Posts Tagged London

new music: Mae Muller


North London singer-songwriter Mae Muller reminds me of Lily Allen. She’s edgy and has that speak-sing going on. This new song “Anticlimax” has a grooving beat and a sunny, confident vibes.

Muller said: “Anticlimax is a feel-good song about a not so good situation. I wanted to capture that feeling of disappointment when you’ve liked someone for ages and then you finally end up giving it a go and it’s nothing like what you thought it would be! It all works out in the end though because it made me realise my worth and that I don’t have time for a time waster!”

The 21-year-old gained attention when she posted Rihanna and Frank Ocean covers on Instagram. She’s released two EPs-After Hours and Frankly.

Mae describes music as her weapon: “I won’t write a sad song, I’ll write a bad bitch thing like ‘I’m going to fuck your life up’. It’s my way of feeling strong.”  Very cool.

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

show preview: HAELOS at Middle East Club in Cambridge on Friday April 1, 2016


“It’s the music you put on after the club,” Lotti Benardout states. “You can still feel that energy and euphoria, but it might bring you back to reflect on certain moments or memories.”

The impressive London-based electronic indie trio HAELOS recently released its debut album Full Circle [Matador Records]. Pounding bass beats combine with shimmery atmospheric arrangements. There’s intense sorrow, regret, beauty, moodiness, darkness and strength in the lyrics and melodies. Benardout’s vocals range from dreamy [“Ethyr”] to whispery to sweetly gentle [“Dust”] to plaintive [“Earth Not Above”]. She shares vocals on some songs with principle songwriter Arthur Delaney and Dom Goldsmith. It’s impossible not to become completely engulfed and drawn in by this striking music. Imagine the magic of full immersion in this music during a show. The band’s on tour now.


HAELOS plays The Middle East Club in Cambridge on Friday, April 1, 2016.

purchase at Amazon: Full Circle


Wed. March 30 – New York @ Baby’s All Right
Fri. April 1 — Cambridge, MA @ Middle East – Upstairs
Sat. April 2 — Montreal, QC @ O Patro Vys
Tue. April 5 — Toronto, ON @ The Drake
Thu. April 7 — Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
Fri. April 8 — Milwaukee, WI @ Collective Coffee-Prospect Café
Sat. April 9 — Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Tue. April 12 — Seattle, WA @ Barboza
Wed. April 13 — Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
Fri. April 15 — Indio, CA @ Coachella

Tue. April 19 — San Francisco, CA @ Brick & Mortar
Wed. April 20 — Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
Fri. April 22 – Indio, CA @ Coachella
Fri. April 29 – Manchester, UK @ Night And Day
Mon. May 2 – Nottingham, UK @ The Bodega Social Club
Wed. May 4 – London, UK @ The Bussey Building
Thu. May 5 – Bristol, UK @ The Louisiana
Fri. May 6 – Brighton, UK @ The Hope & Ruin
Fri. July 29 – Chicago, IL @ Lollapalooza
Fri. July 29 – Sun. July 31 – Montréal, QC @ Osheaga Festival


, , , , ,

Leave a comment

STEELE INTERVIEWS: Various Cruelties

Liam O’Donnell grew up in Leeds, the son of a Scottish father and an Irish mother. They moved to London where Liam played around as a singer/songwriter for some time. In 2010, he formed pop group Various Cruelties which blends Britpop, mod and funk. The song “It Wasn’t for You” is featured in a holiday ad for Zales jewelry. The band supported Mumford and Sons and The Vaccines.

Debut album available for download now and on CD on February 26 in the U.S.

liam o'donnell

Amy Steele: Where did the name Various Cruelties come from?

Liam O’Donnell: The name Various Cruelties comes from a painting by the artist Ed Ruscha. I saw the picture on a wall and thought it looked like great and I really loved the name. It was a beautiful deep red colour and almost looked like dried blood. It was reminiscent of something like The White Stripes would have put up. It had a classic yet, darker, distressed feel to it.

Amy Steele: You look so young. When did you first become interested in music? Have you professional training?

Liam O’Donnell: My family was musical. So I can’t really remember not being interested in music. I don’t have any professional training except I used to play in bars when I was a kid. I could do an excellent rendition of “The Fairytale of New York” on violin at 12.30 a.m. or down the phone to someone.

