Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Best of 2010

2010 was another great year for music, with some phenomenal albums released across a number of genre's as diverse as Indie, Hip-Hop, Folk, Electro, Metal, Alternative, Blues Rock and, um, Ethereal R&B. Here are my pick of the 30 best full-lengths of the year, as well as some other debut's of note and short format efforts:

Full-lengths

30. Big K.R.I.T. - K.R.I.T. Wuz Here
29. Chiodos - Illuminaudio
28. How To Dress Well - Love Remains
27. Bring Me The Horizon - There Is A Hell Believe Me I've Seen It, There Is A Heaven Let's Keep It A Secret (Listen)
26. The Black Keys - Brothers (Listen)
25. The Morning Benders - Big Echo (Listen
24. Tokyo Police Club - Champ (Listen)
23. Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz 
22. The Damned Things - Ironiclast (Listen)
21. Four Year Strong - Enemy of the World (Listen)
20. Foals - Total Life Forever (Listen)
19. Straight Lines - Persistence in this Game (Listen)
18. Band of Horses - Infinite Arms (Listen)
17. Twin Shadow - Forget (Listen)
16. Warpaint - The Fool (Listen)
15. Deftones - Diamond Eyes (Listen)
14. Delorean - Subiza (Listen)
13. Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record (Listen)
12. Wolf Parade -Expo 86
11. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

10. Broken Bells - Broken Bells (Listen)











9. Yeasayer - Odd Blood (Listen)











8. Local Natives - Gorilla Manor (Listen)











7. Menomena - Mines (Listen)
 










6. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles II (Listen)











5. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast (Listen)











4. The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt (Listen)











3. The National - High Violet (Listen)











2. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot; The Son of Chico Dusty (Listen)











1. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs











So not too many surprises at number 1....hardly the most outlandish call I've ever made. But a great album is a great album, and The Suburbs sees arguably the best band of our generation at the top of their game. The lack of too many other Hip-Hop albums in my top 30 should illustrate just how good Son of Chico Dusty.... is, High Violet is no Boxer but that speaks more about the latter than it does the former, and The Wild Hunt is particularly impressive when you consider that Kristian Matsson is the only guy behind the project. Astro Coast was my favorite debut album of the year, Crystal Castles II was a more consistent effort than CC's first and the diversity of tracks on show is commendable to say the least, Mines is an engaging listen with a few standout tracks in particular ousting it to number 7, Gorilla Manor and Odd Blood are the two finest examples of the common Tropical influence on Indie music this year, while Broken Bells shows two of the more talented dudes in music combining to great effect.    

Other noteable debut's

Delphic - Acolyte
Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History
Free Energy - Stuck On Nothing
Pulled Apart By Horses - Pulled Apart By Horses
Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid
The Hundred In The Hands - The Hundred In The Hands

EP's

10. Tangled Hair - First
9. Alexisonfire - Dog's Blood
8. Overthrow - A Ghost In The Machine
7. Cold War Kids - Behave Yourself
6. Blonde Summer - Eleganza
5. Millionyoung - Be So True
4. Fan Death - A Coin For The Well
3. Lord Huron - Mighty
2. Pretty Lights - Spilling Over Every Side & Making Up A Changing Mind
1. Bravestation - 2010

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Dirty Gold


Continuing wih the sunshine vibe which is for whatever reason permeating through my Tuesday listening and, subsequently, posting - allow me to introduce San Diego's Dirty Gold, and more specifically their track California Sunrise. Such an awesome, chill vibe incorporating elements of Surf, Indie, and Afropop, with an accompanying video that pans out just how you'd want it to. Apparently they've been snapped up by Aquarium Drunkard's Autumn Tones Records....exciting times ahead for these young lads.

Dirty Gold - California Sunrise



Jonquil


Dovecote Records are streaming Oxford Tropical Indie boys Jonquil's new mini album via the stream below. Highly recommended for fan of Foals (I seem to be saying that about every second band these days....) and Little Comets in particular. Or just really anyone who fancies a smile on this dreary winter day. 

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Summer Camp


Bliss Pop, Chillwave, Lo-Fi Indie Loftgaze....call it what you will, Summer Camp have got it down. Having proved that they can spar with the best of their trans-Altantic counterparts, the London male-female duo of Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey have been quite rightly hyped all over the shop this year, not just limiting their appeal to fans of the aforementioned, seemingly almost mythical genre's but really any music enthusiast with an ear for a good tune. And I'm not blaming anything more than general laziness for why it's taken me so long to give them a mention, but better late than never right?

Round The Moon is the band at it's best, and is a great taster for those not familar with the duo. A heavily 80's influenced wash of synth kicks things of and flows through the verse, propelled by an equally retro drum sample and Warmsleys nostalgic pop vocals. But it's the chorus where things really get going as the two combine in uncoventional but brilliant harmonic sytle, almost sounding a bit off at first until you realise that it's very much intentional and very much works. Surely a frontrunner for many a Band To Watch '11 list.       

Summer Camp - Round The Moon

I caught them the other night supporting Local Natives at the HMV Forum, and they didn't dissapoint. For such a sparsely numerated act they did a good job of filling the stage, their fairly stand and deliver approach wreaking of the unerring confidence of an act very much on the up n' up. Sankey's vocals were a particular highlight, but the two sound incredibly natural together and credit must be given for how they've managed to accumulate such a solid collection of tracks in such a short timeframe. And my how they love their nostalgic shots...their stage projection display looking more like a film reel of Garry Glitter's from the 70's.  

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Cerebral Ballzy - Insufficient Fare


Tho I'm stuck in two minds over whether Cerebral Ballzy is the best or worst band name I've ever heard, one thing which is crystal clear is that they fucking rock and are one of the more promising punk bands to emerge from the US in the past while. The sound and production is as raw as you'd want from a band of this nature, and that bridge after the first chorus is especially genius.

For all you Londoners, they've gone and extended their UK tour to include a single launch at XOYO tomorrow (Thursday 25th November).

