Archive for April, 2007

Monthly Mixtapes: April 2007

My Mixtape

Rather influenced by this months great gigs…

Mixtape#4 - April 07

1, Motion City Soundtrack – This Is For Real … Awesome track premiered at Give it a Name 07′, Sounds like the new albums gonna be a classic!!
2, The Holloways – Generator … Always raises a Smile!! What a great infectious song to kick start the premature summer
3, Bloc Party – Hunting For Witches … Another great track from these talented dance rockers.
4, The Aliens – Setting Sun … Great single from the Beta Band re-incarnation
5, I Am Ghost – Our Friend Lazarus … Post Hardcore Gothic goodness from this Epitaph signed meld of Opeth, Avenged Sevenfold and My Chemical Romance.
6, The Maccabees – X-Ray … Best from a lacklustre set in Southend
7, Battles – Atlas … The Smurf army’s on manouvers ready to take out the Evil Gargomel!!
8, Biffy Clyro – Glitter & Trauma … Mould Breaking prog barons came out flying at Brixton Academy
9, Arctic Monkeys – Brianstorm … Rolling with the Skuzz and Fuzz on trailblazing new single
10, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Took Out A Loan … Back to the roots of their debut album
11, The Bishops – Breakaway … Short sweet addictive retro melodies
12, The Hedrons – I Need You … Girl Power is back with these foxy punkers
13, All American Rejects – Move Along … Mega Catchy, bound to be big for the summer!!
14, Milburn – Lipstick Licking … Southend worshipped these ska inflicted pop rockers
15, The Pink Spiders – Modern Swinger … Pop Punk Anthem of the Month!! Great lyrics too!!

Seafront Kids Ahoy!

The Maccabees, Red Track, Caleb @ Chinnerys, Southend, Essex
12th May 2007

After a slight delays with work, trains and tickets I found myself on Southend seafront rather late, not to say that I actually missed anything however. Chinnerys is another a venue much along the lines of the excellent Concord2 in Brighton. Like Concord it’s right opposite the sea, small capacity, built under the road above, but it also inherited the incredibly annoying support poles right in your line of sight.

So to band #1 and Caleb. These were a dreamy trio of shoegaze soundscopic bongo drumming acoustic slingers looking like a pair of tree huggers and their foxy friend. The female lead vocals were strong but ultimately pointless, as the dreamy sounds put half the ‘indie scenester’ crowd into a hypnotic stare. I actually didn’t think they were that bad myself, some interesting melodies and song structures. However they and their bill bailey look-alike bongo basher, should try plying their trade more at a certain medieval stone formation to get a really attentive crowd assembled.

Red Track is a band who fully justified the 16+ age on the door, as they probably wouldn’t have been let in otherwise. These teenage tearaways follow the current indie formula that has worn off for me of late, but these kids weren’t bad. Vocally the singer/guitarist sound like a Californian pop-punker who has taken up residence in Essex. Still they need an extra dimension to make a splash in the endless sea of new uk indie bands, a dedicated lead guitarist would help. At least the sprightly crowd sparked into life.

It was the turn of Brighton based The Maccabees to make their appearance and they got straight on with playing exact replicas of tracks from their forthcoming album, Colour It In. The lack of a live spark was evident early set, but I was kept amused by the lead guitarist who looked like a stoned Frodo Baggins. The spark was finally ignited after a couple of mellow introvert tracks which sounded raw and honest. From here they found their feet and played a couple of great tracks including X-Ray which finished off the set in blistering fashion. With no encore I was left thinking of what might have been an excellent gig rather than the distinctly ordinary one it was.

Brandon Benson @ The Wedge

Brandon Benson @ The Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
April 2005

Another week another gig, this time it’s in Pompy, Mr Flowers current home town. The Wedgewood Rooms the venue, and we managed to find it without marching in circles. The venue itself was small and intimate which was really good, could only have been 50 Ft Sq including stage. First of the warmup acts were Psychid. These were poor, boring with ereie vocals and no catchy hooks or anything. The skinhead bass player sang like a chipmunk and the hippie lead singer was trying to act stoned when he clearly wasn’t. Back to the bar we headed :)

Onto a more cheerier note, Hal appeared to raise the spirits of the crowd. They had perfect pop hooks and melodies, with a great singer with a super voice, even managed a falsetto in there too. These 2 brothers from Ireland were very good and had the melodies and musical sound of their fellow countrymen The Thrills. Although these guys varied the formula and with the strong vocals, produced a super performance.

