Friday, 19 February 2010

Past, Present & Future

Past: Northstar - Pollyanna

Nick Torres is a genius. Whether with now-disbanded Northstar or current project Cassino he has a totally absorbing style of song-writing - demanding your attention with every bar. Coupled with his unmistakable vocals and the typically simple yet hugely effective beats, riffs, and licks of Odom, Fisher, and Renfroe, Northstar and especially their second full-length Pollyanna make for essential listening.

For fans of: The Movielife, Say Anything
Northstar - American Living
(Buy Pollyanna from Amazon US) // Buy Pollanna from Amazon UK)

Present: Yeasayer - Odd Blood

Yeasayer are almost impossible to genre-lise. Essentially Odd Blood is a big, camp, pop record, but there's so much depth and creativity to it that it seems harsh to tarnish it with the pop brush. The album contains horn sections, an astounding range of percussion, and drum rolls that would make Phil Collins jizz his little monkey suit. Although the first single off the album, Ambling Alp, is probably still the choice cut from this effort, most of the tracks are brilliant in their own way such as the strangely captivating opener The Children, sugar-rush, steel-drumtastic O.N.E., and contagiously dancey Mondegreen.      

For fans of: Peter Gabriel, Animal Collective
Yeasayer - Ambling Alp
(Buy Odd Blood from Amazon US) // Buy Odd Blood from Amazon UK)

Future: Invasion

Invasion are a Psychedelic Metal three-piece from London who, according to their MySpace, are inspired by 60's Soul, 70's Psychedelia, 80's Thrash, and 90's Doom. Oh, and wizardry.The band have an unusually stripped down approach for a metal band - abandoning needless solo's and macho posturing - but still manage to create one hell of a racket. In a good way.

For fans of: Kyuss, Masters of Reality
Invasion - Spells of Deception (Auxiliary tha Masterfader remix) 

Thursday, 18 February 2010

new Japandroids track

After their deservedly huge year last year, Vancouver noise-rockers Japandroids are back with a new 7" single for 2010 entitled Art Czars. This is the first in a series of five - to be released periodically throughout the year, alongside a cover. Based around the vocal line 'Here's ya money back, here's your Punk Rock back', the majority of the track maintains a similar distortion-happy vibe to those on Post-Nothing, while the vocal is a little cleaner and the is kicked off by an almost System Of A Down-esque intro.

Japandroids - Art Czars

Monday, 15 February 2010

RX Bandits - Hope Is A Butterly... video

RX Bandits are one of the most talented and criminally underappreciated bands currently out there. From their admittedly basic Ska beginnings, they have done what many bands don't have the balls to do - to continually experiment with and push the boundaries of their sound. The progression over time has been phenomenal and, although 2009's Mandala still hasn't tickled my pickle in the same way as previous effort And The Battle Begun... did, it's still an album of exceptional songwriting and musicianship. Their new video for Hope Is A Butterfly, No Net It's Captor can be viewed above.

(Buy Mandala from Amazon US //  Buy Mandala from Amazon UK)

Thursday, 11 February 2010

We Are The Ocean - Cutting Our Teeth

We Are The Ocean
Cutting Our Teeth
Label: Hassle Records
Release Date: Feb 1st 2010

It's been a while now since Essex Post-Hardcore quintet We Are The Ocean exploded on to the scene with outstanding debut single Nothing Good Has Happened Yet. Almost two years, two EP's, a shit load of high-profile support slots, and innumerable comparisons to Alexisonfire later - the band finally release their debut full-length Cutting Our Teeth

You don't have to look far past opening track Look Alive to get the jist of the band's more energetic side; Surging, powerful verses, soaring, melodic choruses, brutal breakdowns, and arguably the two best voices in the genre today. Similarly, 3rd song All Of This Has To End demonstrates their other side with a slower, chugging tempo and more intertwining of Dan Brown's scream and Liam Cromby's crystal clear vocal.

Most of the tracks on the album fall under these two categories, while many of the songs tend to follow a fairly predictable intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-breakdown-chorus structure and lyrics that are passable without being exceptionally tragic or groundbreaking. Instrumentally the band are solid, throwing in a load of neat, fiddly guitar lines which tend to sit in the background of the song. Drummer Tom Whittaker throws in some nice fills and a few interesting beat transitions, but the vocals are clearly the focus here - whether isolated, simultaneous, or sparring it out against one another.

The band do what they do very well, and it's easy to see why they're regarded as the UK's top Metalcore band at present. But my main issue with this album, and I suppose the genre in general, is the lack of real 'wow' moments. It doesn't quite contain the technicality of Architects, the riffing of A Wilhelm Scream, or the unpredictability of an UnderOATH record.  

(I'll Grab You By The) Neck Of The Woods is possibly the albums brightest and most exciting moment. Led by a distinctive, delayed intro riff, Brown's drawn-out, abrasive screams are well complimented by another strong piece of guitar work, while an angular 'pre-chorus' builds up to the inevitable chorus...only to crash back unexpectedly into the verse riff. Confessions will probably divide the most opinions amongst listeners - it's almost Creed-esque intro a smidgen cheesy for me.

All in all the album is certainly worth a listen if you're a fan of Punk, Metal, or Rock in general - just don't expect it to change your life 


Choise tracks: (I'll Grab You By The) Neck Of The Woods, I Used To Be So Much More
Recommended if you like: Alexisonfire, A Day To Remember

(Buy from Amazon UK //  Buy from Amazon US)

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

HMV Next Big Thing @ The Borderline w/ Little Comets, Goldhawks & Mirrors

At this early stage of the year every second gig seems to be an "Introducing", "Next Big Thing", or "Radar" show, with anyone who's anyone giving their two cents on who's going stratospheric in the coming months. Last night's show was no different - the chosen few coming in the shape of cheeky Northern chappies Little Comets, Mercury Records' new recruits Goldhawks, and Brighton's synth-bumming Mirrors.   

