Monday, 31 January 2011

Middle Boop Top Tips For 2011

Last year was the first time Middle Boop had ever run a 'Top Tips' article and I'm pretty happy to say we must be doing something right as the choices we made mostly went on to have a very successful year. For instance, First Aid Kit went from playing tiny pubs to melting the hearts of a large amount of people in pretty sizeable venues, Pantha Du Prince played pretty much every credible festival going and his debut album ended up on many end of year lists and Esben And The Witch signed to Matador, supported everyone from Foals to The XX and have just released one of the most hotly anticipated débuts this year.

So what does 2011 hold in store in the realm of alternative music? Well judging from our humble list below I hope you'll agree that the following list of bands are about to start causing a stir in certain scenes and even though none of these bands will exactly be tipped to play Wembley in the next year or so, they will be emphasizing just how amazing the alternative music scene is at the moment....Pray silence please for Middle Boop's 2011 Top Tips!

Anna Calvi

We get more musicality coming into the album with the track “Desire”. Furthermore, Calvi really opens up her voice and displays the vocal power and range that she possesses that fully justifies her nomination for the BBC’s ‘Sound of 2011’ poll. It also enthrals me further that Anna is a home-grown British talent. She sounds like what we have been crying out for; a female vocalist that has that ‘edge’ about her. This is something that I don’t think we have seen since the days of Blondie or Suzi Quatro. – Barclay Quarton


Braids

Signed to influential Canadian indie label Flemish Eye, which has produced the likes of Women and Chad Van Gaalen over the last few years, Braids music is soaked in echoey beeps and glitches. With strange time signatures and heartwarming vocals, hopefully we’ll see Braids playing this side of the pond sometime this year as they will go down so well over here at the moment.
Braids

Chad Valley

Being the charmingly astute music lovers that you are, you may have already heard of Hugo Manuel, the man behind Chad Valley singing in his other band Jonquil who have started to gain a great little following. If you have, good for you, chances are you'll enjoy Chad Valley, if not...Well, chances are you're going to enjoy it regardless as this sickeningly catchy retro synth driven pop is just what you need to get over the dark nights and freezing weather. – Gordon Reid


Grouplove

Big anthemic choruses, instantly lovable vocals and feelgood songs galore. Grouplove already sound like they’ve mastered the art of writing a decent pop tune. Their single colours is out now and chances are you will have heard it and loved it. – Gordon Reid



Iceage
The music sits somewhere between DC hardcore and British punk but filtered via weirdness. The songs are all velocity but skewed and prone to shoot off at unexpected angles. – Al English

Iceage - New Brigade from iceage on Vimeo.



Idiot Glee

James Friley, AKA Idiot Glee creates beautifully multi layered vocal harmonies using seemingly minimalistic instrumentation to create their haunting 50’s influenced pop. Début single ‘All Packed Up’ will have fans of Grizzly Bear going nuts and B-Side ‘Don’t Drink the Water’ just resonates greatness. I really hope we hear a lot more. – Gordon Reid

Idiot Glee

James Blake

In case you’ve been living in some form of cave / rock dwelling / panic room and haven’t heard the recent hype around James Blake, allow me to fill you in. He attended the prestigious Latymer School in London whilst recording compositions in his bedroom. After a successful launch of debut 12” ‘Air And Lack Thereof’, along with a cover of Leslie Feist’s ‘Limit To Your Love’, national radio coverage and a whole lot of blogging ensured that this was the beginning of a blossoming career for the young musician.

The music itself is a combination of minimalist, down tempo, electronic compositions fused with Blake’s delicate and often soulful voice. Frequent use of an auto tuner on Blake’s voice may cause a divided opinion amongst listeners but with a feature on just about every ones to watch list this year, we found it hard to resist putting him in ours as well. – Neil Phillips



MNDR

We could sense that a buzz was building around this New York City electro synth-pop duo from witnessing Amanda Warner undergo an eccentric and spell bounding performance at London’s Lexington last August. Having already toured and collaborated with Mark Ronson on his latest album we’re expecting MNDR to send waves crashing further, on a worldwide scale. – Freddy Rothman

Ringo Deathstarr

Any band with a name like Ringo Deathstarr is always going to grab my attention, and with music that sounds like My Bloody Valentine if Kevin Shields actually had a sense of humour, this Austin trio have certainly whet my appetite with their fuzzed up, noisy pop.

Their début album 'Colour Trip' will be out in February. We can't wait. - Adam Parker


Seams

Bedroom producer James Welch aka Seams has been recording countless EP’s, singles and remixes over the past year or so. His most recent available offering, ‘The Tourist EP’ shows you why we’ve not just got another Four Tet or Gold Panda on their hands. As much as we love those guys too, Seams will draw on atmospheric post-electronica that will just whisk you away to another world. A debut LP is expected before the end of the year. – Freddy Rothman


Trophy Wife

Oxford three piece, Trophy Wife. Both singles Microlite and The Quiet Earth show the signs of a band with true potential. The songs are softly built up around dancey drum beats and crisp delayed, jangly guitar lines with delicate vocals sounding very much like they’ve taken influence from their Oxford counterparts Foals, who they toured with last year.Trophy Wife are writing an EP due early next year so hopefully they will take this time to build upon the sound they are already creating and evolve it further. – Freddy Rothman

Veronica Falls

The London based 2 boy-2 girl quartet make blissful, pounding Dream-Pop music and have had tongues wagging all across the capital. Although they have been touring extensively since 2009 and have released 2 of the best singles of 2010 in ‘Beachy Head’ and ‘Found Love in a Graveyard’, we can expect more shows and hopefully their debut album in 2011 which we simply cannot wait for. - Freddy Rothman


Yuck

Less “Yuck!” and more like “Fuck!”. A solid debut from a young band with a lot of potential and a great future ahead of them. 2011 will be a good year for Yuck. – Neil Phillips


Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Cave Singers Announce Tour, New Album And Share Two MP3s


Heartwarming Seattle acoustic trio Cave Singers have announced their new album, 'No Witch' Out February 28.

To accompany this, they have a selection of shows coming up in May


May 20 Newcastle, Cluny 8pm, £10 adv

May 21 Glasgow, Stag & Dagger @ Stereo

May 22 Bristol, Fleece 7pm, £10 adv

May 23 London, Hoxton Bar & Kitchen 8pm, £9.50 adv

Check out some great new tracks here


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Jeniferever: New LP and Dates in April.


