Monday, 31 May 2010
Just like the music of many of his contemporaries on the Bedroom Community label, Ben Frost’s instrumental spaces are almost the definition of slow burning, taking several listens and the right sort of mood to become fully immersed in. Once they’re in there, however, both his full-length albums offer an oddly hypnotic head-trip, his most recent By The Throat in particular possessed of the sort of unearthly calm you might feel in the face of certain annihilation. His recent appearance as part of the Whale Watching Tour, alongside labelmates Nico Muhly, Valegir Sigurrosson and Sam Amidon, further emphasised the lulling effects of his music, a bewitching version of ‘Hibakjusja’ in particular tempering its feral aggression in favour of stargazing wonder. So it’s a treat to see Frost indulge his inner sadist this evening, stood centre stage behind laptop and mixer and in front of a truly bracing wall of amps.
The Luminaire couldn’t be better suited to tonight’s performance, as its low ceiling, crisp sound and deep blood red aura exude a similar volcanic glow to Frost’s music. Earlier in the evening, the delicate improve forms of Part Wild Horse’s Mane On Both Sides are deliciously tactile but curiously withheld. Their music hints at real depth but never reveals it, save one particularly arresting moment when drummer Pascal Nichols escalates the urgency to breaking point, sending a diffuse spray of percussion washing across Kelly Jane’s modal flute figures. Teeth Of The Sea are hidden behind a wall of tall people but occasional glimpses of a trumpet and the surprising sight of a Flying V add a neat visual counterpart to their heavy psych rock. Occasional periods of drifting ambience build to crushing walls of distortion before receding once again, disappearing offstage and leaving the space for Frost’s lone figure to wander onto the stage.
Central to Frost’s live performance is a wonderful contradiction between his warm and affable manner between tracks – punctuating pieces with witty comments, waving at friends in the audience during lulls in sound – and the superhuman concentration he displays whilst playing his music. It’s as if he is an instrument himself, his body jacked directly into the mains that power the equipment; leaning over his laptop or mixer to tease out gale-force columns of noise his body is tense, primed as though in defence, before visibly relaxing as the tension releases. At other times, particularly during stunning opener ‘Theory Of Machines’, he hunches over his guitar until the piece’s slow-build bursts into sudden life and he thrashes wildly as though blasted with a 220V current.
Solo Frost is a far cry from the softly orchestrated versions he performed with the rest of the Bedroom Community. Stripped of additional instrumentation and artifice the sheer power and stark minimalism of his music comes fully to life, aided by a sound system that physically ripples the flesh as the crescendo of ‘Stomp’ cracks like thunder through the crowd. After a set of twilit monochome instrumentals, sort-of closer ‘Killshot’ is beautiful respite, its opening keyboard figure growing in pathos before its structure is ripped in two by a thick, tearing wall of guitar distortion. As it fades into the distance the wolves of ‘The Carpathians’ surround the stage and chill the blood, offset against a gorgeous and violently nostalgic string melody that drifts, barely audible, from a tiny cassette recorder. It’s almost too late for the last train home by the time Frost finishes, but it’s not even crossed my mind for the past hour or so. I’ve been in some bleak, beautifully transcendent otherspace.
There is a general outlook today that rock and roll has been on the back foot for a little while, stepping out of the limelight in place of synths, squeals and the sound of tomorrow (otherwise known as autotune). Still, musicians the world over hammer out their soul with heavy guitars and clattering drumkits and I truly believe there’s an innate aggression fuelling such an ethos, the inner voice that tells you to bash things about as a child (or as an adult come to think of it). Respectable rock in 2010 has to attack a little differently and throwing in some scuzz, feedback, energy and simple, back-to-basics hostility may be the right way to do it if ‘In and Out and Back Again’, the debut album from Woven Bones is anything to go by.
Barging their way straight out of Austin, Texas, Woven Bones weave a gnarly sort of rock and roll. From the raucous intro of opener ‘I’ll Be Running’, you understand that these guys can kick up some dirt and shake it off right into your eyes (and ears). They toy with intros and outros, leaving a trail of feedback in the wake of certain songs, as if pausing between each sonic battering. Woven Bones urge you to go see them onstage, using their recordings as a tease, and you know that hearing the likes of ‘Blind Conscience’ live would shatter an eardrum or two.
You can feel the influence of punk and shoegaze coursing through the veins of this record, imbuing it with that vital anarchic sense. It can be argued that the sluggish nature of the tracks sound a little offhand and obnoxious, with the whole record racking in at less than half an hour. All considered, and after a good headphone session, this hasty attitude eventually drones its way to a mesmerizing result.
The superbly sullen vibe of ‘Creepy Bone’ digs its way through a heap of riff to groan at you with a vibe I can only describe as ‘sheer swagger’. The short sharp blasts of each track, from the plod of ‘Half Sunk Into Seats’ to the rumble of ‘Seven Year Mirror’, slithers and juts along on waves of inspired detachment.
Woven Bones kick their way into music as a violent Velvet Underground, ploughing their way through nine noxious chunks of gutter rock. And though I use the term noxious, it can promise it’s a good kind of poison.
Words : Adam Parker
Saturday, 29 May 2010
The intensely lo-fi, DIY aesthetic that surrounds the crop of noiseniks that frequent LA’s The Smell club has thrown up some real gems. The blazing dance/noise mindfuck of HEALTH is always the first that springs to mind – for good reason, as they’re a reliably spectacular proposition – but No Age’s early-Trail Of Dead-isms and frequently unhinged brilliance from Lucky Dragons and The Mae Shi have all featured highly in my listening over the last few years. Despite the obvious aesthetic difference between all of these artists, the common thread is a restless willingness to experiment, fuck up the rulebook a bit and see what emerges from the other end.