Highly-fancied Mirrors seem to be popping up at a number of these events - the NME shindig I reviewed last month being an example. Last night's performance was fairly similar, although I struggled to ascertain whether the addition of dodgier moves by front-man James could be attributable to further nervousness or confidence... Said moves were temporarily sidelined for a bout of eye-fucking with an attractive blonde girl in the front row - the AAA pass on her jeans later that night suggesting that his crooning advances may just have worked. Lad. Into The Heart was again the standout track from their set, which seemingly failed to win over too many of those present.

Goldhawks tread an extremely fine line between the rock'n'roll swagger of Kings Of Leon or Bruce Springsteen, and the cheesy, overly-obvious, radio-tailored dribblings of, dare I say it, The Calling. Opener 1996 certainly falls under the former category - chunky, distorted power-chords screaming at the currently placid crowd to wake the fuck up and pay attention. The rest of the set is a bit of mixed bag really - the band dipping their toes in both the trilling and the dull, while they must be given credit for their no-frills approach to both their appearance and sound, as well as the brilliantly worked twin vocals of front-man Bobby and keyboard maestro Nick. You get the feeling this band will inevitably be big - the decision of whether they maintain a level of credibility while doing so is entirely in their hands.

Not even the nagging of the night's curator, XFM DJ John Kennedy, was needed to get the crowd surging forward stage-side upon entrance of the evening's headliners, Little Comets. A washing line of instruments from Shakers to Tambourine's above the heads of the band were indicative of their Newcastle-via-Africa, World-influenced Indie Pop, and was a great addition to the already vibrant appearance of the band - drummer Mark's ridiculous yet brilliant woolen hat and vocalist Robert's granddad-chic knitted jumper being prime examples. 'Mickey's my personal stylist and he insisted' being Rob's excuse. Their performance more than matches their look - and the set contains a perfect balance of captivating slower moments as well as mental, pulse-racing numbers. Instrumentally the band are extremely strong with guitars working fantastically both individually and in tandem, bassist Matt dropping some gigantic lines, while Mark nails the task of laying our beats that are contagiously danceable, but also varied and interesting at all times. The crowd clearly feed off their energy with banterous exchanges taking place the whole way through the set.
"This one goes out to Paul"
"Cheers mate!"
"Who the hell are are you? your name even Paul?"
As the set finally draws to a close and I file out amongst the sweaty and chants of 'wa oohh, this one's for dancing', I struggle to think of a show in the past several months at least that I've enjoyed nearly as much as this.       

Sunday, 7 February 2010

London gig shouts: Monday 8th Feb - Sunday 14th Feb


You Me At Six @ The Relentless Garage w/ Young Guns & This City

Surfer Blood @ Pure Groove Records

HMV Next Big Thing @ Barfly w/ Joshua Radin, Alan Pownall & The Boy Who Trapped The Sun

HMV Next Big Thing @ Jazz Cafe w/ Rox & Krystle Warren 


British Sea Power @ Scala w/ These New Puritans, Surfer Blood & Sparrow and the Workshop

HMV Next Big Thing @ The Relentless Garage w/ Slow Club, First Aid Club & Slow Moving Millie

Johnny Foreigner @ Tutu's w/ Talons 

HMV Next Big Thing @ The Borderline w/ Little Comets, Goldhawks & Mirrors


Johnny Flynn @ Barfly

Alan Pownall @ Hoxton Bar & Kitchen 

HMV Next Big Thing @ The Relentless Garage w/ Ellie Goulding, Erik Hassle & Tinashe

The Joy Formidable @ The Flowerpot w/ Expatriate


The Low Anthem @ Shepherds Bush Empire w/ David Ford & Brown Bird

Holy Shitzu @ The Purple Turtle w/ You Loves Her Coz She's Dead, Blakfish & Youves


Eat Your Own Ears @ The Dome w/ Four Tet, Joy Orbison & Caribou

Club NME @ Koko w/ Pulled Apart By Horses & The Features

HMV Next Big Thing @ The Borderline w/ The Soft Pack, Comanechi & O.Children

Fanfarlo @ ULU w/ Freelance Whales


Gallows @ The Peel w/ Sharks & Blackhole

We Are The Ocean @ Banquet Records

The Playground @ 93 Feet East w/ Crystal Fighters, My Tiger My Timing, In Flagranti and more


HMV Next Big Thing @ Barfly w/ Mystery Jets & Two Door Cinema Club

The Ghost Of A Thousand @ The Purple Turtle w/ Turbowolf, Shotgun Riot & Feed The Rhino

* Gig of the week


Japayork doesn't just make quality Electro-Pop, he is also an extremely talented artist - having created the brilliant video for new single Our Now (above) plus a load of other designs that can be found on his website. A featured work on the site is for Out Est Le Swimming Pool - a band who's music is strongly comparable to that of Japayork.

Monday, 1 February 2010

The Gadsdens

While some tracks take a number of listens to get into, some just hit home straight away (growers and showers, if you will). The Gadsdens' debut single The Sailor Song certainly falls into the latter category - their Tracey Chapman meets Mumford & Sons Soul-filled Pop/Rock immediately presenting itself as a sure hit. Jody Gadsden's hugely emotive voice combines expertly with sweeping piano and vibrant strings, while structure-wise the song also succeeds with aplomb - all parts flowing seamlessly together while still showing enough differentiation to keep things interesting at all times.

The Gadsdens - The Sailor Song