Monday, 15 November 2010

Deftones - You've Seen The Butcher video

 

Although Diamond Eyes wasn't generally up to the lofty heights of Around The Fur, You've Seen The Butcher is a choice cut from the album and see's Deftones not far at all off their best. From the YouTube comments - "This song makes me wanna have bloody sex with a bunch of hot chicks". Excellent.  

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

YAAKS


Relevance is a funny thing. Some bands have a wealth of talent but are simply playing music that's not quite current enough and end up fizzling out prematurely, whereas others have very little skill both instrumentally and compositionally but find themselves in the right place at the right time and strike lucky. And then you've got a band like Eastbourne's YAAKS, and specifically the vowel-averse HRHRHYTHM

Not only do they sound like they've got a great ear for a melody and good musical minds, but this Balearic tinged, multi-layered Friendly Fires meets Foals via Delorean track just has a feel of 'now' about it. With just a couple of tracks on display and a sub 4,000 MySpace play count (the majority of which is probably A&R from what I've heard!) they've still got a limited web presence, but something tells me this won't be the case for long.
       
YAAKS - HRHRHYTHM

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Damned Things - interview w/ Joe Trohman and 'Ironiclast' review


Fans of Every Time I Die, Fall Out Boy, Anthrax, or just generally just fucking great rock'n'roll take note....there's a new supergroup in town. Consisting of Joe Trohman (Guitar) and Andy Hurley (Drums) of Fall Out Boy, Scott Ian (Guitar) and Rob Caggiano (Guitar) of Anthrax and Keith Buckley (Vocals) of Every Time I Die fame, The Damned Things have just been over playing a couple of shows in the UK and will be releasing their debut album Ironiclast on December 14th through Island Records. I caught up with Joe while he was over here:

Hey Joe, how’s your time been over here man? You got in Saturday right?
Yeah well we supposed to be getting in at 6.30am but our flight got delayed – there was an elderly gentleman who needed a wheelchair and oxygen tank and they had to bring the plane all the way back. We still got in at like 7.30 in the morning, got to the hotel, couple of hours sleep, and headed to the venue. We were gonna have a few hours to soundcheck but Josh’s basses got misplaced by BA, some shit in my pedal board got lifted, Scott and Rob’s rental gear was on the fucking fritz, there were just so many technical problems we ended up having like 15 minutes to play a couple of things and then we just played the show kinda based off memory! But I had fun at the shows, the shows were fucking rad. To be honest, I’m just glad that everyone who came out didn’t feel like their time was wasted – I really want people to be happy with who they came to see.

Had you had much practice time before leaving the States?
This is the first time we’d played together since Download! It’d been like 4 months, pretty fucking nuts.

You’re all from different music backgrounds – when you hit the stage, does it all come together pretty naturally?
It does, we work really well together on stage. It helps that we’re all very used to playing with other people and playing under pressure, but we’re also friends – like, Scott’s a guy I looked upto growing up, but he’s also one of my best friends. I’ll annoy that dude, and that dude will annoy me because we’re friends. Keith, Andy and Rob are my friends. Like, before and after the show I want to hang out with these dudes. I think that’s where chemistry comes from, if you like the people you’re on stage with. It also helps to be proficient musicians. I always have low expectations of myself like, “fuck, we’re playing these shows without rehearsal”. But we get up there and yeah we might forget a few parts here and there but it comes off pretty great, and then we can go and hang out with everyone that came to the shows and everyone seems to have enjoyed it. There’s even some people who came with skepticism in their eyes but really had a good time and that’s fucking awesome man. We’re just barely pro enough to be able to pull it off without rehearsing for 4 months [laughs]

I was at the show and it all seemed pretty polished. But if you do fuck up, are there ways to just gloss over it?
Ah thanks man, that’s awesome – that’s very cool to hear. I’m glad, I feel like at the end of the day, 9 out of 10 times you can see the mistakes you make over everyone else. I’m personally so self-conscious, I mean if I make one little mistake or anything I think about it really hard. But you know, one thing I’ve learned as a musician is the best thing to do is to be late – it’s way cooler to play behind the beat then it is to play ahead of the beat. You play ahead of the beat, it’s like – fucking nervous white guy [laughs]. So if you forget the part and get into it a little late it doesn’t sound bad. There’s like, a way to fuck up professionally. We all know how to fuck up and make it look alright.

Were there any nerves about playing to a crowd who won’t have heard most of the tracks?
For sure, have you heard the record?

I got it a few days ago, I mean it’s only Monday so only had the weekend to sink in.
So you were at least familiar, but most of the people there were only familiar with MAYBE two or three songs. And they may have had their arms folded at the time but afterwards you hear everyone like clapping and yelling and it’s like, cool man, they clearly dug that.

Well I’m sure you can appreciate, having played London before, that’s generally our aesthetic – crossed arms, chin scratching…
It’s the same as New York and LA man! Fans keep their arms crossed like ‘impress me, fucking impress me’. You live in a big city and not matter what you’ve seen and what you haven’t seen, you act like you’ve seen it all. I’m from Chicago and go between Chicago and New York. I mean, Chicago’s definitely a different vibe – very laid back and a lot friendlier. New York’s great, I love it and have been spending a lot of time there but it’s similar to London in the way that there’s a lot of fucking bands, and its harder to get people to come out and see you.

You said a lot of people approached the gig with a lot of skepticism – do you not think they may have just been unsure what to expect? Especially as Fall Out Boy fans before they might’ve been thinking ‘shit, I hope this isn’t a disappointment'?
Really good question. That’s something I’ve learned about people who say they have no expectations – it’s the same as someone saying they have low expectations. Unless you’re really that unfamiliar with music, and you don’t know about Anthrax, FOB and ETID and you’re showing up with literally no expectations – no expectations normally means shitty expectations.

Have you heard much feedback from FOB fans on forums/Twitter etc? How are they responding to The Damned Things?
FOB fans are generally awesome man, they’re very supportive. There are some - and you’re gonna get into this when you’re dealing with a band that was bigger than the sum of their parts - who you’re not even sure are into the music, but they’re just like into someone’s face, or into someone’s vibe that makes them horny or whatever. That being said, the FOB fans who genuinely dig the music have been very supportive and very cool. I hung out with some of them who came up to the London show for a while, and a very long time FOB fan from London who’s a very good acquaintance came out and brought me a little weed cos she knows I’m always kinda hurting when I I first hit the road [laughs], so yeah they’re mostly really cool. There are some who aren’t so cool about it but it makes me wonder whether they’re actually into music. Some just say ‘this isn’t for me, I’d rather have FOB’.

