Sunday, 28 December 2008

Here is a list of the top 10 bands I am really excited about for the year ahead.

1. Or, The Whale.
Or, The Whale's country, alt rock sound is sure to raise a few eyebrows in 2009.
The nine piece have a sound that would be welcome in the cd collection of any Arcade Fire or Band of Horses fan. Their debut album 'Light Poles and Pines' is starting to create quite a fuss and rightfully so. Demonstrating a wide variety of genre hopping songs. Ones to watch.

2. Remember Remember.
Combining a huge variety of instruments including harps, saxophones,violins, Guitars and even a Glockenspiel with household objects such as a stapler, hole puch, scissors, etc to create this atmospheric, glitchy, dancy, epic music. This is some of the most interesting and imaginative music I have heard for quite a while. There are lots of musicians who use this amount of instruments, Four Tet, Fuck Buttons, etc but I have heard none who sound like this. Graeme Ronald, the driving force behind Remember Remember has got something really special here and it won't be long before this is recognised.

3. Dent May and his Magnificent Ukulele
Dent May is one of those guys who's life totally revolves around music. Growing up in Jackson Mississippi he spent his early days singing in church choir's and performing with a recorder choir at Nursing Homes and has continued writing in various bands throughout his life. With his sound harking back to that of early 19th century swing ( think the ball at the end of Back to the Future,) it has this charm about it, a sort of charm I really haven't heard since Eels were in their heyday. Its just such a nostalgic, likable sound.

4.No Age
I had to give these guys a few listens before I started to find something in their sound that I liked. Maybe its the energy they put into their music. Maybe its the fact that they sound so raw which, In the time of being able to produce a reasonably decent sounding record from your bedroom is actually quite refreshing but there is definately something that keeps bringing me back to listen to these guys and I know a lot of people feel the same.

5. Kelpe
Kelpe creates some really interesting beats. Often using simple, effect laden drum patterns, combining them with really dirty, fuzzy bass lines and various other sounds mixed in making music that I haven't stopped listening to since I first heard it. With a mixture of tracks that could fill any dance floor (Shipwreck Glue) to minimalistic, rather intense sounds (Pinch and Flare.)

6. Midnight Juggernauts
Last year was a very successful year for the inde/electro Australians seeing them grow from being unheard of in this country to playing high up the bill on the sunrise arena at Latitude, tour with Late of the Pier and play the Becks Fusion event below Massive Attack. 2009 will be even bigger for them and will hopefully see them get the acknowledgement they deserve.

Another band who have had a pretty successful year. Ending with the opening slot for Mogwai at venues as big as Hammersmith. Probably the only band that can make a crowd of moody post rockers dance, if you haven't seen them already you really should soon because there is no way they will be playing dingy bars anymore.

8. Abe Vigoda
There is definately a surge of bands with a certain lo-fi edge becoming quite successful at the moment. No Age and Bon Iver are certainly at the forefront, but bands like Abe Vigoda are certainly starting to get recognised over here, their hugely energetic, frantic, yet also melodic sound is reminiscent of early At The Drive In, which is something I found quite refreshing.

9. Animal Collective
After a few albums people are finally starting to get used to Animal Collective's avante garde sound. They are already pretty renowned but it was after their most exciting release in late 2007, 'Strawberry Jam' which really saw them take off resulting in a headline slot on the Carling Stage at Reading. They are bringing a new album out in January. I'm pretty excited.

10. Au
Au really caught me in a way that not many bands do and it normally takes a few listens to get it whereas with these guys it was an instant like. There is so much going on its hard to take it all in, played loud its quite overwhelming. Au's huge soundscape is mainly created by the multi talented Luke Wyland. Verbs is a full album, the tracks all flow well into each other. Au already have friends in high places supporting the likes of Fleet Foxes, Beach House and Phosphorescent and I should Imagine you will be hearing a lot more from these guys in 2009.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Barry's Albums of the Year 2008

A new year is about to begin so here at Middleboop we’re all selecting our favourite albums from the last year. Hope you enjoy them

Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
Indie –folk from a bunch a beardies from Seattle and it’s filled with excellent choral vocals and Neil Young style guitars. Essential Tracks – He Doesn’t Know Why, White Winter Hymnal, Sun It Rises

Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
Indie-folk from another beardy this time from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. This album is full of heart-breaking songs about a girl called Emma. It’s just one man and his guitar writing rich folk music, I love it. Essential Tracks - The Wolves, For Emma

Mr Oizo – Lamb’s Anger
Bearded Frenchman Mr Oizo returned late in 2008 with a more vicious offering than his previous releases. Once again filled with strange vocal samples and thumping drums that feel like its going to burst your eardrums. Viva la France! Essential Tracks – Hun, Positif, Pourriture 7

Octopus Project – Hello Avalanche
It now time for my first non-bearded selection! Although released in 2007 I didn’t discover this band until 2008 after seeing perform an amazing live show at the ATP festival and has become key feature in my listening this year. Mixing electronica with indie they have come up with songs to relax you and make you dance. Essential Tracks – Bee’s Bein’ Strugglin’, Mmaj, Ghost Moves

MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
They certainly have had a massive year and rightly so. These electro-pop stars have reached levels of ubiquity that only X-factor winners seem to get, only they have talent and if they do a cover version they wouldn’t butcher it and ruin everyone’s Christmas! Essential Tracks – Kids, Time to Pretend, Of Moons, Birds and Monsters, Electric Feel

and now the best of the rest –
Ladyhawke – Ladyhawke
Boys Noize – A Bugged Out Mix
Soulwax – Part of the Weekend Never Dies
A-Trak – Say Whoa
Land of Talk – Some Are Lakes
Sebastian – Remixes
Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue
School of Seven Bells – Alpinisms
The Grates – Teeth Lost, Hearts Won
Cold War Kids – Loyalty to Loyalty
Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs
Utah Saints – Finger Lickin’ 3
Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid
In Flagranti – Business Acumen

Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Day The Earth Didn't Quite Stand Still!

Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Written by: David Scarpa and
Edmund H. North
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly,
Jaden Smith, John Cleese

The Day The Earth Stood Still is a remake of the 1951 sci-fi film of the same name. The current film starts with a large orb like egg that lands on the earth in New York. Out pops an alien called Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) and a giant robot called Gort (No man in a suit this time just CGI). Klaatu has come to the earth to negotiate with the world leaders about saving the planet from global warming. Things don’t go to plan (When do they ever go to plan in films!) and Klaatu is taken hostage by the U.S Military. He escapes with the help of Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) and the two of them along with Helen’s son Jacob (Jaden Smith) go on a journey that tests the limit of life itself. During this time Klaatu has set about the destruction of the human race, but slowly learns about humanities greatest features!

The main substantial differences between the original and the remake is the eras the two films were made in. The original was made right after the Second World War with the main message and reason for Klaatu’s arrival being peace to earth or be destroyed. Because the rest of the universe felt threatened by humanity. The remake however is about global warming and are fears and anxieties towards it. Klaatu has come to earth to help humanity to stop the destruction of the planet otherwise humanity will be purged from existence. This shows sci-fi doing what it does best and that is reflecting on the society from the era that it was made.
The entirety of the film though is spent on trying to persuade Klaatu not to destroy humanity because we are worthy of being saved. Saved because of humanities ability to love. The broken mother and son relationship between Helen and Jacob plays a significant role. Jacob plays an even bigger role as he single handily represents humanity and its violence towards the unknown.

There is only one actor who could play Klaatu and that had to have been Keanu Reeves. With his deadpan emotionless acting he becomes a very believable alien. Maybe he is an alien? Who knows! The film offers some spectacular special effects, watching an entire football stadium disintegrate was incredible. But apart from that TDTESS offers little in the way of action or even suspense to become an edge of your seat thriller or fully blown action blockbuster.
You think well is it not ignorant of us to make a film about how great humanity is, while forgetting about famine, poverty, war, greed as long as we love and love life everything will be fine. The film offers us answers to questions we already know and should know or have we really forgotten and need reminding? The choice once again, is yours.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

A Middle Boop Film Review! Eagle Vs Shark

Directed by: Taika Waititi
Written by: Loren Horsley and Taika Waititi
Starring: Jemaine Clement, Loren Horsley

