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Thursday, 6 June 2013

Cattitude Adjustment - Riot Grrrl Berlin strikes again!

Yeah, we've not been too busy on the site recently. If you need a reason for this hiatus, I ask you just to have a look at the state of our country and the dicks in our government. Someone has to organise against this mob and that has meant that the Streetlamp blog has taken a back seat to the political activism around these parts. So, there have been a lot of important events distracting us all this last wee while, e.g. the bedroom tax, but we're glad to announce a very important musical release this week that we simply couldn't ignore.

So, what is this earth-shattering musical release, I hear you ask? It's only the latest free compilation release from those beautiful, wonderful people at Riot Grrrl Berlin! You will recall that we're huge fans of the Riot Grrrl Berlin ouptput (see 'here' and 'here') and we're pleased to say that this latest release is an absolute humdinger. Called 'Cats Against Catcalling!', the compilation features no less than 95 bands (yep, you read that right - 95!) and contains 5 hours of music ranging from folk to thrash and featuring most things in-between.
If you don't find at leat a dozen songs on it that you love then just lie down and pull a sheet over yourself because you are already dead! I'm going to embed a few of my favourite tracks below but, trust me, there are dozens I could have picked from this compilation and I just wish I could include more.

First up is Anna Bo with 'Plastic':

Here's Jesus and his Judgemental Father with 'Kings and Queens':

Next is Secondhand Underpants with 'Pizza Faced Brat':

Finally, here's The Anna Thompsons with 'Fuck You':

Great music, and there's tons more where that came from. But 'Cats Against Catcalling' isn't just about the music. The inspiration for the compilation came through the Hollaback tumblr page.

Hollaback is a movement to end street harassment powered by a network of local activists around the world. Hollaback activists work together to better understand street harassment, to ignite public conversations, and to develop innovative strategies to ensure equal access to public spaces. Street harassment is one of the most pervasive forms of gender-based violence and one of the least legislated against. Comments from “You’d look good on me” to groping, flashing and assault are a daily, global reality for women and LGBTQ individuals. But it is rarely reported, and it’s culturally accepted as ‘the price you pay’ for being a woman or for being gay. Hollaback and Riot Grrrl Berlin reject this and together they say that "It's time to break the silence about street harassment".

To help do this, Riot Grrrl Berlin asked Hollaback Berlin if they would cooperate with the 'Cats Against Catcalling' compilation and give some info and materials to include in the download. Hollaback Berlin have responded magnificently with a downloadable folder packed full of images, posters and documents to print and share. They've also included many cool memes you can use to spread the word against street harassment on the internet.

To the Streetlamp's delight the Hollaback memes and artwork feature images of our favourite animals - cats (see here for our own 'anarchist cat' images). Here are some of our favourites:

'Cats Against Catcalling' also has its own meme site 'here' where you can add your own images. Why not get creative and share your own designs? It would be really awesome if everyone who downloads this compilation prints some posters, posts some memes and spreads the word. This is what the d.i.y. ethos and direct action is all about. Don't wait for someone else to do something, become the agent of change yourself!

'Cats Against Catcalling' is a brilliant free download full of great music and anti-street harrassment material. Please, if you download it, share about it on your blog, post it on facebook, print some posters and paste your town.


Thursday, 11 April 2013

L'histoire de Raymond et Cécile

Still no new music for you right now as The Streetlamp team has its collective mind on weightier matters. However, we couldn't give you absolutely nothing so we've decided to combine all the strands of our Francophilia - les chansons, les film, les femmes, la politique, and bring you a short introduction to Juliette Gréco.

Juliette Gréco was born in Montpellier to a Corsican father and a mother who became active in the Résistance. Gréco also became involved in the Résistance, and was caught but not deported because of her young age.
After the war, Gréco spent the post liberation years frequenting the Saint Germain cafes, and became a figure associated with the political and philosophical Bohemian culture of La Rive Gauche. Philosophers, poets, authors and musicians filled the night clubs and brasseries that lined the boulevard Saint-Germain, and the area became the centre of the existentialism movement associated with Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. As a regular figure at the many music and poetry venues, Greco was given songs to sing written by Sartre himself, and also became acquainted with Miles Davis and Jean Cocteau, even being given a role in Cocteau’s film Orphée in 1949.

