Thursday, 14 October 2010
If you’re unfamiliar with Mi Mye then I’ll inform you that they consist of Wakefield musical journeyman Jamie Lockhart and his ever-changing collection of talented musicians creating the type of music that would’ve persuaded Adolf Hitler to forget about invading countries, put down his copy of Mein Kampf and instead rush to the nearest charity shop and buy some extra woolly jumpers so that he could be cosy for the coming winter months. Yes, they are that infective.
Tonight is their album launch. Their album, incidentally, is wonderful and upon entrance we are very generously given a small piece of card with URL address scribbled on it so that we can download it for free when we get home.
As it is Mi Mye’s launch night it is they who have picked the supports, the first of which being Tiny Planets. Tiny Planets used to exude an aural/aesthetic oxymoron reflective of their name, in that they sounded like a juggernaut and looked like fairly pleasant indie boys. They still have a big sound, but they sound happier. The only time I had previously seen Tiny Planets I noted how grungy they were, where as now their influences seem to come more locally. A more anthemic Orange Juice perhaps. Definitely not a bad thing.
The second support comes from London where Adam Killip of The Tailors has kindly ventured north to play an acoustic gig. A friend of Mi Mye, and indeed most of the attendees, Killip draws a dedicated, polite and attentive audience to the front of the room and (a little pet-hate of mine) a less attentive bunch that loiter at the back and decide to talk throughout the performance. Note to gig-goers – if you want to talk during an acoustic concert then please fuck off outside. The words being sung on stage are usually more relevant than the vacuous chitter-chatter about whatever pointless bollocks you have indulged in during the previous wearisome week.
Milk White Teeth are one of those bands that don’t lend themselves to venues like the Hop. Not from a musical standpoint, but rather because there are shit loads of them and the stage at The Hop is quite small. Also, because there are shit loads of them with numerous instruments, they are potentially open to Arcade Fire comparisons, which aren’t a bad thing for most people, but are to me. Milk White White Teeth had much more of a groove though, which in my humble opinion gives them the edge. High praise indeed, for most people.
Next up are Fonda 500. Its many years since I last saw this band and I’d forgotten how mesmerisingly brilliant they are. I don’t usually make outrageous statements and I have never once indulged in hyperbole, but I’m now going to make two proclamations of unquestionable accuracy.
1) Fonda 500 feature the best ever sitting-down frontman. He can sing, which helps, but he also has unique charisma. Singer Simon Stone wears Mickey Mouse ears, acts like the gig is a tiresome business meeting and treats us to dour deadpan jokes such as his opening gambit to this Wakefield audience (“Give me a W; Give me an A; Give me a N; Give me a K..”).
2) Fonda 500 are the best ever band from Hull. Perhaps I’m wrong about that as I haven’t heard every single band to come from Hull, but I doubt that very much.
When Mi Mye finally return to the stage, as the smaller hours approach, it becomes apparent that the band have somewhat returned to their former guise. With musicians spilling off the stage it was a wonder no-one lost a tooth due to a swinging guitar or violin bow.
The last time I saw Mi Mye it was mostly just Jamie and Rob Slater from The Spills – an almost punked version of the usual celtic/country sound. This time around a lot of the old faces have returned. It’s a tribute to Jamie that he can still drag musicians from literally all over the country, many of them busy in other successful bands. As ever the songs seem very personal to Jamie, but it seems the audience hold them dear also. Maybe if they pick up a guitar a fiddle they could join Mr Lockhart on stage.
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
Complete sellout. (Co) Writer of some brilliant comedies, The Young Ones, Blackadder etc and political stand up who stuck it to Thatcher in the 80's before turning completely shit, becoming the safest most 'establishment' figure of his generation, writing indefensible musical 'We Will Rock You' and betraying everything he (allegedly) ever stood for. He also became, briefly, a massive selling author, with his book ‘Popcorn’. I read one of his later novels 'Dead Famous' which was a weak riff on what was then the new phenomena of 'Big Brother' and thought it was poorly written, quickly knocked off rubbish with terrible dialogue and characters. As a man, a blueprint for selling your soul.
I last recall seeing him co host a 'comedy' show called 'Get a Grip' in which he bemoaned the state of the 'modern world' with such foax enragement that it would likely be described by Elton himself as 'Saaaaad maaaaan' with an unclear amount of irony and even less relevance.
Is hatred of Ben Elton simply a facet of modern life, a shared joke amongst the nation and a measure of ones comedic appreciation, or is he actually, beyond some dodgy associations, a decent and important comedian?
