Sunday, 6 December 2009

Jace Everett - Red Revelations

For anyone who has watched hit series ‘True Blood’ then you will be familiar with Jace Everett’s work. The mucky, blues stomp that is the intro to the intriguing vampire series has a rockabilly swing that is as infectious as it is dark and rose to number 51 in the UK charts after the opening few episodes of the cult television programme.
‘Red Revelations’ is Everett’s third album in as many years and is a raw unblemished chug dipped in raw sentiment. There are moments in this infused blues country melancholy where you feel Everett reveals a glam side to his persona but it has to be said, this isn’t party music.

The emotion slowly drips from Everett’s sleeve in ‘Burn For You’ but isn’t steeped in self obsessed rambles and whinges, it just slowly ticks along in a dark underworld of blues before it is somewhat uninterestingly lifted into the real world with the more chirpy cheeseball swing of ‘More To Life (C’Mon C’Mon)’.

While Everett maintains an air of mystery running through ‘Red Revelations’ it feels like it has been switched into cruise control but when it shifts up a gear to allows the swampy rockabilly holler through, you feel like you’ve hit a winning streak.

It has to be said that the song which has catapulted this singer songwriter to well known heights is the stand out track here. ‘Bad Things’ makes you want to pick up a guitar, move to the deep south and dabble with the supernatural but it doesn’t feel out of place or like a bonus track, it’s well in keeping with the rest of the album which is well worth a gander.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Artist of the Decade - Arctic Monkeys

In a decade that has inexplicably reinstated the synthesizer as cool, let Simon Cowell’s wallet grow by several million inches and almost allowed Katie Price to perform at Eurovision for our proud nation , it’s difficult to know whether to be thankful or not.

We’ve the seen the rise of Kings of Leon with their tousled moustache love, howling and fowling it’s way to the top, watched Oasis reach the bottom of their own mucky bucket, observed the King of Pop fall gracelessly into his grave and witnessed the birth of Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys.

As far as fresh British acts go, Arctic Monkeys have taken biscuit, winning over teens heading for their twenties with their raucous riff heavy stomps, eclectic observations allied by the quick wit of Alex Turner. In short, they produced something almost anybody could relate their own lives to; the tales of late night shenanigans presented through Turner’s amusing anecdotal social commentary was to the point and merciless, he told it like it was.

Their story starts in the cellar of Sheffield’s Boardwalk, amongst beer barrels, fairy lights and a group of budding musicians who ended up putting the Steel City back on the musical map. There was an electricity and an unorganised madness to their first live show, as there was at all of Arctic’s opening stint of gigs in their hometown and this energy was further emulated by their meteoric rise to the top and the instant success of their Mercury award winning debut album, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’, which made British chart history.

The previously damned idea of file sharing and internet obsession came to the aid of Arctic Monkeys in their early days and as word began to spread through cyber space their back catalogue seemed to grow. Rough demos cut at Sheffield’s 2 Fly Studios (named after the infamous cellar show) were everywhere and debut single, ‘Five Minutes With Arctic Monkeys’ sold out on pre-order sales alone. You pretty much know the rest.

One of the finest things about this band is that they’ve always done things their own way, they’ve always moved on from the point they last touched and don’t look back. They’ve shunned the fat cats, refused Top of the Pops and given the one finger salute to the Brit awards; most artists would give up their guitars for the power that Arctic Monkeys have created for themselves.

This power translates on their third and latest long-player, ‘Humbug’. Moving far away from the social scrutiny that took the world by storm and their native lands, they moved to the Mojave Desert to famously record with Josh Homme. The final result shows the musicianship has changed and now carries a certain psychedelic grandeur while the lyrics are all the more poetic and worldly. Although it’s not been an instant hit with their die hard, they once again powered their way to the top of the musical tree, outselling the rest of the top five on the week of release.

The question for the doubters must be asked; what would you have really thought if you got another ‘Whatever People Say I Am...’? Not a lot. That’s what.

There is something to be thankful for after all.

The Best of the Rest:

1. Arctic Monkeys

2. Kings of Leon

3. Eels

4. The White Stripes

5. The Libertines

6. Ryan Adams

7. The Strokes

8. Radiohead

9. Kasabian

10. Bob Dylan

Friday, 30 October 2009

Johnny Foreigner - Grace And The Bigger Picture

Released October 25 through Best Before Records

After a summer of success on the festival circuit and revelling in their overnight triumph of 2008, Johnny Foreigner, much to their credit, are back just one year later with follow up ‘Grace And The Bigger Picture.’

This is a band that are sticking to their guns, they haven’t progressed too much from their first long player, if anything only making their rambunctious rally of unruly rock shorter and more to the point.

They spin tales of life on the road (‘I Woke Up On A Beach In Aberystwyth’) but soon become repetitive on their one dimensional, nonstop ride of noise.

They shine through in ‘I’ll Choose My Side And Shut Up, Alright’ showing that they can actually play their instruments and sing in tune, they just choose not to, much to their own long-term detriment.

Johnny Foreigner are a band that will go out of fashion as fast as their hair cuts leaving blurry visions of the Welsh coast and their challenging yet un-authoritative back catalogue a mere memory.

On the Stereo

1. Pencil Full Of Lead - Paolo Nutini -

2. Diddley Bo - Seasick Steve -

3. Everythang Is Everythang - Black Diamond Heavies -

4. Romeo Is Bleeding - Tom Waits -

5. Bad Things - Jace Everett -

Top tunes x

Nine Black Alps - Sheffield Leadmill - 27/10/9

It has been four years since Nine Black Alps released their debut ‘Everything Is’ and since then they haven’t moved far. They’ve reached album number three and ‘Locked Out From The Inside’ has failed to duplicate, let alone stretch what they originally presented to the world back in 2005.

Tonight they hit Sheffield’s Leadmill, demoted to the smaller ‘Steel Stage’, to entertain with their riff heavy, growled out take on rock and its plain to see Nine Black Alps have work to do.

With a crowd around 150 strong starting the night with them, they finish to more like 100, fail to impress with their newer songs and for the majority of this gig, sound like an unsigned band. Not necessarily a bad thing you may think but for a band that has been on the block for nearly half a decade there is little to show they’ve been doing their homework.

They show flashes of brilliance with the infectious, raw rockin' ‘Unsatisfied’ and ‘Not Everyone’ but their latest offerings, particularly the opener (‘Vampire In The Sun') from this month’s release seem watered down and the crowd has to wait for finisher ‘Shot Down’ to be riled out of their slumber.

It’s a shame to see a band slowly fall out of favour and appear to have fallen out of love with what they’re doing. They’ve not moved an inch since their debut, apart from a couple of steps backwards and unless their direction and song writing is re-assessed they will continue to play to an ever waning audience.

The Dead Weather - Leeds Academy - 23/10/9

The leather is out and the gloves are off. The Dead Weather are in town on their stint of the UK and the good people of Leeds are tingling all the way down to their loins with the anticipation of tonight’s show.

There’s enough tension in the air to cut with the bluntest of instruments and they begin ‘60ft Tall’ with the haunting whisper of Alison Mosshart leaving a stamp of how they mean to go on, with serious intent.

