Tracks Monkeys With Lasers

The Rural Alberta Advantage @ The Lexington – 11/05
June 18, 2010, 12:11 pm
Filed under: gigs, music | Tags: ,

Of all the gigs I’ve been to in the last few months, this was one of the ones I’d been most looking forward to.

Having been a fan of these guys from their pre-Sadlecreek signing days thanks to the wonders of the internet (and, admittedly, a downloaded version of the album when they self released it) I had been following them for a while. I couldn’t have been happier for them once they got signed and started to get more and more well known.

With the show at the Lexington being a sellout, it was nice to know that I wasn’t alone in loving the band but it is an odd thing to know that a band that has done almost nothing to promote their work over here has such a following.

The gig itself was touch and go as to whether it would go ahead thanks to some volcano thing going on at the time (it was in the news a fair bit supposedly). Thankfully, the band managed to make it to London for their first EVER UK show but minus one keyboard which felt the wrath of aerial travel.

Meeting up with a few mates, we made our way up to the venue in the Lexington, which may just be one of my favourite venues in London. We arrived a bit late to catch the first support act so had a bit of time to kill before the next one so we had a quick peek at the merch stand to find Nils himself behind the desk. After a brief chat, I finally managed to get myself a copy of the album on 12″ (a mistake in hindsight; bit of a pain to carry that round for the rest of the evening) and that now proudly sits in a frame above my desk.

Anyway, I digress. After taking up our spots in front of the stage the support came out in the form of Dignan Porch. These guys were one of those support bands that I’m now more than used to; nothing particularly exciting but nothing wrong with them so you end up listening but don’t really remember much of their sound. They had a bit of a Britpop revival sound to them and the band they most reminded me of were The Stands (anyone remember them??) As I say, nowt wrong with them but nothing to write home about. Sorry guys.

But that doesn’t matter anyway as I wasn’t there to see them. I was here for The Rural Alberta Advantage and I was just a tad excited as they came out and isn’t it lovely when a band performs just as you hoped they would.

Unsurprisingly, they kicked off with ‘The Ballad of the RAA’ which sounded as lovely as you’d expect and this was coupled with ‘Rush Apart’ which kicked the gig off properly. From there on in, the band played the album in it’s entirety with every song sounded fantastic live. It did seem to take a while for Nils to find his voice as it started off a little shakey which had me worried, but it soon settled into it’s unusual nasal, Canadian drawl that just works.

The rest of the band were also on form with Paul drumming away as if he was trying to force his arms off which (like I say many a time) doesn’t come across so much on the record but was really noticeable live. And then there was the lovely Amy who glues the band together. While Nils does his thing on vocals and guitars and Paul thrashes away on his drumkit, Amy flits between beautiful backing vocals, keyboards, extra percussion and even the xylophone to provide the total sound that I love about them.

The songs were rather poignant on the night as the band took a bit of time to talk about the songs and what they meant. It doesn’t take a high level music critic to get the jist of the album with it’s songs about growing up in small towns in Canada and the life that this leads. But on the night, the band gave us more of an insight, particularly with ‘Frank, AB’ where Nils talked about how it was a town utterly devestated by a landslide and was a place he drove past regularly. All this made the song even more special and you got the feeling that if they had the time, they’d have done a similar thing with every track.

So along with ‘Frank, AB’, ‘Dethbridge’ and the sublime ‘Edmonton’ (one of my favourite songs. Ever.), we were also treated to a cover version of ‘Eye Of The Tiger’, a song I’d already seen a video of on youtube but it was great to see other peoples’ reactions to it. And as well as this, we even got to hear some new material which sounds like a second album could be just as special.

With the encore coming to an end, the band came off the stage to perform ‘Goodnight’ in amongst the crowd which was a ftting, beautiful end to the night.

I am so glad I got a ticket to this show to finally see one of my favourite bands perform live and I’m so glad that they didn’t let me down. As always, I did seem to end up standing next to the one idiot in the crowd who insisted on clapping along to every track, even if there was nothing to clap along to (and it shouldn’t be physically possible to clap that out of time as well) but even this couldn’t spoil the evening. And I think I may have fallen in love with Amy just as much as I have with the RAA’s music. I just hope they don’t leave it so long to come back.