'One Night Stand' is a series of Comedy Roadshow type events which feature a big name performing and then introducing the lesser known acts. The first was headlined by non other than Mr Ben Elton himself. His quick intro concludes with a 'turning around and walking into the door - Ow! – I’ve hurt my nose' gag. Like a lot of his work tonight, it’s kind of ironic without the irony. Like he is making a relation to a tired and formulaic style, but without expanding or explaining it... so just 'doing it'. Am I reading too much into this? As the credits roll and I see this man described as the 'Godfather of Alternative Comedy' and my toes curl.
Instead of jumping straight to the gig, we bear witness to the pointless exercise of Ben Elton going back to his childhood home. 'Oh look they've paved the garden' he quips. Whilst snooping round his old school he comments that in his day the only choice they had was orange or lime squash, whilst 'nowadays' (a favourite prefix of his) they have 'Lilt injected intravenous into their veins'. What kind of in depth social commentary is this? Pleasingly a teacher confirms its still orange squash for her kids.
So what’s this all about? Well, the venue for the gig tonight is in his old stomping ground, so it’s clearly to add a bit of local flavour and interest. Not because this is produced by DAVE and they can’t afford the likes of BBC’s Apollo. No, local flavour, don’t forget that. And don’t forget its DAVE either. It’s unlikely since Elton mentions it every few seconds, though its clearly in the contract. One day it'll be really old fashioned to moan about sponsorship like this, but it really sucks some of the fun out of it. It’s the kinda thing you imagine Elton would like to be perceived to be against, yet once again, doesn’t manage to pull it off in reality.
His material follows a similar vein, a mix between old school audience pleasing and attempting to be seen as tackling 'edgy' topics without ever making any kind of point. He doesn’t avoid getting a cheap audience 'Woo!' out of mentioning 'Catford', though that'll pass since its his home town. He delivers a simple exploration of town names and their meaning before astounding us with the revelation that 'I’m feigning ignorance for comic effect because that’s what comedians do'. It’s a typical Elton premise, somehow suggesting, in post modern style, he is well versed in the comedic language (which he undoubtedly is) without actually elaborating or subverting it. Just stating it. It allows him to delve forth with an historical lesson in the town names true origin that just makes him come across like an office bore, overly pleased with the sound of his own voice.
'Marketing is the modern disease' he rants 'everyone thinks rebranding is the substance - its not – it’s meaningless'. He is fond of these sweeping truths. He sounds like he is putting a mad world to rights, but is not saying anything at all. How does he back up this audacious claim? 'KFC is Shit'. Great point there. Another ridiculous modern thing?! 'What a piece of wank that is'. You tell em Ben! Its well wank, that thing you mentioned! Lazy. He also 'tackles' creationism, which is to say he makes some very old and tired points. It’s like he wants to be the kind of comedian that tackles high concepts, but has nothing of real substance to say.
The first genuine moment comes as he lists with mock contempt the names people give their children 'these days'. Same old crap, 'Brooklyn', 'Chardonnay'; laughing at celebrities children names. But then he reminds us that nowadays people even name TV Channels 'Dave'. Its not a throwaway gag, there's a real suggestion of spite in there somewhere. Maybe its call back to his earlier over mention of it, but whatever, it gets the biggest cheer of the evening.
After the other two comedians, he returns with the horrifying line 'Given my reputation, I guess I should touch on politics'. Reputation? He's not clueless, he know people hate him, in televised interviews he has put this down to one thing: jealousy. What crazy reality is this, where he is known for his presumably insightful and perhaps incendiary political statements? We were about to find out.
Well, turns out that he thinks the Cameron’s seem like nice people 'just a shame they're fucking Tories'. His political insights themselves consist of a really really laboured Pull and Reveal joke about Nick Clegg being like a baby. And that’s it. In a terrible link he moves to the amount of ladies toilets in theatre venues across the country, BECAUSE THATS A POLITCAL ISSUE. And, coincidentally, whether he realises it or not, the toilet is firmly where his 'political reputation' belongs.
His 'fact' stating ('everyone is obsessed with themselves', 'no-one knows how to grow old gracefully these days') followed by lame observation / justification formula quickly become tired and only really offers an insight into his own fractured view on himself, more than the world. He says, come February, he will have been in the business for 30 years, which receives applause. But he hasn’t gigged for 5 years. And how much in the last 15 years? So it’s not 30 years. I haven’t ridden a Skateboard for ten years, but if I jumped on one now does that mean I’ve been in the skateboarding scene for ten years. Why mention it? Rather self obsessed Ben? Well, that’s people these days int it.