Gréco can also be seen in Bonjour Tristesse, a 1958 film directed and produced by Otto Preminger and based on the novel of the same title by Françoise Sagan. The title is derived from a poem by Paul Éluard, "À peine défigurée" amd it means, of course, "Hello Sadness".

Here is  Gréco with the French language version of the song:

An MP3 of this can be freely downloaded 'here'.

Now here's Sur Les Quais Du Vieux Paris:

An MP3 of this can be freely downloaded 'here'.

Finally, here's Sous le ciel de Paris, the melody of which should be familiar to everybody.

An MP3 of this can be freely downloaded 'here'.

Hope you enjoyed those.If you're interested in French chansons then have a look at these 100 free downloads 'here'.

À bientôt

xx Click here

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Life in the Faslane

Glasgow poet Eamonn Coyle speaks on truth and nuclear weapons in Scotland.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

British nuclear weapons spending explained by a panda

We're embedding a video (below), which we hope you'll like. It combines our love of pandas and our dislike of nuclear weapons. What we like most about it is the way that panda makes bear's confident, "common-sense" assertions sound like the ridiculous illogical nonsense that they so obviously are when you stop to think about it.

Well done, panda! If only humans were so wise.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Chance for Peace

As you must have noticed, if you've been following the Streetlamp from the beginning, we've not been bringing you quite the same indiepop outout recently as he have in the past. The main reason for this is that we've been rather diverted on the political front. Scotland, at the time of writing, stands on the brink of a momentous, game-changing decision, which will have repercussions far beyond these shores.

One of the repercussions of Scotish independence is that, if the people of Scotland vote Yes, we will effectively be able to force the UK state into unilateral nuclear disarmamnet. This is quite an attractive outcome for some of us!

Inspired by this opportunity, our own resident film-maker, Ray, has made the following video, which has been given official endorsement from the Scrap Trident campaign. The video in question uses excerpts from the Chance for Peace speech, an address given by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower on April 16, 1953. Eisenhower is, of course, the man who famously warned the world of the growing power of the Military–industrial complex and uttered the immortal lines:

"I think that people want peace so much that, one of these days, government had better get out of their way and let them have it."

We here at the Stretlamp think that, for the people of Scotland, that day is coming soon. Here's Ray's video on the subject:

For more information on the subject, please visit Scrap Trident.

The music used in the video is the 2nd movement, Largo, from Dvorak's "New World" Symphony reorded in 1963 by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Otto Klemperer/ This can be downloaded for free 'here'.

The Streetlamp Team

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

If you love indiepop, clap your hands!

Hello everyone. No, we haven't died, you'll be glad to know, it's just that we've all been very busy doing other things and have had to neglect the poor old Streetlamp for a bit. Anyway, we're going to make that up to you tonight with a compilation from Frigopop! of the very best in indie-pop. And we really mean the best, we're talking Jens Lekman, The Drums, Liechtenstein and Belle and Sebastian here.

Frigopop! was started in February 2008 by a group of Roman girls with a love for pop music and, as well as a webzine, it is also a netlabel and a festival. Their latest release Nastrone Handclapping was released on March 1st and contains 13 songs, which all include that indie-pop staple, handclapping. The compilation is intended to wake you up from hibernation and get you in the mood for Spring.It is available as a free download 'here'.

Here are a few sample tracks. First off is Jens Lekman with I Saw Her In The Anti War Demostration.

We had to include this as, right now, all Griff's time is being taken up by, well, helping to organise an April anti-war demonstration, believe it or not.

Now here's Architecture in Helsinki with It'5!