What about the Anthrax and Every Time I Die fans?
Anthrax have some of the most true music fans, like guys who’ve been going to shows for ever and just wanna see good rock music. Guys who listen to Zeppelin, who saw Thin Lizzy with Phil Lynott! Dudes like that who are just into rock n’ roll, and I love talking to old school Anthrax fans – some of the nicest, coolest, genuine music fans. And this isn’t taking away from FOB fans, they’re fucking awesome. With ETID fans you get a similar thing where you get a lot of younger people who are trying to figure out what they’re into and some of them are maybe more into aesthetic than they’re into just listening to songs, and I get it – I was into that too - but you get older and you realize aesthetic doesn’t matter.

Do you have a favorite track on Ironiclast?
It’s changed a lot…I think like Black Heart and Little Darling – I love all the overdubs and all the little nuances of that song, it’s a really vibey darker tune. I love the chorus on it too, just the whole thing!

The first track I heard from it was A Great Reckoning – dude, that is probably the sickest riff I’ve heard all year.
Thank you, I wrote that riff!

Very nice! What does the immediate future hold now, are you gonna be touring?
Yeah, well be touring all through next year, support mostly.


If it sounds like a laugh hanging out and jamming tracks with, not just your friends, but in some cases also your idols...then this sense of fun certainly translates onto the record. The themes may not typically be lighthearted and jovial (song titles like Grave Robber, Black Heart and Bad Blood hardly scream 'feel good hit of the summer'), but there's an almost tangible sense of the enjoyment and excitment that would've resulted from busting out the kind of gargantuan riffs in the likes of A Great Reckoning and Black Heart.

We've Got A Situation Here is the track that most of those familiar with the band would've heard - used as the taster track ahead of Ironiclast - and serves as the perfect introduction to what this new beast is all about. Guitars duel and then harmonise before Buckley's unmistakable vocal crashes in, driving a powerful, riff-backed verse. A clearly FOB-influenced, highly melodic and instantly contagious chorus ensues, before a guitar solo tears its way through the tune. Just when the song sounds like it may have finished and a chance presents itself to catch your breath, a lick not too dissimilar to that from ETID's We'rewolf swells and crashes with enough force to knock that breath straight back out of you, while Buckley wails 'for the love of god / put your sights on my heart'.

Grave Robber is the heaviest song on the album - a chugging, palm muted beast of a riff again kicking things off in style, while regular tempo variations and Hurley's double bass pedal ensure that the track never loses momentum. Comfortably the standout track from last Saturday when the band played London's Garage, this is the formula that works best for the band as a collective. Friday Night (Going Down In Flames) is the album's party track - an ode to the weekend, as the title suggests. 'All I want is another good time/it's Friday night/and Sunday's saints have gone away'. Another tune propelled by, you guessed it, a huge riff and also featuring some particularly exemplary solo work.

Discussing the make-up of the band in their intro video, Scott Ian responds to the question of 'what the fuck, 3 guitar players, what kind of band is that?' with simply 'it's a fucking rad band is what it is'. Well, Scott's right, and the instrumentation thoughout the album is generally phenomenal. Add the tones of Buckley - arguably Rock music's greatest current vocalist - and the formula was always destined to work. As with the vast majority of full lengths there are a couple of weaker tracks (read the title track Ironiclast and Blues Having The Blues), but all in all it's a brilliantly fun, remarkably coherent debut.    

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Enter Shikari - 'Destabilise' video


Following on from the tragic You're Not Getting Any Sleep Tonight and general disappointment (imo) that was their second full length Common Dreads, Enter Shikari are back and have just dropped an absolute monster in the form of Destabilise. The song incorporates and probably even improves on everything that made the band such an attractive proposition in the first place - Rou Reynolds' unique, aggressively spat vocals...dark, trancey synthlines that wouldn't be out of place on a Prodigy record, and some of their most brutal breakdowns to date. Rob Rolfe's double bass drum is in overdrive, which drives the technicality that takes this track to the next level. Not entirely convinced by the choreography at 3:09 however....

Paper Crows

 

Love this track from London's Paper Crows. They sound like the new generation of Bat For Lashes-esque haunting, female-vox'd, percussionally accomplished pop....or a darker, UK answer to Glasser for those who have picked up their fantastic debut recently. Props to The Recommender for unearthing this gem.     

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Kings Of Leon - The Immortals


A band that needs no introduction, Kings Of Leon release their 5th full-length Come Around Sundown on October 18th in the UK and the 19th in the US. For me, Only By The Night was a little hit or miss - the undeniable quality of Closer and heinously overplayed Sex On Fire and Use Somebody somewhat negated by a few non-event tracks. It looks like CAS may fare in a similar way too, and until hearing The Immortals yesterday evening I thought the album may have been shaping up to let down. But this is a belter - the instrumentals in general, but particularly the delayed guitar, having a blinder and Caleb Followill's distinctive croon assuming a particularly melodic form.

Kings Of Leon - The Immortals

Friday, 1 October 2010

Loose Talk Costs Lives


Nothing tickles my pickle musically quite like a bit of technicality. Angular riffs, breathless beats with some well worked hi-hat variation in there....leaves me feeling all warm inside. So when I first heard Leeds' Loose Talk Costs Lives on the reliably awesome The Recommender blog, it was love at first listen. They bring the riffs and beats in abundance, and mix in some damn catchy melodies which serve to elevate them above the vast majority of mathematically-influenced (?!) Indie/Pop acts.  

Wreck Ashore, via the SoundCloud player below, is the band's 'anthem' - I can see this popping up at the end of a set, crowd going ape-shit and the chorus being sung for time after the band have exited stage left. Gold on the other hand doesn't possess quite the same sing-a-long value, but in terms of structure and technicality is a monster of a tune. How fucking good is that opening beat?! Props must go out drummer Greg Round - his sparse yet hugely effective use of the cowbell during Gold especially is the mark of a truly talented dude.

