Friday, 30 July 2010
The last few years have seen drum ‘n’ bass in a strange state, largely neutered of its restlessly experimental, pioneering bent that saw the genre’s early practitioners consistently pushing the boundaries of UK-centric dance music. So many producers seem content to mine the same furrows, the same beats, similar themes, leaving a huge proportion of releases simply treading water, rather than making their predecessors’ efforts to innovate. There are, of course, exceptions – the Autonomic duo of Instra:mental and dBridge, along with several of their close contemporaries, are stripping drum ‘n’ bass back to its barest essentials. The result does for the genre what dubstep did the garage, stripping away its excesses to leave a shell of melody and rhythm upon which to build.
The problem, then, with listening to a great proportion of contemporary drum ‘n’ bass straight after spending some time with the Autonomic crew, is that it’s hard not to desire a little more subtlety. In some ways that might sound like a challenge, but the best music to have come out of the post-jungle axis has always thrived on experimentation and musicality. So listening to DJ Fresh’s latest is a real mixed bag; when he tones down the obvious, by shifting the beat away from your typical steppers’ rhythm, or peels away the acerbic electro synths that pepper the album, Kryptonite reveals more of itself. Then again, Fresh’s vision has always been aimed squarely at an open dancefloor, so it’s hard to criticize something for being as successful in its function as it clearly is. Still, the finest moments come at unexpected points – the title track rides off a lean, bumpy rhythm that makes the most of drum ‘n’ bass’ ability to force strange movement out of dancers, and aquatic tryst towards dubstep tempo ‘Chacruna’ drifts along in a hallucinogenic haze. Reasonable evidence, then, to suggest that cutting loose from what simply ‘works’ often yields far more interesting and exciting results.
Words : Rory Gibb
I’m not entirely sure how it’s happened so subtly, but at some point over the last couple of years Ollie ‘Skream’ Jones has found himself occupying the unlikely position of bona fide superstar. It’s been largely alongside his partner-in-crime and regular co-DJ Benga, but Jones has always been the more prolific, and it’s hard not to suspect that the duo’s fame is largely down to his success as remixer and producer. If you were to pinpoint a single factor most responsible for his current boom in popularity, it’d almost certainly be his ubiquitous remix of La Roux’s ‘In For The Kill’ – a neatly pieced together track, for sure, but for anyone who hadn’t been paying attention to him beforehand it’d have been surprisingly easy to miss just how crucial he’d been in dubstep’s development. Neither the La Roux remix, nor the majority of the razor-edged, aggressive and one-dimensional club fodder he regularly throws out there, can even begin to match some of his earlier music for sheer weight of innovation and emotional investment.
So it seems appropriate to spend a little time looking backward, at a point where it seems that Skream’s music is finally likely to hit the big time – his group Magnetic Man have a much-hyped record on the way, and his second full-length Outside The Box is a pop-tinted creature that will almost certainly make an impression on the record buying public. And in typical generous form, the three Freeizm zip compilations he’s given away provide an ideal opportunity, purging some of the hundreds of unreleased tracks that make up his sizeable back catalogue – some of which reach as far back as the earliest days of FWD and DMZ. Their release now serves a double purpose, and for anyone even remotely interested in electronic music – or even in the kind of material Skream’s releasing now – they’re well worth the five minutes’ download time.
Firstly, they’re evidence of just how precociously brilliant much of his early music was, ripping the hedonism and populism out of UK garage to leave a gritty inversion of London’s clubland – all darkened alleyways, council blocks and lonely journeys, sketched out in shattered snares and cocoons of amniotic sub-bass. At the time it was a deliciously alien headtrip into a different and entirely more real evocation of the world around it. And along with music from Kode9, Digital Mystikz, Loefah and the Skull Disco crew, it was fully immersive and involving, sub-bass acting as a tar that both bound listeners to one another and held them at just beyond touching distance. Of the three Freeizms, Volume 2 is the most brutally compelling, gathering together tracks from this period, each of which simmers with barely contained tension that seeps from headphones or speakers. ‘Dark Light’ is stripped-back to the point of non-existence; like Loefah’s ‘Horror Show’ it speaks as much through what’s not present as what little is – percussion that clacks like insectoid mandibles, and crawling subs. The pacier, skipping beats of ‘Arola’ and ‘Sine-Us’ are both spectacular, and his remix of Loefah’s ‘Indian Dub’ is lost dub many fans have been awaiting for a long time – with good reason.
The second – perhaps inadvertent – purpose these releases serve is to highlight the links between the sort of music Jones used to make and his current output. The first and third volumes are a little more mixed, split between largely dull, robotic rave beasts – ‘Pitfall’, ‘Meta-lick’, ‘Metal Mouth’ – and more considered tracks – the alternate take of his Geiom ‘Reminissin’ remix is even better than the original. Both ‘Rollin’ and ‘Minimool’ once again adhere to a sparse template that oozes foreboding and a curious sense of sadness, tying the best of his work to that of someone like Digital Mystikz’s Mala. And therein lies the rub: as much as anything else, the sheer variety of material on display here, along with his seemingly endless productivity, makes sense in the context of his current projects. Skream has always been a shapeshifter, comfortable in any mode he cares to work within, and it’s impossible to begrudge him the pop-oriented direction he’s currently moving in when he’s been, and often still is, responsible for so much shockingly innovative music.
Words : Rory Gibb
Freeizm Vol. 1:
Freeizm Vol. 2:
Freeizm Vol. 3:
After much exciting press covering this month’s release of ‘Disconnect From Desire’ is the eagerly anticipated follow up to debut LP ‘Alphanisms’. Dream Pop Darlings School of Seven Bells have finally given their London fans a show in the capitol to show their appreciation... Unless of course you were lucky enough to be at their tiny Pure Groove event at The Drop venue just 12 days earlier, which I will draw on comparisons later.
