Tracks Monkeys With Lasers


Frank Turner Videoshoot @ The Flowerpot – 26/06
June 29, 2009, 8:16 pm
Filed under: gigs, music | Tags: , ,

A short review for a short set (but plenty of pics).

Having seen Frank at the Flowerpot less than two months ago, he returned as part of the making of the video for the upcoming single “The Road”. The idea behind the video was to do 24 gigs in 24 hours, visting fans’ houses all across London before ending up at The Flowerpot which is where I caught up with him (damn university getting in the way of other shows).

Frank was understandably knackered by the time he get there, and a bit merry as well it has to be said, but that didn’t stop him rattling through an hour long set though, playing a load of his old songs and a couple of new ones for good measure. This included a special version of “Dan’s Song” with Evan taking harmonica duties; the first time he’d done so and in front of a slightly smaller audience than he’ll be performing in front of on Frank’s American tour with The Offspring!

There was also a brief interlude during the set for the videoshoot with the crowd singing the chorus for the track and also singing along for the final part as well. You never know, I might just make it in!

It was a great little set that was followed with drinks all round. And it was this gig that finally made me realise why I enjoy his shows so much; the music’s always great but the crowd are also brilliant too with everyone being such cool people.. hopefully see some familiar faces at his next show!

Heartless Bastard Motherfucker (live at the Flowerpot) – WITH ADDED BANTER!

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Frank wasn’t actually the main act of the night; that honour went to Klezma Villanova, an unusal indie-rolk-folk-ska band. Sadly, I didn’t get any pics/audio (damn camera battery) but they were a great laugh and played their tunes were good fun that got a number of us dancing/skanking along. Their bass guitarist, in particular, was very very good. Well worth listening to/seeing if you get the chance.



Lexapalooza All-Dayer @ The Gaff – 20/06

Held in the bizarre little venue of The Gaff on Holloway Road, this all day event was put on in the name of Breast Cancer Research. I got there bright and early and lasted the full 11 hours (at the expense of the hearing in my left ear which has just about recovered) and had a fantastic time thanks to the array of different acts playing. I managed to get photos of all the acts and audio of a number of them, the latter mainly from the acoustic stage which I possibly enjoyed more.

The venue itself seems like it may well be host to a slightly heavier sound than the majority of Lexapalooza offered with skeletons hung about the place, fake cobwebs and (perhaps most telling of all) a plethora of event posters for bands with names that would make your mother blush. Anyhoo, the day itself (featuring mini reviews due to numbers);

Chris TT & The Hoodrats

For me, a good choice to open with thanks to the fact that there was some good banter with the crowd (and Evan, the organiser). The little material I had heard by Chris TT in the past was his solo stuff so it was a bit different to hear him play with a band. That didn’t hold him back though and he rattled through his set with a good mix of tunes.

“Where Were You?”

Dave Hughes


The first artist on the acoustic stage, he played a pretty solid set. Some nice tunes and good vocals so a good start for the ‘other’ stage.

Spectrum 7

Veterans of Lexapalooza, having played the previous year, they stepped in at the last minute to cover for another band. I was a bit worried that this may have meant they weren’t going to be that good but was pleasently surprised. With some clever 65daysofstatic-esque laptop work (and some problems with the laptop, just like 65dos as well) with good guitar work and vocals over the top, they were a nice surprise for me.

Superman Revenge Squad

One of only a few artists I’d heard of beforehand (and the only one I’d seen live before), I was looking forward to his set. For me, the sound levels weren’t quite right for his set which spoilt it slightly but I still enjoyed his set and the new material which I hadn’t heard. Always forget how good a guitarist he actually is as it comes across much better live than on the record for me.

“Get Yourself Into The Arms Of Drunken People”

Jedethan

Another surprise package, Jedethan played an unusual style of music in being rather heavy but still easy to dance along to. Good banter between the band and the crowd made it even more enjoyable and getting some of the guys involved with putting on the even on stage to ‘play’ and ‘sing’ was a really cool touch. Evan is a natural frontman in my opinion!

Oxygen Thief

Possibly my surprise act of the day, I thoroughly enjoyed this set. Playing his acoustic like he thought he was playing in a punk band, the mix of the acoustic guitar and the sound he was making was brilliant. His own songs were brilliant and the crowd loved the cover of the Spandau Ballet ‘Gold’. And it’s always nice to know that you were a better crowd than Swindon..

“Too Many Trees”

Blind Havoc

Fair to say that these weren’t my thing. Hung around for a fair bit of their set though and it’s easy to say they’re good at what they do, even if it wasn’t for me.

Jim Lockey

The fourth artist on the acoustic stage, he was another artist that I enjoyed; nice guitar work, good vocals and well written lyrics. Very good singer/songwriter. Special shout out to the bloke in the background of the pic..

