Saturday, 27 October 2012

VELCRO HOOKS – EP REVIEW


Velcro Hooks – Gymnophoria (Howling Owl Records)

Release Date – 10th December 2012

Velcro Hooks - Gymnophoria
Let me tell you this right now: If Velcro Hooks were American they would already be massive. However, they are from Bristol and, as yet, massiveness still awaits them. Breaking it down, Velcro Hooks have concocted the perfect mix of melodies, hooks, edge, quirk, snarl and swagger which they serve up on a thin plate that teeters dangerously on the line between the perfect rock’n’roll song and utter, shambolic chaos. These guys have obviously listened to a lot of Pixies but then there’s At The Drive In, Mudhoney, early Kings Of Leon, Hot Hot Heat and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Opening track ‘A Love Song for T.S. Eliot’ is all Black Francis vocals and detuned guitars but then an infectious, Iggy Pop chorus bursts through the static and it all makes perfect and exhilarating sense. ‘Wasabi Colonel’ (great track name) though is an absolute belter and proves without a shadow of a doubt that these guys are no one trick pony. This is music for alternative U.S. low budget movies featuring geeks rising up against the jocks and probably a cheerleader over dosing on sleeping pills at some point. If these guys ever get the chance to use their music on such a film then ‘Wildman’ will be the soundtrack to a comedy montage where the geeks run amok in the frat house with a variety of ingenious but improbable booby traps – like a Kevin Smith directed version of Home Alone.

At exactly the halfway point of this 7 track EP (mini album or EP? Discuss.) comes the truly mental ‘The Prerogative Of Daniel Porter’, a piece of Dickensian style spoken word played over a backing track of a drunken honky-tonk Piano. It’s two minutes of disconcerting and discombobulating stuff that serves to cleanse the pallet before the quartet hit you with the tune the Vaccines wish they’d written, ‘Girlfren’. A shouty, pulsating, aggressive little number make no mistake and features the line “Since when was solitude my best friend?”  which is sure to get outcasts across the world identifying with these guys. Weirdly, ‘Yesterday’s Men’ starts off like Snow Patrol or Joshua Tree-era U2 and is probably the weakest track on the EP but it does hint to the fact that these Bristolians have the potential to write big, stadium sized songs which they are surely going to need in the not too distant future. It redeems itself slightly towards the end by going all Arcade Fire on us but it still doesn't quite fit in with the edginess of the rest of this EP somehow. Fret not though, closing track ‘Grandpa, No’ is the tune that didn't quite make In Utero and at over 6 minutes long it’s a big fat slice of grungy  distorted fun that is the perfect way to end this collection. According to the press release, Velcro Hooks are the buzz band in Bristol right now and on this evidence I am, for once, inclined to take a press release on its word. These guys really are something of a find so give them a listen and you might be able to help them achieve the aforementioned massiveness.

More information:


Live Dates

17th November 2012 – EP Launch at the Driving School, Bristol

BIG WAVE – SINGLE REVIEW

Big Wave - Only You

Big Wave – Only You (Beautiful Strange Records)

Release Date: 5th November 2012

We here at Listen With Monger (and by we I mean me) are big supporters of new music and, in particular, new music from the Southwest. So when you get sent a new single by a hot new band from Torquay that’s gone all the way up to a fancy PR company and then trickled all the way back down to Exeter it’s beautiful and slightly ironic. Big Wave are just such a band and they have reinvigorated my interest in and passion for Southwest bands. This is the second single from the 5-piece which is being released on 7” and I urge you to get your hands on a copy. A-Side ‘Only You’ is all scratchy indie guitars and awkwardly played guitar melodies like the best of early Long Blondes, Sleeper, Elastica or Belly. This is great female fronted indie-pop that would sound equally perfect on a grey, miserable afternoon in Doncaster or a sunny drive along America’s west coast. Big Wave have the wistful thing down pat and it’s so refreshing to hear something different coming out of Devon. ‘Living Room’ is the B-Side and has an almost Best Coast quality about it which should earn them a few new fans once this is released. All in all I’d say Big Wave have a good chance of garnering a bit of a cult following and I wouldn't be surprised to see them turn up on the bill for an ATP event in the next year or so.