Less so with Wounded Lion, who despite having a moniker that suggests intense, thrashy noize are more a back-to-basics proposition. Low fidelity very much intact, their songs are short and sharp deconstructions of what you might expect rock music to sound like – no frills, little in the way of complexity, just tiny nuggets of sweet and sour. It’s this simplicity that proves both their greatest strength and their greatest weakness: when they hit the spot, as with the three-minute hedonistic smash of ‘Creatures In The Creatures’ or the shouty, call-and-response pop of ‘Dagoba System’ (major props for the Star Wars reference), it’s a gloriously straightforward affirmation of rock’s reductive pleasure. At the same time, there are many moments on their self-titled debut that feel almost too stripped back, managing to sacrifice longevity at the same time as they rid their music of complexity. Despite their fantastic titles, both ‘Hanging In Ancient Circles’ and ‘Belt Of Orion’ breeze past in a pleasant but forgettable haze.
Further listens to the album begin to reveal the songs that carry the most weight – even if it’s just because, as at the end of ‘Pony People’, he appears to be repeatedly shouting “Aeros” – the trashy punk of ‘Black Socks’ has a pleasantly Eighties Matchbox feel, and ‘Hunan Province’ is probably the catchiest thing on here. But perhaps that’s not enough; as an entire album, Wounded Lion never quite manages to reach the heights these songs suggest they’re capable of scaling.
Words : Rory Gibb
Here we have Nika Roza Danilova, the driving force behind Zola Jesus's dark and broody melodies. Born and raised in Wisconsin she began making and recording music at the tender age of 16. Now 21 and with two albums and an EP under her belt, 2010 looks set to be a fantastic year for this doom pop sweetheart with another ep 'Stridulum' well on the way, showcasing a much more professional take on recording processes and an upcoming tour supporting Fever Ray.
announced dates supporting Fever Ray,hukouilj Zola Jesus has also confirmed a string of headline shows. Her full UK tour schedule is now:
Aug 31 Brighton Freebutt
Sept 1 London Camp Basement
Sept 2 Manchester Deaf Institute
Sept 3 Leeds Nation Of Shopkeepers
Sept 4 Glasgow Indian summer
Sept 5 Edinburgh Wolf Party presents @ Electric Cabaret
Sept 6 Glasgow ABC1 w/ Fever Ray
Sept 8 London Brixton Academy w/ Fever Ray
The main problem with Herve’s music, and that of a lot of his ilk – the whole fidget/blog house thing, mixed in with a bit of bassline for good measure – is that it’s typically so functional, so perfectly one dimensional, that it almost invariably comes across as a little sterile. Well, unless your idea of a good time is tweaking a synthesizer’s bass settings until it sounds like elastic sandpaper. The best dance music has real thought behind it and a bit of compositional nous, especially if a track is to last for longer than a couple of months in the clubs. Herve’s last Ghetto Bass compilation was fun but throwaway, and a difficult listen outside of a club environment due to its relatively relentless nature; this two disc sequel, imaginatively titled Ghetto Bass 2, picks up where that left off but offers more in the way of subtlety. Just a little of the stuff, but it goes a long way.
The first disc offers much the same fare as the first volume of the series: nervy, abrasive house, offset with chants, sliced vocals and a general sense of chaos. Proper dancefloor material then, and tough to absorb without a headful of some cheap stimulant or other. Max Morrell’s remix of The Glamour’s ‘Love Burn’ does a neat job of exemplifying the sheer simplicity of this kind of material. Consisting of a simple three note distorted bassline and hardly anything else, it’s less straightforward than simply dull and predictable. Still, several gems later in the first disc offer conclusive proof that it’s possible to work within this kind of heady, heavy rave framework and still produce excellent music. The acrid synth stabs and garage-esque beat of Hot City’s ‘Hot City Bass’ are deliciously acidic, and garage hero MJ Cole’s remix of L-Vis 1990’s ‘United Groove’ takes a swung funky beat as its template to suitably flexible effect.
One interesting trend that has emerged in the eight or nine months since the first Ghetto Bass came out is the increased use of syncopated, soca-styled drum patterns in this sort of blog house. It’s partly down to the rise of UK funky, and its hybrid practitioners like Night Slugs, as well as a general move away from the rigidity of simple 4/4 beat patterns. It certainly breaks up the momentum quite nicely, but it’s hard not to feel that artists like L-Vis 1990, Bok Bok and Greena are making music that’s infinitely more interesting, and far more danceable, than the majority of the producers on Ghetto Bass 2.
Words : Rory Gibb
Thursday, 27 May 2010
Having watched A Place to Bury Strangers perform in a club basement at 1am in Shoreditch just 4 nights previous, the loudness and intensity of New York trio’s performance was so overwhelming that I had to check out their second London gig in a matter of days at Heaven on Tuesday. If anything I was as intrigued as to how APTBS would compare in terms of the difference of venue size. With both gigs being only a few days apart, it was as if their Friday night show in the CAMP venue at East London’s Stag & Dagger festival was like a secret warm up gig to this 1000 capacity show. But in many ways both sets were different yet still had me leaving the venue with a mind blowing sense of euphoria.
So anyway, we arrived at Heaven, missing the start of the first support act but did still manage to catch the last 2 and a bit songs in their set. However, I had perhaps regretted slightly not getting their sooner. The Megaphonic Thrift impressed me with their use of shared male/female vocals drowned with some extreme guitar feedback. Combining the louder elements of Shoegaze with a certain noise pop.
Crocodiles (below) were the next support act on. Now, I was pleased to notice earlier that day that they were playing this show, because I have missed out on checking them at various opportunities this year, including The Great Escape festival just the other week as well as enjoying their recent singles. And they managed to fit in with the APTBS aesthetic with their lo-fi sound and heavy pop elements yet still trying to contain as much of a rock ‘n’ roll image as possible, with the lead singer dressed in black and wearing shades in a dark room. The lighting was also impressive, focussing on the colour red to juxtapose with their dark imagery.
