Archive for May, 2010
Plenty of great albums were released this month and we here at DiR.net have picked the best of the bunch to bring to you in a handy Spotify playlist! The widest variety of music in one playlist your likely to find!
Listen now >>> DoesItRock.net – May 10 Mix
1) Coheed & Cambria – Here We Are Juggernaut … C&C’s prog goodness has been ramped up with this plundering bass heavy tune.
2) Still Flyin’– Good Thing It’s A Ghost Town Around Here ... Abundance of supremely jubilant pop music from this Frisco collective. One of the higlights of ATP.
3) Tubelord – Night Of Pencils … Dananananaykroyd had better watch their backs as Tubelord are after their alt-pop crown.
4) Spiral Stairs – True Love … Started the ATP weekend on a high, the sing-a-long baby cries are especially distinctive.
5) Meatloaf – Love Is Not Real … Put guitar legends Vai, Hawkins and May together with rocks most rotund ambassador and you have a flair happy, riffing epic. DiR? Review
6) MGMT – Brian Eno … The bright spark of a disappointing MGMT release DiR? Review
7) The Hold Steady – Soft In The Centre … A rockier outlook from The Hold Steady on their latest album. DiR? Review
8) Danko Jones – Tonight Is Fine …Danko are back to rock with their bluesy hard rock and roll with macho power and squealing guitars
9) Free Energy – Bang Pop … Rock with a 70’s sheen, produced by LCD man James Murphy.
10)The Futureheads – Heartbeat Song … Quirky norther rockers are back with a cracking little album, reminding us why mid 00’s brit-rock was so loved.
10) Joe Bonamassa – Steal Your Heart Away … Blues virtuoso JB is here to croon his way into your blues affections
11) The Glitterati – Fight Fight Fight … Hard rockers The Glitterati return after years in the abyss, stonking man rock incoming!
12) What Would Jesus Drive – Black & Blue … Youthful exhuberance aplenty on the debut album from this girl/boy vocalled band.
13) Bullet For My Valentine – The Last Fight … Welsh metallers return with a new album, moving further towards mainstream acceptance with this tune.
14) Band Of Horses – Compliments … Band of Horses have gone pop! Thrown out their softl indie-ness, with cracking tunes like this could soon be hitting the big time.
15) The Plight – Ball & Chain … This rocky guitar number is the backing tune to the next lucozade advert! The Plight are set to play Download Festival next month.
After an almighty fry-up, 3 non-stop hours of Scrapheap challenge and a bus ride from hell we stumbled back into the Roundhouse to pick up the schedule for day two of the Camden Crawl 2010. After learning from our experience the day before. We felt wiser and at ease glancing over the running order while tucking into some street food delights courtesy of Camden Market. Those Emu Burgers, Seafood Paellas, Samosas, Chow Meins, Tagine’s and Argentinian steak burgers had no chance while we were around!
Refueled ready for a long day ahead we set sail for the Outdoor stage ignoring the bitterly cold wind and the radiating warmth of the pubs. It was a pleasant surprise to find out the trip was worthwhile as we were greeted by the lively Electro Dance duo Dan le Sac & Scroopious Pip.
Dan le Sac & Scroopious Pip
These guys really brightened up the cold air and got people moving with their club friendly grooves. Although we were all a bit too chilly to party like its 1999 it was an energetic enough to encourage us to check out their set later in the evening.
One of the most intense and insane live bands I’ve ever seen were at it again on the outdoor stage as we approached, post our failure to win comedy sunglasses and an assortment of condiments at rock’n’roll bingo. These guys music can be described as a trainwreck of alternative metal ideas warped with a keyboard twist. Its brash and heavy while guitars are massively complex and slightly jazzy. Where they fail is their vocals. Their firecracker young singer, who despite being a cutesy looking girl suddenly screams nonsense with menace in her eyes, making much of the set inaccessible to most of the crowd. Their new material however brings a more electro vibe and with more angelic clean vocals this could be a turn around for these young kids.
Post having our ears pummeled by Rolo we headed up, somewhat bitterly to the Roundhouse. This is because despite paying for your ticket to the festival, what organizers leave in the small print is the fact you need to buy ‘supplement’ tickets in order to see the festival headliners! What a scam! At £7 a go and 2 headline slots per night, you could end up paying an extra £28 to see bands you thought would see for free. Anything to get more money out of the gig going public!