“Caskets And Bibles”

Armed Response Unit

Another band that weren’t my thing but they had a good tight sound and I did like some of their tunes.

Ben Marwood

The final artist on the acoustic stage and yet another singer/songwriter I liked. He was, technically, a pretty good guitarist and had some really well written songs which flitted between angry and emotive quite nicely.

“Claire”

David Cronenberg’s Wife

I’m not quite sure what to make off this band.. that may have been due to the alcohol by this point but who’s to say.. Anyhoo, they were a pretty safe band who had some ‘nice’ songs and I neither liked or disliked them really.

Psychofiend

These guys were a Misfits tribute band and I quite enjoyed them having listened to some of the Misfits stuff back in the day. They played a solid set and did loads of the classics so no complaintes from me.

Popes Of Chillitown

The only ska band of the night, I had a great time listening and skanking along to this band. A nice summery sound which suited the day well, the crowd seemed to really enjoy their set. Some good interaction with the group of us dancing down the front as well so we enjoyed them playing and I think they enjoyed us dancing to them.

The Blessed & The Cursed

Another band that weren’t my thang sadly but I did enjoy the energy of the set and some of their tunes.

The Xcerts

I’d heard some of these guys’ stuff earlier in the week and was quite looking forward to them. Catchy songs and good energy from the indie band; nice finish with the singer playing the drum in the crowd on the final song.

“Nightschool”

The Justice Force 5

Now, it’s fair to say I was a bit unsure what to expect from these guys thank to their somewhat dubious choice of clothing (the effects of costumes are always slightly lost when you have to setup your own gear as well..) It was also obvious from the costumes that they weren’t going to be taking themselves too seriously. But in the end they were a great band to finish the night off with; some (almost annoyingly) catchy songs and guitar riffs couple with the ‘fun factor’ meant that I really enjoyed the set and had muchos fun dancing along.

Unknown track

So altogether it was a fantastic day/night and I hope, ultimately, a successful one for Breast Cancer Research. Congratualtions to all involved!!

NB For those that hadn’t noticed, there’s a new ‘widget’ down the side of the blog using socialvibe. In short, please click on the link and do whatever gubbins it asks and the sponsor will then donate a small amount to my chosen charity; Stand Up To Cancer. Only takes a minute!



We Were Promised Jetpacks @ The Lexington – 18/06

After having ‘acquired’ their album a couple of months ago, and been enjoying it ever since, I decided to take the plunge and go see these guys at one of the places that is fast becoming a favourite venue of mine.

For once, I got their nice and early so got to see all of the support bands, although sadly a bit too late to catch the whole set of the first band, Nacional. However, from what I did hear, I was impressed. These guys had a sound rather like the current Scottish bands that seem to be emerging (such as WWPJ and Frightened Rabbit) but were a bit more “indie pop” than either of these bands. I only heard the last three or four songs of theirs but they were rather nice, toe-tapping tunes which I would have liked to have heard a wee bit more of to judge them any more.

After that came Citadels who seemed to have twice as many instruments on stage as there were band members, with a couple of guitars, a bass and drum kit, a few synths, xylophones, a flute and an extra drum all up there for good measure. Their opening track was rather fantastic being somewhere between Los Campesinos and Dananananaykroyd with a hell of a lot of energy and vocals featuring the whole band. The second drum came into full effect towards the end of the number with the main vocalist playing along on this which gave an extra layer that made for a great sound. Sadly the rest of the set didn’t quite match up to their opener but there was still energy galore with some well written tunes so these might be yet another band I keep an eye on.

The final support band, eaststrikewest, provided the most ambient sound of the night but that by no means meant that they were quiet. Featuring a whole load of reverb and distortion, they made one hell of a racket but a very tuneful one with it; some kind of bastard child of Sigur Ros and My Bloody Valentine if you may. The vocals for this band in particular were absolutely superb and I enjoyed them more than I probably would have done had you described them to me beforehand. Follow this link and download their tune ‘Rosa’ for freeeeee.

And so we came to the main act of We Were Promised Jetpacks; a band I was expecting to put on one hell of a show. With just the three of them, the stage seemed rather empty (especially after the cluttered stage during Citadels set) but they more than made up for that. Starting off with ‘Keeping Warm’ with it’s long instrumental intro, they kicked off brilliantly, even if the guitars were slightly out of tune during the chords with the opening vocals!

From there on in, the pace of the set was maintained and they flew through a whole host of songs of their debut album “These Four Walls”. Surprisingly, they played their self proclaimed “one good song” Quiet Little Voices quite early in the set. So far, this had been one of my songs of the year and live it was everything I hoped it would be with the shredding guitars, big drums and plenty of “ooooh-ooh oh oh’s” from the crowd (with a fair few from me). They flew through some of the other big tracks off the album, such as “It’s Thunder And It’s Lightning” and “Short Bursts”, but also played a couple of their slower tracks, the pick of which for me is “This Is My House, This Is My Home”, which are just as good as their others and broke the set up nicely.