I could say it’s hard to judge - would he really have the incentive to work hard and produce great work for a Dave comeback? But if not, why bother? I really don’t think he needs the cash. I think reputation, as mentioned, may be a key reason. He hasn’t 'sold out' here, to do that he could have easily mined his illustrious career, especially his time in the 80's for some well received nostalgia. Instead, he attempts to emulate the part of him that he wants people to remember; the man tackling awkward issues with a 'right on' attitude, sticking it to 'the man' and all that. But it’s completely empty of meaning and sadly I think that sums up the man pretty well. His delivery in this show was not of a man repeating the same old schtick - he was pacey and energetic and animated - but it did stink of going through the motions. He's not a comedian that likes to involve the audience. You feel that whether there are laughs or not, he would continue in the same way, the same relentless, exasperated manner, suggesting that the pleasure is all his, the enjoyment in showing people how clever he is. It wasn’t as awful as I had expected, and the passion and energy pulled him through, but any closer inspection reveals that those features are just another element of how he wants to be perceived and nothing to do with the true man himself. Approaching comedy in that manner is never going to result in anything great and as such I still regard Ben Elton as an enemy of art, expression, creativity and honesty. I KNOW YOU BEN ELTON!
Weekend Review: Horsforth Modern Art / Raise The Roof / Freschard + Stanley Brinks / Manic Street Preachers
But this was a little different. It was a lot more cosy and welcoming. The variety of types of work were inspiring and the artists themselves were there to offer insights into their work, which had surrealist touches, but were tied to a more tangible reality, a sense of history and old world running through them that made them accessible. Ian told us about the history involved with a sculpture he had created which included a small Roman broach imbedded into it. Naturally, this made it very expensive. There were lots of works created using found objects and I especially enjoyed the slyly altered countryside maps that were beautifully presented. The whole event did get me pondering about how Art is priced, but my ponderings didn’t get me too far. But it reminded me how important Art is in our lives, and I guess if you are talking value for money, it is something that could last a lifetime. I think it’s important to fill our homes with interesting, creative things, whether they are expensive works of art, or a child’s drawing on the fridge and I found that positive attitude inspiring at HoMA. The night was concluded with Brendon singing a ditty with his Banjo and it was really homely. And so, the exhibition is well worth a visit, even if you're a bit skint, like me.
I then popped across town to the West Indian Community Centre in Chapeltown to attend 'Raise the Roof', which I guess you would say was a 'music event', but only if you were very dull, or at a loss to describe the majesty of what lay within such humble surroundings. We entered to the sounds of Honeydrum, basically about 30 people pounding out rhythms on drums and cowbells whilst people danced around. It was awesome, and with no encouragement the crowd were joining in. I didn’t though, I, erm... had a pint and might have spilt it. It did give me time however to admire the wider spectacle. A massive amount of effort had been put into decorating the room, beautiful banners and Japanese style lampshades, big mushroom chairs and decorated archways beckoning you in. Now, I appreciate you may think, what the hell difference does all that make? Was the music any good? Well it makes the world of difference thank you. It made it feel special and made me feel privileged to be there. It made me feel I was in the hands of interesting, brilliant people, who really care. It made me ashamed that I have ever 'just' put on guitar bands in pubs.
After the excellent performance from the drummers we popped next door to the second room, where we found some rather more electronic beats pumping out. I don’t know the genre, but it sounded fucking cool. It was the start of the night, so it was empty, but I bet it was bouncing in there later on.
Sadly, and in rather boring style, I had to leave early, due to having an early start for work. I was disappointed, as what I'd seen suggested something really positive and massive fun. I missed out on sets by East Park Reggae Collective, Middleman and all kinds of DJ sets, including one by The Sunshine Underground. I did manage to see China Shop Bull, who coincidentally were one of the first bands I reviewed for Rhubarb Bomb, back before the coup, when I was a but an aspirational writer. On that occasion I wasn’t too nice, but they've certainly improved and their heavy Ska / Asian Dub influenced sound was perfect for the occasion.
Next year - must book this off work in advance. Starting at 9pm and ending at 5am... I’m gonna need a long time to recover from that.
Saturday evening i paid a visit to Henry Boons in Wakefield. On the Ride Promotions had organised something a little special in the tiny upstairs room of the pub, and told me I simply must attend. I missed last minute additions to the bill, our old friends IMP, performing what i was informed was a memorable diversion from their usual raucous Indie pop, to a raucous ACOUSTIC Indie pop set.