Good job then that standing in the historic roundhouse that the next band up made the entry fee worthwhile. These Welsh post-harcdore titans played a highly charged set of big riffings, semi-screamed-semi-rapped vocals, epic choruses and all round loud fun!
Their duelling lead singers were pinballing about stage and only broke off to ply some comical between song banter. Crowd participation was high on their agenda leading sing-a-longs to their ballads (Save Our Selves, Top Of The World) and sparking mospits on STFUppercut & Said & Done.
During a mid-song interlude the crowd were instructed to all crouch down…nearly everyone obliged, a rare feat. When the power chords struck the telling bar, thousands of people leaping into the air was a sight to behold. This was a highly entertaining set from a band who have risen to the top fast, on performances like this you can see why.
Winner of the most popular Welsh post-hardcore band though has to go to the next band this evening, LostProphets. Their uncanny knack for writing cracking pop rock tunes which are at equally at ease on the radio as they are in the mosh pits. With a huge arsenal of hits they were firing them off at all angles to the constant pleasure of the crowd. Musically they were great and you can’t fault the songs, yet I expected more.
Having seen them at Reading festival in 2007, they were the welsh band pulling the crowd interaction stunts. Their connection with their audience was not ideal but with the quality of their music it’s only a small blip on an otherwise barnstorming show. Awards for best moshpits go to Shinobi Vs Dragon Ninja, the most pogo’ing goes to Last Train Home.
Here the DoesItRock.net team parted ways… as I headed upstairs at Enterprise to check out a young band by the name of Tubelord, as others went mellowly to the sweet sounds of Emily Barker.
As I waited at the foot of the stairs I pondered whether or not I’d be able to get in given the huge queue that was milling around. Worry ye not as I finally ascended to the smallest venue of the weekend thus far. A tiny area no bigger than a living room with a micro stage and a superbly old sound man who clearly knew his stuff. Tubelord look as if their skipped school to be here but were all the better for it as they produced wildly off kilter rock with a firm grounding in sweet pop melodies.
Their sound was warm, as was their vocals, but these really need to be ampified greatly. Being 2 steps from the stage and not being able to hear the singer isn’t ideal. However when the drummer provided backing harmonies they band were at their best.Everybody in Enterprise were bouncing along (probably because the floor was like that of a bouncy castle…slightly unnerving) having a great time watching this band of immense potential.
Gang of Four
It was with great anticipation that we stood awaiting the return of the 70’s political post-punk rockers who have countless bands claiming them as major influences. With more smoke than a pro-cigarette convention, four outlines could be seen. Lead guitar and vocalist were clearly original band members. Knocking on the door of becoming OAP’s they looked very old in comparison to their youthful dread locked bassist. Still they were the ones who were to bring the ensuing chaos.
They played plenty of their well know hits like Natural’s Not In It, Anthrax, Not Great Men and Damaged Goods each bringing back the spirit of the 70’s disco-rock they helped form. I will say that playing these live sounded much harsher and less pop than their studio albums. It felt that in the run up to the General Election they were venting anger with their performance.
The real talking point would be the antics of lead singer Jon King. He was clearly on something more than a couple of pints of bitter. His eyes were manic and his stumbling was as shambolic as his persistence to destroy both mic stands he had available to him. His roadies were constantly running after him clearing up his debris. During Anthrax he decided to bring out a stage box with a microwave duct taped to it. He proceeded to play percussion on it using a metal baseball bat! A hugely charged political statement if ever i witnessed one.
Just to remind us they were of the 70’s ilk, guitarist Andy Gill decided to do a Pete Townsend and fling his guitar across stage after a feedback heavy interlude. This made the show even more gripping and like a good movie, it was hard to take your eyes off in case you missed anything!
Dan le Sac & Scroopious Pip
We ended the day back where we started it with some more clubbing tunes. This time the bass was heart pounding and the good time vibe was here in abundance. With pip dishing out some serious lyrics and le Sac turning his apple mac into a dance music workshop this really was an entertaining set. They really clicked here tonight and were rightly applauded for their efforts. Without a guitar is sight, this was very different act from my usual fodder, but no less enjoyable for it.