And we''ll finish off with Pelle Carlberg with Clever Girls Like Clever Boys Much More Than Clever Boys Like Clever Girls
Sadly, probably true.

The Streetlampers

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Barftroop - Filthy girls doing foul things for fun

Tonight I'd like to introduce you to Babeo Baggins and the Barftroop whose motto is the brutally simple - "Fuck with us or don't, its that simple." That's right, if you want straight talking and in your face attitude then you've come to the right place. Do you remember back in January when I wrote about the sexily subversive hip hop of Lady Boners and their song Bacon Pancakes? Well, if you liked that then you're going to love this. Barftroop is five young women from the US who all met through being bloggers. Marshaled by the formidable Babeo Baggins they set about challenging the negative stereotype of the 'black female rapper' through their provocative and exciting music and art. The five members of Barftroop are;

Babeo Baggins
Baberella Fox
Babe Field, and
Justin Baber

I came across their music on bandcamp and soundcloud and I immediately found it arresting. It's loosely within the hip-hop tradition but is obviously much freer and playful than that genre normally allows.
I was also taken by the humour and the bold, explicit sexuality in the music and in the accompanying visual art (which can be found on the Barftroop tumblr page). It seemed to me that this playfully assertive attitude might be an aspect of the group's feminism and I put that question to Barftroop ringleader Babeo. She replied:

"When it comes to our feminism I'd say it's an EXTREMELY important part of our music.
Speaking for myself, my sexual content is greatly influenced by my feminism. As you can hear, my voice is very light and innocent. It's sort of me showing that you can be a sexual creature and not lose your innocence. Because innocence is held in some strange, important light when it comes to women, and if you have sex or talk about sexual things people deem it 'gone' as if it's a bad thing to be sexual. Or as if I have to be completely pure to still have a grasp on my innocence. As though my sexuality should make me feel guilty and ashamed so that there's no way I could still be innocent. I don't like that thought process. I just want anyone who listens to my music, mainly women, to feel like you can be sexual and sweet and innocent. You can be anything you want to be, no one has the right to tell you any different.
I think just Barf Troop as a whole, for all the girls-is just us expressing everything we want to express with no filter whatsoever."

I asked Babeo about the band's stated intention not to be confined by labels, especially that of 'black, female rappers'. Specifically, I wanted to know hat were the annoying negative aspects of that stereotype for Barftroop?  She replied:

"The negative aspects of the black female rapper would have to be that idea that we're all "rough" and "mean" or "rude". We're all different and we bring a different sort of rapping style to the "black female rapper" image and I'm excited about that. I'm happy to be able to say that I'm a (part) black woman and I'm rapping and I'm not being "hard". I'm rapping about nerdy things and sexual things in a sweet way and being shy and silly. You don't HAVE to be anything just because you're a black female rapper and I think that's what it's about for us. Breaking the stereotypes, but just being ourselves."

So, that's the Barftroop ideology and it serves them well. To hear how it feeds into their music, here are some of the tracks they've produced over the last year:

Hope you liked those. As you can see, all tracks are available as free digital downloads and there are plenty more great tracks like these on Barftroop's bandcamp page.

The last thing worth noting about Barftroop is the group's fantastically vibrant and colourful cartoon art, which I briefly mentioned above . These posters and covers are designed for them by artist and Barftroop fan Yuta Sakakibara and they are graphically, brutally, sexually explicit but with the cutesy overtones of Japanese pop culture. This bizarre combination somehow suits Barftroop perfectly.
Have a look:


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Everybody's got one - now you can get one too!

Everybody knows that the Streetlamp had a little bit of an infatuation with London's bentcousin last year, with the 2012 Streetlamp festive Thirty featuring no less than two of the band's songs.
If you've not had a chance to catch up with them yet, this week is the ideal opportunity as they release their 6-track EP, Everybody's Got One on Team Love records this Tuesday, February 19th.

As regards the music on the EP, the band range from a sweet, quasi-folk style to punk/glam rock stompers, so they can be quite hard to pin down (oooh, steady!).