The closer towards the start of the main act, the more and more crowded the room had become. APTBS came onto the stage at approximately just gone 10pm and launched straight into ‘In Your Heart’. They continued their loud set with a mixture of tracks from both their self titled debut and last years incredible follow up ‘Exploding Head’, comparing to Friday night’s show which focused primarily on their latest. This performance I feel did take a few tracks before it began to replicate the energy and ferociousness of their CAMP set but once they were in full swing there was no stopping them. One thing I noticed was how much Oliver Ackermann’s vocals stood out this time. Where as a few days earlier they seemed a lot more drowned out in the mix, much to the similarity of Kevin Shields’ vocals for My Bloody Valentine. Either this or that the guitars were quieter than they intended to be at Heaven, but either way, both sounded equally amazing but for different reasons. My highlight of their set was the epic climax, with an extended performance and build up of ‘I Live My Life to Stand in the Shadow of Your Heart’ which many expected to be the finale. However, after a couple of minutes of noise the trio subtly worked their way into ‘Ocean’ which ultimately would be the set closer, meaning the crowd emphatically left the venue with their ears ringing excruciatingly, as a Bury Strangers gig should do.
My journey home left me contemplating how much of an impression APTBS leave on people. Having an extremely dedicated group of fans, I didn’t realise how popular they really are after witnessing these two gigs by them inside a week, and I firmly believe they have the ability to become a fairly massive underground alternative band for years to come. So far, they certainly have the songs and the stage performance to back that up.
Words : Freddy Rothman
Pics : Lee Massey
Californian noise maker Nathan Williams aka Wavves are set to follow up last years explosive 'Wavvves' with new LP 'King of the Beach', which you can check out the lovely artwork for below. Released on August 2nd on Bella Union records. Further details to come when we get them!
Lets hope he's settled down a bit after last years whirlwind. Nice to see he's back making music again anyway. We can't wait!
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Here we have it, my all time favourite band Mogwai are offering a chance for you to download a live version of the beautiful 'New Paths To Helicon Pt 1' taken from their new live CD/DVD combo. Naturally the song sounds absolutely stunning and is a perfect teaser for what could well be the best music related film of the year.
New Paths To Helicon Pt 1
Sitting in blazing sunshine in the midst of that a rare and beautiful English spell of Saharan weather, it seems fitting that a twee pop album full of ukeleles, summer wonderment and softly sung tales of love should be fluttering into my ears.
Allo Darlin’ are truly set to be darlings of the indie pop scene with the imminent release of their self-titled, debut album, imbued with a carefree attitude of nonchalance that flutters the heartstrings.
Opener ‘Dreaming’ sets the tone for the record with the title, forging a light-hearted, hazy beginning that spirals throughout. An upbeat beginning powers forth until it comes to the heart of the storm so to speak, in two slow and steady tracks caught in the middle of the album. ‘Heartbeat Chilli’ tells a tale of the love wrapped up in food preparation whilst ‘If Loneliness Was Art’ muses on that oh so often explored indie isolation. A cinematic trip in ‘Woody Allen’ quips its way to a cultural crescendo, showcasing the breadth of lyrical entanglement Allo Darlin’ churn up. The jarring switch from frolics to reflection initially acts as a blot on the jaunty journey we were heading on, throwing the brakes on the merriment. However, repeated listening brings a new admiration for the calm contemplation at the centre of the indie summer, as the sentiment slowly sinks itself into your skin.
It is easy to understand that some could see the overblown twee as a terribly throwaway tyrant on indie music but I say those individuals simply have no sunbeams in their life. Doom and gloom in indie is all fine and dandy to a point but the outstanding track, ‘Let’s Go Swimming’, meanders with such grace and bright melody, sunshine and smiles cannot stay away. It’s the tale of a day of summer spent in Sweden with Elizabeth Morris almost murmuring "All of the punks in Camden could never shout about it, all of the hipsters in Shoreditch could never style it, all of the bankers in Moorgate could never buy it for you, this is simple and it's true." A gorgeous feeling with vocals and guitars that drift along on a summers breeze; what more could you want from a summer anthem?
I came away after a few listens with hazy vision, bleary from the heart wrenching love and care instilled into the creation of such a quietly blissful record (that and I managed to lose two pairs of sunglasses over one weekend, allowing my eyes to stare unguarded at the blazing sun overhead).
Words : Adam Parker
Following from their electrifying performance at the recent Matt Groening curated All Tomorrows Parties festival, Bay Area psych garage punk heroes Thee Oh Sees will hit the UK early next month with a 5 night tour. Coinciding with the release of their new LP 'Warm Slime' which is out on the May 31st.
Catch Thee Oh Sees at the following UK dates:
01-Jun Manchester Deaf Institute
02-Jun Newcastle The Cluny
03-Jun Glasgow Captains Rest
04-Jun Leeds Brudenell
05-Jun London Luminaire
In the build up to The Acorn's upcoming album 'No Ghost' we have the Four Tet remix of one of their amazing new tracks Restoration.
The lovely people over at Digital Artist interviewed Middle Boop's Gordon Reid for the latest issue out this week. As well as the interview they also featured the Middle Boop blog in the reviews section.
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Talk to the right people and you will come to realise that Ariel Rosenberg, the man behind ‘Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’ has been on the West Coast scene as far back as 1996 but despite a dedicated cult following they really didn’t start to make waves until 2004 when ‘The Doldrums’ was released via Paw Tracks, Animal Collective’s label that also boasts Dent May and Black Dice as some of it’s worthy members. Having been a champion of the Lo-Fi aesthetic that has seen so many rise to fame over the last few years ‘Before Today’ is a step into unknown territory for Ariel Pink, their début for 4AD comes at a time when so many art forms are harking back to retro stylings as seemingly some sort of mass rebellion against the computer and modern age, music has been at the forefront of that rebellion and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti are at the top of that list.