They've already played alongside some great names such as Two Door Cinema Club, Foals, and Good Shoes, and no doubt they will play with plenty more in their time. Wreck Ashore will also come out as a double A side single with a track called Some Nice Flowers at a date still TBC.         

Wreck Ashore by Loose Talk Costs Lives

Loose Talk Costs Lives - Gold (Demo)

Thursday, 30 September 2010

El Guincho


Cool track and vid from Barcelona's El Guincho.The lyrics of the song in his native Spanish really compliment the tropical sound, and as such sounds far more authentic than many of the wave of Tropical acts emerging at present. The video is arty as hell too, and contains a load of boobies. Tee hee.  

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Midweek misc.


Here's a couple of bits n bobs that the week's so far throw at me.

Twin Shadow - I Can't Wait
Like the world needs another Indie/New Wave artist making tracks of the nostalgic, 80's-influenced variety. Well actually, when it's this good, it does. And judging by what I've heard from Brookyln's George Lewis Jr. aka Twin Shadow, I Can't Wait is no fluke either. His debut album, Forget, was released yesterday and, unless that's when you were born, you've probably heard enough of him by now to know it's certainly worth picking up.

Foals - One (Your Name) [Swedish House Mafia Cover]
I featured the Bar9 remix of Foals' Spanish Sahara a week or 2 ago, and now it's the Oxford mathy tech-sters' turn to putting their own Indie/Tropical twist on arguably the electro hit of the summer - Swedish House Mafia's One (Your Name). Taken from BBC's Live Lounge, they do a cracking job with this, maintaining the hook that made the song such a hit in the first place in the form of a guitar riff, while also injection some of their trademark percussion and beats. Up there with Cee-Lo Green's re-working of Band of Horses as cover of the year I reckon.

Chiddy Bang - The Good Life
Extending Kanye's influence from their music to the song title's, The Good Life is also a big feel-good hit set to build upon the 'swell' that Chiddy Bang's caused earlier this year. Another song about how much better his life is than yours, I should hate this dude but with tunes this catchy it makes it hella difficult to.

Nightlands - Suzerain (A Letter to the Judge)
If the last track jolted you awake, then let this number drift you back into that state of relaxation. Nightlands is Philadelphia multi-instrumentalist David Hartley, who started the project as a means of remembering dreams - with the help of a bedside tape recorder. Using spectacular vocal harmonies and thick layers of instrumentation, the track bodes real well ahead of his upcoming debut full-length Forget The Mantra - released on November 8th through the brilliant Secretly Canadian.

Local Natives - Who Knows Who Cares (bretonLABS Remix)
I'm always a little dubious upon hearing remixes of songs that I love, but it was clear within the first minute of this reworking that there was nothing to be worried about. Breton, under their remix moniker bretonLABS have injected a dose of technicality into Local Natives' Who Knows, Who Cares not often associated with Electronic music, while exploring a remarkably broad spectrum of the genre in just 5 minutes. I'm looking forward to hearing more from this lot.

Good job, week.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Glasser - 'Ring'

         
   

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If you like your dreamy yet beat-driven, female fronted pop a la School Of Seven Bells then you'll love Glasser and more specifically their upcoming full length Ring. It comes out via True Panther on September 28th and, although I've only given it the twice over, it's sounding like a beaut. This is from the label:

'...the album is loosely structured like the chiastic (or, Ring) structure used in ancient literature. Ideas are paired in symmetric order, often leading bidirectionally towards a certain concept. Songs are used to represent often contradictory emotional states.. So we wanted your first listen to it to reflect that. No set beginning or end, just dive into the album and go with it.'

Right then... 

Friday, 17 September 2010

To the 'floor!


1. Grab a stick 'n a waistcoat
2. Tuck your pants into your socks
3. Press 'Play'
4. To the 'floor with you!

Swedish House Mafia - Miami 2 Ibiza (Remix) ft. Tinie Tempah
As 'special' as Tinie Tempah sounds, you got to give the lad credit...he's contributed to some huge tunes this year. This acronym-tastic beast from collective-of-the-moment Swedish House Mafia is no exception.

The Dance Party - Sasha Don't Sleep (Pance Party Remix)
While I'm not too familiar with the original, San Fran's Pance Party have given powerpop band The Dance Party's Sasha Don't Sleep a massive electro/house re-working. These guys are becoming one of my favorite remixers, and their takes on Lil Jon's I Do, Shakira's She Wolf and Something A La Mode's 5AM are well worth a listen too.

Boys Noize - Yeah
Having established themselves as one of the best electronic acts on the whole entire planet, there's not too much more than needs to be said about Boys Noize. Yeah was released to celebrate 50 releases on BoysNoize Records, and is as good as you'd expect from them - brought in with the tapping of a hi-hat and then swelling and undulating its way to a real feel-good house vibe.

Foals - Spanish Sahara (Bar 9 Remix)
Wow...didn't see that one coming. As one of the more subdued tracks on Foals' recent Total Life Forever, I never quite pictured Spanish Sahara with a dirty dubstep aesthetic, but Bar9 have only gone and done it. Works pretty bloody well too, mind you.

N.A.S.A. - Gifted (ft. Kanye West, Santogold & Lykke Li)
By no means a new track but was reminded of this on Indie Shuffle again the other day, and like George Michael back out of rehab I'm instantly re-hooked.

A B & The Sea


Easy all. Many MANY apologies for the recent down time - turns out that Virgin are a bunch of 'tards and I've been stuck internet-less for the past month or so.

ANYWAY - fuck it, it's Friday, and if that in itself is not sufficient to plant a ginormous shiteating grin on your face then I can guarantee that a swift listen to San Francisco's A B & The Sea will be. This contemporary take on The Beach Boys is almost worth it's own genre these days, and if it were then this quintet would be well up there at the head of the pack.