Anyway, here's a quick round up of what to expect:

Track 1, bentpaperboy, is one of the folky ones with Amelia's soft vocals sparsely accompanied by a nicely-picked Paul Simonesque guitar. This has a clever lyric that is chock-full of English cultural references, which gives it a homely charm. I really liked this, as it is the closest in style on the EP to last year's I Think I Like Your Girlfriend More Than You, which I was particularly taken with.

Track 2, Slade, sees Pat take over vocal duties. This is one of the rockers on the album and although it has British musical antecedents, imagine the Jesus and Mary Chain playing glam rock (if you're imagining The Damned then that's about right), Pat's Richard Butler-like vocals stray a little too much into mid-Atlantic waters for my taste.

Track 3, I Quit You, is my least favourite track on the EP. Its meaty guitar riff keeps reminding me of Transvision Vamp, which is something I don't like to be reminded of. Sorry, guys.

Track 4, F.O.R.G.E.T., is my favourite new track from this lot. This has a funky/indie feel that evokes São Paulo's CSS, or for people of a certain age, is very reminiscent of Orange Juice. In particular, Pat's vocal, like a young Sarf Lahndan Edwin Collins is spot on.

Track 5, Glittery Joe, Is another punk/glam rocker this time filtered through a Britpop influence. Think Blondie meets Elastica with a hint of Suede.

The EP ends with Track 6, I Think I Like Your Girlfriend More Than You, with which you should all be familiar. This is the band's calling card and it really is a wonderful track with Amelia's vocals set off by a great folk/jazz guitar accompaniment. It is available as a free download from the Team Love site.

This new EP sees bentcousin retain those aspects that we love, the playful, witty overtones and the mischievous, sleazy sexiness and it takes those and mixes them up with folk, punk, Britpop and glam to fun, but variable, effect. Where this band really hit the mark for me though is when they hit their funky, indie Orange Juice evoking stride on F.O.R.G.E.T. This sound is hinted at elsewhere on here and its this, I think, this genre-hopping band do best.


Monday, 11 February 2013

Scrap Trident - Scotland's April 15 moment!

Most people with an active interest in Scottish politics will now be aware that this April we will see an unprecedented weekend of protest and action in this country, demonstrating the opposition of the ordinary people of Scotland to nuclear weapons.
There have been protests in the past, of course, but I deliberately suggest that this particular weekend of action, from the 13th to the 15th of April, is unprecedented for two reasons.

Firstly, in responding to the fact that the Scottish independence movement has put Trident in the forefront of political debate in Scotland and beyond, the Scrap Trident protest is being organised by a broad and diverse coalition movement that brings together virtually all of Scotland's radical, grassroots, political activists into one united movement. Some of the organisations currently involved include:

Scottish CND,
Trident Ploughshares,
Faslane Peace Camp,
Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre,
Stop the War Scotland, (Edinburgh site), (Glasgow site),
Radical Independence Campaign,
Scottish Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom,
Scottish Greens,
Scottish Socialist Party,
Socialist Workers Party, and the
International Socialist Group (Scotland)  

The second and, to my mind, more important reason that this weekend is unprecedented is that this weekend of action has been deliberately designed to demonstrate to the people of Scotland the power that currently lies with them, and not the politicians, in deciding the future of nuclear weapons in Scotland and, beyond that, throughout the world. 

The people of Scotland are in a privileged position right now as they have the ability to create an extra-parliamentary, mass movement, that can not only act definitively on Trident removal but can decide, away from the corrosive influence of self-interested party politics, on their own vision for the future of this country. 

And they don't have to wait until next year's referendum, they can start to show, as soon as this April, that power resides with the people and not the parliamentary institutions by, not just attending the national demonstration in Glasgow on April 13th, but by signing up for the workshops, meetings and direct action training on April 14th and then the mass blockade of the Trident base at Faslane on Monday 15th.