Each song beautifully, crafted at the infamous Encino at the House of Blues studio tells a different tale each more surreal and downright extreme than the last, managing to merge 60’s funk, early Gabriel fronted Genesis, heavy rock and 80’s synth pop and make it sound insanely fresh and exciting. It’s a hard thing mixing in so many different genres and with so many styles going on a record like this could easily go horribly wrong. Fortunately for Ariel Pink and his Haunted Graffiti, an unruly mob made up of a number of characters from LA’s underground scene, the chemistry between the four of them is just right and they make the balancing of so many different genres seem easy. Ironically if this had been released 30 or 40 years ago it probably would have been hated but 2010 is perfect timing for a record as daring as this, these guys are a real find.
As one song ends and the next one begins, something completely different is brought to the plate. Take ‘L'estat (Acc. To The Widow's Maid)’ for instance, it starts off as a twee indie pop number before everything goes silent and a mass psych freak out ensues ending in a prog style break down making the likes of Wakeman envious. ‘Round And Round’ is an experimental take on 60’s funk whilst ‘Fright Night (Nevermore)´ fits in dense layers of synth over softly echoed vocals whilst Menopause Man showcases more clearly than most their fairly tongue-in-cheek outlook with a song based around sex change, dark lyrics such as ‘break me, castrate me, make me gay.’
Ariel Pink are a rarity for sure, no other band in existence can reel in and experiment with so many different genres yet still retain such a shrill, enviable pop aesthetic. When ‘Before Today’ drops on June 7th I implore you to go get your groove on and come and listen to possibly the coolest band on the planet right now.
Words : Gordon Reid
There is a certain air of mystery around this Highland Park sextet. Masks and aliases cover their true identities and their music, just as mysterious. Their second album 'Part II: The New December' out later on in the summer will continue where their much loved début 'Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune's Made' left off, with dark, angular pop songs deriving from jaunty glitches and guitar lines with funky bass lines making for a rather sinister listen.
Slipknot bassist Paul Gray was found dead at the Town Plaza hotel in Urbandale, Iowa today. An autopsy is planned for tomorrow. The death is not being treated as suspicious.
Prior to his death, Gray had been working with a new supergroup featuring members of Judas Priest and Sepultura called Hail!.
Monday, 24 May 2010
Brooklyn based sextet White Rabbits are currently just about ready to take the nation by storm. After the recent release of second album 'It's Frightening' via Mute and an exuberant performance on last weeks Jools Holland where they stole the show from the likes of Yeasayer and Jeff Beck, White Rabbits today release 'They Done Wrong / We Done Wrong,' a four minute catchy-as-hell showcase as to just why these boys are bound for greatness. The bouncy bassline played over subtle piano work and jangly guitars steers the track in a more fun direction making it an altogether joy to listen to.
Friday, 21 May 2010
Here is the freaky new video from the wonderful Cocorosie. They were one of the many highlights from Matt Groening's ATP a few weeks ago.
Lemonade is taken from their fourth album Grey Oceans which was released earlier this month on Sub Pop.
The final day of the Great Escape, and I woke up feeling much fresher than the previous two days. Probably because I had a proper bed to sleep in this time. It was approximately midday so me and a friend went into town for this amazing cooked breakfast at the most punk rock café I’ve been to, called The Kensington. After going our separate ways I needed to find a pub that was showing the FA Cup final, so I literally stopped at the first place I could find that was showing it, which happened to be a Varsity which had a relatively mixed crowd of football fans and music fans. The result? A 1-0 for Chelsea and a brilliant game so I knew I would be in a positive mood for the remainder of the evening.
So anyway, I’m meant to be talking about a music festival so first up for me on Saturday was Broken Social Scene (below). Having been an admirer of the of the Canadian collective for quite some time I have to admit I’ve been slightly out of touch of their most recent albums despite still listening to ‘You Forgot it in People’ and the self titled every so often. They arrived on stage much to the delight of the Corn Exchange crowd, welcoming them with an uplifting set consisting of tracks from their new album ‘Forgiveness Rock Record’ as well as some older classics such as ‘Stars and Sons’, ‘Cause = Time’ and ‘7/4 (Shoreline)’. As brilliant as much of their set was I couldn’t help but feel a tad bored during much of it however, wanting certain tracks to finish and move on to the next song. Although, I wont let this put me off listening to them or even seeing them live in the future because I am still greatly fond of them, but on this occasion BSS failed to grip me perhaps as much as I hoped.
As I was unsure who to see next, I was requested by a friend to head over to the Komedia Studio bar where The Agitator were playing. It took me a while to get my head round the duo consisting of a singer The Big Mouth (Derek Mains) and a very talented percussionist going by the name of Robert Dylan Thomas aka The Big Beat. The Big Mouth kind of reminded me of the soulful vocal talents of Jamie Lidell but with extra shouty elements, and their overall stage persona came across like upmarket street buskers. A complete contrast to everything else I’d seen over the weekend but was a refreshing change none the less.
So having clash of artists next up, it was a toss up between And So I watch You From Afar and Slow Club (below), I decided on the latter, simply as it was closer to where we were. Gigging at the beautiful Unitarian Church, we had trouble getting in at first as the venue was jam packed. Even having to rely on peeping through the entrance at one stage to catch a glimpse. Yet once we were comfortably located inside, we witnessed the Indie/Folk Pop duo (yes, another 2-piece...) perform a stunning set within the perfect surroundings, performing tracks from their album debut album as well as their EP’s and newer material. Slow Club were no doubt my surprise highlight of the festival and have since been hearing ‘Yeah So’ in a different light since the weekend.
So the final musical mission of the Great Escape weekend was to see Esben at the Witch at the Duke of York Cinema. Sounds crazy I know but it managed to work in such a surreal setting. Having got to the venue with plenty of time, we were able to catch a good twenty minutes of Erland and the Carnival (below). Another first time viewing on a weekend of wonderful discoveries. Their array of quirky folk pop impressed me with an energetic performance and instrumental talent. Appearances varied in the line up with some band members looking distinctively younger than others. Think Mystery Jets with the vision and attitude of The Coral.
