Wednesday, 30 November 2011

November 2011 Playlist

Another edition of my brilliant playlist. I got a lot of new music this month so I have some nice new interesting bands. Without further ado...

1) Weights & Measures - Dry The River
2) Never Let Me Go - Florence & The Machine
3) Like I Love You - Justin Timberlake
4) All Falls Down - Kanye West
5) Can't Take My Eyes Off You - Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons
6) Moon Hits The Mirrorball - Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
7) Found Love In A Graveyard - Veronica Falls
8) Baby I Got The Death Rattle - Los Campesinos
9) Mirror In The Bathroom - The Beat
10) Cutting Class - Cerebral Ballzy
11) Vulture - By The Rivers
12) We Were Children - Tribes
13) Love On The Rocks With No Ice - The Darkness
14) This One's Different - Howler
15) Two Islands - Outfit
16) Fall Creek Boys Choir - James Blake
17) Bleak Bake - King Krule
18) Bed Of Nails - Wild Beasts
19) A Little Bit Cooler - Cool Kids
20) Let Me Entertain You - Robbie Williams

It's been a pretty mellow month really, but with lots of noise from Tribes and Cerebral Ballzy keeping me from sleep. Also, I LOVE ROBBIE. SO SO MUCH.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Outfit- Two Islands/Vehicles Single Review

Outfit are being touted as "Liverpool's most exciting new band!", but without much proof. This double A-side is their first proper single and so a lot of pressure rides on it. And do you know what, I think they just deliver. The band apparently house-sat some mansion where they were able to near constantly practice and refine their sound till they were ready to face the big wide world. But what do they sound like? Well the short answer is a Scouse Wild Beasts. Minus the wobbly falsetto. But they definitely have the same ideas. The songs are sparse, with simple drums, reverby guitar and drawn out synth. They're not quite as chilled as Wild Beasts and there seems to be an element of tension that Wild Beasts often. Two Islands has the slight edge with a frantic guitar line and sweeping bass notes that make it a landscape of weird noises. It's proper good.



Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Dry The River- Weights & Measures EP Review

Getting off the UK's pub circuit and taking the step to the big time often takes more than just good songs and hyping from every blog. The way to really get big is clearly the "Play Every Gig Physically Possible" approach. In recent years this approach has had a revival, with Mumford & Sons excelling in this field. Dry The River have picked up the baton where Mumford left off, and have played for literally everyone. In vans, in shops, in woods, anywhere, Youtube-ing their name brings up tons of sessions, live gigs and interviews. This has all meant that they have become a well oiled live machine, wowing audiences all summer at the festivals.

"Weights & Measures" is the bands first proper EP after just a handful of singles. Nothing on the EP is a surprise and all bar one track have been kicking around in sessions and live for ages. The title track follows Dry The River's formula of starting quiet and building towards a fuck off chorus that'll BLOW YOUR MIND. They really know what they're doing with this whole anthem thing. The delicate falsetto of singer Pete is so distinctive, yet seems so natural. Gentle adding of harmonies, violin, guitar and drums lets his voice get louder till, The Chorus is upon you. Next track "Family" continues in the same vein. Previously called "Family Tree" a re-writes gives it a fresher feel and shows a band constantly pushing forward. Dry The River have been compared so many times to Mumford, but the only similarities seem to be the acoustic guitar. Bolstered by full drums and electric guitar, they sound heavier then any of Mumford's songs and their chorus's MAY even be better. "Bible Belt" is officially released on the EP, although it is only the "Field Recording" version. This is no bad thing however, and this striped back, acoustic version is what got the band noticed. It is a quiet, emotional song but still has that massive chorus. The last track "Thou Art Loosed" has a very different feel. The song feels like a proper country hymn. All of their songs seem to have this feel, but it's brought to it's logical conclusion. Backed only by violin, the song is sung almost as a round, with each member adding his layer of harmony. It's a subtle song that leaves you wondering what century you're actually in. 

The EP shows a band on the brink of possibly becoming huge, but also throwing out weird curveballs for their own amusement. They really deserve to get on bigger stages, the Reading's Festival Republic stage ain't build to hold chorus' as big as these.


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Hello Sadness- Los Campesinos! Album Review

WARNING: I really love Los Camp! Like super love.

I'll start this review at the beginning, about 2 months ago when I clicked the pre-order button on . Los Campesinos! are known as a band who really live the DIY ethic many bands claim to have. In the last year alone, they've created their own 'zine (each with a special 7"), done a free London show and also the AMAZING pre-order package Hello Sadness was sold with. I received this album in the post 2 weeks before it's official release, with a extra DVD, demo's CD and t-shirt, all for £20. I was excited to say the least. And all this before actually hearing the album! And what an album it is.