Main pairing of Clemence Freschard and Stanley Brinks took to the stage next. Freschard, a gently smiling, beautiful and down to earth lady from France played first, Stanley backing her up with some cleverly understated guitar. I love it when artists take the old girl / boy and a guitar and manage to do something special with it. I sit there examining the chords and thinking about the melodies and there's nothing especially clever or innovative, just the bare bones of something unfathomably perfect. In this case, and recently with David Tattersall, on whoms album Freschard recently appeared, the result is utterly captivating. The gentle, genuine approach, the sweet French pronunciations and the intimate surroundings made this a wonderful experience and I could quite happily have sat their and listened to her songs all night.
Stanley Brinks then took to the stage alone for a run through of his songs. A little darker and more solemn in tone, with some quite seedy suggestiveness, if i was hearing things right, it wasn’t quite as effecting as the first half, but still a very delicate lesson in minimalism. The songs were so quiet that you could often hear the music pounding through the floor below. For this was Saturday night in Wakefield. An occasional vision of actual hell. Tonight, On the Ride managed to carve a little bit of bliss amidst the horror of a Wakefield Westgate Weekend and I have to admit, part of me was sat there thinking; there's a French person on stage! That’s how backward things can get here. On The Ride have made my weekend. I leave feeling becalmed and at peace. Then, as I hit the bottom of the stairs and I am faced with the stag and hen and office parties dancing to SHIT and its almost washed away. But not completely.
In true Craig David style, I 'chilled' on Sunday. Well, I worked ten hours, but you know what I mean.
Then Monday night, I made my way up to Leeds Academy to see the Manic Street Preachers. I like the Academy; it’s a great venue to see someone like the Manics in. It’s actually pretty intimate in there, for an Academy type venue and tonight it is sold out. Its just makes for a better Manic’s gig, instead of the arenas they were only half filling five years ago. First up though are British Sea Power who I saw loads years ago, but haven’t seen since their 'Do You Like Rock Music?' album. They were still good, but in a slightly different way. They are more what I would describe as 'Arcade Fire-y' which may be wrong, perhaps more what I expect Arcade Fire to sound like since I’ve never really got into them at all. I always liked BSPs wistful, yearning vocals, which are still present, and it’s a pretty varied set. At their own gig, perhaps at Brudenell, I would have lapped it up. But here, I, and everyone else in the room only want one thing...
The curtain is removed to reveal a bizarre stage set of disco ball mirror covered mannequins, one a full on muscled Mr Universe type, another with an acoustic, sat on the bass amp. Very odd, and funny too, better than a simply recreation of the latest albums artwork. They bounce on stage, Nicky Wire looking the best he has in a decade, with a delightful Leopard skin jacket he picked up during the day. Launching straight into 'You Love Us', 'Your Love Alone' and 'Motorcycle Emptiness' the room is electric. Any fear that the writing and recording of their rather tame, yet passionate, new album 'Postcards From A Young Man' would result in a similar live show are blown out of the water.
As ever, it’s a hit heavy set with a fair mix from all their 10 albums (only 'Know Your Enemy' and Lifeblood' are ignored) and non album tracks 'Motown Junk', 'Suicide is Painless' and 'The Masses against the Classes'. How can they still play Motown Junk, a song they wrote over 20 years ago with such passion and conviction? I don’t know, and it’s probably a question they ask themselves often. But tonight finds them completely within the moment and the lap up every second of the admiring crowd. 'Leeds you're on fire tonight!' James Dean Bradfield declares. They are unashamedly crowd pleasing tonight and look like they are having the time of their lives. An unusual and slow rendition of 'This is Yesterday' is moving, a spiky retread of 'Jackie Collins Existential Question Time' is sinister and JDB's 2 song mid set acoustic section is great, leading to crowd singalongs of 'Stay Beautiful' and 'You Stole The Sun From My Heart'. Slightly cheesy? Perhaps, but wonderful all the same.
Its gigs like this that I want my non Manic appreciating fans to see. For all the spiel I could produce about how intelligent and ambitious and magnificent they were, and can still be, all the examples of the amazing things they have achieved, if they were to see a live performance like this... it wouldn’t matter if they didn’t 'get it' and weren't into them as a whole; the pure power and energy of performances like this would surely win them over. I’m not a Manic’s fan with the blinkers on, but I always have time for them. It’s interesting that despite all their stylistic experiments since their commercial peak 10 years ago, the live show has always remained high energy. If they were to build an album around that idea... that Motown Junk still sounds fantastic live... well, y'never know.
