Monday, 3 August 2009
Friday, 31 July 2009
Sunday, 21 June 2009
WHEN: 4th July - 5th July. The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent
WHAT: The festival season is fast upon us; after next weekend's Glastonbury follows the Hop Farm Festival. After the success of last year's Neil Young headlining show Hop Farm has extended to two days. The ethos is simple - everyone gets the same treatment - there's no VIPs and branding is shunned in favour of a purist festival experience of music, music and more music.
2ManyDJs are almost worth the entrance fee alone, but head to the smaller stages for White Denim, 65 Days of Static and Rumble Strips.
WEAR: What difference does it make? This is a back to basics affair so t-shirt and jeans will do nicely.
Tickets are still available
Sunday, 7 June 2009
Sunday, 17 May 2009
LIVE: Bishop Allen, David Cronenberg's Wife, A Classic Education. The Windmill, Brixton, 10th May, 2009
The best thing about the Windmill isn’t the ramshackle barbeques, the affable crowd or even the headline acts that squeeze into this tiny venue, it’s the fact that no matter who it is you go there to see, there will always be a surprise gem to take home. Last night that crown fell on A Classic Education, an Italian alt-pop band touring their recently released single, the excellent Jeremy Warmsley produced ‘Best Regards’. With swathes of epic, American styled orchestral indie, they are a fun, dark and beautiful bundle.
David Cronenberg's Wife, up before the headliners, are another one of those great bands that not nearly enough people know about. Sounding like they've been transported from the 80s, their macabre lyrics are smoke tinged with a bitter, honest, comic edge.
Before heading back to America tomorrow Bishop Allen have just one last show to play and it was a treat to have them play it at the Windmill. Live they have boundless energy, relentlessly playing song after song without pausing for breath. With each new song they flutter between emotions – boisterous; angry; poetic; melancholy. The new songs sound bigger than they do on the stripped-back-to-the-bone sound of ‘Grrr’ and they delved into their past with oldies like ‘Busted Heart’ and a few tracks from their EP collections.
Bishop Allen are not big on banter, speaking only to introduce themselves, but that didn't make them any less charming and the little area in front of the stage was packed with a satisfied bunch of people by the end. It's just a shame they don't come to these shores more often.
SINGLE: The Siegfried Sassoon - Muscle Beach/The Al Gore Rhythm (feat. Laura-Mary Carter) (Natural History Records)
Monday, 4 May 2009
This year is bigger and better than previous years with the seaside town hosting 300 new local and international bands across 34 stages inside and out as well as holding themed parties and club nights so you can enjoy yourself through the night as well as the day.
One of the best things about having a festival here is that gigs are relatively intimate and allow you to get up close and personal with your new favourite artists. And as it’s a student town, you can get great offers on food and drink. Bands on the bill this year include Metronomy, Patrick Wolf, Peggy Sue, Micachu and the Shapes, Brakes, Chairlift, Gang Of Four, Holy Fuck, Noah and the Whale and Johnny Flynn . Our recommended highlight will be The Maccabees show which will see the five-piece return to the place where it all began for them after the release of their second album.
So get yourself down to Brighton between 15th-16th May and witness some spectacular gigs within one of the most memorable backdrops.
Friday, 1 May 2009
Sleater-Kinney – Combat Rock
The American government were lucky not nearly enough people listen to Sleater-Kinney because they’re more than persuasive enough to incite civil disobedience. A comprehensive attack on wars for oil, consumerist culture, use of arguments involving ‘patriotism’ to silence any dissent and a killer guitar hook on top of that.
Sampling/stealing from a Clash song about immigration (Straight to Hell), having a chorus of gunshots and a ka-ching! sounds, and attacking the perception of immigrants?! M.I.A. is a genius.
Well, yes, in one way it was selling out, but seeing their cover shot on Q will make you yearn for the good old days of 2004 when 12 year old girls were suddenly ready to burn the good old stars and stripes.
Gossip – Standing in the Way of Control
Even if their 15 minutes of fame barely spanned an undeserved cover of the NME and being used on Skins, their breakout single buzzes with righteous rage about the American ex-government’s abuse of their Constitution by refusing to legalise gay marriage.
3 minutes where pretty much everything wrong with the world gets attacked: Coca Cola, Nestle, not liking bands just because they become popular, making generic music, the NME etc.
Friday, 10 April 2009
The lyrics still capture a moment and tell a story, but the topic is not one of youthful nostalgia, describing how someone is diverting and battling from expectation with the words ‘Alone, alone, alone’ always setting the tone, in both its reputation and the way it is delivered. But when we reach the end of the song, there is an air of continuity from their previous sound with the return of a more sedate form of the battling guitars. The Maccabees sound has grown up and we love it.
The band are backed by their usual array of strengths – breathy sing-talky vocals from Emily Haines, a well placed acoustic guitar second chorus and some clever juxtaposition of music and lyrics (‘my heart keeps beating like a hammer’ over the bass drum’s heavy heart-like pounding), as well as a new more personal perspective and clearer songwriting certain to drag in new fans. A brilliant single worthy of a great band.
