Category Archives: Music

Ren Harvieu and her dazzling Jazz-Noir pop

Gliding out behind the curtain of backstage into the spotlight Ren Harvieu stirred a silence into the room of the rowdy crowd waiting for Benjamin Francis Leftwich at Manchester’s Academy. Her pale skin glowing under the light and her oil black hair slipping over her face carelessly, the songstress held a hand up to the mic and closed her eyes. A humble set up of drums, keyboards and guitars collided together to create a sweeping orchestration to accompany the Salford lasses voice.

Her smokey alto began to ooze over the crowd and her passionate crooning transformed the dingy Academy into a lonely midnight walk across the park, a lone moon staring blankly down from the night sky. Ren was a pained woman and a lingering soul caught in a perfect moment straight from a David Lynch film. The street light cast a shadow of unrequited love upon her and she sang her blues with a haunting sadness. When Ren speaks inbetween songs her wavering voice and strong Salford accent is timid and shy yet as soon as she sings her wounded cry filled with emotion is powerful and domineering, she may be singing of sadness but this girl isn’t one to stand down.

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This year Ren had recovered from a critical state of being bed ridden regaining use of her back and legs after a nasty drunken collision which involved people jumping over a fence at a party in a field. It has been a tough year but the glimmer of hope is her excellent new album being released. Miss Harvieu is still gathering fans and making a name for herself but with her striking image, voice and visuals such as the video for her debut single Through The Night with kaleidoscope colours refracting through chandelier droplets shadowing the starlets face and shots of the sun’s ray flaring the lens to create a dreamy 35mm haze, many will soon fall for her unique charm.

Performing at The Ruby Lounge the 23rd December Ren Harvieu is sure to put on a dazzling show to get everyone she serenades feeling festive. Next year will hopefully be another big one and I can’t wait to see what spectacular album, enchanting videos and gorgeous visuals Ren delivers in 2013.

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HAIM at THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – Three Sisters Taking the World by Storm

Lightning guitar shredding was received with a thunder of applause when Haim dived in to their first noisy number at the Deaf Institute. It was a Tuesday night and the already cosy venue was packed with a wide eyed audience eagerly awaiting to get a taste of the Haim experience. Cramming the small stage with instruments and bodies the three sisters hailed from sunny California had only themselves and a drummer to put on one hell of a show. Manchester was fully behind the girls roaring after every song, shouting out and whooping, the girls responded brilliantly laughing and jeering the crowd on themselves. The sisters’ stage presence and chemistry was as much fun to watch as them playing as they joked with each other in between songs. “Where can I go tonight to shake my ass?” asked Este the sassy middle sister on bass who flirted with several different boys in the audience. “Here!” someone in the crowd responded and Este announced she’d hang around on the condition that she could DJ.

It’s clear each member is extremely talented with their instrument they can thrash out in fan favourite Forever then pull it all back in for the seductive Go Slow. Front woman Danielle’s voice oozes sex appeal and gritty rawness having refined her skills touring with Julian Casablancas and Jenny Lewis. Alana the youngest packs a punch when it’s her time to shine belting out harmonies and ahh’s on the almighty groover The Wire. Fleetwood Mac are a big influence on the siblings who used to be in a band with their parents called ‘Rockinhaim’ covering the Mac, Beatles, Stone Roses and other classic rock favourites. Having ditched the ‘rents and the ‘Rockin’ prefix they are taking the world by storm inducing their powerful guitar driven songs with 90’s R&B sensibilities harking back to Destiny’s Child heaping on a ton of girl power to punch out their kick ass anthems.

Their EP Forever managed to, with just three songs, capture the attention of music lovers worldwide. Everyone is now waiting for Haim’s big debut release in the new year. They officially stormed the Deaf Institute leaving everyone astounded and craving for more of their delicious funk. Haim are surely ready to stand and deliver a firecracker release that will be as fiery as their brilliant explosive performances on stage. The girls have released a taster with the jerky ‘Don’t Save Me’, which has a new video of the band getting stuck into a  competitive game of basketball, and the epic ‘Send Me Down’ which parades through with rolling drums and billowing horn part. These two tracks are wetting the palettes of Haim fans for the time being but are making us crave the debut all the more. It’s official that the girls are up for BBC’s Sound of 2013 award who’s past winners such as Adele and Jessie J have gone on to be extremely successful, Haim truly deserve the award and I’m crossing my fingers they’re recognised for their musical excellence, rock and roll spirit and get-out-there-and-go-for-it attitude! You go girls!

NO DOUBT THAT’S RACIST – Cultural Appropriation of Native American Culture in No Doubt’s Looking Hot video

Note: I wrote this blog for my tumblr after watching the No Doubt Looking Hot video just hours after it was uploaded. Several hours later it was taken down. I have edited the post slightly for here.

It always amazes me how record companies, band managers and everyone else involved in the creative process of putting together a music video (especially for a well known international band) don’t realise the kind of criticism that goes on online about appropriation and racial profiling. I mean the first thing I thought of when watching this video is the Native American dress up and how it will be ripped to pieces on the internet, and I only think that because I’ve seen it happen many times before.

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Perhaps it is a publicity decision to do something that will have a backlash but it’s not outright offensive to people who wouldn’t consider cultural appropriation a negative thing or even a ‘thing’ which exists because it’s just not on many people’s radar of awareness. Watching stylised native american dress makes me uncomfortable because I think what will people say, is this offensive or not? am I allowed to enjoy it?

I love No Doubt and I also happen to like aspects of this video i.e. the sexy red dress she wears when she’s in the ‘shaman tent’ looks ace. Even the most likely offensive styling of Native American dress is that we’ve seen many times before has been stepped up a gear with feather headdress making an appearance in a mohawk style and beaded feather jewellery cascading around Gwen as she kicks up sand in the desert. Will cultural appropriation, specifically of Native Americans, ever be made clear that it’s not cool by someone or something that has a wider reach?

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A lot of people simply won’t find it offensive in any way as they have no reason to. It’s not each stand alone music video, photo shoot, runway show, magazine editorial which uses cultural appropriation that will do considerable damage but the collective stance they takes which make this type of racism appear ‘okay’. People may say it’s a ‘celebration’ of different cultures but who is that to decide?

How much does western society need to stylise and glamourise a topic as brutal as the Indian massacres to cause major controversy? I don’t know much about the history of North America but you can see clearly in this video Gwen and her bandmates as Indians throwing spears at a gang of cowboys in between lip synching and dancing around a campfire in some kind of party / spiritual ceremony. I assume there will be a lot of people offended by the trivialising of such massacres. I just wonder where all the discussion of appropriation is leading to and if and when it will really have an impact beyond blogs online.