Their set seemed to fly by, which was a bit of a shame, and they didn’t play “Conductor” but apart from that, they had a stormer. Great songs, great sound and good crowd interaction made it a really good gig. Sadly, the majority of the crowd didn’t seem to have heard of them before (with a lot of middle aged businessmen there seemingly just for the hell of it) but I really enjoyed them and would more than happily see them again in the future.

Quiet Little Voices (live)

It’s Thunder And It’s Lightning (live)

This Is My House, This Is My Home (live) – I especially like the authentic sound of pint glasses being collected



Podcast #16 – Live And Unplugged

A belated 16th podcast featuring;

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Rush Apart
Frank Turner – Heartless Bastard Mother Fucker (live)
Graham Coxon – Sorrow’s Army (live)
Tim Fite – A Better Fence
Antlers – Bear
65daysofstatic – Retreat! Retreat! (live)
Maybeshewill – Co-Conspirators (live)
Justin Vernon – Ring Out
Klaxons – Golden Skans (Acoustic)
Metric – Help I’m Alive (Acoustic)
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Come Saturday (live)
Dave House – Born Steady
Bruce Peninsula – Crabapples
Slow Club – Our Most Brilliant Friends
And So I Watch You From Afar – The Voiceless (live)

Download from this link



The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart @ Cargo – 10/06
June 14, 2009, 9:42 pm
Filed under: gigs, music | Tags: , , , ,

Another gig, another new venue!

Last Thursday, I made the trip up to Shoreditch to head to Cargo for the POBPAH gig. For once, I got there nice and early so managed to catch both support acts as well as the main band themselves.

The venue itself was a pretty cool little place that confused me to start with as there didn’t seem to actually be anywhere for the bands to play. After realising that the stage itself was behind a curtain, I headed through to the gig area and was pleasantly surprised to find a nice small venue and a stage I could just walk right up to.

I managed to arrive bang on time for the first band’s set. First up was Tender Trap, who I’d never heard of. Visually, they were a little bit unusual; not in ‘Camden unusual’ but in that the band seemed to be half made up of people in their 40s and half in their 20s. Anyhoo, they actually had a pretty decent sound and were rather enjoyable for an opening band. The guitars were a bit repetitive just playing chords in 4/4 with a standard pumping bassline in almost every song, but the vocals, which were really rather good, managed to just about save them.

I’ve since been told that half the band had recently changed so that makes their set even more impressive. Maybe not something I’d go out and buy, but they were good enough. Highlight was easily their song that went down the more ‘punk rock’ route than the rest.

The second support band I had heard of as their name rang a bell but I wasn’t familiar with their music and Shrag ended up being a real surprise for me.

Being in some weird place between the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Los Campesinos and another-band-I-thought-of-but-can’t-remember, they had a really good sound with great guitar riffs and basslines and some in-your-face vocals. They flitted between more poppy numbers and punky ones and it made for a really good set. The singer was really engaging as well, jumping about all over the place and going between synth and vocal duties. Great set.

Got one of their tracks recorded but have absolutely no idea what it is!

And so after the starters came the main course of POBPAH who came out and launched straight into their set, kicking off with ‘This Love Is Fucking Right’.

From there on, they never really stopped apart from to tune back up and then would launch straight into another track, playing the majority of the their album (although not Contender from what I remember..) The sound from the band was pretty good, although the levels for the vocals were terrible for a good 20 minutes so they were barely audible, even right at the front of the stage. But the band were really tight and looked so nonchalant playing each song.

With the band launching from one song to the next, there was very little time for any crowd interaction, which was a shame, but the crowd of around 100-150 were loving the set itself, jumping around for the majority of it.. even if the music didn’t quite match the enthusiasm of the crowd.

As much as I like the album, at times it feels like it can drag and get a bit samey. The live performance didn’t have quite as much of this problem but sometimes I couldn’t quite figure out which track they were playing (especially when they had the problems with the vocals).

After their ‘set’ finished they did the obligatory walk off and come straight back on for a brief encore (I really hate it when bands do that.. just play the set!!) which ended the night well.

As a whole, the night was a pretty good one with all the bands being pretty good. The Pains didn’t disappoint with their set and had a real good energy while they played. The most surprising thing was that they played for so long but it never felt like it as it was so relentless. Good stuff!

This Love Is Fucking Right (live at Cargo)

Young Adult Friction (live at Cargo)



New Album Reviews – Maybeshewill and Miike Snow

Maybeshewill – Sing The Word Hope In Four-Part Harmony

Maybeshewill finally released their second album last Monday but I’ve been listening to it for a fair while after picking up a copy at their show last month.

