Tracks Monkeys With Lasers


The Antlers @ Union Chapel – 03/03
March 15, 2010, 6:20 pm
Filed under: gigs | Tags: , ,

A gig of seconds this one; the second time I would be seeing the Antlers and the second gig for me at the Union Chapel, a venue which has quickly become one of my favourite places for live music in London.

The setting for this gig wasn’t quite as magical as it had been for the Frank Turner Xmas show but I finally got there with my friend although we arrived a little late and had to settle for sitting in the pews in the upper tier. Not ideal but it did give us a nice central position for the stage.

We arrived just in time for the slightly curious support act in Marques Toliver. He was an unusual act which entirely consisted of just him and his violin which doesn’t sound like it should work but it did. He was massively helped by the fact that he was playing in a venue that made the most of such a sound and also lends itself to a very quiet and attentive audience. I do feel that if he had played a ‘normal’ venue that he would have been drowned out by people talking. As this wasn’t the case here, I got to enjoy his wonderful voice (boy, can this guy sing) and simple backing on the violin.

I did enjoy his short set but it did get a little bit samey quite quickly. However, he suited the venue really well and set the mood for the Antlers’ set beautifully.

And so it was on to the Antlers themselves. They took to the stage with Marques Toliver in tow and kicked off their set with ‘Prologue’ unsurprisingly. This sounded absolutely great and the sound was made even richer with the addition of Toliver’s violin. Through the night, they were joined on stage by Toliver for a couple more tracks and by a couple of brass instruments for some of the other songs and these were both welcome additions to the whole experience that night.

The rest of their set was made up entirely of songs off the album ‘Hospice’ and for the most part they sounded great, ‘Kettering’ in particular being one of my favourite songs off the album and live. I was a little disappointed with the rendition of ‘Sylvia’ on the night though as I felt it didn’t have the punch that it maybe should have, especially in the chorus.

It’s a difficult gig to talk about individual songs as the band tended to flow from song into another for most of the night with only a couple of pauses for tuning and for personnel changes on stage. This continuity suits the band’s sound well though and really helped the experience.

The sound from the band was really good as well with Silberman’s vocals being spot on once again and the guitars/synths/keyboards wove together to make a sound that was enhanced by the venue no end. My biggest complaint though is that they didn’t really seem to be loud enough. I appreciate that their type of music doesn’t work with the full ear drum splitting volume but from where we were, it felt like they were only half filling the venue with their music which was a shame.

Overall, I did enjoy the set on the night but it’s an odd one as you’re never going to come away blown away by them because of the style of music they play. That said, I think the venue suited them well but they could have filled it a bit more volume-wise. The only other limitation to their set is the fact that ‘Hospice’ is by far their most popular piece of work and as it is ultimately a concept album, it’s difficult for them to put new, or old, material alongside these songs. They did use the encore to play the full version of ‘Cold War’ which sounded great but this is always going to be a bit of a problem for their live shows.

The Antlers – Kettering (live)



Top 20 Albums of 2009

Here we are; the not-at-all prestigious list of the best albums of the year as decided by me.

It’s been a good year for music in my opinion and I’ve listened to well over 50 albums of varying quality this year so trimming it down to 20 was no easy feat and plenty of bands only just missed the cut (sorry Cymbals Eat Guitars, Crocodiles, The Strange Boys, We Were Promised Jetpacks etc) but 20 is more than enough for y’all.

I do find these things quite hard to do though asI find it hard to compare an album I’ve been listening to for 6 months to one I only heard for the first time a couple of weeks ago. As such, this top 20 is how I felt on the day of compiling the list (it has in fact changed a fair few times since it was first put together) and there are probably some albums that should be in there that I haven’t heard at all.

As it’s the season of giving and all that (“it’s better to give than to receive” as my university so eloquently puts it) I’ve even put together a couple of podcasts featuring some of my favourite tracks off the albums listed here plus a few extra songs for good measure. Add to that my nervous ramblings and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a listen. I’ve put these at the top of the post so you can download and listen to them without giving away the list if you’re that way inclined. Just click on the links below and download them from megaupload.