Interestingly, before the show i found myself surrounded by what could only be described as 'idiots', loudmouthed, small brained blokes and their birds mouthing such inanities it took all my energy not to bash em. Yet later in the gig I would see them mouthing along to the words and I had to think twice. I never really believed that thing about subverting the masses from within. I believed in it as an idea, but I thought, in the Manics case at least, it was long dead as a prospect. Yet here it was in action and I thought that was pretty cool. Ive never seen the band so at ease and enjoying themselves so much. Its was a great night.
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
The Spills – Smoke Signals
I’m so glad to hear this record. Because I can now finally unburden myself of a terrible secret – I’ve never been a massive fan of The Spills. I’ve enjoyed their records certainly (especially the split with Piskie Sits a while back) and they’ve always entertained live… but a full on FAN? The sound was always a little too grunge indebted to me, it never quite engaged me on an emotional level. But before Wakefield as a mass entity turns and strikes me down; Smoke Signals is immense and it’s now official – I’m a fan, and then some.
The format of a five track EP has given them space to breathe. In a way, less is more, with the focus on the hooks in place of some of the former bluster. Opening track ‘Fish Eye Lense’ is stripped back beauty. Clean, gentle, barely strummed guitar and tender vocals, with delicate echo – I cross my fingers this isn’t the predictable quick 20 second intro to the usual fair. It’s not, they keep their nerve and keep it quiet - it’s a ballsy move and pays off massively. And then, by doing something totally unexpected, they remind you what was good about the band in the first place – ‘Holidays’ is noisy and exciting. It’s also the hookiest track they’ve ever done.
Rob Slaters vocals, and lyrics are put further to the fore than ever before and it pays off big time. The dynamics and structures of the songs are exquisitely natural, and brought out beautifully by the upfront but subtle production. Not sitting back on the loud quiet routines, but incorporating whole interweaving sections that never sound contrived. When a track clocks in over 4 minutes but feels like it’s lasted half the time, you know you’re onto a winner.
‘Teeth in a glass’ shows a mastery of anthemic Indie without resorting to dumb emotional signposting, the ‘everything is alright’ refrain sang with enough hint of disdain, and possible sarcasm to avoid triteness. But overall the feeling is of carefree abandon; real beams of sunlight cover this record. Sound wise there may still be hints of that grungy past (but more ‘questions and answers’ Biffy than Nirvana) but it is certainly not angsty. A strong, passionate vein of positivity runs through this EP. And it’s the balance between unashamed pop and aggressive, intelligent noise making that makes The Spills so special now. Where many bands would kill for hooks like these, but then use them to sing inane nonsense about getting pissed up and losing a girlfriend, The Spills have an edge and passion that surpasses such predictable and tired ideas. And more importantly, they just seem to be getting better and better. A very important step for a band that deserves to take them to a much larger audience. Dean Freeman
Secret Circuits – This Town EP
This EP sounds like a contrived mixture of euphoria and melancholia, in the vein of bands who have had success by virtue of their inoffensive blandness such as Editors and White Lies, with songs building up using rumbling bass with layers of trance keyboards being added. Lyrics are sung sparsely over the top of this in a forlorn fashion. At times there is also a Biffy Clyro influence. Sadly the songs lack the passion, time changes or gabba rhythms that make that band so good. Not something I would encourage anyone to listen to. David Cooper
Tender Trap – Dansette Dansette
Tender Trap’s new album is released at a time when the indie-pop scene is absolutely thriving, with bands like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Los Campesinos currently taking the fuzzy, impassioned blueprint and making it their own, to popular acclaim.
Members of Temper Trap were helping to create this sound in the mid eighties with bands such as Talulah Gosh and Heavenly. I have to confess my ignorance for most of these bands songs, as well as the previous Temper Trap albums. What I can say though is that this album combines a steady, sleigh bell tap, reminiscent of bands like Jesus and Mary Chain with lush, dreamy sixties girl pop vocals and clean gently strummed guitars. It’s a very lovely combination and while it’s not breaking any new ground it’s a warm, relaxing listen.
I do prefer this type of thing with a bit more fuzz and feedback and a bit more urgency and bite. Nevertheless it is a very lovely record and comes highly recommended. David Cooper
EXIT STATE – DEATH OF A ROCKSTAR
King Prawn Records
Let’s be honest, Britain hasn’t produced that many great heavy bands in recent years. The last home-grown ‘heavy’ album to really get me frothing at the mouth was Gallows’ “Grey Britain”, whilst their 2009 Leeds festival set transported me back to my late-teens, when Entombed’s death ‘n’ roll ruled my stereo. Exit State won’t be troubling said stereo many more times, if at all.