Me with my pre-order package.
I was well excited
Realistically, Los Campesinos! should be over their peak at scraping around to try and piece an album together. After losing their violinist, Harriet, after this album and this being their 4th long record (though 3rd album), you'd expect them to be a little down. WRONG! The album, LC!'s 3rd, picks up where Romance is Boring left off, seeping broken hearts, sexual frustration and death. These all sound like they should be a Fall Out Boy album, but LC! make them seem a lot more believable, and a lot less whiney. Gareth's lyrics are as personal and as confusing as ever, but some of his best. He's stopped worrying about putting the longest word he can in, and get's straight to the point. Well kinda. He continues his obsession with bodies and body parts, especially chests, on all songs, especially "The Blackbird, The Dark Slope", a song about being eaten by a blackbird. Phallic descriptions also feature  ("I draw a dick in the frost for every girl who wouldn't fuck me") so no change there. The best of this is "Baby I Got The Death Rattle" a song about sexual frustration and rejection culminating in the frenzied repetition of the line "Not headstone, but headboard s'where I wanna be mourned." He also carries on his obsession for football with "Every Defeat A Divorce (Three Lions)". The idea of having a song comparing the end of a relationship to every England world cup defeat sounds like a recipe for loutish disaster, but the soaring violins and picked guitar make it one of the more emotional songs. Prize for best song however, has to go to the title track. It just sums up all the things that make LC! so special and is one that really tugs at the ole' heartstrings. It see's Gareth at his lyrical best backed by a sweeping, soaring mix of violin, guitar and drums. It slowly build, bolstered by the vastly improved drumming, to a climatic end which leaves Gareth's voice straining to sing the last refrain. B-e-a-utiful.

The album balances the band at their most punk-like ("By Your Hand", "The Blackbird, The Dark Slope") and most tender ("To Tundra" "Light Leaves, Dark Sees Pt. II") perfectly. This definitely contends for one of their best and shows how much they've grown up and matured. It's really really awesome basically.

Plus I got a cool tee



Click here to stream "Hello Sadness"

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Specials- Brixton Academy 31/10/11

Halloween. A night of witches, ghosts and, of course, 70's Ska. So in line with tradition, we* set off down to Brixton for a Halloween better than collecting sweets. This is the third tour The Specials have done since they reunited with their original line up and the second time I've seen them. As with the first time, the audience is always really something special. You can't get much better than an audience made up of a mix of drunk 50 year old skinheads and their children. Believe me, you can't.

By The Rivers
The first support band, Stone Foundation, failed to excite the crowd with their mix of downbeat Northern Soul, but the crowd turned back on for the second support By The Rivers. One of the few bands around who can say they're a true Ska band AND under 21, it was brilliant to see a band play with such enthusiasm. They not only had brilliant songs (including new single "One Word") but were a tight live band who enjoyed supporting their heroes. Definitely have a little listen.

The fitting opening of a clip montage of news stories since The Specials formed set the tone and made you realise how relevant The Specials still are. The clips of 80's riots were so similar to that of the recent summer ones it's weird to watch. After fading out to a picture of David Cameron (to much booing) the band strolled on starting with the song that set it all off "Gangsters". The first thing you notice when watching the band, is how much energy they still have, despite approaching 50. They literally do not stop running around. You know how good you are live when your rhythm guitarist can do the running man whilst playing. This tornado of crazy Ska brilliance all centers round the calm, and grumpy, figure of singer, Terry Hall. Being the Jack Dee of frontmen, he literally does not move from his mic stand the entire show (Sample banter includes grumbling about the use of "Ghost Town" on Strictly Come Dancing and calling Bono a twat). If he does move, he drags his stand around with him like a prisoner with a ball on a chain. And it's completely brilliant and what you'd expect from him.

Things take a weird turn midway through the set when a string section walk on. It looks odd and seems completely unnecessary. They only seem to replace the parts the brass section would have played. It seems completely self indulgent and a result of a lot more income. It isn't the only thing that makes the tour seem like an excuse to fill their bands pockets. The snazzy new lighting rig and projector must have been funded from somewhere, and I have a sneaking suspicion it was from the live CD's they were flogging in the foyer £20. The new purchases didn't even seem to add at all to the show and instead seemed more to bemuse.

Having said all of this it all came together during "Ghost Town" arguably the bands best song, and definitely their biggest. Both brass and strings came on, creating a massive sound for the song, and a brilliant background projection of black and white skyscrapers all just made the song complete. It was definitely the high point of the show and made you understand why they had made all these changes. Had I forked out £20 for a live CD, I would be listening to that track on repeat.

My poor attempt at photography
This wasn't the only song that benefited from extra staging. During "Stupid Marridge" Terry Hall moved next to the drum riser whilst "Judge Roughneck" grilled him for "breaking his girlfriends property!" They acted out the courtroom the song creates. "Nightclub" used the new lighting rig to full effect, creating a perfect, well, nightclub. The extra thought and theatre really made these songs special.

Despite the slightly odd sections and relentless merchandise selling, this show was really brilliant, perhaps because of this new income. Their songs are such classics that simply performing them would have been enough, so the energy and brilliance of the performance makes it amazing to watch. They are such a tight live band and their experience shows, but also their want to move forward and not stagnate. The band still love playing together and they interact so amazingly. We're told half way through that "We'll still be doing this in 2030" and by this performance they're obviously still enjoying themselves and it's definitely not too late yet.

*we being me and William James who got me the tickets for my birthday because he loves me