Wye Oak : ‘Civilian’

Check out ‘Civilian’, the lead single from an album of the same name by Baltimore duo Wye Oak. It’s one of those tracks that made me stop what I was doing and hunt down the full length, like in the old days. They are sure to draw comparisons to neighbours Beach House largely due to Jenn Wasner’s often heavy-lidded, otherworldy delivery, but their sound is more immediate and grounded in indie rock; witness the cataclysmic wall of feedback that cuts through the song’s galloping rhythm.

This threat of dissonance runs through the album, heightening the tension and sense of unknowing on the relatively calm ‘Plains’ and on ‘Dogs Eyes’, a song that starts out like a mutated guitar version of The xx’s ‘Islands’ before losing its nimble footing, lurching into violent, foreboding territory. Such exploration of the fragile, fleeting nature of beauty and melody have earned Wye Oak justifiable comparisons to Yo La Tengo, but unlike a lot of bands looking back to the ’90s for inspiration, they transcend affectation to create something thrilling.

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Sound It Out

Sound It Out is the official film of Record Store Day 2011, which falls on 16 April this year.  It tells the story of Sound It Out Recordsthe last record shop in Stockton-In-Tees – and the community that frequent it in one of the UK’s most deprived areas. Shot on a tiny budget raised through donations made by over 200 people, the film’s director Jeanie Finlay grew up three miles from the shop and credits it with kick-starting her love of music, a passion she doesn’t feel she could get from MP3s.

It’s been a while since I’ve set foot in a record shop. I’ve never been an audiophile and vinyl doesn’t make me go all dewy eyed. Maybe it’s down to where I grew up but as much as I enjoyed browsing the racks, I never really felt like part of a community. Saying this, the anthropological nature of docs like this is fascinating and it’ll be interesting to see the UK equivalent of last year’s excellent Record Store Day film I Need That Record.

Sound It Out premières at SXSW on Thursday. Request a screening in your town.

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Rites of Spring

Rites of Spring is Ikon’s forthcoming music festival. Taking place over three evenings at Ikon Eastside, 7-9 April, it features a thrillingly eclectic line-up of artists from around the country, including some of the most exciting acts currently based in Birmingham.

Heading up the nights are sonic experimenters Modified Toy Orchestra, Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed and his band, whose taut post-punk recalls Talking Heads and The Fall, and Guillemots frontman Fyfe Dangerfield. They’ll be joined by a number of acts who’ve previously featured at Colour events, including epic45, Shady Bard, Is I Cinema and Arc Vel. Full lineup below.

It is set to be a joyous, fitting send-off for Ikon Eastside, which will close after the festival weekend due to public funding cuts. Over the past five years it has not only  hosted work by international artists but has also been a home to an array of cultural events, including Flatpack and Supersonic festivals. It will be missed.

Thursday:Modified Toy Orchestra // epic45 // Shady Bard // Poppy Tibbetts // Friends of the Stars

Friday: Martin Creed and his band // David Cunningham // Matmos (video set) // Is I Cinema // Arc Vel

Saturday: Fyfe Dangerfield // Lulu and the Lampshades // Boat to Row // Young Runaways // Timothy Parkes

Rites of Spring – Thursday 7 –  Saturday 9 April, 7pm – 11pm. Tickets £12 (£10 NUS) // Festival pass: £30 (£27 NUS) available here.
Ikon Eastside, 183 Fazeley Street, Birmingham B5 5SE

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Sun Airway: ‘Put The Days Away’

In anticipation of Springtime adventures, we’ve been spending a lot of time tinkering with old bikes recently, which reminded me of this video by Philadelphia’s Sun Airway. Their album, Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier came out late last year on the remarkable Dead Oceans label,  a new favourite of mine.

This track stands out from the crowd of densely layered, shoegaze-y electronic pop in part because the vocals are both emotive and front-and-centre, rather than buried as texture in the mix (this track has enough texture to happily get lost in for a week). Echoes of Bono might put some off, but it even works for this U2 hater.

MP3: Put The Days Away

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DJ Set at 7 Inch Cinema

7 Inch Cinema unveiled the line-up for the fifth Flatpack film festival a couple of days ago. Taking place 23-27 March in venues across Birmingham, this year Flatpack will feature a cornea-full of audio visual delights, including live scores, a restored ’60s mobile cinema and parties alongside film previews, documentary and animation. View the full programme on the lovely new website, here.

This coming Sunday 6 March, 7 Inch are having a pre-Flatpack warmup at The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath. As well as previews of what’s to come at the festival, there will be a screening of Wurld, a “slightly Postgate-ish animation filmed (and scored) by Canadian duo Elfin Saddle in their backyard, [which] gives you a potted history of civilisation in a little under half an hour”. It looks amazing.

We’ll be playing a mix of indie, electronica and folk in the interludes. It promises to be a great start to proceedings.

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Where we’re at…

However much you love doing something, sometimes you have to accept that for whatever reason, it’s not working how you want it to. This point came for us as last winter; we were proud to have hosted musicians we love at what we felt were intimate, interesting shows but audience wise, there had been a significant drop off from previous years. Colour is entirely self-funded and it reached a point where we simply couldn’t afford to plough any more money into it. More importantly, we couldn’t face disappointing musicians we admire and respect with turnouts that were smaller than they expected.

After much thought, we’ve decided to wind down our live activities for the foreseeable future.  We’re still very much interested in collaborations with other organisations, consultancies and guest DJ sets and any live shows we put on will be ones we feel are simply unmissable.

We’re still incredibly passionate about independent music and the live scene in the West Midlands and beyond. The Colour blog will continue, with an emphasis on new releases we’re excited about, older records we love and music and cultural events in the region and beyond. Please send press releases and links to info[at]colourpresents.com. We’ll be kicking things off immediately, featuring a couple of events we’re involved in.

Thanks to all the musicians, venues and friends that have helped us out along the way.

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The Colour blog will return soon…

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