Below, Yellow Haired Girl borders on cheesy but its contagious melodies should make it a serious hit, whereas Bone Dry brings a fair helping of cool to the fray. Jangly guitars and exquisite group vocals are ever present on both, and contribute heavily to the band's sunshine-in-a-song vibe.   

A B & Sea - Yellow Haired Girl
A B & The Sea - Bone Dry

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Midweek misc



Jimmy Eat World - My Best Theory
Even with my emo days (arguably) behind me, I'll still always have 'nuff time for Jimmy Eat World. Tho I can't see them ever usurping '01 classic Bleed American, they've released a couple of beastly albums since then and the track My Best Theory is from the upcoming Invented. This'll be their 7th full length, and is sounding really rather promising.

Still Time - 9 to 5
Although sitting a little awkwardly in limbo between a classic or current sound, Cali's Still Time have a great vibe to them and sound like Counting Crows meet Waiting For My Rocket To Come era Jason Mraz. If you've got a porch then crack open a cold one and sit on it, with this occupying your speakers. If you're like me a fold-out chair on a bit of grass outside your house is the best you can muster, then fuck it, make it a few beers. 

Cee-Lo Green - No One's Gonna Love You (Band of Horses cover)
I don't know what even made Cee-Lo give it a go in the first place, but he's absolutely nailed this cover of Band Of Horses' No One's Gonna Love You. What a voice the dude's got....he just makes that melody his bitch.

Meligrove Band - Halflight
I don't want to keep on bumming Toronto but seriously if the city keeps on churning out quality bands like Meligrove Band I'm just gonna pack up my shit and move there. Upcoming tours with Tokyo Police Club and Born Ruffians shouldn't harm their high-octane Indie Rock cause either.

Sean Bones - Easy Street
Not just a cool name, Sean Bones makes heavily Reggae-brushed Folk Pop, perfect for summer cotch time. He's got an upcoming full length on the equally brilliant New York based label Frenchkiss Records who've already given us the likes of Local Natives, Freelance Whales and Suckers this year.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Styrofoam Ones


That Toronto's so hot right now. From the city that's already provided us this year with the likes of Dragonette, Young Empires and Bravestation, comes pop-noir trio Styrofoam Ones. Combining Post-Punk grittiness, Indie urgency and synth-driven danceability, they're a band you'd love to see rocking your local derelict warehouse, but in truth they could probably make a sweaty mess out of just about anywhere or anyone. They're hitting the studio in 'the fall' (October/November?) with Tokyo Police Club and Fucked Up producer Jon Drew, and will have a full length ready for 2011.              

Styrofoam Ones - Blue Lines

Also check below for the video for new single Blue Lines

Friday, 6 August 2010

To the 'floor!


Instructions:
1. Click 'Play'
2. To the 'floor with you!

Dragonette - Our Summer
Our first tune comes courtesy of Toronto's Dragonette, and is a bit of a summer Electro-Pop banger. And it features a cowbell....sure fire winner.

Ra Ra Riot - Boy
Another taster ahead of upcoming full length The Orchard. When I first heard this song I wasn't blown away, but the play count is now getting a little unhealthy. Everything you'd expect from Ra Ra Riot and more, I especially dig the bass line - the tone of which sounds like it could be played on a £50 beginners Peavey.

Yeasayer - ONE (Teen Daze Remix)
Brilliant re-working of one of the highlights from Yeasayer's Odd Blood released earlier this year. Refreshingly different to many remixes in the delayed build and drop, and even a cheeky bit of a Chipbreak influence in there for the 8bit'ers.

Jamaica - Short And Entertaining
Jamaica aren't in fact from the Caribbean island but instead craft their wares in Paris. Along with the likes of Pony Pony Run Run, SPEAK etc they're another band that's certainly been aided by the success of Phoenix's infectious brand of Indie Pop last year, but that's to take nothing away from this group who sound like they've a pretty sound ear for a melody themselves.

Hyetal - Pixel Rainbow Sequence
I can't admit to being much of a Dubstep keen-o so I'm not going to embarrass myself and anger those who are by attempting to delve too deep into this track, I just dig it, ok?   

Enjoy the weekend motherhumpers.
   

Thursday, 5 August 2010

iamamiwhoami


I'm not going to lie, it took me a long type to type and even get my head around that name. The video itself isn't much easier to comprehend - the hunchbacked king in tighty wighty's, tree slaying knight, tar covered wench and all - but the song itself is brilliant with a dramatic synthy chorus and tantalizing verse swells. Someone please put iamamiwhoami on a bill with Dananananaykroyd.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

David's Lyre


Predominantly known for his (rather bloody good) covers of contemporary British acts such as Marina and the Diamonds, Ellie Goulding, and Delphic, David's Lyre has shown that he's even more adept when it comes to composing original tracks. Heartbeat starts off stripped down with just David's unique and distinctly British vocal over what could be fairly presumed to be a lyre, but is in fact a ukulele, before BOOM.....he brings in the beat. Strangely enough this big tropical beat and uke combo works really well, sounding somewhat like the lovechild of a bizarre orgy between fellow Londonders Noah and the Whale and Crystal Fighters....carefully mediated by Midlake.        

David's Lyre - Heartbeat

Friday, 16 July 2010

All Summer


All Summer is a cool as fuck collaboration between Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend fame, and Kid Cudi of, well, global fame. The track was recorded for Converse and features evrything you'd expect it to, considering the individuals collaborating....the verse is of lo-fi, dreamy consistency; Cudi's smooth vocal complimenting it brilliantly (Chill-Hop?), while the chorus picks it up a couple of notches with palm muting and a garage punk feel. It kind of sounds like 2 different songs stuck together, but whatev's, it's a tune.

Kid Cudi, Rostam Batmanglig & Bethany Cosentino - All Summer

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Bright Spark Destroyer

Written in stages between a barn in Oxford, flat in Kilburn and a mobile studio on the M4, it's a wonder that Bright Spark Destroyer's debut EP Holy Yell is even vaguely coherent. To even use a word such as 'coherent' however would be to do the band a disservice, as all 5 songs have been lovingly constructed through angular riffs, technical beats and David Adams' soaring, often falsetto, vocal. 2nd track They Already Know even triumphantly incorporates the piano, proving that piano-driven indie ballads don't have to be performed by Train and more importantly don't have to be shit. The whole EP is streaming below courtesy of Soundclound, and I'd recommend fans of Bloc Party and Death Cab especially to make a cheeky investment via the 'Buy The Whole Set' button.

