"Most rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, for people who can't read." - Frank Krappa

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Gig: The Sonics + Wire @ Royal Festival Hall, Southbank 18/6/11

(This is over a week late, but no one reads this so it doesn't matter)

I was incredibly excited about seeing two legendary almost-punk bands in one night, proto-punks The Sonics and post-punks Wire, the only catch being it would be a seated gig. Despite that mislocation, I can now tick both bands off my mental "things to see before I die list", which is probably the most important thing.

Anyway, Wire were really awesome. I'm not such a fan of their newest album (it reminds me of U2 for some reason), but live they really delivered. With the help of a long haired guitarist who appeared to be half the age of the rest of the band, they played a mixture of new material (which was actually really ace live) and old classics and ended with a long noisy electronic sound jam. The noise combined with the lights was completely dazzling throughout, and I was actually pretty glad to be sitting down so I could just absorb what was happening without fear of collapsing with awe.

After a break Ray Davies came on to introduce The Sonics, describing how scary they were to the young and relatively innocent Kinks. The Sonics' set constantly veered between being the rock and roll experience of a life time and making you wonder if they should all go home, get a cup of tea and some rest before they break a hip. They played lots of their old awesome classics, but also some of their new songs (mostly with the new bassist singing) that sounded kinda like AC/DC or Deep Purple. The new songs weren't bad, but no one wanted to hear them, highlighting the fact that these old men were on stage to try to replicate what they had done over 40 years ago - an impossible task.  However, about halfway through people started standing up and going to the front and dancing. Sadly by the time I got there security were blocking access, but the band responded brilliantly and the atmosphere really picked up.

Obviously, I had a great time. Sadly, the fantasies I had of these bands' sets time warping me into 1979 and 1964 respectively were unrealistic.

Friday, 10 June 2011

New Male Bonding music!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Possibly my favourite album of 2010 was Male Bonding's Nothing Hurts. It combined that reverby indie pop sound with a giant dollop of lo fi PUNK ROCK in the best possible way.

They have returned, with promises of a much less lo fi album, Endless Now, coming out on the 30th of August.

They've also put this track out for free download (in exchange for an email address). I think it's pretty awesome, but you can't escape the fact that they now sound like a mixture of their old selves and Blink-182.

It's no bad thing in my book.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Evans The Death are an awesome band that everyone should like

This is Evans The Death's new video for upcoming double a side Threads/I'm So Unclean on Fortuna Pop!. They combine pop brilliance, witty lyrics and a punk rawk attitude reminiscent of all my favourite bands. They are one of my favourite bands.

I've heard that there'll be another video for 'I'm So Unclean', which is probably my favourite of theirs. They're soon to be recording an album with Rory Brattwell (who also did the single and unreleased EP on their MySpace) and I eagerly anticipate what will surely be (judging from demos and songs I've heard live) an incredible debut.

The single release partay is on the 7th of July at the Brixton Windmill. If you don't go, you're an idiot.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

New Stephen Malkmus Track

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Senator by DominoRecordCo

It's from Malkmus's upcoming album, Minor Traffic, and is produced by everyone's favourite ScientologistBeck.You can download it for free off Domino's website here, which is awesome.

Obviously, the track is fairly snazzy and showcases Malkmus's ever interesting lyrics, constantly treading the thin lines between tragedy, sharp wit and complete absurdity.

Obviously, it's nowhere near as good as Pavement. Not even close.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Gig: Low @ Barbican 3/6/11

Yesterday I was a bit nervous about seeing Low: I wasn't a giant fan of the new album, I usually hate being seated at gigs (especially as my seat was right at the back) and, quite frankly, I was a bit worried about being bored.

Oupa (Daniel Blumberg of Yuck) was supporting, and I managed to catch the second half of his set. It's quite clear why he was chosen to support, obviously being influenced by the Slowcore genre Low originated in. His minimalistic keyboard/guitar + voice songs were very nice, and he played them well, but there was an element of self-indulgence in the length and repetition. While being pleasant, it didn't exactly ease my worries about Low's set.

My fears turned out to completely unfounded: last night was definitely one of the most breathtakingly beautiful sets I've ever seen. They opened with a moving rendition of 'Nothing But Heart', a song from their newest album C'mon. To be honest, that was among the songs I didn't like so much from the album but, when played live, the emotional sincerity, beautiful harmonies and awesome crescendo of sound blasted away any doubt in my mind about its brilliance.

From that point on they were on a roll that lasted the remainder of their near 2 hour set. Throughout it, they played lots from Drums and Guns, The Great Destroyer and also the entirety of C'mon. When playing songs that I didn't like so much on their albums, the performance stripped them of their slightly cheesy elements and replaced them with sublime brilliance, completely winning me over. They also did a good mix of long, short, quiet and louder songs that kept my rapt attention much better than a standard rock band ever could. Also, the addition of an extra member (a keyboard/vocalist) added a great element to the awe-inspiring sound.

Particular highlights for me were 'Silver Rider', 'Breaker' and '(That's How You Sing) Amazing Grace'. While I would have preferred them to play more of their early material (especially debut I Could Live In Hope), they're probably really bored of it, and with 9 albums + loads more to their name I'm just glad I knew most of the songs played.

The gig was phenomenal, to the extent that I'm now unsure if I'm more excited to see Low or Jeff Mangum at ATP this December.

