Sunday, 31 January 2010

London gig shouts: Monday 1st Feb - Sunday 7th Feb


Monday

Haiti Fundraiser @ Old Blue Last w/ Jack Penate, Invasion, Friendly Fires (DJ) & more 

Tuesday

Hot Chip @ Rough Trade East

White Heat @ Madame JoJo’s w/ Shy Child, Run Toto Run & O.Children
 
Japanese Voyeurs @ Barfly w/ Sharks & Wounds

Wednesday 

Surfer Blood @ Hoxton Bar & Kitchen w/ Goldhawks & Fiction
 
Vampire Weekend @ The Relentless Garage
 
Hadouken! @ The Scala w/ Unicorn Kid & This City

Thursday

The Automatic @ The Borderline w/ Baddies

Moda:London @ The Macbeth w/ Fake Blood, Mowgli, Solid Gold, and others

Smash & Grab @ Proud Galleries w/ Still Flyin', Bearsuit & Cats In Paris

New Slang @ Hippodrome w/ Pete and The Pirates & Surfer Blood

Friday

Decked Out @ The Coronet w/ Boys Noize, Crookers, Aeroplane, and others

Club NME @ Koko w/ Plugs, teenagersintokyo & Surfer Blood (pictured) *

Facedown @ Scala w/ Canterbury

HMV Next Big Thing @ The Relentless Garage w/ Marina and the Diamonds, Fenech-Soler, Clock Opera

Saturday

Acoustic Ladyland @ The Vortex Jazz Club w/ Deathray Trebuchay

Kerrang Relentless Energy Tour 2010 @ Roundhouse w/ All Time Low, The Blackout, Young Guns, & My Passion

Jamie T @ O2 Academy Brixton w/ Rum Shebeen

Sunday 

Carry On Moshing @ The Purple Turtle w/ More Than Life, Hang The Bastard, Cold Snap, and other 


(* Gig of the week)

Friday, 29 January 2010

Playlist as of January 29th '10

If you scroll down to below the blog archives, you'll see I've added a music player which I'll try and update weekly with tracks I'm currently listening to. So...drum roll please...the first playlist looks a little something like this:

Ellie Goulding - Starry Eyed (Velo's Wild Eyed Edit)
Monarchy - Black The Colour Of My Heart
Delphic - This Momentary
Toro Y Moi - Blessa
Twin Atlantic - Light Speed
Real Estate - Beach Comber
Freelance Whales - Generator ^ First Floor
Surfer Blood - Take It Easy
Hello Mexico - Your Heroes
O.Children - Dead Disco Dancer (The Gold Filter remix)
MillionYoung - Mien
Blakroc - Ain't Nothing Like You ft. Jim Jones & Mos Def
Yeasayer - ONE
A Wilhelm Scream - Bulletproof Tiger
Vampire Weekend - California English

Enjoy.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

New To Q Sessions @ The Tabernacle w/ Miike Snow, I Blame Coco & Alex Gardner


 "Please tell us your name and who you're here to see tonight."
"My name is Nick and I'm here to see I Blame Coco, especially."
"Did you know that the lead singer Coco is Sting's daughter?"
"No...no I didn't know that. Cool"
"How would you describe her voice?"
"Raspy, kind of like a dude. Um, but in...in like a good way."

Hopefully the quality of the show would usurp that of of my pre-show Q&A's with video blog WinkBall. I didn't have much doubt that it would do, as the second of five New To Q installments being held at Notting Hill's Tabernacle - a venue not traditionally known for stellar bills, but one that I'm sure will strive with the publicity from these nights. These sessions have featured and will feature rising stars Delphic, Ellie Goulding, and Marina and the Diamonds, but tonight it was a joint headline bill of Swedish act Miike Snow and Islands Records' I Blame Coco that the fans had come to see.

Young Alex Gardner opened up the bill to a steadily filling room. Most reviews I had read of him previously had focused just as much on his looks as his music, and as he strolled on to the stage with buttoned down flannel shirt revealing a butt neked chest, you could tell there was a bit of a sweat induced from the young ladies and cougars in the room alike. He's got one hell of a set of pipes on him too - his live vocal sounding distinctly Buble (which looks a bit ridiculous without the accent), as he defied early technical issues and delivered the songs with a composed confidence belying his age. Standout track Yesterday's News was very well received and will no doubt be a commercial success in the months to come, but I felt the rest of his set lacked a similar spark. Not that there was anything wrong with it, and I'm sure that with time a repertoire of tracks will emerge of a quality that he's already proved that he is capable of.