They move straight into ‘Hang You Up From The Heavens’ without so much as a word and Mosshart is already in full flow, slinging herself between monitor tops with a look on her face that shows she means it, who knows what it actually is, but she’s being driven on a journey that is pleasuring and torturing in equal measure.

As the rest of the band follow Mosshart’s lead, they’re in full flow and it’s inexplicable that Dean Fertita’s fingers aren’t bleeding down to the bone as the Queens Of The Stone Age’s guitarist shreds his axe with monstrous riffs and when the time calls he slips off to his organ on the side of the stage when the appropriate moment arises while Jack White starts to lay down the law with his stripped back drum kit and Jack Lawrence rocks out like a 70s dad.

As White meanders his way to the front of the stage the crowd are lifted to the next level and his wailing guitars remind you exactly why this guy is at the top of his game. He fits in anywhere on a stage and in any band he graces, a man who will surely go down in rock folklore as one of the, if not the greatest musician of our era.

It’s loud from start to finish and congeals all of the finer things in life (feedback, licks and screams) into one blisteringly flashy and raucous set. This band are a towering spectacle on the live stage with no reservations about where they want to go and with a new album rumoured to already be in the making, they could be onto something very special indeed.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


Judge of talent show X Factor and Girls Aloud member, Cheryl Cole, looks set to beat this year's fastest selling single, with her debut, 'Fight For This Love', outselling X Factor Alexandra Burke's 'Bad Boys' on the first Monday of release.

Guitar legend and previous Guns N' Roses member, Slash, has recorded with Wolfmother's Andrew Stockdale for his new album, reported to be named 'Slash and Friends.' The Australian singer has joined the likes of Dave Grohl, Ronnie Wood, Jason Bonham and Fergie on the album told BBC Newsbeat: "He is an iconic figure in rock'n'roll history. I thought, 'It's an honour'."

After the release of this year's 'Hombre Lobo', Eels have announced they will release their 8th studio album on January 19 next year. The new long player is titles 'End Times' and was recorded in front man Mark Everett's basment.


'The Beginning'

'Gone Man'
'In My Younger Days'
'Mansions Of Los Feliz'
'A Line In The Dirt'
'End Times'
'Apple Trees'
'Paradise Blues'
'High And Lonesome'
'I Need A Mother'
'Little Bird'
'On My Feet'

Daily Mail writer, Jan Moir,  has been 'disowned' by the Irish Daily Mail following her comments on Boyzone singer Steven Gately's death. Her comments have prompted over 20, 000 complaints worldwide (a significant increase on the chart topping 684 from the Times in 2008.)

Father of singer Amy Winehouse, Mitch Winehouse, has claimed: "She has been drug free for a year." .... Alright mate.

Film star Johnny Depp is rumoured to be playing guitar in support of his favourite British band, Babybird, at a London venue on their forthcoming tour.
After the success of Tramlines Festival last year, Sheffield City Council have announced plans they're returning with the festival and looking at the possibility of having a 'Sheffield Music Month.' Leader of the Council, Paul Scriven said told Sheffield Telgraph: "As a vision, this is really exciting."


Monday, 19 October 2009

The Chapman Family - Virgins

Released October 19th through Electric Toaster.

Having being picked in NME’s top ten acts to watch out for in 2009 there have been eyes and ears waiting for something special from Tee side band The Chapman Family.

They boldly declared that they formed their band in 2006 because they were “fed up of hearing bands that sounded like fuck all like anything,” giving themselves the already dutiful task of feeding our ears with something of substance and making us forget the watered down tripe that dominates radio and television.

It’s difficult to get excited about this lot and the saturated paranoia of vocalist Kingsley Chapman’s delivery is no more enticing than a bag of ants (“the more I give, the less you take, the more you give, the less I take away.”)

The dynamic musicianship occasionally glares with promise and the transition from a moody backdrop to something altogether more epic is done smoothly but lacks the shrewdness they seem to believe they deliver.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Tigers That Talked - Artificial Clouds

Released 19/10/9 through Bad Sneakers

There has been much chit chat about Leeds folksters Tigers That Talked, they’re popular with Steve Lamacq and Zane Lowe with various others also giving them the nod and freely play their misery tinged pop whinge.

Taken from their forthcoming debut album, ‘The Merchant’, ‘Artificial Clouds’ looks at love on the other side of the coin, when it delves into the darkness with a power that can kill a person from the inside, or something like that anyway.

This is the kind of music that your dad gets excited about, it’s well executed, clean and easy on the ear but the problem here is that it sits in its own idiosyncratic melancholy feeling sorry for itself and although it grows with each listen it sits in its own desolate gloom: “So I’m falling apart without you, I’ll paint a symphony for you, watch clouds fly, artificial clouds, when death came, I tried to comfort her.”

Don’t believe the hype.

Friday, 9 October 2009

The Importance of Mr E

When Mark Oliver Everett released his solo debut, ‘A Man Called E’, way back in 1992 he went almost un-noticed. The man who was born in Virginia in 1963 had witnessed and dabbled in things no ordinary person should have by this age but they were nevertheless the experiences that moulded one of the finest songwriters in the world today.

Everett, better known as E, moved to Hollywood to try and make it as a singer, his debut album was rewarded with a tour support for Tori Amos and was followed up by ‘Broken Toy Shop’ before he formed his full band, Eels, who then released the 1996 album,’ Beautiful Freak’.

The album itself was an extraordinary bucket of charm, sadness and torment which produced the hit single, ‘Novocaine For The Soul,’ an immensely intense piece of work that had a slow burning melancholic feel full of balladry anguish. Anguish and torment is a recurring them in Eels’ music and this is not without reason.

“My father never, ever said anything to me about his theories. I was in the same house with him for at least 18 years but he was a total stranger to me.”

E explains his relationship with his father, Hugh Everett III, in ‘Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives’.

E has led a tragic life, including finding the corpse of his father at the age of 18, his sister committing suicide followed two years later by his mother losing a long and painful struggle to lung cancer. The singer/songwriter has also dealt with the untimely demise one of his cousins, an air hostess working with her husband on the plane that hit the Pentagon on 9/11.

Not a particularly happy decade for Mr E then but after the deaths of his mother and sister he wrote and released ‘Electro-Shock Blues’, a widely acclaimed effort with dark themes and sounds, thought to reflect the songwriters grief. ‘Cancer For The Cure’ is considered to be the remembrance of his late mother, as with many others on this album, including ‘Hospital Food.’ Everett delves into the world of his song writing and sorrow with his heavily acclaimed autobiography, ‘Things The Grandchildren Should Know’. Here is explains how and why songs were written, what life was like for him as a child and why he thinks John Legend is a twat.

E has remained open to projects outside of his musical career, his autobiography in particular being a fine example of that, but he also played a heavy part in the making of the BBC documentary ‘Parallel World, Parallel Lives’, a film about his estranged quantum physicist father, Hugh Everett III. The making of the film was a trip down memory lane for Everett and not an entirely happy one and said of his father:

“My father never, ever said anything to me about his theories. I was in the same house with him for at least 18 years but he was a total stranger to me. He was in his own parallel universe. He was a physical presence, like the furniture, sitting there jotting down crazy notations at the dining room table night after night.”

Despite the experimenting outside of his song writing, E’s full attention has always been his music and is known for his varying approach, both live and in the studio. To follow up the release of double album ‘Blinking Lights And Other Revelations’ Eels toured as a full band, playing old and new but mostly in a way his fans had never seen before. They brought in metal sheets to bend and create string effects, trash cans as drums and made the entire set look like an old man’s front room which E made his own by wandering between instruments with a cane (for nothing more than show), a tumbler of whisky and a large cigar.

“I didn't want to write a bunch of blatantly autobiographical songs about a lonely old indie rocker.”

E on ‘Hombre Lobo’

Since then, E has moved on and returned with this year’s ‘Hombre Lobo’, the return of the ‘Dog Faced Boy’ we met in 2001 when ‘Souljacker’ was released:

"I didn't want to write a bunch of blatantly autobiographical songs about a lonely old indie rocker, so I thought it would be more interesting if it came from this character," E said in a statement before the release of the band’s seventh studio album.

The album is packed electric guitars and blues motifs with titles such as ‘The Look You Give That Guy’, ‘The Longing’ and ‘What’s A Fella Gotta Do’, it showed that E has replaced his lonely longings with pangs of desire.

Despite the seven albums, a best of and live albums, Eel’s most famous songs are probably the first ‘band single’ ‘Novocaine For The Soul’, ‘Mr E’s Beautiful Blues’ (from the film, ‘Road Trip’) and ‘My Beloved Monster’ which featured on the DreamWorks smash, ‘Shrek’.

The reason this man is so important is because he champions whatever he wants to do, he’ll rhyme as and when he wants and will trial new sounds and vibes. Outside of music he is admirable in ways that most will never have to be, with a life full of loss he has turned it all to his gain and will forever be the American Werewolf.


Slow Club

Folk wasn’t really a word that the ‘New Yorkshire Revolution’ dealt with when a splurge bands engulfed charts, clubs and parties a few short years ago. Monkeys went mental and Kaisers were (unfortunately) crowned but Sheffield’s Slow Club maybe slipped under the radar despite their loveable rockabilly ideals. After forming from their previous band, The Lonely Hearts, back in 2006 they’ve moved into their own loveable scatty street folk pop. The currently touring duo made up of Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor took some time out before their show at Sheffield’s Plug to tell us more.

“Everyone stopped wanting to be in the band and we [just the two of them] were playing little nights that we enjoyed more. We started doing covers and then we wrote songs together and it kind of went from there.”

There is an unassailable union between the two which translates across in their harmony infected heartbreak folk, they finish each other’s sentences and have identical ideas which seems almost telepathic.

The intense relationship between the only two members of this band, who spend most of their time singing together, brings to light many questions about their relationship and whether it has passed into something more than a musical affiliation: “Absolutely not, never. We’re best friends but that’s it. Everywhere we go people think that but it’s not true, maybe that’s why guys never come near me, because they think I’m with Charles,” says Rebecca, the duo’s drummer/vocalist, quick off the mark to quash any wonderings.

The twosome is something that they like though, despite the speculation what lies between the two as guitarist/vocalist Charles interjects: “It’s great that this is a band, there are only two of us but we both write  and sing the songs. There are so many bands that are almost run by one person, like the Shins, I really like them but it’s all about James Mercer who writes and arranges, that’s fine for some people but this works for us.”

Tonight Slow Club are back in their home town and it’s been a while: “It’s the first time we’ve been back in Sheffield since we moved to London and it’s a bit mad, my phone won’t stop going, we’ve got a lot of friends up here,” says Rebecca,

The madness isn’t something that’s always appreciated as she continues to explain: “I’ve really been getting into Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ recently and sometimes I would just rather go home and play it over and over again,” before she adds with a slight snigger: “Maybe I’m just sad.”

Certainly not, but there is an underlying theme of sadness and heartbreak with this band that sits between their quirky folk n’ roll. Their debut album, ‘Yeah, So’, aptly demonstrates this despite the fact it was a long time coming, having only been released in July this year:

“We wanted to make sure we liked it,” explains Charles, who is the more focused and intense of the two, he’s calm and measured about what he says: “We went into the studio and put songs down but after a couple of weeks of listening to them we weren’t so sure. It was important that we liked the songs so we wrote some more and went back to record the album. Our record label [Moshi Moshi] are really great, they’re really supportive, and we’ve not even had to sign anything with them.”

"It's great that this is a band, there are only two of us but we both write and sing the songs."

The band also have plans for a Christmas EP which Charles tells us more about: “We’re looking forward to it, there are going to be four songs, all Christmas songs, including [previous single] Christmas TV, I think we’re going to do a couple of gigs around then too, one in London and maybe one in Sheffield.”

Tonight may be their last gig in the place where everything started for them until the Christmas festivities are upon us and as they open tonight in Plug they’ve gone against the grind. They appear unplugged in the middle of an already encapsulated audience which goes deathly silent so you can hear every well executed note from the two singers and their acoustic guitars.

Slow Club have a rapt and attentive crowd tonight and it remains loveably haphazard and shambolic throughout, they’re raw and fun loving, if they make a mistake then they start again and Rebecca persists in asking for the red hot lights to be turned down, leaving the show in almost total darkness apart from the soft glow of a red bulb, radiating the intimacy and energy of this band.

Haphazard and shambolic is in no way a bad thing for Slow Club, its part of their charm and when they reach ‘It Doesn’t Have To Be Beautiful’ they’re in full flow and ramble: “So let me tell you, tell you, a thing or two about how to survive when there’s a me and a you, it’s awful it’s gruesome, it’s something, it’s cruel. Forever you will ask out how this happened to you,” with their immaculate harmonies carrying them through in their own slapdash style.

They finish the evening outside in the smoking area on top of a bench surrounded by hundreds singing ‘Christmas TV’ at the top of their lungs. Never before have I witnessed a more fitting encore, or one that befits a band and it leaves this crowd thankful that they’ve played their own cameo role in Slow Club’s continuing folk fairytale.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - The Daytrotter EP

Folk rogue Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson is surrounded by cliché. Despite the negativity that surrounds this word and the fact it quietly follows bands and artists round like a nasty bout of Chlamydia it sometimes adds spice, and at the end of the day what would the world be like without it?

The back story of Robinson is littered with alcohol, drugs, homelessness and regret. Knocking around the harsh streets of New York eating out of rubbish bins, scraping pennies together to buy whisky and bags of class As may not be the top-end and most advisable part of rock n roll cliché but undoubtedly sits in there.

Robinson perhaps lets us in on his previous life with the EPs second track, ‘There Will Be Mud’. As it slowly stirs to life he gently slurs “coming up fast on a slow decline, you got it wrong, everything is yours not mine, you got it wrong, singing along,” and despite pretty keyboards and clean guitar sounds there is an underlying darkness that seeps through.

This EP is raw which is the most important part about it and it's embellished with raspy vocals and clean folk sounds to make Robinson stand out on his own, he has mastered the scatty folk scrawl despite some sticky moments: at times Robinson loses the purpose of his voice (check out ‘Boat’) and the gravelly vocal tones turn to expected spells of anguish as he forgets himself and literally screams and groans into his own melancholy, sapping the life out of something that is actually quite beautiful.

Parts of this EP contend with Robinson’s rather excellent 2008 debut, ‘Buriedfed’, and in spite of an admirable ‘You Ain’t Going Nowhere’ cover it loses itself in its own unapparent sadness.

On the Stereo

1. Black Angel Blues - Tampa Red

2. Manchester Girl (Live BBC) - Eels -

3. Beat On Repeat - JET -

4. Mean Street - Mando Diao -

5. Christmas TV - Slow Club -

Worth a look x

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Stephen Dale Petit - Guitararama

“The reason I’m on the planet is to play Blues Guitar,” so says the ‘New Blues Revolution’ leader, Stephen Dale Petit.

It is clear that this man feels he has been put here with a job to do and as the opening sequence to ‘Sacramento’ squeaks to life, you can’t really argue.

Petit speaks gratefully of his influences (which are all visible in this neatly woven concoction of blues and rock) which date back to when the blues started to shape music as we know it today, from the likes of Tampa Red, Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters to his favourite bands such as Cream, Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones (all of which also drew upon the aforementioned trend setters.)

‘Guitararama’ is Stephen Dale Petit’s debut album and is a record that was funded entirely from busking around the London Underground. The Californian born guitarist used to rack up 20 deep crowds of all ages and backgrounds while jamming out what he himself calls ‘New Blues.’ This is certainly raw and stripped down blues at its best, and the fact that this album was created due to public demand is just something else.

The 49 year old blues maestro is a different breed of guitarist and nails down licks, raucous riffs and fine solo struts in an album that is mostly instrumental. From the free styling groove of ‘Surf City W10’ (which could crack a grin on even the most ‘X Factor’ ridden powder puff) to the haunting re-working of Bill Whithers’ ‘Aint No Sunshine’, the guitar credentials are in no way questionable and neither is the vibe.

The first clear trace of a vocal comes 14 songs in with ’10 Year Blues’ and they add another element of excellence and his voice fits the calming backdrop and new elements to his sound, although they’re only on show for the first two and a half minutes of this five minute epic, it’s a welcome change.

It’s clear to see that Stephen Dale Petit is up there with the best and his guitar ability somewhat endless, the end result leaves ‘Guitararama’ in a league of glowing prowess and if you’re into your blues, this is a must have.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Mando Diao - Manchester Academy - 17/9/9

Swedish rockers Mando Diao never enjoyed the success on these shores as some of their peers did when they emerged with their debut album ‘Bring ‘Em In’ in 2002 but since then they have been a relentless touring and recording machine, picking up an army of admirers in their home nation, Germany and Japan.

Tonight they’re on the Manchester leg of their short but sweet zip of the UK and there is no doubt that this band have indeed won a small but notable army here too.

Like I said, these boys are unyielding and if five albums plus notable EP releases in the seven years that have passed since their debut don’t convince you of this then you simply have to watch them live.

There is an explosive and curious character to this live act and they’ve thickened themselves out with the addition of two female backing vocalists and when combined with their two lead vocals and the twinkly keyboards, this band are out of the garage and into their own dimension.

This year’s ‘Mean Street’ EP is displayed to its full extent and they open with the edgy and illustrious blues stomp that is ‘Blue Lining, White Trench Coat’ before the title track comes three songs in and whips the crowd into a frenzy as the two vocalists stalk across the stage, apparently unaware they’ve nearly knocked each other out on their unforgiving headstocks on several occasions.

They burn with a rock n roll spirit that is quite often absent in a live gig, too many bands rigorously follow their album sound and are therefore unable to break free into a set of spirit and sweat but Mando Diao have got the balance and mix the bag with an acoustic interlude, probably to give themselves a small break more than anything, but the crowd continue to lap them up.

“This is the Swedish blues, I want to dedicate it to Michael Schumacher because it’s his favourite song,” crows singer/guitarist Bjorn Dixgard before he introduces ‘High Heels’ and the band slink through ‘God Knows’, Dance With Somebody’ and ‘Sheepdog’ in raw and enticing form as they end their set in the eye of their own party that has the ferocity only the finest could muster.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Matt and Kim - Daylight

This is Brooklyn’s destructive dance duo’s second single from their second album, ‘Grand’, and by going on this amalgamation of twee keys and poor to the core vocal work, it’s a wonder they’ve got this far.

They’re known for their small shows in apartments and warehouses around their hometown area but their borderline anthemic pop ideals are misplaced despite their growing popularity. They will no doubt get the cool kids on the underground in a rather unfortunate muddle but the plastic playground pop probably has a limited shelf life.

It’s noisy and doesn’t ring with the sugar-coated snap that their peers possess leaving Matt and Kim with a sparse, garage hum that needs Nurofen to accompany an unforgiving drone of: “in the daylight we can hitchhike to Maine, I hope that someday I will see without these frames.”

Perky but poor.

Released September 28 by Fader Label.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Satriani Vs Coldplay - dismissed

Guitarist Joe Satriani's law suit against Coldplay for the plagiarism of their 2008 hit 'Viva La Vida', which he claimed had "substantial original portions" lifted from his 2004 hit 'If I Could Fly', has been dismissed from court.

Satriani filed a claim against the band in December 2008 and told website Music Radar: "The second I heard it, I knew it was 'If I Could Fly'." Coldplay completely denied the allegtions and in a band statement said: "If there are any similarities between our two pieces of music, they are entirely coincidental, and just as surprising to us as to him."

Both artists have refused to comment so far but News.justia have reported that the case was dismissed from California Central Distric Court on September 14 'upon stipulation' which suggests that some sort of out of court settlement was made between the two parties.

Cat Stevens also accused the group of plagiarising parts of his song 'Foreigner Sweet' but "forgave" the band by saying that they probably didn't mean to do it and little known Brooklyn band Creaky Boards also claimed Martin had taken the melody for 'Viva La Vida' from their track 'The Songs I Didn't Write'.

There has been a lot of talk and bickering on the subject and it brings to light interesting arguments for and against the case.

For Joe Satriani to take a band of Coldplay's stature this far with court proceedings is a bold move, even if you are a guitar legend. The fact of the matter is this: Yes, there are staggeringly similar sections to each of the songs that are mentioned above, but with a world as musically broad, and a world that is musically huge how can this case be allowed to get so far?

I'm no Coldplay fan and have never so much as entertained the idea of buying their music but the idea that a band this size might think they can get away with stealing songs from Joe Satriani is frankly obsurd.

Music is something that will constantly repeat itself for the rest of our human existence, there will always be songs that sound alike, have the same groove, comparible melodies and are just so fucking similar that thievery will always be suspected. It's a thuggery that has been going on for decades now, and the fact that Satriani has had the balls to get Chris Martin and co into court shows that he was pretty certain that this band had ripped him off, which is just bizarre. Although of course these cases have been won in the past, Velvet Revolver being a fairly recent example.

But just imagine if Rolan Bolan tried to take Oasis down over the 'Cigarettes And Alcohol' riff, or Iggy decided that 'Are You Gonna Be My Girl' was in fact crossing a line that shouldn't be crossed, if Oasis decided to take action on the fact that 'Boulevard Of Broken Dreams' is actually 'Wonderwall's' retarded American cousin, it would be carnage and band wars would be fought.

Bands and artists would be terrified of releasing songs with parallel sounds and vibes with something that may or may not have been invented, basically it comes down to the idea that "I've made something so good that it must have been done before," It's just fucking stupid and any band that can convince a record label to release their stuff these days probably aren't robbing people's songs, just taking their influence and putting it down in their own style, even if it is a little similar.

If bands were not so heavily influenced to those that have preceded them then we would have missed out on some terriffic bands but this will sometimes cross over to a point where one artist feels this influence or particular song is edging a little too close to their own, Joe Satriani in this case, although I personally feel Coldplay's intro sits in a league with the opening credits to Chris Lilley's Aussie mocumentary, Summer Heights High.

Make up your own mind...

Viva La Vida

Jo Hamilton - Pick Me Up

With roots in Kenya, Jamaica and Cambodia amongst others, Jo Hamilton, the wandering highland Scot led the life of a traveller in her childhood.

The classically trained musician (who specializes with the viola) was brought up in a house “two miles from the nearest neighbour” and joined her parents who spent periods in six different countries.

Parts of new single, ‘Pick Me Up’ (taken from debut album, ‘Gown’) reveal the roaming side to her character and the union of computers and soul has rarely been achieved so well.

Hamilton has created something radiant and spiritual with ‘Pick Me Up’, there are psychedelic borders and she has a voice that wisps somewhat faithfully to combine electronica and folk defiantly yet elegantly.

Right on the money.

Released October 10, Poseidon Records.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

JET - Leeds Met University - 12/9/9

People fall in and out of love all the time; it’s no different with bands. When you’re in, you’re untouchable but once the shimmering lights of a dazzling first album leave your horizons to be replaced with the infamous ‘second album syndrome’, it’s easy to be forgotten.

JET lie in a place where they will never lose the diehard side of a loyal fan base but have the uphill task of winning back the doubters and loveless parade of haters who will cast aside latest acquisition ‘Shaka Rock’ into a pile labelled “to be forgotten.”

But even the biggest sceptics would have little bones to pick out of JET as a live band; there is an electricity in the air as the evening is kicked off by Detroit Social Club who are in tantalizing form. Their union of riff heavy and thunderous harmonies reverberates with a glare of spirit and ‘Sunshine People’ gets the gyrating crowd limbered up in sterling style.

As the opening chords of ‘Get Me Outta Here’ ring out and JET take to the stage the venue turns into a sweat box, alive with malice and foreboding and the packed house positively bounces when latest single ‘She’s A Genius’ pops with a ferocity that has been sorely missed.

They play through favourites from ‘Get Born’ and ‘Shine On’ with the set only displaying a sprinkling from their latest offering which shows that JET are unashamed of what got them here and that they still have the nous to give a crowd exactly what they want.

“We haven’t played this song for a while, but it’s got the word ‘yeah’ in 16 times, fuckin count them if you want,” pans Cester as they rip into the opening sequence to ‘Take It Or Leave It’ which is received rapturously before they slow the game down and guitarist Cam Muncey takes the vocals for ‘Come Around Again’ and Cester’s harmonies carry the track to a level that only the lead singer is seemingly capable of doing: he takes on most of the lead guitar work, curls the most larynx shredding screams and sweats to a point where you think he might just disappear.

Disappear is a word that is becoming more and more regular when JET are mentioned but with live shows like this, that get down to your bone and make you remember where it’s from and what it’s for, they’ll always have their place.

Friday, 11 September 2009

JET - Shaka Rock

It’s hard to believe it was six years ago that the highly hyped ‘saviours of rock n roll’, JET, shifted three and a half million copies of their debut album, ‘Get Born’.

They were so refreshingly old but new and done but not finished with an infectious heartbeat that made ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ a dance floor certainty and to this day, a radio regular. The Aussie band grew a diehard fan base due to their calculated brash rock assault, and the fact that they played over two hundred shows in 2003. It took them a lengthy three years to release ‘Shine On’ which never locked onto the same party roll of rock that ‘Get Born’ set them on and it’s taken yet another three years to arrive at album number three.

‘Shaka Rock’ is the work of a band who know exactly where they are and what they are, this isn’t spectacular stuff but its good time rock in fine form. Jet seem refreshed on opener, KIA (Killed In Action) and despite some questionable lyrics (“I went to the market to fill up my heart, now I’m in a coma, state of art”) they swagger in the same way they did before the follow up to their debut.

After mutterings of cliché, constant comparisons and crass judgements, JET are seemingly a band on the brink, with a whole load of critics who lick their lips at the sheer chance to name drop bands from yesteryear in JET's wake whilst thinking how clever they’ll look when ripping this band to pieces. But JET just don’t give a shit, they’re in it for the good time and why not? What is the point in getting lost in a world that wants something 'forward thinking' and becoming an over complicated cynic that takes themselves far too seriously? This isn’t a band that plays to break boundaries but a band that plays in the true spirit of the game they’re in, and that alone wins them affection.

There are miserable moments with ‘Seventeen’, lowering the tone and should be left alone but their balls return for ‘Start The Show’ which closes with Cester’s yowls of “We can roam, rock n soul, you know what time it is to start the show, ladies and gentlemen, we’re ready to go, you know what time it is, start the show” amongst chopped and fuzzed guitars and cow bells with such feedback and stench that last night’s party returns with vivid memories.

‘She’s A Genius’ and ‘Black Hearts (On Fire)’ are notable amongst others as the Melbourne quartet return to rock with soul, just with less of the roll, you’ll love it or hate it but that was always the way with JET.

Released September 7.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Jack White - Fly Farm Blues

As part of a contribution to guitar documentary also featuring The Edge (U2) and the legendary Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) Jack White has released his first solo single.

The documentary, named 'It Might Get Loud', features the three guitar icons talking about their art and ends up with the three collaborating in a massive jam as the film comes to a head.

White's contribution, 'Fly Farm Blues' was written and recorded in all of ten minutes and is just what you would expect from the primitive guitar slinger.

The scratchy tones and fuzz spunked vocals are an exciting blend of mastery and impromptu howls showing why White is at the top of his game, where ever he may be, whoever may be accompanying him.

Monday, 31 August 2009

On the Stereo

1. Oh Brother! Oh Sister! -Skeletons and the Empty Pockets -

2. My Propeller - Arctic Monkeys -

3. Relator - Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson -

4. You're Not Coming Home Tonight - First Aid Kit -

5. Backstreet Lovers - The Crookes -

Top tunes x

Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson - Relator

As unlikely as it seems this collaboration came to fruition a couple of years ago, before Johansson took a walk on the wild side and released her first solo effort, ‘Anywhere I Lay My Head’, a Tom Waits cover album.

The actress laid down the vocals for the duo’s forthcoming album, ‘Break Up’, in just two afternoon sessions after Yorn contacted her after an inspirational dream. The alliance is said to be influenced by Serge Gainsbourg’s 1967 and 1968 albums with Brigitte Bardot.

There is a sweet retro feel about ‘Relator’ which is an acoustic chug drenched in melody with bluesy bursts escaping from a fuzzed out guitar. It’s melodic and the combined vocals work well with Johansson sounding more like a 60s swinger with a bohemian heart beat than a highflying actress with mountains of money while Yorn stamps his trademark crazy lazy vocal over the track leaving a pop rock crooner suitable for all ages.

Album ‘Break Up’ is released September 8 through Atco/Rhino.

The Crookes - The Bowery, Sheffield - 30/8/9

It is bank holiday and everyone’s out. There are orange faces, hitched skirts, numb-skull white shirted pricks chanting at the orange faces and then jumping in front of taxis on Sheffield’s flooded West Street. It’s nice up north and so is the weather but it’s a relief to eventually find solace in new(ish) Monkey bar, The Bowery.

Tonight Sheffield’s own shanty loving quartet The Crookes are the main attraction amongst DJ sessions and colourful cup cakes.

As the band take to the stage there is a moment of calm in the packed bar and people turn and face to see what Steve Lamacq’s “top new band” are all about. It seems they already know as the Crookes open with ‘Yes, Yes, We Are Magicians’ and mouths are silently moving along with the words as the band who named themselves after a suburb of the city they met in swing gently until the they abandon the finger clicks and jerk into life.

They follow up with set highlight, ‘Backstreet Lovers’, which exposes their fragile song writing and gentle approach with a comforting and reminiscent edge that brings romance back to the Bowery for a few short minutes.

The band have the sweetest sound which never threatens to leave their fingertips despite there being a mid-set lull in which the band fall a little too far in love. The guitarists absently follow each other’s fingers up their fret boards and the energy is lost as the ambient chat of the crowd glows ever greater until the band reach set closer, ‘A Colliers Wife’ (“I know there are things you’d like to do but I like wasting time with you.”)

To large cheers and couple of beers the Crookes leave the stage having charmed an intrigued crowd who will undoubtedly seek this band out once more.

‘A Colliers Wife’ is the Crookes debut single and is set to be released with ‘By The Seine’ on September 13 this year. After becoming Steve Lamacq’s favourite new scenesters, being ‘band of the week’ on Radio 6 Music and a catalogue of sun-loving tunes it looks like the Crookes might just live up to their name and steal your heart.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Oasis Split!!

Oasis have sensationally split. Noel Gallagher has announced through the official band website that he quit the band on August 28: "It's with some sadness and great relief to tell you that I quit Oasis tonight, people will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer."

It comes after the Manchester band cancelled their show at Paris' Rock en Seine festival just moments before taking to the stage. The rumours suggest there was some kind of altercation between the two brothers.

The drama follows the band pulling their V Festival performances last weekend due to 'illness' and it looks like the band will never play together again, at least for a long while.

Arctic Monkeys - Humbug

So, on the back of two mighty successful albums, a side project, new bar and bass player, Arctic Monkeys have made it to album number three. There has been much talk about the Sheffield quartet’s third long player, whether they can once again crack their crooked tunes to the top of the musical tree, where they’ll be headed and if they can live up to their own much lauded super status.

Second album, ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’, was released almost exactly a year after debut ‘Whatever people Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ and saw the band shift ever so slightly from their Sheffield roots to take a more knowing approach despite displaying their spiky punk funk in the same manner.

Alex Turner has had a bit of fun with his mate Miles Kane and the two produced Last Shadow Puppets while Matt Helders was one of the three main spear heads in the creation of Sheffield’s Tramlines festival amongst other projects and collaborations such as Mongrel with Drew McConnell from Babyshambles and Rev. John McClure.

Once the band regrouped they made way to the Mojave Desert and Los Angeles to record ‘Humbug’ which has been largely produced by Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme. It seems leaving their place of origin has inspired the band to move far away from their original inner city routes roots of riotous street poetry to create something that seems all the more expressive and perceptive when compared with the stuff that got them here.

From the haunting melodies of ‘My Propeller’ and ‘Secret Door’ to the incandescent chorus and spider infested guitar amp creep of preceding single ‘Crying Lightning’ (“and I love that little game you had called, Crying Lightning”) the band show how much they’ve progressed. The backing vocal hooks wrap you round their little fingers and Turner’s raconteur approach is more thoughtful and romantic than before, his voice has dropped and his Yorkshire twang lies beneath a bubbling surface to create a darker impact on his story telling.

Standout moments include ‘Cornerstone’, a romantic tale in which Turner croons “I thought I saw you in The Rusty Hook, huddled up in a wicker chair. I wandered over for a closer look and kissed whoever was sitting there” before penultimate tune ‘Pretty Visitors’ kicks up a stink as they return to their fast paced aggressive attack: “What came first the chicken or the dick head?!” to show they’ve still got the bite that brought Glastonbury to its knees.

Friday, 28 August 2009


There has been lots going on this week, what with the end of V Fetival and Oasis' most disappointing no-show due to illness. A few mild mannered covers were never going to make up for the Manchester band's absence and has led to questions over their future which have seemingly be hushed with Liam's sister-in-law,
Nicole Appleton, claiming "Oasis will die before they split up."

Bob Dylan has finally revealed he will release a Christmas album called 'Christmas In The Heart' with the proceeds charity Feed America.
The singer songwriter also revealed he may become the voice for a Sat Nav on his BBC radio show.

Beardo bluesman Seasick Steve has announced that his follow up to 2008's 'Started Out With Nothin And I Still Got Most Of It Left' on October 19. 'Man From Another Time' is recorded in the same fashion as his previous record and produced in analogue rather than your typical up-to-date digital sounds.

Linkin Park, Mark Ronson and Justin Timberlake are all set to feature on a new Kings of Leon remix album with songs spanning their career.

Them Crooked Vultures made their much anticipated live UK debut on August 26 supporting Arctic Monkeys at London's O2 Academy playing tunes such as 'Elephant' and 'Nobody Love Me And Neither Do I'.

Former Arctic Monkey, Andy Nicholson, has joined ex Milburn member Joe Carnall's Joe Carnall and the Bookclub along with other ex Milburn members Louis Carnall and Tom Green.

Despite the many ridiculous arguments for and against, it looks like flags won't be banned from Glastonbury next year....

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Simian Mobile Disco - Temporary Pleasure

When the ashes of Simian collected to form Simian Mobile Disco in 2005 there was an excitement in the air. Their under achieving first outfit lacked cutting edge despite producing the excellent ‘Here It Comes’ and have since been making their new projects work for them with serious vengeance.

The DJing/production duo gained acclaim for their remixes, including Muse, Air, Armand Van Helden, The Kills and The Go! Team and were known to make dance music for the indie kids as their blip-bop electro tripped and kicked to funky beats.

‘Temporary Pleasure’ is their second studio album and comes two years after their first, ‘Attack Decay Sustain Release’ and the two records have sandwiched a live album (‘Live In Japan’) and a remix album (‘Sample And Hold’.)

There are many notable collaborations that the duo have brought in for their second effort including face, belly and mouth the Gossip, Beth Ditto, and band whore Gruff Rhys but despite this, Simian Mobile Disco have created something isolated and soulless.

Despite high profile work with the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Mystery Jets they’ve failed to grab inspiration and move into something with a bit more substance as the album follows the same tact throughout with little to separate its mindless synth and sloth like chug than a few noteworthy melodies.

‘Cream Dream’ stands out in a colourful, glow stick-clad crowd as Gruff Rhys’ floaty vocal opens on a pleasant pop note: “She was a recreational, motivational, inspirational sun. An international, theoretical experiment that didn’t go wrong,” and lead single ‘Audacity Of Huge’ (feat. Chris Keater) has huge dance floor grooves.

Beth Ditto then stamps her trademark yowl onto ‘Cruel Intentions’ before the album starts to fall away in a predictable, monotonous manner.

To be fair (and we must be fair) it’s pleasant in the right context and there are dance floor fillers hidden amongst the continued 80s electro revival, it’s just laden with a continuous synth drawl that begs your ears to bleed if you’re going to listen to it as a whole. Of course, this might be what they want...

Friday, 21 August 2009

The Dø

Having formed in 2007, this French/Finnish duo wave goodbye to consistent, one way sounds to create a genre-flitting bank of romance.

Having met while recording music for the film ‘Empire of Wolves’, Dan Levy and Olivia Merilahti have a taste for the strange and their sound throws instruments, sounds and chants into a very complicated, yet beautifully simple equation.

The Dø (pronounced dough) have a fresh sound that vibrates between softly sung (in English, not French) melodies to chugging clean guitars and simple beats (‘Bridge Is Broken’) before transforming into a chanting vibe of noise lurching into alternative indie hip hop with a funky street vibe to it (‘Queen dot Kong’).

The band released their debut album, ‘A Mouthful’, in January 2008 and still collaborate for films, most notably, 'The Passenger'. They also feature on the current UK television advert for Oxford Stationary.

During the pretty pop swing of ‘Stay’, Merilahti beautifully (and she is beautiful) croons “stay just a little bit more, don’t let my heart turn heart turn sore” with understated strings and the shanty sway of a battered beach guitar before she lowers the tone with an innocently executed whisper: “coz all the lazy boy could do was run, then I knew for sure, that he would never be the satisfying shag I needed.”

The kind of stuff dreams are made of.

Them Crooked Vultures reveal studio footage

New supergroup, Them Crooked Vultures, have revealed more about their exciting new project with a new video clip of them in studio. The clip features an instrumental snippet of riff heavy 'Nobody Love Me And Neither Do I'.

Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and John Paul Jones of Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stoneage and Led Zeppelin respectively, are rumoured to be playing in the UK soon after their recent performance on August 19 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Dan Arborise - You'll All Get What's Coming To You

There’s a twinkle in Dan Arborise’s song writing that can be found in few other places.

The well travelled finger picking extremist (born in Borneo to Polish parents with a childhood spent travelling across much of Europe and Africa), has a charm and dreamy wisp to his sound and translates his inspiration of open country side and detachment from the urban savannah of city life into open and intimate songs.

Taken from the album, ‘Of Tide And Trail’, ‘You’ll All Get What’s Coming To You’ is an ethereal and evocative blend of acoustic mastery and Arborise has his finger on the pulse, even if he is off the beaten track of mainstream folk.

B-side, ‘Cries’ carries the same finesse releasing a more spaced side to Arborise as his lazy vocals are carried by yearning guitars and yet more finger picking swaggery.

Released August 17 through Just Music.

First Aid Kit

Swedish sisterly duo, First Aid Kit, are a revelation. Johanna and Klara Söderburg, aged 19 and 16 respectively, claim this is music for the heart, not for the charts. They’re damn right and their charming dreamy ideals do nothing but make these young ladies dazzle amongst their heartfelt folk harmonies.

They’ve taken Sweden by storm and are about to embark on UK tours with fellow quirky folksters Slow Club and Fanfarlo to display their blissfully simple tunes that are so plain and honest in their delivery making them as infectious as a good bout of swine.

‘You’re Not Coming Home Tonight’ rings along with perfect precision as the girls aptly exhibit their bucket load of raw talent as they sing “the ship is sailing, I’ll meet you on the other side, the future’s unclear but hopefully it will be fine.”

September dates:

End of the Road Festival – Dorset – 12/9/9
Cavern Club – Exeter – 15/9/9
Joiners – Southampton – 16/9/9
Barfly – Cardiff – 17/9/9
The Loft – Maidstone – 18/9/9
Guildhall – Gloucester – 19/9/9
Deaf Institute – Manchester – 28/9/9
Fibbers – York – 29/9/9
ABC2 – Glasgow – 30/9/9

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

FREE EELS - Happy days are here again

Eels have announced details of a free, five track EP through their website.

Band leader, E, recorded the session as part of Myspace Transmission Sessions and sees the charismatic singer going solo on piano and guitar for tunes such as "The Look You Give That Guy" from recent album, 'Hombre Lobo' and 'Beautiful Freak' classic, 'My Beloved Monster'.

The complete session (six songs) will be released as a 12" vinyl on September 1.


'In My Dreams'
'Tremendous Dynamite'
'My Beloved Monster'
'The Look You Give That Guy'
'Girl From The North Country'

Gomez announce UK tour dates

To follow up their most recent album, 'A New Tide', Gomez have announced a series of live dates throughout the UK during the winter period.

The band have somewhat slipped off the radar in recent years despite a tour last year to mark the 10 year anniversary of their Mercury Prize winning album,'Bring It On', playing tracks only from the 1998 release.

The tour starts at Coventry's Kasbah on November 14 and will come to head in Edinburgh, at the Queen's Hall on November 27.

Full schedule:

Coventry Kasbah - November 14
Northampton Roadmenders - 15
Brighton Corn Exchange - 16
Southampton University - 17
Exeter Lemon Grove - 19
London Troxy - 20
Sheffield Plug - 24
Whitehaven Civic Hall - 25
Edinburgh Queens Hall - 27

Weezer reveal dates for new album and single

American Geek Rockers, Weezer, have announced that they're releasing their seventh studio album in October this year.

A statement from their website reads: "People its official: Weezer's upcoming 7th studio album (title, details, etc to be announced) is set for release October 27th, 2009!...And the first single off the album is titled "(If you're wondering if I want you to) I want you to" and it comes out on August 25th!"

The song has already had mixed reviews from hardcore fans but displays the same ethos the band have always followed, a distinct pop twinge with a punky edge and the obvious sing-along traits.

In addition to the news the band have revealed that singer Rivers Cuomo will make a special appearance for the 'Athletes for Africa Charity Soccer Tournament' the day before their next tour starts on August 22 in Toronto.

Myspace Watch - Skeletons and the Empty Pockets

A ruckus is going down and Skeletons are the cause.

Having met at a karate lesson “many years ago” this concoction of rock n roll and sing-along chorus’ chops through airwaves with an aggressive undertone showing that these boys have got some intent.

Debut single, ‘Oh Brother! Oh Sister’ is an assault on your ears as they rip through a colossal chorus: “Oooooh brother! Bring on the bad weather. Oooooh sister, pull yourself together, let me go, oh baby let me go” through cruising guitars, tapping keys and kicking drums.

You can feel their pop influences creeping into their tunes despite their dominating slap-dash rock approach and it becomes more apparent on demo ‘Pack The Suitcase’ which bops along amiably until you reach another chorus of large proportions: “So please please please, let me be, let me show you the way.”

Monday, 17 August 2009

Missing - The Vines

Needing little introduction, The Vines strolled somewhat scattily into 2002 clad with their debut album, ‘Highly Evolved’, to the whole world’s pleasure. They were named as the ‘new Nirvana’ and lauded over like the new kings of rock n roll and are arguably a band that have been destroyed by their own hype.

With their fourth studio album, ‘Melodia’ released somewhat quietly in October 2008 the Vines have been hushed since front man and songwriter, Craig Nicholls, was diagnosed Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism where sufferers show significant difficulties with social interaction.

Known for their energetic, inconsistent and destructive live performances, The Vines were somewhat unpredictable on every front. They gathered a global following and had chart hits with ‘Get Free’ and ‘Outtathaway’ in between unpredictable television appearances on ‘Later... With Jools Holland’ and on Lettermen’s well known US chat show.

The difference between outrageous and plain shambolic was dictated by Nicholls’ mood, whether he had had a satisfactory bong hit or whether a McDonald’s was close by but when the troubled singer was in the right frame of mind, they were almost untouchable. The rest of the quartet followed their front man’s schizophrenic vocal, moving from fast to slow effortlessly and kicking the shit out of their feedback-ridden instruments.

It seems the reason The Vines have slipped out of the limelight is largely due to their singer’s ill health. During the tour supporting their second album, ‘Winning Days’ (which despite the hit ‘Ride’ was not received as well as their debut) the band reached boiling point and an on stage ruckus prompted founding member and long time friend of Nicholls, Patrick Matthews, to leave the band.

With his departure creating a bassist size void in the group they rather quickly announced that the band was on hiatus. It was during this period that Craig Nicholls’ condition was diagnosed. This was followed by the news that the band would never resume a “normal touring schedule” but The Vines would remain a band nonetheless and still record (an activity Nicholls preferred to touring.)

The band stayed true to their word and in 2006 ‘Vision Valley’ was released (bass duty was taken by Andy Kent of You Am I) and The Vines returned to the stage with their new bassist Brad Heald. Their third effort showed glimpses of their earlier spangled rock n roll (‘Anysound’, ‘Don’t Listen To The Radio’) but rarely crossed the lines their previous successes.

After several live appearances from then on and with the release of their fourth album, The Vines are still very much here, they’ve just been hiding in the eye of their own storm. While they will never return to the, dare I say, genius of their first album, they’re still churning out fast and furious rockers with the angst filled squawk of Nicholls still having as much charge as his airy, floating and impudent harmonies.

Friday, 14 August 2009

The Wallbirds

With their new album said to be completed and on its way, television airplay and some seriously gritty gigs under their belt, The Wallbirds’ ambiguous folk pop is about to turn heads.

The three-piece who hail from Doncaster formed in 2007 and have since become well known for their live shows and simplistic approach. With live tours with Pigeon Detectives, Air Traffic and One Night Only already under their belts, this is a band who will be looking to broaden their horizons over the coming months.

This is a lovable group built upon ramshackle folk blues roots and they swing in a way no other band does which doesn’t necessarily fit in with what our current fad-ridden society may demand. Some may compare Walt ‘Wallbird’ Lindley’s croaking vocals to a younger Dylan but those people should hang their heads out of a window in shame...and then jump. This band are about a lot more than obvious comparisons and 70s swing and they emphasise this quality through their balladry and spirit to create a unclean country Motown sound.

Using a host of vintage recording equipment to create their carefully constructed retro sway, the Wallbirds recorded their debut album, rumoured to be called ‘Changes With The Moon’, in a variety of places including London, Lincolnshire and Glasgow before jetting off to LA to mix their first long player with legendary rock producer Bob Clearmountain (Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams).

Having won a round of well known plaudits including Terry Wogan, Chris Evans and Janice Long the band have announced a few live dates for the end of the year, a list they say they’re going to add to.

The band’s first self titled EP held the album title, ‘Changes With The Moon’ amongst others including ‘8 O’Clock Blues’ (“long to sing you a lullaby, but your breath smells just like booze”) and their debut single ‘The Avenue’ was a joyous folk blast which landed them their first television appearance on Manchester's ‘Channel M’ on the 'City Centre Social Show' last January. This has recently been followed up by their new single ‘Lying By The Side Of You’ being featured on popular Channel 4 soap, ‘Hollyoaks’.

Live dates to watch out for:
8 Oct – Kings College – London
12 Nov – King Tuts – Glasgow
14 Nov – The Priory – Doncaster
21 Nov – Fat Sams - Dundee

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The Victorian Gentlemens Club - Watching the Burglars

This is jungle music for the city dwellers. The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, known for their disjointed art-rockin ramblings, try to make you hate them in every way but win you over with their haphazard hybrid of noise.

With a reshuffled line up (they’ve expanded from a three piece to a four) and after a significant absence, the band have retained their unique all over the place sound and “I’ll do what the fuck I want” attitude.

Taken from their new album, ‘Love On An Oil Rig’, ‘Watching The Burglars’ is a scatty and audacious romp of new wave sounds and backwards pop ideals to charm and harm as they ring “fire, ice and everything they throw at you” in a chorus that has way more punch than Judy.

Released 10/8/9 and new album, ‘Love On An Oil Rig’ released 7/9/9 through This Is Fake DIY Records.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Motion Picture Soundtrack - Departure

From ‘the heart of the garden of England’ (Canterbury) come Motion Picture Soundtrack and their new EP, ‘Departure’.

Over the last 18 months these perfectionists of euphoric pop have been working on their debut album, ‘The Shapes We Fear Are Our Own’, in Copenhagen, London and the US, grafting with the likes of Hugh Jones (I Am Kloot), Dan Austin (Doves, Massive Attack) and Bob Ludwig (Radiohead).

Title track of this three song EP, ‘Departure’, reveals a dark sound and a theatrical feel with soaring melodies and heartbroken lyrics (“I feel your love every time I rewind) perfectly displaying the sonic energies this band are becoming known for.

The problem is that it isn’t fantastically futuristic enough to get you in a sticky mess and by the time ‘Faults Of A Realist’ gets into full flow you’ve had your fill and after a few more listens it merges into an over indulgent and over produced bag of epic mediocrity.

Released 7/9/9

Kings of Leon set to feature in London exhibition

Coming off the back of the success of 'Only By The Night', NME have reported that rare photographs of Kings of Leon will be on display in Camden's Proud Gallery.

The exhibition, named 'Kings of Leon: 10 Year Reign', is comprised of photographs taken by NME's Jo McCaughey will be on display from October 22 to December and photographs from all of the bands career will be shown.

Entry will be free.

Jackson's post mortem results kept secret

The results of Michael Jackson's post mortem are to be kept sealed until the Los Angeles Police Department have finished their investigations into the singers death.

Dr Conrad Murray, who was Jackson's personal doctor and was with him at the time of his death is at the centre of a manslaughter investigation and BBC News has reported that toxicology reports have been completed and are expected to show that the King of Pop had medication in his system at the time of his death.

In other Jackson news, a film documenting the rehearsals for the singers ill fated 'This Is It' comeback will be shown in cinemas around the world from October 28.

The project has been given full support from Jackson's estate and will also feature behind-the-scenes footage.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Black Box Revelation - I Think I Like You

Whoever says rock n roll is dead, ever, is a total prick.

Two-piece dirtsters The Black Box Revelation play infectious dirty rock in a catchy world where power chords rule all and less is always, always more.

Coming off the back of a tour with Eagles of Death Metal, ‘I Think I Like You’, plays on the dancing shoes as this belligerent Brussels duo roll into a blues based stomp before singer/guitarist Jan Paternoster lets rip: “There’s something and it makes me smile, I think I like you, there’s something burning in my mind, I think I like you.”

For the believers.

Released August 10 through T4Tunes.