There was a lot of great talent on display this weekend of of that melee we can safely say that we had a great time! All that was said on the ride home was…”Who’s for next year?”
Who ever thought that putting a music festival on in London on a May Bank holiday weekend probably thought it was a good idea? Granted that extra days recuperation was great, but with general London transport chaos even arriving in Camden would be a half day mission in itself. Luckily for myself and the team, DoesItRock Towers is handily close by. We wandered down to the Roundhouse to pick up the days schedule for day one, laughing in the face of a weather forecast that would make the Outer Hebrides look like the Caribbean.
After seeing the schedule it’s easy to get swamped under the sheer size and scope of the lineup. 17 evening venues and 27 daytime events…where do you start? This of course leads to a music fan’s worst nightmare, clashes! Then you have to filter in the venue choice, venue capacity, arrival times in order to gain entry and if you have to pay extra stealth charges to see bigger bands. So under the enormous strain of options we did what any gaggle of men would do in times of difficult decisions…head to the pub!
With opinions flying at all angles, a plan finally came together. Hence it was time to get down to the serious business of catching some bands!
We arrived rather chilly and windswept to discover the new for 2010 Outdoor stage was running late. S we ended up catching the tail end of an upbeat set from this Punk-pop quartet. They sounded quite promising and they have decent enough guitar melodies and vocal harmonies, although I am only judging on their final 2 tracks, the rest could have been pants!
Talking of pants, KASMs lead singer was liberally showing off hers as she catapulted around stage in all manner of screwball methods (including powerslides & Japanese schoolgirl kooky leaps). This in fact was a glad distraction from the noise generated by her screechy adolescent vocals. Ignoring the voice the music was edgy and alternative with plenty of sound effects which were largely hit and miss. They have lots of good ideas, outstanding energy and cannot be faulted for effort but today they failed to captivate. An indoor venue would definitely improve their sound, but for the time being, you get an E…more work required!
We had been very lucky with the weather and the rain held off as we dived from pub to pub taking in quizzes, jazz sessions and musical bingo until we were en-route to the Electric Ballroom for the first of the evening performances. When the rain finally arrived, it was ferocious! Driving rain hammered the streets, turning Camden high street into a new canal extension! Drenched like hamsters in a washing machine we gained swift entry and prepared to be rocked.
Camden Lock before the storm
Pulled Apart By Horses
This young band from Leeds are a huge part of the experimental alt-metal scene developing in the city and from watching them tonight you can see why they are at the forefront of the movement. They play with a voracious intensity and skull denting power. An ever changing time signature, stop-start melodies, plenty of epic anticipation building crescendos and technically superb massive metal riffs litter their sound which is unpredictable and compelling to behold.
Pulled Apart By Horses
Almost as precarious is their crazed stage antics which left their bassist sporting a bandaged up knee prior to this evening. Yet he still managed to ascend to stand and leap off a 2 storey stack of speakers, meanwhile the vocalist went on aimless walkabouts through the crowd knocking over fans with his wildly flailing mic/guitar leads. Put simply they are entertaining and totally bonkers!
Ready for a Fall!
Lead vocals are, as one DiRocker pointed out “A bit shouty” & other noted “quite Blood Brothers–esque”, hence not easily accessible but still drive each tune with catchy melodies which demand your attention. Their volume is deafening as is the thump of their drumming but all this combined to form a brilliant set which is not going to be forgotten for some time to come. An essential new band worthy of attention!
That Fucking Tank
Next we trotted off to The Dublin Castle for another slice of Leeds originated alternative rock, this time a little more subdued, or so we thought. That Fucking Tank are an instrumental duo (drummer and guitarist) who play in perfect harmony some of the biggest goove heavy beats of the weekend, despite their minimal stage setup.
That Fucking Tank
Monster drumming and big guitars laced each tune, each craftily setup into an instantly recognizable riff, rhythm, chorus, solo structure. They are one of those catchy bands you can’t help but dance to, no matter how hard you try to resist. Scuzzy electro riffs, progressive trip-outs, heavy muted power chords and classic rock influenced interludes were all present in this great set proving variety is key without any vocalist to liven things up.