Gig: Submotion Orchestra (Album Launch) @ Vibe Bar 31/5/11

Submotion Orchestra make dubsteppy, trip-hop-poppy, slightly-jazzy, souly music very, very well. As a result of that, I went to their awesome and intimate debut album launch at Vibe Bar on Brick Lane.

I got there in time to see support band General Roots play their last few songs. They played a pretty fun reggae/dub/ska set that got most of the audience jumping around and skanking like the Specials. I'm also pretty sure I sure a skinhead guy that disappeared from my secondary school before Sixth Form to everyone's bemusement, but that didn't really affect anything.

Submotion Orchestra came on and started with an awesome instrumental that really got the crowd going. They went on to play a mixture of material from their EP and their great new album Finest Hour, spruced up with instrumental dubstep jams that were definitely the highlights of the night.

Their studio-to-live transition is amazing, and I would definitely advise anyone ambivalent about their studio output to check them live. When actually watching them play, you can't help but marvel at each of the members' musical and technical talents, they're each clearly masters in their individual fields, and if I wasn't busy dancing I would have quite happily gawped for the entire set. The atmosphere was amazing, and I actually feel honoured to have seen them in such a nice and small venue at this stage in what will probably be quite a long and successful career.

Here's a (not brilliant, but thankfully existent) clip that gives you a little taste:

And then my friends and I went to get some disgusting fried chicken that almost killed me.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Gig: Mafia Lights @ The Lock Tavern 29/5/11

I went to this free gig, but only saw Mafia Lights. I'd never heard them before, but they were definitely worth seeing.

Apparently they used to be a pretty boring standard rock band (link), but have since morphed into a drummerless, electronic-loop led, brilliant mess of sound. Despite apparently missing a third member, they put on a full sounding and musically interesting show. Their songs reminded me a bit of a mix between Radiohead, The xx and the less scary bits of Salem.

Here are tracks:

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Hussy

The Hussy are a garagey two-piece punk band. They did a split 7" (here) with one of my favourite bands of all time, Sleeping in the Aviary (who I've written about in these posts), and they're real cool.

This is an awesome live video:

And here's a couple of awesome music videos. IN ONE VIDEO:

Awesome. I can't decide what to buy from them though...

Friday, 27 May 2011

Colourmusic music video - 'Beard'

The ever interesting Colourmusic present the world with a video for their track 'Beard' today, which is the opener of their newest album My ____ Is Pink.

The actual song reminds me of the post-punk, almost post-rock, riffage of Liars, and is generally awesome. The music video reminds us all how disgusting human beings are.


LCD Soundsystem...

...were way ahead of the game with this whole taking-the-piss-out-of-hipsters-from-such-an-angle-that-the-creator-of-the-satire-would-obviously-stand-up-to-their-own-criteria-of-what-makes-a-hipster thing that's been sweeping the internet for a while.

And that's all James Murphy's good for as far as I'm concerned.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Lodger - 'Honeymoon is Over'

Finnish band Lodger got some viral internet attention as a result of their cynical music videos for songs 'I Love Death' and 'Doorsteps'. However, their third, most recent album, Honeymoon is Over (released 2008) shows that they have the capacity to reach higher heights than mild internet stardom.

The opening track 'Requiem' hints, with a short, Pink Flag-esque punk out, that they have promise to be more interesting than the relatively bland rock/pop of their previous releases. Next, 'Chemicals' goes on to prove that they have the ability to write songs that almost match Sebadoh's Bakesale era depressive output.

The rest of the album is a bit hit-and-miss: 'Hairdo' goes from a bit of a rubbish verse to a spectacular chorus, 'Nostalgia' does the opposite and 'So Long' is not my cup of tea at all. Their main drawback seems to tragically be their Finnish origin. The strong accent and often clunky lyrics occasionally get in the way of what could otherwise be great. Despite this, 'I Was Young I Needed the Money', 'Prefontain' and 'Girlfriend' show a skill at crafting energetic Indie Rock songs with pop hooks Guided By Voices would be proud of.

Lodger seem to have disappeared recently, but apparently there's a new album on the way. Hopefully it'll continue where they left off with 'Honeymoon is Over', and they'll continue their progression towards becoming a really, really awesome band that remind me of other awesome bands.

Some tracks (I couldn't find all the ones I really, really liked, but these will do):

Friday, 20 May 2011

Golden Grrrls - '2011 Tour Cassette'

As far as I can make out, this ace "album" is a tape that Glasgow based Golden Grrrls sold on their tour.

I really like their brand of upbeat lo-fi indie-pop. While kinda sounding similar to many of their surfy, reverby contemporaries, the intricate harmonies, interesting arrangements and general goodness makes me think that their rough-around-the-edges aesthetic may actually be concealing some real musical talent, as opposed to covering up the usual lack of it. They also seem like they can kick up the distortion and rock out a bit (in a slightly Bad Brains-ish way), which is always a major plus.

I'm really looking forward to the possibility of hearing some more, and slightly better recorded, songs. These Grrrls are Golden (sorry).


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Nas - 'Illmatic'

I haven't written about Hip-Hop on here before, so I may as well jump in with possibly the best Hip-Hop album of all time, Nas' Illmatic.

