Sunday, 13 February 2011

Emotronic Happy Hardcore

They Come From Art Schools

Tightly knit groups of new, high talent. Sometimes they are called Girl School (no, not that one). They fuse abundant skills, folding into their stage acts divers abilities from the performing arts and others. Their musical composition, arrangements, pathos and humour emerge with effortless high quality, recombine and transcend pop culture. They mesmerise, and you swoon. You tell everyone you know, everyone you meet about them. You begin stalking them - once an essay in frustration, now an easy vice, enabled by this age of universal omniscience - you collect every copy of every scrap of every note they play, write, think.

But their incorporation is a callous, uncaring, opportunistic arrangement of convenience. One that will tear out your heart, when their project serves its only purpose, when their vehicle advances their individual creative, artistic, and social growth and development. Tear it out and stake it, rip in half and quarter, turn to dry brown dust. You will rage at this world's injustice, to allow so monstrous a disbanding. Damn you Girl School, you completely ruined my whole life when I was seventeen. And now it's happening again.

Futuristic Retro Champions


We accidentally caught the best Art School Band since Roxy Music (my description) in September 2009, when we dropped in to King Tut's Wah Wah Hut to see Charlotte Hatherley. The second support act Futuristic Retro Champions, we later learned, emerged from Edinburgh College of Art in 2006, playing their debut gig in that city's famous Wee Red Bar. What they do couldn't be spelt out more clearly in their name. Five years and uncountable plaudits later, they are from left to right:

Cecilia "Ceal" Stamp - bass, vocals.
Harry Weeks - guitar, vocals, synths, production.
Carla Easton - keys, vocals, occasional saxophone.
Sita Pieraccini - vocals and melodica, occasional tambourine.
This lot are what happy hardcore should have been [...] this is one of the most exciting Scottish bands I have heard in ages.
- Gavin Cumine, Broken English

This band never fail to fill our hearts with colourful sparks of joy. It’s sugary, happy hardcore twee-pop, and all defiant with it.
- The Skinny

With a pure pop sound resplendent with hook-laden choruses they are an engaging and energetic ball of fun, and their whirlwind live show has attracted heaps of praise from press and musical peers alike.
- Gary Flockhart, The Scotsman

There are many more raving acclamations where those came from, but what's the point. The appalling truth is this: despite having upcoming gigs in Glasgow and Edinburgh this April, timed to coincide with their debut 2CD release "Love And Lemonade", Futuristic Retro Champions have already split. Postponed from last December when Ceal shattered her elbow, these are their farewell dates; and the new CD, well that's their final Retrospective. It's already too late to tell you how witty and catchy and varied and original are their songs, how soaringly and technically and sometimes achingly beautiful are their speciality harmonies. If you don't catch their penultimate April 8 show at Glasgow's Captain's Rest, or the final April 9 at Edinburgh's Wee Red Bar where it all began, then your whole life too will be completely ruined, for nothing now can ever come to any good.

Look I Made You A Mixtape (Like A Mathematician)

I called it Bootleg, it's on the Verbatim label, it's all one band. Sorry I can't send it on; the British government would have me arrested and my house severed from the Internet, causing me to die for sharing with you, the music that I love. Also, I want my favourite artists always to be fully compensated for their work. But look, you can get all the tracks from the links below. Some of them you'll have to pay a few pennies for, many others are free. Then to pull it all together from this Scotch Broth of MP3s, FLACs and YouTube vids (and it has to be a CD, because: well, retrochamps, right?) you'll need a few audio tools.
  1. Speak To Me (3:50)
  2. Epic New Song (4:21)
  3. Pulling Box Shapes (2:47)
  4. Isn't It Lovely (4:11)
  5. You Make My Heart (3:37)
  6. DIY Lovesong (2:46)
  7. Let's Make Out (2:32)
  8. Told Ya (4:07)
  9. Jenna (4:08)
  10. Kitten With A Loaded Gun (3:04)
  11. Strawberries And Vodka Shots (2:47)
  12. Told Ya (TYGH Remix) (3:59)
  13. May The Forth (3:36)
  14. Settle Down (4:01)
  15. Robert De Niro's Waiting (free) (4:10)
  16. May The Forth (Miaoux Miaoux) - Glasgow PodcArt link (3:57)
  17. DIY Lovesong (live) (2:51)
  18. Jenna (Live at the Mill) (4:09)
  19. Nintendo (YouTube) (3:16)
  20. Strawberries And Vodka Shots (original demo) (2:46)
  21. Uh Oh (No Show) - Ceal's lead vocal debut! (2:30)
Tracks 1-4 are from the Lollipoptastic EP.
Tracks 5-8 are from the FRC EP.
Tracks 9-12 are from the LaChunky EP (FREE).
Tracks 13-15 are from the May The Forth / Settle Down single.

That should keep you going, something to play in the car for the next couple of months, until the 25-track official, retrospective release arrives. The Lollipoptastic EP appears to have disappeared almost completely from the web. I hope the track ordering on April's 2CD release will be a wee bit like mine. I hope the full Lollipoptastic EP is included. I hope there's some new (previously unreleased) demo material on it too, like maybe the early 'Hi!' and 'Lullaby'.

I hope...

Hey, I hope Harry gets his solo project running, and the girls start the new band that we've been promised, but soon!

Still... yes, of course, they must escape their homunculi. The real enemy of this piece is neither the hapless art school student, nor society, nor ambition, nor ambivalence. It is time. It is change itself. These young adults, without exception, already have healthy careers right now outwith the FRC; and yet still more promising future prospects. But still. Wouldn't that be something to see, their mooted reunion, 10 years hence?

Update (Feb 26): being of the firm opinion that such a band deserves one, I created a Futuristic Retro Champions Wikipedia page. And after an initial request for speedy deletion, summarily dismissed, I'm pleased to say my fellow Wikipedians appear to agree.

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