There’s no faulting them as a musical unit, they’re tight and on occasion write some infectious hooks, sterilised hooks at that. Everything about this album screams ‘commercial metal’, which holds little, if any appeal for me. “Out ‘Till 3” has, more than a hint of Lost Prophets about it, with plenty of potential to fill the dance floor at any given rock-night. But surely anyone with their critical faculties intact will baulk at “Death Of A Rockstar Part One”, one of the most overwrought, ‘everything and the kitchen sink’, rock ballads I’ve recently witnessed. “Part Two”, complete with gang chants, orchestral keyboards and stadium sing along sections is even more bloated and excessive. It’s cinematic in scope, but unfortunately like many summer blockbusters there’s little to reward repeated exposure. Meanwhile “Dirty Intoxicated” suggests the band listened to Pink’s “So What” on constant repeat when they were writing it.
Granted their clean, catchy, chorus laden metal will have its fans. Me, I’d prefer something altogether, darker, dirtier and well deathly. It’s no coincidence I’ve been blasting Entombed’s “Clandestine” so much recently. Andy Whittaker
GLASS – THE SOUND OF GLASS
Glass are not just the sum of the gothic, post-punk and new wave influences they list in their biography. Perhaps ‘Prog’ is still a dirty word around some parts, but there is more than a hint of progressive rock at work during this album, particularly on its closing track “My Elan”, where echoes of progressive-metal titans Dream Theater can be heard. Further to this the “The Sound Of Glass” is a concept album, a progressive rock trademark if ever there was one.
The imagination which has gone into not just this album, but also the band’s website (www.thesoundofglass.com) is impressive. If anything it is Alexander King’s voice that lets the material down slightly, lacking some of the power of Editors’ Tom Smith. As it reaches its conclusion “The Last Transmission” certainly bares the hallmarks of the material which has brought Editors to a wider audience. Crucially at this point King’s voice is complemented by layers of backing vocals. At points earlier in the song his vocal style reminds me of that of William Shatner, seemingly talking over the music. Still, I happen to be a fan of Shatner’s “Has Been” album, some people though may find the vocals are missing that extra something.
At just over half an hour “The Sound Of Glass” never threatens to outstay its welcome, shunning the tendency of more overtly progressive bands to pen songs that often stretch well past ten minutes. Secretly though, you wonder if the band yearn to unleash a sprawling double-album in the future, we’ll have to wait and see. Andy Whittaker
Pop Fosters EP
Punk music is good; it’s brilliant. However, I personally find that, the older punk music is the better. A lot of bands these days go for a punk sound but often end up sounding like a bit of a joke. Maybe it’s because bands like The Ramones, The Clash and Buzzcocks did it so well, who knows.
Fortunately, Pop Fosters; a two-piece from Wakefield, have made a pretty decent job of it. ‘I don’t wanna feel this way tonight’ has that cheery little spark most Vaseline’s songs do, which coupled with Pop Fosters’ up-beat, high tempo chantings, makes for a great little track. ‘Everyday’s the same’ is another interesting song, it begins all gloomy and depressing, but just at the right moment becomes an infusion of punk and raw energy. Clever little thing they did there, and it certainly has the intended effect.
‘Myopic’ is blatantly the stand out tune on this EP; it’s immediately catchy, fast paced and fused with energy. You should definitely listen to this song. This track tells me this is a band to watch, creating such a perfect punk song, we can only hope there’s more where this came from. Not to say the other songs aren’t good; but they certainly don’t have the spirit and intensity of this song.
Aside from the songs, Pop Fosters have a great attitude that comes through on this EP. Essentially attitude is what makes punk so brilliant in the first place, and this EP is bursting at the seams. Melissa Greaves
This Many Boyfriends - Getting a Life With EP
This Many Boyfriends take their name from the Beat Happening song ‘This Many Boyfriends Club’. Surely they have to be good if they’re named after a Beat Happening song. With that in mind, it seems quite fitting that the CD release of this EP comes with a fanzine and badge/sticker set; I’m in Indie heaven already.