Throwing in a couple of classic licks from the likes of Nirvana and Springsteen helped really get the party going as the stage was overtaken by stage divers leaping back into the tiny mosh gathering down front. Their success was evident as the crowd would not be settled until they played an encore. This is a band you need to see live! On record they are good but nothing can recreate the duo’s almost telepathic musical connection and raw sound which is just as ease at the disco or the rock clubs! A huge prospect to keep an eye on!
While Calvin Harris was entertaining the (supplementary ticket buying) crowds at the Roundhouse we were checking out a worthy rival to his electro crown in Alex Metric. His live performance was pretty good with hard hitting bass lines, snazzy keyboards and catchy vocal led dance tracks proving very popular. However the venue was hugely overcrowded and just too tiny, for all the fans that turned up and could not get within 10 meters of the stage, this was a disappointing outing. In a club venue this would have been rocking, instead it was subdued and underwhelming.
Alex (is back there somewhere) Metric
Instead of providing a springboard to the wee hours Teenage Fanclub lulled the crowds packed into KoKo into a sweet harmony of blissful semi-consciousness. Majorly indebted to 60’s folks The Byrds and love for the jangly melodies and high pitched sugar coated vocals were great for about 20 minutes. From which point on the relentless floppy haired mid-tempo acoustic strum-by-numbers became monotonous, tedious and lacking in invention.
Mixed in their set were a few good little pop numbers, but they were only resonating well with the long term fans who seemed to know every lyric. Their performance was mediocre and so it received lukewarm appreciation from the DiR mob as we jumped back in the taxi towards HQ for the night, ready to do it all again tomorrow.
Probably the best bar band in the world ever are back with their literate indie rock and roll.
The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever
“Oh…where for art thou Franz” is the first thing which stands out on first listen to Heaven Is Whenever. Without it’s moustache sporting keyboard maestro many of the backing vocal led woah-a-woah-a-longs have gone and its seriously blunted their pop edge. Replacing them are bigger riffs which I would normally lap up, yet something doesn’t feel right. Their classic rock sound is fuzzier than usual and sounds like it was recorded in a tube tunnel. The production is purposefully more alternative than previous outings and I have to say I’m not a fan.
This is not saying Hold Steady have lost their touch completely. Tunes like ‘Soft In The Center’ & ‘Rock Problems’ are still packed with attention grabbing melodies and Craig Finn’s lyrical gift is more than a good reason to give this a try.
What the album is missing is some urgency despite the amping up of the record! The majority of the tracks ramble along in a mid-tempo groove that fails to pick-up when the going gets tedious. Even their ballads have lost their poignancy displaying vividly the hole left by their enigmatic piano player. A good album by anyone else’s standards, but for The Hold Steady this can only be a disappointment.
Mr Flowers Says:
The album starts with the relative slow-burners, Sweet Part Of The City and Soft In The Center, which give you an idea of what the album offers: less action, less excitement and probably fewer of those massive nights.
Now minus a keyboardist, the Steady seem to have compensated with crunchier guitars and a higher solo quota, with varying degrees of success. The Weekenders comes closest to getting back to the sound that made the band so well loved, while there’s some hope for the new formula with the rocky riffage and nice use of the cow bells in The Smidge, and the sweet solo in Rock Problems. Listening out for the numerous name-checks of We Can Get Together is amusing for a minute or so, but the song meanders and never reaches the sweet spot. It signals a string of similarly disappointing songs where a noticeable lack of hook works to the band’s detriment and unfortunately ends up defining the album.
It’s a shame it’s ended up like this, as previous Hold Steady albums would have gotten some 8s, 9s and even 10s on these pages. Let’s just hope the downward trend shown in this album isn’t part of some systemic problem for this much-loved band.
DoesItRock Overall Score: 6/10
With the festival start of ATP curated by indie-legends Pavement looming tomorrow, we’ve put together a little playlist in case you haven’t had time to check out any of the bands or need to something to listen to on a long trip to Minehead!
Pavement ATP 2010 (Spotify playlist)
While you’re there, why not check out our little preview we did a few weeks back:
Friday 26th March 2010
Unfortunately the menacing volcanic ash cloud and a mysterious ankle injury depleted the DoesItRock team by half (and essentially ending another DIR member’s chances of making this year’s England World Cup squad) for this gig. The other downside is that it also means that the gig review duties have fallen to me. After successfully putting it off for a few weeks, RockOSaurus has finally caught up with me and I’ve been locked into an office at DoesItRock Towers with no food until the review has been written. Grim.
So how do you write a review for a gig for which you can neither remember very well or have any photos for? Well, one way is to play with the format a bit to disguise the lack of content with lots of filler, which is why today’s review will be in the style of an awards ceremony – the inaugural March Motion City Soundtrack Electric Ballroom Awards 2010 to be exact.
I can assure you now that the winners of the awards tonight have been judged with hours of deliberation by a panel of expert and professional DoesItRock writers. That were present at the gig. And could be bothered to vote. So, without further ado we go on to our first award…
Best Mosh Pit: Attractive Today
The award for best mosh pit goes to MCS’ performance of Attractive Today. Basically I can’t remember exactly what made it good, but it was probably big.
Best Crowd Sing-along: The Future Freaks Me Out / Everything Is Alright / LGFUAD
MCS’ ability to write great pop songs meant there were plenty of hearty sing-alongs on the night, and this award ended up in a three-way tussle. Due to sheer lazyness, we’ve awarded it to all three songs. They’ll need to share the award, or fight it out to the death at the award ceremony after-party.
Drummer That Looked Most-a-like Sylar from Heroes: Tony Thaxton
The unanimous, hands down winner. Also mainly by virtue of being the only drummer in the band.
Best Wrestling Entrance: Justin Pierre
I seem to have written this down in my notes for some reason. I presume he did a wrestling-esque entrance at some point during the gig, either at the start or before the encore. Probably.
Best Support Band: who knows?
Album With The Best Songs: Commit This To Memory
Happily MCS avoided the trap some bands fall into when touring a recent release and didn’t focus too much on the new album, which I admittedly didn’t love when we reviewed it a few months ago. It actually worked pretty well live, especially songs A Worker Bee and A Life Less Ordinary. However, on the night the songs with the best reception were generally from their 2005 effort, Commit This To Memory.
Earliest Finish To A Gig Ever: Motion City Soundtrack
I seem to remember this gig finished at 10pm, or something. Disappointing.
Best Band In The World Ever…
And as is customary in awards ceremonies we’ve also voted on the title of the Best Band In The World Ever. This is a coveted title in the music industry, and given the success of MCS so far – having swept the board with all the major awards this evening – they’ve got to be strong favourites.
The final award; the March Motion City Soundtrack Electric Ballroom Awards 2010 Best Best Band In The World Ever is…
Oh. That was unexpected – that band always seems to win that award, and they weren’t even on the voting list. Oh well, sorry lads – can’t win them all.
That’s all for now, see you at the after party!
(Can I go home now?)
Electro hitmakers MGMT return for their hotly anticipated sophomore LP.
MGMT – Congratulations
Listening to Congratulations is like unwrapping a really large shiny Christmas present you saved till last to open, only to find it contains an Air-fix model. The hype has been immense, yet to really enjoy this album you really have to spend plenty of time to ‘learn to love it’.
Gone are all of the elements which made their debut such a hit single machine. No funky keyboards and instantly catchy tunes. Instead they have been replaced with jingly guitars and mundane melodies. Their quirkyness and likability is still intact on tunes such as the rampant standout track ‘Brian Eno’ & the surf electro-pop opener ‘It’s Working’.
But with tracks as dull as ‘I Found A Whistle’ and as bloated as Siberian Breaks (a 12 minute epic adventure) it feels as if they are purposefully being weird for the sake of being weird. Attempting to jettison your current fan base to upgrade them for better models may be cool and hip, but when this record divebombs their third outing must surely improve.
Sadly Congratulations is one to file next to Be Here Now.
Mr Flowers Says:
MGMT return with a concept album, whose concept is to apparently strip out any standout pop tracks. The result is an album a kin to all the troughs of Oracular Spectacular with out any of the peaks. Brian Eno (the track), comes closest to lifting the dullness, a comparatively fun, fast-paced song with 80s punk overtures. The 12 minute marathon that is Siberian Breaks that goes through some distinct phases like some kind of Simon and Garfunkel-gone-prog love child, but never really does enough to grasp your attention.
If you liked the first album you might be able to be a bit more positive with this latest offering, but for those of us in the other camp will find this a struggle.
DoesItRock Overall Score: 2.5/10