Saturday, 31 August 2013

BROWN BROGUES – ALBUM REVIEW

Brown Brogues  - Triflin’ (Stolen Body Records) 
Brown Brogues - Triflin'

Release Date: 1st October

You know that Galaxy advert where the girl hides chocolate in a shoe box under her sofa to stop her flat mates eating it (seriously, who does that, just move out if you live with people that steal your stuff) and then gets it out to enjoy as a savoured delight? Yeah? Well that's what I've done with the new album from Manchester duo Brown Brogues. I've heard so many good things about these guys that when the album came through I wanted to make sure that I had time put aside to properly enjoy it and get to know it (I also had to wait until I found just the right brown silk dress to lounge around the house in...again, seriously, who!?). 'Triflin'' is a collection of 10 songs that are so raw yet meaty, abrasive yet melodious and punky but bluesy that they should really draw in the majority of discerning music lovers, no matter what their taste.

The atmospheric opening to the album, 'Beach Ghost Face Killah' is an expansive sound as the duo make the most of their limited instrumentation and draw the first of many comparisons with the Black Keys before blasting that out of the water with a furious period of punky riffing. 'Split Disc' sees the double act settle in to their more familiar Garage Rock style with Cobain-esque riffs and ominous sounding vocals booming from the distance. 'A G From The Cradle' has one of the most simple but just as dirty introductions as the tune chugs in to life with scuzzy, low down guitar notes and a floor tom based beat that draws you further in to their seedy world. It is, though, on 'Shake It' that Brown Brogues (Bro Bro to their friends and fans) really hit their stride as they create the kind of tune that Elvis, Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash would, you hope, be knocking out in Heaven's great rehearsal space in the sky. A real 50s swagger blends perfectly with dirty guitars and a simple but driving rhythm to carry the weight of the dual vocals.

There's a sinister side to Brown Brogues as well though (as there should be) and this is perfectly demonstrated on the determinedly moody 'I Kill' which has omnipresent hand claps that give the record a slightly cultish feel...in a good way. 'Beef Teef' (apart from being a great song title) sounds like something Pink Floyd rejected before the final cut of 'Darkside of the Moon' was decided upon, purely as it was too punchy and direct to fit in with their oeuvre. 'Cryin'' harks back to that 50s style of song writing but mixed in with a more 90s slacker way of playing that makes it incredibly easy for even the most socially inept of us to move our knees in time to the music at the back of a gig. The buzzsaw guitar that heralds the arrival of 'Loving Mouthful of Choke' tells you this is going to be something fierce and, sure enough, it's a post-Glam Rock fuzzbox of a song that never stops coming at you like a serial killer relentlessly stalking teenage girls in an American cornfield. By comparison, the guitars at the start of 'Gimme A Reason' are like a sexy car engine revving at the start of a drag race and although the initial power isn't translated to the rest of the song (the drums just seem a bit flat) there is never any danger of this car stalling. As we come to the last track of this 26 minute nitro-fuelled hell ride, 'Laser Beast' wakes from its slumber in a swirling haze before hammering on the door and bursting through in a panicked frenzy. The urgency and energy of this song suggests that there is more to come from Brown Brogues, much more and with such a strong starting point that can only be a good thing. What's even more exciting is that these guys are doing a national tour soon and the shows are set to be pretty mental so get yourself out there and get yourself Brown Brogued. It's a thing.


Live Dates:

11th October – The Green Room, Stockton
12th October – Instore at Sound It Out (Day) and Henry’s (Evening), Edinburgh
18th October – The Bowery, Sheffield (Free Entry)
19th October – Cold Rice Studio Party, Birmingham
23rd October – The Castle, Manchester
24th October – The Lock Tavern, Camden (Free Entry)
25th October – The Royal Oak, Bath
26th October – Tiki Bar & Grill, Plymouth
1st November – Teenage Kicks Festival, Southampton (Under 18s)

2nd November – Oxfam Records In store (Day) and Lennon’s (Evening), Southampton

THE HALAMAYS - EP REVIEW

The Halamays - Overkill (February Records) 
The Halamays - Overkill

It's always a risk to work with the person you love, spending all day side-by-side is hard for the strongest of relationships but to then put that relationship through the emotional mill of being in a band together as well is pretty darn dangerous. But, for better or worse, that's what the Halamays do as this husband and wife couple make music together in both the biblical and literal sense (and yes, I can make that assumption as they have a new baby so they've done it at least once. So there, prudes). This three track EP is a dreamy, sugary pop triumph that could only have come from the USofA  (Columbus, OH, for all those Geography fans out there). Title track, 'Overkill', starts off like a Katy Perry tune before taking on the spirit of the Raincoats and going all lo-fi on our collective asses/ears. "Feelings are a mystery novel and I never cared for reading" give you an idea of the bittersweet lyrics that are played over the top of gentle keys, understated guitars and early 90s drum machine beats. Next up is 'Keeping It Together' which is dripping in 80s nostalgia, musically speaking, with all the tinny sound beats, plinky-plonky synths (technical term, that) and echo heavy vocals. 'With Arms Outstretched' completes the triumvirate of tunes with Katie's vocals wistfully dancing atop a rippling lake of synthesizers like a Tanya Donnelly electro project or how I imagine Katie Puckrik's mind to sound. If the marriage of the Halamays is half as good as the marriage of melodies and lyrics that they concoct then I predict a long, fruitful, happy and, frankly, super cool marriage.



Friday, 30 August 2013

ALISTAIR GRIFFIN & LEDDRA CHAPMAN - SINGLE REVIEW

Alistair Griffin & Leddra Chapman feat. Grimethorpe Colliery Band - The One (Dramatico) 
Alistair Griffin & Leddra Chapman - The One

Release Date: 9th September

Now, I know ex-contestants from shortlived BBC talent shows are not the usual fodder for this blog but if I get sent stuff to review then I am duty bound to review it (the bloggers oath n'all that). Plus the fact that Griffin is about to embark on a tour, the profits of which will all be given to the Trussell Trust's Foodbank drive, is pretty laudable. Anyway, on to the music; 'The One' starts of as an emo-folk-pop duet that would easily the next Twilight soundtrack but Griffin has obviously learned a thing or two about songwriting over the years and Leddra Chapman has a hauntingly beautiful voice that has the power to back up the talent. And then there's the Colliery Band. That's right, Griffin's gone and drafted in a whole Colliery Band from the ridiculously unattractive sounding Grimethorpe, to give the song that big, uplifting, BBC sports montage sound. In all fairness, 'The One' is actually a pretty good love song with plenty of power behind it and, let's face it, nobody is going to mess with Griffin when he's got Leddra and the Grimethorpe boys backing him up are they?