In this writer's opinion, it is this aspect of the weekend which holds the greatest promise. For here, is an opportunity to solidify our message in the most positive and empowering way. Those people who, as a very first experience of direct people power, take part in this blockade will never be the same again. For with participation will come the realisation that they can begin to write their own political agendas, that they can find a nurturing, encouraging place that gives voice to their concerns and, that they never need seek the permissions of unyielding self-serving elites again. Only with that sort of entitlement can the people of Scotland, and the people of the whole world, begin to make the changes that allow us to become a society united in trust, compassion, hope and generosity rather than one riven apart by fear, greed and deceit. 

So, Scotland stands on the brink of great change and this small country can seize the opportunity to lead the whole world in nuclear disarmament. That in itself is momentous and significant. But, as students of the global anti-war movement may know, there is an extra significance to the date of the blockade - April 15th. By accident or design the choice of that particular date ties our anti-war struggle firmly into the rich, world-wide anti-war tradition. I'd like to take you now on a little trip, illustrated throughout by some of the iconography of the past, that highlight the connotations of the April 15th date.

April 15th 1967, in the US saw the first mass burning of draft cards as 400,000 anti-war activists marched in New York City and 80,000 marched in San Francisco to oppose the Vietnam War. These mass marches were the culmination of the Spring Mobilization Committee's April 10-15th Vietnam Week of protest. This protest saw draft card burnings and turn-ins and anti-draft recruiter demonstrations all over the country. In New York, the speakers at the rally included Martin Luther King, Jr., Floyd McKissick, Stokely Carmichael and Benjamin Spock.

The preparations and plans for the historic April 15th demonstration brought many new organizations and forces into action and the student wing of the antiwar movement really blossomed into a powerful force for change and radicalisation. Moreover, the April 15th action had a tremendous impact on American opinion. Half a million Americans, from all walks of life, made dissent from the war and opposition to the government legitimate. April 15 was a demonstration by the antiwar movement of the breadth of mass opposition to the war and the possibility of organizing it. Furthermore, it convinced previously uninvolved groups, tendencies and individuals to participate in and build the antiwar movement.

Once the antiwar movement had helped to make dissent legitimate, public confidence in the government was shaken. The precedent for aggressively disagreeing with and challenging the government had been established. That there now existed in the country a large movement, encouraging, even demanding, that people speak out and act in a radical manner, had a profound effect on the political consciousness of the American people. Indeed, it had the potential of preparing and promoting a mass radicalisation of almost the entire populace. 

The Spring Mobilisation Committee, and associated groups, held further mass demonstrations on April 15th almost every year subsequently, right up until 1972 where, between April 15-28, the US experienced a wave of antiwar protests on campuses and outside military and defense-industry installations resulting in hundreds of arrests across the country.

And it isn't just in the US that April 15th carries no little significance for the anti-war movement. In the 1980s, Australia experienced a significant growth of nuclear disarmament activism. On April 15th 1984, 250,000 protesters attended nuclear disarmament rallies all across the country. That same year, The Nuclear Disarmament Party was formed and won a Senate seat.

Unfortunately, the Australians rather missed a trick on the old iconography front by failing to include the date on their badges. Ah well, here are a couple of examples from the period anyway:

So, where stands Scotland now?  Can we build a mass anti-war movement that will bring thousands on to the street? Yes, I believe we can, and we will, this April. What is more, we can do something that the protesters, unfortunately, couldn't achieve despite their heroic efforts in the US and Australia - we can unilaterally disarm a nuclear power.

The menace of Trident has been with us for too long. We now have a unique and unmissable opportunity to end our complicity in the active deployment of these abhorrent weapons. To that end, ordinary people who hope for a peaceful world have to keep the pressure up and ensure that this issue is at the forefront of everyone's mind as they decide on the future of Scotland.

We now need to be be mobilising for this event in every corner of Scotland to create a mass movement, extra-parliamentary, insurance policy to ensure that Holyrood has the impetus to act definitively on Trident removal, whether we get independence or not. Together, we can make the Scrap Trident weekend shake the very foundations of the establishment and, together, we can make our very own April 15th moment echo long and proudly down through the ages of history. 