Next on were Coco Sumner and co as I Blame Coco, who initially and continually perplexed me with a seemingly new found disco-pop sound. The tracks I initially heard on their MySpace such as the The Constant exhibited an almost Reggae-esque vibe, but this seems to have been discarded for something a bit more current. The majority of the set was hook-laden and upbeat, apart from the final song when the band left Coco to it. This is really where I felt she excelled and her completely unique and highly impressive voice came to the fore. I'd like to see her revert back to a more stripped-down approach in future, as I felt the backing band and electro beats robbed her somewhat of her hugely potential-filled identity.  Oh, and Plan B came on to assist current single Caesar (which I'm sure would've been more effective had his vocals been switched on) before adopting plan C and exiting stage left.

Miike Snow were comfortably the best received band of the night, and came on sporting masks similar to those of their name-sake (sort of...) Michael Myers. Strangely enough, lead vocalist Andrew Wyatt was also sipping on a cup of tea, and without mask resembled a slim version of the fat, bearded one from The Hangover. The Swedish act - normally a three-piece but joined by a few on-stage extra's tonight - played through most of their self-titled full-length and, although clearly exhibiting a great sonic awareness and technical know-how, were a little dull for the most part. The majority of the songs begun with heavy piano and ambient feel, built slowly to crescendo, rocked out for a little and then fizzled out, and only really Black & Blue and undoubted highlight Animal stood out as particularly strong tracks from the set. Coco was back on to cameo on the later, and added a terrific new dimension to the latter track. Coco Snow anyone?        

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Hello Mexico


Hello Mexico are a progressive Rock/Metal band from London - formed from members of disbanded groups Grace and Break The Sky. Clearly influenced by the likes of Thrice and Circa Survive, they pull off the sing/scream, pretty/savage combo to great effect and are all extremely competent with instrument (or microphone) in hand. Your Heroes (below) is off debut EP I Am The River, and is driven by an especially beefy riff from lead guitarist Nick Calafato.  

Hello Mexico - Your Heroes

Monday, 25 January 2010

Surfer Blood - Astro Coast

Surfer Blood
Astro Coast
Label: Kanine Records
Release Date: Jan 19th 2010

2010 has made a great start music-wise with strong releases by the likes of Vampire Weekend, Delphic, and Fan Death - but in my opinion Surfer Blood's debut effort is January's finest. The Palm Beach five-piece started to cause a bit of a stir last year with some good support slots around the US, back to back performances at New York's CMJ, backed up by four quality tracks on their MySpace. Due to the quality of the songs, my primary concern for this album was that they had shot their proverbial load and that the rest of the album would be fodder, but fortunately this proved not to be the case. 

The band play a heavily nineties-influenced yet still unique sounding brand of Surf tinged Indie Pop - complete with many a great pop hook, often echoed vocals, and fuzzy distorted guitar.  Not only is their sound unique, but they really change things up from song to song.They also utilise some simple yet extremely effective riffs - straight off demonstrated by album opener Floating Vibes. The song is typically hook heavy, and carries a carefree, breezy vibe throughout. Swim is drenched in reverb and has a massive, stadium-ready chorus. As the first song on their MySpace page, it's the first track that myself and I'm sure many others heard of the band, and one that grabs your attention from the first note.The album stays upbeat through the bouncy, afro-poppy Take It Easy, thankfully far-better-than-titled Harmonix, and high-energy Fast Jabroni, before really mellowing out from Slow Jabroni onwards. The band also do this very well, exhibiting a huge amount of maturity for a band who are so young. The tempo's not the only aspect that is more somber, with the lyrics also becoming darker as the album draws to a close. The distorted guitars and echoed vocals are still present, but just used in a different context. 

Astro Coast is not just well written, but also very well produced - a credit which lies solely with the band themselves considering it was recorded in their dorm room at Florida Atlantic University. Although it is obvious which direction the band will be going popularity-wise after this release, it will be interesting to see which path they take sound wise. I'm sure some will be calling for a refinement and for the band to try and find a sound and stick with it, but for me it's their diversity and unpredictability which is so endearing.
  
8.5/10

Choice tracks: Floating Vibes, Swim
Recommended if you like: Weezer, The Shins

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Millionyoung - Be So True EP

MillionYoung
Be So True EP
Label: Arcade Sound Ltd.
Release Date: Jan 19th 2010

Florida's Mike Diaz, or MillionYoung, makes the kind of blissful, swirling electro that makes me rue the fact I live in London. His second EP, Be So True, will make you long for lazy days on South Beach, and nights spent cruising the Miami strip in search of good times and tail.

