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Larry Ryan

Larry Ryan joined The Independent's website in November 2007. He writes the "Caught in the Net" music column for the paper's Arts & Books section on Friday. He wears thick glasses and talks slowly, traits which people occasionally mistake for signs of intelligence.
Following last week's Q&A with Sean Forbes of Rough Trade shops, next up in our preview to May's Camden Crawl weekend of gigs (which includes a ticket giveaway, here), is Simon Raymonde, founder of Bella Union records, one of the UK's most interesting independent labels. 

He took our questions on the Camden Crawl and music in general. Here's what he had to say...

Which bands are you looking forward to most at this year's event?
All the ones on our night, and all the ones I tried to get but couldn't, like Surfer Blood, Casiokids, Peggy Sue, Born Ruffians, Male Bonding and Dead Meadow.

Are there any Camden Crawl venues you have a special affection for?
Love the Electric Ballroom as I used to go there when i was a young punk in the 70s and early 80s. When Koko was Camden Palace, I went there a lot in the New Romantic days as it just seemed very decadent and subversive then. Also seem to recall Prince had a party there after his Lovesexy Wembley shows and he did three hours at Wembley then had a private party at Camden Palace where he then played for another three hours! They don't make 'em like that any more. Most bands get tired after 30 minutes...

Any Camden venues you really dislike?
No not really. I thought I didn't like the Barfly any more but went there recently for the Kissaway Trail/Lone Wolf/Lawrence Arabia show and it was a brilliant night, packed and fun, with good sound and no overwhelming smell of piss, fags and beer.

Any Bella Union favourites playing at the event?
I do't think we have any bands there, no, which basically means none of our bands were picked by any other members of the panel, which basically means that either the other panel members suck, or my bands are rank...

Any interesting new bands that you wish Bella Union had signed?
Well we love Race Horses, we love Best Coast, we love Male Bonding, etc but we don't ever wish we signed another label's bands, we love our own plenty enough!

Have you ever signed a band after seeing them play at Camden Crawl?
No. But I remember being very pleased about signing the Kissaway Trail before their debut Camden Crawl performance, as they were so good, I am sure someone else would've signed them AFTER it!

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Ryan Adams goes metal

Posted by Larry Ryan
  • Monday, 15 March 2010 at 05:39 pm
Look out: Ryan Adams has gone metal. This week on his website, ryanada.ms, he posted a new song and the message: "We're going to begin pressing ORION -- my most legit METAL record -- on vinyl next week. Have a listen to the song below and let us at PAXAM know if you'd be interested in purchasing one. P.S. Not a single B.C. Rich was hurt in the making of this record." Indeed, it has some churning metal guitars and a few growling death metal vocals, though it goes a bit more poppy at other stages - the heavier rockers among us might be a touch underwhelmed. Whether or not it is a joke, remains to be seen: the song is called "Electrosnake", which seems like parody and he has previous experience of the fertile parodic metal genre, but Mr Adams is an unpredictable fellow, so who knows. 

Here it is. Rock out Ryan...


Photo: Getty

The National's 'Terrible Love'

Posted by Larry Ryan
  • Friday, 12 March 2010 at 04:55 pm
The National's last album Boxer was one of the most acclaimed of 2007. They return on 11 May with the follow-up record, High Violet. The website highviolet.com, resembles something of an online scrapbook for the record with photos and videos from the band's studio. This week on the on Jimmy Fallon's US chat show, they premiered a new song from the album called "Terrible Love". It builds on their previous template of slow-burning moody alt-rock, with plenty of chiming and churning guitars, some brass and Matt Berringer's baritone. In the fairly stirring performance they seem to double down on the template and go for an even bigger sound - sometimes I find that can be bad sign for band's new material but this song is pretty good so I'm hopeful for the rest of the album.

The AV Club goes undercover

Posted by Larry Ryan
  • Thursday, 11 March 2010 at 05:04 pm
Satirical newspaper The Onion's non joke-based, but always excellent pop-culture sister-site, AVClub.com is about to launch an interesting new video series, called "Undercover", with the simple tagline, "25 bands, 25 cover songs, 1 small, round room". That's pretty much what they've done: they picked 25 songs, ranging from Hall & Oates' "One on One" to MIA's "Paper Planes"; next they asked 25 bands to participate - the first band gets to chose from the 25 songs, the next band gets a choice of the remaining 24, and on down until the final band covers what ever song is left. And finally, they've film each band performing their chosen song in an odd round room in their offices in Chicago. The series kicks off next Tuesday - see it here. In the meantime, here's a brief introductory video...

Liars' remixed world

Posted by Larry Ryan
  • Thursday, 11 March 2010 at 04:12 pm
The menacing art-rock of Liars' new album (their fifth) 'Sisterworld' is a fine addition to their always adventurous body of work. The record was released this week and is streaming at myspace.com/liarsliarsliars. Matching the dark sounds is some eerie artwork, a strange website, thesisterworld.com, and an odd video for opening single "Scissor", all suggesting a lost at sea/deserted island motif.

The album comes with a second disc of remixes of the LP by the likes of Thom Yorke, Devendra Banhart and Tunde Adebimpe - hear some of these efforts at goo.gl/iXd2 (Thom Yorke) and bit.ly/9lnEm0 (Devendra Banhart) and bit.ly/93Ncth (Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead).

Here is a stream of Deerhunter/Atlas Sound main man Bradford Cox's ambient take on the album's third song "Here Comes All The People".