I checked it out a couple of weeks ago and my mind was blown. From beginning to end it's full of top notch production and rapping mastery. Nas paints a lyrical picture of his everyday reality (up until that point), mixed with the standard rapping boasts, with such dexterity that I had to listen to every song a couple of times to take it all in. His flow reminds me of Rakim's, but it manages to sound much more natural and poetic, which is saying something. What's really interesting lyrically is the bitter-sweet way he looks at ghetto gangsta life: never glorifying it, but also never smugly denying that there's something to glorify.

I'm kinda running out of things to write because the bottom line is: Illmatic is an amazing album that every Hip-Hop fan should hear, and my relatively uneducated blabbering doesn't really do it justice.

Some tracks:

Monday, 16 May 2011

Timber Timbre - 'Cedar Shakes' & 'Medicinals'

I have already rigorously masturbated over Timber Timbre in a couple of other posts (found here), and my love for him/them led me to dig a little deeper. After a lot of hunting, I managed to track down his first two, much folkier albums: Cedar Shakes and Medicinals. (Don't tell anyone, and I definitely don't condone using this route to listen to the albums at all, but they can be found here and here respectively.)

Anyway, Cedar Shakes is lo-fi. Very lo-fi. Volumes jump up and down and there's quite a bit of white noise, but it doesn't take away from the beauty of the songs and, if anything, just makes you feel even luckier to hear them. As with later albums, there's a lot packed into the songs instrumentally, lyrically and atmospherically. There's something solemnly religious about much of Timber Timbre's music (don't worry, not in a bad/mad way), and it especially shines through in Cedar Shakes. On tracks like the gospel-eqsue 'Mercy' you can almost hear his clenched fist passionately shaking at the sky.

Medicinals is also lo-fi, but it seems like a lot more time has been put into making it sound right. It definitely does sound right, and in the last few weeks it has become my favourite Timber Timbre album, even beating the properly released, most recent two. Almost every aspect of it is perfect, there are brilliant lyrics, amazing melodies and arrangements that are even better than the awesome ones on its predecessor. There's also emotional variety: 'It Comes Back To Haunt Us' makes is reminiscent of a tragically beautiful Edith Piaf song while 'Oh Messiah' borrows from 'Twist and Shout', and makes me want to do just that.

Someone really, really needs to re-release these albums and kick up a fuss about them. They are absolutely brilliant. If I could, I would spend money on them, just for the sake of it.

There are so many things I want to write about

But I am so, so lazy.

By not writing stuff for this blog, I'm procrastinating from procrastination.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Gig: Shrag + Grovesnor @ Buffalo Bar 1/5/11

Grovesnor, in all his seductive glory
The Buffalo Bar was really packed when Grovesnor came on the stage. They're the side project of Hot Chip drummer Rob Smoughton, but (luckily for Grovesnor) they're not really comparable. They play the kind of cheesy lounge-jazz-electropop that one can imagine Flight Of The Conchords seducing women with, which isn't really a genre of music I'd ever choose to listen to, or even ever known anyone to listen to. The official biography itself says that the "ambiguity of “is he for real” is where Grovesnor comes in", suggesting that either his management are just as confused about the ridiculousness of his music as everyone else, or, more likely, that it's all a bit of a joke. That being said, it is fun music and they played it really brilliantly. By the last song (complete with drum and sax solos) everyone in the room was at least nodding their heads with a smile.

Shrag were very much more up my street. Despite clearly having influences in the twee-pop genre I usually despise, they bring a punkish live element to their set that makes them sound like a more musically proficient early '90s Riot Grrl band. They said they tried out some new songs on the night (they were all new to me, I've never heard them before) and I think they were my favourites of the night, with a combination of shouting vocals, post-punk guitar and some really awesome drumming. There was also a song with a spoken verse reminiscent of that No Trend song I posted that was really ace. More popular with the crowd was their single 'Rabbit Kids', but it's not really my thing. I might try to see them next time they play. You should go see them.

After the bands some DJs played a mixture of classic soul, indie and some Spice Girls. I witnessed some of the strangest dancing ever.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Gig: Timber Timbre @ ICA 27/4/11

After realising the tickets for Timber Timbre's gig at ICA had sold out, a friend and I resigned ourselves to haggling with touts. We were slightly worried upon finding a significant lack of (no) touts outside, but there were two tickets left on sale. Fucking A. Anyway, we missed the support, but got in just in time to get drinks and get a nice place in the crowd for what we assumed would be a relatively normal folky gig.

Nosferatu started playing on a screen behind the stage and the three members walked on, singer Taylor Kirk wearing a Grim Reaper style cloak. They began playing songs from their most recent album, Creep On Creepin' On (which I wrote about here). Their gothic folk-soul-blues, in combination with the film, slowly but surely scared the shit out of me and (I hope, for the sake of my pride) the rest of the audience. Kirk, shrouded in the cloak and occasionally twitching a grimace towards the ceiling, added in abundance to the dark atmosphere.

Things really got going when they played  'Black Water' followed by 'Demon Host'. The group of crazy people on drugs (there always seems to be at least one at every gig) swayed and bobbed like maniacs. Everyone else tried not to wet themselves in a combination of musical appreciation and sheer terror.

They encored without Kirk's cloak and craziness. For the first time that evening, he actually spoke to the audience and was really quite charming for someone who, five minutes earlier, looked like he might suddenly decide to decapitate the entire front row with his guitar at any moment. Despite crowd shouts (and my finger crossing) they didn't play 'Magic Arrow', but instead played a brilliant version of 'Trouble Comes Knocking' (I think, or maybe 'Lay Down In The Tall Grass'?).