First single and opener ‘Help, I’m Alive’ was in simplest terms a wet dream to Metric fans, showing their trademark sound remains as good as it ever was with poignant lyrics, a killer refrain and possibly even sweeter breathy vocals. It also provides a good insight into the rest of the album – even though the perfect musical formula from before remains unscathed, the political element that dominated earlier releases (‘I fought the war/I fought the war/I fought the war but the war won’) has been eclipsed by a more personal theme. The album involves more songs that centre on controlling your own life and the problems that fame and other unwelcome monsters have caused on the subject. ‘Help, I’m Alive’ sees Emily use her brilliant falsetto to ask why she shouldn’t do what she wants; ‘Sick Muse’ attacks Cupid for sticking his arrows in her; Metric turn their attention to the need of musicians to push themselves so hard they burn out for the sake of staying edgy on ‘Front Row’.
As a whole, musically, Fantasies is appealing as anything they’ve released with songs catchy and credible enough to match up to the highlights of their back catalogue - the chorus on ‘Gimme Sympathy’ has super heart-melting powers; ‘Stadium Love’ will force you to dance like it’s got a gun to your head. Lyrically it shows a more wistful side of the band – they’re not railing against rehashing of old stuff in the music industry or the left’s failure to galvanise against the Bush administration’s capitalist-war machine, so it doesn’t feel quite as angry, but there’s little trouble being as emotionally intense – if anything it’s a sign Metric are getting even better at what they could already do perfectly.
Standout Tracks: Help, I’m Alive; Sick Muse; Gimme Sympathy; Front Row
It would be pretty harsh to call this a bad album, because it’s far from that – there’s a lot of great indie pop to be found and masterful arrangements on basically every track, but overall Grrr…suggests that the cohesiveness of The Broken String was more a happy accident than anything and that Bishop Allen still have some growing to do.
Standout Tracks: Dimmer, The Lion and the Teacup, Oklahoma, Cue the Elephants
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Although I don’t think the magazine I read that contained the interview in which Tyson Ritter went on about how ‘totally different this album is’ was the NME, it seems like enough of a preposterous lie to have been published in that reputable publication.
I should point out now that I like (tense?) the All-American Rejects – even if I was into black eyeliner when I heard their first album, its adorable teen peppiness still isn’t lost on me now, but I have to say, ‘Gives You Hell’ does exactly what it says on the label (SEE? The title isn’t even creative!!!) What really grates about this album is that 7 years later they might have actually regressed as a band – it physically hurts hearing a 20-something write lyrics like ‘I’ve figured it out/breaking’s what your heart is for.’ Maybe that’s why I think the Jonas Brothers are worse than STDs (they’re roughly equal in destructive terms but those teen pop tossers are catchier). But I digress, the point is, studio polish will never be a decent substitute for imagination, and patriotic rejects’ eyes are blanker than my list of things I like about Miley Cyrus.
Standout Tracks: Do I have to? Fine, I guess ‘Real World’ was momentarily distracting, even if its namesake is the kind of show that would sink to using this album for a soundtrack.
‘Edward the Confessor’, provided by Liverpool’s The Cubical is a jaunty, blues tipped psych pop song that would be straight out of the Black Keys’ back catalogue if it wasn’t for the slightly menacing, growling vocals. Perfect for cutting some 60s shaped rug to but perhaps not so much for putting the kids to bed to…
A Love Supreme are a more child-friendly prospect with the emotional and driving ‘I Know You Got Soul’. Slightly self-indulgent with the guitar solo at the end but otherwise just the right sort of momentous and raw sound new and old bands alike should be trying to create.
Fuzzy JAMC pop has seen a bit of a resurgence of late, Glasvegas being a prime example. The Lucid Dream are a bit less current indie than the nation’s new favourite band from north of the border, instead sounding more like they’ve stepped into a time machine in the 1960s and somehow ended up in 2008. ‘I Got the Devil’ is a sparkling 5 minutes of distortion and noise proving the Lucid Dream to be something to look out for in the coming months.
Last but not least comes Yucatan, creating epic Sigur Ros-esque scores that represent and reflect the Welsh valleys. Singing entirely in their native Welsh language adds a more magical touch to the music although occasionally the whole thing does smack a bit of jumping on the aforementioned Icelandic group’s bandwagon a bit.
Standout track: The Lucid Dream – ‘I Got the Devil’
Although sometimes they’re hard work, Subliminal Girls are worth the effort, once you get your head around them. Plus, they’re always coming up with something interesting – for instance, this latest single will set you back nearly £1500. Not a money-grabbing rip off, but an investment in art, with the record being housed in a special screenpainted box designed by Stuart Semple. Perhaps not the best timed move considering the current economic climate, but interesting nonetheless.
All this is well and good though but it doesn’t count for much if the music isn’t up to scratch. It’s hardly surprising to find that the ‘One Good Use For My Heart’ EP is way above par with five jangly post-punk indie tunes to keep you entertained in the miserable dark evenings this winter. They do tend to overdose a bit on brackets in song titles but surely they can be forgiven for such a crime this time; after all, if you’ve written a song as witty, catchy and downright wonderful as ‘(If You Wanna Know the Time Ask a) Policeman’ or the self-referential ‘Milky Cliché’ then you can probably get away with a bit of punctuational over-indulgence.
Le Reno Amps are the antithesis to the aforementioned dirge merchants, instead bringing to the table a fun and cheerful take on things. ‘Send Me on My Way’, their first single on Drift Records, shows the two sides to the group quite clearly with the title track falling more into the country camp and b-side ‘Airwaves’ fitting snugly under indie. Both are superb displays of musicianship that should have you up out of your chair and cutting some rug, although the lead track may be more of an acquired taste, with its successor a bit easier on the ear. But everyone knows good things come to those who wait, and after a little perseverance you’ll love both songs as if they were your own children.