Having already played earlier that evening the hometown trio were set for their 12.45am second show of the night. So, sat in the extremely comfortable front row seat of the theatre, beer in hand, lights went dark and Esben and the Witch entered the stage. A band who many music publications have predicted big things for this year rightfully acclaimed their praise with a production of sound, displaying a haunting yet magical performance of psychedelic tales with an awe of rhythmic precision.
It seems only the Great Escape can play host to alternative music concerts at bizarre venues like churches and movie theatre’s and can easily get away with it. The Sunday consisted of more wondering and exploring the streets of Brighton, and the afternoon train journey back to London left me analysing my final thoughts on the weekend. I’ve been to various music festivals that tend to attract a more music industry based audience, such as ATP, Primavera Sound and the Camden Crawl, but what’s unique about The Great Escape is that its not just about going to shows. It seems to have become an annual meeting place for media press from around the country which further more, holds talks and conferences from some of some important names the industry. However, I can imagine it might have been frustrating for punters who had purchased a ticket as their seemed to be some ridiculously long queues outside some of the venues playing host to bigger acts such as The Cribs, Groove Armada and Chase and Status. In addition, having 30 different venues in just one evening can lead to some frustrating clash of artists but at least you have plenty of options to choose from. Id say its more the discovery of new and unheard music which makes this event all the more special. All in all a very productive weekend of new music and is fair to say that the Great Escape 2010 has rekindled my love Brighton again!
Words: Freddy Rothman
Pictures : Andy Sturmey:
Thursday, 20 May 2010
Day 2 began quietly. Feeling very hung over and having very little sleep I decided to spend much of the morning exploring the sights of Brighton and even attending one of the festivals many industry conferences. The afternoon consisted of meeting some friends and chilling in a beer garden surrounded by the many festival goers in the gorgeous sunshine. Which leads on to my first gig of the day. Hearing through the grapevine that The Futureheads (above) were due to play a surprise set outside the Above Audio, we decided to go check that out. Instead of waiting in the massive queue, we opted for a decent view in the beer garden next door, and the Sunderland post-punk-pop act managed to wow the audience to a short set of hits from their 4 LP back catalogue.
Next up my good friend Sidonie and I walked along the sea front with towards Life, to see the bedroom electronica sounds of Dam Mantle. However, despite squeezing into the tiny packed out room where he was performing inside the nightclub turned venue, we got to witness one track and that’s where his set ended. So we then cracked open a couple of cans walked along towards the Komedia Theatre, whilst getting stopped and photographed with a giant panda (above), ready in time to see the amazing Cate Le Bon (below). Initially suffering a couple of minor technical difficulties at the start, Cate and her band went on to majestically perform a beautiful display of songs from her stunning album ‘Me Oh My’, much to the delight of the crowd.
The next venture for us was back to the Audio. This time inside the venue for Japandroids (below). One of my favourite bands from the past couple of years performed an extremely energetic set composing of tracks from ‘Post Nothing’ and their two early EP’s. The packed crowd were clearly enjoying it as well, going crazy amongst an epic mosh-pit. Whilst successfully debuting a never performed track and finishing their set with the live favourite ‘Young Hearts Spark Fire’, The spectators' reaction to the Vancouver duo sparked extreme gratiousness from a band finalising their second Brighton gig of the weekend. Another job well done left me pleasantly leaving the venue aching and sweating, reminiscent of the punk shows I attended in my teens.
My next tip of the day were Fiery Furnaces at the Pavilion. However, seeing as the start of their set intertwined with the end of Japandroids, we arrived only for me to devistatingly find a MASSIVE queue! Looking at the timetable and noticing that Wild Beasts were on directly after, frustratingly explained the long wait and I was gutted to realise there would be no chance of making it for the end of Fiery Furnaces set. So instead we went along to a bar with some people for a few more drinks, ultimately failing to witness any more live music that evening.
Words: Freddy Rothman
Pictures: Andy Sturmey.
When I was told to go and report of the Great Escape festival in Brighton I was left with a feeling of 98% delight and excitement, and the rest, anxiety. The reason behind that 2% was that until now I’d never gone to a festival by myself and although being in a city I have been to on a few wonderful occasions, seeing the excruciating amount of venues on the map it did leave me thinking "how am I gonna find all these places?" But fear not. Through simply walking through the city you manage realise that Brighton isn’t all that big where the majority of venues you’ll be looking for are right there. Even realising I HAD been to a some of these places before. It would ultimately turn out to be fun fuelled weekend of sunshine, bands, seaside drinking and FA Cup final elation.
So the weekend started on Thursday morning. Notes written, bags packed, I was ready for my surprisingly quick train journey from Raynes Park to Brighton. Arriving at the station, my next mission was to find the hostel. 45 minutes or so of taking an extremely longer than necessary route I was finally there, checked in. Now my next task was to go into town and find the delegates area to sort out my press photo and wristband and meet up with some fellow associates, with plenty of time before the evening gigs started. Arriving at the delegate area to a free goody bag and complimentary cans of Red Stripe and Relentless energy drinks, I could see this was going to be a very good weekend!
Despite stumbling across random sound checks and extracts of showcases, my first real gig of the day was delightful Tweak Bird, at the Hope. I had never really listened to them before but was informed that they were like a quirky 2-piece in the vein of Japandroids so I thought I would check them out. Their fusion of progressive, yet psych-infused garage rock turned out to be a worthwhile decision inside a packed venue which gave the place a vibrant atmosphere.
Next, was on to the Freebutt, which looked on the programme map like it was far out of the way, but actually wasn’t. Although in comparison to everywhere else, it was. Anyway, the initial reason to head there was for Still Flyin’ but as they were not due for an hour or so we managed to catch the majority of Silver Columns’ (above) set. A so far recurring theme of duo’s witnessed, but this 2-piece were a brilliant creative fusion of Indie Electro-Pop in a similar vein to Hot Chip and Of Montreal. Their stage persona featured a talented array of instruments performed, including drumming amongst the crowd which was an entertaining sight and a band you must see if you get the chance. Following Silver Columns were the San Franciscan collective Still Flyin’ (below). Having spoken to founding member Sean Rawls earlier that afternoon he seemed genuinely happy to be in the country and at the Great Escape. As were the hardcore following that had come to see their double Thursday showcase, they weren’t to be disappointed as they scrawled through the pop gems from their debut LP ‘Never Gonna Touch the Ground’ with some equally fun new tracks to boot.