So, 9.30pm and the capacity Scala crowd were treated to the concert they had been waiting for. School of Seven Bells calmly entered the stage and instantly reminded their fans of why they fell in love with the trio in the first place, with a favourite from Alphanisms, in the form of ‘Half Asleep’ before entertaining us with tracks from the just released ‘Disconnect From Desire’. Debut single from the new record, ‘Windstorm’ proceeded things whilst they carried on the set with gorgeous adaptations of the likes of ‘Camarilla’, ‘Babelonia’, ‘Bye Bye Bye’ and my personal highlight ‘ILU’. After ending the hour long set with ‘My Cabal’ they were persuaded by the crowd to come back on for an encore, which was the 11 minute ‘Alphanisms number ‘Sempiternal/Amaranth’.
Both the Deheza twins, Alejandra and Claudia, as well as Benjamin Curtis and the talented un-credited stage drummer, crafted the stage with such elegance and grace that there was no need for such an eccentric stage performance, letting their clear Shoegaze Pop sound do all the talking.
Sound wise, the venue made it seem slightly quieter compared to the more intimate Drop show just a few days earlier, with that performance creating a more noisy drowned out effect, where as tonight Alejandra’s sweet vocals were made to sound much clearer. Call it what you will. School of Seven Bells manage to create the fusion of Lo-Fi noise and pure Pop music without it sounding like a mess. A performance of beauty, both to the eye and to the ear that lets the audience just stand there in awe.
Words: Freddy Rothman
Stark, dark and clad in attitude, Best Coast are a musical tour-de-force of US West Coasters with the sort of style and emotion that makes me long for a non-existent 1950s grunge movement. Consisting of (the beautiful) Bethany Cosentino and (the super-hero like) Bobb Bruno, they sound like the kind of band you could hang around with all day, every day, on sunny, hazy summer shifts of sheer good fortune and good times. The strength lies in the musical emotional one-two punch of goodwill and sun-drenched joy that carries itself over track-to-track, paired with relatively simple yet sweet lyrical structures.
Whilst the lyrical content may be reasonably undemanding in terms of cerebral understanding, they contain something very important that is often missing from the vast glut of songs on love and youth, specifically heart and honesty. Bethany Cosentino oozes sincerity, via lyrics on the likes of ‘The End’ where she purrs ‘Why do we have to make this hard when it doesn’t have to be’, evoking a million heartbreaks the world over in one fell swoop. She later croons “There’s something about the summer” on ‘Summer Mood’ and there truly is when the words drip from the mouth and mind of Cosentino. Everything here is just so potent in its purity.
Somehow, somewhere around the middle of the record, it begins to feel like one big extended jam session between your best friends in some dank yet homely garage, where you sit atop a dusty couch taking hits from the cat shaped bong sitting before you, as the clock melts away and you fall in love with life (I think I might just crave this kind of lifestyle now).
It all sounds like someone has come along and given the Wall of Sound, Phil Spector’s innovative and mindblowing production technique, a kick into the 21st century via weed, Los Angeles and a smidgen more scuzz. The emotive core and heart of much of Spector’s girl group content remains, in the tales of heartbreak, love and lust, albeit with a modern re-telling. ‘Boyfriend’, the wondrous opening track, should have been an uncovered 60s 7” discovered under layers of madness in the locked basement of Spector’s mansion, crafted by some great, lost, droning girl group. The record clocks in at around half an hour with no single song breaking the hallowed three minute barrier, keeping the chilled vibe of surfer pop and carefully contained carelessness in check.
The muffled sonic effect is very much in vogue for the 2010 summer season but Best Coast tops the pile of hazy, lazy pop rock (even stealing the drummer from Vivian Girls, a rival and strong contender for the lo-fi-fuzz crown). The effortless sensation that sweeps through the record like a stoned hurricane soaks up such an atmosphere, it becomes nigh impossible to not enjoy this stuff.
Ever since the Beach Boys, a strange mythology has developed regarding the coastline to the West of the US of A. Beach parties, surfing, pointless days spent lying on golden sands and a laid back attitude impossible anywhere else in the world. This is enclosed within the contents of Crazy For You, even if the stereotype gets a kick up the proverbial backside thanks to weed, guitar fuzz and the modern sexual outlook. At the end of 13 short, sharp, modern pop songs, she certainly does make a bloody good case for a quick and impulsive move to Los Angeles. Give it a listen and I’m off to check one-way airline prices for the golden coast…
Words : Adam Parker
Thursday, 29 July 2010
We at Middle Boop are very excited to announce that Mogwai will be back next year with some tour dates in February in support of the new material that they are just about to step in to the studio and record with Paul Savage.
17.02.11 Bournemouth O2 Academy
18.02.11 Cardiff University
19.02.11 Bristol O2 Academy
20.02.11 Leeds O2 Academy
21.02.11 Edinburgh Picture House
23.02.11 The Regal, Oxford
24.02.11 Birmingham Institute
25.02.11 Brixton O2 Academy
26.02.11 Manchester Academy
27.02.11 The Sage Gateshead
Also, if you haven't already, don't forget to check out their film Special Moves. It's fantastic.
Coil Sea are certainly a band you will be hearing more from on this site over the coming months in the build up to their fantastic new self titled album. Combining dark, brooding melodies not too dissimilar to bands such as Om these guys really are worth checking out.
Lattice of AUM
After a string of great reviews due to their superb début album, Mount Kimbie will be playing a series of fairly low key shows in October.