More information:  http://www.alistairgriffin.com/

Live Dates:

16th September - The Outhouse, Edinburgh
17th September - Wharf Chambers, Leeds
18th September - Thomas Bar, Manchester
23rd September - The Gate Arts Centre, Cardiff
25th September - The Brit Club, Nottingham

26th September - The Regal Room, London

PAROV STELAR - SINGLE REVIEW

Parov Stelar feat. Marvin Gaye - Keep On Dancing (Dramatico/Etage Noir) 
Parov Stelar feat. Marvin Gaye - Keep On Dancing

Release Date: 21st October

I defy anyone not to have their attention grabbed by a single release from an unknown artist with the words 'featuring Marvin Gaye' in the title. This tune is not out for nearly two months but I think you all need to be aware of it and prepared for it. What Parov Stelar (in the real world, Austrian Marcus Furder) has done with this track is take Gaye's classic 'Got To Give It Up' vocal and give a modern, European dance treatment that, well, it just works really, really well. The dirty bassline, sombre piano and relaxed disco beat slow the vocal right down and make the tune almost mournful but just the right side of uplifting. Throw in some nice horns, a few synths and one damn funky guitar riff and you have yourself a potential club smash for discerning clubbers across the country - we're not talking about the meat markets on the high street, we're talking about the clubs we're people go because the DJs have a good reputation for playing the best new stuff. And some of that stuff will be coming from Parov Stelar this year so keep an eye out for this single as well as his album, 'The Art Of Sampling', due out in November.

More information: http://www.parovstelar.com/

Live Dates:


1st October - Heaven, London

THE SCHOLARS - SINGLE REVIEW

The Scholars - Neon Sky (Stars) 
The Scholars - Neon Sky

Release Date: 30th September 2013

It's true, it's true. Dreams can really come true! It's happened....it's....oh, wait. Hang on a mo...................No, not quite. Close but no cigar. For a long time I've oft thought it would be just sublime if Dave Gahan, the baritoned sex weasel himself, collaborated with Muse on a track and I thought this was it. But it's not. It's The Scholars (from Oxford, see what they've done there?) and it's bloody good. 'Neon Sky (Stars)' is dark, brooding, trench coat wearing stuff with suaveness and swagger in equal amount as well as an aloof nature and a mischievous eyebrow. Put simply, this is the song Muse and Gahan should have written together and, as far as songs go, you should keep it the hell away from any impressionable young women you know - especially ones with daddy issues....  



MODEL AEROPLANES - SINGLE REVIEW

Model Aeroplanes - Crazy 
Model Aeroplanes - Crazy

Release Date: 16th September

Take four mates teetering on the legal age for drinking, pummel them with 21st century music, get their hair done by One Direction and give them the Vaccines' stylist before giving them a childhood spent well away from the bright lights and see what you get. Sure, it might be littered with sweeping generalisations, but as a statement that pretty much sums up Dundee quartet Model Aeroplanes. 'Crazy' is a belting indie-pop smasher that is full of Vampire Weekend-isms and Franz Ferdinands sense of cool but with an accessible chorus that might just hook in the teen audience and their lamentable attention spans. The most positive thing is that here we have four lads, nay mates, who have just got together to have a stab at something and it's worked out pretty well. Not a hint of a talent show in sight.


Live Dates:


7th September - Arches, Glasgow (w/Vigo Thieves) 

Monday, 26 August 2013

ZIRCON - SINGLE REVIEW

Zircon - Across The Ocean 
Zircon - Across The Ocean

Never, ever, ever let it be said that my tastes aren't eclectic. My bottom line is that the music has to instigate some kind of reaction in me and after that it's down to myriad tiny details which are hard to explain but if that instant reaction is there then we've got something to work with. Now, despite sounding like some evil chemical company from an improbable 80s film starring Fred Savage as the world's only hope, Zircon is actually the pseudonym of Baltimore based Andrew Aversa for he is the man behind these delightful bleeps, whirs and beats. Imagine, if you will, Daft Punk remixing pretty much any artist from the Anjuna Beats label but with added challenge of making sure the listener knows that there is a very definite 90s dance influence. Got it? Then you've basically just imagined 'Across The Ocean'. Well done you. It's a cracking little dance track with fun, melodies and that all important arms in the air moment as well as some Robert Myles piano and Daft Punk digital voices for good measure. The guy has produced 10 albums of this stuff since starting in 2004 apparently and if they are half as good as this tune then you have to wonder why this guy isn't huge already. My suggestion is change the name from Zircon to Aversa and either get a fancy helmet or pretend to be French.


More information: http://zirconmusic.com/

VIOLENT SOHO - ALBUM REVIEW

Violent Soho - Hungry Ghost (I Oh You Records) 
Violent Soho - Hungry Ghost

Release Date: 6th September

OK, here's my hat, please give whatever you can spare. Y'see, it's like this, I think Violent Soho could be huge on the basis of this latest album and I really, really, really want to book them to do a show in the UK but they're flippin' Aussies and that's gonna cost a pretty penny. So, during the course of this review I aim to convince you to chip in and then we can make some dreams come true (mainly mine but hey, it's gotta be my turn soon right?). For an album of such weight and depth, opening track 'Dope Calypso' actually starts off fairly gently before a jackhammer of a riff announces the band's intentions and the Dinosaur Jr meets Pavement song unfolds around us (slightly odd for a song that is seemingly about a drug infused ice lolly but that might be lost in translation). 'Lowbrow' is perhaps a more straight forward indie-punk-slacker anthem but it's easy to draw comparisons with the Wrens or the Ataris which, in my book, is a very good thing indeed. By track three, 'Covered In Chrome', Violent Soho are hitting their stride, largely by being the first band I have come across to take the inspiration that the Pixies gave to so many and, well, just get what Frank and the gang were really trying to say. A hypnotic, bass driven verse is exploded by a skin burningly loud and intense chorus that will ignite more than one mosh pit on their forthcoming tour.

There is a brief if much needed respite during the opening bars of 'Saramona Said' before a loose but melodious riff emerges and vocalist Luke Boerdam's croaks and croons over the top in a way that Swim Deep thought they had made their own this summer. Recent single 'In The Aisle' has been reviewed elsewhere on this blog so I won't go in to much detail but it should be noted that this song makes more sense in the context of the rest of the album which is always a good thing. At roughly the halfway mark, 'OK Cathedral' approaches with a lackadaisical but almost irritated tone in a way that the Lemonheads built the prototype for. Wait just one minute though, what's this? 'Fur Eyes' is a pop tune. Jangly guitars, clean drums and vocal harmonies show that these guys know how to take things down and get tender with the ladies. Or the men. Times can get lonely. Fret not though, 'Gold Coast' comes scratching and snarling out of the starting blocks like a remastered early Green Day track with chugging guitars and a sense of malevolence that is perfectly showcased by the angry attempts at backing vocal harmonies.

As we approach the end of this journey with 'Liars', Violent Soho get back to their heavy, riff driven roots but never lose the melody or the importance of actually having a song behind the noise. The energy continues on 'Eightfold', a more Sonic Youth-ish approach to song writing with hints at early, early Smashing Pumpkins material, especially when the song explodes about two thirds of the way through. As we finish up with the album title track, it's clear that Violent Soho have taken their time to craft something worthwhile, something complex and something that has come from the gut as well as from the head. These four Queenslanders (Queenslandians?) have created an album that will stand the test of time and, more importantly, will stand up to being toured relentlessly so we really ought to give them that opportunity. In all seriousness, I can't get them to these shores, not even close, but the more of us that buy the record the better chance there will be of them scratching enough together to pay for those plane tickets and then all they need is a place to stay...