After their first release ‘Not For Want Of Trying’ in 2008, which was one of my albums of the year and possibly my favourite post rock album, they had a lot to live up to. All their previous work, both the first album and the ‘Japanese Spy Transcript’ EP, has a slightly heavier, more intense sound than a lot of post rock bands and it’s this, along with their use of movie samples, that has always endeared them to me and with this album it is definitely more of the same.

The opening track ‘You Can’t Shake Hands With A Clenched Fist’ sets the tone for the album brilliantly with loud, sharp guitars creating an sound that could accompany any apocalyptic movie scene before launching into Co-Conspirators which contains everything a good Maybeshewill track should, as does How To Have Sex With A Ghost.

Elsewhere on the album, This Time Last Year and Last Time This Year both feature which was something of a surprise to me as they’d both featured on a 12″ split (with Her Name Is Calla) that they released last year. However, they’ve been reworked and sound better than ever here. Accept and Embrace is a strange track that I sometimes love and am sometime indifferent to but for no real reason. Our History Will Be What We Make Of It is an unusual track, comprising just spoken dialogue overlying a minimal electronic track. But it works.

To close, we have the title track of the album which starts out in a very sedate manner with just the piano and slowly building and building before the specially written dialogue comes in.

Altogether, this is a fantastic album for me that builds on the previous work perfectly. It does feel a little short at 38 minuts (with the final track having a couple of minutes of silence at the end of it) and this feels even more apparant seeing as two of the eight tracks have already been released. It may not quite be as good as their first album, but it’s still one of my favourite albums of the year so far.

Highlights: Co-Conspirators, Our History Will Be What We Make Of It

Sounds Like: 65daysofstatic, And So I Watch You From Afar

Rating: 9 wise monkeys

How To Have Sex With A Ghost

Miike Snow – Self Titled

Monday also saw the release of the debut album from the Swedish trio, Miike Snow, which comprises Andrew Wyatt, Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg. The three have known each other since 2004 when writing material for another artist. The album wasn’t a success but the three remained in contact and in 2007 they formed the band.

The album is strong throughout but, for me, the first three tracks are by far the best; Animal kicks off the album with it’s light, ‘bouncy’ synths and minimal vocals over the top. Burial, possibly my favourite track, follows in a similar vein but builds to a bit more of a crescendo in places, before leading to Silvia, the darkest song of the three, which builds and drops in a fantastic manner.

The rest of the album has a fairly similar feel to the opening tracks but every track manages to be different enough so that the album never feels overly repetitive. While this may be a good thing as the sound they do produce is something I possibly wouldn’t normally listen to but something I enjoyed. However, it does feel as though they found their sound but were afraid to experiment too much which is a bit of a shame. Here’s just hoping they’ve saved some big ideas for the second album.

Highlights: Animal, Burial, Silvia

Sounds Like: A chilled out mix somewhere between Animal Collective and MGMT. But not.

Rating: 7 snow monkeys

Silvia



Gig It Up – June

June 10th – The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart at Cargo

Really looking forward to seeing these guys as their album has had so many plays over the last few months. Also, I’ve never been to Cargo (Shoreditch/Old Street area) so am intruiged as what to expect. Only heard good things from the few people I know who have already seen them.

Self titled album only came out this year and is a favourite of mine for 2009 so far. Purchase yourself a copy here!

‘Come Saturday’ (from the self titled, 2009 album)

June 18th – We Were Promised Jetpacks at The Lexington

I’ve spoken about these guys before (in the ‘Scottish Fiction’ article), and am also loving their album at the moment. The album gets it’s physical release in 2 weeks time, just in time for me to see them. ‘Quiet Little Voices’ has been one of my favourite tracks of the year so far, so I’m especially looking forward to seeing that. Plus, the Lexington is a great little venue as well.

‘These Four Walls’ comes out on 15/06/09. Buy it here!

‘This Is My House, This Is My Home’ (from the 2009 album, ‘These Four Walls’)

June 20th – Lexapalooza (charity event) at The Gaff

Lexapalooza is a charity even put on by Frank Turner every year in order to raise money for Breast Cancer Research after his friend Lex sadly died from th condition (the same friend who provided the inspiration for the track ‘Long Live The Queen’).

This year, it’s taking place at the Gaff, a place I’ve never heard of let alone been to, and goes on for almost 12 hours with names such as Chris T-T and Superman Revenge Squad on the bill. Should be really good and it’s nice that everything made on the event is going on such a worthwhile cause. Just annoying that the Cats And Cats And Cats all-day event is on the same day, as well as Four Tet playing!!

‘Idiot Food’ by Superman Revenge Squad (from 2008’s, ‘This Is My Own Personal Way Of Dealing With It All’)

‘Long Live The Queen’ by Frank Turner (from 2008’s ‘Love, Ire & Song)




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