October UK Tour
Tue 5 Oct 2010 - Jam, Brighton
Wed 6 Oct 2010 - Hare and Hounds, Birmingham
Thu 7 Oct 2010 - Cockpit, Leeds
Fri 8 Oct 2010 - Bungalows and Bears, Sheffield
Sat 9 Oct - Stealth, Nottingham
Tue 12 Oct - Róisín Dubh, Galway
Wed 13 Oct - Academy 2, Dublin
Thu 14 Oct - In the City @ Blood on the Wall, Manchester
Thu 28 Oct - Abandon Silence @ The Shipping Forecast Club, Liverpool
Fri 29 Oct - Heavyweight, Newcastle
Sat 30 Oct - Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
and two of Middle Boop's finds of the year so far :
and a dj set from Baths.
You will be hearing a lot more from these two over the coming months.
Here are the details of what looks set to be a night you need to be at:
VENUE: The Forum
DATE: Saturday 30th October 2010
ADVANCED TICKET PRICE : £22 stbf
Doors : 7 - 3
When the cheeky, quaint and ultimately charming outfit of ‘Tender Trap’ went on an extended hiatus from music at the end of 2007, many fans of this whimsical group may have thought that this was the last we may have heard of this band. However, we all like pleasant surprises don’t we? And Tender Trap definitely gave us that when they reformed in 2009 emerging from musical wilderness as a five-piece and ready to expand upon their musical horizons.
So we find ourselves here in the middle of 2010 and the band has decided to treat us all with their third offering, “Dansette Dansette”, which is their first album since 2006, and it is more than welcome music to my ears. It seems all the things that were unique about this twee group have not been forgotten about at all. If anything, they have been enhanced tenfold by the addition of the two new band members that have joined in perfect harmony with the talents of Amelia Fletcher et al.
The album starts brightly with their distinct brand of indie pop in the form of the title track ‘Dansette Dansette’. It highlights that this band have come back with a purpose and are not just wanting to go through the motions for the sake of just getting another album out. This track has the feel of a wonderful summer anthem that would not be unwelcome getting airtime as you laze languidly with a loved one in a park. There is something about the lead vocals that draws you in about this band. It can be put down to the fact that you just don’t expect the slightly awkward tones of the voice to win you over, but when coupled with the dreamlike harmonies that eloquently float over in the background, it makes for a piquant mix.
This warm feeling carries on to the second track ‘Fireworks’ where the bubblegum pop genre of 60s American gets a nod with another feel good track that wouldn’t feel out of place on retrospective film.
The third track, ‘Do you want a Boyfriend?’ makes the feel good feeling resonate for the third time in a row and is definitely one of the best songs on the album. It has an infectious rhythm, great chord progression and fantastic lyrics that really demonstrate Tender Trap’s ability to make you feel happy listening to the tracks, a feeling that is lost on some of the more depressing and serious artists that permeate the industry today.
The next four tracks; ‘Suddenly’, ‘Girls With Guns’, ‘Danger Overboard’ and ‘2 To The N’ unleash a faster and slightly harsher rock edge to the bands music. The music does still sound a little dated but this is not detrimental to music, it just adds to the charm and makes the band more appealing, especially with ‘Girls With Gun’s which sounds like the theme tune to an Indie western.
‘Counting The Hours’ and ‘Grand National’ although being musically tight as the other tracks lack the certain nuance of its predecessors and they don’t really go anywhere. This is not to take from the overall feel of the album as this band deserves every credit for this output that you can garner from them.
The final track ‘Capital L’ provides a fitting end to a great resurgence for this band and is easily the best song of all 10. It is extremely fine and well written piece and you can’t help but admire it. If I could give you any nuggets of advice for July, it would be to check out this band and make sure that it won’t be another 4 years before they grace us with their talent.
Words : Barclay Quarton
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Middle Boop's Gordon Reid will be exhibiting some new work for the Toe Fluff Exhibition which takes place from this Friday at the Post Modern Gallery, Swindon. All of the proceeds will go to Great Ormond Street Hospital. Other artists to exhibit work include:
More info here
Monday, 26 July 2010
One of my finds at this years Great Escape festival in Brighton, the explosively awesome noise rock duo Tweak Bird have announced details of their debut self-titled album, set for release in August 16th on Souterrain Transmissions.
The Ilinois based duo consisting of brothers Calib and Ashton Bird, have been working with Dale Crover and Toshi Yasai of the Melvins, providing production duties, and who also worked on 2008’s mini-album Reservations.
The 10 track listing consists of this:
01 The Future
02 Lights In Lines
03 Round Trippin’
04 A Sun / Ahh Ahh
06 Tunneling Through
07 Sky Ride
08 Hazement In The Basement
09 Flyin’ High
10 Distant Airways
This guarentees to be awesome.
It's been a long time coming but the new Autolux album is so very nearly here. After having a bit of a torrid time over the last few years with record deals going sour and promises not being kept, they were finally picked up by the wonderful ATP Recordings and haven't looked back since.
Supertoys is one of the stand out tracks from an album that could seriously catapult Autolux back into the hearts and minds of many a music lover after being away for what seems like a lifetime. The trio belt out a curiously catchy chorus built over the hauntingly layered guitars and vocal harmonies that the band are so well known for. Their sound is a refinement on Future Perfect with more of an emphasis on pop sensibility which works so well for these guys.
Autolux have supported everyone from PJ Harvey to Nine Inch Nails and Thom Yorke, you don't get these sort of high end support slots for nothing, this three piece really have something that not many other people do and hopefully with the release of they will get the response that merits such a fine record.