Live Dates:

24th October - Great Northern, Byron Bay
25th October - Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
26th October - The Zoo, Brisbane
31st October - Mojo's, Fremantle
1st November - Amplifier, Perth
2nd November - Uni Bar, Adelaide
4th November - Corner Hotel, Melbourne


(NB All shows with Straight Arrows)

BORN THIEF - SINGLE REVIEW

Born Thief - An Inch Of Doubt 
Born Thief - An Inch Of Doubt

Release Date: 9th September 2013

What do you get when you mix Bastille, Simply Red and the Pet Shop Boys? The surprisingly not as bad as that sounds Born Thief, that's what. The Yorkshire quintet release their new single, 'An Inch Of Doubt', on 9th September and I can see it fast becoming a guilty pleasure. I think there is perhaps a little too much guitar noodling to make it a bona fide indie smash with the chin stroking music media but there is something really addictive about this tune that has kept me coming back for more. The relaxed, end of summer beats and the choppy guitars give the song a really nice groove and Jake McGrath's dreamy vocals (dreamy as in dream-like, not "he's so dreamy, I wish we could go steady") make it nigh on impossible not to relax in to this tune like a hammock on a Balearic beach during a sunset in early September.


Live Dates:

24th August - Silsdenbury, Silsden
1st September - Bingley Music Live, Bingley
7th September - 360 Degrees Club, Leeds
19th October - Oxjam, Bradford University

29th November - Leeds University Union w/Dub Pistols

Friday, 23 August 2013

KINDRED SHINS - EP REVIEW

Kindred Shins - Yes To Rioting Notoriety (A Girl Called Grace Records) 
Kindred Shins - Yes To Rioting Notoriety

Release Date: 30th September 2013

Bands that describe themselves as Stoner Rock always bring to mind, my mind, audible images of bands creating naval gazing, self-absorbed songs that they think are incredibly deep but are actually just muddy messes of noodling and incomprehensible lyrics. So, imagine my delight when self-professed Stoner Rockers, Kindred Shins, turned out to be a little bit special - they must be smoking something different. The London quartet present this six track EP for your listening pleasure so sit back, relax and let's have a blast. There are two things you will immediately notice about first track 'Regain Your Poise Hysterical Woman; a) it has a great title and b) it has an even better riff. The Bluesy hypnotic twisting guitars are mirrored by a pumping bass line and funky, Stone Roses-esque drumming. 'Sweet And The Strange' starts more pensively but there is a brooding menace in the understated guitars and, sure enough, a scuzzy, snarling, foul breathed beast soon emerges to tempt you in to the muddy swamp waters of the Kindred Shins imagination.

There is no let up on 'She Floats Just Like The Witch', a tune with one of the most prominent bass lines I've heard in a while, as the four musicians of the apocalypse resurrect the rotting bones of many a blues rock band and merge it with Madchester/Baggy beats to create something of genuine worth. The closest thing I can liken this to is the short lived 90s outfit Orphic Soop and these guys are way better than that. 'Red Eye Blues' has got Hendrix all over it and you can almost hear the tongue on the fret board as the guitars chug and squeal throughout the song. What's more, 'We Both Know But Ain't Saying Nothing', carries that Hendrix style through but turns up the groove factor and, if you close your eyes, you can just imagine a room full of kids discovering rock'n'roll for the first time getting VERY turned on by the sheer sex appeal of this song. It's a strong collection of songs that shows a huge amount of promise which Kindred Shins are already delivering on. Time to get yourselves involved.

More information: http://kindredshins.com/

Live Dates:

22nd August - Proud Galleries, Camden
14th September - Balstock Festival, Baldock
28th September - The Constitution, Camden (Single Launch Party)
4th October - 100 Club, London

18th October - Scala, London

Monday, 19 August 2013

WAKER GLASS - SINGLE REVIEW

Waker Glass - Neighbourhood Party (Mersea Recordings) 
Waker Glass - Neighbourhood Party

There is nothing, literally nothing, guaranteed to put a smile on my face in the morning than checking my door mat to find a mystery parcel has arrived. Something unexpected and something that can't be a bill because bills come as letters, not parcels. Aside from the severed body part of a loved one or faecal matter, this can only be a good thing. In this instance, the parcel contained a delightfully orange 7" single from Canadian quartet Waker Glass. Of the two tracks on this lovely piece of vinyl, A-side 'Neighbourhood Party' is a bar room ballad of Pogues meets the Smiths proportions with a sinister edge perfectly embellished by Robert Earl Stewart's rasping, sand paper vocals. B-side, 'Widow's Walk' is an impassioned and pleading song of epic proportions which would probably worm its way in to my heart were it not for the fact that the chorus seems to be persistently out of tune - a preference for power over placement is perhaps misguided. However, I'm willing to overlook this slight error of judgement purely because they sent me cool stuff in the post, the little lovelies.


More information: www.wakerglass.com 

BULAT NASIBULLIN - ALBUM REVIEW

Bulat Nasibullin - Just Before The Beat 
Bulat Nasibullin - Just Before The Beat

Bit of a random one this really, which is saying something when it comes to the world of Listen With Monger. You see, Bulat Nasibullin is Russian by birth but moved to the UK at the age of 12 where he eventually joined a covers band in London alongside LWM favourite Hana Piranha. More recently, Bulat moved to Vancouver to start another band (now defunct), gain Canadian citizenship and get a change of scenery. So, with such an eclectic past, it's no great surprise that this collection of solo material is pretty varied and disparate in terms of reference points, even within one song. For example, opener 'Make It Better' starts out life as a gentle tune with the essence of David Kitt running through it before turning in to a piano lead reggae number. Following that is 'How Far We've Come' which is a shoe in for the next John Lewis Christmas advert if I know advertising (which I don't but how hard can it be, right?). Throughout all of these songs, Bulat's studied guitar playing shines through and, although occasionally bordering on the overly indulgent (i.e. the Santana-esque 'Praying & Killing'), it is generally pleasing to hear a guitar being used for more than just chord progressions.

There are dark tones to this music and 'Stay With Me' is a great example of Bulat's ability to explore these inner recesses of vulnerability. Without any warning, however, the Muse-ish guitars of 'The Reins' come chiming in and the energy levels kick up a notch. It's clear that Bulat has talent and ability but, as I've said before, any solo artist making a multi-instrument album without other input is walking a brave path which is not always the right one - there is, for my liking, a little too much reggae on this album for what is essentially a collection of rock songs. Having said that, title track 'Just Before The Beat' is a beautiful, piano lead instrumental track that gently builds in to what would be some genuinely heart warming film music if applied to the right scene. 'N18', presumably a reference to Bulat's old London stomping ground, is what Ludovico Einaudi would sound like if he left a soft rock band in to the studio with him (not as bad as that sounds on paper, that was intended as a compliment) and 'It All Shall Fall' is a mid-tempo dance-rock number that builds to a dramatic climax. There are 15 songs on this album, some instrumental, and although they are all worthwhile pieces of music with decent production qualities, the direction is a little questionable. It's almost as though Bulat is showing off what he is capable of as a result of his musical experience and degree in Commercial Music but is not sure which direction he wants to take all that talent and ability in - entirely understandable but a bit weighty as far as demo tapes go.