Swedish darlings Jeniferever are to release their third album, titled 'Silesia' through Monotreme Records on April 11th. For a sneak preview of Silesia check out the wonderful 'Waifs & Strays' here;

Jeniferever 'Waifs & Strays' by Monotreme Records

In addition. The fourpiece will be touring the record in the UK on these dates:

Monday 11th April, The Lexington, London
Wednesday 13th April, Captain's Rest, Glasgow
Thursday 14th April, Brudenell, Leeds
Friday 15th April, York, Fibbers
Saturday 16th April, Buffalo Bar, Cardiff
Sunday 17th April, Fleece, Bristol
Tuesday 19th April, Brighton, Green Door Store

James Blake - James Blake (Atlas/A&M)


Incase you’ve been living in some form of cave / rock dwelling / panic room and haven’t heard the recent hype around James Blake, allow me to fill you in. He attended the prestigious Latymer School in London whilst recording compositions in his bedroom. After a successful launch of debut 12” ‘Air And Lack Thereof’, along with a cover of Leslie Feist’s ‘Limit To Your Love’, national radio coverage and a whole lot of blogging ensured that this was the beginning of a blossoming career for the young musician.

The music itself is a combination of minimalist, down tempo, electronic compositions fused with Blake’s delicate and often soulful voice. Frequent use of an auto tuner on Blake’s voice may cause a divided opinion amongst listeners. Personally, I think it works at times and at times it doesn’t. There’s a sadness and a longing in his voice which, when digitalized, particularly on ‘I Never Learnt To Share’, makes me wonder about what the love child of Bon Iver and Daft Punk might sound like.

When Blake isn’t hiding behind an auto tuner, he does have a decent voice. Combined with a shimmering bassline like on ‘Limit To Your Love’, he adds a sensitive quality to an already well delivered song, whilst reinventing it and adding his own emotional touch. ‘Give Me My Month’ uses the depth of Blake’s voice and verges on sounding like Tracey Chapman. Again, a fusion of styles I wouldn’t have expected to find myself enjoying, yet I feel drawn to listen to again.

I think sparse would be an appropriate word to sum up this venture. Tracks such as ‘Lindesfarne 1’ feature no music as such, just Blake with his auto tuner and the occasional ping in the background. Experimental, or just plain mental? Acting as a prelude to ‘Lindesfarne II’, it begins to make a little more sense once a beat is introduced and a few extra layers creep out at us. From the humble ‘Wilhelms Scream’ to the fragile ‘Why Don’t You Call Me’, to the closing acapella led ‘Measurements’, Blake maintains the minimalist, glitch fuelled semi-dub step approach consistently throughout the album whilst managing to create a different emotional response with each track.

This album definitely won’t be to everyone’s liking. What with all the recent hype, anyone would be hard pressed to live up to the relentless expectations of the average avid music fan. It is, however, an honest and bold introduction into what will hopefully evolve into a fuller, more developed sound from the young and talented James Blake. Definitely one to watch.


Words: Neil Phillips

Yuck - Yuck (Mercury Records)



2011 will be a good year for Yuck. Having built up a reputation for themselves online through their website and the blogging community over 2010, they’ve released their first full length, self titled album on Mercury Records.

I was introduced to Yuck when I saw them open for Built To Spill and Dinosaur Jr at the Shepherds Bush Empire in the summer of 2010. I have to admit - I wasn’t particularly blown away at the time, however I did wander into the last track of their set - the seven minute drone-a-thon ‘Rubber’ (which in hindsight is a contender for my favourite song on the album).

Having had a chance to go home and hear the singles released that year, I was keen to hear the full record in its entirety. Now the time has come. From the first front-to-back listen, I was impressed. The album possesses a healthy mixture of songs; nonchalantly wandering from the lo-fi, solo driven opener ‘Get Away’ to the casual, acoustic chilled out nature of ‘Suicide Policeman’, before climaxing on the aforementioned drone heavy ‘Rubber’. And it works.

The band’s line up see’s former Cajun Dance Party vocalist Daniel Blumberg taking up vocal duties once more, with the aid of his younger sister adding some occasionally needed depth on backing vocals. The brother / sister duo works best on stand out single release ‘Georgia’, a certified golden lo-fi pop nugget. With guitar work that feels as if the silver fox that is J Mascis himself may have written, it’s difficult not to draw comparisons. Who wouldn’t want to be compared to the grunge guru after all?

As stated earlier, the album does differ in tempo throughout. Most notably directly after ‘Georgia’ we are presented with ‘Suck’, possibly the slowest and most ballad-esque of all tracks on the album. It’s on tracks like this we fall into helplessly romantic territory (“I was burning with desire / You can never put out my love for you”). It’s never too much to stomach though as the romanticism is always in an aloof cloud of slacker haziness, distracting enough not to be accused of being overly sentimental (see follow up track ‘Stutter’ or ‘Shook Down’).

Immediate comparisons that come to mind would have to include a roster of US slacker alternative rock from the past decade, including Pavement, Dinosaur Jr and The Lemonheads. The album is both charming and relaxing in its laid back approach, occasionally slapping us in the face with some chord shredding and heavy distortion that balances out from all the mellow shoe gazing.

Less “Yuck!” and more like “Fuck!”. A solid debut from a young band with a lot of potential and a great future ahead of them.


Words: Neil Phillips

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Cloud Nothings - 'Should Have' Video

Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi (Domino)

When this album was sent to me by Middle boop HQ with the pretence that it was their album of the year so far, I knew that Anna Calvi et al. must pack quite a punch. However, as a critic, I will always have my cynical head strapped onto my shoulders and thusly approached this album with the same circumspection as I do with all albums. However, I must say that I have come to same conclusion as my peers; this album is pretty damn good indeed.

The self titled debut album commences with an incredibly atmospheric track in the form of “Rider To The Sea”. Beautiful in it’s simplicity, the single guitar sound pregnant with reverb heralds in what is to be a very moving album.

The first track segues faultlessly into “No More Words” where we are introduced to Anna’s creamy, rich and soothing vocals. Even after only a couple of syllables have been sung, I am imagining this to track is being performed in an artistic Hollywood film with Calvi waltzing around her audience in a divine dress tempting any red blooded male who crosses her path.

We get more musicality coming into the album with the track “Desire”. Furthermore, Calvi really opens up her voice and displays the vocal power and range that she possesses that fully justifies her nomination for the BBC’s ‘Sound of 2011’ poll. It also enthrals me further that Anna is a home-grown British talent. She sounds like what we have been crying out for; a female vocalist that has that ‘edge’ about her. This is something that I don’t think we have seen since the days of Blondie or Suzi Quatro.

Suzanne and I” is a very haunting number and only serves to build up that hard demeanour that we are being treated to. Anna Calvi is backed by a steady rhythm which gives her the ideal platform to unleash her vocals in a fashion that would even rival the great Kate Bush to name a few.