More information


Live Dates
Single Launch @ Buffalo Bar, London - 28th October w/Hella Better Dancer + The Tuts + Young Romance

Dance of Days Festival, Falmouth - 24th November 

The Old Blue Last, London - 26th November

Monday, 22 October 2012

LIMBO KIDS – EP REVIEW

Limbo Kids - Wanderlust EP

Limbo Kids – Wanderlust EP

Release Date: 12th November 2012

Oxford’s Limbo Kids are an enigma. On the one hand they have one of the best band names I have come across in a while but there is precious little information about these guys around. All I can glean is that they’re from Oxford, there are at least two of them and one of them is called Mark. But information is overrated, sometimes it’s better to let the music do the talking and this is one of those times. A little bit of slap bass, hand claps, tight rhythms and yearning vocals bring about visions of Hot Chip, Klaxons and LCD Soundsystem. That’s just the opener, ‘Heartshots’, and it’s a belter of an indie-dance anthem in the making. Title track ‘Wanderlust’ is an entirely different affair, however, and this is where the beauty of Limbo Kids comes to light. ‘Wanderlust’ is an altogether more folky and ephemeral affair in the Fleet Foxes and Arcade Fair vein featuring some beautiful Cello and the sort of laboured, dubby beat that Radiohead have been fond of recently. Finally, there is ‘Desire’ which is pure 80s pop mixed in with the Maccabees guitars and a sense of maudlin fun that is pretty infectious. So, looking back at the evidence, what Limbo Kids represent is the perfect BBC 6Music band combining a whole host of sounds in just three tracks. Impressively enough, they manage to pull it off but if they tried to make a whole album this diverse they might be pushing it a little bit on the attention span front. Music for the Ritalin generation, maybe?

More information

Sunday, 21 October 2012

KRYDER FEAT. BO BRUCE – SINGLE REVIEW

Kryder Feat. Bo Bruce - Damaged

Kryder feat. Bo Bruce – Damaged

Who fancies some uplifting dance with a lyrical theme centred around a failed relationship? YEAH!? Good then. British dance producer Kryder has created what would pass for a fairly bog standard dance floor filler but the addition of Bruce’s vocal melody and strong chorus pushes ‘Damaged’ towards the Ellie Goulding/Zoe Johnston end of the dance spectrum. Those who watched the Voice (yes, both of you) will recognise Bo Bruce from the final but she is no product of reality TV as she has been pushing at the door of musical success for years now. With the right exposure, I can see this tune being pretty huge but it seems odd to be releasing it at the end of the Ibiza season when it could have been huge in that environment. The other aspect that might work against this song is the weird ass video. It’s all pretty standard dance video fare but the director seems to have an obsession with eyebrows. I mean seriously, check out some of the face fuzz. Weird. Other than that, it’s a catchy, addictive, perky little number. Personally, I’m saving this for the first signs of spring by putting it in a squirrel nest until the leaves turn green again.

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BROTHER & BONES + CRAZY ARM + THE ADVENTURES OF... LIVE REVIEW


BROTHER & BONES + CRAZY ARM + THE ADVENTURES OF... @ THE WHITE RABBIT, PLYMOUTH -18/10/12

The White Rabbit, Plymouth, putting on yet
another great line-up
Mime artists. Not a lot of call for mime artists these days so they need to find other ways to put imaginary bread on their imaginary tables for their imaginary children. It turns out that three of these out of work mimes have decided to form a band by the name of The Adventures Of... and they do make quite a visual impact. So it’s slightly disappointing when they start making a noise, just like mimes shouldn’t, and it doesn’t grab the attention quite as much as you their image does. Don’t get me wrong, this trio are excellent musicians and consummate performers but it’s just that their songs don’t do anything to rouse the senses or grab you by any part of the body at all. Ones to watch but now that they have the style sorted they might want to spend some time on the substance.
                Plymouth’s ‘band most likely to succeed’ favourites, Crazy Arm, take to the stage next for something a little different to their usual rasping, visceral, folk-punk. Tonight the 6-piece are showing of their (slightly) mellower side by treating the audience to a acoustic versions of some of their old songs, some new material and some covers. One of the more hauntingly passionate songs from their last able was a cover of Peggy Seeger’s ‘Song of Choice’ and this got the full 12-string guitar and fiddle treatment which was a real treat. A range of instrument changes and multi-textured songs being reformed in front of the audience’s eyes and ears was a real delight but it all seemed strangely lost on an audience more intent on taking pictures of each other in funny poses or playing on the House of the Dead arcade machine. Can it be true that we are entering an era when a generation of music fans doesn’t have the attention span to cope with half an hour of songs that aren’t played exactly as they were on the CD? Never fear though, a rousing duet of Cash and Carter’s hit ‘Jackson’ saw Darren Johns and Vicky Butterfield revel in the role of Westcountry and Western superstars. The new acoustic album is being recorded as I type and on this evidence it should be hotly anticipated by us all.
                Following an aborted attempt last year, this is the first gig Brother & Bones have ever played in Plymouth and it’s long overdue by all accounts. The 5-piece’s brand of folk’n’roll seems perfectly suited to a venue precariously balanced between sea, wilderness and the city centre. Storming in on to the stage with ‘Hold Me Like The Sun’, ‘Your Revolution’ and new track ‘I See Red’ the crowd are stunned by the power but also swept up in to the tribal rhythms and chorus’s that everyone seems to know. New versions of old songs like ‘On The Run’ as well as current versions of new songs like EP title track ‘For All We Know’  get the crowd whipped up in to something approaching a frenzy. It is the strangest thing though, for a Thursday night with only £2 entry fee and two fantastic bands there is an overwhelming sense of apathy among the young crowd. At one point, I noticed a guy spend about 10 minutes trying to take a picture of himself with a badger mask on and only succeed in blinding himself with the flash. Sometimes it’s best to focus on the music and not look around you but sometimes it’s flippin’ scary when take a step back. Motherflippin’ scary.

More information

Thursday, 18 October 2012

JOE STRUMMER & THE MESCALEROS – ALBUM REVIEWS


My girlfriend likes to tell people that I know everything about music, to which I smile and shake my head and secretly hope that nobody asks me to tell them the names of all the Rolling Stones albums or quote lyrics to songs by the Smiths (to be fair, I can’t stand the Smiths but that’s a different story). The thing is, I’m no good with facts or figures and I don’t like the approach to music that some people have where they just have to have ‘classic’ albums by ‘seminal’ artists in their collection to make it worthwhile. I’d rather stumble across great music in my own time and that’s exactly what’s happened with your man Joe Strummer. Now, of course I knew who he was and all about the Clash but I’ve never taken the time to seek out his other work so I was more than a bit chuffed when two 10 year anniversary remastered Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros albums flopped on to my doormat.

Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Global A Go-Go
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Global A Go-Go (Remastered) – Hellcat Records

First up was ‘Global A Go-Go’ which is full of treats, delights and surprises. Kicking off with the stripped-down folksiness of ‘Johnny Appleseed’, you suspect Arcade Fire may have listened to more than a little Strummer before they launched their assault on the musical world. Title track, ‘Global A Go-Go’, lilts with a reggae beat, swirling guitars and the many voices of Joe Strummer before breaking in to an African rhythm infused chorus overlaid with multi-instrumentation and a sense of joyous inclusivity. This album is a great example of World Music in the truest sense of the phrase as performed by a musician who has travelled to the four corners of the globe to select the best ingredients – a bit like Lloyd Grossman but without the inexplicable accent. Titles like ‘Bhindi Bhagee’, ‘Shaktar Donetsk’ and ‘Mondo Bongo’ confirm the albums international feel and cement Strummer’s reputation as a musical innovator. Here is a man who was the driving force behind one of the world’s greatest and most politically virile punk bands but who was also intelligent to recognise that each culture has its own musical heritage to pass on stories, to protest against injustice and to get people dancing. As an example, ‘At The Border, Guy’ starts off like a piano lead 90s dance tune straight outta Manchester before incorporating relexad West Indian rhythms and West Coast American organs. But most impressively, it’s the 17 minute opus of ‘Minstrel Boy’ that ends the album that is the most mind blowing experience in terms of coming out of the mind of a man largely known form writing sub 3 minute punk blasters. ‘Minstrel Boy’ starts off as a wistful, Celtic lament full of fiddles and military drums before building in to the kind of crescendo you would expect at the end of a large scale musical production for the Olympic opening ceremony or some other similar one-off event. ‘Global A Go-Go’ is the musical memoir of a musician and music fan who has travelled, seen, heard and embraced the music that our messed up world has to offer and should be on the curriculum for all music departments the length and breadth of the country - or at least free to download for everyone under the age of 16 as an educational tool.

Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Streetcore
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Streetcore (Remastered) – Hellcat Records

‘Streetcore’ shows a more direct connection between Strummer’s newer work and his more widely known output with the Clash. Opener ‘Coma Girl’ is a bonafide singalong hit with a crowd pleasing chorus whilst ‘Get Down Moses’ sees Strummer in full blown preacher mode mixing lilting dub beats with swathes of organ and some seriously soulful horns. ‘Long Shadow’ is pure Dylan and ‘Arms Aloft’ is a wondrous homage to the highs and lows of touring featuring the beautifully British lyric “May I remind you of that scene, we were arms aloft in Aberdeen”. Strummer has always been fascinated with all kinds of music and on his version of Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ he pays tribute to the powerful storytelling abilities of music – although it is slightly odd listening to a middle class white man singing a song about the Black slave trade. It kinda works though. For me, the stand out track is the winding, meandering ‘Midnight Jam’ which starts off like a WWII broadcast telling the world that this music is coming straight out of London, London Calling indeed, and all the multicultural joy contained therein. It’s not so much that this is the best song on the album but more that it clearly shows off Strummer’s love of being a musician and the satisfaction he gets from simply creating and performing music with a group of like minded people for a anyone willing to listen.

The live bonus tracks at the end of this collection are just that, a real bonus. Versions of ‘Rudi, A Message To You’, ‘Blitzkreig Bop’ and ‘Yalla, Yalla’ all go to show what a consummate performer, entertainer and storyteller Strummer was. Whether they are his words or someone else’s, this man knows how to weave a tale and enthral an audience. The really telling sign that this is a good album though is that it’s been stuck in my car stereo for weeks as I can’t bring myself to take it out to sit down and write about it. Discovering Strummer’s latter day output has been a real treat and I hope the late, great man is resting in noise. Lots of lovely, eclectic noise in that great jam session in the sky.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

SHOUT TIMBER – SINGLE REVIEW


Shout Timber – East India Trading Company

Release date: 29th October 2012

Shout Timber - East India Trading Company
It’s hard to pull off quirky and remain genuinely appealing but that’s exactly what London quartet Shout Timber have done – despite a fairly disappointing band name. These guys mix up the ever popular styles of Vampire Weekend and Bombay Bicycle Club with some Paul Simon catchiness and the kind of hooks that should have them gracing the stage some E4 live event in no time. But then half way through the song they basically go batshit crazy in a way that would make Frank Zappa stop and do a comedy double take. At first I thought I had pressed play on an another tune at the same time but it turns out that Alex, Sam, TJ and Will just decided to let a hippo stroll through the studio during recording and include that as the middle eight. Strangely enough, though, it kinda works. All in all, ‘East India Trading Company’ has some great hooks, a catchy singa-longa chorus and enough musical ingenuity to be considered original. Top that off with a band that comprises of four dapper young gents and you could safely put a fiver on these guys being all over 6Music and XFM in 2013. 

more info: www.shouttimbermusic.com 

Monday, 1 October 2012

BROTHER & BONES – EP REVIEW


Brother & Bones - For All We Know EP
Brother & Bones – For All We Know EP

Release Date: 12th November

After a summer of playing in their natural habitat to packed festival crowds in fields and on beaches, Brother & Bones are back with four new tracks and a headline UK tour. Now, regular visitors to the Listen With Monger blog will know that I’m a bit of a Brother & Bones fan but I have to admit to being a bit perplexed the first time I let the For All We Know EP wash over me. The opening bars of ‘I See Read’ sound like the incidental music from and 80s cop film set in Chicago but as soon as Rich Thomas’ distinctive voice cracks in to life that unmistakable Brother & Bones sound is back. The atmospheric guitars, grinding bass and chanted vocals make this a blinding opening track already but it’s the drumming and percussion courtesy of Yiannia Sachinis and Robin Howell respectively that make this beast come alive. By the time ‘I See Red’ reaches its tumultuous crescendo it has changed from a soulful song full of yearning in to a primal, tribal, snarling beast full of defiance, chest-beating and raw passion.  

So how do you follow that? Well, sneakily, you keep your EP title track back and then hit the listener with the delights of ‘For All We Know’ which starts off as a gentle conjuring images of a slow sunrise over a misty beach on a Spring morning. This one’s a grower in every sense of the word and not least because Thomas’ vocals have developed in to more of an instrument to compliment the heartfelt lyrics he sings. There has never been any doubt that the frontman has a set of pipes on him but he is now using his voice more cleverly and more subtly to add yet another layer to one of the most versatile rock bands currently coming out of the UK. Track 3 brings us ‘Follow Me Down’ which initially sounds like the kind of guitar picking you might get at the start of a Justin Timberlake ditty but soon bursts in to life with a familiarly apocalyptic force that will have small venues all over the UK heaving this Autumn.

Finally, we have ‘Wicked Man’ which sees the quintet returning to a more Bluesy, rootsy feel that gives you a glimpse in to what really drives these guys on. You see, Brother & Bones are an elemental band who aren’t scared of getting their hands dirty to make music that is dyed in the wool, farmed from the land and forged in scolding fires. There’s no overproduction here, no corners cut and not one member of this band is being carried by the others. This is the sound of 5 men who love their work, who live their art and who would rather live in a van than a mansion if it meant the difference between making their music and selling out for a fast buck. I’m not paid to write these reviews, I’m not friends with band and I don’t get any reward for my opinion. I am a music fan and as such I say this: If you like real, honest music played by talented, passionate musicians then buy this EP and, more importantly, scroll down this page to find the Brother & Bones tour date nearest to you this Autumn. You genuinely won’t regret it.

More information: www.brotherandbones.co.uk

Live Dates:
13/10/12 – Wish You Were Here Festival, Cambridge
16/10/12 – The Cellar, Southampton
17/10/12 – The Hope, Brighton
18/10/12 – White Rabbit, Plymouth (w/Crazy Arm)
19/10/12 – Arts Centre, Bridgewater
20/10/12 – Jolly Farmer, Newton Abbot
23/10/12 – Fibbers, York
24/10/12 – Shipping Forecast, Liverpool
25/10/12 – Nice’n’Sleazy, Glasgow
26/10/12 – Deaf Institute, Manchester
28/10/12 – Head Of Steam, Newcastle
30/10/12 – Flapper, Birmingham
31/10/12 – Moon Club, Cardiff
01/11/12 – Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London
02/11/12 – Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes
06/11/12 – Mama Stones, Exeter
07/11/12 – Nation of Shopkeepers, Leeds
08/11/12 – Soundhouse, Leicester
09/11/12 – Boileroom, Guildford
10/11/12 – Moles, Bath