Tracks Monkeys With Lasers


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.



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)



Scottish Fiction
April 10, 2009, 1:00 pm
Filed under: music | Tags: , , , , ,

willy

After yesterday’s review, it seems that I’ve been listening to a lot of albums written by Scottish bands over the last few weeks to months and all of them have been top class. As such, it seemed apt to have a wee section dedicated to our friends North of the border.

Errors

myspace

Errors originate from good old Glasgow and have been together for just under five years now. They released the EP ‘How Clean Is You Acid House’ back in 2007 and followed this up last year with the release of the fantastic ‘It’s Not Something, But It Is Like Whatever’.

Their electro/post rock sound is something I haven’t heard elsewhere and both CDs come with high praise from myself.

Mr Milk (from 2007’s ‘How Clean Is Your Acid House’) Download

Frightened Rabbit

myspace

Another Glasgow band, this four piece have been together for quite a while now and so far have only released the one album last year, ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’.

A brilliant little album, it’s sound flits between an indie rock and a more folky sound but to great effect. The opening track, below, is such a simple tune but builds to a real crescendo. If you happen to be in London on Wednesday (April the 15th), then pop along to Puregroove record store to see these guys for free before their show at the Scala later that night.

The Modern Leper (from 2008’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’) Download

Mogwai

myspace

This Glasgow band have been together and performing for almost 15 years now, with 6 albums to show for it, and according to last.fm are “one of the most influential and best known bands in their genre”.

This genre happens to be post rock, despite the band refuting this claim, and they are one of the most well known instrumental artists. Their most recent album ‘The Hawk Is Howling’ was released only last year. They’re currently in the middle of an extensive tour across North America and Europe before starting on the festival circuit.

Batcat (from 2008’s ‘The Hawk Is Howling’) Download

We Were Promised Jetpacks

myspace

Originally from Edinburgh(!), this foursome have been around for a while, slowly buidling their fanbase.

With a sound similar to Frighterned Rabbit, albeit slightly less folky, they recently signing to the Fat Cat Records and their first album is due out later this year. They’re also playing a number of gigs, flitting between London, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Ships With Holes Will Sink (from the upcoming ‘These Four Walls’) Download




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