What really impresses me about this release is that MillionYoung manages to keep things interesting at all times. With music as ambient as this it's easy to draw songs out too far, or for the tracks to become a tad monotonous, but by switching up layers and instruments Diaz ensures that he doesn't fall in to this trap. Most of the songs have a different focal point such as the bass in Cynthia, Mien's vocals, and Soft Denial's synth lines, yet manage to maintain a similar feel. Mien is the track that seems to have been best received in the build up the the EP's release and you can see why. Diaz's far-from-textbook, aching, ever distinctive and very effective vocals combine brilliantly with a smooth bass line and shimmering synth, with the addition of a neat guitar fill and an extra layer of keys as the track progresses. Cynthia features some great bass work with different intro, chorus, and breakdown riffs, and also includes some well used percussion and the interjection of guitar towards for the outro that combines well with the bass. Soft Denial is a more upbeat track, and Day We Met is more lively still - dare I say almost dancefloor ready.     

All in all a really solid effort from MillionYoung. I'm off to STA.

3.5/4

Choice tracks: Mien, Cynthia 
Recommended if you like: Washed Out, Blind Man's Colour

MillionYoung - Mien

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Renegades

Feeder are back! Sort of. The three-piece have decided to go back to their roots by starting over under the new moniker Renegades - having established their own label and released a self-titled EP of new tracks. They'll also be playing some shows at considerably smaller venues than they're used to such as London's The Lexington, and have recorded as many as 25 new songs for future releases. Below are two of such songs - Renegades and Sentimental. Neither overly resembles the band in their past form; Renegades is a fist-in-the-air anthem that reminds me of recent Green Day, whereas Sentimental is heavier with an almost industrial feel and crunching opening riff.

Renegades - Renegades
Renegades - Sentimental

Monday, 18 January 2010

Wild Palms


I must admit that when I first heard Wild Palms' track ....Over...Time.... (above), I wondered what all the fuss was about. I presumed that the band had probably been over-hyped due to their Oxfam-chic dress code, and the fact that it sounds like they might be playing their instruments for the first time. But then I listened to it again. And again. And...you know where I'm going with this. Basically it's a genius track. Kicking off with one of the most captivating and brilliant intro's that I've heard in some time - that beat, the de- and re-tuning of the guitar, the resonating bass - the verse if full of strut and well worked scratchy guitar, while the initially irritating chorus has grown on me hugely. Whether you like it of not, you'll be hearing far more of these post-punk purveyors of fine art (and full stops by the looks of it) over the coming year.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

White Heat


White Heat is a cutting-edge weekly band and DJ night that takes place at otherwise cabaret bar/tranny haunt Madame JoJo's in Soho. Matt, Olly, and Marcus - the three lads responsible for the night - have got some top shows coming up over the next couple of months:  

Tuesday 19th January
MEN are a Brooklyn-based band and art/performance collective consisting of JD Samson (Le Tigre) Michael O’Neill (Ladybug Transistor) and Ginger Brooks Takahashi (LTTR). Having recently completed U.S. tours with both Peaches and Gossip, and following on from packed club shows in London last May, MEN take a break from recording their debut album to return with their high energy live show / dance party.

Tuesday 26th January 
"If Talking Heads had been listening to African music and not funk at the time they recorded Remain in Light, it's conceivable they would have ended up something like the Los Angeles-based 12-piece band Fool's Gold, who play African-based music that will appeal to indie, pop and dance audiences. Despite being steeped in Tinariwen's desert blues and soukous music, they have also grown up listening to American pop radio – especially Talking Heads and R&B. The result is a brilliant, euphoric, universally transcendent amalgam of global sounds." - The Guardian, 'ones to watch in 2012'

Tuesday 2nd February 
Shy Child have just finished their new album, Liquid Love, and they're coming to White Heat to do a bit of showcasing.
"Like DFA 1979 produced by The Neptunes" - The Guardian
"Brain bending cyber pop" - NME 

"They make your feet twitch, your head nod and...make you throw up some shapes your body never knew existed" - Dazed & Confused

Tuesday 9th February 
"[Pope Joan are] A colourful explosion of post punk adorned, effects laden guitar lines, quirky synth noises, elasticated bass lines and creative drum patterns topped off with an undeniable pop sheen" - Artrocker  

Tuesday 16th February 
Freelance Whales have been touring with Fanfarlo over in the USA and are coming over here to show why they're getting the attention they're getting. Quoth the NME: "It's awash with gentle, naive bliss, and if you're the type that likes to observe hooks blossoming with the pace of an actual flower opening, then you might have just found a new favourite band." 