And here's a little something I put together to inspire us:

Supporting the weekend:
You can add your name or the name of your organisation to the list of individuals and groups supporting this demonstration at the Scrap Trident website or by contacting

If you have a blog or website, you can show your support by getting a blog badge like the one above by visiting 'here' to get the code you need.Even better, you could write a blog in support of the Scrap Trident weekend.

Getting involved:
Please get in touch to find out more or get involved. Come to the Plenary Meeting in Glasgow in the STUC Building, between 7-9pm, on Tuesday 12th February or help mobilise for the event at stalls in town centres across Scotland this Saturday, 16th February.

If you want to take part in the blockade, you can request free direct action training any time between now and the event. Also, everything you need to know for the blockade will be covered during the workshops on Sunday 14th and there will be a detailed blockade briefing pack available on the Scrap Trident website

Basic accommodation and catering will be provided in Glasgow for all three days of this event, for the price of a donation. There will also be transport arranged to Faslane for the blockade for a small fixed price. If you are planning to come, you need to register for the accommodation and transport. Please see the contact details below to request a registration form.


Leonna O'Neill Faslane Peace Camp 07511793227

Keir McKechnie Stop The War 07773815073


Mobilising to create this mass movement and action against nuclear weapons is an expensive operation and every little helps! If you wish to contribute financially, please send donations to: 

Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre,
 St. John's Church, 
Princes Street, 
EH21 2DP. 

Please indicate clearly that your donation is for the “Scrap Trident” event and make cheques payable to “Trident Ploughshares”. You could even hold a fundraiser or do a collection in your work place or amongst friends.


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Eats, shoots and plays indie-pop

 While Griff is away storming the barricades of the establishment etc etc, it's up to me to keep the flame of twee indie-pop flying high. I'm going to do that with a song from a few years ago, but which I never get tired of hearing. As you, no doubt, know by now, we here at The Streetlamp love our furry little friends, none more so than the panda, which is our totem animal who came to us in a collective hallucination in Gordon's house one night. 
So, the other day, whilst meandering through the enchanted musical forest of Last FM, I came across a secluded clearing that I had not visited in many years. Fate must have guided me here. My heart leapt as once again I was greeted by the poptastic sound of Papa Topo and their signature tune Oso Panda, blasting from my speakers like an exotic bird calling to its mate across the jungle canopy (you've tortured this jungle metaphor long enough, Ray. Let it go! - Griff).

Here it is now, and as befits a great pop song it has a great pop video:

So who are these half animal, half human hybrid musicians? 

Papa Topo was originally a Spanish indie pop duo formed in 2008 by Adrià Arbona Orero and Paulita Demaiz Since that time, Paulita has left and the band has expanded into a six piece. Oso Panda was Papa Topo's debut single and it is a perfect encapsulation of the Spanish twee pop sound. It was released in 2010 by Elefant Records with whom the band are still signed. Whether they'll ever match the perfect pop vibe of their debut though I just don't know and I don't suppose it really matters - with Oso Panda they have made just about as good a pop song as anyone ever has. You can download it for free too 'here' .


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Get your own Scrap Trident blog button!

You may have noticed that the Streetlamp now comes decorously fitted out with its very own Scrap Trident hyperlink button (see our sidebar, to the right). Naturally, if you have your own blog, you'll want to show that you too support 2013's most important radical event - a chance over three days in April for the people of Scotland to demonstrate what they really think about the weapons of mass destruction parked on our doorstep. Well, now you can. Below, is a rather nice 125 pixel square badge for your own use. The code you need to display it is provided right alongside. Just copy and paste it into your own HTML editor and Hey Presto! Clicking the button will take you right on to the ScrapTrident home page where your webpage visitors can sign in to show their support or donate to the cause.