Of the remaining songs, the acoustic picking of 'Kiss Me Now' is the most appealing in its honesty and rawness as Bulat sings a simple love song. 'Time Changes All' also has the twinkle of potential but doesn't really go to the places that you might hope in the long run. Essentially, what we have here is a well travelled and well trained musician with bundles of talent and ability but lacking a conduit for those skills. If I had to choose a path for Bulat, which I don't (this is just a blog, after all), then I would suggest his skills might be best used for writing film music, such is his talent for creating soundscapes. Far be it from me to dictate, though.


More information: www.reverbnation.com/bulat 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

THE DEETS - SINGLE REVIEW

The Deets - Charlie (In At The Eye Records) 
The Deets - Charlie

There's been a lot of talk recently about how TV exposure for new bands is restricted to chat shows, cookery shows and sports shows which is hugely sad but if you're in a band these days then it must be tempting to shrug your shoulders and just say "if you can't beat them, join them". Rightly or wrongly, this is what London quartet the Deets have done and it has increased their exposure to a wider audience having been featured on Soccer AM. Now the only problem I have with this is that a programme like Soccer AM, and it's audience, will lap up a song like 'Charlie' with its Kaiser Chiefs-esque shouty chorus and incomprehensible lyrics almost rapped over bluesy guitars, a la scouse 90s also-rans ManBreak. However, if a band were to send in a great folk ballad on mandolin and flute, would it get equal consideration such as it would have done in the heady days of the Tube and before Jools turned his show in to a glorified lock in with his mates? No matter, this isn't the fault of the Deets, they are simply playing the opposition that's put in front of them and using it to their advantage. I've got a sneaking suspicion that the live shows that these guys put on will be fairly lively as well so check them out on tour this autumn if you get a chance.

More information: http://www.thedeetsband.com/

Live Dates:

31st August - Arch 635, Clapham
25th September - Newcastle University Freshers'
28th September - 12 Bar, London
29th November - Urban Clun, Perugia

30th November - Contestaccio, Rome

POST DECARTES - EP REVIEW

Post Decartes - ...and some things we left along the way... 
Post Decartes - ...and some things we left along the way...

In the good old days, it was the Stereophonics that always came out with the wordy and usually nonsensical song or album titles. It seems that mantle has been taken up by Birmingham quartet Post Decartes as evidenced by their EP title '...and some things we left along the way...', but it gets better....or worse. You decide. Y'see, this five track collection begins with the bizarrely named 'Shakespeare Part 2: Everything Everyone Just Said Was Either Obvious Or Wrong' and what does this bizarrely named song start with? An air raid siren and Stephen Hawking, of course. For second time in less than a week, the influence of System Of A Down is evident as the hypnotic, neo-classical guitars whirl and twirl over furious basslines and pounding drums. Again, rather bizarrely, the next track is entitled 'Introducing...' and the instrumental noodlings are pleasant enough but fairly unnecessary in the grand scheme of things.  

Ready for another bat-shat crazy song title? Yeah? Well, how does 'I Think I'll Take My Chances With The Rage Badger' suit you? You heard me, the rage badger. It's another expansive, explorative piece of music with prog influences stamped all over it - the kind of stuff Muse would love to have a go at if they weren't so popular and pinned down by the expectations of an army of obsessive fans. 'Clockwork Before The Clock' is a more straight forward indie-grunge-rock tune reminding me of Pearl Jam at their more intriguing or early Incubus material. To finish up with, we're back to the bard on the seven minute behemoth that is 'What Does Shakespeare Do For Fun?'. There are plenty of ideas again and obvious musical ability but if I was at a gig and they started playing this I think that would probably be my cue to go and get a pint in - there's just nothing overly engaging about and at seven minutes long it just, well, it just goes on a bit. Post Decartes are certainly an acquired taste but for those who have suckled at the teat of progressive rock or strung out stoner rock there is much sustenance to be had here.


More information: https://www.facebook.com/postukdescartes 

Friday, 16 August 2013

JAPANESE FIGHTING FISH - ALBUM REVIEW

Japanese Fighting Fish - Day Bombs 
Japanese Fighting Fish - Day Bombs

Release Date: 30th September 2013

Based on this latest release from the Leeds/London based outfit Japanese Fighting Fish, the band clearly have excellent taste in music. The influences apparent in the songs on Day Bombs are like a 'who's awesome' of modern rock but I'm just not quite sure they've managed to merge all the different styles and influences successfully. Let's have a little look see shall we? Kicking off with the System Of A Down-ish 'Bloody Fingers' and 'He Doesn't Know What He Wants' there are promising signs but there's a certain something missing that I can't quite put my finger on. 'Greatest Excuse' takes the SOAD influences and takes it on to a new Queens Of The Stoneage level but with a distinctly average pub rock chorus letting it down. Things get a little more interesting on the Victorian Showman vs Punk Anarchist infused 'They Lie' but despite exploring Gogol Bordello meets Carter USM territory it still just comes across as being a little on the novelty side of things. And again, on 'Flick The King', there are optimistic tones as well as potential to fall in line behind St Joe Strummer but, despite a fairly storming chorus, it just doesn't quite seal the deal.

"Walking up the street, it was quarter to ten, I looked across the road to see my friend Ben", so starts 'Ben'. Now aside from the fact that the singer is confused as to whether he is on a road or a street, the use of lyrics that could have been written by a 10 year old suddenly has this album nose diving from a position of potential to, well, let's not say where just yet, there are four more tracks yet. 'Legs' does a little to redeem Japanese Fighting Fish with its Audioslave riffs and QOTSA sinister overtones whilst 'So Drunk & Wasted' gets all Placebo on our ass but with lower production standards and fewer ideas. The ambitious introduction to 'Mister Mandolin' gives way to a gravelly, folorn vocal and acoustic guitar with some understated percussion which, compared to the rest of this album, is actually a gentle and welcome change. Album closer, 'Senses' has balls, big beefy balls that Japanese Fighting Fish want to hit you in the face with. A rumbling bass, crashing drums and some wailing guitars redeem the band somewhat but the damage done by 'Ben' still lingers. So I'm sticking with my gut reaction; Japanese Fighting Fish have some awesome influences and are clearly talented but somehow they just need to work out how to tie all that together and they could have something pretty special on their hands. As it is, what they have on their hands is something a little bit more than mediocre - not much more, mind.