Supertoys is out today via ATP Recordings
As the retro trend continues to entice the world to look back and appreciate the finer things, we have another exciting band that are doing just that. Sonny and the Sunsets, a supergroup of sorts headed by Sonny Smith with the Sunsets made up of members of The Fresh & Onlys, The Dry Spells and Ryan Browne and Kelley Stoltz of Sub Pop play West Coast, jangly pop numbers reminiscent to that of 50's R&B. Their début Tomorrow is Alright is out on August 31.
Here their Daytrtotter Session here
Too Young To Burn
Tortoise will be back in the country in November playing some very special co-headline shows with Broken Social Scene
Mon Nov 15 London, UK Koko w/Broken Social Scene
Tue Nov 16 London, UK Koko w/Broken Social Scene
Fri Nov 19 Amsterdam, Netherlands Paradiso w/Broken Social Scene
Sat Nov 20 Berlin, Germany Admiralspalast
Sun Nov 21 Vienna, Austria WUK
Tue Nov 23 Dresden, Germany Beatpol
(more dates to be announced)
With new album well on the way, the much changed four piece have announced a headline show at Cargo and two more dates.
Tuesday 12 October – LONDON – Cargo (£8)
Wednesday 13 October – BRIGHTON – Audio (£8)
Thursday 14 October – LONDON – XOYO (with No Age)
Sunday, 25 July 2010
Into1, the design studio formed by brothers Tim and Bram Vanhaeren are swiftly becoming ones to watch out for in the industry, the pair have already pulled in some great clients including Computer Arts and the KDU. They also run the magnificent Wallpaper Art site which focuses on the best digital design going.
Thursday, 22 July 2010
Noise Pop, New Haven duo Procedure Club are a very exciting prospect at the moment. With their début Doomed Forever already causing a stir, check out their second single to see what we here at Boop towers are raving about.
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Dum Dum Girls follow up this year's successes of their recent UK tour and their amazing debut album 'I Will Be' (Sub Pop) with UK dates in July kicking off with a performance at this year’s 1234 festival in Shoreditch.
‘I Will Be’ is out now on Sub Pop Records
UPCOMING UK DATES
24-Jul London The 1234 Festival
25-Jul Sheffield Tramlines Festival Drowned In Sound present
26-Jul Newcastle The Cluny
27-Jul Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire
28-Jul Manchester SOUND CONTROL ::DATE CHANGE:::
30-Jul London Cargo ::NEW SHOW::
Meanwhile, checkout the video for their latest single 'Bhang Bhang, I'm a Burnout'
So, its that time of year again. A time when the music press come together to put forward their 12 most cutting edge UK releases of the past 12 months. Controversial as ever, here is this year's shortlist:
* Biffy Clyro - Only Revolution
* Dizzee Rascal - Tongue N' Cheek
* Kit Downes Trio - Golden
* Foals - Total Life Forever
* I Am Kloot - Sky At Night
* Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can
* Mumford and Sons - Sigh No More
* Corinne Bailey Rae - The Sea
* Paul Weller - Wake Up The Nation
* Wild Beasts - Two Dancers
* Villagers - Becoming A Jackal
* The XX - xx
Monday, 19 July 2010
Very much at the forefront of an era that saw indie and disco join hands and take to the dance floor, Lo-Fi-Fnk hit the zeitgeist with their 2006 debut album 'BoyLife' – a life affirming confection of killer melodies, shonky beats and clever lyrics.
And now Lo-Fi-Fnk return with two unstoppably glittery, escapist dance jams on their forthcoming single for Moshi Moshi released on September 20th. 'Sleepless' will be backed with 'Layin Lo' as the b-side and will be available on 7" and download.
In the meantime, if you cannot wait that long then check out this stunning Mattias Johansson directed video for 'Marchin In'.
California has churned out another talent who manages to warp sounds and melody in such a manner that whole summers can be soundtracked by the collection of laid-back tones hidden within. Baths essentially constructs fantastic pop music with a true, albeit very chilled out, heart. Therefore, it is absolutely normal for ‘Cerulean’ to be a whole mass of emotional dizziness that spirals somewhere between eccentric and beautiful, never quite deciding to land fully on either description.
The soft and choral layer of voices that ease you into the album on opening track ‘Apologetic Shoulder Blades’ set the tone for the surprisingly relaxing mixture of pounding percussion, vocal harmonics and warbling glitches that form ‘Cerulean’. Such a mixture can so easily be a recipe for disaster, confusion and ear damage in many, many situations, except for the fact that the man behind Baths may have some unknown superpower that allows him to mesh such a collection of ideals together into something wonderful.
Initially, the sappy spirit that pervades a big chunk of each track can be perceived and translated as somewhat saccharine and perhaps a teeny bit overwrought, especially with one track truly titled ‘♥’. However, as ‘♥’ dips into a piano ditty spliced alongside repetitive percussive slams, it begins to bloom and echo a captivatingly classical vibe. Once in a while, things get a bit plinky plonky and cyclic but something interesting and sudden pulls everything up and away again, whether it’s a quick sample blast or a perfectly timed vocal warp. If ever he wishes to turn away from the original artistry, there is a perfect place out there for some Baths production and remixing, thanks to such a deft and precise hand over the minute details that form each tune.
The expected samples of children and sound effects sprinkle themselves about the record. ‘You’re My Excuse To Travel’ screeches along like Passion Pit with a piano (whether that is a good thing or not depends on your enjoyment of Passion Pit) and the delicacy that lies inherently inside the lyrics and rain effect on ‘Rain Smell’ glides off into the midst of some showery sunset. Each track reflects the style of a host of different artists, from Thom Yorke to Sigur Ros, and it is this carefully crafted and organized heap of influence and regeneration that sweeps you off of your feet after a complete listen to the record. Rhythm and hum drive the album somewhere far off into the distance, tracing the outline of a fuzzy memory in the music bank of your mind, linking itself to a host of other records stored deep within. It’s this ability to identify and translate influences into something that sounds new and invigorating that could send Baths somewhere spectacular with both time and experience.