Lilly (Loren Horsley) an innocent, naive, quiet, shy, fragile, miss-fit with a monotone voice and a bad slouch who works a fast food restaurant called Meaty Boy. She becomes fixated with Jarrod (Jemaine Clement, best known from The Flight of The Conchords) an arrogant, selfish, social reject, geek who works in a video games store. Jarrod’s true passion is for video games and being the champion at a fighting game, along with an obsession to beat up his old high school bully. He arrogantly neglects Lilly and even uses her and her brother’s car to get home so he can finally duke it out with his nemesis.

(Monotone voice)
“Hello I’m Lilly welcome to meaty boy please may I take your order? Could I interest you in the crazy burger? Its meat, then its bread, then its more meat, its like an inside out burger!”

Like the burger, Eagle Vs Shark is an inside out rom-com from New Zealand, which is currently available to buy on DVD. It is very different to many Hollywood rom-coms occupied with glamorous good-looking a-list actors and fairy tale storylines. And for some reason there’s always a token British actor abusing his British accent and gentlemanly charm. I’m pointing my fingers straight at Hugh Grant and Jude Law! (For now anyway) Moving away from clich├ęd-stereotyped rom-coms, EVS has flawed and ugly characters. Characters that also stay ugly right through the film without any last gasp makeovers turning our ugly ducklings into swans, while meeting the expectations of our cultures obsession with youth, fame and beauty.
Lilly and Jarrod have a sense of immaturity within their performances relating their attitudes to teenagers, which heighten their social difficulties. This in turn causes a lot of embarrassing and awkward moments. These moments fuel the films comedic elements creating a fair few laughs along the way. A good example would be the party scene followed by the sex scene. Jarrod hosts an animal fancy dress party, which turns out to be a complete shambles (the party of nightmares if you were hosting that is). Here is where the film gets its title; Lilly is dressed as a shark and Jarrod as a…? Well the eagle, sorry for stating the obvious! This turns into a good example of their awkward nature towards any form of relationship as they begin to get close to one another for the first time. Jarrod and Lilly are lying on the bed kissing, they stop, awkward silence, Jarrod “Would you like to have sex?” Pause another awkward silence. Lilly then responds in her monotone voice “Urgh…yeah.” What follows is so quick Lilly doesn’t even take off her shark costume!
As we watch the film a stop motion animation weaves its way throughout the narrative. It is about an apple that Lilly eats and a rotten apple that Jarrod throws away. Both the rotten and the eaten apple represent the two characters and their journeys through life and their relationships. A perfect reflection and representation of the films themes and characters being outsiders, a visual aid as you will, if people like to look into things with great detail.

Eagle Vs Shark trots along at a steady pace taking you on an entertaining and rewarding journey that builds up to a hilarious conclusion. The actor’s performances really help the films enjoyment. Fans of Flight of The Conchords will love Jemaine who really excels as the geek Jarrod and Loren really is very dull as Lilly! A film full of awkward and embarrassing moments that delight with laughs directed at the characters rather than with them. Reminding us of how hard it really is to being sociable! Or thank god we’re not that socially retarded! The choice is yours.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Te' - Naraba, Imi Kara Kaihou Sareta Hibiki Ha "Oto" No Sekai No Shinen Wo Kataru.

Ok so this album has been out over a year now but I don't think anyone in this country has ever given Te' the credit where it is most certainly due. A four piece hailing from Japan, they remind me of a more upbeat, less electronic 65daysofstatic. Their second album, Naraba, Imi Kara Kaihou Sareta Hibiki Ha "Oto" No Sekai No Shinen Wo Kataru. Meaning 'If that is what is being thought, liberated sound talks the depth of "musical" world. ' is without a doubt a grower, with the electrifying opener literally grabbing the listener by the balls and not letting go until the final track.
For a four piece they make quite a noise.
There is an ever growing 'Post Rock' scene over in Japan and with bands like Mono, Envy and Worlds End Girlfriend enjoying reasonable success and gaining recognition over here, Te' really should not be far behind.
If you can find a copy of this album anywhere this neck of the woods its worth checking out.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Dent May and his Magnificent Ukulele - One to watch for 2009