HOLY YELL by Bright Spark Destroyer

Bravestation


No, not Babestation.....pervert. Despite being a relatively new outfit, Toronto's Bravestation have already notched up a number of formidable comparisons to the likes of heavyweights The National, Yeasayer and Foals. But what is most impressive about the band is that they're not purely ripping off their influences....instead merely extracting elements from each to help shape their own sound. Take the first two tracks off sophomore EP 2010, posted below, as examples. The verses contain that epic ambiance exploited so well by the likes of The National and Foals' more recent material, multi-layered vocals and snare rim hits not vastly dissimilar as those found on Local Natives' Gorilla Manor, as well as the tom rolls and varied instrumentation that helped thrust Yeasayer into the limelight earlier this year. But having listened through the EP, currently streaming in its entirety on the band's MySpace, it's admirable and hugely impressive that Bravestation have managed to craft an overall sound that could only belong to them.

Bravestation - White Wolves
Bravestation - Clocks & Spears

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Fosse Jaw

Having a picture of a random bathing suit clad lady on a diving board as your main profile pic may not seem entirely conventional, but then again neither is owning 30 of the same white Hanes t-shirts. Fosse Jaw's sound isn't much easier to describe than his love of identical tees - a kind of sun drenched, heavily vocally distorted, folk influenced melee of pop, rock and even a like country vibe in there for good measure. David Formentin is the mastermind behind the sound, and his multi layered, harmonised vocals in the chorus are particularly impressive as a one man band. As someone who's never played a live show and is still struggling to find those to perform with, I'm gonna play matchmaker here and tell any musicians in the LA area to get involved! 

Fosse Jaw - Too Many Priuses

Friday, 25 June 2010

FOE

FOE is the alias of Fleet resident Hannah Shark.  Unlike the sleepy Hampshire town, the music she pens and records from her bedroom has a dirty energy to it - Tyran Song's heavily distorted, grunge'y guitar line a prime example of this. Her gentle melodic vocal lines and the screwball pop sheen given to the tracks by producer and partner in crime Entrepreneurs compliment this darker sound perfectly, resulting in a sound that's as edgy as it is catchy. 

FOE - Tyran Song

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Crystal Fighters - In The Summer


Having tipped Crystal Fighters as one of my acts to look out for in 2010, I was starting to doubt that shout after a relatively inconspicuous first half of the year. But just as Xtatic Truth and I Love London were working their way off my iPod, they go and drop this bomb. Ye of little faith! In The Summer still retains most of the elements that made the band such an exciting and unique prospect in the first place - the huge beat and basque influence in particular - but also chucks into the mix an African vibe that wouldn't be too out of place at Soccer City. Big summer jam.

Stream and download the track for free below.

Crystal Fighters - In The Summer

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

OK Go - "End Love"


I think it's fair to say that OK Go have developed their reputation more as a result of expert video concepts and choreography that sheer musical genius. Treadmill antics, garden dance routines, and that awesome-if not-slightly-ripping-off-the-Honda-ad vid tend to hold more mental longevity than the songs themselves - Here It Goes Again, A Million Ways, and.....shit I can't even remember the name of the last one.

With their new video for End Love from most recent album Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky, they've managed to combine the two, to their credit. The video itself is as brilliant as you'd expect from the band, for the first time using the likes of stop gap and slow motion shots, and the song itself is a step up from what we've come to expect from them. How long must that all take?!

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass (Passion Pit Remix)

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Hearts Under Fire

I must admit that I was a little hesitant initially about a female-fronted alternative group called Hearts Under Fire, what with the number of Paramore rip-off bands popping up all over the shop at the mo. But having been given some encouragement by Tom Barnes' sweet new snaps of the group (with a backdrop that refreshingly looks more Saw IV than Hot Topic), I'm glad as hell I gave them a chance.

Any concerns were rapidly quelled by the unconventional but highly effective beat that drives the intro and second half of the verse, and by the time the first almost Social Distortion-esque chorus had concluded, I was slapping my wrist for ever judging a book by it's....well, title I suppose. Sounding more Distillers than the aforementioned Pop Punk supergroup, they've got a real gritty edge and technical sensibility that's lacking in most Rock bands of either gender.

They've recently released an EP Letters which you can preview and pick up here

Hearts Under Fire - It's Not Me, It's You

Monday, 14 June 2010

Overthrow


Watching RX Bandits tear up Camden's Underworld the other week got me to pondering why there are so few bands on either side of the Atlantic who have emulated their big win formula of massive riffs, intricate technicality, and contagiously melodic choruses with an underlying reggae/ska vibe. OK so maybe that's a tad more specific that it initially sounded in my head, but as if by fate the next day's blog binge took me to the pages of Punktastic.com, who are currently streaming Guildford 4-piece Overthrow's extremely promising new 6 track EP A Ghost In The Machine. And yup, they've only gone and nailed it.

Previous tours with the likes of The Toasters, Voodoo Glow Skulls, and Sonic Boom Six would suggest more of a Skacore leaning, but their sound base is so much broader than that, and suggests they'd be equally content mixing it up with the best of Punk, Ska, or Indie. I've included a couple of choice tracks from AGITM, but if that's not enough for you then head to lads' Bandcamp page to download the whole EP for nought. 

Overthrow - By Night We Escape
Overthrow - Rick Stein Is Addicted To Mobile Discos

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Janelle Monae


What a statement from rising starlet Janelle Monae. The video above is from a recent performance on the Late Show with David Letterman, in which she exhibits the kind of talents that explain why the likes of Prince and P Diddy can be included among her fanbase. A cracking soulful voice, incredibly natural stage presence, and footwork I wouldn't even consider emulating myself until a double figure drink count. Her recently released album The ArchAndroidis well worth a listen too, and demonstrates her considerable expertise as a songwriter, not just a performer.