The first song on this EP is called ‘I Don’t like You ('Cos You Don't Like The Pastels)’, and it’s pure brilliance. Anyone with a hint of music-snobbery lurking under their skin will instantly relate to this song, with lyrics like “I didn’t even flinch when you said you hated the go-betweens” and “I even let you smash my Cribs singles box-set”. Lyrics aside, it’s fervent and poppy guitar sounds and blatant twee-ness will leave you weak at the knees. Listen closely, there’s a lovely little riff in there not too dissimilar to Ryan Jarman’s riff in ‘Another Number’. To top it all off, the chorus has an immense catchiness like a Ramones song; captivating in its simplicity.
‘I should be a communist’ sounds like Morrissey and Marr joined Beat Happening for the day, and the results are catastrophically ingenious. The guitar playing on ‘#1’ is clearly influenced by Orange Juice, and when coupled with a clarity laden vocal, gives this song a perfectly summery vibe. When I thought things couldn’t get better, they did. The female vocals on ‘Trying to be good’ are perfect, and the feeling behind the vocals as a whole is sure to grip the heart of any Indie soul.
This band reminds me of Comet Gain; there’s a definite energy running throughout all the songs. Their influences shine through, yet they still have a unique and interesting sound. Melissa Greaves
Under the Bus Station Clock – Compilation
‘Under the Bus Station Clock’ is the recent compilation from Philophobia, with a whole variety of talented artists on display. Noticeably absent are Runaround Kids, but not to worry, label boss Rob Dee has more than compensated with this fine selection of songs. Although it may seem a little incestuous, in the sense that many bands contain members of other bands, it’s certainly a positive thing.
The compilation begins with ‘How to Stay Alright in a Southern State’ from ‘Junior Swimsuit’. He used to be the lead singer of Lapels (RIP); aside from that he has the most poetic and eloquent way with words I have ever come across. This is far more stripped back than the raucous energy of the Lapels, but still as enticing. Followed by ‘A Billion Parallels, Crashing’ from ‘One Day, After School’, who since the release of the ‘PROLEFEED’ EP late last year, have progressed tremendously. Though as before, still utterly charming and a great listen, this track is mesmerising and hauntingly atmospheric.
A particular highlight has to be ‘When the Weathers Wrong’ from The Bambinos with an incredibly captivating vocal, which is addictive accompanied with the twinkly guitar sounds. Another highlight; Wakefield’s answer to Jeffery Lewis, ‘Salvage My Dream’ with a great song called ‘Cost Of Living’, which drifts between gentle vocals and an hypnotically aggressive rant. ‘St Gregory Orange’ takes you to another world with ‘Pan Away Then Fade to Black’ which is eerily cinematic, showcasing further poetic talent from the once Lapels front man.
Then there’s ‘IMP’ with ‘My Least Favourite Brunette’; they’re the perfect indie-pop band, home to a few ex Lapel members. IMP probably have more talent in a single toe than all off NME’s current fancies combined, but that’s generally how it goes isn’t it?
‘Jeremiah’ flaunt the most charming of vocals with ‘Do Whatever He Says’, and two of Wakefield’s most exciting bands ‘Tiny Planets’ and ‘Piskie Sits’ expectantly provide catchy, dreamy songs. Both these bands harbour a distinct uniqueness, which is rare to come by these days. And, when Tiny Planets man Rob Slater isn’t sat behind the drum kit, he’s off making delightful punk songs like ‘The Frontal Lobe’ with ‘The Spills’. Then, there’s Piskie Sits guitarist Harry Rhodes with his exquisite contribution ‘Twisting Deep and Cursing Sweet’, with a slight Suede vibe, this track is certainly a personal favourite. As is Michael Ainsley’s ‘Slip Smash’, with his heart on his sleeve and poppy keyboard sounds, he offers up magical pop song.
The penultimate song on this compilation is from the greatly talented ‘ByBy’ slurring over a mystical combination of glimmering keyboards and sneering drums. Rounding things up perfectly are ‘Candid Squash’ with the final track ‘Gimp’, it may be over eight minutes long, but each and every one is worth a devoted ear.
So there you have it, Philophobia is just showing off really; there isn’t a single song on this compilation that could be described as anything less than brilliant. Melissa Greaves
Quack Quack – Slow as an eyeball
This reminds me a lot of the first time I heard Aloha Hawaii, Stuart Braithwaite and Aiden Moffats side project, in that it makes me feel a little bit sick. Now, that’s probably not the best opening line to a review Quack Quack will receive, lets be fair. But it doesn’t mean it’s not good, it just means you have to give it some time, and get tuned in to what’s going on.