MGMT get delirious

Posted by Larry Ryan
  • Wednesday, 10 March 2010 at 05:45 pm
Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer and MGMT all hit the ground running in 2008 with a sound that occupied a relatively similar sphere (give or take some different quirks here and there). The first two bands have kicked off 2010 with well-received new records and now it's just about time for MGMT to re-enter the fray. Thus far I can't say I've been fully convinced by the Brooklyn duo's brand of day-glo, hipster-based wide-eyed psych-pop-rock. But I'm happily willing to be swayed when their upcoming new album Congratulations lands in April. The first song to emerge from it is a available to download from the band's website whoismgmt.com, for the price of an email address. It's called "Flash Delirium", and it's a promising opening salvo, full the aforementioned elements, but with more craziness added in - shouty vocals, soft rock harmonies, flutes, swirling electronics, horns. Pretty much everything is thrown in there and it's an impressive mess. Here's a follow-the-lyric video promo for the song.

Five LCD Soundsystem related points

Posted by Larry Ryan
  • Thursday, 28 January 2010 at 04:41 pm
1. James Murphy continues to write long, humourous, rambling posts on his LCD Soundsystem MySpace page, which is good.

2. He is touring the UK with his band in April, which is also good.

3. However he recently suggested he would likely disband the LCD Soundsystem project in the near future - after he releases the group's third album, which is bad.

4. But, as stated, LCD Soundsystem have a new album due some time in April or May, which is very good - or, to use an American word, awesome. (Their previous record, Sound of Silver, was one of my favourites of the last few years).

5. As I mentioned a while ago, the new record was made in a rented mansion in LA and in anticipation Murphy and co are posting brief behind-the-scenes videos about it. This is also good. Here's their first instalment... 

Joanna Newsom: Have one on her

Posted by Larry Ryan
  • Thursday, 28 January 2010 at 03:45 pm
One's enjoyment of Joanna Newsom probably lives or dies by one's predilection for the harp. And her oddly pitched voice - which invites inevitable Kate Bush and Bjork comparisons. Newsom's avant-garde meets harp meets alt folk meets art pop has been a favourite with critics and fans since her 2004 album The Milk-Eyed Mender, with the rapture going up a notch following her particularly experimental Ys record in 2006. While I've enjoyed some of her music, I can't say I've fully converted to her strange ways - though I probably just need to listen to it a bit more (I find it difficult to spend too much time with the harp).

Regardless it will be interesting to hear the full fruits of her new album, Have One On Me. Released on 23 February, it is, quite remarkably, a triple album, which you don't get very often. Off the top of my head the only other such album of entirely new material I can think of is The Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs.

Her label first introduced the album with a bizarre comic a few weeks ago, and now they're giving away the first song from the mammoth record free on DragCity.com. Called "81", it's suitably odd, delicate and rather beautiful. Maybe I'll be ready to fully get on board by the time the album is released; I'm still not completely convinced by all that harp action though.

Marion and Franz for Christian Dior

Posted by Larry Ryan
  • Friday, 22 January 2010 at 03:20 pm
There has been no shortage of actresses turning to indie music in recent times: we've had Juliette Lewis chanelling Iggy Pop and Patti Smith, Zooey Deschanel's She & Him project with M Ward, and Scarlett Johansson's album with Peter Yorn last year, following on from her Tom Waits covers record with Dave Sitek in 2008 (I'm in a minority but I thought that album was actually quite good). Next into the ring is French actress Marion Cotillard

She has some previous experience with her Oscar winning performance as legendary chanteuse Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, but now she has taking a turn for the indie, providing vocals for a song written and performed by Franz Ferdinand. We expect her to profess her love for Orange Juice and early Belle & Sebastian albums to flex her Scots indie credentials any time now. 

The song, called "Eyes of Mars" is part of the "Lady Rouge" ad campaign Cotillard is fronting for Dior. Bascially it's all in aid of an expensive Dior handbag. Back in the day, a vaguely indie rock band like Franz Ferdinand getting involved in such ventures would raise an eyebrow, but now people don't bat an eyelid (to stick to a theme) at such things. Either way, the song isn't going to change your life, but it's ok - worth a listen anyway, working best when it speeds up and the band kicks in. 

There's a nice website for the whole thing where, aside from buying Dior things, you can hear the song, see the lyrics and photos and watch a video of Annie Leibovitz shooting Cotillard for the campaign (which you can also watch below): www.ladydior.com

Photo: Getty

With a nod to pedestrian.tv

'Methraeghost' share their dreams

Posted by Larry Ryan
  • Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 06:13 pm
Raekwon, Ghostface and Method Man don't hang around. Last year the Wu Tang members got together for Raekwon's acclaimed album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II and now the trio are collaborating on a brand new album. There is no date set for the record yet but to keep you interested, Def Jam is holding a contest to decide what name the three should use for their new group - see more details here. You can tweet a suggestion using the hash tag, #methraeghost, so I presume "Methraeghost" is out of the running (unless it's a double bluff).

The first song from the album has leaked on harpito.com and via Raekwon's Twitter feed. Called "Our Dreams" it features some soul samples (is that early Michael Jackson?) - high pitched vocals and a nice rolling guitar riff - and It's pretty damn good. It doesn't exactly reinvent the hip hop wheel but there's no need when they're all on fine form. Click here to listen.

Via The Fader and Pitchfork