Live Dates:

17th August - Beacons Festival, Skipton
20th August - Barfly, London
31st August - Weyfest Festival, Farnham
4th October - The 100 Club, London

15th November - Vibe Bar, London

THE KISSAWAY TRAIL - ALBUM REVIEW

The Kissaway Trail - Breach (Yep Roc Records) 
The Kissaway Trail - Breach

Release date: 26th August 2013

It so often happens that a band's name outweighs the quality of their music (Audio Bullys being one that springs to mind) but, with this new album from Danes The Kissaway Trail, it is the song titles that steal the show. That's not to say that the music is bad, per se, it's more that they are fairly forgettable. There are plenty of promising moments, such as the Flaming Lips tinged 'Norrebro' and 'Tell the Truth (the Breach)' and the stomp'n'pomp of 'The Springsteen Implosion' but there's nothing that really sticks out as a sure fire hit in comparison to the rest of the album. 'Sarah Jevo' starts off excitingly but urgent, stuttering beats but, like the rest of the album, the tune is just lost in a muddy, incoherent wash of guitars that don't really go anywhere. Even on the more electro fuelled 'Beauty Still Rebels', the Kissaway Trail still sound like Delphic as heard through the ear plugs worn by a nightclub bouncer.

There are some tunes in here somewhere and the drumming is really nice and punchy, particularly on 'So Sorry, I'm Not' but when the song title is the most appealing thing about a song then it's hard to get too excited by the music. On 'Sara (R.I.Punk)' the drums are again excellent but then that wash of keyboards and guitars just buries the rhythm and the muddiness is back. 'The Sinking' and 'Shaking The Mote' are fairly run of the mill slacker indie tracks without any real peaks or troughs to get you hooked in. There is a pointless 90 seconds filled by 'Robot (Think Of Me You'd Never Figured)' which, presumably, was just included so they could fit some more held chords in to the album to get the most out of their new synths. The album closer, 'A Rainy Night In Soho', has ambitions of being a Killers-esque anthem but again it never really gets going and, for once, the drums let this one down. To use a cooking analogy, this is album is akin to taking some of the finest ingredients and then cooking them for 4 days in a stewing pot until all the flavour, urgency, zest and life has been cooked out and all you are left with is a brownish, homogenous gloop. It's such a shame because I had high hopes for this album but it just feels like the Kissaway trail have tried too hard to be cool and forgotten about the music.


Live Dates:
30th August - Studenterhuset, Copenhagen
8th September - Golden Leaves Festival, Reinheim
1st October - Studio 672, Cologne
2nd October - Karrera-Klub @  Privatclub, Berlin
3rd October - Prinzenbar, Hamburg
5th October - Chelsea, Vienna
6th October - Cafe Central, Weinheim
7th October - La Romandie, Lausanne
9th October - Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, London
10th October - Botanique, Brussels
12th October - Paradiso, Amsterdam
18th October - Radar, Aarhus

19th October - Rust, Copenhagen

Thursday, 15 August 2013

MARMADUKE DANDO – ALBUM REVIEW

Marmaduke Dando – Sweet Dregs (Outsider Records) 
Marmaduke Dando - Sweet Dregs

For me, in a lot of ways, Marmaduke Dando represents that eccentric drunk that every pub has; always there and always at about the same stage of inebriation but I never really chat to him and I never see him get out of control or belligerent which is, in itself, quite sad. This persona comes through in the music, the lyrics and general ambiance created on Sweet Dregs as we explore a more high brow level of drunkard; think lovable drunken cad smelling of brandy rather than pissed up skin head smelling of his own urine and Fosters. The album opens with the fairly rousing sound of 'The Trick of Singularity' before sliding effortlessly in to the country tinged baritone ballad of 'Must We Be Bound', a song of depth and rib-cage rattling soul that hints at the huge emotional range of Marmaduke Dando's voice. 'We'll Go Dancing' is an invitation from the aforementioned drunken charmer, quite early in the evening, shrouded in sombre tones, rueful regrets and more than a touch of the dramatic. Indeed, much of the music here could easily be featured in a stage musical set sometime in the early 1900s centred around an eccentric character who has fallen on hard times despite some previous but not forgotten riches. There are times on this album when Dando sounds like you're self-pitying, wallowing mate who has bad luck tattooed on his arse and 'The Art Of Decay' is one of those moments - depending upon your mood, it's either the best or worst song in the world but I'll leave that up to you (the organ is undeniably gorgeous though).

'You Must Know I Adore You?' should really only be played in dark, smoky Jazz bars in the south of France as world weary women pour themselves in to cocktail dresses that are ripping at the seams and equally weary men sip cognac from cracked glasses and remember a time when love was a real possibility rather than just a humorous concept. Ironically, 'Old Friend' has the most up-tempo and positive beginning on the album despite an opening lyric of "So long old friend, I buried you as you did me". The piano refrain harks back to that theme of stage musicals mentioned earlier and Dando's voice is again full of the cracks and waivers of genuine emotion until the Cello joins the party and there isn't an unmoistened eye in the house. The soulful lament of Dando's voice is at its very best on 'We Are Lovers' as the singer croons over a soft, shuffling melody like thick honey dripping from a velvet spoon. Meanwhile, 'Crazy About You' will be the first dance of at least three Indie newlyweds before the year is out and 'I'll Drink To That' is a jaunty little number full of a rolling double bass, staccato piano riffs and a lively jazz drum beat that will keep the whiskey flowing and distract from the stains of one's own vomit upon one's own brogues. The album finale and title track, 'Sweet Dregs', is a waltz of fairytale proportions that lullabies the listener in to a drink soaked hammock on a ship destined for a motionless night's sleep full of twisted dreams and distorted realities. Once again, like the old drunk at the bar, there are times when you will ignore this album and even forget it exists but then again, in the right light and on the right kind of evening you will look on in awe and your ears, eyes, heart and soul will be filled with hope and despair in equal measure.



Live Dates:
15th August – Uncivilisation Festival, Petersfield
28th September – The Forge & Foundry, Camden

2nd November – The White Lion, Streatham
Milo’s Planes – More Free Music EP 
Milo's Planes - More Free Music EP

Release Date: 2nd September

Seven minutes. What can you do in seven minutes? Whip up a tasty salad? Smoke two or three cigarettes? Have some particularly mediocre sex? Organise your sock drawer? Write a postcard to a prisoner on death row from your local seaside resort saying "wish you were here"? Not a lot, basically. So it's fairly impressive that Bristol duo Milo's Planes have put together an EP of 5 songs that totals seven minutes and eleven seconds in length  - this is distilled punk with about as many frills as a the English Defence League has good ideas. Opener 'Captain!' is just an all-out, no holds barred assault on the senses full of distortion, crashing drums and screamed/shouted vocals. There is a riff and a chord change in there so it counts as a song but it's mental all the same! 'Here's Another Reason' sounds like the theme tune to some anarchic kid's TV show from the 80s that never got commissioned featuring Alexi Sayle encouraging kids to ransack the homes of Tory politicians in search for prizes or just snaffled miner's wages. That is to say, it's fun, child-like and a little bit menacing all rolled in to one tight little package.

