Posts By Natasha Arico

London Update April 2009

, , No Comment

Easy People.

It’s spring time in London and the post Christmas release lull is OVER! I can’t think of a more exciting time for music in the UK than the months leading up to the Summer Festival season. The rumor mill has been rife with line-up announcements, ticket news and headliner buzz. Adding to all this is the ripple of excitement shuddering in from last weeks SXSW festival in Austin Texas. One of the most talked about acts at the whole event was The Temper Trap. I’m fortunate enough to have scored a gig working at their UK label, so I guess expect to hear a lot about them this year, but more and more people are becoming intoxicated with The Temper Traps tunes. You heard it here first, the album ‘Conditions’ is nothing short of PHENOMENAL and their live shows are going from strength to strength. John Davis (U2, The Enemy, The Ting Tings) was asked to master the record and funnily enough when I met him briefly he handed me a copy of the new Howling Bells album and remarked how one truly has to dig out new music. It had me thinking particularly about Australian music. In many ways, the increasing interest in The Temper Trap and their now solid bill of tunes derives from the fact that they’ve develop largely away from intense hype and industry expectation.

Another new Australian band that similarly came to mind, though it’s not specifically UK related was Sad Waters. This is the new project of former Starky members Beau, Jonny and Chris Reeves. It couldn’t be further away from the pop-rock jangles of Starky, with the ambiance and softness of these few tunes on myspace having a real effect of making one want to listen harder. Mogwai, Beach Boys and Suede all come to mind, but what I find incredibly intriguing is the genuine ease of the writing. Currently based in LA due to the success of Violent Soho who signed to Thurston Moore’s label Ecstatic Peace, Jonny has taken production duties and the results are pleasingly sound. Seems like they have really been able to reinvent themselves musically away from the spot light ‘slash’ post-Starky Australian gaze, and I think you can hear that in the music.

In other news I was soured that I couldn’t see Tame Impala play at a head line London gig. With a line out the door I can only account the great atmosphere in the bar downstairs to the venue. They had a pretty sensible write up in NME this week- album soon maybe? And which Australian pop-treacle has been jet setting around the world working and writing with the BIGGEST cool-as-(enter swear word here) pop group from the 90’s….??? Next time.

Read Post →

London Calling: January 2009

, , No Comment

It’s been some time people, and for that I am sorry, but much news is coming in from the frosty streets of London. As 2008 drew to a bitter cold and dark end, album of the year polls rolled in with Australian and New Zealand artists popping up in most lists though disappointingly not as frequent as previous years. The most popular album of the year from Australian artists was easily Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, who featured on CLASH Magazine (#37), NME (#29), Rockfeedback (#2), Mojo (#5) and Q Magazines (#10) top 50 lists with ‘Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!’ Cave’s success comes after fourteen records and almost fifteen years of experience and exposure with The Seed’s in the UK, this experience making Ladyhawke by far the break through success story of 2008, featuring on not only NME’s top 50 (coming in at #16 ain’t too shabby) but also the only Kiwi or Australian on Rough Trade’s prestigious mention, coming in at a wonderful tenth spot. Though I’m not wholly into the siren’s synthy coy bash at 80’s pop, the blonde has truly been embraced in the UK and interestingly, 2009 has been penned as the year of the ‘unique female solo artist’ with Ladyhawke being named as just one of the acts that has inspired the surge of attention and signing’s of pop friendly females.

Though getting back to lists I was somewhat sad to see Cut Copy only mentioned once; (this said, they landed an impressive #4 on Pitchfork’s list) #17 on the Rockfeedback list. The Preset’s, sadly were not mentioned at all (unless someone can prove me wrong?) and that wonderful Pivot record was ranked #79 on Rockfeedback’s Top 80. Though some might argue that end of year polls are a load of bullocks, none can deny their role in shaping an artists career in the eye of the public and setting precedents for music in the years following. I think the results of 2008 indicate a number of things for Australian and New Zealand music but mainly reveal just how hard it is to break through the market. None can doubt Pip’s presence on the live circuit and her commitment to making an impression internationally and for that she is rewarded. Though here I’d similarly like to mention Snowman as this posse is making considerable ground on the uber-hip East London front with their kooky clash of horror rock and goo-punk.