Next on the agenda was an alternative escape show from Here We Go Magic at the Loft. A band who id been looking forward too seeing all week and there was certainly no anti-climax. Luke Temple and his band breathtakingly fused a cocktail of both their albums into their set. Opening with the under looked track ‘Moon’ from their new album Pigeons which seemed to have a stronger build up live than on recording. Up and coming single ‘Collecter’ gained the biggest crowd reaction but it wasn’t until they began playing tracks from their debut self titled LP when you noticed the audience being transfixed into their loud, psychedelic drones, climaxing with the epic ‘Tunnelvision’.
As I was feeling a bit gone at this stage I was ready to hit the hay but as I got talking to some people I was encouraged to stay around and catch Wild Palms who were playing their 1.30am slot directly after. So I did, and their synth based Indie rock 'n' roll had people dancing. But it wasn’t until later on that weekend I noticed people saying encouraging things about them, and could see based on that performance that they have a exciting future. So I finally headed back to the hostel and drunkenly bumping into the guys from Still Flyin’ on the walk back, waved goodbye to a very successful day one.
Words and pictures: Freddy Rothman
Just to clarify any confusion, this isn't the title of record. But Glasgow based Post-Hardcore heroes Dananananakroyd ARE going to play three super low key gigs which they have titled "The Sissy Hits"!
Having spent the past six months holed up in Scotland writing songs for their as yet unnamed second album, the band will next week hit London, Cardiff and Manchester to play the material, before performing at a few select festivals and recording the long player.
Catch them play 'The Sissy Hits' exclusively at these venues on these dates:
28 LONDON The Lexington
29 CARDIFF Clwb Ifor Bach
30 MANCHESTER The Corner
Then at these festivals:
31 NEWCASTLE Evolution Festival
13 SCOTLAND Rock Ness Festival
1 KENDAL Kendal Calling Festival
8 TUNBRIDGE WELLS Hevy Festival
The lovely guys at Brighton based magazine Spindle host their official launch party tonight at Madame Geisha on Brighton's East Street. The evening is set to play host to a catwalk display of high standard of cutting edge talent. Not to mention the exclusive Spindle Cocktail and a variety of live bands and DJ's.
If you know any of the talented people that contribute to Spindle do come and support them tonight as it should be amazing! But remember its GUESTLIST only so make sure you request your name on their facebook event!
Spindle Magazine is a FREE fashion, art & design and music publication filled with innovative fashion photography and styling. The unique aspect of that is that the magazine will focus majorly on imagery, illistration and exclusive written music and arts content, where as the website will cater more towards, reviews, press releases and listings.
You can pick up your copy of Spindle at selected stores, shops and bars across Brighton and parts on London. Or if you're unfortunate not to live in the south of England (especially these two cities), then get in touch directly to heather@spindlemagazine to recieve a copy.
Wednesday, 19 May 2010
Let's face it, these guys are going to be very big this year and whether you like it or not, they have got some very catchy songs 'Forever & Ever Amen' being one of them.
Their self titled début album is out on June 7th, but you already knew that didn't you?
Show 1: Devendra Banhart
Support: Rozi Plain
Ticket Price: £15.00
Venue: Koko, 1a Camden High Street, London, NW1 7JE
Date: Sunday 4th July 2010
Description: Freak folk figurehead hits the capital in support of latest album What Will We Be
Show 2: Sleepy Sun
Ticket Price: £10.00
Venue: Bush Hall, 310 Uxbridge Road, London, W12 7LJ
Date: Tuesday 17th August 2010
Age: All ages. Under 18's must be accompanied by an adult.
Description: San Francisco psych-rockers on ATP Recordings return to support new album 'Fever'.
Show 3: Beach House
Ticket Price: £14.00
Venue: Shepherds Bush Empire, Shepherds Bush Green, London
Date: Tuesday 23rd November 2010
Age: All ages (with the exception of under 5’s). Under 14's to be accompanied.
Description: After playing a stunning series of shows both at a sold out Bush Hall and to rapturous applause supporting Grizzly Bear at The Roundhouse, Beach House will return to London this November to play Shepherd's Bush Empire.
It is a very sad day for fans of heavy riff-tastic post-metal as Isis have decided to call it a day after 13 years.
If you have yet to listen to their music then pick up a copy of 'Celestial' or 'Oceanic'... Actually scrap that and listed to their entire back catalogue and prepared to get your minds blown!
They will however, undergo their up and coming US and Canadian tour which will ultimately be their final shows. Beginning on May 26th in San Diego and ending on June 23rd in Montreal. Full details of their split are announced here on their blog.
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
Starting off as a two piece, the Chicago based Light Pollution create fantastic tunes that feel like a Lo-Fi shoegaze outfit. After a long winter spent hauled up in an abandoned warehouse writing their debut, it is now ready for release in early June via Carpark and with tours booked around America with the likes of A Place To Bury Strangers and This Will Destroy You, Keep an eye out for this lot.
Middle Boop favourite School Of Seven Bells will release the latest single from their forthcoming album Disconnect from Desire on
The beautiful single Windstorm was premièred on Pitchfork yesterday and can be heard underneath.
Monday, 17 May 2010
When ‘Majestic’, the opening track on Wax Fang’s debut album spun through my speakers for the first time, I feared the worst I have to admit. Not that the track is dull in any way or with any lack of musical creativity, it just came across to me as a bit over dramatic and perhaps wishy-washy. However, the longer ‘La La Land’ progressed the more I grew into it.