Whilst the man behind the music, Will Wiesenfeld, has revealed there is no real meaning in the moniker, I will happily and honestly state that ‘Cerulean’ is brilliant for a long, warm soak in the tub. Well, as long as you scrub and unwind whilst contemplating the greater complexities and beautiful truths at the heart of the human heart, that is.
Words: Adam Parker
To coincide with their curated Bowlie 2 Weekender in Minehead, Belle & Sebastian have announced UK tour dates for those of you who are unable to make the Butlins event (Or even if you are, you fancy seeing their lovely Scottish faces again).
So far they are confirmed to play the following venues in these cities:
5 - Gateshead, Sage
6 - Birmingham, Symphony Hall
7 - Manchester, Apollo
9 - Bournemouth, O2 Academy
14 - Leicester, De Montfort Hall
16 - Bristol, Colston Hall
21 - Glasgow, Barrowlands
It was 2006 when B&S last done a proper tour, so it's about time they got back on it! Excellent stuff.
Having announced they were to release the follow up to 2008's epic twin release 'Microcastle' and 'Weird Era Cont.' with new album 'Halcyon Digest' just a few days ago. Details have emerged of the next stage of this Deerhunter promotion process.
As you can see, we have the interesting new artwork above, and below, the exclusive tracklisting:
2. Don't Cry
5. Memory Boy
6. Desire Lines
7. Basement Scene
9. Fountain Stairs
11. He Would Have Laughed
'Halcyon Digest' will be released through 4AD on September 27. And yes, we're pretty fucking excited!
Friday, 16 July 2010
You can be forgiven if the name of James Blackshaw has been undetected your musical radar. He is undoubtedly one of those artists who wait for you to come to him rather than the other way round which only adds to the essence and talent of this young man.
Be aware, James Blackshaw is not going to write and perform songs that will make your pulse quicken, nor will they be ones that you will race to your friends about. To me, the music of Blackshaw is something that I like to keep to myself, a secret sanctuary of pure music that cleanses the palette of the myriad and mish-mash of the zeitgeist we have today.
The first track on his new album, ‘All Is Falling’, greets you in with a wonderful sweeping wave of layered piano sounds. This acts as an almost enchanted greeting to his 8th studio album and you can’t help but immediately ascertain that this track would sound excellent at the start of an independent movie or documentary. This is a trend that is continued with each and every track on the album.
In the second track, ‘Part 2, James gets to flex his foremost talent in his repertoire, his penchant for the 12-stringed acoustic guitar. However, this is a somewhat subdued introduction which would be more apt for a noble court in Tudor times. However, the song segues very nicely in a very interesting outro that is embellished by a wonderful string section and would conjures up an image of the film ‘Donnie Darko’ in your minds eye.
In ‘Part 3’, the tempo and rhythm shift somewhat to an Eastern influence. You could imagine this music being set to some epic romance story. Even at this early stage in the album, you get the feeling that James Blackshaw is not simply offering a random assortment of music, but is trying to manufacture a soundtrack for your life and you can tell that this is a task that he relishes.
In ‘Part 4’ and ‘Part 5’, you are treated to some more excellent chord progressions and displays of musical mastery however, as polished and attractive as the production of this album is, you cannot help but feel that the introduction of some lyrical content into these songs would give James Blackshaw that extra edge in his craft. However, as aforementioned, this is something that he does not want to achieve. This is an artist that is happy to be playing in the background of some cosmopolitan coffee shop rather than in the world’s most elaborate halls.
The closest thing you get to words in this album is a beat count in that his ‘sung’ fore mostly by a female vocalist and this is echoed by a male counterpart. This is one of the best tracks on the album, everything just slots together nicely and works well and this continues into the next track.
By far the most interesting song on the album is the last one. You are greeted by something electric, much departed from the acoustic state of its predecessors. The music acts like a tide coming in, almost heralding the end of the album. You cannot help but make comparison’s to start of the Pink Floyd album ‘Meddle’ and this is more than welcomed by the listener and provides a fitting end to a veritable feast.
James Blackshaw is very much a niche artist, however, if you are satisfied with intelligent and thoughtful music as I am, he should not be a stranger to you any longer.
Words: Barclay Quarton
Being signed to one of the greatest labels of all time, Warp Records, would automatically grab our attention before we'd even listen. Hailing from Brooklyn NYC, The Hundred In The Hands are no exception with their stunning fusion of Dreamy Psychedelia, Disco beats and Pop melodies.
Their debut 6-track EP titled 'This Desert' was released in May this year so make sure you check that out.
Here is the excellent Foals remix of the track 'Pigeons' below.
The Hundred In The Hands - Pigeons (Foals XIII Remix) by thehundredinthehands
The majestic folk wizards that are Tunng, begin their UK tour tonight at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham. Make sure you catch them at the following locations in the coming month, plus an extra special event on the 6th November at London’s The Forum entitled ‘Embers: An Evening With Tunng And Friends’. :
UK live dates:
July 16th - Nottingham Rescue Rooms
July 17th - Dorset Larmer Tree Festival
July 18th - Liverpool Stanley Theatre
July 22nd - Glasgow Stereo
July 23rd - Stirling Tollbooth
July 24th - Fife Big Tent Festival
July 25th - Leeds Cockpit
Aug 13th - Birmingham Mac Arts
Aug 14th - Leicester Summer Sundae
Sept 12th - Isle of Wight Bestival
Oct 1st - Windsor Theatre Royal
Nov 6th – London HMV Forum
And if that wasn’t enough, add in a new single on the horizon too. Released on 26th July through Full Time Hobby, the aptly named ‘Don’t Look Down Or Back’ will be the soundtrack to the technicolour travellers’ latest adventures on the road.
