot. A press release revealed some of the treats that are in store and the detail of the work that went into compiling the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann’s reimagining of F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, set in 1922. “Jay Z (with collaborator and the film’s executive music consultant Jeymes Samuel) has worked with Luhrmann and his team on the project over the past two years, translating the Jazz Age sensibility of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel into the musical equivalents of our own times, through the blending of hip-hop, traditional jazz and other contemporary musical textures,” the press release reveals.
The sampler does contain snippets of other tracks from the soundtrack, including Emeli Sande’s re-working of Beyonce’s Crazy In Love (with the Bryan Ferry Orchestra), Together by The XX and ‘Young and Beautiful’ by Lana Del Rey.
Continue reading: The Great Gatsby Soundtrack Sampler Released Online
You Da Boss: Rapper Rick Ross had a lucky escape this week, somehow avoiding a hail of gunfire aimed at his Rolls Royce in Miami. The Diced Pineapples hit-maker ploughed into a nearby apartment block but emerged relatively unscathed. Now who would want to kill Rick Ross?
Silver Lining? Jennifer Lawrence's Christian Dior dress let her down badly at the SAG Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday evening. The Silver Linings Playbook star made her way to the stage to collect the award for Best Actress, only to see her gown literally split in the middle! What caused the wardrobe malfunction?
Today saw the announcement of the Coachella Festival 2013 line-up, to be run on the weekends of April 12, 2013 and April 19, 2013, and as expected it’s another smorgasbord of musical taste, with everyone from Britpop veterans Blur to funk rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers turning out for the California event. The sheer array of names is dizzying – just where do you start with deciding who to go and see? Well handily we’ve had a bit of a browse through the line-up for you, so here are a few of our tips.
Pick Of The Headliners
Continue reading: Coachella Festival 2013; Who To See?
How do you top having a dead man headline your festival? Well, in all honestly, you’re not going to. Coachella’s talent bookers must have been scratching their heads in bewilderment when it came to topping last year’s Tupac hologram and they’ve done the best they can, given the lack of deceased artists willing and able to play Coachella 2013.
The two Friday nights (the festival takes place both on April 12 – 14 and April 19 – 21) are looking like a highlight for fans of the Britpop revival, with Blur and Stone Roses lending a very British end to the evening. A newly invigorated Yeah Yeah Yeahs (well, Karen O’s dyed her hair blonde, does that count?) also play the Friday, as well as Modest Mouse, Lou Reed and Jurassic 5. Saturday has the French band Phoenix headlining, in support of their recently-announced new album. They’ll be preceded by British electronic gloom-pop band The XX, as well as Postal Service and New Order. The line-up for the Sunday nights is a slightly heavier one, with Red Hot Chili Peppers headlining, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds making yet another return (Cave will be raking it in that weekend, as his other band Grinderman also play the Fridays), Social Distortion and Wu Tang Clan.
Coachella always has an impressive array of legendary / stalwart alternative acts as well as the hottest new bands you’ve only just heard of. What they haven’t got, is anything that’s going to grab the headlines, or the public’s attention in the same way that Tupac’s hologram did.
This year’s Brit Awards nominations look as though they were concocted by a group of strangers, with wildly different cultural backgrounds, on a drunken night out. Is this a sign that the mainstream music world is finally starting to accept that it’s becoming more and more acceptable to have diverse musical tastes? Or are the organisers of the BRITS simply trying to spark controversy? have they lost the plot? Or is this an honest reflection of the mindset of a 2013 British music buying public? Let’s take a look at the evidence, and scrutinise some of the more baffling categories…
British Female Solo Artist Nominees – One of the more sensitive and contentious issues, here, in the British female solo artist category. Of the five nominees, only four of them were alive this year. We understand that Amy Winehouse has a lasting legacy in British pop music. We understand that she was – and, in many ways remains - a tour de force. But, for the sake of the awards, we simply have to ask, at the risk of sounding flippant, what has Amy Winehouse done for British music in the last 12 months? Sadly, nothing. Her posthumous album (released in December 2011, we should add), Lioness: Hidden Treasures was politely and quietly denounced for being little more than cuttings from the studio floor. We simply can’t get our heads around her inclusion on this list. With Bat For Lashes throw in as the ‘alternative’ wild card, to lend a touch of outsider cool to the category, it’s between Emeli Sande, Paloma Faith and Jessie Ware to catch this one, we reckon.
Continue reading: BRIT Awards 2013 Nominees Announced: Diverse? Or Just Weird?