Altogether, it was pretty fucking fantastic. It wasn't what I was expecting, but it made a pretty big impact and was one of the most interesting gigs I've ever seen. He's playing at Union Chapel on the 1st of November. I'm going to do my best to make it.

This gives you a fraction of the experience:

And I just straight up love this song:

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Beastie Boys - 'Hot Sauce Committee Part Two'

I've always had a soft spot for the Beastie Boys: they have their roots in punk music, they make being jewish slightly less painfully uncool and, most importantly, they make funky, ballsy hip-hop.

Anyway, their new album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, doesn't disappoint. It doesn't break any boundaries, contain any surprises or do anything exceptional (it may as well be called Another Album by the Beastie Boys), but it does what it says on the can, and that's all you can really expect from three ageing men. Also, it's just good, fun music.

You can listen to the album (via basketball pitch boom-box) here:

Slightly more excitingly, they've made a 30 minute video called 'Fight For Your Right - Revisited' to go with the album, which is evidently meant to be the sequel of the 'Fight For Your Right' video. It contains most of the current comedy big boys, and that guy who played Frodo in Lord of the Rings/the American dickhead in Green Street.

Here's the trailer:


Friday, 22 April 2011

The Whitest Boy Alive - 'Dreams'

I first heard The Whitest Boy Alive on a Kitsuné compilation. I was instantly stunned by the track ('Done With You') and played it over and over again until I got hold of the album, which exceeded my expectations immensely. This was all more than three years ago, but Dreams remains one of my favourite albums ever.

The first thing that struck me was the purity of the sound. I'm someone who loves noisy, scuzzy, lo-fi mess songs, but the cleanness of each track on Dreams is breathtaking. You can hear every high-hat hit, every bass note and each reverberated guitar stab or slide. This in combination with the beautiful way in which the instruments interact, rhythmically and harmoniously, creates a deceivingly simple but awe-inspiring noise that can't fail to make you want to dance in your bedroom. Alone.
In many ways it's comparable to Galaxie 500, Low and even The xx, but it's just so, so much better.

I think this album has been horrifically over-looked and under-rated. I admit that 'Above You' is a fucking awful track that I skip every time, but Dreams strips indie-pop down to a fragile and honest skeleton. It's a record that has not only had a profound impact on me emotionally but also on the way in which I listen to music, and I'm sure I'll continue to love it for the rest of my life.

Don't just take my wanky word for it:

Also, their live videos are pretty fucking amazing too. Check it.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Bad Brains

Since being wowed by No Trend, I've been slowly exploring the Hardcore Punk genre.

So far my favourites are Bad Brains, a band that stick out right away for being black rastafarians who occasionally play reggae. I've only listened to their self-titled first album so far, which Adam Yauch (aka MCA) of the Beastie Boys names "the best punk/hardcore album of all time". I'm not informed enough to confirm or deny that, but I do know that the album is fucking ace. Also, MCA's my fave Beastie Boy, so I'll just assume it's true for now.

Here are some great songs to soundtrack a day of joyfully smashing shit up (or sitting at home and watching skate videos on YouTube):

Saturday, 16 April 2011

No Trend

I stumbled upon No Trend, and I think this song is amazingly and horrifically good:

I don't know anything about the band (they don't even have a wiki page, what the fuck?), but I take it that they were part of that whole American '80s Hardcore Punk thangg, which I know hardly anything about. If anybody stumbles across this post and has anything to recommend, please help a brother out.

Here's some other songs that aren't as good, but also kept my interest:

Also, bit lame, but I really like some of their album art, especially the font.

True Womanhood

I found this song on the internet. It's a cover of a song I don't know, but it's fucking great:

Anyway, it's this band, True Womanhood. I like their name, I like their musical aesthetic, I don't like that they dress like cunts. Anyway, this song's different to the first song, but it's still very good.

I "liked" them on facebook, and am excited to follow their progress.

EDIT: They don't dress that irritatingly actually, but still.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Terrible News

Spotify’s aim from the very beginning was to make music on-demand available to all. To give you the power to listen to, discover, share and manage your music the way you want to - simpler, faster, better - while making sure the artists whose music we all love continue to see the benefits as we grow.
Making Spotify available to millions across Europe has seen the service become incredibly popular. People are listening to more music and from a wider range of artists than ever before, and are giving up on piracy, which is exactly what we hoped would happen.
So it’s vital that we continue offering an on-demand free service to you and millions more like you, but to make that possible we have to put some limits in place going forward.
Here’s how the changes will work:
  • New Spotify users will be able to enjoy our unrivalled free service as it is today for the first 6 months.
  • As of May 1st, any user who signed up to the free service on or before November 1st 2010 will be able to play each track for free up to a total of 5 times. Users who signed up after the beginning of November will see these changes applied 6 months after the time they set up their Spotify account.
  • Additionally, total listening time for free users will be limited to 10 hours per month after the first 6 months. That’s equivalent to around 200 tracks or 20 albums.
The changes we’re having to make will mainly affect heavier Spotify Free and Open users, as most of you use Spotify to discover music – on average over 50 new tracks per month, even after a year. Plus, the average user won’t reach the limit on plays for 7 out of 10 tracks, after a year of using Spotify. For those of you using Spotify to find new tracks to enjoy and share with friends, these changes shouldn’t get in the way of you doing that. Rest assured that we’ll continue to bring you the biggest and most diverse music catalogue available.
For anyone who thinks they might reach these limits, we hope you’ll consider checking out our Unlimited and Premium services, neither of which will be affected, plus we have a 7-day free trial for Spotify Premium that we’d love you to try. Throughout May, we’ll also have a pretty nice 30-day free trial for Spotify Premium – more details on that in the next few days.
Above all, this means we can continue making Spotify available to all in the long-term. We’ll be bringing out some awesome new features as well as significant improvements over the coming months, which will make the Spotify experience even better.
Thanks so much, as ever, for your unbelievable support and I hope to come back with some exciting news in the next few weeks.
Fuck you, Daniel