And so, here we are in 2009 with the whole years worth of new music ahead of us. Just think of all those unheard gems waiting in the midst! And of course in London tails are already wagging for two great new Aussie acts, the first being Empire of the Sun. Yep, most of us have heard the album and seen the vid and know that these kids are HOT and are well on their way to riding the avalanche of success started by their predecessors (ie. MGMT and Yeasayer). This must be particularly exciting for Nick Littlemore whose prolific career as both a producer and as a member of Teenager and PNAU has yet to be fully acclaimed in the UK. Though equally HOT and tipped for success in 2009 is The Temper Trap. These boys have been knocking about the sticks for what seems like a lifetime, but this incubation period has obviously done the band justice, having provided the space to develop a sound that has nabbed the attention of not just NME but also the BBC. My bets are on Temper Trap!

And another Operator Please record would be great also, but hey it’s still only January!

Read Post →

London Update – Summer 2008 part 2

, , No Comment

So several weeks have past since my last post about Australian music fever spreading through the UK this summer and much has happened since my last post.

As promised LOVEBOX, THE single festival event that emulates Londonism like no other summertime party was held over two days in Victoria Park, East London. Unfortunately I only made it to the Sunday (Saturday I saw My Bloody Valentine-ha ha, still boasting!) but saw three Australian bands, all exceptional! Howling Bells showcased their new material (the record should be a stunner!) to a highly responsive crowd just before Operator Please pleased a jam-packed smaller stage. It was good to see a different breed of audience at the Operator Please show, as most times I’ve seen them they’ve pleased a NME demographic (17-24 year old indie-pop kids) with the crowd notably older but no less enthusiastic. Looking forward to hearing record number two. Finally, I saw PNAU in a smaller Boiler room-like stage. It’s kind of bizarre that in the Australian conscious PNAU have been plucking strings for almost ten years but they remain relatively unknown in the UK. I haven’t seen them in ages and their live show was quite the spectacle (Nick Littlemore was clearly F**KED!) but omitted certain rock star qualities, and they had massive multi coloured ballons flying all over the venue. Eventually they invited Amandah from Operator Please to the stage to perform ‘Baby’ that went down better than any JUSTICE record.

Word on the vine’ is that they were poached by Elton John’s management, and happily accepted the music moguls advances, making them hot contenders for a MEGA UK deal. Watch this space.

Next is Die!Die!Die! who were invited along with a whole stack of ‘so hot right now’ acts to play an in store gig at Rough Trade East (this is the uber-chic East London Rough Trade record store franchise frequented by many a hipster and music fan) as a means of celebrating it’s first birthday. Their gig was on Saturday and had an awesome turnout. These gigs work on the premises of first come first served and quite often have a ridiculous line out the front of the store hours before. I managed to get in and watch the kiwi bad boys rip apart the interior with their new set of bold-pop, and ace to see them as vicious as ever… (Certain music A&R forecasters have been speaking of a punk/metal revival, a new interest in heavier rock in the UK following the bust of the indie bubble).. So keep watch these next few months and hat’s off to Die!Die!Die! And finally a shout out and a bit of credit where it’s due to PHDj or to everyone’s favourite indie DJ and friend Martin! Joining the Sparkadia tour bus for their Summer Festival jaunt, he took some time out from the tour and played a few club nights. I only got to see him at work briefly at Club NME in the wee hours of Saturday morning, but this in itself is quite massive. It’s the biggest indie night in London and held at a historic UK live music venue, and for an Australian DJ to be invited to play is MASSIVE and a credit to Martin who mixed better than any UK indie DJ and was without a doubt tuned into the latest dance floor favourites in th UK. I was WOWED! And for the first time, missed Purple Sneakers..