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Goodnight (live)

Stop The Press!
February 13, 2010, 12:47 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Oh-em-gee, breaking news monkey trackers!

The Rural Alberta Advantage are coming to London! I understand that this is cyberspace so those of you reading are actually quite likely not to live in London but whatever.. THE RAA ARE COMING TO LONDON!!!

If this news moistens your undergarments as much as it did mine, just follow THS AWESOME LINK and nab yourself some tickets.

If you don’t live in London.. well, sorry. Unless you live in Canada or the States and have seen them already.

A big bravo has to go to Bird On The Wire for arranging this show and also being the ones responsible for putting on The Tallest Man On Earth as well. What good people they are.

Have a video of Nils playinga solo version of Deathbridge In Lethbridge;

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

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)

Graham Coxon @ The Lexington – 13/05
May 14, 2009, 9:05 pm
Filed under: gigs, music | Tags: , , ,

Last night saw my first visit to the fairly new venue of The Lexington on Pentonville Road to see Graham Coxon play one of only a handful of shows before he’s off touring with some band he used to be in called Blur.

Anyhoo, I met up for a drink with a friend beforehand so didn’t catch the first support band, Micachu and the Shapes, as we didn’t realise that they’d finished by the time we got upstairs to the venue itself.

The actual venue was a fair bit bigger than I had imagined with a small upper floor with a bar and then on a lower level was the main floor and the stage. As we got there, there were very few people still in the venue so easily made it to the front in time for the second support act, Pete and the Pirates.

Pete And The Pirates at the Lexington

Now these were one of those bands that I seem to have heard of many times in many different places but had never actually heard any of their music so went into it now knowing what to expect. And what I did hear was rather good actually as they played an almost annoyingly catchy array of indie pop that had just enough of an edge to it every now and again to stop you from feeling nauseous from the sugariness of their songs. The two guitarists/two singers format worked well for them and the tight guitars from them was backed up nicely by some lovely little riffs by their other guitarist and some solid drumming and basslines from the remainder of the band. Well worth a listen.

After they had finished their set and the stage was prepped, Graham Coxon and his band (a drummer and bassist) made there understated entrance to a now packed out Lexington audience.

Graham Coxon at the Lexington

Now, I knew what to expect from this gig as I’d already heard that it would be him, and the band, playing his new album ‘The Spinning Top’ so I managed to ‘acquire’ this album beforehand and give it a few listens before seeing him. As such, this review is of the album as much as it is of the gig itself. Now the thing with this album is that it is a very different sound to his previous albums as it draws it sound from a very folky, finger picking style (the latter, a style I really like and as a guitarist myself, one I like to play) rather than the lo-fi and pop punk sounds of his other works. For me, it’s a great album (after a few listens) and I really appreciate the technicality of playing such songs.

Live, however, it was simply mesmerising for me to see it being played in front of me (and here it was quite literally in front of me!). After his brief, understated welcome he started from the top of the album with the rather fabulous ‘Look Into The Light’ and from there, proceeded to play the rest of the album in it’s entirety, including the 8 minute long ‘In The Morning’, the brilliantly distorted ‘Dead Bees’ and the fantastic, frantic single ‘Sorrow’s Army’.

The acoustic tracks he played sat on a chair at the front of the stage (as finger picking can be difficult at the best of times, let alone when stood up) which added to the intimate feeling of the gig, while the heavier tracks like ‘Dead Bees’ saw him get to his feet with his electric guitar, bent over and playing with his effects pedals to brilliant.. well, effect.

After playing the album the whole way through, he finished with a cover of a cover of an old blues/folk track called ‘Oh Babe It Ain’t No Lie’, originally written by Elizabeth Cotten which was a nice finish. All in all, I found it an entralling gig thanks to his astounding guitar skill and the album sounded so much better live than on recording. He may not have played any of his ‘classics’ but to be honest, they’d have felt out of place. It was just a shame that not everyone seemed to have expected the gig to have been like it was but then again, I don’t care; I loved it!

Graham Coxon – Sorrow’s Army (live)

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