Musically it is certainly more of an upbeat record, even if track titles such as ‘World War II (Part 2)’ and ‘Black & Endless Night Revisited’ suggest otherwise. The former almost blending in from the first track show that these guys mean business and ‘La La Land’ continues in this sort of vein on many of the tracks. We come across some magnificent guitar playing on this record. Founding member Scott Carney displays a sort of technique that may be reminiscent of Warren Ellis of The Bad Seeds and Dirty Three fame, or the orchestrated feel of Do Make Say Think. ‘Doctor Will See You Now’ and the instrumental prog rock number ‘Avant Guardian Angel Dust’ are fine examples of this. His vocal technique is interesting of which the sound kind of reminds me of David Tibet of Current 93, although I sometimes end up thinking that he should maybe focus more on his guitar playing.
As well as the upbeat tracks, the Kentucky trio provide us with a more melodic side to expand on the sounds variety. The gorgeous instrumental soundscapes of ‘At Sea’ would be fitting on a film soundtrack and again they effectively blend the track in with the next song ‘Cannibal Summer’. Another example of the slower side of Wax Fang include ‘Woh, Recklessness’ which for me gives a less stronger impact that some other tracks may do.
So a vital tip to be given when listening to a band for the very first time, and that is to never judge an act by one track, as I really did think I was going to hate this after the first song. But you know what? It’s not that bad.
Words: Freddy Rothman
This Bay Area four piece are gearing up for the release of an album that could well excel these guys to the heights they deserve. It just feels like the right time to be coming out with a record like 'Warm Slime,' It's dirty, scuzzy and loud. The sort of relief that's needed as the lo-fi scene is simmering down somewhat and people are wanting more than just echoed nonchalant vocals and jangly guitar lines. Thee Oh Sees aren't new on the block, this will actually be their eleventh album but with a ton of bands such as Wooden Shjips careering this sort of desert psych noise with great success (having just supported Pavement)and heads have been turning for a little while now. With a prolific performance at last week's ATP to which anyone who was there will argue was one of the highlights of an excellent weekend, by the time Thee Oh Sees head over to these shores in June people will be talking about the next step for the Lo-Fi band and this could very well be it.
screeching guitars are played over bluesy bass lines and space age synth noises which, mixed together creates a sound that is as awkwardly pleasing to the ear. Warm Slime is a bold statement if nothing else, about how confident this band are, you only have to look as far as the opening title track, a fourteen minute groovy psych frenzy to realise what they are capable of. We're let off the hook a little with the next track 'I Was Denied' a much more palatable affair still ripe with fuzz before John Dwyer and his twelve string beast get into full swing for 'Flash Bats' with feedback more piercing than a Sonic Youth concert and 'Mega-Feast' which is indeed a tasty feast of noise.
The more I listen to Thee Oh Sees the more I start to think how easily this album could end up in my top ten for the year, it improves with every listen.
I Was Denied
Words : GR
Here we have the latest single from Laura Marling's critically acclaimed second album 'I Speak Because I Can.'
As we have come to expect from Marling the song is carried by her stunning voice backed by subtle folk influenced acoustic guitar works creating a truly heart-warming three minutes, despite the fairly bleak lyrics.
Marling has already achieved so much, having collaborated with The Rakes, Mystery Jets and Noah and the Whale despite being only just 20 and Rambling Man is another fine example of maturity in her song writing ability.
Sunday, 16 May 2010
Intense psychedelic desert vibes coming from the ultra exciting label 'In The Red,' the same people who brought you Black Lips, Vivian Girls and one of my recent favourites Thee Oh Sees. In the fine stylings of lo-fi we have dirty, fuzzed up guitars, vocals distorted almost beyond reproach and songs that rarely reach over three minutes. The sinister approach to new album 'American Crow' has essences of when Eighties Matchbox were recording good music.
Friday, 14 May 2010
It’s that time of the year again, May is here and with that comes the start of the long festival season and what better way to start it than with quite possibly the best festival this country has to offer, ATP. It offers the avid festival goer a chance to see the best, most eclectic of lineups, whilst having a roof over your head and a chance to get drunk and go swim in the sea amongst many other things. If you’re reading this site then chances are you’ve already heard of/ been to ATP on a number of occasions, let’s face it, it’s not the industries best kept secret any more but for those who haven’t, it’s set in Butlins and it is simply a delight from start to finish. Where else on earth do you have the opportunity to watch an intense set by Broadcast or Boredoms with seven drummers and then chill out in the Jacuzzi?
Blowing the dust off of my swimming shorts knowing fairly well that the only way these babies would actually get wet over the weekend was if I accidentally spilt beer on them (the intentions were there) I headed from London as far west as possible without stumbling into Wales for yet another amazing weekend.
One thing I love about the festival is the intimacy of the whole event, I only needed to pull into the Tesco’s just round the corner from the site to see hoards of people I knew, some of which I’d seen a few days ago, some I hadn’t seen since last ATP but all were asking that question would the man himself, Matt Groening be there? And although I didn’t have the answers at that point I did pose the question, would a man who has just been asked to curate a three day party involving all of his favourite bands and whose music tastes span as far wide as the Tiger Lillies and The Residents really want to be stuck in a studio somewhere in downtown L.A. drawing cartoons? I don’t think so.
When we finally arrived and sorted our room after a minor incident involving showing Liars my arse we headed straight to Centre Stage, a venue that usually caters for acts such as Peter Andre abreast with cool flashing lights and poles surrounding the venue. Something that would usually be lost on the embarrassing number of people that normally traipse here to see some ungodly pop act but it seems to fit the mood just right for many acts over the weekend. First up was historical set by Broadcast, a band in which you seldom see live, in the grand scheme of things a music lover is more likely to get a press pass to a Pink Floyd reunion than a Broadcast gig so it felt pretty special watching the duo and although the first half of the set which was described as really good background noise by a friend, it was totally overshadowed by the second half where the on stage experimentation with sound and truly beautiful motion on a big screen flourished. They pulled of a magical set ploughing through a vast collection of great songs with the bar being raised unbelievably high for the weekend.