Best of 2009 Podcast Part 1: Albums 20-11

Download here

Best of 2009 Podcast Part 2: Albums 10-1

Download here

Apologies for the second one being a fair bit bigger and having some terrible editing at the end but the podcasting software crashed during the final songs so I had to hash the files together. It’s worth downloading though, honest!

And so on to the list!

20 – The Anomalies: Free Soup Social

Podcast track: Oldskool

A fun little album that never seems to take itself too seriously, MC Goldseal, Mouthmaster Murf, Lo and DJ Mayhem have made a cracking little indie hip-hop album.

19 – Fuck Buttons: Tarot Sport

Podcast track: Surf Solar

The first of the ‘electronica’ type bands to make the list, this album gets off to a flyer with the sublime Surf Solar, which is well up there for one of the best tracks of the year. Sadly, I feel the rest of the album doesn’t match this level which is a great shame and which is why I can only put it at 19. A few more listens, and a bit more time, and I will undoubtedly believe it should be higher.

18 – Animal Collective: Brother Sport

Podcast track: Brother Sport

An album that was a real slow burner for me with regards to liking it, I’ve finally come round to the album having originally dismissed it. This is partly after listening to it a lot more after seeing them live and also finding that I much prefered it through speakers to earphones for some reason. This is the only album of theirs I own and the sort of ‘wall of sound’ approach of the album has grown on me massively.

17 – Noah & The Whale: The First Days of Spring

Podcast track: Blue Skies

I never listened to their first album so came into this one fresh. A rather melancholy album, not surprising seeing as it’s almost entirely about the singer’s breakup with his (then) girlfriend Laura Marling, but this doesn’t stop it being a beautiful album. The highlight is easily the track ‘Blue Skies but the track ‘Love of an Orchestra’ sandwiched between two instrumental tracks is brilliantly grandiose and pompous.

16 – Maybeshewill – Sing The Word Hope In Four-Part Harmony

Podcast track: Co-Conspirators

Following on from the immense ‘Not For Want Of Trying’ last year, MSW return with more of the same big post rock tracks with film audio clips interspersed over the top. Sadly it doesn’t quite hit the same heights as the last album and feels a little short at only 9 tracks (2 of which had been previously released as well) but it’s still well worth a punt.

15 – worriedaboutsatan – arrivals

Podcast track: you’re in my thoughts

A band that seemingly hates capital letters, they have produced a neat little ambient electronica album that has really grown on me over the last few months. Annoyingly, they’ve played in London twice recently but have been on dates I couldn’t make. They are, however, on tour in March with Her Name Is Calla and I will almost definitely be in attendance for that show.

14 – Passion Pit – Manners

Podcast track: Sleepyhead

A band that I only got into recently (a bit slow, I know) after a friend’s recommendation. A pretty solid and enjoyable album of which the highlight is obviously ‘Moths Wings’. Up until then, the album isn’t bad but that track takes it up a fair few notches. Only a couple of tracks come close to that song, with ‘Sleepyhead’ being one of my other favourites.

13 – The Joy Formidable – A Balloon Called Moaning

Podcast track: Austere

A good debut album by this band from the valleys, their indie pop sound reminded me of Metric quite a lot. The album is quite short at only 9 tracks but there’s enough variety in there to maintain interest with uptempo songs like ‘Austere’ and the acoustic track ‘9669’ being a couple of the highlights for me.

12 – NOFX – Coaster

Podcast track: We Called It America

Despite all the other stuff in this list, I’m still a little punk rocker at heart and NOFX were on of the bands of my teens. Coaster is possibly my favourite album of theirs since ‘Pump Up The Valuum’ and it seems that they’re well in their comfort zone now (in a good way) with some great tracks here. The normal NOFX humour and drug/booze chat remains but some more serious songwriting is also present in tracks like ‘My Orphan Year’.