We go back to the beginning of the album with ‘First We Kiss’ where Calvi shows us once again that she can be soft and sultry as well as being able to seamlessly transition into her gripping alter-ego.

There is something about the song; “The Devil” that I just love. It is like the song is stepping out of the album and into the rain to contemplate life whilst holding a takeaway cup of coffee. Surreal similes aside, this is one of my favourite tracks from the album.

We are further tormented and haunted by Calvi’s rockier side with the song “Blackout”. It is very much a standout live track that will surely get you singing along at one of her shows; she is touring at the moment by the way people (hint, hint).

I’ll be Your Man” is a rather quirky number. I would describe it as a dirty blues song that clashes with a classic reggae beat. Not that it is in any way detrimental to the overall sound. It just proves that there are many strings to Miss Calvi’s bow and in “Morning Light” we are further treated to her vocals being thrust in the spotlight once more whilst the music cradles the vocals as competently as they have been doing all album long.

The album concludes with the “Love Won’t Be Leaving”. This track feels like the culmination of the ideas, styles and musicality that Anna Calvi has performed in the previous songs and these all meet in this track. I have got to say that I am more than impressed. If you though that music was stalling with creativity recently I urge you to procure this album and prove yourself wrong.

Words : Barclay Quarton

Frankie & The Heartstrings - 'Hunger' Video

Domino unveil the 'Domino Baggu'


Everyone likes bags, right? Well if you like bags and Domino Records you'll be pleased to know they are to unveil a new range of limited edition Baggus.

The environmentally friendly Baggu is effectively a bag based on the iconic plastic grocery bag which aims to reduce people's usage of disposable bags by being lightweight and easy to keep on hand for any errands that may arise throughout the day. And obviously, they’re perfect for carrying your vinyl in too.

Naturally it helps that they also happen to be rather good looking, which can be credited to none other than photographer and artist, Jason Evans, the man responsible for designing beautiful album covers for the likes of Four Tet and Clinic.

A modern take on the classic Domino record bag of old, the Baggu is priced at £9 and available in the following colours:

Electric Poppy with blue print
Indigo with pale blue print
Peacock with yellow print
Smoke with yellow print
Black with white print


The Domino Baggu is available exclusively through Dom Mart: http://www.dominorecordco.com/uk/bags/18-01-11/domino-baggu-bags

Ringo Deathstarr Announce New UK Tour Dates

One of Middle Boop's ones to watch for this year, Ringo Deathstarr have announced some tourdates to go in conjunction with the release of their début album 'Colour Trip' on 14th February 2011.


Ringo Deathstarr February UK Tour Dates:

Saturday 12th - Glasgow, Stereo

Sunday 13th - Sheffield, Academy

Monday 14th - Manchester, Ruby Lounge

Wednesday 16th - Brighton, Komedia

Thursday 17th - London, Lexington

Monday, 24 January 2011

Esben And The Witch - Violet Cries (Matador)


There certainly is a great deal of pressure weighing on the six shoulders of Esben And The Witch. Having emerged from relative obscurity at the turn of the year, the Brightonian three-piece find themselves, on the eve of 2011, ranked among Matador Records' prestigious roll-call, with only their upcoming release to silence the sceptics. Of course, those who have been following the band's heady ascent will know that such a challenge lies in capable hands – due in no small part to the band's strict and self-assured allegiance to a unique aesthetic. Violet Cries realises all the startling ambition of the band's preliminary releases, combining their by-now-signature predilections for moody, gothic ambience, psychedelia and melancholia in a truly accomplished creation.

Every track on Violet Cries is exquisitely constructed, carefully crafted to create at times a sense of unnerving agitation, at others mournful poignancy – but always building on the overwhelming, almost ineffable atmosphere of the album: a kind of somnambulistic malevolence. Attempts have been made to liken Esben And The Witch to other acts like Bat For Lashes or Portishead, but while – granted – vocalist Rachael Davies does sing a little bit like Florence Welch in a K-hole, and the beginning of the song Marine Fields Glow does evoke that other female-fronted three-piece from a town beginning with B, Violet Cries proves, to me at least, that its creators really are a peerless act. That aforementioned track, for example, uses those Beth Gibbons-esque vocals to original effect, adding reverb to merge it with the tidal rise and fall of the musical accompaniment, creating a song that is much more subtle, gradual and elemental than a Portishead track.

Album highlights like the captivating Light Streams prove that Esben And The Witch can be more experimental when they want to, however. Starting out quite conventionally, the track goes on to incorporate a hypnotic prog interlude and a chorus of chants and wails complete with kitschy Ghostbusters-style warped scary voices. Not many bands could pull of a refrain like “We will cut the sun from its moorings!” without sounding like they're taking themselves far too seriously, but in the surreal, slightly foggy parallel universe of Violet Cries, it works, and even unsettles. Elsewhere, on tracks like Chorea, which contains quite an up-beat riff, and Eumenides, which plays out to a trance beat, the band pass that all important test, proving that while they're not one-trick-ponies, they're also adept at putting their own original spin on whatever style they turn their hand to.

Violet Cries really is an exceptional album: measured, mesmerizing, and (when you can hear the lyrics behind the reverb) profound. I know it's only January, but I'm certain we've found one of the stand-out albums of 2011.

Words : Tegan Rogers

British Sea Power – New Slang 13/01/11


Imagine the worst club you’ve ever been to. Sticky floors, horrible decor, etc. Now fill that with fantastic music, reasonably priced drinks and masses and masses of drunk, horny and confused indie teens and you’ve got the New Slang clubnight, tonight playing host to one of the most infamous live bands in the British rock scene at the moment, British Sea Power. Famed for their emphatic live performances featuring members going nuts, jumping into the crowd, climbing rigs, dressing in animal costumes, military uniforms and generally doing things you wouldn’t normally expect from a mercury nominated band. Tonight was a much more stripped down affair, minus all of the on stage antics and seemingly a lot of energy. This did not detract from the actual music too much, although I did get my hopes up expecting at least one guitarist to freak out and smash stuff up.

Saying that these sort of club nights are often tough gigs mainly because half of the people turning up are just there to ‘go out’ and have no idea who the band actually are, lead singer Yan did try to evoke more of a response from the crowd which probably didn’t go down as well as hoped although they did have an allegiance of loyal followers crammed down the front who didn’t stop dancing the whole gig. This instance was a great opportunity for me to stand to one side of the main crowd, take in the music and reacquaint myself with a band I hadn’t given as much time as I probably should have done over the last few years with a set full of highlights from their five albums.