Cold Cave were one of my highlights of late last year playing dark, fuzzed up Kraut Rock inspired dance and whilst it didn’t seem to appeal to everyone I thought they were fantastic, although their three way synth noise blasts would have catered better later on in the evening or even the last act rather than the afternoon.
After a much needed fast food hit it was time for the main event of the day, Iggy and his wonderful Stooges playing ATP’s main stage, the Pavilion. The man is a living legend and one of the most charismatic lead singers in the business, he just seems so at home on stage throwing himself about the stage and at one point getting masses of fans on stage and wandering around going ‘hey man, stick around, take a picture, it’s cool,’ he had the crowd hanging off his every word and when ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ dropped, the place erupted.
For a band that has been going over 25 years I found it amazing that I had never heard of Shonen Knife before (although due to the fact I was at ATP I pretended I had as I’m sure many did) but as with every ATP, this would be a weekend of many discoveries and this Japanese punk pop trio are high on my list of bands to Spotify.
In what seemed like thirty seconds between bands we had one of the highlights of the weekend. Liars, fresh from the shock of seeing my arse earlier took the infamous 1 am slot. Their full frontal intensity did not let up, ploughing through a career-spanning set of new and old. Considering my love for 2007’s ‘Liars’ their new album hadn’t caught me yet, but after hearing material from their latest album Sisterworld live I have most certainly realised the error of my ways and finally got it! I haven’t stopped listening to it since. The highlight for me was, ‘Plaster Casts Of Everything’ which set me off in a frenzy of dancing and jumping as with ‘Clear Island’ their set was unlike any I have ever heard live, Angus Andrew didn’t stop moving, hurling himself around the stage, commanding the crowd before him.
Liars have cemented the fact that their live sets are a force to be reckoned with.
Friday was a quiet night, in fact this ATP was relatively quiet compared to others which was a shock as it’s probably the strongest line-up I’ve seen for a long time (that said, they do surprise me every year.) Myself and some friends stumbled upon a party that would turn out to be talk of the weekend, a chalet that was turned into some kind of ‘Club Tropicana’ esq bar with dj’s, big lights and a properly schooled bartender serving up wicked cocktails for free. We later found out that the party was put on by Diesel, unbeknownst to the good people that put the festival on. It’s kind of cool knowing that the only way corporate sponsors can infiltrate ATP’s walls is by literally buying a ticket, turning up and hoping for the best.
Saturday started with possibly the best hangover cure known to man. Boredoms performing Boadrum. A nine piece ensemble featuring seven drummers one being carried through the crowd partway through the first song, never have I seen such an intense performance with each drummer pounding the hell out of their kit whilst the front-man switches from some form of eight way guitar and various obscure percussion instruments. It really has to be seen to be believed.
After that all I could do was sit and let music wash over me a bit so thankfully the next few bands provided the perfect relief. Danielson played fairly unimpressive indie pop but it did allow time to get my head together before Deerhunter who really test the limits of the Pavillion stage, their music fit that mid day time slot so well with old favourites ‘Nothing Ever Happened’ and ‘Never Stops´ waking the crowd from their sombre state.
Despite being around forty years, this was the first I’d heard of The Residents and they blew my mind. With a stage show vaguely resembling that of an early Genesis show if Peter Gabriel was a psychotic old man writhing around the stage in his underpants (no...Not Phil Collins.) Their performance art was a thing of beauty and craziness.
Amadou and Mariam provided the pavilion with a chance to dance like hell to their cheery array of African Samba beats which certainly lifted the mood after The Residents freakout.
Thanks to a tip off from a friend who works for the festival we headed to the rarely used ‘Jumpin Jacks’ club to see a one off jam with J. Spaceman, some of the Boredoms drummers and Konono No.1 which was great to watch although Spacemans contribution was nothing more than creating feedback over some otherwise awesome world music.
Thee Oh Sees were one of the highlights of the weekend, the four piece create psychedelic party rock which set the pit off into a state of frenzy, the thirteen minute ‘Warm Slime’ showed that this band can really kick out the jams creating well executed noise and feedback through lead singer John Dwyer‘s twelve string monster of a guitar.
Keeping the tempo well and truly up, James Chance provided a set of truly dirty New York funk, with his huge quiff and white suit he proceeded to wow the crowd with his unrelenting sax playing and dancing.
After such a crazy night for all involved there was no surprise that Sunday was the quietest day of all, after finally dragging ourselves out of the chalet we went and saw Tiger Lillies, introduced by mr Groening himself, the ultimate avante-garde trio started off with a few slower numbers which got me a little weepy but thankfully once lead singer picked up his accordion the gig became more of a creepy cabaret show. There is nothing else like these guys.
Spiritualised looked really epic but to be honest it never really caught me. After such a crazy Saturday I’m not sure many of us were up for the underwhelming sounds and despite a full orchestra and choir we gave them the standard fifteen minutes and then moved on.
Playing the second of two shows The XX were a big surprise, partly because I had seen them the night before and was unimpressed but secondly because there was hardly anyone there. By this point it was a mixture of people already gone home, were crashing out or watching The Raincoats downstairs but either way, seeing The XX play to about 200 other people was pretty special, with so much hype about them last year it was great to see them pull it off to a crowd of people who really don’t like hyped bands.
Cocorosie took the final slot of the weekend and filled it with some of the most delicate, beautiful songs of the weekend. Their amazingly charming catchy tunes mixed in so many genres, it was such a pleasure to watch.
I arrived back home a shadow of my former self, a broken man. I extended my deadlines, checked myself in at the doctors, bought the entire Broadcast back catalogue and can’t wait until the Christmas events. Once again ATP has proved that it truly is the best music festival in the country.
Words : Gordon Reid
Photos : Francesca Jones
: Matthew Pratt