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.        

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History

Two Door Cinema Club
Tourist History
Label: Kitsune Music
Release Date: March 1st 2010

Anyone who has been tracking Two Door Cinema Club's progress over the past year or so will know that they're hardly trying to re-invent the wheel with what they do. What they have always accomplished however, even since the early days when their MySpace page contained little more than initial versions of Do You Want It All and Something Good Can Work, is writing tunes that are contagious in both their energy and melody. With tips o' the cap to clear influences such as Bloc Party (Is the intro to Cigarettes In The Theatre supposed to sound so similar to Like Eating Glass??) and The Futureheads (I Can Talk), they nail a very effective formula of angular, riffy verses and infectious choruses - generally played at break-neck speed.

Those who aren't brand new to the band may also find Tourist History strangely familiar, even upon first listen, as TDCC have included practically all of their previous teaser tracks. The only track that they have failed to include, rather disappointingly, is Costume Party - B-side to the I Can Talk single release. Tracks such as the aforementioned I Can Talk and Undercover Martyn are very similar, if not identical, to their original forms, whereas Do You Want It All and Something Good Can Work have both received glossy makeover's - the former especially now swells, breaks down, and explodes back into life towards to the end - resulting in a more anthemic finale.

It's a shame the album wasn't released nearer to summer time as it could've made a great soundtrack for the season, but it does provide a comforting glow at the end of a rather frosty tunnel.

7.5/10

Choice tracks: Cigarettes In The Theatre, Undercover Martyn
For fans of: Bombay Bicycle Club, Bloc Party

Two Door Cinema Club - Undercover Martyn

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

Monday, 1 March 2010

stream the new Fang Island album

Sargent House's Fang Island have offered a full album stream of their recently released, self-titled full-length. Predictably for a SH band the album is brilliant, and we should have a review up later this week. But until then...

<a href="http://digital.fangisland.com/album/fang-island">Dreams Of Dreams by Fang Island</a>