Dent May is one of those guys who's life totally revolves around music. Growing up in Jackson Mississippi he spent his early days singing in church choir's and performing with a recorder choir at Nursing Homes and has continued writing in various bands throughout his life. With his sound harking back to that of early 19th century swing ( think the ball at the end of Back to the Future,) it has this charm about it, a sort of charm I really haven't heard since Eels were in their heyday. Its just such a nostalgic, likable sound. He was found by members of Animal Collective when they were recording their new album in Oxford, Mississippi earlier this year, they signed him to their label and neither band has looked back since.
His first album 'The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele' is crammed full of cheery, honest songs. Recorded in a trailer its a raw sound but thats how it should be.

I fully believe that 2009 will be his year, Catch on to the 'Dent maynia' whilst you can.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Brooklyns well hard!

Not the biggest fan of jay Z but i thought id post his new video feat. Santogold: Brooklyn Go Hard. Just a great use of typography by Evan Roth for (RED) wire, the whole video comprises entirely of the letters from the word BROOKLYN and for all you dorks out there you can get the source code and have a go yourself! The track itself is being used as part of RED & the Global Fund to Fight AIDS in Africa, aswell as the New film on Notorious B.I.G. simpley called Notorious

Jay-Z on iLike - Get updates inside iTunes

Justice - A Cross The Universe

Take two Frenchmen, a bunch of video cameras, a 3 week jaunt across America, a gun-toting manager and what do you get? A Cross The Universe, the debut tour documentary and live album by French electro duo Justice. Shot by the band and Romain Gavras (director of D.A.N.C.E. and Stress music videos), the spirit of the film seems to be one of teenagers let loose. Not that I blame them what with the amazing success they’ve had over the last 2 years they deserve to have a little fun and that’s what the film shows the band enjoying the fruits of they’re success. However, this can a bit tiresome there’s only so many times you can listen to the bands manager, Bouchon, go on about the power of guns then cut to Gaspard trying to mount every/any girl in the room. This is all entertaining but it can sometimes feel like they’re bragging about how ‘rock and roll’ they are.
The documentary climaxes with the band and manager being arrested moments after coming off stage after an incident involving Xavier smashing a bottle over a fans head after he tried to attack him. Which is the ideal way to end the film but the energy of the tour and their music is not really captured in the film, the real energy of Justice is left to the live album.

Mogwai Photos

Here are some photos from the legendary Mogwai gig at Hammersmith, supported by Fuck Buttons. Enjoy

Friday, 5 December 2008

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Self Titled

When listening to New York outfit The Pains of Being Pure at Heart I feel happy. The kind of happy you feel when you are ploughing down an open road on a hot summers day on your way to a festival. I find it quite refreshing to listen to a band that can write a decent 3 minute catchy rock song . In fact I’m finding it quite hard to think of any bands in the last year or so that have done that. Their music is nothing new, the jangly guitars reminiscent of early Smiths and there is something that keeps making me think of Ash in their heyday. The stand out track for me is Stay Alive, with the hooks in all the right places. It’s a good one,
Their self titled debut is easy to listen to and is perfect music to cheer you up.

Fujiya & Miyagi - Lightbulbs

In their third installment 'Lightbulbs' Brighton based electronica band Fujiya & Miyagi have really struck gold. From the opener Knickerbocker through to the awesome finisher Hundreds and Thousands, there is not a track that wouldn't make you want to get up and dance like your life depended on it. Their sound is quite minimal the use of synths and guitars can be used sparingly Which is not a bad thing as when they are used they are used well. Other bands such as Simian Mobile Disco, Justice etc lace each track with huge amounts of effects which works well for them but Fujiya & Miyagi do it that bit differently and it sounds great. The lyrics are also something that I found quite interesting, David Best half whispering half singing lines like 'Vanilla, Strawberry, Knickerbocker Glory, I saw the ghost of Lina Zavaroni.' which makes no sense but I seem to have that line in my head all the time.
With electronica having such a massive following at the moment bands like
Fujiya & Miyagi will be around for a while.