11 – Tubelord – Our First American Friends

Podcast track: Propeller

FINALLY Tubelord got round to making a full record and it was worth the wait. The album contains a load of their material which is found in bits and pieces across EPs and singles, such as ‘I Am Azerrad’ and ‘Night Of The Pencils’ but also contains plenty of new material with a different sound, such as the synthy ‘Stacey’s Left Arm’ and the acoustic ‘Cows To The East, Cities To The West’, to give the album another layer that previous releases may have lacked.

10 – Metric – Fantasies

Podcast track: Help I’m Alive

I’d not heard a lot of these guys’ back catalogue before this album but I much prefer this album to some of their previous ones; the songwriting seems much better as is the production (but without being ‘overproduced’). There are some fantastic tracks with my highlights being the album opener, which is on the podcast, and ‘Gimme Sympathy’ which also sounded great live too.

9 – The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart -s/t

Podcast track: Young Adult Friction

Another shameless indie pop album in the top 20 of mine, I first heard the album early on in the year and it was constantly getting plays on my ipod. That’s tailed off a little bit but I still never tire of hearing this album because of its dreamy, upbeat nature. Even songs with lyrics like “you’re my sister, this love is fucking right” seem to be happy, bouncy tracks. A little disappointing when I saw them live but this album has been featuring in many an end of year list for good reason.

8 – Slow Club – Yeah So

Podcast track: Giving Up On Love

A band I really do want to catch live, Slow Club’s debut album is an interesting mix of indie tunes, such as the one on the podcast, and acoustic tracks which, themselves, range from upbeat to slow and melodic. The contrast between the vocals from both of the band members gives their songs an extra feel. The album does lose its way a little bit in the second half when the tempo drops a little too much but this is all redeemed with the excellent album closer ‘Our Most Brilliant Friends’.

7 – There Will Be Fireworks – s/t

Podcast track: Says Aye

One of the most complete albums of the year for me, There Will Be Fireworks’ debut contains a number of great individual tracks such as ‘We Sleep Through The Bombs’ and ‘We Were A Roman Candle’. What gives this indie/post rock Scottish band’s album the edge though is how effortlessly the tracks roll into one another with the triplet of ‘Guising’, ‘Off With Their Hands’  and ‘I Like The Lights’ going together seamlessly and complementing each other brilliantly.

6 – Dananananaykroyd – Hey Everyone

Podcast track: Black Wax

Seemingly making up their own genre with what the dub ‘fight pop’, Danana take the sound of bands like Los Campesinos and then give it their own ‘edgier’ sound and this ends up producing a great sound. The band maintain a sense of fun about their music while not ending up too poppy. Another band I need to see live as tracks like ‘Black Wax’, ‘Infinity Milk’ and ‘Hey James’ would probably sound nothing less than amazing.

5 – The Xcerts – In The Cold Wind We Smile

Podcast track: Cool Ethan

An odd album this one; it doesn’t seem to do anything amazing or anything amazingly different but what it does do is great. I first got wind of these guys live at Lexapalooza earlier in the year after they were given one of the top spots. Another Scottish band on the list, these guys released their first album earlier this year through Xtra Mile and it’s full of great tracks that cover a number of bases with acoustic tracks, big anthems and fast paced indie tracks. Definitely an album to check out and I really hope these guys do well.

4 – Dan Deacon – Bromst

Podcast track: Get Older

Not necessarily the type of music I would listen to, I got hold of a copy of Bromst after hearing a number of people go on about it and how, even 6 months ago or more, that this was a contender for album of the year. After listening to it, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it and it’s difficult to describe the sound with element of electronica with synths and everything thrown in there but then vocals, pianos, keyboards, strings and brass layers on various tracks produce this weird album. But it all works together splendidly to give one of my favourite albums of 2009.