If you have a webpage, make sure it has its Scrap Trident button in place this Spring. It's what all the best websites are wearing!

If you have any bother with the HTML code provided, please get in touch with me at the sadpanda email adress above and I'll see if I can help.


 <a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="ScrapTrident" width="125" height="125" /></a>

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Private Life of A Cat

Griff mentioned in a recent post that I'm a big fan of vintage movies, and I won't deny it. If its black and white and/or features no audible soundtrack then, generally, I'm all over it. Recently, I've been reappraising the work of Alexander Hammid, the Czechoslovakian photographer and film-maker who, along with his wife, the luminously beautiful Maya Deren, became an icon of avant-garde cinema in the US. Both are most well-known for their collaboration on the ground-breaking surrealist movie Meshes of the Afternoon but I wanted to write about another, more domestic, and less famous production that the couple collaborated on, which is once of the most beautifully photographed short films that I've ever seen. 

The film in question is their 1947 production 'The Private Life of A Cat'. This 22 minute, silent movie has a beautifully simple premise - it shows the courting of two cats, the birth of their five kittens, the kittens' gradual maturation and first attempts at exploration and, finally, the moment they grow independent of their doting parents. That may not sound particularly action packed but, the way that Hammid and Deren get intimate shots of the cats and then carefully edit these into a human-like narrative, makes for a genuinely heart-warmig and captivating work of art. See for yourself:

Amazing and touching. Hope you enjoyed it. If you did, you're in luck as I'll probably feature more of Hammid and Deren's work over the next few months.


Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Oh, you Hansen devil!

I would imagine that all of the Streetlamp's readers are familiar with the work of anti-folk colossus Beck. How many of you, though, are familiar with his impressive counter-culture ancestry and, in particular, the wild life and times of his mother, Bibbe Hansen. Never heard of her? Good, because the Streetlamp is here to bring you some charming, girl-group music from the early 60s and to take you on a journey through the history of US alternative art and music along the way.

 Bibbe Hansen was born in New York City in 1953 and right from the start she had impeccable Bohemian credentials. Her father was Fluxus artist Al Hansen and her mother was the actress/model/dancer/stripper/poet Audrey Hansen. Bibbe began performing as a child, often participating in her father's avant-garde theater pieces called "Happenings". At the same time, she performed with mainstream theatre companies in New York City and sang in an Elizabethan music group, studied dance with Phoebe Neville and Lucinda Childs, and was filmed by "the godfather of American avant-garde cinema" Jonas Mekas.

In 1964, at the tender age of eleven, Bibbe was leading the typical life of the 'problem child', skipping school, shoplifting, and hanging out in New York panhandling with her similarly wild and crazy friends Charlotte Rosenthal and Janet Kerouac  (yep, the daughter of the legendary beat poet and novelist Jack Kerouac). Anyway, by chance, the intrepid trio of juvenile delinquents accidentally met songwriter Neil Levinson (writer of  the Randy & The Rainbows' 1963 hit "Denise", later covered by Blondie) and hustled busfare from him. On the bus journey, the girls and Levinson began chatting. The Beatles had just spearheaded the British Invasion of the US pop charts and, in an attempt to cash in on the hysteria, Levinson had written a girl-song response to 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'. All he needed now was a girl-group to record it, and so, later that day at Steinway Studios on 57th Street, Levinson and the girls recorded 'I Want To Talk With You'. Have a listen, its a classic slice of early 60s girl group pop.

Incredibly, within weeks, the trio, now called The Whippets, were signed to Columbia's Colpix label and the single was pressed up with the strange and silly 'Go Go Go With Ringo', complete with faux English accents, on the b-side. Have a listen:

The record was released and, apart from making a very small dent in the single's chart in Canada, disappeared without trace.

Shortly thereafter, Bibbe became a “guest” of the State of New York, and spent some time in Spofford Street Youth House and several other NY institutions for child criminals. Upon her release, Bibbe met Andy Warhol when her father took her to Stark’s coffee shop, where the art crowd gathered on Saturdays.
 “And what do you do?” Warhol asked her.
Her father piped up proudly, “I just sprung her from jail.”