It is on 'Like Vultures', however, that the pair of brothers flex their muscles a little more mixing Arctic Monkeys more recent work and Queens of the Stone Age with their undeniable punk influences to create something a little more textured and long lasting. 'Nothing New' continues the onslaught and makes me want to match them up with another noise-obsessed duo I have grown to love, One Man Team Dance, to see what moments of utter, noise-filled, detainee-terrorising madness they can create. Final track, 'Etch-O Man' almost has a Blues Rock'n'Roll intro before descending in to the kind of noise we have, by now, become accustomed to. I'm not going to suggest that this music is ground braking or life changing but, for me, it is gratifying and reassuring. You see, these guys are in a tonne of bands between them and this is just one of their outlets through which they are sampling just one of music's many facets. When they start to hone in on what it is they really want to do they will bring elements of all of this with them and this EP will have been a big part of that journey. My only worry is how many songs they will need before they can fill a standard half hour gig slot - by my reckoning they'll need around 20 to fill 30 minutes and that means basically writing two albums worth of songs before setting foot on a stage!


ALLMAN BROWN - SINGLE REVIEW

Allman Brown feat. Liz Lawrence - Sons and Daughters (Akira Records) 
Allman Brown feat. Liz Lawrence - Sons & Daughters

Release Date: 2nd September 2013

First things first, as they should be; this is a genuinely lovely song. The vocal harmonies that build in gentle intensity between Brown and Lawrence are like the gathering heat of a fire as the sun gives up the ghost on an early winter's eve. The warmth and richness of texture that this song exudes has a charming quality that draws you in to be enveloped by comfort, homeliness and familiarity. Hints of Damien Rice and Mumford & Sons will put many off but once you get over your snobbery you will realise that 'Sons and Daughters' is actually a thing of quiet beauty that will surely be sound tracking a moment of heart wrenching grief and sorrow followed by relief and redemption in, at the very least, a BBC drama very soon. Last things last, as they always are; the lyrical content here is refreshingly well thought out as Brown and Lawrence sing the words of an old couple, intertwined with true and enduring love looking back down the years before, at the very death of the song, reminding themselves that such remembrances are still to come. Such is the strength of the love in this story, the couple already know that their twilight years will be spent together, no matter what trials and tribulations they face together. Heart warming stuff.  


Live Dates:

13th September - Old St Pancras Church, London

TOP LESS - SINGLE REVIEW

Top Less - Danger Love 
Top Less - Danger Love

Release Date - 27th August 2013

The word awesome is often over used and used in the wrong way. So I won't use it here. No I will not. Instead, I will use the word gorgeous. And the word lush. And even, just maybe, the words rich and verdant. Top Less (have fun Googling them, by the way) are a collective of souls that met in Scotland but now reside in Canada and that certainly comes across in next single, 'Danger Love'. Sparse beats and percussion gently encourage this song along while sweeping strings undulate like the landscapes of the northern hemisphere before the lilting, wistful vocals arrive to play on the horizon like a wild deer at first light. There are shades of Kate Bush and Karen O to the vocals but also elements of the experimentalism in the music that brings to mind the likes of Gilbert, Boards of Canada, Lemon Jelly and Arcade Fire. Awesome, in its modern day usage, would be too flippant a word for a song of such resplendent beauty which is all the while modest and unassuming. The album, 'Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party', is out in a few weeks too but don't be put off by the title which sounds like the Vengaboys having a midlife crisis; this is important and worthwhile stuff.


Live Dates:

5th September - Venue, 881 Granville Street, Vancouver

VIOLENT SOHO – SINGLE REVIEW

Violent Soho – In The Aisle (I Oh You Records) 
Violent Soho - In The Aisle

Some bands sound like the country they come from and some sound like they were just born in the wrong place. You want examples? OK. To my ears, Biffy Clyro and the Proclaimers sound very, very Scottish but Swim Deep sound like they should be from the West Coast of America and Daft Punk should be Mexican. Don't agree? Write a letter to someone who cares and then post it to yo mama!! Sorry, there was no need for that. I apologise. Anyhoo, the point I was trying to make is that Violent Soho do not sound like the Australians that they are but, rather, sound like Seattle indie-grungers and it is, therefore, no surprise that previous releases of theirs have been housed on the great Thurston Moore's imprint, Ecstatic Plastic. This new single, a mere prelude to next month's album, is an urgent, energetic and in your face three and a half minutes of fuzzy guitars, melodic harmonies and drums that repeatedly you punch you square in the senses. 'In The Aisle' sounds like every obscure 90s lo-fi indie-grunge band I loved and never heard from again but that's just the way I like it - an angry, messy, one-night stand of a song where both parties are fully aware of what they are getting themselves in for. The album, I would suggest, will be an altogether more long-term affair - a summer romance at the very least!


Live Dates:
14th August – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney (w/Bearhug)
15th August – Liberty Social, Melbourne (w/Damn Terran)
16th August – Crowbar, Brisbane (w/ Roku Music + Postblue)


CREATURES OF LOVE – SINGLE REVIEW

Creatures of Love – Sutra Sweet 
Creatures Of Love - Sutra Sweet

Release Date: 19th August

There's a gimmick to this single which I don't normally like to take any notice of before I've listened to the music so I won't mention it just yet (although the more observant among you may have already spotted it). Creatures of Love are a London based trio trading in dark, industrial and menacing soundscapes  wrapped up in a delicious vocal bow provided by the seductive Bonita. 'Sutra Sweet' is pure serial killer music, the kind of sound you'd find your ex-Geography teacher rocking slowly back and forth to in the basement of his family home after he'd finally finished killing off each of his 1992 first form class that caused him to have a mental breakdown. Y'know, grimy noises with a grinding, mechanical beat that Tricky, Massive Attack, NIN or Depeche Mode would love to get their hands on. Now on to that gimmick which is, as the picture above shows, that each physical copy of this single will be available to buy in a hand decorated, recycled 7" sleeve on CD which is not only extremely creative and fun but also a great use of Oxfam's old stock from whence it has been sourced. Either that or they just raided their old Geography teacher's record collection and that' what made him finally snap...


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

CATFISH & THE BOTTLEMEN – SINGLE REVIEW

Catfish and the Bottlemen - Rango
Catfish & the Bottlemen – Rango (Communion Records) 

Release Date: 16th September

Ol' Catfish is back again with his Bottlemen and these boys are showing no signs of letting up in their audio invasion of the airwaves. These four Welshman are getting playlisted left, right and centre and the gig list at the end of this review suggests that they're gigging hard as well - something I always admire in a band. This forthcoming single, 'Rango', is another Killers sized indie-pop-rock anthem in the making with a huge chorus, considerable guitars and a stomping rhythm that just won't quit. So, just to check, we have two well received singles which are destined to be future indie anthems, four hungry young Welshman dressed in leather and an extensive autumn tour of the fleshpots of Great Britain which coincides with the start of the new University year. If you have daughters I would suggest either a crash course in lesbianism or some serious chastity garments. Alternatively, just tell them to go forth and multiply with future rock stars - what are they going to do with a degree in Psychology anyway?


Live Dates:
16th August – The Leopard, Doncaster
24th August – Reading Festival (BBC Introducing Stage)
25th August – Leeds Festival (BBC Introducing Stage)
29th August – End of the Road Festival (Larmer Tree Gardens)
16th September – Sebright Arms, London
18th September – Night & Day, Manchester
19th September – O2 Academy, Oxford
20th September – Lennon’s, Southampton
21st September – Greenaway Pro Festival, Hayle, St Ives
3rd October – Telford’s Warehouse, Chester
4th October – The Full Moon, Newcastle Under Lyme
8th October – Westgarth SC, Middlesborough
9th October – PJ Mooloys, Dunfermline
10th October – Broadcast, Glasgow
11th October – Cafe Drummond, Aberdeen
12th October, Haddow Festival, Edinburgh
13th October – Pure, Sunderland
15th October – Victoria Inn, Derby
16th October – Wardrobe, Leeds
17th October – SWN Festival, Cardiff
18th October – Plug, Sheffield
19th October – Korova, Liverpool
22nd October – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
24th October - Essex University Student Union, Colchester
27th October – Bodega, Nottingham

28th October – Louisiana, Bristol 

Monday, 12 August 2013

ESPER SCOUT - SINGLE REVIEW

Esper Scout - Assumpta Tang 
Esper Scout - Assumpta Tang

This Leeds 4 piece has got me split down the middle. It's not often I find myself sitting on the fence with a band I've never heard before but the four woman that make up Esper Scout have torn me asunder. This single, on the one hand is huge, awesome and mind bogglingly intense. However, on the other hand, 'Assumpta Tang' makes me want to stick bleach in my ears and then set fire to it. Perhaps I should explain. You see, the hypnotic riffs and melodies combined with the sheer force of the rhythm section really are something to behold and previous comparisons to the likes of Oceansize are not unfounded. The structure of the song, the way it builds in to an almightily cacophonous crescendo of an ending is genuinely a thing of beauty. But you'll notice there's one thing I haven't mentioned above; the vocals. Now I'm not keen on putting pitch perfectness above passion or using autotune at every possible opportunity but there is something to be said for either singing in tune or just going balls out for the roar - Esper Scout don't quite achieve either and that's what annoys me so much. It's so frustrating when bands flirt with greatness but don't quite seal the deal. I'll be back for more, I know that much, but I'll be hoping for the cherry on the icing on the cake.

More information: http://www.esperscout.com

Live dates:

14th August - Carpe Diem, Leeds
26th August - Glaston-BURY, Manchester

7th September - Eiger Studios, Leeds

Sunday, 11 August 2013

BOARDMASTERS FESTIVAL - SATURDAY REVIEW

Boardmasters Festival, Watergate Bay, Newquay - Saturday 10th August 2013
Boardmasters - The calm before the storm.

Not only has it been a while since I have been to a gig, it' an eternity since I've been to anything resembling a festival so this was going to be a serious test of my gig legs and the quality of music on offer. Arriving on site at in the late morning, there just enough time to do a circuit, pick up a pint of Cider and find a comfortable spot in front of the Main Stage. Bang on noon and the sleepy calm of Watergate bay is rudely disrupted by Plymouth's finest funketeers Land of the Giants as they launch in to a frenzied half an hour of funk fuelled, ska-tinged rock. It's the perfect wake-up call for the calm site and the only downer is that the crowd watching their set is either absent or half-asleep. To the band's credit though, having the energy and inclination to rouse a relatively disinterested and half asleep crowd at what, in festival terms, was sunrise, is
Land Of The Giants
no mean feat so they should be applauded.

In the interests of catching as many bands as possible, it was time to head straight to the Maverick Stage to catch Essex noiseniks Remember December. It was pretty early in their set when we arrived but singer (loose term) was already well in to her stride abusing the sparse crowd and ordering people to move forward and enjoy this show. Needless to say there was nothing to justify her arrogance so move we did, on to The View area which had the most dramatic backdrop of the day as a small stage was set up with its back to the sea, providing performers with nature's most breathtaking setting. As we picked our way through those still sleeping it off and those hugging the hay bales a little too tight, the gentle but earnest tones of London singer-songwriter Charlie Hole drifted up the hill to greet us. With more than a little resemblance to Damien Rice and with some Dylan-esque phrasing, Hole was the perfect soundtrack to a much needed gentle start to the day for some in the audience. Warming to the theme, we hung around to watch Joss White, a young Cornish singer-songwriter ably assisted by a bassist and cajon....ist? The trio get a an impressively complete sound from a relatively simple set up but the tunes are a little bland in a McFly or the Script kinda way. So, we hauled ass over to the Main Stage again to see what was occurring and that, for what it's worth, was the tail end of a set by Londoners Dexters. As we arrived, the 5 piece were in full flow and trying their best to whip the crowd up but even with a three guitar onslaught and a whole lotta denim the band still come across as a slightly less charming version of the Kaiser Chiefs.

Rat Attack
The search for something fresh and new takes us back to the Maverick Stage to watch highly touted rockers Rat Attack hit the stage in a blur of feedback, gold sequins and, well, black. Some big riffs and some serious stage energy make these guys compelling watching, like the Yo-Yos in their prime, but either a lack of monitor awareness or just a lack of care means the vocals are unintelligible and waaaay off key. Time for a bit of a chill out so we headed over to the Marley area to listen to some blissed-out, dubby beats from Premise and generally just soak up the surroundings while children dance like drugged up loons - and by that I mean unaware of how they look or their immediate surroundings. After a brief pause it's back to the main stage to catch the hotly tipped Man Like Me and as we arrive, 2 minutes before they are due on stage, we are greeted by the sight of just four evenly space microphone stands and a laptop - suspiciously similar to the set up you might expect from a boyband in a shopping centre. Man Like Me are, however, no boy band and despite the only live instrument being an occasionally used saxophone, they make a mighty pop-rap riot with 80s and 90s influences mixed up in a North London cooking pot, spiced with Collapsed Lung-esque raps, Goldie Lookin' Chains sense of timing and dance moves that pretty much any audience could learn. With a frontman fusing Suggs and a young Will Smith it is hard to resist the cheeky charms of these lads so I expect to see much more of them in the coming year
Man Like Me .






Dolomite Minor
One band I wanted to drop in were Southampton Blues Rock duo Dolomite Minor who were just taking to the Maverick Stage as we arrived. The noise was unholy for a band comprised of just guitar, vocals and drums and the mix of Glam rock tinged Blues fronted by a young Brian Eno channelling the voices of Bolan and Barrett was a sight to behold. Sadly for this pair, the Gods were not on their side and their 30 minute set inside a dark tent almost exactly coincided with the day's only really concentrated spell of sunshine so the crowd was sparse to say the least. Their time will come but a little more stage presence and chat wouldn't go a miss. Seizing the opportunity to enjoy some of the sunshine, we headed back to the View to soak up the delightful, tender tones of Alice Jemima, a talented singer-songwriter from nearby Newton Abbot. The gentle, delicate voice of Miss Jemima (both spoken and sung) would suggest an innocence about the musician but that would be a dangerous assumption that her cover of Blackstreet's 'No Diggity' easily dispels. More enthralling than a Norah or a Melua, Jemima has songwriting ability and a uniquely recognisable voice which immediately sets her apart from the plethora of acoustic guitar toting wannabes around these days.

Once again dictated by the weather, we decide to head over to main stage again as the wind picks up and the drizzle sets in. On arrival, the summery tones of geordies Little Comets make us forget the weather and feel like we're having a jam with Paul Simon, Chevy Chase and the Kings of Leon are their most poppy. Sadly, the band decide to play their 'ballad' song at the same time as the heaven's opened a little wider so we sought refuge in the arms of the Maverick stage's tented covering and the bluesy folk howlings of Steve Smyth. The Aussie troubador, backed only by his doppleganger on drums, flew in to a yowling, belowing, heartfelt set in front of a packed tent - partly there for the music and partly for the shelter. Hints of Seasick Steve jamming with Jeff Buckley were evident and, like a fine wine, I sense that Smyth's music is an acquired taste that is well worth acquiring in the fullness of time.   

Crowns
Back over to the main stage to catch a storming set from Manchester indie-dance boys Delphic, who mixed old and new songs with an energy and performance that you wouldn't have expected from 5 men dressed like nervous stand up comedians with their first slot on 8 Out Of Ten Cats. Nevertheless, the beats were huge, the tunes were superbly executed and the mood of the ever growing crowd was lifted to another level yet again. Back to the Maverick stage now (are you spotting a pattern yet?) to watch a band I've been trying to catch live for the past year; Cornish folk-rockers Crowns. These four local lads have been steadily building a following all over the country through relentless gigging and this shows in their slick, faultless and almost brotherly performance in front of an audience of loyal followers and new converts alike. With this kind of rousing set, the stage presence or old pros and the ability to have the locals eating out of the palm of their collective hand, Crowns are surely destined to feature on the main stage next year. After a quick pause for some much needed food (paella seeing as you asked, and very nice it was too), it was back to the Maverick stage for one of the two main events of the day; Brother & Bones. Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised, or disappointed, to hear that the band were nothing short of awesome and, by the end of the set, there is no doubt that each and every person on that crowded tent would have followed Brother & Bones over to the main stage for a bigger, louder, longer set on the Saturday night - it's surely only a matter of time. The songs, old and new, were exquisite, performed with their trademark passion and, with the recent addition of a keyboard player, the Brother & Bones sound is getting even bigger....if that's possible.

And so, for one last time, it was back to the main stage for the main event; Basement Jaxx. By this point the rain was swirling, the crowd had gathered, there was anticipation in the air and, for some reason, there was a woman picking class-A drugs of my shoes. It is a slow start to the set and, due to the swirling wind, nobody is quite sure whether the party has started or not but it's not long before Basement Jaxx and their assorted army of musicians are reminding us all why they are one of the country's best loved dance acts. Hit after hit after hit are churned out by the South London duo featuring guest vocalists, a dazzling light show, various costume changes and a robot (that's right, not a man doing the robot but an actual, dancing, non-aggressive robot). When they finish the set up with a high-octane version of 'Where's Your Head At?', whipping the crowd in to a proper Saturday night frenzy, you know you've seen something special and been part of a collective experience...the next collective experience I was to have that night was the 'drunk bus' back to Newquay town centre in search of a kebab but not every collective experience can be positive! Kudos to Boardmasters though, a great mix of music, a beautiful location and I never once had to queue for a toilet. You can't say fairer than that.

More information:


Thursday, 8 August 2013

WOAHNOWS - EP REVIEW

Woahnows - The Joy Disorder EP (Big Scary Monsters Recording Company) 
Woahnows - The Joy Disorder

Release Date: 17th August 2013

I'm pretty proud to be a Plymouth lad, born and bred. It's a great place to grow up and a beautiful part of the world but as a teenager with an unhealthy obsession with music there wasn't much to keep me going. Even starting an intensely mediocre band did nothing to quench my thirst for music so I looked further afield. Years later, I've returned to my hometown and I'm so happy that things have taken a turn for the better, with a thriving scene and venues popping up all over the place. One man responsible for a healthy chunk of that is Dan James, proprietor of the city's premier rock venue the White Rabbit and enthusiastic bassist with hardcore trio Woahnows. This latest EP is a 5 track stormer that is as unrelenting as it is captivating.  

Opener 'Low Machs' hits you like a truck to the side of your car when you thought you were the only one on the road. Reminiscent or the Ataris or Engine 88, bands that I grew up listening to, this is slick, powerful and absorbing stuff. Singer and guitarist Tim Rowling-Parker (poshest name in punk?) spent some time as the bassman for Plymouth folk-punkers Crazy Arm and you can hear some of the influence in there but this is more guttural stuff, more from the belly. 'Grey Matters' is a choppy little number with nice little drum flicks and a rolling bassline that powers the song forward in to clashing cymbals and thrashing guitars. At the half way point, 'Painfully Safe' is perhaps the most in-your-face song in this collection, with a Reuben-esque riff that embraces the loud/quiet technique beautifully and will have many a head bobbing before making crowds explode in to frenzy of sweat, limbs and cider. The shouted a cappella section in the middle is full of emotion and protest in a way that Frank Turner can oft be heard - not necessarily the best voices in the world but by God do they mean it and that's what really matters, right?

Taking things off on a slight tangent, 'Karuna' (the Sanskrit word for compassion), Woahnows show themselves to be a versatile beast as well as a powerful one. The almost prog-rock time signatures and changes in direction keep you guessing at every turn which is, I have to say, a refreshing thing from a punk band of any description. Final and title track, 'The Joy Disorder', is not what I had suspected but then again I had wondered if it was a tribute to what Bernard Sumner and Peter Hooke did in the short period between Joy Division and New Order. Instead, it's a guitar driven two and a half minute rousing call to arms that climaxes with the refrain "Nothing ever happens til somebody makes it happen". Woahnows have got passion, talent and big ol' punk balls which makes them, in my book, pretty damn hot. What's more, they're doing their EP launch on the seafront in Plymouth in the open air and anyone who's ever been there knows that takes some cajones - if the weather doesn't get you, the shower of tomb stoners will!


Live Dates:
17th August - The Hoe, Plymouth (Open Air EP Release Show)
19th August - Power Lunches, London
26th August - Deadpunk Exchange, Bristol (w/Sick Of It All)
30th August - White Rabbit, Plymouth (w/Tall Ships)
3rd September - Bici Bar, Milan
4th September - Manhatten Pub, Turin
12th September - Stage Club, Larissa
13th September - Klub Fest, Belgrade
15th September - Biker's Kitchen, Novi Sad
16th September - Mali Pogon Jedinstvo, Zagreb
17th September - Arena, Vienna
18th September - Weststadthalle, Essen
19th September - Privat, Cologne
20th September - Secret Show, Hannover
21st September - Rockcafe Asgard, Beverwijk
22nd September - De Onderbroek, Nijmegen
23rd September - Plan B, Biefeld
24th September - The Baracke, Munster
25th September - Wild Rover, Aachen
26th September - Weststadthalle, Essen
27th September - Landshut, Wintergarten
28th September - Lederer, Regensburg

29th September - Sub, Graz