Amy Steele: You started out a solo artist. What made you decide to get a band together?

Liam O’Donnell: It felt natural. It was a bit lonely being a solo artist sometimes. In the studio I could bring different colours and personalities to the songs I was creating. But playing them live on an acoustic guitar just didn’t hit the spot in the same way. When I met the other guys, we hit it off very quickly and were able to bring the songs to life in a live environment.

Amy Steele: What do you like about being in a band?

Liam O’Donnell: I like being able to hang out with my mates. I love people coming to and enjoying the shows. We get to meet our fans, make friends, all alongside the funny things that happen along the way. Such as our drummer being told he looks like “George Washington”. The amusing thing being that the guy who said he looks like “George Washington” meant “Denzel Washington”. Most people would think there’s quite a difference between the two individuals, but obviously not this guy.

Amy Steele: You are a big The Strokes fan. What do you like about the band?

Liam O’Donnell: I guess there’s always one band or musician that growing up you connect with. They are such a great pop/guitar band with timeless songs. I saw them when I was 15 and Julian sat on a chair, with his ankle in a cast but was still cool. Discovering your first band is a bit like falling in love for the first time. As you get older, you like other bands, but you never fall in love as much as you did the first time.

Amy Steele: I hear Britpop, folk, funk fused in your music. What other bands and musicians influence you musically?

Liam O’Donnell: I’m from Leeds. So we have a heritage of Northern British music. It’s not that we ‘totally invented pop music’ but so much has come out of this region. I couldn’t avoid not hearing The Beatles, The Smiths, Arctic Monkeys, growing up. I also developed quite an eclectic taste quite early. I became fascinated with musical scenes from Britain such as mod, goth and to a certain extent hip hop. I liked listening to old soul records and embracing culture of northern soul, ska and jazz nights that are quite prevalent in Yorkshire.


Amy Steele: I adore the song “Magnetic Fields.” What can you tell me about it?

Liam O’Donnell: “Magnetic Fields” is about a girl I used to hang out with. We weren’t very good for each other at certain points. Yet we had this strange connection.

Amy Steele: Tell me about the impetus for “Beautiful Delirium.”

Liam O’Donnell: “Beautiful Delirium” is about when you’re young and life is perhaps a bit changeable. Sometimes you feel thrilled but daunted at the same time. It’s about that. Sometimes I find those feelings to be quite intense.

Amy Steele: How about the song “Capsize?” There’s a cool Calypso-esque beat to it.

Liam O’Donnell: In all honesty. I had recorded the song in another style for the demo. Then shortly before recording the album I listened to aht ah mi hed by Shuggie Otis. Thought the “Calypso” vibe from that was pretty cool, so decided to try nick the vibe of that song for “Capsize.”

Amy Steele: What comes first the music or the lyrics?

Liam O’Donnell: I need to feel the music first to inspire the lyrics. I get to the point where I feel like I want to sing along. Then the lyrics just happen. Normally regarding the subconscious focus of whatever is on my mind.

Amy Steele: What inspires you?

Liam O’Donnell: Mainly things in day to day life. I’d be lying if I said all my ideas came from 19th Century Irish literature.

Amy Steele: If you weren’t a musician what would you be doing?

Liam O’Donnell: I did study for a law degree for a while. But I can’t see myself going back to that. I used to have a job where I maintained industrial dishwashers capable of washing an incredible 2000 plates an hour. I liked being able to fix them. So maybe something where I could take that to the next level. A dishwasher to support an army or something.

Amy Steele: What football team do you root for?

Liam O’Donnell: I have two to be brutally honest. I am from Leeds so Leeds United. But my Dad is a proud Scotsman and he supports Glasgow Celtic. But our manager’s first name is “Neil”. So let’s hope Leeds achieves promotion this year and Celtic beats Juventus in the last 16 of the Champions League. The final is at Wembley which isn’t that far from my house. I can but dream. Closer than going all the way up to Scotland anyway!