Thursday, 15 July 2010
Whilst I realise that the idea of compilation tribute albums can be a bit cliché and monotonous at times, by the looks of this one it sounds more of interest. For starters, the artist these 34 strong musicians are paying homage to is David Bowie; A musician with a big enough back catalogue to not just feature adaptations of his most obvious tracks, as well as being the man who invented the art of reinvention. And also the artists that feature on this release are some of which MiddleBoop adore. Devendra Banhart, A Place To Bury Strangers, Vivian Girls, Duran Duran and Chairlift are just some of the musicians on show here.
‘We Were So Turned On: A Tribute To David Bowie’ is set for release via LA independent Manimal on the 11th October. All proceeds from the two-disc, 34-track album will go towards the benefit of War Child. A charity that is very close to Bowie's heart.
This final track listing is as diverse as it is chameleon-like, just like the thin-white duke himself, ‘We Were So Turned On’ has something for every Bowie lover.
1. Exitmusic "Space Oddity"
2. Duran Duran "Boys Keep Swinging"
3. Megapuss (Devendra Banhart) "Sound + Vision"
4. Warpaint "Ashes To Ashes"
5. Corridor "Be My Wife"
6. Chairlift "Always Crashing In The Same Car"
7. Vivian Girls "John, I'm Only Dancing"
8. All Leather "Fame"
9. We Are The World "Afraid Of Americans"
10. A Place To Bury Strangers "Suffragette City"
11. Tearist "Repetition"
12. Halloween Swim Team "Look Back In Anger"
13. Afghan Raiders "Fashion"
14. Polyamorous Affair "Theme From Cat People"
15. Swahili Blonde "Red Money"
16. Jessica 6 "I'm Deranged"
17. Aska & Bobby Evans (Feat. Moon & Moon) "African Night Flight"
18. Xu Xu Fang "China Girl"
1. VoicesVoices "Heroes"
2. Carla Bruni "Absolute Beginners"
3. Papercranes "Blue Jean"
4. Keren Ann "Life On Mars?"
5. Lewis & Clarke "Changes"
6. Zaza "It Aint Easy"
7. Genuflex "Soul Love"
8. Sister Crayon "Bewlay Brothers"
9. Marco Benevento "Art Decade"
10. Mick Karn "Ashes To Ashes"
11. Lights (NYC) "World Falls Down"
12. Aquaserge "The Supermen"
13. Caroline Weeks "Starman"
14. Rainbow Arabia "Quicksand"
15. Mechanical Bride "Sound + Vision"
16. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros "Memory Of A Free Festival"
The next single to be released from the album will be War Paint’s version of ‘Ashes To Ashes’ in August. You can download the most recent single 'Memory of a Free Festival' by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros from My Old Kentucky. My Old Kentucky.
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
After the success of last year’s Veckatimest, Grizzly Bear are on the cusp of the indie world, getting airtime on radio and articles written about them in music magazines and blogs around the world. It may come as a reaction to this sudden success that guitarist and co-songwriter Daniel Rossen’s side project Department Of Eagles have decided to release this mish mash of demo's and unused songs. People who have been familiar with Grizzly Bear for longer than a year, or have become so enamoured of Veckatimest may have decided to forage into their back catalogue, will hopefully be familiar with Department Of Eagles’ spectacular 2008 album In Ear Park. This new Archive release collects together several pieces from even earlier on than the sessions that would form that album. So for fans, there will certainly be at least a little pique in interest at news of this release.
Looking at the album tracklist doesn’t fill one with much hope of finding something substantial; five of the eleven tracks are entitled “Practice Room Sketch [1-5].” However all doubt at the necessity for this release is vanquished once the first Practice Room Sketch is passed and we hit the one-two punch of “Deadly Disclosure” and “While We’re Young;” two songs that are not demos at all but complete, polished and most importantly, really good. In fact almost all the actual tracks on this collection are absolutely worthwhile.
Unlike In Ear Park which seemed like a stop-gap between Grizzly Bear’s second and third albums Yellow House and Veckatimest, these songs are much simpler, quicker paced and lacking in much of the grandiosity and orchestral flourishes that have become a signature of Grizzly Bear’s sound. Mostly here we have just guitar and drums, with the odd sprinkle of a violin or xylophone. The hooks come entirely from Rossen’s vocals that float atop the guitars, which vary from propulsive to dreamy and he often beautifully harmonises with his partner Fred Nicolaus.
Although the best tracks on this album don’t quite match up to the peaks of Grizzly Bear’s work or even Department Of Eagles’ last album, there are still tracks that sit comfortably alongside them as peers. The best of the bunch are “Brightest Minds” and “Flip;” both fast-paced, rambunctious numbers that chug along with Rossen’s vocals straining, but still managing to sound jovial, and several beautifully placed harmonised vocals. The final “proper” song “Golden Apple” is the closest they come on this release to matching the grandiose style of In Ear Park; ultimately it doesn’t match up to anything on there, but fits perfectly here amongst all the other pleasant leftovers. In fact, even some of the “Practice Room Sketches” are worthwhile. “2” and “4” in particular are almost complete songs, and the lo-fi demo sound they possess gives them a charm idiosyncratic in the Grizzly Bear/DoE catalogue. Any really big fans of Department Of Eagles may also have fun picking out guitar and vocal melodies scattered throughout the album that did end up being used on In Ear Park.
Overall, Archive 2003-2006 is unlikely to attract new listeners. For those who are versed in the music of Department Of Eagles and Grizzly Bear, for little over 30 minutes of your time this definitely falls into the ‘worth a listen’ category; not quite reaching ‘must buy’ status.
Words: Rob Hakimian
Middle Boop's Gordon Reid was interviewed in this month's Computer Arts for the article 89 Tips to Freelance Success. Also featuring work from Boop favourites Brand Nu and Ben Thomas, this one not to be missed
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Hailing from Baltimore, the band fronted by Jana Hunter play fantastically haunting Americana fuzz pop that blows most of their rivals out of the water.
Their début Twin-Hand Movement is out on the 20th of July, I urge you to check it out.
Listen to a selection of their beautifully haunting melodies here
It's been nearly thirty years since The Pop Group were last together but now, the Dub Funk four piece responsible for two albums that inspired a generation are back to "blow the dust off the old songs and pick up where we left off."
They play The Garage, London
11th & 12th September 2010
Buy tickets via ATP Concert here
Monday, 12 July 2010
I’m rather hesitant to confess that, like many other teenagers at the time, I decided that The Shins were my new favourite band after watching The Garden State at the impressionable age of seventeen. Maybe that’s because, from what I remember, that entire film seems like an extended version of one of those cringe-inducing endings to every episode of Scrubs. But when I first heard Larsen B’s Musketeer, the saccharine harmonies and charming folk arrangements transported me right back to that summer of 2004 when I would listen to Oh Inverted World in my brand new Peugeot and believed my A Level art project might change the world. I’m of the opinion that if an album can capture a sentiment that’s worth preserving it deserves a place in my record collection. And like The Shins’ début, Musketeer, with its nostalgic country leanings and its vocals that can seem at times both wistful and naïve, is an album that crystallises perfectly that fragile and fleeting sense of youth.
But that’s enough about The Shins, because that’s about where the comparisons end. Larsen B, after all, are from Hertfordshire, and the album betrays a distinctly British songwriting style. Indeed, type their name into any search engine and (after stories about the Arctic shelf) likenesses are drawn to bands like Coldplay and, inevitably, fellow banjo-wielders Mumford and Sons. Musketeer’s piano-led tracks like Codeine and Drown By The Sea, along with singer Paddy Smith’s effortlessly lilting falsetto, do warrant the comparisons to Chris Martin and co – but don’t be misled: this début album is far more expansive, orchestral and celebratory than, say, Parachutes. Lead single Marilyn is a fast-paced and uplifting pop song with a catchy chorus that would be right at home on Radio 1’s daytime playlist. Slower tracks like the gorgeous Atlantis utilise that of-the-moment country sound without sounding cloying. Red Indians And Witches is pure Brian Wilson-inspired pop escapism.
If my descriptions sound to you like musical anathema, you might fall into the camp who have criticised Musketeer for being ‘too nice’. And of course it’s easy to be cynical when there’s been a sudden influx of British folk acts who all look as though they’re trying to recreate the Rabbit Heart video by Florence + The Machine. One look at the album artwork for Musketeer will probably do little to reverse your suspicions. However, if you cast aside your preconceptions you may just discover that Musketeer contains more than a few pop gems, and marks the beginning of an exciting career for an undoubtedly talented band. Since when was ‘nice’ such a damning word?
Thursday, 8 July 2010
The Afisha Picnic is a one-day outdoor festival held in Moscow, Russia every summer. It's historic location gives this festival a unique feel to other festivals across Europe and tends to attract 50,000 festival goers each year. Spread out over 1000 acres of land, makes the Afisha Picnic the largest outdoor festival in Moscow. It also provides the unique atmosphere of residing in a relaxed megalopolis. The line-up wise has played host to some terrific bands such as Madness, M83, Black Lips, Clinic, Múm and Dälek to name a select few, in the past, plus a varied selection of local artists and musicians.
2010 will see bands such as Editors, Hercules and Love Affair, Metronomy, Roots Manuva, and Music Go Music play a huge part in this years line-up and takes place on Saturday 31st July. Also 2010 will see the Afisha Picnic go international.
The festival will also feature guest speakers deliver lectures and take part in the panel discussion together with representatives of the local industry where they listen to new artists from Britain and Russia and discuss trends that their music illustrates. Among the guests are Dorian Lynskey, the author of the book “33 Revolutions Per Minute”, John Dyer from the Domino Records and Jon Mclldowie from the Mean Fiddler music agency.
Recently however, the lovely guys at ATP have gone over there to undertake in some workshops for the organisers of Afisha Picnic and we're hoping there will be more projects between the two organisations in the future.
For more information on this festival contact:
+7 926 316 1100
Fresh from the release of their stunning début, Mountain Man will be back in the country having recently acquired Jonsi as a fan. The flamboyant Sigur Ros front man will take the trio on his September tour of the Uk.
Wednesday 1 September – BRISTOL – Colston Hall (with Jonsi)
Sunday 5 September – GLASGOW – Academy (with Jonsi)
Monday 6 September – MANCHESTER – Academy (with Jonsi)
Wednesday 8 September – LEEDS – Academy (with Jonsi)
Thursday 9 September – BIRMINGHAM – Academy (with Jonsi)
Monday 13 September – BOURNEMOUTH – Academy (with Jonsi)
Tuesday 14 September – BRIGHTON – Dome (with Jonsi)
Recent Brighton graduate Millie Davies has barely finished uni and already the standard of work on her site is far greater than people who have been doing it for some time. With beautiful use of typography and layout Ms Davies is certainly one to watch out for.