3 – Frank Turner – Poetry Of The Deed

Podcast track: Sons Of Liberty

The third album from Frank sees a bigger shift in sound than he had made between his previous albums as the full band sound takes prominence over the solo acoustic one. Initially I was unsure as to whether I’d like this and for the first few listens the step he’d taken may have been too big for me. Now, however, the album is close to surpassing ‘Love, Ire & Song’ as my favourite album of his. The full band tracks like ‘Like Fast, Die Old’ and ‘Poetry Of The Deed’ sound great with the normal singalong and ‘angst’ of normal FT tracks present. Some of the acoustic numbers drag a little bit and it’s not until the end of the album with ‘Our Lasy Of The Campfire’ and ‘Journey Of The Magi’ that the best tracks come into play.

2- And So I Watch You From Afar – s/t

Podcast track: TheseRIOTSareJUSTtheBEGINNING

One of the earliest releases of the year to make the list, ASIWYFA have produced an absolutely stunning post rock album which encapsulates their live sound brilliantly. The album opener ‘Set Guitars To Kill’ acts to simply blow you away with its real in-your-face loudness. The sound isn’t all about volume though with the guys all being great musicians and the fact that slower, more melodic tunes like ‘The Voiceless’ holding their own against the big tracks like ‘If It Ain’t Broke, Break It’. I said in the 2008 top albums, where their EP ranked highly, that their album was one to look forward to and I wasn’t wrong.

1 – The Antlers – Hospice

Podcast tracks: Kettering, Sylvia

Not an album that I listen to as widely as others in this list perhaps but this album more than deserves top spot out of all of this year’s releases. An album about a man working in a hospital who falls in love with a patient suffering from bone cancer and slowly losing her may not sound like the foundations for a great piece of music but the album follows this story beautifully. The lyrics themselves read like a mini novel if you read the album sleeve and are quite haunting as they are but when sung with Silberman’s falsetto vocals over the top, along with the wonderful guitars and keyboards, it makes for what can only be described as a beautiful album.



Gigs of the Year 2009

As we approach the end of the year it’s time, as any blog should, to look back on the year as a whole. With the main purpose of this blog being about live music, it seems apt to kick things off with my top 10 gigs from the year.

First things first, I’ve excluded the all day events I’ve been to this year, in Lexapalooza and Lexapalooza Lite, as they would have run away with the titles due to the overall awesomeness of both events. So in order to give the other shows a chance, they’ve been cut. And so, bring on the list!

10. We Were Promised Jetpacks @ The Lexington – 18/06


I’d been listening to this three pieces debut album, These Four Walls, for a few months before I got chance to see them at this great little venue. They had a couple of good support bands playing with them but their own set was short but sweet. ‘Keeping Warm’ was a great set opener with it’s uber long intro and kicked the night of well. Other songs off the album, such as ‘It’s Thunder And It’s Lightning’ and ‘Conductor’ sounded fantastic too but the highlight was most definitely ‘Quiet Little Voices’ which is one of my favourite songs this year (a list I won’t be compiling).

They seemed to have a great time on stage and I definitely had one off it.

Original review

9. Animal Collective @ Brixton Academy – 20/08

I went along to this gig a bit indifferent to this band but since then have got more into them thanks to this show. The sound levels and the sound quality may not have been as good as they could have been, the one buzzing monitor being a particular nuisance, but this didn’t stop it from being a damn good show. It was a shame I didn’t know more of their material as a number of the songs I didn’t know at the time sounded great live, especially ‘Fireworks’, and both ‘Guys Eyes’ and ‘Brother Sport’ of the new album sounded fantastic too.

It was a shame the crowd were a bit flat but this gig was an amazing experience as much as anything.