Finally the headliner Brandon Benson struts onto stage with his band in tow. Even though he is relatively new to my ears, it strikes you that he is an accomplised artist and get straight on with some perfectly crafted pop/rock tunes. The first half follows in this fashion with a strong but emotional voice the songs were met with rapturous applauses.
It was towards the end of the set when he really turned the screw and played some corkers from his new album, ‘Spit It Out’ being my personal favourite. These more upbeat and rocky numbers were excellent and had most singing and dancing along. He was very accomplished, after working with jack white i can see his experience counts for something. As far as an Indie Rock night went, it never got started. But in terms of feel good tunes, performance and smooth Rock/Pop hooks and riffs, it was faultless.

Work, Work, Work ( Pub, Rakes, Sleep )

The Rakes, The Holloways, We Start Fires, Some Random Guy With A Guitar @ Brixton Academy
31st March 2007

The evenings music lineup started early with the newly dubbed “Some Random Guy With A Guitar” who could not sing or play guitar, god knows how he wangled his way onto the brixton stage. Thankfully “hot” on his “heels” were a girl fronted band called …We Start Fires. Their spiky dance punk sound was upbeat, enthusiastic and full of funky attitude. But they were not the greatest vocally and they didn’t seem to be having much fun, for they were mainly static on stage and lacked the energy to get the crowd going.

we start fires

The Holloways were up next and ’static’ doesn’t even enter into their vocabulary. In fact neither does ‘dress sense’ or ‘bland’ upon sighting the lead singers matching pink outfit topped with bowler hat. Their debut album ‘This is Great Britain’ was arguably one of the best of last years uk indie crop, with a great pop/ska edged rock and roll. Add this to their youthful lust for the stage, clever lyrics and catchy melodies and you have a superb band! This four piece remind me of a young and precocious ordinary boys, bold, brash and brilliant. Their crowning glory and starting point for any new fans is the sublime track “Generator”, with Ska stamped all over it’s quirky simple lyrics are easy to pick up and as the speed picks up so does the life and energy of this evenings crowd.

The Holloways

The Rakes rode the high created by The Holloways as they opened the set with Terror! But soon after this initial flourish of danceable punk, the pace slowed as they played tracks from their latest LP. I’d be lying if i said they were fantastic, with the best of the bunch being ‘We Danced Together‘ a track very close to the original albums dancy ethic. These new album tracks have a very different feel to them and maybe it’s their maturing sound, but it could also just be laziness or complacency. Its a good thing their first album was such a cracker, throwing in classics like the 2 minute furious freakout of 22 Grand Job and Strasbourg kept raising the atmosphere skywards.

The Rakes

Ok, music aside for a moment I cannot let the fact that Alan Donohoe’s dancing technique is about as coordinated as a chimp on speed. Madly throwing arms in each every direction as if he was herding cats, he maintained a smile on everyone’s face throughout. Somehow strangely his technique is mimicked almost perfectly by hundreds of callow club going teenagers every fri night in Romford.

The Rakes

Back to the encore and after welcoming a special guest to rap on Suspicious eyes to good effect. By this point the crowd were itching for the white collar classic (…well i was at least) and they duly delivered. “Work,Work,Work (Pub,Club,Sleep)” sounded great and as fresh as ever with endless energy and working class spirit. Even though the Rakes aren’t probably working class anymore they still pulled of a sterling job of connecting with the people of brixton, albeit being through some comical dancing, but this was a good evenings entertainment of which I thoroughly enjoyed and reveled in.

Now here’s the moon, It’s alright! (Lies, Lies)

Arcade Fire, Electrelane @ Brixton Academy, Brixton, London
St. Paddys Day 2007

It’s St. Paddys, Rachel has come down from t’up north to enjoy the fun in London town. So what is there to do on Paddys Day in london you ask? hmm… certainly not drink thats for sure, pretty much every pub in the west end was bursting out into the streets in huge green waves of drunkeness. So after meeting with Mr Flowers we relocated to the ‘less busy’ Clapham high street and SW4 to watch England rugby team take a kicking from the Welsh and a few festive sorrow drowning Guinness’s.

Brixton Academy

Onward to Brixton and we had timed it almost ideally to miss most of the quite monotonous, ‘atmospheric’ noises of opening act electrelane. Nothing of note here, a few random mumblings were the only vocals to speak of and the concept of ‘melody’ was alien to them. Not really for me, but would draw a nice crowd at an art college!

Arcade Fire

Suddenly a sea of humanity swept over the stage as the small army of the Arcade Fire set about entertaining the enthusiastic capacity crowd. They launched immediatly into their latest single “Keep the Car Running” and after 30 seconds of their amazing sound, they had already proven how fantastic their live perfoamances are. Amazingly each of the 10 members all switched instruments after each track, goes to show thier talent as musicians. Most impressive was a cutesy female backing vocalist whio moved from vocals to accordian to organ to drums to keyboard, not bad I suppose. With all this chopping and changing, for some reason I was always counting the members, just incase another few have sneaked on. The orchestrations were superb and songs from their latest album ‘Neon Bible’ stood up well against their original work.