Tuesday 23rd February
Wild Palms are finally headlining a White Heat show. They're one of the best new bands in the country at the moment, and heading up up up. Catch 'em before they get there.

Tuesday 2nd March
Dum Dum Girls are signed to Sub Pop and make the kind of lo-fi fuzz pop that's "neither lo-fi nor too polished... a short tribute to love, fun and the classic pop form of the '60s girl groups and early punk rockers" - according to Rough Trade. They say they're making "blissed-out buzz saw" and that's about right too. It's very, very good. 

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Alvin Band



Alvin Band may bear more than a slight resemblance to Animal Collective, but if you're going to sound like any band, it might as well be them right? The difference for me is that they've got more of an obvious appeal, whereas it often takes several listens for an AC song to truely infest itself in your brain. Miniature Tigers' Rick Schaier is the man behind this, and he provides the vocals, instrumentals, and percussion...all with his mouth. Strange? Yes. Effective? Hell yes.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Fan Death - A Coin For The Well EP

Fan Death
A Coin For The Well EP
Label: The Pharmacy Recording Company
Release Date: Jan 18th 2010

Ahead of their debut album - due to drop in Spring of this year - Vancouver duo Fan Death have given us a cheeky taster of what we can expect from the full-length. And if these five tracks are anything to go by, it's going to be absolute belter.

The EP starts strongly with two very different, but equally brilliant tunes in the forms of Reunited and Cannibal. The former is a dark, brooding number - bass heavy with interjections of spiky, thunderous synth and subtle undertones of strings.  Cannibal, on the other hand, is more upbeat, and driven by a distinctive intro which sounds like 80's disco, had strings been prominent in the genre. Destined for the dancefloor. Son Will Rise is cut from a similar cloth to Cannibal - combining heavy drums and bass with off-beat strings to great effect, whereas Soon is another more downtempo number which utlises a fascinating combination of more traditional wood, brass, and string instruments with a healthy dosage of synth. And as for Power Surge...the less said about this track, the better. Musically it's not bad, with further neat use of strings, but the lyrics are so tacky it could pass off as a Mighty Boosh number.

This is a really strong EP. The band, as well as producer Eric Broucek, make great use of a wide range of instruments, and manage to sound contemporary while giving a very firm nod to influences such as Pet Shop Boys and The Human League. And with upcoming support slots for Vampire Weekend and Little Boots, Fan Death have the potential to smack up 2010.

4/5

Choice tracks: Reunited, Son Will Rise
Recommended if you like: Bat For Lashes, Florence and the Machine



Sunday, 10 January 2010

London gig shouts: Monday 11th Jan - Sunday 17th Jan


Monday

You Me At Six @ Banquet Records

Good Shoes @ Rough Trade East

John Mayer @ Hard Rock Cafe

Tuesday

White Heat @ Madame JoJo's w/ Two Door Cinema Club & Rose Elinor Dougall

Wednesday

Deaf Havana @ The Purple Turtle w/ Hello Mexico, The First, Francesqa & Wait For Tomorrow 

Friday

Vampire Weekend @ Rough Trade East

Saturday

The Playground @ 93 Feet East w/ Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Citadels, and many more

Rumble Round 2 @ Camden Underworld w/ The Carrier, Dead Swans, Brutality Will Prevail, and many more 

Smutty Pop @ Carnivale w/ Hook and the Twin & NewIslands

Vampire Weekend - Contra

Vampire Weekend
Contra
Label: XL Recordings
Release Date: Jan 11th 2010

Posh/preppy/aristocratic jibes aside, Vampire Weekend are an extremely gifted bunch. The band couple expert musicianship with their own blend of Indie/Reggae influenced Afro-Pop, resulting in a completely unique sound. Take recent single Cousins for example - within barely a bar of the song you can tell the frantically picked guitar work is a Vampire Weekend effort.  With album Contra, they're taking on the unenviable task of following up 2008's self-produced, self-titled, masterpiece of a debut.

So how does Contra compare? Well the most obvious difference is that they've taken a slightly safer path with this one. Whereas Vampire Weekend was more of a rollercoaster of moments of genius, coupled with the odd moment of insanity, Contra is a more flat-lined affair. Both highs and lows are still present on Contra - California English and the aforementioned Cousins are two of their strongest tracks to date, while the chorus to White Sky could have been written by ear-bleeder Mika himself - but all in all this is a more conservative effort.