Stay out of trouble.


Read Post →

London Update – Summer 2008

, , 1 Comment

Hi all. Well, it’s middle of summer here in London and we are experiencing a raging average temperature of about fifteen degrees (so please, no more emails about “how cold” it is in Sydney. Pish!) and yet summer festival season is in full swing. It’s like everyone is in town to get silly, including the usual culprits Operator Please (still working super hard-they play almost every night in a different town). Midnight Juggernauts at LOVEBOX festival next weekend with Howling Bells, who have returned to their second hope with a new bag of tunes! And of course Sparkadia who have the best booking agent in town (I was told it was the same one as “a small band called Nirvana”) as they are playing every major UK festival possible, including Oxygen and T in the Park this week in Scotland. So this blog is mainly going to focus on two newcomers to the scene, and it’s a rampant one at that.

First up, The Galvatrons…*cue a sigh from those sceptics out there* I know, I know, I’m the last one you have to convince that the irony of such a band, who fuse AC/DC thrust with DEVO-esque cheese. But crikey, they played to a crowd who were won over with their 80’s gyration synth and 70’s guitar. The there is that half time slow down (re: ‘When We Were Kids’) as vocalist Johnny chucks his wispy white mullet around and sticks his index finger to the sky. It should have been kitsch, but somehow it wasn’t, and everybody dug it! Even me… They really give it everything, and it’s tuneful despite also being gimmicky and if there is one thing that helps a band along in the UK, to sell records, pack out shows and get people remembering them is having that point of difference, a trademark, and GALVATRONS are onto it… Also, don’t forget the all important premise of the arts, whether it be music, dance or theatre, and that it should always aspire to entertain, and The Galvatrons are first class when it comes to this. They’ve signed some sort of deal with AM+AK (another music + another kitchen), which is an uber-forward thinking team of music biz boys who hold a weekly night at Proud Galleries. AM+AK are in the know of what’s happening on the scene, so can’t wait to see what can happen with their latest Aussie recruit.

The second newcomer to town is Ghostwood, a band whose tunes I’ve always been really fond of, a rock band with their fingers in a Jesus & Mary Chain socket connected to a Primal Scream’s melody maker. I went to almost every one of their gigs in the couple of months leading up to when I moved to London, over a year ago now, and so seeing them play again it was awesome to see how much they have changed and progressed. They played a short stint on a Tuesday night at Artrocker’s night that hosts many an up and coming band, donning super sized shirts that nod at Manchester circa 1989, Ghostwood’s tight distorted pop was well received, with the instrumental jam-out at the end a relatively new addition to their sound, but fitting and not unlike the acid-dance of Stone Roses. Many people are of the mind that ‘rock’ is quite out of fashion at the moment, with electro/sampled pop music a.k.a Ting Tings..ect dominating the music market and the minds of critics. But I’m of the mind that if you’re good, and get the right people behind you, it doesn’t matter what tune you play too. And I think the U.K are ready for the next big Aussie rock force post-Vines. Though they’ve had their dance off with the likes of The Presets, Cut Copy and Pendulum… it could well be the right time for Ghostwood.

Will be back in two weeks with a review of Aussie’s at LOVEBOX weekend London…

Read Post →

London Update: April 2008

, , 1 Comment

Who would ever have thought that not one, but two Australian/New Zealand acts would scamper up the ranks of cool in London to headline the April edition of VICE Live? A very prestigious party to be playing at, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to secure a door spot through the publications I write for (as neither of them are VICE) so I tried my luck at messaging The Deathset personally. A long shot my anyone’s standard but I was surprised to see that my humble request was met with an enthusiastic, immediate and no-strings reply of “Sure, no problems!” from Johnny Siera of the Baltimore based two piece. No other gesture affirms The Deathset as an act wholly dedicated to their fans than that, though perhaps consciously ignoring the stage in the venue and opting to play at audience level where we could jump and get rough with both Johnny and Peter O’Connell brands this also.