The keyboards on opener ‘Perpetual Spinach’ chime around nicely, recounting the innocence of an old fashioned children’s TV programme. The playful melodies are key, and along with the inventive and sprightly drumming remain constant across the album. There’s a Fall element to it as well, the repetitive rhythms and the sense of not being quite sure what’s going on, or where you are; its disorientating certainly. But this is purely instrumental, and perhaps more than any other instrumental record I’ve heard do the instruments take the place of the vocal lines. Its dense, it’s packed, there’s rarely a space that isn’t filled. If they did have a vocalist they simply wouldn’t be able to get a word in.
It’s a real achievement for a three piece to have created this record, and I admire the musicianship immensely. Whether it’s a record anyone that isn’t a musician would like to listen to is a difficult one. It’s got the complexity and (for me) inaccessibility of Jazz – that element of impenetrability and experimentation. I’m frightened that this might be a little too close to ‘muso’ territory, but there isn’t the sense that the musicians are having more fun than you; it’s undeniably an astounding piece of work. And I love that it is incredibly positive, a happy and celebratory album, that is proudly different. I love the attitude of the band too, and that they’ve created something fresh and challenging… it just makes my head hurt a bit. It’s certainly unlike anything else reviewed this issue, and for that reason alone it is definitely worth checking out. Chances are you’ll fall in love, or turn it off after about 24 seconds. So, worth a go right? Dean Freeman
Above Us The Waves – A Gene
Before even hearing this I knew I was onto something good. You know why? Because it came in a hand made sleeve, and not just a little picture placed inside a second hand CD case – a full on fold out paper sleeve, with pictures and handwritten lyrics and allsorts. It made me realise I haven’t received a crappy demo in ages. It’s no longer good enough to send off CDRs with a pen written band name on. The enthusiasm and creativity of the sleeve says a lot about the band I reckon, so well done Above Us The Waves.
And for the small matter of the music? Well, it’s a 4 track EP and it would be impossible not to mention Runaround Kids, with which this band share some members. It’s a similar high energy mix of super quick clean jangly guitars and pounding, noisier parts but rather more angular and ‘raw’ than the previously mentioned band. In parts its blisteringly fast and draws to my mind a mix between 80’s American punk - not hardcore - but the sound of bands in garages in suburban neighbourhoods, with a touch of Smashing Pumpkins ‘1979’ melancholia. That may sound like a bit of a contradiction, but it’s matched by the music, these songs often sound like lots of little ideas squashed and forced together, but in way that actually works really well. The sudden changes of mood, tempo, vocalists and time signature all sound really natural and I think that’s a real gift. To be fair, I’ve listened to this quite a lot recently and still don’t feel I’ve scratched the surface, which is pretty rare for an ‘energetic Indie band’ or whatever this stuff gets labelled. And its further testament to the members of the band who are in other projects that this sounds fresh, vital and FULL of ideas – it’s the sound of an unquenchable urge to create - and that this is the first ‘release’ from the band, when others are still pissing about figuring out how not to sound like all the songs they used to cover before they wrote their own, is pretty exceptional. Dean Freeman
Our recent round-up of the Summer’s huge variety of festivals had left us a little sad. Would we really have to wait til next May for it all to start again? Well, of course not, there’s still loads going on, including all the ATP stuff (sadly not for us this year), as well as something that’s looking quite special: Constellations.
Taking place in Leeds on November 14th at Leeds University, it has a chance of matching the joy and variety of ‘Live @ Leeds’ with the added advantage of keeping it all under one roof – essential as winter closes in.
3 stages will host some fantastic bands, including some of our favourite Leeds regulars, alongside some truly exceptional visitors from further affield. The difficult decisions as to where to go and who to see will begin immediately at half two, but naturally the Bomb would head off to see Wakefields finest ‘Runaround Kids’. After that, who knows, but I would personally have to go for a run of iLiKETRAiNS, Sky Larkin, Liars, Los Campesinos! and Broken Social Scene. A great band I came across just the other day, ‘Cloud Nothings’ are there too and, well, there’s not really a weak moment.
Sadly, I will not be here to see it. Whilst it seems like an awesome way to spend a miserable November Saturday, it’s not quite enticing enough to cancel a trip to Japan. Not quite. But I feel genuine sadness I can’t be there and as such, a RB writer will be there to document the whole event for me (and you). It sounds to me like a great combination of spot on local talent and interesting and unusual artists that probably wouldn’t come to Leeds so often and that is all put on in conjunction with some of great independent enterpirses (Wichita, Dance to The Radio, Brudenell, Drowned In Sound) makes it even more worth the while. Look out for that upcoming review and for more info go to www.constellationsfestival.com