Monday, 4 April 2011

Panda Bear - Tomboy

It's out on April 12th, but can be streamed for free HERE HERE HERE!

Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox) of Animal Collective has made a psychedelic masterpiece. It's the kind of music I listen to and think "Wow, this is really fucking good music!", which is always a good sign.

Here's some tracks, but really listen to the whole thing on the link above.

I've never really listened to any Panda Bear/Animal Collective output before, but I'm definitely gonna check it out now. Nice.

Sebadoh - Bakesale

Sebadoh are a band that I hold dear to my heart, namely their album Bakesale, which came out originally in 1994. It definately comes in my top 10 albums of all time, and is a contender for my "Best Album To Listen To When You're Really Pissed Off" prize, being the perfect mix of sloppy '90s indie rock and grunge.

It's being re-released in the UK by Domino (Sub Pop in the US) and I'm definitely going to spend my money on it and the 25 extra tracks that come with.

As much as I love Lou Barlow (which is a hell of a lot), my favourite songs on the album are Jason Loewenstein's contributions. Sadly, I have yet to hear anything else he's contributed to that's nearly as good (I will continue my search for ever if need be).

Here's some personal faves:

It's just so good!

Also, live videos of their current American tour look fucking awesome. Really, really hope they come to London soon. I saw Lou's solo set last January and that was really, really great; seeing Sebadoh play live would be one of the best things to ever happen to me.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Gig: Deerhunter @ Shepherds Bush Empire 31/3/11

As mentioned in a previous post, I was really, really impressed by Deerhunter's most recent album, Halcyon Digest, and so I had really high expectations for the gig. They were still way, way more amazing than I thought they would be.

First on were Lower Dens, who I got there early to see because I really like their stuff up on MySpace: lovely shoegazey, reverby stuff. About half of their songs sounded identical and fairly boring (mainly thanks to the very, very boring drummer), but the rest of their song were really, really good and I'd definitely like to check them out again.

Just after Deerhunter came on, singer Bradford Cox informed the audience that "Steve the lightman" told him that the legendary Old Grey Whistle Test series was filmed there, which was a lovely factoid to start the show. They opened with a new song, which sounded great, and then went into an overly feebacky version of 'Desire Lines' which, while being my favourite song on the album, was not as impressive live without the backing vocals.

The gig went from good to AMAZING when they played 'Nothing Ever Happened' from Microcastle. They jammed for ages on the outro and it just sounded fucking fantastic. From that point on, all the songs linked in with each other and were extended to great psychedelic effect. A few of my personal favourites were 'Helicopter', 'Little Kids' and 'Memory Boy'. It was all so good, I didn't even mind the crazy middle-aged man screaming random lyrics in my ear.

Here's some videos (I'm really glad people got it on film, but the videos really understate the experience of being there):

This was their encore. It was brilliant (especially the joke).

The noises at the beginning of the video gives you a small taste of the amazing sonic soundscapes they conjured up throughout the gig.

This was the new song they opened with.

This was the brilliant Magazine cover that they also played on BBC 6music the night before.

And on the way home, I saw a man in a suit throw up what looked like bloody maggots. It was great.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Timber Timbre - Creep On Creepin' On

I first found Timber Timbre when watching Breaking Bad, in which his (or should that be "their"?) brilliant song 'Magic Arrow' was matched brilliantly with a truly brilliant scene. The music is kinda folky, kinda souly, kinda bluesy, kinda scary.

I really enjoyed his last album, Timber Timbre, or at least I really loved a few of the tracks and the rest, although samey, had a nice enough groove and an interesting enough atmosphere. Much of it sounds like The Dead Weather on heroin with an American Jack Steadman singing, which is a good thing in my book. Also, the bits and bobs I've heard from previous releases are pretty rad too.

Anyway, his (their? Wikipedia doesn't know either) new album, Creep On Creepin' On, is out on April 5th. However, luckily enough it's on the AOL Music website (HERE! HERE! HERE!) for all to listen to.

I think COCO is a definite step forward from Timber Timbre, the songs are still a bit samey, but there's some interesting, atonal instrumentals to add drama when you start to notice. The whole 60s soul aspect has been really pushed forward to great effect, with muted bass, swinging drums and piano taking a much more prominent place on this album than the last; there's even some girl group style backing vocals on 'Too Old to Die Young'.

I think Timber Timbre is (are?) fantastic. I'm not a giant fan of every song, but the music always sounds interesting and sonically unlike anything else I've heard. I think I'm gonna check out his/their gig on the 27th of April at ICA.