Having received a promo of their latest offering Valhalla Dancehall a few weeks prior and being impeccably impressed, I was eager to check out the new material just as much as the old. They opened with the first three songs off of Valhalla back to back, which got the night off to the right start with frantic guitar lines, pounding drums and mental lyrics, very reminiscent of their first triumph ‘The Decline Of British Sea Power’ and certainly showcases a return to the more hard edged, fast paced rock songs of the debut. The encore included Zeus and they ended with Carrion, one of the quieter songs from the first album signifying a gig that, although the music was excellent, it was British Sea Power going at half speed.

Words : Gordon Reid
Photos : James Perou

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Middle Boop Single of the Week - Belle and Sebastian I Want The World To Stop (Rough Trade)

It’s amazing to think Belle & Sebastian have been going since 1995. Arguably one of the best and most influential contemporary indie bands, they are back with their eight studio album 'Write About Love' very soon and with it, a whole host of charming indie pop tunes including their second single ‘I Want The World To Stop.’ This effort is what we have come to expect from the one time Brit winning band, witty lyrics, a fast paced pop tempo and subtle yet solid orchestration. What ‘World To Stop’ show us is a maturity in their craftsmanship that can only come from spending years perfecting their art. Belle & Sebastian are a very unique band and brilliant band, this offering is a great showcase as to why.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Treefight For Sunlight (Bella Union)


If the dreary, post-new year winter blues are setting in and you’re in need of a morale boost, I would suggest you turn your ear towards the refreshing chamber-pop inspired release that came my way this week in the form of Danish quartet, Treefight For Sunlight.

‘A Dream Before Sleep’ is a subtly grand opening track with it’s repeated cascading piano and lush harmonies. Kicking off with the surreal line “All the nurses are going to leave me” is fitting, as it sounds and feels like we are escaping from reality and begin a journey into the vibrant universe introduced by the aptly titled “You And The New World”, layered with playful guitar riffs and spiritually uplifting vocals.

A new world it is indeed. I wasn’t entirely prepared for the beautifully crafted, multi-layered aural voyage of harmony riddled, echo soaked vocals and piano laden melodies. ‘The Universe Is A Woman’ is a cosmic delight that takes us on a dreamy voyage reminiscent at times of a less obscure and more conventionally structured Animal Collective.

‘They Never Did Know’ is the first track on the album to open with a guitar steering away from the predominantly synth / piano heavy direction it opens with. Alarmingly similar to ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ for the first couple of seconds (sorry but I never did take to the The Smiths), it soon finds an amicable pace and a home on the record.

The nature of the record is fully unleashed on ‘Facing The Sun’ which is nothing short of joy personified. With xylophones accompanying a higher than ever vocal effort strangely reminding me of The Sleepy Jackson’s Luke Steele it’s hard not to forget how miserable it is outside (it probably helps I’m writing this with my curtains drawn tightly shut). There is a certain deliriously trippy charm to this record, as seen on later tracks ‘Rain Air’ and ‘Riddles in Rhymes’, bought to life with a varied use of instruments.

And what better way to wind the record down? The psychedelic and jubilant ‘What Became Of You And I?’ sounds like ELO, The Turtles and The Beach Boys are holding hands, flying a magic carpet over a rainbow whilst smiling like Cheshire cats on ecstasy. Which almost makes the final track ‘Time Stretcher’ seem a tad out of place, with it’s melancholy lyrics “Everything about me / Seems to disappoint me” and relatively down tempo pace (comparatively anyway).

As the Danish lads sing “Time is never ending / Slowly I’m descending” with the combination of a wild unhinged flute spiraling out of control and a crash of the piano keys, we’re sadly at the end of our occasionally chaotic and relentlessly positive journey. It seems the nurses are coming back to drag us back into reality. Shame really.

Words: Neil Phillips

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Laura Veirs at the Union Chapel in February

Bella Union sweetheart, Laura Viers will be returning to Europe for a number of shows during February, including London for a performance at what is dubber her 'spiritual home' the Union Chapel.

Tuesday 22 February – LONDON – Union Chapel
Tickets: £15

Anna Calvi announces 2nd Bush Hall show

The wonderful Anna Calvi, who has also released her stunning début album via Domino this week is already well and truly doing the rounds and has managed to sell out a date at Bush Hall in April. Her tour now looks like this.

Thu 27th Jan: London, Hoxton Hall, headline show, *album release show* – SOLD OUT
Friday 4th Feb: London, Barfly: HMV Next Big Things – SOLD OUT
Weds 23rd Feb: Dublin, Workmans Club, Ireland
Thu 24th Feb: Sheffield, Harley
Fri 25th Feb: Nottingham, Bodega
Sat 26th Feb: Birmingham, Hare And Hounds
Sun 27th Feb: Glasgow, Arches
Mon 28th Feb: Manchester, Deaf Institute
Wed 2nd Mar: Brighton, Komedia Bar
Fri 4th Mar: Bristol, Cooler
Tues 26th Apr: London, Bush Hall, *extra date added*
Weds 27th Apr: London, Bush Hall – SOLD OUT

Beach House and others added to ATP curated by Animal Collective festival


As if the lineup wasn't sterling enough already, the good people over at ATP have only gone and announced even more fantastic acts which include Beach House, Highlife and Ear Pwr.

The lineup so far looks like this:

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE / BIG BOI (Outkast) / BEACH HOUSE / TERRY RILEY / THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 / GANG GANG DANCE / LEE SCRATCH PERRY / ATLAS SOUND / ARIEL PINK'S HAUNTED GRAFFITI / BLACK DICE / MEAT PUPPETS perform Up On The Sun / THE FROGS perform It's Only Right & Natural / IUD / OMAR-S / PRINCE RAMA / SPECTRUM / DENT MAY / GROUP DOUEH / THE BROTHERS UNCONNECTED / DERADOORIAN / ZOMBY / VLADISLAV DELAY / MICACHU AND THE SHAPES / TEENGIRL FANTASY / DRAWLINGS / TICKLEY FEATHER / ORTHRELM / ERIC COPELAND (Black Dice) / KRIA BREKKAN / THE ENTRANCE BAND / HIGHLIFE / EAR PWR / FLOATING POINTS / MICK BARR / SUBLIME FREQUENCIES DJs + Films

See you in Minehaed...

Lia Ices - Grown Unknown (Jagjaguwar)


A beautiful lone female voice rings to signal in Lia Ices’ Second full length album ‘Grown Unknown’, sure there are plenty of golden voiced female singer-songwriters out there. However, once the sighing counter harmony comes fluttering out of the speakers as the first track ‘Love Is Won’ progresses, it becomes clear this is something worth paying attention to.

Lia’s 2008 debut ‘Necima’ was released on small label Rare Book Room records, so this is the first chance many UK listeners will be able to experience her music as this release comes our through the excellent JagJaguwar imprint.

Stand out track ‘Daphne’ slowly builds up out of a standard finger picked folk song into something quite heart melting as strings swell and counter harmonies build up. Around the half way mark an interruption of swirling noise leads to a stomping piano hook that makes you think the album’s about to go all Kate Bush, which would be entirely welcome. Though this is not the case, the suitably epic vocal swells provided by Justin Vernon (yes, him again) that lead us to the end of the track are suitably compelling.

The track ‘Grown unknown’ begins with a fantastic rhythmic hand-clapped intro that also promises an exciting break from the album’s grounding in slow balladry, but once again the track does not really deliver the Feist like pop promise that the intro sets us up for, merely moving into a pleasant but repetitive guitar pattern doesn’t really lead anywhere but to repeat of the intro that proves less exciting when used again as a chorus.

Overall the album offers a pleasant but slightly underwhelming experience. Some genuinely excellent ideas and songwriting give the impression that once Lia develops the more adventurous ideas that sprinkle this album she could be unveiling an avant-garde pop genius as her writing progresses with future releases.

Words : Michael Woods

Monday, 17 January 2011

La Sera – La Sera (Hardly Art)


Vivian Girls are one of my favourite bands of late because they are a little heavier, a little darker, a little rockier than the other acts making Spector inspired twee-pop. Which is why, by all intents and purposes, Katy Goodman’s candyfloss and teacups side project La Sera shouldn’t have engaged me as much as it has. It is a dream record, in more ways than one. Her voice is rasping silk, woven in and out of maudlin drums and Beach Boys guitar. It is less Shangri La’s and more Sandy Shaw. A summer afternoon 45” with a picture of a teddy bear on the cover played by a little girl on a pink plastic record player. Get the picture? It’s soft, it’s cute, and it doesn’t apologise.

Comparisons will come thick and fast at this time of femme-pop market saturation. La Sera will remind you lyrically of First Aid Kit, musically of Warpaint, and vocally of Metrics’ Emily Haines or Giant Drag’s Annie Hardy (but 10 years ago before the rock and roll lifestyle gruffed her up). There are also heavy notes of shoegaze artists Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine. Personally I found the ‘all girls together’ sleepover vibe, and light as a feather breathy singing, harked back to Girls Together Outrageously and Tyrannosaurus Rex, respectively. It is probably closest, however, to everyone’s favourite new band, Best Coast. This might sound schizophrenic, but in taking from the past, La Sera documents well the signature sound of 2011.

Picking out the best songs on this album is hard, and here in lies the one fault with La Sera, repetition. You could easily say that messing with a perfect system is needless, and there are shifts in mood here, but they are small to say the least. Single Never Come Around is upbeat playful pop. You’re Going to Cry is archetypal sixties girlgroup with its layered vocal and dreary subject matter. Hold is a psychedelic trance-like euphoria, evoking flower fields, maxi dresses, and mushrooms. Dove Into Love is heartbreaking and romantic, as is much of the album.

After falling in love with Vivian Girls I didn’t think I could feel any more gratitude to them than that I’ve been harnessing since the release of 2009s Everything Goes Wrong, but my love affair with Katy Goodman has been rejuvenated with this shot of girlish flower power romance, and I’m swooning at the thought of spending 2011 holed up in a love-lorn idyll with La Sera.

Words : Maya Boustany

Cloud Nothings – Cloud Nothings (Wichita)


Following seven or eight good listens to one-man lo-fi-athon Cloud Nothings’s eponymous first punt at music stardom, I’ve catapulted him into a respectable but decidedly un-Earth-shattering fifth place in the Dylian League, my much-admired and widely-respected league table of favourite Dylans. This, predictably, puts Mr. Nothings below Moran, Thomas, mythical Celt Aldon and the rabbit from The Magic Roundabout, but still comfortably ahead of Dizzee Rascal, Drew Barrymore’s character from Charlie’s Angels and thoroughly unnecessary new Rugrat Dylan “Dil” Pickles.

However, before we press on with the rest of the review, I must first present you with a very serious question: do you enjoy pop punk music, and/or look back upon its short heyday with fondness? Does the thought of grown men with spiky hair jumping around in shorts cause you to go all misty-eyed? Do you pine for those glory days at the turn of the century when a legion of tattooed cretins staged a mass Freudian regression into bawdy, obnoxious second adolescences filled with power chords, sweat socks, metal pastiches and dick jokes? Of course, this is a review, and – other than shout at your computer screens, which won’t work – you’ve no way to answer me, so I’m just going to assume that your response would be something similar to mine; i.e. a statement along the lines of: “No, thanks. I’d sooner take a trip back to September 1939. In Poland.”

With that all that neatly settled, I’ll now explain the logic behind young Mr. Baldi’s underwhelming new entry in the League’s mid-table. Almost all the songs on Cloud Nothingsshow plenty of promise. Some have hummable melodies (‘Not Important’; ‘Rock’), some create an appealing atmosphere (‘Forget You All The Time’; the Stooges-alike ‘You’re Not That Good at Anything’) and some simply have DB doing a thoroughly convincing Brian Wilson impression (well, just one: the lovely ‘Understand at All’, which effectively features as its chorus the middle Wilson’s part in ‘You Still Believe in Me’). There’s flashes of intelligent ‘90s Britpop throughout, with parts bearing more than a passing resemblance to ‘Drowners’-era Suede. Songs are short and refreshingly energetic, often bordering (a little uncomfortably) on punk, whilst, beneath the layer of scuzzy mud that passes for production, there’s a competently-plucked, appealingly derivative Smithsian jangle holding the whole thing together in floppy-fringed style (well, I say Smithsian; Marr stole it all from Jim McGuinn, who in turn nicked it from George Harrison, who, of course, famously pilfered it from God himself).

So what’s the problem? “All that sounds fantastic!”, I hear you cry. “Surely it must be more appealing than an obscure character from a confusing mediæval Welsh myth-cycle?” You’d think so, but nope. Here’s the thing: it’s all a bit pop punk.

Let me explain. You’ll be happily listening to a song – nodding your head; tapping your foot; contentedly digesting one of the many positives listed above – and then, out of nowhere, like an uninvited guest using the new shag pile as an ashtray, Dylan will turn into pre-gay Billie Joe Armstrong and write the whole thing off. And it just keeps happening. ‘Not Important’ opens with a perfectly listenable, if slightly generic, Brit-indie intro before it’s ruined by some truly grating Dookie-whining; ‘All The Time’ features a tender chorus, wise beyond its years, sandwiched between two irritating verses buried under an avalanche of power chords; and nothing’s wrong with the melodic, harmony-laden ‘Nothing’s Wrong’ (geddit?), other than the fact it sounds like Less Than Jake.

I do feel like a bit of a bastard even slightly criticising Cloud Nothings, because it’s clearly the work of an talented, dedicated young musician with a (mostly) impressive list of influences, who I’m sure will go on to do great things; I only wish it sounded a bit more like the cover. Smiths-182 just isn’t something I ever needed to hear.

Words : Jon Chapple

Earth – Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I (Southern Lord)

The word Earth is an evocative term, summoning up all manner of imagery; So what do you feel, recall and imagine when the word is uttered? Mounds and clumps of dirt squelching and smushing beneath your feet as you trudge through an Autumnal field. Or the 3rd rock from the sun, a spinning globe of elements suspended in the Milky Way galaxy, containing just the right recipe to form us and our fellow life forms. How about a musical variation on the term Earth? Earth, Wind & Fire, the funktastic 70s group? Or ‘Earth Song’, the bombastic whining sprawl of a pop song from Jacko at his most wacko? Scrap all of that, because this is all about a certain doom droning, band spawning, jazz tinged, experimental foursome known simply, and irrevocably, as Earth.

Formed as a group who combine doom with gloom and craft something with a slow, steady fire burning in the pit of their sonic stomachs, they have progressed throughout their 20 year career into a band intent on wandering through the wastelands of sound, taking snippets of this and cuttings of that to piece together an epic tapestry that sprawls itself out leisurely and lovingly. Riffs were aplenty in the last offering from the gang of motley music makers, back in 2008, but the avant garde mindset has taken hold somewhat on their new record ‘Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I’ (indicating that this is the first part of something rather expansive), the title of which recalls all the dooming, glooming razzmatazz you ever expected from the investigational stalwarts.

The success of a record such as this depends entirely on the tastes and open mind of the listener, so mired in unconventionality and an array of archaic styles that melt together. It is most certainly not something to suddenly pick up and blast through a single or two, in four minute nuggets of accessibility. Instead, this is a prolonged exposure to an ideology to dissolve into, allowing the entire piece to envelop you rather than bluntly dancing away the embers in a short, sharp blare of noise and guitar. The opening crashing caterwaul of ‘Old Black’, dropping into ominous electric guitar offerings, sets the tone for the thunderous reverberation to come, culminating in a twenty minute mellow drift through the title track to wind down a record that shuffles from uneasy listening to dreamgazing via a glut of effects and genre trials.

Earth and its members (especially frontman Dylan Carlson) have led a fraught existence so far, stepping in and out of drug disasters, involving themselves intricately in the life of Kurt Cobain and ebbing and flowing in and out of musical existence ever since 1989, leaving behind a range of EPs and albums that showcase the tenacious talent on offer when the group put their minds (and instruments) together. ‘Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I’ is a beautiful bit of brave music making in the current climate, oozing with a sensuality that borders on the dreamworld, but the lengthy timeframe and experimental avenues sometimes become a little too much for a pair of little ears to take. This is a record for those with time. Time to sit, listen, soak it in and accept that, sometimes, music needn’t be logical.

Words : Adam Parker

Friday, 14 January 2011

James Blake 'The Wilhelm Scream' Live at Maida Vale

Everyone's been hyping up this fella. So here's a taste of what James Blake has to offer from the February 7th release of his debut self titled LP.

Check out this video of 'The Wilhelm Scream' live from a session at BBC Maida Vale Studios.

RIP Trish Keenan


It is with great sadness that Trish Keenan from Broadcast passed away at 9am this morning just a day after it was announced that she was in critical condition after contacting Pneumonia over the past few weeks.

In a statement from Warp Records they officially announced this tragic news shortly after dreaded the rumours of this occurrence circulated over the internet.

We can only pass on our condolences to the friends and family of Trish.

RIP Trish Keenan

Watch Mount Kimbie live from The Great Escape festival

Courtesy of our friends at Beat Cast. We present you the wonderful Mount Kimbie's stunning set from last years Great Escape festival in Brighton. Enjoy!

Mount Kimbie - Live @ TGE from BeatCast on Vimeo.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Domino to work with Joshua Homme's Rekords Rekords label and re-issue QOTSA's eponymous debut


Domino Records have announced they are to enter a working relationship with Josh Homme's label Rekord Rekords, where they will market, promote and distribute selected titles from their catalogue. The first title will be the seminal eponymous debut album from Queens Of The Stone Age, which we will reissue on March 7th.

Domino will also be releasing Rekords Rekords albums from Mini Mansions and Alain Johannes in May, further information to follow.

Queens Of The Stone Age will be available on CD (REK001CD), double vinyl LP (REK001LP) and via digital download (REK001D). The tracklisting is as follows:

1 - Regular John
2 – Avon
3 - If Only
4 - Walkin On The Sidewalks
5 - You Would Know
6 - The Bronze
7 - How to Handle a Rope
8 - Mexicola
9 - Hispanic Impressions
10 - You Cant Quit Me Baby
11 - These Arent the Droids You’re
12 - Give the Mule What he Wants
13 - Spiders and Vinegaroons
14 - I Was A Teenage Hand Model


And we advise you to BUY this album because it's an all time classic!

Earth add London show to their UK tour this April


EARTH have announced details of their London show this April and will be playing the Scala on Tuesday 12th April with Sabbath Assembly and Beak as support courtesy of ATP. Here are some more ticket details:

ADVANCED TICKET PRICE : £15
VENUE ADDRESS: 275 Pentonville Road, King´s Cross, London N1 9NL
DOORS OPEN : 7.30pm
AGE RESTRICTIONS: 18+

They will be playing their stirling new studio album 'Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 1' for the first time on UK soil. The touring line up is Dylan Carlson, Adrienne Davies, Angelina Baldoz and Lori Goldston.

the full UK tour now looks like this with Sabbath Assembly supporting on all dates:

Friday 1 April - Leeds, Josephs Well
Saturday 2 April - Manchester, Islington Mill
Sunday 3 April - Birmingham, Hare And Hounds
Monday 4 April - Newcastle, The Cluny
Tuesday 5 April - Glasgow, Stereo
Friday 8 April - Dublin, Button Factory
Saturday 9 April - Cork, Cyprus Avenue
Monday 11 April - Cardiff, Millenium Music Hall 2
Tuesday 12 April - London, Scala

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Ringo Deathstarr give away Worriedaboutsatan Remix of 'So High'


One of Middle Boop's Top Tips for this year 'Ringo Deathstarr' are offering an awesome remix of 'So High' one of the songs from their upcoming debut album 'Colour Trip' on out 14th February.