In terms of US sports I need someone to tell me about the history of all the big sports teams. Then I can pick one?

purchase on Amazon: Various Cruelties

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

WIRED: DVD review

Exciting, heart-pounding and twisty financial thriller. After Louise Evans [Jodie Whittaker], a cash-strapped single mom, receives a promotion at her London bank, she’s propositioned by a criminal ring to do a “job” for them. She’s hesitant at first but does it after some pressure. She even opens the new bank account from her own computer during regular business hours. I’m not so sure how smart that is. And undercover fraud squad police officer [Toby Stephens] befriends her and eventually reveals his true identity. She thinks she’s done but the bad guys have more plans for Louise. This time they blackmail her and once she gets involved she’s in deeper and deeper as the plans grow increasingly complex and confusing. The music increases the intrigue and danger particularly as much of it occurs on computer screens. As Louise, Whittaker plays her perfectly and uses her face to ultimate effect—from frightened to bothered to sad to angry. And whose side is she really on? While I never really understood who the people were, what was going on or why they wanted to recruit Louise, WIRED is an enjoyable and exceptional miniseries.

Starring: Jodie Whitaker, Toby Stephens, Charlie Brooks, Riz Ahmed
Studio: Acorn Media
Running time: 134 minutes
Release Date: June, 2011


, , , , ,

Leave a comment

book review: It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me

Title: It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me
Author: Ariel Leve
ISBN: 978-0061864599
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial (April 13, 2010)
Category: personal essays
Review source: publisher
Rating: 5/5

The instant I starting reading It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me, I thought I had found a kindred sista-friend [Feminista author Erica Kennedy gave me the secret password to use that term] but also that I’d have to challenge Ariel Leve. She’s published a book. That’s better than I’ve done in the fifteen years I’ve been writing. I’m jealous of this talented woman and made her follow me on Twitter. She must be thrilled by the content of my tweets. Leve is a major pessimist, sets low standards to avoid disappointment, would rather stay in bed than get dressed and made up to go to a party that *might* not be worth her time. She expresses in print what most of us think. She’s observant, sharply critical and savvy. I tagged a plethora of pages in It Could Be Worse You Could Be Me. Leve’s irreverent voice and bittersweet outlook mingle in an erudite, esoteric manner. Don’t be scared away by her brilliance and underlying charms. She will seduce you with this collection from the first page. Even the optimists among you. She’s that good.

In It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me, Leve delivers honest, biting and often amusing opinions. A few choice ones:

Facebook– In real life, my friends are uninterested and distracted. But in cyber life people are very excited (!!!) about everything!!! The levels of emotion are off the charts.

fake children– Why is it that there has to be a career that is preventing me from having a child? As though that must fill the tremendous void I have in my life, being childless and single. Maybe I just don’t want kids. Isn’t that enough?

getting older–Forty is a tricky age because you’re old enough to get away with not going out, but not old enough to get away with not giving a reason.

dating– Whenever someone says they like me I don’t believe them and don’t trust it. But only if I like them too. Wouldn’t it be great if men came with operating instructions to maximize their performance and shelf life?

marriage– There are a number of reasons why I’m unhappy but not having a husband isn’t one of them.

bras– I’ve done my own research and have found the only thing men really look for in a bra is that it comes off fast and easy.

Ariel’s website

Shop Indie Bookstores

available at Amazon: It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me

, ,

Leave a comment

DVD review: House of Eliott

House of Eliott: The Complete Series
Starring: Stella Gonet, Louise Lombard, Aden Gillett

Beatrice: Evie, you’re unstoppable.
Evie: I think we both are.

In a beautiful packaged set, now you can have the complete collection of the popular British drama from 1991, House of Eliott. It has series one, two and three in lovely casing that fits the decorative and captivating series about two sisters in 1920s London. From the creators of Upstairs/Downstairs, The House of Eliott manages to examine class differences in London through the inner-workings of a design house. It’s done in a lively, dramatic manner. You become invested in all the characters over the course of the series.

We see the wealthy, attractive Eliott sisters who frequent extravagant parties and have elegant friends and then additionally peek into the lives of those who work for the House of Eliott—the seamstresses who toil and worry about money. Both rich and working class have one thing in common: relationship issues.