Anyway, enough blabber. Here's some sweet, soulful tunes:

And here are some old favourites:

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Low (as promised)

I think Low are a really cool band. I found them on the Sub Pop website, which I recently realised allows you to download a few free tracks from each of their artists, and pretty much fell head over heels in love right away. I don't like all their stuff, some of the earlier output is samey, but the songs that I do like are so beautiful and interesting that I don't really mind.

Their music can be described as "Slowcore", a label that is ironically disregarded by all of the bands that it's applicable to. To me, their earlier output sounds like a mixture between Galaxie 500, Slowdive and Joy Division, and their later stuff is similar but with some of Yo La Tengo and Radiohead's more interesting sounds mixed into the production. Sounds like it'd be pretty great, right?

Here's a few songs I like:


They've also got a new album out, C'Mon, on the 11th of April. It was recorded in a ex-Catholic Church (the same one as in their brilliant album Trust) and contains guest contributions from a lap steel player, violinist and banjoist, so I'm very excited to hear the result.

Yesterday, Pitchfork put up a free download of one of the new songs, 'Especially Me', which sounds fucking fantastic. You can access it HERE.

Here's some trailers they made for the album which look fucking awesome:

Friday, 25 March 2011

Talking Heads

Recently all I've been listening to is Talking Heads and Low. I know it's a strange mix, but it's doing me well for now. Anyway, here is a blog post about Talking Heads, maybe soon I'll also write about Low. Then again, if I don't it doesn't matter as no one reads this.

Until very recently, I didn't really like Talking Heads very much at all. I've been vaguely aware of them for a while now and naturally checked them out, but hadn't found the capacity to really like anything other than 'Psycho Killer', which sounds close enough to my Gang of Four/Franz Ferdinand/Poppy-Post-Punk musical safety net. Everything else sounded scarily dated and synthetic and weird and a bit empty.

I still feel that way about most of their stuff, and I doubt anything will change my mind, but after watching Stop Making Sense again I finally recognised the genius flowing through their songs. Remain In Light manages to sound pretty great, but it's a real shame that most of their discography lacks the amazingness their live shows evidently contained.

Everyone should watch Stop Making Sense from start to finish (and you can on YouTube), but here's a few of my favourites:

As good as the individual videos are, nothing beats going through all of them in the proper order in one sitting. If your not smiling and clapping along by the end, you don't deserve your ears, eyes or hands.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Starfucker/STRFKR - Reptilians

Starfucker (briefly named Pyramiddd at some point and now kinda named STRFKR) have a new album out, Reptilians. They make electronic-falsetto-indie-dance-pop type music in the same vein as Passion Pit, Empire of the Sun and MGMT.

I had mixed feelings about their first album, Starfucker, as I feel a lot of their music is too happy-clappy for a miserable cunt like me and many of their synth sounds are just painful. However, they do manage to pull some spectacular songs out the bag (Check out Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second, German Love, Pop Song, Florida etc.). I was less pleased with their Jupiter EP, but their cover of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun was fucking spot on.

Anyway, the new album is great and shows a definite musical step forward. There are still the features that I don't like (occasionally in an even more painful way than before), but there are songs on which they explore new sonic territory with a less annoying, more bass driven and/or spacey vibe. Many of the songs I don't like, but the songs that I do like I like a lot and remind me of other great psychedelicish bands like Deerhunter, Caribou and Grizzly Bear.

Here are tracks I really like:

Also, rad album cover.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

To continue my Caribou wank-fest...

This breathtaking video of Caribou's breathtaking album closer, 'Jamelia', has just been made public:

Is it bad that this song literally makes me breathless?

This is a "sister video", released a year ago with the album opener 'Odessa':

It's a much catchier, dancier affair, but neither the song or the video blow my mind as much as 'Jamelia'.

Friday, 25 February 2011

The Breeders - Pod

Kim Deal

A couple of weeks ago I gave my friend The Breeders' amazing first album, Pod. I wrote her a thing on why it's so good. Here it is, sans personal bits:

Pod is a really, really, really good album. At first I thought it was just okay, but it grew on me over a period of months and, when I actually decided to buy it for your birthday, I relistened again and thought it was exceptional. Every track is full of fantasticly original ideas that are totally worth stealing.

Also, it's just not me saying that this album is really good. Kurt Cobain (who's judgement should be respected for several reasons) spoke about it in an article called Kurt Cobain of Nirvana Talks About the Records That Changed His Life and said that “it’s an epic that will never let you forget your ex-girlfriend”, which I'm sure means “it's really good”. He also said that “The main reason I like [The Breeders] is for their songs, for the way they structure them, which is totally unique, very atmospheric”. Steve Albini, the producer of the album who also produced many other AMAZING albums such as Surfer Rosa by Pixies, In Utero by Nirvana and Rid of Me by PJ Harvey, said that he thinks it ranks among his best works. And there's heaps and heaps of less interesting critical praise.

Most of the tracks on the album are classics. The opener, Glorious, manages to be beautiful. lazy and intense at the same time. Their cover of a Beatles song, Happiness Is A Warm Gun, is miles and miles better than the (amazing) original. Oh! is a song I find incredibly heartbreaking and my favourite bit in the entire album is at 1:53 when Kim manages to tearjerkingly squeal in tune. When I Was A Painter is a grungey classic. Iris jumps from sweetness to raw power and vice-versa in an incredibly effective way. The closer, Metal Man, is surreal and enchanting with the most unexpected, brief and brilliant climax ever. I only missed out the other songs for brevity's sake, they are all beautiful and rockin' too.

As noted before, the album was produced by Steve Albini and I think many fans attribute it's greatness to him. However, I don't think the production is the reason for the albums many positive attributes; it's interesting, but the main reason that the album's great is because of the people writing and playing the songs.

As I'm sure you know, The Breeders are fronted and rhythm guitared by Kim Deal, the wonderful bassist and occasional vocal provider in the Pixies. As if Kim herself isn't enough to make a brilliant underground supergroup, she was joined by Tanya Donelly, the lead guitarist of Throwing Muses. Britt Walford, the drummer, was suggested by Albini and was from the incredibly influential post-rock band Slint (their album Spiderland is defiantly worth a couple of listens, especially the song Washer). He was credited as “Shannon Doughton” and performed live in drag to keep with the all female line-up. To top it all off the bassist, Josephine Wiggs, was in loadsa bands I don't care about and got a MA in Philosophy from Sussex!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Gig: Caribou @ Shepherds Bush Empire 22/2/11


Last night I saw Caribou at Shepherds Bush Empire. He/they was/were pretty damn awesome.

I got there in time to see the closing 15 minutes of Factory Floor. They've been getting a significant amount of hype for a while (enough to be the main support at a NME Awards show), and I guess they are a hype-makers dream (weird and inaccessibly). Their performance generally consisted of a looped beat with lots of random noises made by a keyboard, guitar and live drummer. It was pleasant enough to witness and became alluringly hypnotic, but I couldn't help but think that it just sounded like someone trying out all of the different sounds and settings on their new synthesizer. It was a bit like baverage, old fashioned electronic dance music, just without any dancing. I can understand people enjoying the live spectacle, but I seriously do not understand why someone would buy their music and listen to it at home.

After I lined up for the cloakroom and squeezed back into the crowd, Caribou came on. During the opening song 'Leave House', Dr. Dan Snaith's microphone went in and out of audibility, which was an early sign of the sound problems that would plague (but not come close to ruining) the rest of the night. Despite the problems, they played an absolutely terrific set for 1 hour and 15 minutes, playing classics from both Andorra and Swim. They also extended many of their more danceable songs to the complete joy of me and the rest of the crowd.

However, within a few minutes of their set beginning, it became quite obvious that the venue was much, much too full. Even though I was at the back, I couldn't move and was stuck awkwardly between a woman's boob and the wiggling bum of the man in front of me. The managers of the venue should really lower the amount of standing tickets they sell, as it came close to ruining the night. Despite the horrific over-population of the venue, and the resulting 40 minute queue for the cloakroom, Caribou were good enough to make it one of the best gigs I've been to in a while. They encored with the most epically mindblowing rendition of 'Sun' anyone could ever hope to imagine. I really, really hope someone got a good quality video of the whole thing.

I can't find any videos of last nights gig, but here's a beautiful one of his last London gig with Four Tet (which I sadly missed):

Also, I'm incredibly happy that they've been added to the line-up of the ATP/I'll Be Your Mirror Portishead gig I'm going to in July. It's going to be one of the best days of my life.

In other news, I bought tickets to the ATP Jeff Mangum in December! Really, really excited!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Biffy Clyro Suck

A while ago I promised a friend that I would one day explain, in full length, why it is exactly that I am definitely right in teasing him for liking Biffy Clyro. This challenge brings up important questions, namely "What makes a band good?" and "Why the hell am I friends with someone who likes Biffy Clyro?". However, answering those would be difficult, so instead I'm going to look at their top 4 videos on YouTube and explain why they suck in particular. Let us begin the most scientific exploration into popular music of all time...

Many of Horror (When We Collide)

Okay. Honestly, I do quite like the guitar at the beginning, but it doesn't come close to making up for the rest of the song, which sounds (and looks) kind of like a collaboration between Keane and Ronan Keating. I don't have much of a problem with this kind of soppy ballad pop, it does it's job well by managing to fill up iPods owned by people who don't really like music very much. My problem with this song is that I thought Biffy Clyro were an "Alternative Rock" band. They are often compared to bands like Foo Fighters and (sadly) Nirvana, and whilst I'm not against artists exploring other musical terrain, this isn't exactly Iggy Pop's The Idiot, is it?

I couldn't possibly write about why this song sucks without having a look at the lyrics, and how could I neglect to mention the beautiful line "When we collide, we come together/If we don't we'll always be apart"? Biffy Clyro should be given a gold star and a pat on the head for realising that coming together and being apart are mutually exclusive options. They really should have gotten Ronan Keating to give them a hand with this one.


Again, this song shows that they are not defunct of musical ability with a cool little guitar bit at the beginning and a very nice Mogwai-esque breakdown and build up. However, in the verse they sound like an incredibly irritating mix between Vampire Weekend and U2, and during the chorus they sound like The Script. I'm starting to think that maybe Biffy Clyro aren't really an "Alternative Rock" band after all, and that maybe they were picked up by a record label to fill the market gap created by pre-teen girls who were just too rebellious for Avril Lavigne.


Faux-epic emo-pop shite with a lame-as-hell video to match. I don't get why anyone would like this. Also, tattooed man-cleavage? Seriously? I can't bear to write more about this aural and visual catastrophe.


I realised that I was only listening songs from their newest album, Only Revolutions, up until this point, so I'm doing the honourable thing here and checking out a track from their first album. Hopefully this will negate any claims by Biffy fans that I need to hear their earlier stuff before forming an opinion. Luckily that is not the case: this is still shitty rock/pop, but now with an Americanised accent forming the cherry on top of this shit-music pie.

I do think this is better than the melodramatic boy-band-esque previous three songs. It's reminiscent of '90s grunge and indie bands that I hold close to my heart. That is until 0:23, at which point I couldn't help shouting "WHAT THE FUCK!?!?" at my monitor. Seriously, what the fuck? The chorus destroys what could have been a quite nice, badly accented Slint rip-off.


I am right: Biffy Clyro are bad. Any Biffy Clyro fans who are reading this, please refer to the below videos for a good musical bridge between the crap you listen to now and what you should be listening to.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Get Smart!

Get Smart! - Action Reaction

I found Get Smart! on a torrent I downloaded in order to get Young Marble Giants' fantastic Colossal Youth called "4 Rare 80s Albums [Part 19] Post Punk Bands". There were two other albums that weren't to my taste, but Get Smart!'s 1984 album Action Reaction contains a bunch of hyperactive post-punk songs with a midwestern twist.

I don't really know anything about the band, but wikipedia tells me that they released a second album in 1986 (which I have yet to hear), and it generally seems that they were a band that gained a local following and disappeared from the public consciousness after they broke up. Pity really.

Their songs aren't complex soundscapes, emotionally intense journeys or musical innovations, but they seem to have a simple honesty that English post-punk bands of the same era seem to be missing.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Mandatory 'The King of Limbs' review

Radiohead's new album, The King of Limbs, was a giant surprise. I mean that in the sense that I was surprised to know that it was coming out, the album itself sounded much like you would expect it to: electronic, syncopated rhythms, lots of whining, clever music etc.

Despite the lack of musical surprises, I really, really like it. I'm probably not the first person to say so, but Radiohead are very good at making music and I would be extraordinarily shocked if they made a bad album. Therefore I hope their music doesn't legitimately surprise me any time soon (other than by possibly popping up unexpectedly again).

However, the first two tracks, Bloom and Good Morning Mr Magpie, kinda suck. While giving them a first listen I was thinking: "This is cool" and then: "Is this cool?" and then: "Do I only like it because it's Radiohead?" and finally: "I do not like this."

To start with, Bloom was not a Nirvana cover. Once that ridiculous false hope had been let down, I realised that it sounded like a Four Tet rip-off. Radiohead have ripped off Massive Attack and Aphex Twin to great effect, but I don't think Four Tet's jumbled sound combines well with Thom Yorke's voice. Spot the difference (ignore the vocals):

I am joking about the whole "rip-off" thing, but the similarities are endless, and I don't think it sounds good.

As I mentioned before, I also don't like Good Morning Mr Magpie. There's a similar mismatch between music and vocals. Thom Yorke has a fantastic, fantastic voice, but I really don't like how it sounds over fidgety, claustrophobic layers of high-hats and synths (which admittedly would make a very cool and interesting piece of music sans vocals).

Anyway, despite my bitching and whining (I realise I've been doing it a lot lately), The King of Limbs, is a fucking brilliant album. The other tracks are everything we mild Radiohead fans hoped for when a hardcore fan friend excitedly told us about their new album: beautiful, intricate epics. They just should have ditched the first two tracks, or made them instrumentals. Everyone likes instrumentals.

Here's a few killah tracks:

(This sounds like a mixture of this Four Tet song and this Caribou song. But in a really, really good way.)

(The wonderful lead single, with a charming (but significantly less wonderful) video.)

(The unanimously agreed stand out and future classic)

(The beautiful and oddly uplifting closer.)

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Let England Shake in a wave of over-hype and mediocrity

Two main points here:
a) I don't think PJ Harvey's new album, Let England Shake, is up to much.
b) I also don't like all the rave reviews it got, mainly because of the first point.

I really feel like I must be missing something, and that's why I don't like it, but I still have a little niggle in my head when listening to the album that says (for the most part): "This is not a particularly good song. Her voice sounds annoying. It sounds like she is being stabbed by a vibrating knife. Her first two albums are so, so, so much better. Is she trying to sound like Prussian Blue?" Maybe I just don't understand why this album is so good. Maybe, but I doubt it.

To be honest, I'm not speaking as the most educated connoisseur of PJ Harvey's work. I've only really listened to (and loved) her first two albums, at which point "PJ Harvey" was technically a band, and a few bits and bobs since. Therefore I'm obviously not able to understand this album within the context of her prolific career, as many other reviews have. However, I personally feel that if an album is okay but marks a personal artistic achievement for the creator it doesn't deserve 4 or 5 star reviews everywhere. So there.

Also, the lyrics got hella praise for talking about war. They could be really good lyrics, but (for the most part) I was too busy complaining in my head about how much I didn't like how the songs sounded to bother listening to the lyrics. Personally, how the music sounds is just about more important than the lyrics. If that weren't the case Let England Shake may as well be a book of poems.

It's not all bad though, I very, very much enjoyed several songs towards the end of the album. Here are those songs:

However, four out of twelve songs does not make a 4/5 star album, it makes a (maximum) 3 star album.

Also, it's just not as good as this: