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.