Suitably impressed, Warhol suggested they collaborate on a film about her recent experiences. The film was called Prison and also features Marie Menken and Edie Sedgwick. Bibbe went on to make three other films with Warhol and also danced briefly with the Velvet Underground.

Eventually, events brought Bibbe to the west coast of the US and she settled in Los Angeles where she founded a theater company, acted in "B" movies and participated in the local punk scene as musician, and documenteur. Nowadays, Bibbe and her husband Sean are the directors of the Al Hansen Archive, continuing exhibitions of her father's work, performing and lecturing at museums, galleries and universities around the world. You can find out more about Bibbe at her website 'here'.

If you enjoyed The Whippets' songs then you can freely download them as MP3 files from Bibbe's page.


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Never rode my bike down to the sea

Now that Griff has opened the door to blog posts consisting mainly of series of images with his anarchy cats, I feel as though the door is opened for me, the most visual member of our little group, to make my mark on the Streetlamp's pages. Unlike, Griff and Gord, I'm not going to bore you with too much verbal guff but I'm going to get straight to the pictures. The artist I want to showcase today is Bangkok based illustrator Chalermphol Harnchakkham who works under the psuedonym Huebucket

I should mention that Huebucket doesn't always feature bicycles in his illustrations but that those just happen to be my favourite ones (as anyone who knows me could have guessed already). Huebucket also features the ocean and ocean creatures as a recurring motif and the way he juxtaposes discarded human artifacts and the power of the ocean reminds me a lot of Miyazaki's Ponyo. I think the reason I like Huebucket's art so much is that it is bold and linear but also has a subversive, subtle, feminine quality about it. Or maybe I just like it without worrying too much about why.
If you're into buying stuff, you can accquire these images as prints or get them on a t-shirt for looking ubercool when you're out and about cycling. Or you could nick them off here and do what you want with them... after all, I'm not the art police!


Thursday, 17 January 2013

Fashionable Material - Pierre drops the bomb

I've written a couple of times before on the blog (see 'here') about my friend, Pierre Chandeze, the musician and graphic artist who specialises in creating distinctive art  featuring 'ugly animals'. I've also mentioned before that, rather infuriatingly, Pierre always seems to be involved in some sort of marvellous project or other, which serves to make the rest of us look like we're lazy under-achievers. Now, that may well be true but we don't necessarily want to be reminded of it.

Anyway, Pierre's latest project involves taking his excellent 'With A Messy Head' website into the netlabel scene with the release of a brand new, freely downloadable, compilation album on bandcamp.

Called 'You Don't Have To Be Fashionable Vol​.​ 1', the album features  13 shades of pop - principally in the experimental, indie, lo-fi vein - from all across the globe.

We here at the Streetlamp were rather taken by track 9, Veiled Clock by Scotland's own The Maginot Band:

This lot are a six-piece, indie-pop hailing from Caithness in the North of Scotland and this track certainly has something undefinably dark, northern and wintry about it. Check out their bandcamp page for more releases soon.

We also loved the bouncy, bass-driven punk of track 11, Restraint by The Internet from Santa Barbara, US.

The Internet band was formed in May 2010 by guitarist/singer Marvin Dominguez and guitarist/singer Alex Brown. Drums are supplied by Miguel Cuate and bass by Angel Guerra.

I can't finish without also giving special mention to track 12, Lon Chaney by Paul & Pierre. The Pierre in question is, of course the aforementioned Monsieur Chandeze and the Paul is yet another Scottish-based artist, Edinburgh's own cult legend Paul Vickers. Now I'm not going to embed the album version of this song, which is an alternative take on the track, but instead I'm going to give you the official Paul & Pierre video version. The reason for this deviation is that the Streetlamp's Ray, a man with an unparalleled love of black and white horror movies, insisted that this is the version we included. And who am I to argue?