Harrys Gym Release New Album + Announce UK Tour

the Norwegian Prog pop four piece Harry's Gym have just announced details of their second album ‘What Was Ours Can’t Be Yours’ which will be released on the 7th February.

Harrys Gym live dates:

UK
08.02.11 - London @ The Social (Sonic Cathedral Night)
09.02.11 - Birmingham @ Hare and Hounds
10.02.11 - Leeds @ Nation Of Shopkeepers
11.01.11 - Bristol @ Start The Bus
12.02.11 - Cardiff @ Arts Institute
14.02.11 - Glasgow @ Stereo
15.03.11 - Manchester @ Roadhouse
16.02.11 - London @ Camp Basement (Fleur De Lys)
17.02.11 - Reading @ Oakford Social Club

Europe
03.03.11 - Hamburg @ Mondial Club
04.03.11 - Berlin @ Bang Bang Club
05.03.11 - Dreden @ Thalia Kino
07.03.11 - Vienna, Austria @ Arena Vienna
08.03.11 - Erfurt @ Stadtgarten
12.03.11 - Offenbach @ Hafen 2

British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall (Rough Trade)

Back in 2003 when the Brighton based boys first released The Decline of British Sea Power, I was fortunate to catch them open up for Bright Eyes at the Shepherds Bush Empire. I was blown away. The intensity of their set along with the completely visceral piece de resistance ‘Lately’ was evidence enough for me to get a copy of the album.

Here we are, roughly seven years later, with their fourth full length album (excluding Man of Aran), Valhalla Dancehall. Along with this release came high expectations, as the 2008 Mercury Music Prize nominees had to pull something special out of the bag to surpass their extensive repertoire.

Valhalla Dancehall opens with a promising track in the form of ‘Who’s in Control?’. With riffs borrowing heavily in style from 2008’s Do You Like Rock Music?, Jan Scott Wilkinson’s unhinged vocals are more reminiscent of 2003’s The Decline Of…. With bizarre screams in-between choruses of “Over here/ over there/ Over here/ Every fucking where”, I was pleased with the direction this album was taking.

Next up, ‘We are Sound’. Beginning upbeat and riff led, progressively drifting into more of a settled, atmospheric venture, not sounding too out of place on2005’s Open Season, it’s a familiar experience. Follow up track ‘Georgie Ray’, is a piano based ballad, led with a more gentle approach vocally by Yan, accompanied with spiraling guitar solo’s and angelic backing vocals.

If the record sounds too mellow for you at this point, you’ll be pleased to know ‘Stunde Null’ leans more towards the creative juices of ‘Favours in The Beetroot Fields’, with it’s almost threatening tempo and the trademark angular guitar riffs we’ve come to expect. The album goes on to showcase the talents and diversity the boys have to offer. ‘Luna’ and ‘Baby’ are again reminiscent of the Open Season era, with their delicate and occasionally sweeping melodies, this time with Neil Hamilton Wilkinson taking on vocal duties.

Living Is So Easys drum machine beats and keyboard focused sound seems slightly out of place at first, however has soon become one of my favourite tracks on the album. With super catchy lyrics like ‘Living is so easy / Shopping is so easy / Dying is so easy/ All of it is easy’ and ‘Northern girls/ Are you going to the party? / Southern boys/ Are you going to the party?’ how can you not succumb? If you happen to walk past me in the street, there’s a good chance I’ll be whistling / humming/ murmuring this.

The latter of the album is nothing short of impressive. Borrowing from 2010’s Zeus EP, ‘Cleaning Out The Rooms’ is a far cry from the aforementioned electronic ventures which the Zeus EP delves into frequently. With it’s ethereal lyrical approach, stirring violin, persistent drums and eerily soothing backing vocals, it’s nothing short of a classic.

Just incase you got too comfortable, the boys throw another ‘Favours in the Beetroot Fields’ style number in your direction with ‘Thin Black Sail’, before messing with your body’s inner tempo clock and presenting yet another lengthy, soothing creation at you with ‘Once More Now’. Eleven minutes later, we’ve reached our final destination; ‘Heavy Water’.

British Sea Power have released yet another album of eclectic sounds, styles and demonstrate once again why they’re at the top of the British indie rock scene. Creative, atmospheric, original and evolved, they present an array of new songs that will easily compete with their back catalogue. I’ll be catching them at the HMV Forum on February 27th for some more ear blistering feedback heavy shenanigans. I suggest you do the same.

Words: Neil Phillips

Dananananaykroyd Announce Second Album


As I type this Glasgow's Dananananaykroyd will be putting the finishing touches to their as yet untitled second album. The heavy sextet, once voted the best live band in the UK will be touring over the next few months in the lead up to the album.

FEBRUARY
25 Middlesbrough Uncle Albert’s
26 Dundee Doghouse
27 Aberdeen Café Drummond

MARCH
1 Cambridge Haymakers
2 Southampton Joiners
3 Bath Moles
4 Sheffield Harley
5 Liverpool Shipping Forecast

Amplifier - free download


Remember Amplifier? A few years ago they were really doing wonders for the British rock scene with their edgy prog based metal and an emphatic live show to boot where at times they would turn all the lights off in venues and just play with miners lights on their heads. Well after a brief quiet spell I am very happy to welcome them back with a free download of 'The Wave' taken from their new double album 'The Octopus' out on Jan 31st.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Arbouretum - The Gathering (Thrill Jockey)


Well, what a welcoming sound that is to my ears. A rolling guitar riff filled with that aurally pleasing crunching distortion growling away deep at the heart of the song. This is the exact enigmatic fashion that the album “The Gathering” commences fantastically played by Dave Heumann’s Arbouretum. This, the groups 4th offering is as strong and fresh as any other it’s predecessors and showcase a band that is growing confidence, talent and are surely evolving into a tour de force that the music world will have to deal with very soon indeed.

Arbouretum declare their intentions, as aforementioned, with track one “The White Bird”. Clocking in at over 7 minutes long, it is a classic example of a band setting out their stall and making sure that they have garnered your attention.

This stranglehold tightens it’s stronghold on you in the second track “When Delivery Comes”. We are treated to further gritty rhythm which is greatly complimented. This song feels like it would be perfectly suited to accompany a gun battle in a modern adaptation of a Sergio Leone epic.

In the next track, “Destroying To Save”, Dave Heumann’s vocals are shoved into the spotlight as the voice is a predominant force in what drives the song. It must be said that one can make all sorts of comparisons of his style from Deep Purple’s Ian Gillian to one hit wonder maestro Arthur Brown. It is certainly a welcome sound to my ears, being musically trapped in that era as I am. I guess it is just nice to hear a rock voice with a whole lot of soul.

The Highwayman” is delightfully in the vein of such acts as Counting Crows. That distinct, simple but deeply effective rhythm is effervescent here. Again, I feel myself impressed by the minimalistic approach. The beat kept by drummer, Brian Carey, is perfect; not too much, not too little.Corey Allender on bass does not deviate from complimenting the rhythm and Dave Huemann himself is doing a sterling job as front man.

Waxing Crescent” changes the mood of the album completely. The ambience shifts to a eastern feel and could be compared to The Beatles in the mid 60s when they were majorly influenced by that artistic appeal. It is a perfect track to maintain interest in the band and keep up the air of mystery that Arbouretum have perpetuated since the opening bars of the album. This is undoubtedly one of my favourite songs from “The Gathering”.

We are brought back down to earth from the hedonistic heights of the previous track with a more familiar sound in the form of “The Empty Shell”. It almost feels like it is a prelude to a song by Black Sabbath as the band airs their experimental side. However, it eventually settles down into a catchy rock tune which, whilst effective, lacks the intrigue of some of the other tracks on the album.

So, “The Gathering” draws to a close with the final track “Song Of The Nile”. I am not left disappointed as the album grinds to a conclusion that is as dirty and gnarled as the album began. Again, note must be made of the pulsating driving force that Arbouretum provide that provide a perfect platform for Heumann to ply his craft. This song conjures up memories of those eponymous songs by The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin to name a few whose long instrumentals made every bit of sense as the verses and choruses.

At the end of the day I am left with two thoughts. One, what a fantastic start to 2011 and two, where can I catch these guys playing live?

The Moondoggies - Tidelands (Hardly Art)


It’s a shame, it’s a pity. As an album opener, this is less a sweeping statement and more a modest comment. But, a comment on what?

Seemingly informed by an idyllic view of the States, Tidelands is an organic, retro-rocking, second record from The Moondoggies. Combining the sounds of Country, Blues and Rock; Tidelandshas a distinct, but occasionally over-familiar sound.

Bands like Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear and The Cave Singers have not helped The Moondoggies, as the sweet style of Americana has saturated the sound-scape over the past couple of years. Where the Fleet Foxes happily fall into a hippie-like ambient haze and The Cave Singers boast a vocal edge, The Moondoggies unfortunately slip into the dreaded middle ground. The middle ground is a musical hell, soundtracked by Mumford & Sons.

Tracks are written with a sense of economy, the whole album runs at a healthy 42 minutes; unlike the often stereotyped America, there is no fat to be found on Tidelands. The album may be highly influenced, but that does not stop it from having its own, personal voice. Mixing the aforementioned genres, but bringing in even more styles [gospel crops up a lot], The Moondoggies sound less American Indie and a bit more like The Coral. In fact, the more I listen to the album, the more I’m reminded of the weed-mellowed Scousers.

Album highlights include What Took So Long, which boasts an organ-heavy chorus, the particularly ‘Coral’-sounding Lead Me On and Down the Well, which is really the band’s finest 5 minutes. Embracing the heavier side of the genre is when The Moondoggies are in their element; the sound of singer Kevin Murphy’s voice striving for prominence with the instruments, helps give the band a sense of urgency and importance.

It’s a shame, it’s a pity- what the hell does it mean? Well, some critics have turned their noses up at the music, because of its familiarity. In an interview* for the first album, Murphy is grilled about “not sounding modern” and is actually accused of following a popular trend. Murphy retaliated with a pretty inspired monologue about music bloggers and the new cynicism pointed towards modern music. “If you've listened to the album I don't know if it's anything but honest. Are drum loops modern honesty? There's nothing conscious about how we develop our sound. It's people I've always known sitting together and singing songs.” At the end of the interview, when Murphy is asked about the direction for the second album, he deadpans “less retro”.

In short, for all of its sincerity and sweetness; Tidelands is a big FUCK YOU to the preconceived notion of modern music and a celebration of honest music. Can’t argue with that.

*http://endhits.portlandmercury.com/endhits/archives/2009/01/16/the_moondoggies_interview_wi


Words : David Campion

Monday, 10 January 2011

Sic Alps – Napa Asylum (Drag City)


After Brian Jonestown Massacre and Dig! and everyone thinking ‘That was totally relevant and changed the face of re-hashed sixties garage pop forever!’, I’m sure music fans wondered if we’d be spared anymore lo-fi whiney hipster indie posing as something far more interesting. Then the Black Keys happened and managed to fool people into thinking it was possible to release a record which evoked old time rock and roll whilst being vital in the new millennia. Sic Alps are not the Black Keys. They have, since their rise to (somewhat) fame in 2009 been making waves in circles of people who wear skin tight flares and read Shindig/ smoke crack and pretend not to read Vice. But outside of revivalists and trend seekers, I can’t see TWENTY-TWO track album Napa Asylum making any waves. It is indulgent, pretentious, ridiculously, needlessly, long, and sounds like a slightly less-good version of any number of other things: Ariel Pink if they were less weird and fun, Thee Oh Sees if they weren’t Pink and Brown with a fuzzy sixties vibe...

If this album was ten tracks long, I might have found myself wanting to give it a little more credit. On Trip Train they manage to jam themselves into a noise band, and for a couple of minutes Napa Asylum gets fun. The general dirge of the album peaks in a few other places including airy summertime pop hits Cement Surfboard and Ball of Fame. Meter Man is Beatles-style nonsensical psych-rock that Las and Dums its way into your heart momentarily, and Occult Display has a rich authenticity the rest of the album seems to fall short of. But these are lost amongst the tirade of pastiche you have to wade through like lumpy custard that’s been lying around since 1966. Final track Nathan Livingston Maddox was my favourite, but that might have been purely because I’d had to sit through twenty-one other tracks of ‘so fucking fragile and indie my voice might crack in a minute’ vocals and the last track was a sweet release similar to the end of a school day, or trip to Dignitas. If you have got this far and are still intrigued to hear Napa Asylum, why not try their 2008 release U.S. EZ first, it is a more concise, enjoyable, and fundamentally shorter release.

Words : Maya Boustany

Mogwai Announce Intimate London Show


One of Middle Boop's all time favourites, the majestically marvellous Mogwai have just announced a rare intimate show at London's Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen on Wednesday 9th February.

The tickets go on sale at 1 o' clock today and are available to buy over at the ATP Site.

Mogwai's new album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is released on February 14th.