Arcade Fire

With the new album only been released for a week or so, everyone there tonight was waiting for the highlight reel of Funeral. Not to disappoint we were treated to them all, Laika, Tunnels, Wake Up sparked a thunderous ahhhhh-a-long, and Rebellion Lies had the venue shuddering under the force of the bouncing crowd. This wasnt a huge singaalong gig, more of a hum-a-long, but nonetheless just as enjoyable. Not having the crunch of a Marshall backed Gibson Les Paul didnt seem to matter this evening as this canadian troop pushed the boundarys of orchestral indie music to new levels. The show was afar from my usual live music tastes, but this is no ordinary band and it was goooooooood!

Arcade Fire

The Answer ‘is’ Rock

The Answer, Winnebago Deal @ Bloomsbury Ballroom, Holborn, London,
9th March

For the second time in recent months I head to catch one of my favorite bands who produced my #4 album of 2006 Rise. First time I saw these guys was on a three way spilt (oooh..er) let the good times roll tour with Roadstar and Rose Hill Drive. Tonight was a huge leap from the West End in the confinds of the Mean Fiddler, to this impressive Art Deco Ballroom in the city. tonight’s accomplice is a budding electronic Blipping and Beeping DJ Semephor aka Saff who was a live gig virgin (oooh..er).

After stumbling into what seemed to be the pre-gig drinking hole of choice and drinking alongside a Bryan May look-alike, we trotted over intending to be fashionably late. Somehow this was totally upended by the huge queue which stretched back half way round the building! The Answer have definitely gone up in the world since their last visit to the capital. Once inside you could instantly tell this was not your grotty little palace of rock and roll folklore, but more accustomed to fleet footed waltzers and socialite courting. The impressive ballroom itself was large well decorated and had an extremely funky modern bar area out back. From here it went downhill. Take this calculation, 500+ Answer fans + 8 feet of bar + 8 bar staff + bottled beer poured into plastic cups = a mob of angry, thirsty and sober fans (not a great combination).

After resigning to the fact that 1 beer is all I was getting, we headed to witness the opening band Winnebago Deal. Now first thing which hit home with this band was, how on earth are those two making such an incredible racket! They were brash, bold loud and angsty with throat shredding vocals and stomping drumbeats all lathered with metal riffage. Their set was full of teenage riotus energy and in the right arena (Mean Fiddler) with the right crowd (Teen Punkers) would totally kick ass! Surprisingly, this wasn’t quite their night, but you could see the talent and mind blowing awesomeness ready to burst onto the rock scene!

The Answer

Anticipation had reached fever pitch and the crowd stretched way back as The Answer took to the stage. They quickly fired in some classics from their debut LP Rise as floors started to shudder under the immense of the dirty blues rock! The lead singer, a Robert Plant look-alike, once again blew me away again with his superb rough and ready classic rock vocals. It wasn’t just the all out guitar assaults which formed the highlights of the set for me this time out. The slower moody blues tracks of “Memphis water” with its extensive vamping and the religious choral melody of Preachin’ were especially fantastic. The Answer also previewed a few ‘in progress’ tracks, these sounded great, they had all the cornerstones of the Answers sound in place, simple heavy blues riffs, the raw vocals, thumping bass and those awesome guitar solo’s. One new track was untitled thus far and the singer even invited the crowd to send in suggestions to the website, true fan interaction.

The Answer

Closing the set was a breathtaking rendition of the pinnacle of their craft Under The Sky, which was , StupendoFantastiCollosUltIncRockable. It was during this I turned and realized that Saff was enjoying this as much as I was, all we needed was some longer hair and we would have been in prime hard rock nostalgia mode. As if this wasn’t enough for one night they pulled out an inspired true to the original cover version of Aerosmith’s signature tune, Sweet Emotion (no guesses on whose supporting Aerosmith this summer).

The Answer

Again I cannot stress enough my love of this band and going on tonight’s show they have opened another branch of the Answer fanbase and definitely shown Saff the way of the rock and roll. Will he be dropping the electro beats laptop and picking up a guitar soon? That definitely remains to be seen, but in the meantime an education in rock was lectured here this evening, and The Answers faithful were witness to another show of greatness. As Bon Scott once shouted loud and proud, ‘Its a long way to the top (if you want to rock and roll)’ and these guys are destined for the very very highest.