If we forget about their debut and look at this record in absolute terms, all the individual components that contributed to it's success are still there in abundance. The percussion section, utilising instruments from violins to glockenspiel's to great effect on songs such as Horchata, still gives them the diversity that puts them above most Indie bands. Chris Tomson, the member behind the band's percussion, also demonstrates enormous worth behind the drums, Chris Baio and Rostam Batmanglij on bass and lead guitar respectively do a great job of driving the songs forward while still mixing things up with some fantastically fiddly riffs and fills, while vocalist/guitarist Ezra Koenig produces some great vocal lines and melodies (possibly going a little OTT on a couple of occasions...), while also contributing significantly with guitar in hand.

All in all, fans of their 2008 debut are highly unlikely to be disappointed by this offering, whereas for those who didn't enjoy it so much, and were possibly dettered its eccentric nature and occasional duller moments, the more conservative nature of Contra begs for a shot at redemption.  

7.5/10

Choice tracks: Cousins, California English
Recommended if you like: Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend, the continent of Africa 

Vampire Weekend - California English

Friday, 8 January 2010

NME Radar show @ The Relentless Garage w/ Delphic & Mirrors

On a freezing cold Thursday night, it was the job of Delphic and Mirrors to thaw the bodies of those inside The Relentless Garage for NME's Radar show. As the name suggests, these are two British bands who NME feel will be flying the flag in the not so distant future - and quite rightly so.

Sharly-dressed Brighton quartet Mirrors (pictured above left) took to the stage first. Led by frightfully posh front man James, their synth-heavy, 80's-influenced brand of Electro Pop had more than just their heads bobbing. Final track 'Hide and Seek' had an especially contagious melody - one that I heard repeated a few minutes later as whistled by a punter standing at the urinal next to mine - while 'Into The Heart' was another standout track from their set. 

There was a particluar buzz around the arrival of Delphic (pictured below left) to the stage, as a member of BBC's (amongst many others) Sound of 2010 longlist. After an ambient, building start, the three-piece burst in to life with a sound more than a little reminiscent to Bloc Party's more energetic and electronic moments. Some neat samples bridged the gap perfectly into recent single Doubt, and they continued to use these fills well throughout the set. Performance and sound-wise, I'm normally scepitcal of bands that use sampled beats as opposed to an on-stage drummer, but Delphic nail it - their robo-drummer injecting some interesting beats and quirky fills into their set. What struck me instantly was how tight the band are; perfectly excecuted twin vocal work complimenting the tangle of guitar effects and heavy synth. The band blasted through a rather short set which featured a host of other tracks off upcoming full-length Acolyte, including the equally brilliant This Momentary and Counterpoint. They finish their set with an encore consisting of one track that sounds like it should be an interlude - toying back and forth between delayed, atmospheric guitars and thumping beats - but which still somehow works brilliantly. Being a huge Bloc Party fan this is a massive shout - but Delphic sound how Bloc Party should've sounded when they decided to take more of an Electro route.         

Credit must also go to The Relentless Garage, who got the sound absolutely spot on all night. The only criticism I have of the show is that it would have worked better on a Friday or Saturday evening, maybe a little later into the night, when a few beers would have given the crowd the lift to exaggerate their shapes somewhat more. Both Mirrors and Delphic have more than enough in their arsenal to generate an all out party atmosphere.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The Static Jacks


From hand making posters to all their shows, to busking spontaneously in Union Square and Williamsburg - it's rare to come across a band who couple great musical ability with such a tireless work-ethic. Throw in youthful exuberance and a frenzied live show, and it's clear that The Static Jacks are quite a prospect. Tokyo Police Club, Nightmare of You, and AbsolutePunk.net are a few examples of those who have got behind the band, but arguably the most significant backing has come from MTV's The Hills. So are The Static Jacks the next 3OH!3? Shit I hope not. But I'd urge those Williamsburg/Union Sq locals to loiter around those parts in hope of catching this exciting young band in action.    


The Static Jacks - My Parents Lied

Monday, 4 January 2010

London gig shouts: Monday 4th Jan - Sunday 10th Jan

Wednesday

Post War Years @ Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen w/ NewIslands & Hot Horizons

Thursday

Rivals @ 333 Mother Bar w/ Sharks, The Dead Formats, Noisepilots & Sometimenever

Delphic @ The Relentless Garage w/ Mirrors

Friday

Fabriclive @ Fabric w/ Hudson Mohawke, Joy Orbison, and many more

Hospitality @ Matter w/ High Contrast, London Elektricity, Shy FX, Drums of Death, and many more

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Music For Animals



San Francisco 4-piece Music For Animals started back in 2006 at a small, sweaty show at The Edinburgh Castle. After three releases and opening slots for the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Offspring, their new EP If Looks Could Kill could finally give them the global recognition that their contagiously catchy, silky smooth Indie Pop deserves. Check out their new video for If Looks Could Kill