Janelle Monae - Tightrope (ft. Big Boi)

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

SPEAK


Just as Phoenix's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix came along perfectly in time for summer last year, Austin, TX residents SPEAK have unleashed new single Carrie (Mindfull) on us just as temperatures are rising. Off debut EP Hear Here, the song is a good introduction to the group's synth-heavy Indie Pop sounds - which are in fact not too dissimilar to those of the aforementioned Frenchmen. Led by former video game composer Troupe Gammage, the group were recently named Best New Band by the Austin Music Awards.  

SPEAK - Carrie (Mindfull)

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Fang Island vs.....Basketball?!

Props to ....And Everyone's A DJ for this one. I fucking love Fang Island and, although I can't necessarily say the some for basketball, slam dunk comps are pretty rad. Still, I wouldn't naturally associate the two....but some dude called Christopher a.k.a. noblebeast has put together a top video marrying the two - sync'ing everything from the dramatic build up, the first slam to the song's first drop, and around 4:04...has he got that spectator singing a 'ooohhhhh wwwoooaaahhhh'?? Genius.

Fang Island - Davey Crockett

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Caesars Rome

There must be something in the waters of South Wales. The relatively small region is the UK's Brookyln when it comes to pumping out quality Alternative acts, and following in the footsteps of Funeral For A Friend, Save Your Breath, Tiger Please et al is Caesars Rome. The band have been in the studio with superproducer Romesh Dodangoda, who has helped the band achieve a colossal sound for debut album The Company We Keep - chunky guitars and huge, anthemic chorus present in abundance. High On The Nines is the debut single off the album and is a good indication of their sound, with vocalist Jonathan Hopkins' potent pipes shining through in particular. 

Caesars Rome - High On The Nines

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Band Of Horses

With their third full-length Infinite Arms dropping in May, Low Country rockers Band Of Horses have revealed a trippy, almost kaleidoscopic video for lead single Compliments. The album was written and recorded across many different parts of the country, and by the looks of it the band were cam-happy during these journies. BOH are one of those rare bands that seem to lack any detractors, and if the rest of the album is as strong as this track it looks set to stay that way.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

5 Q's and a bunch of A's with....MillionYoung

Mike Diaz aka MillionYoung chats summer plans, the Florida scene, and 'chillwave'.

Your music tends to have the 'Chillwave' tag slapped on it more often than not. Do you think that's fair, or is there an alternate genre or description that you feel better pinpoint's your sound?

At first I didn't really understand what the term meant, and it's still pretty vague. It seems that the only real connection between all the bands lumped into the "chillwave" corner is their close attention to texture and a really nostalgic production value. Other than that however it seems there's very little connecting a something like Neon Indian to Washed Out.

I feel like there's so many more interesting and effective ways to describe music than to pile a bunch of pseudo-similar artists under one title, but you can't avoid it. The main problem I have with "chillwave" isn't even the goofy name, but the fact that it's just another genre, and whenever you have that you'll have people who avoid it just cause they think every band in it sounds the same, but I think all these bands have something really unique to offer. Still, that being said, at least I'm in good company and honored to be considered amongst some really inventive musicians.

How have you felt about the reception for the Be So True EP?

I just got back from my spring tour and it was really awesome meeting fans and hearing crowds singing. I've never really experienced anything like that and I'm grateful for the genuinely awesome feeling. The cassettes sold pretty well and we even got a lot of international orders, so I really can't complain about anything.

In May you'll be playing a string of shows with current UK darling's Two Door Cinema Club - how did that come about? Any plans of a return trip to the UK?

Actually not sure if they specifically requested me to help out or not, but my agent just asked if I wanted to do some dates with them. I've heard a few of their songs and I really dig what they do so I'm excited for the whole thing. It's still getting ironed out, but looks like I'll be heading over and playing a round of Europe dates in June-July. We've got about half of it booked but details will be announced sometime in the next couple of weeks.

What's the scene currently like out there in Florida? Any exciting acts for the future with the Millionyoung stamp of approval? 

The scene here actually died pretty hard a few years back, but I'm really happy to say that over the last year though there's been a lot of things happening and I've been lucky to share the stage with a few really awesome bands. I just played a night at this thing called "Total Bummer Fest" up in Gainesville, FL and it was one of the most fun nights of my life. All Florida bands just having a good time. This kid Michael Parallax, whom I've become a huge fan of, played. He's from Gainesville and does some really cool ambient electronic stuff; super fun to sing-a-long to and his beats are incredible. There's also this other band called Totally Nebular that I had the privilege of performing with at a house party in Orlando. They've got the Avey Tare and Panda Bear style melodies/harmonies down tight, and they bring this really raw and intense energy to their live sets (I recall floor toms being thrown and crowd surfing in an apartment living room hahaha).

How's your surfing?

Non-existent, haha. I do like to snorkel though if that counts!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Jetskiis

Formed from the ashes of New Centuries and Send For Help, San Fran natives Jetskiis craft indie rock of a distinctly broody, atmospheric nature. Their track Bodymore has quite rightly been striking comparisons to the likes of the xx, The Meters, and Roxy Music, and is also reminiscent to some of Brand New's darker moments. With a mini album recorded and buzz starting to build, I wouldn't have thought they'd have a four-figure MySpace play count for too much longer. 

Jetskiis - Bodymore

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Chiddy Bang

Chiddy Bang are a duo of out Philadelphia that fuse indie, electro, and hip-hop with a generous serving of feel-good. Above is their video for the MGMT-sampled Opposite Of Adults (get it, get it?) - a song sure to gather them acclaim not just in indie circles, but surely more commercial exposure too. I haven't delved into too much background on the making of this brilliant video but I would've thought the moustachio'd Jib Jab may have had something to do with it - and if this track doesn't bring a smile to you face you can more than go elf yourself...

Sunday, 28 March 2010

White Heat @ Madame JoJo's w/ Sleigh Bells, Vision Of Trees & New Yoga

Sandwiched in between numerous SXSW parties and what I'm sure will be a sweet US tour with Major Lazer, Brooklyn's Sleigh Bells have come over to London for a few shows - the first of which was on Tuesday night at the ever brilliant White Heat.