Original review

8. TV On The Radio @ Brixton Academy – 13/07

After thoroughly enoying last year’s album ‘Dear Science’, I had really been looking forward to this show. The set they played was heavily weighted in favour of this album and the big tracks off the album, such as ‘Halfway Home’ and ‘Dancing Choose’ coming across brilliantly but it was some of the more understated tracks on the album, particularly ‘Love Dog’ which really blew me away. The older material also sounded fantastic and the double act of the percussion heavy ‘Method’ and the sublime ‘Staring At The Sun’ rounded the night off for the encore.

Very glad I managed to catch such a top band on the only date they played in the UK.

Original review

7. The Antlers @ Pure Groove Record Store – 04/09


One of Pure Groove’s in store sessions (that I really should go along to more often) this was on at the slightly bizarre time of 1.30 in the afternoon on a Friday but I am very glad I managed to make the trip across London for their set. With just a handful of people present, they played a large majority of their album ‘Hopsice’ with most songs having a slightly different twist live to on the record. The reworked version of ‘Sylvia’ was especially good but others such as the beautiful ‘Kettering’ and ‘Two’ came across just as well.

A wonderful intimate little gig and I even managed to have a chat with the band and get my copy of the album signed.

Original review

6. Metric @ The Electric Ballroom – 19/05

For such a big band, I was amazed that this gig was so cheap so booked tickets in a shot when they came out and I’m very glad I did. Fantasies was the only album of theirs I had prior to getting the ticket so was most familair with the material off that. Luckily, for me at least, the set was pretty much dominated by these songs which I much prefer to their older albums. Emily Haines is a fantastic singer and focal point for the band and she was simply brilliant on the night. The lighting and sound were spot on so tracks like ‘Gimme Sympathy’ and ‘Help I’m Alive’ came across as well as they could have. The acoustic rendition of ‘Live It Out’ was a perfect ending to the night.

A fantastic live band and a great show.

Original review

5. 65daysofstatic @ Dingwalls – 26/04


A band that I love and had never caught live before. Fantastic support on the night from Tubelord (and some not so fantastic support from Amusement Parks On Fire) as well. These guys’ records just don’t them justice as they are so so much better live than on any album of theirs. Their performance on this night was simply mind blowing and the whole venue went absolutely mental for them. I only wish we’d been down in amongst the madness rather than where we were. And a rather fitting end to the night with a complete power cut during a brand new song cutting their set short.

Absolutely cracking show and can’t wait to see them again.

Original review

4. Graham Coxon @ The Lexington – 13/05

A gig I heard about through a friend, I was lucky to grab one of only a few tickets for this fairly intimate gig at The Lexington. The gig was to showcase his new album ‘The Spinning Top’ which he played through in it’s enitrety. I’m not a huge fan of the album but it was absolutely fascinating to watch such an accomplished guitarist playing such technically amazing songs. The change between the pure acoustic songs and the distorted ones were welcome and it was interesting to see a gig that just consisted of one album in order.

A great gig and very fortunate to be so close to such an accomplished musician.

Original review

3. Frank Turner @ Shepherds Bush Empire -29/10

He had to make an appearance at some point didn’t he? I may have seen Frank play a handful of gigs this year but this was easily the pick of them. The whole night was great as he had some excellent support from Beans On Toast and Fake Problems and his own set was one of the best I’ve seen at any of his shows. As I’ve said numerous times in reviews of his gigs, it’s a whole different experience seeing him with the band than solo and it was the energy of the performance from this show with the band and the sheer scale of the gig and crowd that made this such a great show. The stalwarts of his live shows, such as ‘Photosynthesis’ and ‘Prufrock’ were as good as ever but the inclusion of older material like ‘Nashville Tennessee’ and the fantastic cover of ‘Smiling At Strangers’ were epic.

All this on top of the new material sounding just as good made for a special night.