Wednesday, 7 July 2010
Benjamin Curtis made a bold decision in leaving The Secret Machines to form his own side project in School of Seven Bells. But, as much to the disappointment of his previous band’s loyal fans, he was soon to be forgiven as his current project have now delivered two records of exquisite beauty. I do like it when an album of such pure Pop value grabs my attention this instantly. SVIIB release their follow up to their 2008 Cocteau Twins and Kate Bush 80’s inspired debut ‘Alpinisms’ of which I feel shows a more mature and nourished sound. ‘Disconnect from Desire’ portrays moments of Dream Pop brilliance from start to finish and if this doesn’t feature in the majority of the end of year top albums list then I don’t know what will.
The album begins with wailing choir sounds blending with the hypnotic guitars. The first single ‘Windstorm’ is launched into some lush harmonies from twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza that leads the album well. Already a regular feature on the BBC 6music play list ‘Windstorm’ will hopefully the beginning of some affectionate nationwide exposure. And it does not stop there. The record consistently combines electronica sounds with Britpop melodies (despite residing from New York). ‘ILU’ which for me is my favourite track on the LP, is a gorgeous example of radio friendly pop music that sounds like it could be mix tape alongside the likes of Slowdive and Dubstar. ‘Babelonia’ shows an eighties disco feel with a vocal performance that Stereolab would have been proud of, that heads a new found disco influence as opposed more shoe gaze sound that featured on ‘Alpinisms‘.
A prominent feature on ‘Disconnect from Desire’ is the pounding electronic drum beat. ‘Heart is Strange’ ‘Babelonia’ and ‘Camarilla’ all provide some distinction on the albums sound. The trio have shown bravery in showing a variation of sound on this release whilst still maintaining the sweet tenderness in the Deheza sisters’ vocals. However, I have a feeling that this album will receive a mixed reaction from the followers of the much loved ‘Alpinisms’ due it’s slightly more softer approach and lack of 11 minute pop soundscapes. I however, am much in favour of this record’s overall sound.
The unique thing about ‘Disconnect from Desire’ is that it wouldn’t sound out of place on Radio 2. ‘Bye Bye Bye’ I can even picture being played on that station this very moment and that’s not to say it’s a sign of my old age because it could be appealing to the average Radio 2 listener as well as young keen music enthusiasts. SVIIB have yet again managed to produce another album of sheer Pop brilliance without duff moment in hearing. This record should be huge.
Words: Freddy Rothman
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Bella Union newbies Abe Vigoda created quite a stir last year with their second album Skeleton, an infectious 'tropical' take on Lo-Fi. The LA quartet are now set to raise the bar even further with the addition of synthesizers and much more emphasis on a broader production scale, Crush will see Abe Vigoda develop their sound in crazy, unexpected ways.
Have a listen to to hear how much these guys have changed.
Crush is released on September the 20th
Rolf Klausner, lead vocalist of The Acorn, has a voice which can seamlessly switch from a graceful mid-range croon for the band’s quieter moments to a nasal yelp at the more frenetic moments. It’s around this voice that they built their earlier efforts, primarily their 2007 breakthrough Glory Hope Mountain. On first airing it appears that they have done the same on their newest album No Ghost; switching the pace from track to track and producing a collection of pleasant but unspectacular folk-tinged indie ditties. If I had not been reviewing this album I may have put it aside after having made this summation and moved on to the next, but having been charged with the task of putting into words the sound of this album I gave it more listens than I first believed it deserved; and boy am I glad that I did.
No Ghost is almost a masterpiece, in the most subtle way possible. On some tracks such as “Bobcat Goldwraith” it is the amount of different instruments weaving their way in and out of the mix (not to mention the wildlife sample underneath it all) that enrich the sound and enthral the listener, whereas on a quiet number such as “Misplaced,” which features little more than a simply strummed acoustic guitar and the simplest of drum beats, it’s the most delicate additions of xylophone and the hum of the guitar between strums that creates the most peaceful state of mind when listening.
The amount of different sounds found on No Ghost is astounding; crunching riffs grace “I Made The Law,” magnificent guitar harmonics form the basis for the incredibly well-crafted title track “No Ghost” honestly I could go on for a while longer. Often the most interesting layer of sound in on the periphery and it may not be until a few listens down the line that you consciously notice it, although it’s been there all along enriching your listening pleasure. The only way to fully grasp what I’m saying is to listen for yourself.
On top of all this is that voice that I started out this review by talking about, and as ever Klausner’s vocals are a perfect match for everything going on around, whether harmonising beautifully with fellow bandmates or going solo. It’s not just his tone that is notable but his lyrics are also worth paying attention to. As suggested by their band name The Acorn are mainly concerned with natural things, whether discussing something tangible like the colours of fallen leaves or something a little more abstract such as a floating day, the imagery provided here is a technicolour film, especially when combined with the music.
At the conclusion of the album “Kindling To Cremation” Klausner repeats the phrase “this is how you pass the time away,” which is exactly what this album does. While we’re in the middle of summer do yourself a favour and go out and lay down in this glorious sunshine and pass some time away with this album in your ears; you won’t regret it.
Words : Rob Hakimian
Middle Boop's Gordon Reid has had a number of his T-Shirt illustrations included in a new book celebrating the best T-Shirt graphics from around the world.
Torso features interviews and illustrations from companies such as Threadless and Design By Humans as well as top designers from all over the planet such as Jeremyville, Steven Bonner and Gordon Reid to name but a few.
Torso is out in August and priced at £32.50