Read Post →

The Stabs

, , No Comment


The Stab – ‘Split Lips’

Listen to

Did you know Melbourne’s The Stabs have been around for five freaking years?? Maybe we should be asking where the hell have I been instead of who the hell are The Stabs?? First things first, great name! Second thing, any band who describes their sound as “a car crashing into a kindergarten during nap time” is surely going to pierce your ear drums with something wild. I found them when checking out the bands that got the lucky gig supporting the Black Lips in Australia.

I’m really into this DYI garage trend that’s giving birth to some cool as fuck bands, in the UK but Australia too. These bands are sticking their fingers up at BIG record companies and just playing rock’n’roll. The Stab’s have just recorded their second album and in the past month done shows in Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane and the States. Split Lips is as dirty as my grandfather’s feet yet as pop-smart as a 60’s garage classic. 

Read Post →

London Update: November 2007


cutoffyourhands by treve droomgol.jpg
photo by Treve Droomgol

So what do you want to know about Aussie bands in the UK? I might be half way across the world but I’m still sleazing around live venues as frequently as Pete Doherty does crack dens. Indeed, there is an absolute explosion of uber-cool bottom spanking talent in London. It’s an absolute health hazard as every night of the week, guaranteed you can be out dancing like Mick Jagger to quality rock’n’roll. I could easily go on a silly rant about the best new bands the UK has to offer, but I’ve been equally curious to check out the Aussie acts hitting and heating up the cool kids of London.

First off the mark isn’t even Australian but with the amount of shows they’ve been hocking up over the last month, it seem no one more deserves a mention on than kiwi preppy-punkers Cut Off your Hands. These boys are so unbelievably hot; it’s like the moment they found the electric clippers and gave every member an under-cut, they were simultaneously given an injection of cool and the grit to perform such entertaining live shows. I’m looking forward to full-length debut (there have been a few BIG BIG names at these gigs). Stay tuned.


Next up I saw the Sparkadia lads (plus belle) one night at Dublin Castle in Camden. The band was a little tired from a relentless tour with Irish indie-popper’s The Thrills. Rightfully so, the road is long and riders can be hazardly bountiful. I haven’t had a chance to hear the record but unfortunately, it’s going to be an even harder road for Sparkadia to make it in the UK. Tight, cool songs, great image but the market is literally flooded in similar acts. At least they have ARK Records.
Good to see you guys.

midnight-juggernauts-21 boudist.JPG
photo by

All you Juggernauts junkies maybe skip to the next paragraph because I have a rather sharp bone to pick from my filthy whiskey-dry throat. I’ve never been overly kind to these kids but I will clear up everything now. The recordings are wild; just as dark as they are catchy. Wonderful changes, and hypnotic beats, but live they just bore me! They played a show at one of London’s most notorious night spots, Fabric and all I heard was ‘voomp voomp voomp’. I gave them a second chance just this week when they supported !!! (chk, chk, chk) and again all I heard was ‘voomp voomp voomp’. Their catchy hooks drown in floods of bass and I can’t understand a word the boys sing. Vincent and Andy never once looked like they were having fun while, Dan Stricker remains as solid as ever.


My final word goes out to easily the most buzzing Aussie band in the UK at the moment; Operator Please. Polished, not one bit shy of the crowd (they played to easily 3000 people at Carling Weekend Festival) and have the support and affection of some of the biggest names in the UK music industry. Operator Please are the rightful sweethearts of NME, display unnaturally mature song writing, and are tighter than Farris Rotters jeans. They have found an untapped market and are deservingly acquired an already adoring UK fan base. One of the shows I saw was at the new East London Rough Trade Record Store, which boasted the coolest audiences imaginable, and have played shows with EVERYONE from Bloc Party and The Go-Team to The Cribs. I can’t help but accuse a great deal of people in Australia of tall poppy syndrome when it comes to recognising their achievement, particularly a number of music industry urchins. Grow up, and give Operator Please the time of day; and they’ll willingly give you the time of your life.

Read Post →