Original review

2. And So I Watch You From Afar/Maybeshewill @ The Good Ship – 20/05

ASIWYFA are only second to Frank Turner in the artist I’ve seen most live and this was their finest moment this year. This was very much helped by the fact that on the same bill was another of  my favourite post rock bands in Maybeshewill. The rest of the crowd may not have known them as well as I did, having seen them play the same venue previously, but that didn’t bother me and they were as good as the last time I saw them. But if I thought they were good, ASIWYFA were on another level completely. The setup of the Good Ship set it up for a mind blowing show as the 50 or so of us in the ‘pit’ were pretty much on the stage with the band.

The energy from both the band and the crowd made this one hell of a gig and left me feeling shell shocked afterwards.

Original review

1. The Tallest Man On Earth @ Barden’s Boudoir – 09/09

And so the number one spot goes to the marvellous Tallest Man On Earth and his show at the bizarre little venue of Barden’s Boudoir back in September. The venue was an odd little place but in hindsight maybe the perfect sort of stage for Kristian to play on as it allowed the fans to surround the stage and this allowed him to sing to each and every person in the crowd. As I wrote in the original review, he had a slightly unnerving style of playing live as he would pick out people in the crowd and sing almost just to them and when it was you he ‘picked’ on, it seemed like an eternity that he was singing for you. Up until this gig, I’d enjoyed his album but this has nothing on how he was live and it was almost an honour to see him play such amazing songs and sing in his unique style.

The only word I can use to describe this show is mesmerising and I’ve already got my ticket booked for the next time he’s back in London.

The Gardener – live at Barden’s Boudoir

Original review

Agree/disagree with what I’ve got down? What was your favourite gig of the year? Leave a comment and let me know!

Coming soon(ish): my top 20 albums of 2009 with accompanying podcasts.



The Antlers @ Pure Groove – 04/09
September 8, 2009, 9:55 pm
Filed under: gigs, music | Tags: ,

It had been a while since I’d last made one of the Pure Groove instore sessions; the last being a Frank Turner show. As such, my memories of such shows was of a packed out record shop with a lot of people who weren’t seemingly all that interested in the artist just there to see what the fuss was about. It’s fair to say this show was a little bit different.

Now the previous one had been an evening show on a Saturday. The Antlers, however, were on at 1.30 on a Friday afternoon so you can begin to see how the atmosphere was going to be a bit different. Arriving what I thought was going to be a bit late, I was slightly surprised to find tables scattered about the shop with people sitting round drinking coffee. But I had got the right place and the gear setup on stage backed me up on that one.

After getting over the unusual surroundings, and the fact half of the crowd of forty were businessman on their lunch break, the three piece of The Antlers took to the small Pure Groove stage and following some setting up of kit they got underway. The set consisted of the majority of the ‘Hospice’ album which I, criminally, have yet to mention in the blog so far (bar the track ‘Bear’ appearing on one of the podcasts) which I’m surprised at as it’s one of my favourite albums of this year with it’s beautifully poetic lyrics and wonderful accompanying music.

Live, the album came across really well despite some problems with the sound; for example, the vocals were far too high for the first few songs, completely overpowering the rest of the sound. What was refreshing, both for me and the band it seemed, was that they didn’t just play the songs exactly as they were on the album but played around with them a little bit. I’m not always a fan of toying with songs live but they way the songs are written lends itself to this well as it’s more of an atmospheric sound than straight music per se with the guitars giving out reverb heavy ambience and the keyboards backing this up.

All the songs came across really well with Kettering and Sylvia being highlights (both on the album and at the show). The live version of Sylvia was quite different to the recorded version but sounded fantastic and, speaking to the band after, it turns out that they haven’t played that song live for a while so it was a pleasure to be able to hear it.

I thought the set was, altogether, really good with the rather intimate atmosphere adding to it. It was great to be able to speak to the guys afterwards as well and to even get my copy of the album signed by the three of them. The live sound really impressed me and I would loved to have seen them at the Lexington that evening but I, sadly, was unable to make the show. I hope these guys come back soon and that they continue to get the success and recognition that the album deserves.

The Antlers – Kettering (live)




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