The opener on the night is New Yoga - a little known US soloist with massive balls. Not necessarily in the literal sense, but you have to admire the bravery of a guy who takes to the stage by himself armed with nothing but a guitar, a keyboard, and a bunch of pedals. To be honest it didn't sound like much - I got the feeling he had taken on a little too much - but the addition of a couple more members may allow for more time to be spent on songwriting and structure, allowing for his talent to come more to the fore. 


London duo Vision of Trees are the evening's hometown heroes, and by the time they take to the stage the room has almost packed out. They don't disappoint either, immediately making an impact with a big, polished sound - especially given that it's just the two of them. Sara and Joni work really well in tandem - the former being the focal point of the group as a sweet sounding, sexy vocalist while Joni takes on the role of multi-instrumental maetro - brilliantly utilising dreamy synth, shuddering bass and smacking everything around him with a set of drum sticks. The US is currently beyond doubt the epicenter of dream-pop, but in Vision Of Trees the UK potentially has a real contender.

In Eddie Murphy's Delerious, he says R&B/Soul singer Teddy Pendergress used to "walk on stage and scare the bitches into liking him", and as Sleigh Bells take the stage it appears their tactics aren't too far away from old Teddy's. Their mix of thumping electronic beats and heavily distorted punk guitar lines are as unique as they are heavy, and vocalist Alexis is so confident to almost come across as aggressive. She drops down into the crowd for 3rd and standout track A/B Machines, and clearly isn't afraid to get a little sweaty herself. It's just as well the duo have such a strong presence as technical difficulties heavily mar their set, but their raw energy carries them impressively through these issues. As is often the case with such a unique act the songs are a little hit and miss, but when they hit they do so hard, and tracks such as Crown On The Ground and the aforementioned A/B Machines suggest that there may be a future ahead of them that lives up to all their current hype.

Sleigh Bells - A/B Machines
Vision of Trees - Wonders

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Four Year Strong - Enemy Of The World

Four Year Strong
Enemy Of The World
Label: Decaydance/Universal Motown
Release Date: March 9th 2010

Following the success of 2007's colossal Rise Or Die Trying, Massachusetts' Four Year Strong showed their hand with regards to new tracks with It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now in late '09, and Wasting Time (Eternal Summer) a little earlier this year. And what a hand it was. It Must Really Suck... is as good a Pop Punk song as you'll hear all year, and ties together every aspect of what makes the band so awesome - a massive Pop Punk/Hardcore love-child intro riff, intricate beat variations and half-time galore, perfectly worked dual and gang vocals, and overall superb musicianship lying on the just right side of technical. Wasting Time (Eternal Summer) on the other hand is much more of a straight up, balls-to-the-wall Punk/Rock anthem which really accentuates Dan O'Connor and Alan Day's passionate vocals and for 3 minutes and 18 seconds completely removes me from London's eternal winter.

However, the biggest problem with following up an album as groundbreaking as Rise Or Die Trying and songs of the quality of those mentioned above, is that tracks anything short of genius are going to seem a little plain in comparison. And as much as it pains me to say it, that is indeed the case for Enemy Of The World. There are still some great songs on here - Paul Revere's Midnight Ride, One Step At A Time, and Enemy Of The World providing a few examples - but outside of those two teaser tracks, the album seems to lack those exceptional moments previously present. I'm sure I'm not the only one who punched the air in delight (before looking anxiously around the room hoping that nobody saw) upon hearing the opening riff of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Hell, the initial drop in Bada Bing! With A Pipe! and lines such as "Try To Keep Your Thoughts Above The Belt" from Beatdown In The Key Of Happy. But even without these killer moments, it's still a great Pop Punk album, and Machine's expert production has again done a brilliant job of emphasizing all those aspects that have won over so many fans since the band's beginnings back in 2001.

8/10

Choice tracks: It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now, Enemy Of The World
For fans of: Set Your Goals, Lifetime

Buy Enemy of the World from Amazon US// Buy Enemy Of The World from Amazon UK

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Radiant Dragon

Radiant Dragon is the musical moniker (what a birth name that'd be...) of German born, British-Chinese musician Ming Long. His tracks can essentially be filed under Chillwave, and it's great to see a talented British musician doing his thing in a scene so densely populated with US acts. Preseli is my favorite of his songs - a largely dreamy, lo-fi track based around a huge synth line that will embed itself firmly into that head of yours.  

Radiant Dragon - Preseli

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Twin Atlantic @ The Borderline w/ Canterbury & Brigade

So often I'll hear a glowing live review along the lines of "yeah the band were awesome, they sounded just like they did on record." But what makes Twin Atlantic such an exceptional live act is that they harness all the positives from Vivarium and beyond, whilst adding a whole host of factors that just aren't tangible when listening to the band on your iPod.

Sam McTrusty's distinctly Scotticised, true-to-surname vocal, McKenna and McNae's surging, intricate riffs, and Craig Neale's thumping yet technical beats aren't hampered at all by the stage, while they add to this mix a contagious energy, absorbing stage presence, and endearingly awkward inter-song ramblings. Their more anthemic moments such as What Is Light, Where Is Laughter had arms in the air and crowd sing-alongs en masse, while circle pits opened and swelled for set closer Audience And Audio. I must admit that when Barry McKenna traded his guitar for a cello my gag reflex was tested somewhat, but to his credit he knows how handle that thing and it added another positive dimension to a couple of their slower moments.

Credit should also go to the young lads in Canterbury who were the main support on the night, as well as Brigade who opened up proceedings with a set of predominantly newer tracks. Canterbury have a really exciting future ahead of them following the success of debut album Thank You, and it's not often you hear a band with one vocalist of that caliber - let alone two. It's also great to see a band who are essentially Pop-Punk breaking the often limited mold of the genre, although if they are to progress to the next level they need to work on getting their live sound a little meatier. Brigade had some some good moments, especially instrumentally, but front-man Will's vocals were a little exposed when you compare him to those who filled his spot on the stage later in the evening.