The two single sisters find themselves without money after their father’s death. 30-year-old Beatrice basically brought up 18-year-old sister and therefore, sacrificed her own goals and future. Both women are strong, independent and creative. Beatrice [Stella Gonet] is the sensible, conservative sister while Evangeline [CSI’s Louise Lombard] is the spirited, inquisitive and adventurous one. The stisters could not be more different but they have that special sibling bond and both have an interest in creating fashion. This makes them work well together. Evangeline [Evie] is the designer/the creative one and Beatrice has the business sense, the ability to see how to make it work. As one character said in the beginning the two sisters were not paid what they were worth. At first the women design clothes according to the interests of their clients but they decide to challenge themselves and create an original collection. During this time, suitors come in and out of their lives, and the women struggle to reach success in a fickle, competitive industry. The costume design, period sets and characters make House of Eliot a must-see.

At the beginning, the Eliott sisters sell their home and Beatrice considers a position as caretaker of an elderly woman. Evie applies for a dance instructor position after learning all the hot moves from the housekeeper. But the women have big dreams and these positions do not suit them. A chance encounter with Evie and a philanthropist Penelope leads to the introduction of Penelopes’ playboy/photographer brother Jack [Aden Gillett]. He ends up hiring Beatrice to work for him and she keeps him completely organized but knows she and Evie want to be involved in the fashion world. They go to work for a woman in her design house. Instead of learning as apprentices, the woman disapproves when Evie garners more attention and requests for designing than she does. After that a big name designer hires the much sought after sisters and ends up stealing Evie’s designs.

The sisters make the daring decision to go into business for themselves with Jack’s monetary support as well as that of Evie’s godfather. Beatrice is the businesswoman while Evie has the eye and the talent to design. The sisters argue over different concepts and plans for their company. They clash over operational and design matters. Evie dates two very different men and this also causes a rift between the two sisters. Beatrice is at that “spinster” age for most in England at her time and Evie is young, beautiful, and inquisitive and attracts many suitors while her sister focuses on work. Evie is dedicated to design though, especially after a tragic event breaks her heart: she travels to art museums and takes in concerts and immerses herself to other cultural activities to gain new ideas for an original collection.

As with any proper and really worthwhile British series, House of Eliott has its bounty of dramatic moments, cliff-hangers, tragedies, scandals and winning episodes to propel it.

Activist Penelope remains conflicted on her friendship with Evie and her relationship with her brother Jack, who has become a partner in House of Elliott: “It makes me so mad. All this care and attention lavished on so much nonsense.” At a charity ball, she stood on-stage and expressed her distain for all its attendants, admonishing them for all the money they spent on their outfits for the event as well as the wasted money she and her organization used to plan and present it. She said that they all should have donated money directly to the organization. As a sub-plot, Penelope’s story provides a view into the other side of wealth: she selflessly and ardently works to help the unfortunate and puts herself in harm’s way time and time again. At the end of series one, she contemplates traveling to Africa with a missionary. Jack moves away from full-time photography to the film industry. He also grows fonder of Beatrice and their relationship moves from platonic to romantic. They make a wonderful pair—although they have their ups and downs. From the first scene he’s in, actor Aden Gillett commands the screen as Jack; a charming, honest, experienced and it turns out, quite sentimental, gorgeous man.

The Eliot sisters attract upper-crust clientele and the business is going very well. As Beatrice, Gonet shows her sensible side but also exhibits a strong sense of self. She’s gone this long without a man to support her and knows she can do it on her own. She loves Jack but does not need Jack. Lombard shines as Evie, a sprite, eager young woman who cannot wait for her next adventure or challenge. They attend lots of parties. Others do not treat them as fairly as they treat their workers and soon money is swindled, an affair with Evie and a diplomat threatens the reputation of House of Eliott and the sisters must make some difficult decisions. Wanting children and a more domestic home life, Jack suggests a separation to Beatrice. She works so much and is so career-focused and he knows it will not change and he does not want her to give up the business which provides her with such self-identity and pride. He is doing rather well with his film business as this point, but he also wants a family and Beatrice is just too involved with the House of Eliott.

The House of Eliott provides viewers with flair, drama, intrigue and an intricate journey for the sisters Eliott to come into their own. At any age, with enough focus, anyone can do what many view as impossible. Beatrice and Evangeline are dedicated and determined to make their way on their own terms and will let very few obstacles or few people lead them astray from accomplishing their ultimate goal: a successful fashion house.

The first season of House of Eliott begins with the two strong sisters supporting one another and the final series ends the same way. House of Eliott shows two very different yet connected women succeeding in a competitive industry, during a complex time in London.

, , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: