29 Aug 2014

READING FESTIVAL REVIEW DAY TWO AND THREE

Decided to ram these two days together through not wanting to warble on about Reading and because Friday was the only day I really saw a ton of bands worth writing about. Overall, Saturday and Sunday were both great, but nothing beats a run of 8 amazing bands all in one place, especially when you are front and centre barrier for the whole time. But enough, I digress. Onwards with the weekend review! 

The Saturday of Reading was the most chilled out day I got to spend there. My main priority was to see the absolutely incredible, Wolf Alice. Alongside the greatest band ever, (Wolf Alice) the headliners were Arctic Monkeys with Jake Bugg on beforehand, so the day was fairly promising. 




The first band I saw was the always growing, Royal Blood. With a brand new debut album released only days ago, and a mightly successful year under their belt, it was no surprise that they packed out the Radio 1/NME tent. They played a long-enough-to-stay-relevant set, and as I had seen them before a couple times, I wasn't too bothered. However, the noise that this two piece create is unfathomable. Using just a bass guitar and drums to smash out some skull crashing rock songs requires massive amounts of skill, and let me tell you, Ben Thatcher and Mike Kerr have got it. Seeing them live again was pretty similar to the previous times (in fact I think they played the same setlist all three times) but alas, they were still great. Hopefully the release of their debut album will spice up their live shows a bit more, or they could risk getting very boring, very quickly.
Rating: 12/20


Following leaving Royal Blood's set early, it was a quick run to the main stage to catch the indie band to end all other indie bands, Peace's main stage debut set. The speculations surrounding their set came few and far between; What will Harrisson wear? Will they reveal any new tracks? Are they able to command a mainstage crowd? WILL THEY PLAY 1998? Unfortunately they no longer play 1998 due to their new release World Pleasure being the only 5 minute+ track they play. However, the rest of the set was truly brilliant and the B-town boys played amazingly. Drawing an impressive sized crowd, highlights definitely included opening song Lovesick, beautiful ballad California Daze and final song Bloodshake. As not-quite-a-fan of their new stuff, I was slightly adamant about how good they would be, but I was disproved. Peace were outstanding.
Rating: 16/20


THE TIME HAD FINALLY COME TO SEE WOLF ALICE AND I WAS FAR TOO EXCITED FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS SEEN THEM SEVEN TIMES BEFORE
As one of my favourite bands around today, seeing Wolf Alice was no question. No matter who they clashed with, I didn't care. Seeing this band for the eighth time was a risk, what if the day comes when I get bored of them? Well that day was certainly not the Saturday. They killed it. I have had the privilege of seeing this band 'grow up' as sorts, as if we think back to early 2013 when I saw them live for the first time, about 50 people showed up in a tiny local venue with about 10% knowing a few words to debut single, Fluffy. Their set at Reading was jaw-droppingly good, and to see how far they have come and how much they have improved and come together as a band is heart warming. This band deserve every bit of success they receive, and I for one cannot wait for their debut album. Highlight of the weekend alongside Palma Violets. 
Rating: 20/20


The final two acts of Saturday night were Jake Bugg and Arctic Monkeys. A promising combination I hoped, and both delivered. Neither near the level of my 20/20 acts, but nevertheless, very very good. 

Jake Bugg was someone who I was excited to see as a major fan of his second album and although not my favourite, his debut album contains some of my favourite Bugg tracks, and it was impressive for a debut. He played the main stage which has become second nature after his Glasto mini-set and headline slot, and you could tell he is much more comfortable with the exceptionally large crowd he drew. The setlist contained enough tracks from both albums to show off his range of talents, as well as all the fan-favourites like Slumville Sunrise, Two Fingers and Lightening Bolt. I was truly impressed, and have a new found respect for Bugg after he showed emotion during a particularly touching rendition of one of his earlier songs, Broken. The sun came out at the most perfect time and it was truly stunning. You could hear a pin-drop in the crowd when they were not bellowing along with the lyrics. 
Rating: 15/20

Well here we go. You all know I have a lot to say about Arctic Monkeys so do prepare yourselves. I'm joking, I'm joking. I was actually pleasantly surprised with their set. I was expecting the same setlist they have been playing for nearly a year now, but instead I got one full of the classics. My Propeller, Teddy Picker, Old Yellow Bricks and When The Sun Goes Down all made appearances of which I was incandescently happy about, but the only fault was the second to last song. I thought, 'yes, we've made it through an entire AM-era setlist without the painfully bad bollocks that is Snap Out Of It. Tragically, it showed up when I least expected it, but hey, if it got the crowd dancing then who am I to say not to play it. No matter how bad it is. (it's bad) But enough about the negativity. Arctics put on a wild show, and I for one am glad I stuck it out and stayed. If however, the pits had been monitored by security enough then I perhaps may have enjoyed it even more. For the duration of about three songs, myself and the people around me had to form a place where people could escape the seemingly violent mosh. There were points when people were coming up to us crying and physically bleeding and begging to be pulled out of the crowd because the security 'couldn't get to them' or 'they needed to get themselves out' which was a huge mistake. Although I am a firm believer in people who can't handle mosh pits or mosh cirlces etc not going anywhere near them, it should never have been able to get that bad. BUT I DIGRESS. Back to Arctics. They played as well as they always do, and besides being piss drunk, (Alex, I am looking at you) proceeded to put on a killer live show. Definitely not my favourite band of the weekend, not even my favourite headliners, but still tremendous. I think what they need now is a break before touring or releasing anything new to work on their sound, and hopefully get away from that awful awful American sound they have acquired. Overall, not a bad set, but nowhere near the best I have seen them.
Rating: 10/20


ONTO THE FINAL DAY! 

First band I saw Sunday is a rock trio who to say I am currently obsessed with would be an understatement. Brighton band, The Wytches. With a killer debut album just released, this three piece opened the Radio 1/NME stage for the final time on Sunday morning. Drawing a decent sized crowd for the final morning, nobody with a hangover came near that tent because the filthy riffs and thrashing rhythms caused chaos. Mosh circles opened up to mark the start of the opening track, and the frenzy began. The setlist contained all the best songs, and for what it was, the band played amazingly. Cannot wait to see these boys again in October, and I urge anyone and everyone to do the same. Magnificent talent from such a young trio. Still in shock with how good they really were, The Wytches are up there with my top acts of the weekend.
Rating: 19/20


The next (important) act I saw was Drowners. "Hi we're Drowners from New York" kicked off the high energy indie-pop set made up of four leather clad skinny men in black jeans thrashing away at their instruments. Although it took seeing them live to realise that all their songs sound pretty similar, it was still an ace set. I really enjoyed the masses of energy that the band and crowd generated because it gave such a feel good mood to the whole set, especially during highlights; Unzip Your Harrington, Long Hair and A Shell Across Your Tongue. A perfect Sunday afternoon set full of great catchy songs. I was lucky enough to get to chat to frontman Matt Hitt afterwards and he was so lovely, and thanked myself and everyone else who came to meet him for coming to the set, and you could just tell they really appreciated it. 
Rating: 16/20


I caught the end of 2007 legends 'The Kooks' set and judging by the mass singalong and insanely packed out tent, they were definitely one of the most popular acts from the whole weekend. Classics were being played left right and centre, with Naive, Junk Of The Heart (Happy) and She Moves In Her Own Way being the most known. I wish I could write more but I literally caught 10 minutes of the set. Sounded amazing though.

Following the Kooks came a short break in which we decided to maybe or maybe not go and see Macklemore.. (We did) He was great, and before leaving to go see the Horrors, I managed to catch the whole of Thrift Shop and let me tell you now, god DAMN that is a funky bloody song. Dance inducing, it was really great to see before running off to see the Horrors .. who I actually missed .. for Macklemore ..

Sidenote: I got the times wrong meaning that we went and saw Macklemore thinking that we would have enough time to see both and I didn't. Sorry Faris, I truly am. I'll repay you by coming to your gig in September, I PROMISE.



The penultimate act of my Reading Festival was The 1975. Now I know a lot of people don't like the 1975 and I honestly do understand why, but this band mean a whole lot to me so seeing them live again, in this size venue was an incredibly moving experience. To see how far they have come even since February when I saw them was amazing, and I am incredibly proud, and I don't care how sad that sounds. They played an astounding set full of album tracks with a few of their old stuff from the first EP's which was a pleasant surprise. I adored this set and it was up there with, not the best, but my favourites. Matty Healy and the boys have come so far, and despite the 12 year old girl fanbase, they are still one of my favourite bands. A great show, and set me up perfectly to totally lose my shit to the final headliner. 
Rating: 18/20


The final headliner. Blink 182. BLINK ONE EIGHT TWO. The living legends themselves. Pretty much the act that sold Reading to me all the way back when they were announced at the start of this year. I was expecting a whole lot, and I was not disappointed in the slightest. Kicking the whole set off with Feeling This before launching into my favourite Blink song, What's My Age Again? and THEN into Rock Show was the best opening trio of songs I have ever heard. The audience which was probably the biggest crowd I have ever been was full of people of all ages, backgrounds, music tastes and genders. Everyone just wanted to party the last night away, and it couldn't have been soundtracked by a better band. The absolute highlights were a wonderful rendition of I Miss You to which the whole crowd sang along at ear splitting volumes, and of course, the classic, All The Small Things. Never have I seen so many people in one place go absolutely mental. Such an experience. Overall, I could go on and on about how great Blink were, but it was just perfect. They sounded amazing, looked amazing and the energy was unmatchable. The greatest end imaginable. 
Rating: 18/20




Overall, Reading Festival was one of the greatest weekends of my entire life, and I couldn't be more grateful to all the bands I saw, the people I went with, the amazing people I met there and just everyone involved in the whole weekend. 100% hoping to return next year. THANKS READING, YOU RULE.


(WRITTEN BY POPPY MARRIOTT)

28 Aug 2014

READING FESTIVAL REVIEW DAY ONE

I HAVE RETURNED from the wonderful drunken land of Reading Festival. What a weekend! The music was amazing, the people were great, the beer was extortionate and the weather was wonderful. So before I waffle on about drunken adventures and 'were-arctic-monkeys-really-that-good' I shall get straight down to reviewing this corker of a weekend, starting with the Friday.

Friday was definitely my day. The very first act I saw once I had made the (what seemed like) 20 mile walk from our tent to the arena, was one Mr Gerard Way. I was in two minds about seeing him because although the promise of him possibly playing anything by MCR was almost too good to miss, I'm not the biggest fan of his new music. However, he put on a brilliant show and absolutely packed out the Radio 1/NME tent full of old and new fans. Even though he didn't finish with the mighty anthem that is 'Welcome To The Black Parade' no matter how many times I screamed everytime I heard a keyboard .. All in all, Gerard Way was an ace way to kick off my first experience of Reading Fest.
Rating: 12/20

Next came the almighty two-piece, Drenge. Having seen these live before, I had very high expectations, and they were 100% met. After finally fighting my way to the front barrier and hanging there, (no joke, I was literally hanging off of the barrier, it was that packed) Eoin and Rory took to the stage sporting some "fashionable" dresses which contrasted highly with the major frenzy the audience were thrown into as the opening riff of Gun Crazy began. The rest of the setlist contained some 'fan-favourites' like Bloodsports and I Want To Break You In Half as well as showcasing some new tracks which sounded amazing. Finishing with Fuckabout and Let Pretend spawned a massive tent-wide singalong, as the crowd wailed the words 'I don't give a fuck/about people in love' back to the scantily clad dressed boys. One of my favourite sets of the weekend by a mile, glad to see that Drenge are getting the recognition they so deserve. 
Rating: 15/20


At about 4 ish, I wandered to the Festival Republic stage to go see the Orwells, before realising that the lineup for the rest of the day at said stage was utterly phenomenal, so then decided to stay in the place I took on the barrier until the end of the headline set. Good decision as the bands that I saw were top notch

The ever-so-hammered Orwells took to the stage at 4.35 and opening with Dirty Sheets, it was clear this was going to be as rowdy as expected. Mario Cuomo was beautifully out of it, but still managed to guide the hyped up crowd through their high energy set before climbing a lighting tower and thrusting at a strobe light until it fell off .. what an experience that was! Dedicating their penultimate song Who Needs You to the NME ("because who needs the f*cking NME?") induced a mass of cheers from the crowd before finally being escorted off stage at the end of final track Southern Comfort. Incredibly glad I witnessed the madness, and would recommend to anyone to go see this band. 
Rating: 17/20


Next came the almighty, Catfish and the Bottlemen. Massive fan favourites, the crowd was huge. They played fantastically as they always do, and the audiences response shows just how far they have come in such a short space of time. Front man Van repeatedly thanked the audience of this, giving the whole gig such a feel-good-vibe. Whether you like this band, or not, or regardless of stupid stuff they have said in the past, you cannot deny that they are bloody talented and they don't half work hard. The set was great, the songs were even better, and the crowd just topped it all off. Well done to the Bottlemen, another killer show.
Rating: 16/20

Next was an old favourite of mine. King Charles, the dreadlocked singer who looks and dresses a whole lot like Jesus is known for his funky-folk songs which get everyone up and dancing. One of my favourite artists in early 2013, I knew just how good he was live and he has definitely improved. King Charles, you've still got it, and the crowd agreed. Playing the classics mixed in with a couple of new tracks, the setlist was spot on. Glad I got to see him live again.
Rating: 13/20

Childhood played next, and I was massively looking forward to their set after the release of their debut album Lacuna. This was my third time seeing this surfy quartet and they just keep getting better and better. Opening with Blue Velvet and playing some new album tracks before finishing with my personal favourite, Solemn Skies, their set showed off just how good this band really are. Cannot wait to see them again when they tour in October.
Rating: 16/20

THE SPECIAL GUEST.
After the painfully misguided speculations about the special guest with suggestions being The Libertines or Foo Fighters, it turned out to be London rapper, Jamie T. Now I was not a huge fan before he performed, (I only knew about three or four songs) I can say that I have been well and truly converted. The energy that he performed with and how much he fed off of the crowd was a massive part of how good it was. Of course, dancing along with Sam and Chilli from Palma Violets was also a huge part, but still, Jamie T was amazing. If you can get tickets, then definitely go see him on his new tour. 
Rating: 14/20



Bipolar Sunshine followed Jamie T which certainly brought the energy down, but not in a bad way, it just meant I could actually breathe during their set. Despite not being a big fan, I knew enough songs to enjoy myself, and they actually played fantastically. Absolutely worth a listen, uber chilled and uber talented.
Rating: 10/20

It was finally time for the act I had been waiting all day for. Palma F*cking Violets. My favourite gig (in a small venue) of all time, and my favourite album of last year, Palma Violets are up their with my all time favourite bands. They perform with so much enthusiasm and involve the crowd no matter what. The songs they played are catchy, energised and just bloody brilliant. The chemistry between frontmen Sam Fryer and Chilli Jesson is one that emulates similarities to Pete & Carl of the Libertines in the sense that you can just tell they love each other and what they do. So much talent in such a young band. The set began with a 'cover' (which they have revealed is their way of saying a new song without causing a fuss) before the crowd went wild for anthem Rattlesnake Highway. Nothing beats the experience of a Palma's mosh, because no matter how rough it gets, the audience members are always spurred on by the band to help people around them, meaning that if you fall, you are always helped up. I was hanging off the barrier for this entire gig and although my lung capacity was reduced to almost 0% due to being crushed so hard against the metal poles, it still stands as my favourite set of the entire weekend. The set contained three new songs, again disguised as covers, and judging by the sound of those, album number two is going to be as good as, if not even better than the incredible 180 which was released last year. Screaming along to Best Of Friends and We Found Love were definite highlights, but the best song had to be set closer, 14. It's a mind-blowingly good song which shows off everything that Palma Violets are good at, and just how bloody good they really are. The set ended to rapturous applause and screams of 'WE WANT MORE' but unfortunately they weren't allowed to play anymore. So in true Palma's fashion, Sam and Chilli came back on stage and leapt into the crowd causing mass crushes before crowd surfing around the tent. This pretty much gave the security guards (who hated anyone who crowd surfed) a heart attack, but for all those audience members who were injured by a body part of the two lads, it was a golden moment. (I'd like to thank Sam for giving me a nose bleed through hitting me in the face with his thigh?) As the boys returned from the crowd, I got a second to high five and hug Chilli and thank him for an amazing set, in which he returned the gratitude to myself and the surrounding audience. Absolutely incredible. Nothing beat this set at all, and I would have happily seen it as a headline slot every single night of Reading over anyone and everyone. 
Rating: 20/20



(Written by Poppy Marriott)

PART TWO COMING TOMORROW...


Hookworms' second album 'The Hum' announced

After a long-ish wait, Leeds-based psych merchants Hookworms have announced their second album, the follow up to last year's mesmeric Pearl Mystic. It's to be entitled The Hum, and it's due on November.

It was announced via Marc Riley's 6music show - the best show on the radio as it happens - as the band played a 3-song studio session featuring last year's single Radio Tokyo alongside the opening pair from The Hum. First listen of the first two tracks show all they need to show; The Hum is going to be unadulterated genius, and it's going to be just as mesmeric as Pearl Mystic - and for me it'll be a contender for album of the year too.

As well as that, new track The Impasse is available for streaming here, and you can also preorder the album and whatnot. 180 seconds of Hookworms at their glorious best; I mean, I'm biased, but if they're not the best band on the planet right now then I don't know who is.

The 6Music programme on which Hookworms played a couple of new songs is available for another six days just here, so it's worth listening to very soon. Click this link and skip to about 49.00 for some new material.

With albums come tours - but Hookworms being the damned Northerners are playing nowhere near me, living on the south coast is always a curse when it comes to tours. But they're playing a handful of dates that include a London date, as well as shows in Leeds, Newcastle, Cardiff and Sheffield, and if you live anywhere near somewhere Hookworms' forthcoming gigs, I can't recommend seeing them live enough; I mean, earlier this month I saw them live in Brighton and it was one of the greatest things I'd ever seen.

And too, the artwork is cool as! I mean, it's inevitably dark and psychedelic - just have a look! Like Pearl Mystic's it's probably done by Hookworms' own MW - who incidentally has an exhibition on in Manchester this week, heavy on dogs, and heavy on punk rock. What more you could you want from an exhibition?



You can preorder Hookworms' album The Hum here, it's available on Domino Records from 11th November! 

(written by calum cashin - @pearlmystic on twitter) (hookworms' number one fanboy)

25 Aug 2014

Royal Blood / Royal Blood (album review)


When you're a two-piece, the trouble can often be that you can't do enough to make a whole album interesting. The White Stripes are, of course, the greatest of these bands and with six brilliant albums they prove that it's not at all difficult to make a great album as a rock duo. As do the likes of Japandroids, Death From Above 1979, and even the Black Keys on their first few albums. But where talented two-pieces often fall short, like Drenge before them, is by not having anywhere near enough dynamic variety to make an album, however full of good songs, interesting.

As a band, Royal Blood certainly are interesting. I mean, under the circumstances anyway. Their fanbase and commercial success is built almost solely around the fact that they're Arctic Monkeys' pals. I mean, ask anyone big on Royal Blood how they came to listen to Royal Blood, and chances are the words 'Arctic Monkeys' - with whom they share management - will come into the equation. And just one look at both members of the band, clad head to toe in ill-suiting leather jackets and 'shades', shows that they're clearly more than a bit influenced by High Green's finest Elvis impersonators. So, the debut from Royal Blood is not only a chance for Royal Blood to flaunt their 'future headliner' pedigree, but to step out of the brilliantine drenched shadow of Arctic Monkeys.

Royal Blood opens with Out of the Black. Whilst the song highlights the togetherness of the whole operation, it also exposes the album's potential flaws too. Whilst it rocks hard and with a bit of pace, it's very average and it also shows anyone listening just how well the frontman can sing. It makes you think, maybe they could get a fella in to play guitar... and also write the songs... and sing the songs.

The albums two high points follow suite, however, and they're Royal Blood's two hit singles. Come On Over features a genuinely brilliant riff, and gets the blood racing; "hey!", you'd think, "this genuinely might be a really good album". Their next hit single, Figure It Out, is again quite a good little ditty. It's not sophisticated, it's not clever, but in Figure It Out Kerr's vocals (this time he's trying to sound a bit like Jack White) and the romping music make it apparent just why Royal Blood are the commercial success they are. If Royal Blood doesn't wow critics, it'll certainly shift more units than most other things. 

Other highlights come from songs released before the album. Loose Change, the shortest and most direct song, is possibly the best song. Kerr gives us some pretty brilliant bass-work, which does genuinely account for no guitarist. And the sound of loose change being dropped at the end of the track is a nice touch; Royal Blood is very well produced.

However, the less interesting moments not only make you question how good Royal Blood are, but they make you question what a great two-piece is. Mike Kerr really can't sing, which puts emphasis on the deep repetitive basslines, and the drumming is very over the top. Maybe not over the top by standards of rock music on the whole, but Ben Thatcher's drumming dominates a lot of the wafer thin sound throughout the album tracks. Perhaps, as Meg White shows, simplistic drumming is the way forward in such  bands. 

And the album is so staid all the way through. Once you've heard one song you have genuinely heard them all. For a cheaper price you could buy Figure It Out off of iTunes and make a playlist of it times 10. And it rarely takes advantage of what two-pieces like Drenge and Death From Above 1979 do best; sudden bursts of sound, and impromptu changes of tempo! Man, Royal Blood's album starts at a moderately fast walking pace, adopts a moderately fast walking pace throughout, and ends at the same pace at which it started. 

Royal Blood is by no means a bad album, but it is about as exciting as a Tuesday. It's devoid of excitement bar a few tracks, and the lyrics are quite clunky throughout, but it does tick all the boxes it needs to to be Radio 1's favourite new thing, and it's certainly a radio-friendly unit shifter for the major label Warner Brothers. It'll probably be the right cup of tea for some people, and it probably sounds quite good live, but ultimately it's thin sound and parochial soundscope, make it almost sickening that this band are going to be compared endlessly to The White Stripes. I mean, not only are they not a patch on the White Stripes, they're really not fit to kiss to ground on which Deap Vally walk. But still, it's not bad for a band that look what you'd imagine the rest of The Arctic Monkeys to look like, if you took away the soft focus on Alex Turner - which is mandatory with every photo of that band.


DETAILS
Out: Today! (25th August) on Warner Brothers
Producer: Royal Blood with Tom Dalgety - although Alan Moulder works on the mixing of Track 2
Listen to: Figure it Out, Loose Change. 
Rating: 11/20

(WRITTEN BY CALUM CASHIN)

22 Aug 2014

Why Henry Rollins' views on suicide make him a bit more of a cock than you'd already assumed he was


It's been impossible to not hear about the sad passing of Robin Williams, star of Mrs Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting and Good Morning Vietnam, and it seems that everyone has a bit of an opinion on the matter. Famously fearsome, famously fierce, but also famously a bit of a fuckwit, Henry Rollins is no exception, often finding a controversial standpoint for controversial standpoint's sake, as he said earlier this week;
"I have many records, books and films featuring people who have taken their own lives, and I regard them all with a bit of distain... 
Almost 40,000 people a year kill themselves in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In my opinion, that is 40,000 people who blew it...Fuck suicide. Life isn’t anything but what you make it. For all the people who walked from the grocery store back to their house, only to be met by a robber who shot them in the head for nothing — you gotta hang in there."
The first time I heard mention of it was in a headline along the lines of 'Rollins criticises Robin Williams suicide' or whatever, and I just mulled over it with a disdainful "hmmm". And that's disdain, not 'distain'.

But earlier, scrolling bored through Facebook I stumbled upon a version of the headline supplemented by the appropriate pull quotes from Henry Rollins "essay" on suicide, depression and Robin Williams. "Wow", I thought, "what a fucking arsehole this guy is". He later goes on to talk about his brushes with depression, too, and how his friends suffered with that kind of thing. So it's some sort of surprise, that he later goes on to describe it as 'stupid', 'confusing' and 'selfish'. The phrase 'insensitive prick' springs immediately to mind.

Whilst it's no secret that Rollins is, umm, outspoken, and, well, not the brightest, this really grabbed me. Like, do people actually think that?

A gentle meander around the internet yields this thought too; people really can't get their head around what a mental illness is! And they really think people who commit suicide is nothing but a selfish gesture? Well, famously respectable, sophisticated wordsmith, Gene Simmons, responsible for such poems as Love Gun, I Want To Rock and Roll All Nite and I Was Made For Lovin' You has ALSO hit out at the 'selfish' people that commit suicide. Wow, you think, the bloke from Kiss and the guy that used to be in Black Flag. The Dream Team! What they say can't possibly be a stupid, headstrong, slur, can it? Well...


And I know, that there's no objective, right way to stand on events like this, and that morals aren't set in stone objectives rules shared by everybody. But opinions like 'suicide makes it impossible for me to feel sorry for them' that are born out of ignorance, and come from a position of influence that may make other people think this is an acceptable standpoint, are the kind of opinion that should stay muted, you know?

It's events like Robin Williams' tragic death that bring to light the ignorance people have for mental illness. Although, it's clear that people aren't educated enough when it comes to situations like this, which is sad really. I think maybe in institutions like schools should raise awareness of mental illness, like they're a physical illness or something very similar.

And as for Rollins, perhaps becoming more famous these days for preposterous statements - the last bastion for a has-been slipping out of the limelight - than he is for making (I say this guiltily) pretty top notch music, when he was Black Flag's vocalist. Statements like this are the kind that make you think 'fuck, I've lost all desire to ever listen to Damaged ever again'.

(written by calum cashin)

Ty Segall / Manipulator (album review)

Aged 27, Ty Segall's already put out more records than most people manage in their life time. He's put out 8 official album albums, which wow! An album a year, you think, that's pretty fucking great. But piled atop of those is a number of less official LPs, as well as collaborations with such bit-part players of the US underground like White Fence and Michael Cronin... BUT WAIT, that's not enough. Ty's also been a part of such bands as his first band Epsilons (who've spawned a handful of LPs), The Perverts (who released a genius EP in 2009), and Fuzz, whose self-titled stoner-rock debut was one of the albums of last year!


So being the omnipotent workhorse he is, having assigned his name to about 20 long players, you'd expect a new Segall record to be something that isn't worth the jump for the joy you'd jump if you, say, heard there was a new DIIV album on it's way, or that Segall's hero Bowie was in the studio again brewing up somehting amazing. But alas, with Manipulator, the man's made an album so much more exciting than the aforementioned duo. In fact, it took the man well over a year of painstaking work to create, so it's uncharted territory Segall. But has the extra time taken to record it paid off? 

Whilst he started off his career raucous and loud, with a bit of a snarl on him, Ty Segall's recent solo works have been certainly mellowed out. And a first listen of the opener, Manipulator, gives hint that - although he's got his snarly Bolan voice in top gear, Segall's carried on the softer dreamier path explored on Goodbye Bread or the sombre acoustics of Sleeper

But listen on to the first half of the record, and BAM! The catchy chorus of Tall Man Skinny Lady, the romping stomp of The Faker and the electric Green Belly prove that Manipulator means business. It's heavy, and it fits the Glam ideology of Melted, his 2010 album which I think may just be a current career highlight. Ty Segall's lyrics are uncharacteristically sharp too - not quite in the same way someone like Ian Curtis or Morrissey - but they snap out the mouth like lightning.


With a total of 17 songs, all perfectly written could-be singles, and a runtime of just under an hour, it's easy to not quite listen to it all the way through. But after about 35 minutes, the record begins to be more than just a good indie record. The killer riff that empowers the amazing Susie Thumb is unlike anything else released over the whole of 2014. Well, it's the best riff consigned to vinyl since Segall brought out the self-titled Fuzz album.

The albums tender moments are really quite special too, like the wispy title track, or Don't You Want To Know? (Sue), which cushions the blow dealt by the fuzz of Susie Thumb. Ty Segall can pin not only the Fuzztones-esque garage stuff that he's made his name releasing, but the soft slightly more acoustic moments too. 

Manipulator may just be one of the albums of the year... I mean, man! An album with 17 songs and not one that you'd dare to maybe call a 'filler'! Maybe that's just the weakness of Manipulator, if you can pinpoint some kind of weakness from this masterpiece. It's difficult to pinpoint a handful of select songs from this album that are the highlight... but who cares? It's a bona-fide work of brilliance, and the extra work Ty's consigned to it has paid off tenfold. With his, umm, eighth solo album, Segall has struck gold.

Details
Released: Out now, on Drag City Recordings
Producer: Chris Woodhouse
Need to hear: Susie Thumb, Feel, Who's Producing You?, The Faker
Rating: 18/20

(written by calum cashin)

21 Aug 2014

My ten favourite musical cult heroes

The term cult hero is one that is knocked about here there and everywhere. And the meaning is kind of ambiguous, as, I suppose, is any phrase prefaced by the word 'cult'. But for me, the term generally means less someone or something that is lesser known, but greatly loved. Confusingly enough, it doesn't reaaaally have anything to do with actual cults, or whatnot. Which is a shame, because the world could do with a Holy Church of The Neutral Milk Hotel cult, really.

But it's a term slapped on a lot of people, but I quite often find people that I have short, manically obsessive phases of to be labelled as so called 'cult heroes'. I've seen the phrase used more and more widely, so I decided maybe to put my favourite ten into a blog post, for everyone to see. And maybe, with a little luck, to trigger a Julian Cope-related cult, you never know...

MARK E. SMITH (and THE FALL)

Labelled the cult band for the cult band, The Fall - or namely Mark E. Smith - define the phrase. Over their thirty-few year-long career, The Fall have put out hundreds and hundreds of LPs (most of them great, some of them still pretty damn good, and a couple that are only 'OK') and they have a fanbase that consists of many, many people that don't actually follow any other bands. Thousands of people obsess manically about The Fall, and there are sites upon sites dedicated to unpicking the drunken ramblings of ever-drunken kingpin Mark E. Smith. In fact, a few years back, Guardian journalist Dave Simpson wrote a book in which he tracked down over 50 of The Fall's past members, and it made for really very thrilling reading. And they do indeed define the term statistically too; The Fall have had more singles in the UK top 100 without having a top 20 hit than any other artist - 16 if you're wondering. They're always there, but never quite great enough to break into the mainstream.
Essential Listening: The Classical, How I Wrote Elastic Man, Blindness, Container Drivers, Hex Enduction Hour (album)


JULIAN COPE

Julian, my favourite at the moment on the list, would be the proud holder of the above record, by quite a way... if the perfectly crafted hit World Shut Your Mouth hadn't siezed the number 19 slot in 1986! Again, another artist with a long back catalogue and a vast output, Julian Cope is one of the single most versatile musicians ever to be born, ever. He first found fame with the bouncy bubblegum trance post-punk pop group, The Teardrop Explodes, but after two albums they split and he went on to work his way through an illustrious solo career, which started off with obscure psychedelic pop records, before covering such territory as stoner rock, space-rock, neolithic inspired folk, and even his own brand of Julian-style Krautrock. Many hihglights can be found quite easily, including his successful Saint Julian stage persona of the mid-eighties, his comeback album after the Teardrops' breakup with the cult-ish World Shut Your Mouth ("I only had one thing to say on this album, so I said it in as many ways as possible) and the dazzling brilliance of 1991's double album Peggy Suicide. Of course, this isn't all; he's also one of the most well-spoken, and well informed musical writers in the world (check out his blog type website here), he's written a few books about stone circles and all that. But alas! That is not all, he's just released a debut novel, and boy is it great. The man is a true one-off, and there's no one quite like him. It's no wonder so many people adore the man, and he's held.
Essential Listening: Reynard the Fox, World Shut Your Mouth, World Shut Your Mouth (album), Autogeddon (album)


THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR ELEVATORS

The Velvet Underground are of course renowned today, for being one of the most innovative and amazing bands of the sixties - and that they most certainly are. But bubbling under the downplayed success of The Velvets was a bright, illustious scene of psychedelic garage bands, that would later become a scene of proto-punk genii. Of these, the band that stuck out were the Texan band The 13th Floor Elevators - who literally invented the term psychedelic. Fronted by the crazed charisma of the shamanic Roky Erickson (idolised by the first two people on this list) the 13th Floor Elevators brand of psych was miles ahead of anybody else they could call contemporaries. Their sound was incredibly textured, and Erickson's lyrics were something else for the time - cosmic tales of stone circles, cryptic odes to the phenomena of the weather, and plain perfect pop songs like You're Gonna Miss Me. Their legacy is plain to see, as their famous fans include not only Julian Cope (who released a Texas-only LP in the early 90's to fund a lawyer for Erickson's defence), but The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Butthole Surfers, and The Stooges have all made it clear that the psychedelic sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators have been a crucial influence on them.
Essential Listening: Slip Inside This House, The Psychedelic Sounds of... (album), Reverberation (Doubt), any of Roky's solo work



RIDE

Shoegazing titans, Ride were up there with Slowdive and My Bloody Valentines and even made it more on a commercial scale. But with recent Slowdive and MBV activity, Ride aren't quite up there with the notoriety of the other two members of the 'Shoegazing Holy Trinity'. Their sound was much more rock 'n' roll than the other two, and was swirlier, and more dynamic - but just as warped. Born into the world in 1988, Ride immediately created big splashes with their first 3 EPs and then their life-changing debut Nowhere, Ride's textural shoegaze sound is probably the one with the most legacy - all the Sonic Cathedral and Captured Tracks-signed artists that tent to borrrow more from Ride and sound more like them than any of the other aforementioned shoegazers. And the sheer number of people I see on the internet with a Ride passion similar to mine assures their status as the cult I think they have.
Essential Listening: Just listen to Nowhere (album), Ride (EP) and Like A Daydream

SYD BARRETT

Syd, the original frontman of Pink Floyd, is always called a cult hero - and rightly so. He only made 1 album with The Floyd, before they slowly branched off to become prog-overlords of all humanity in a much less interesting fashion. He recorded four singles with the Floyd - including the legendary See Emily Play and Arnold Layne, before the band turfed his increasingly erratic self out in 1968. Barrett took huge amounts of drugs that included LSD, and sadly it all destroyed his enigmatic mind. But, at the very beginning of the 70's, he put together two genius psychedelic folk albums (The Madcap Laughs & Barrett), before eventually beocoming reclusive for what was the last half of his life. Although the tale of Barrett is a sad one, he was a unique man and I really think the sum of his Floydian brilliance and his solo LPs is greater than the rest of the band's post-Barrett discography. And Interstellar Overdrive will be remembered by musical aficionados long after people cease to care about The Wall.
Essential Listening: Piper at the Gates of Dawn (Pink Floyd album), Golden Hair, The Madcap Laughs (solo album)



ANTON NEWCOMBE (and THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE)

The only real omnipresent member of psychedelic survivors, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, the shamanic head of the band is another widely regarded cult hero. Although he's settled down in the midst of Berlin, with a child and a home studio, Newcombe's best known for his wild drug-fuelled antics from the early nineties through to today. The BJM have released about 15(???) albums, all of them different and special in their own right, but for me highlights include the straight out shoegaze of the first few albums, the unique 3 albums released in 1996 and 2003's flawless, fully formed ...And This Is Our Music. What makes the BJM special is the consistent brilliance of their output; this year's Revelation is one of the albums of the year and quite possibly the decade. And words can't quite describe the brilliance of Newcombe's recording techniques. I spoke to Mark Gardener of Ride, who said that Anton recorded lots of songs off of the top of his head (leaving them because "it's pure like that") and being like a man possessed in the studio. The Brian Jonestown Massacre are one of the all time great cult bands.
Essential Listening: And This Is Our Music (album), Not if You Were The Last Dandy On Earth, Their Satanic Majesties' Second Request (album)



NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL

No band, ever, has been or could be as special, or unique as the Neutral Milk Hotel. Their existence spanned most of the 90's, until the break-up which followed the seminal album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Frontman Jeff Mangum's beautifully nonsensical lyrics and their unique brand low fidelity fuzz-folk conjures atmospheres and imagery like no other. Whilst their 2nd and final LP In the Aeroplane is rightfully regarded as a mastepiece, combining sprawling folk epics like Oh, Comely! and Two Headed Boy pt. 2, perfectly composed indie pop songs like the title track and Holland, 1945, their first album is almost as perfect. The nature of Neutral Milk Hotel, and in particular the reclusive nature of Jeff Mangum, meant that for years and years, meaning that over time the band grew a sort of legendary cult status. Now, with their reunion, including high-billing slots at cool festivals Neutral Milk Hotel have found relative success and monstrous acclaim, which is deserved as they're probably one of the greatest indie bands of all time, and if not that they're responsible for the greatest indie album, ever, if you can label In the Aeroplane... as only that.
Essential Listening: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (album), On Avery Island (album), Naomi



TELEVISION

When punk was the in-thing, Television's own offshoot of the NYC scene was truly bombastic. They were among very few American bands to cut their hair short, but on top of that they had one of the most unique and most amazing sounds in music. The other day my friend said that they were so important, had they not happened, everyone would still be trying to sound like Led Zeppelin. Ew. Their double helix guitars and their mystic lyrics made Marquee Moon the single greatest album of the seventies, bar none, and their inspiration can be heard here there and everywhere. What also makes them cool is that their twisty sound was there from the very beginning of punk rock, 14 minute long versions of Marquee Moon can be found on Youtube from the start of '75 and the fact that they predate the Sex Pistols with that sound and attitude is pretty fucking cool.
Essential Listening: Marquee Moon, Marquee Moon (album), Prove It

BIG BLACK (and STEVE ALBINI)

The mastermind behind the production of In Utero, Surfer Rosa and a lot of PJ Harvey's solo material, the producer Steve Albini masterminded one of the great bands as well. Whilst industrial rock is a genre people are eager to look down their nose at (I mean, I laughed when I first the most famous industrial rock band, Nine Inch Nails) Steve Albini's Big Black were one band that you couldn't help but admire the genius of it all. Being made up of Albini. two others, and Roland the drum machine, Big Black were the most co-ordinated, loud and down-right vicious band of the infamous US hardcore scene of the eighties. Through their two albums, Atomizer and Songs About Fucking, the band rose to huge acclaim - John Peel once said that he weekly thought about hammering a nail into his foot because he passed on an oppurtunity to see them. Their live shows too, explain this. There's a couple floating around the internet - one in CBGBs, and another in a steamplant in Seattle - the latter being the bands last gig in 1987, attended by a 20 year old Kurt Cobain. It's hard to talk about just how great this band are, and why today they have fans crazy for them, without hearing them, but man! What a band.
Essential Listening: Atomiser (album), Grinder, Kerosene, Columbian Necktie



HOOKWORMS

Okay, here maybe the term cult band is being used a little tenuously, but hear me out. Formed just a few years, ago, Hookworms are the Leeds band responsible for bringing us Pearl Mystic and a host of the greatest British psychedelic songs since 1990's break-up of the Spacemen 3. A cult band itself can be described as a band whose acclaim outweighs their popularity, or a band with a decent amount of fans crazy about the band, and crazy about this band I sure am! Keeping a famously low profile, through using only initials instead of names, Hookworms are one band active today (the other band in this kinda timeframe I was going to write about was WU LYF) whose legacy can surely only grow, having released a great album, a great EP and nothing more just yet! But they're poised to release another great LP, clad in mysticism and genius and whatnot. I guess they're not a cult band in the way The Fall are, but give it a few years and there'll be hundreds of people walkin' around convinced Hookworms are the best thing to happen to music this century, and people who are all "Hook-who? Let me google that..." (But don't google it, it'll scar you for life)
Essential Listening: Pearl Mystic (album), Radio Tokyo, I Have Some Business Out West



(written and compiled by calum cashin)

READING FESTIVAL PREVIEW

With only days to go before the gates open and tens of thousands of drunk and disordly teenagers descend onto the historic site of Richfield Avenue, (myself included) I thought I would take a look at who is going to follow in the footsteps of the greats, and who's sets will fall in the mud. This will be my very first year attending Reading, and I can't put into words how excited I am. With acts to cater to nearly any music taste, it promises to be a legendary year. 




Headline Slots:

This year is a first for Reading Festival, because they officially have four headliners. On the Friday, Paramore and Queens Of The Stone Age will join forces for a joint headline slot. Although they are not actually playing together, they have both been called headliners. Why? I don't really know, but I know that I won't be attending either for reasons I will explain later. Taking to the main stage on Saturday is the ever-so-changeable, Arctic Monkeys. The monkeys have been gradually working some older tracks like A View From The Afternoon and My Propeller back into their setlists, rather than playing the entire of AM about four times, so I am holding out hope for them. Claiming that their R&L sets are going to be 'epic,' they have a lot to live up to. If it's the same setlist they've been playing for nearly a year now then I will be highly disappointed. No matter how good they are live. Sunday night plays host to American pop-punk legends, Blink 182. The group that have never really grown up take to the stage to close the festival, and I am more than excited. Although three grown men singing about making out after school and the likes of that, (I shall avoid some of the more explicit lyrics) will probably be a bit creepy, they promise to be a perfect festival closer. After playing two shows at Brixton Academy and the reviews being mostly positive, Blink are up there with the acts I am most excited to see. 




The Main Stage:

Friday main stage is a fairly weak one, so I am very glad for the other stages. Opening the stage in the afternoon is Hacktivist, and then it continues to house acts such as Blood Red Shoes, Jimmy Eat World & Enter Shikari, before the pop-rock band with a killer twitter account take to the stage. Vampire Weekend are on my list to see, but not as a priority. Once again, I think they clash with someone better, but having seen this band live before a few times, I know they will play a fantastic set. VW have no problem fitting into a festival setting with their summery classics like Oxford Comma and Diana Young and of course, the anthem that is A-Punk. Fairly disappointed to be missing them, but I have no doubt they will do the honours of being a main-stage act justice. 

Saturday main stage is what I am most looking forward to. Gnarwolves kick off the party before Pulled Apart By Horses and Dry The River take to the stage. Peace play next, and they are one of the bands I am most excited to see. I saw them last year, before the release of their new album tracks, so seeing Money, World Pleasure and brand new single Lost On Me live should be a treat. Their set at present lacks my favourite song, a cover of Binary Finary's, 1998, but I hold out hope that maybe, just maybe, they'll play it live again. Foster The People are another band I may have to miss due to a horrendous clash with my loves, Wolf Alice, but I hope to catch some of their set. Their new album is a personal favourite of mine, so there's a tough decision to be made there. Upon returning to the main stage after Wolf Alice, Imagine Dragons will be taking to the stage and after suffering through their set (i'm joking, I don't think they're that bad) finally, Jake Bugg will be on. First time seeing the grumpy git, I've got high expectations. Both his albums are very strong, with fantastic singles like Slumville Sunrise and Two Fingers emerging from them, so I do hope he lives up to the hype. 


Sunday main stage is 100% the weakest day. I don't plan to get their until before Blink 182 are about to come on, because there's no acts I am bothered about seeing. Maybe You Me at Six? Mayble guilty pleasure Macklemore? To be honest, the other stages are showcasing some of my favourite smaller bands on Sunday so I plan to be around there all day. 









NME Stage:

The first day opens with emo overlord Gerard Way who I am considering seeing incase he plays any MCR stuff, but honestly I'm not that bothered. The first band I really care about seeing are rock two-piece, Drenge. Amazing band, amazing sound, and equally amazing live. No way am I missing these, even if they do clash tragically with Darlia. It's a battle of the rockers, and although Darlia are great, Drenge win everytime. Classics like Bloodsports, Nothing and Face Like A Skull simply cannot be beaten. Temples and Warpaint are also possible acts to see for the Friday, but neither really blow me away. There's better elsewhere. Headlining the Friday is Courteeners, and although I would like to see them, nothing comes between me and Palma Violets' headline slot.

Second day shows off a beautifully indie lineup with Royal Blood being the first band I care about. Similar to Drenge, this two piece have had quite the year. Seeing them at Finsbury Park in May was eye-opening; I didn't realise that a bass guitar could make that much noise. Ben Thatcher and Mike Kerr and incredibly talented, and I can safely say that this set will be watched by a lot of people, as Royal Blood's following has just grown and grown. Loose Change and Hole were standout tracks back in May, and I hope to see them live again. Sadly, nobody else really has the power to take me away from the main stage, however I would like to see Cage The Elephant, the ever-so-freaky Die Antwoord and Chvrches, but Wolf Alice and Jake Bugg come first. 


The final day is a funny old combination of artists. Kicking it all off are a band I cannot WAIT to see. The Wytches are phenomenal and I would recommend dragging yourself out of your tent, no matter how hungover you are, and witnessing the ear-splitting volumes of this trio. Their debut album is brain crushingly good, and I for one will not let anything get in the way of me missing this set. Other bands on the lineup are The Neighbourhood, (good live but a bit self indulgent) Jungle & The Kooks. Next comes the skinny-legged, messy-haired, dressed-all-in-black indie rock band, The Horrors. Again, definitely not one to miss as they show off their shoegazey, post punk tracks from a selection of five sensational albums. Following The Horrors comes the 1975. This is a tough one, because as a fan of the band, of course I want to see them live, but will the 12 year old fans who continue to scream through the most intimate of songs (such as Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You or Me) make it unbearable? Probably. Might have to give that one a miss. Sorry Matty. 





Festival Republic Stage:

Friday is a truly tremendous day. With a multitude of indie bands like Darlia, Fat White Family, The Orwells, Catfish & The Bottlemen and Childhood all in the same place on the same day, it promises to be a day that shows off the best new bands around and show that there really is hope for music today. Highlights will include The Orwells, Catfish & The Bottlemen and Childhood with the latter two being my favourite bands from Latitude earlier this year, and the Orwells just being incredible. What I am most looking forward to however, is headliners, Palma Violets. Easily the best band I saw live last year, and my favourite gig ever, Palmas promise to be insane. The chemistry between front man Sam and bass player Chilli is a combination like no other, and Chilli in himself usually puts on a wild stage show. When I saw them, there was stage diving, crowd invasions, neck-breaking headbanging and lyrics being screamed louder than the band could play. This is the set I am most excited for out of every single act playing this weekend, and I have absolutely no doubt it will live up to every expectation. 

Saturday doesn't have as many amazing bands as the previous day, but it does have Wolf Alice who we all know are my favourite band. Probably the only band worth leaving the main stage for, it's a huge struggle to decide whether to see them or not. Wolf Alice just keep getting better and better, and if I do get to see them this weekend, then it will mark my eighth time seeing this band live. Too many times to see one band? You might think so, but it's been an incredible experience watching this band grow and get such a following to get to where they are now. Even if I can't make it, I have no doubt they will absolutely pack out the FR Tent and blow everyone's minds in the same way they have done seven times for me. 


The Sunday is not a band day, but not the best day. Baby Strange, Saint Raymond and Drowners are all bands I plan to see but once again, nobody really stands out. American band Drowners will most likely be a highlight, with catchy two minute long pop-songs presented to you by the ever-so-wonderful Matt Hitt, they are a perfect festival band. As long as they don't clash with anyone better, I shall be sure to see them. 




Across the rest of the stages bands like Eagulls, The Skinrs, Neck Deep, Klaxons, Bondax and AlunaGeorge all promise brilliant sets. I'm sure there's a ton of bands I have missed out, but this post contains all the band I would recommend seeing and I plan to see as many as I possibly can. This weekend will be friggin incredible, and I will be sure to write a full review as soon as I return and recover. To anyone not going, there's livestreams of the main acts on BBC3 throughout the whole weekend, but to anyone that is going to either Reading or Leeds; have the most AMAZING time and have a drink (or 10) on me. 


(Written by Poppy Marriott)

19 Aug 2014

Hookworms / The Haunt, Brighton, 15th August (live review)

Back in the March of 2013, psychedelic Leeds-based five piece Hookworms released what was quite probably the album of the year; the brooding Shjips-esque fuzz, combined with absolutely unique vocals and the perfect tones propelled it to number one in many an end-of-year list. And whilst we've heard nothing new yet on the Internet from Hookworms, it's most certainly true that they've got a second LP lined up and ready to release - all of this made Hookworms' first (and maybe only...?) South Coast gig of the year one of the most exciting prospects since, ummmm, well, ever.

With support coming in strongly from the experimental ambience of London-based Virginia Wing (who were down to a two-piece for the night) and the breathtakingly brilliant Krautrock-inspired psych of Brighton's own Soft Walls, everything was poised to be a fantastic gig. Whilst the first support band did most certainly pass over my head, they were every bit as intriguing as anything else. In fact one reviewer put it ever so very aptly when they said that "it was too weird it was like 5 minutes before someone sang and even then it was just vowels". But the next band, who we will review in full at a later date, The Soft Walls were just my cup of tea, and their rich cannon of influences was a fantastic precursor for what was to come.

Taking to the stage at 9:14, Hookworms greeted the packed out Haunt with a wall of slow-moving feedback and a "Hi we're Hookworms from Leeds". After a sustained minute or so of thick, foggy feedback, the haze cleared and it became apparent what was about to happen... Pearl Mystic's stunning, genius opening track, Away / Towards. Sprawling over almost 9 minutes, Away / Towards bagan with a densely power-ridden Loop-inspired intro, which spanned a solid two or three minutes, slowly building and building to something big. It is then, live especially, that Away / Towards exploded into it's mystic peak with caterwauling vocals and a sudden raging shamanic pulse! Everything takes fully fledged flight, and combined with an ongoing runaway train motorik beat that propels the song to a speed that doesn't let off, Hookworms' set opener is quite possibly what I'd the Leave Them All Behind for the 21st century... what a spectacle that song was live, and what a spectacle Hookworms were live.
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But when a set-opening song is as magical as Away / Towards, it can be easy to lose momentum, but rising from the ashes of the first song - the ashes being acid drenched feedback - was another stunning bit of music. Song number two was one of three new numbers, or numbers that I hadn't heard before so I'll assume are new enough to be branded so, and whilst it was possibly the most non-descript of the three new songs, it was still enough to get the heart racing, and the hair standing up on end.

A common theme after every Hookworms song was the feedback, in place of silence from which the next song then emerged - this again happened between Song Number Two and what is maybe their best known song; Teen Dreams. Clocking in a six minutes of thudding bassline and hypnotic melody, the second song off of the Hookworms EP was just as stunning live as it is on record. And again, it was followed by an extremely tight, fuzzy new song, Hookworms' set was absolutely on point and everything was orchestrated to perfection.

And the band themselves, despite their chosen anonymity, had a huge amount of stage presence. Frontman and keyboard wizard MJ belted out some of the most unique vocals around, which is part of the reason why Hookworms' sound is head and shoulders above everyone else's. But no more was the sound more unique than during their penultimate song; the non-album 2013 single Radio Tokyo. With it's racing Dingeresque drums, it's Doors-like keyboards and of course the riff that start it off; Radio Tokyo, in essence, sounds a bit like a helicopter taking flight, but kinda turbocharged. It's Hookworms at their most Wooden Shjips-like - the band they're so often compared to, with a bit of The Seeds or The Chocolate Watchband's garage thrown in as well.

Before the last song; another new number, Hookworms addressed the audience for what was probably only the second time, which I thought was odd at the time, but the more I think about it, the more I realise that Ludwig Van Beethoven wouldn't say "this bit is about a storm, I hope you like it" between the third and fourth movements of the 6th Symphony. It just wouldn't happen, would it? 

But the last song Hookworms played, what a track! Although the name isn't something I can be sure of, it's a mixture of the energetic, slightly dark psychedelia on Pearl Mystic with an underlying euphoric edge. Although that might have just been me, being euphoric at the site of Hookworms, you never can tell. 

Either way, the band sounded every bit as fantastic through the new numbers as they did powering through the old. And whilst they were only on stage for a total of six songs, that was a euphoric 45 minutes. And the pedigree of the newer songs too, means that Hookworms may do the double and release my favourite album of both 2013 and 2014. And that wouldn't really surprise me, because I don't recall seeing a band that great live, so their studio material this time around might be just as unparalleled. And, above all we don't have long to wait, because Hookworms' LP #2 is out this November.


19/20

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I searched "Hookworms, Brighton" on twitter and...
(written by calum cashin)

18 Aug 2014

Childhood / Lacuna (album review)

Childhoods debut album 'Lacuna' is everything a band could hope for from a debut album. it contains their strongest and most loved singles with a range of new tracks to entice the listener and to capture their imagination.


Opening track Blue Velvet is one of the very first singles released by Childhood, and it still remains one of their best. containing a catchy chorus backed up with clever verses and a calming bridge, this song sets the tone of 'Lacuna' perfectly. Ben's vocals sound soft as silk layered over the combination of the rest of the band's musical talents and it's definitely a song for the summer playlist. The second track is one that shows off Childhood's ability to write a bloody good melody, as it's been stuck in my head since I first heard it. You Could Be Different is catchy in every way. The opening lyrics of the pre-chorus "get away/did you see me smile" are warbled over a sassy bass strum before throwing the listener into a brilliant chorus which will stay in your head for weeks on end. a fantastic second track which only builds up the expectations for the remaining songs on the album.

Track three is one of the newer singles, and it's a fantastic release. As I Am starts with a calm and relaxed opening, with it sounding like the perfect soundtrack to summers day once again, before building and building to the chorus; the driving force of the entire track. It's catchy, upbeat, and although Ben's voice sounds velvety, he sings with unfaltering conviction. One of my favourite tracks, and easily one of the best singles released from Lacuna.




The next track, Right Beneath Me sounds not too dissimilar to a Mac Demarco track. Mac's music has been described as 'jangle-pop which would otherwise fade into the background if it not for an out of place chord here and there,' and I think that description sums up the first sounds of this track perfectly. It's one of the more calm songs on the album, and as the lyrics are whispered over a breezy melody, the song builds up to the chorus where the singing reaches a beautiful falsetto and the music matches it. This moves on into track four which is another one of the singles released from this album. Falls Away is up there with my favourite songs on Lacuna and it channels the chilled vibes from the previous track while restarting the dancey summer melodies. This track is the perfect indie song, and I absolutely adore it.

Sweeter Preacher is a combination of clever lyrics all warbled over surfy melodies which balance breezy indie pop with shoegazey influences to create one hell of a bittersweet melancholic sound. All this is backed up with repeated 'ooh's' from the band. Getting slightly more upbeat from the previous two songs, this track really shows off Childhood's musical talents with the guitar playing by Leo Dobsen being especially fantastic. 

Tides brings back the Mac Demarco sound as it fits into the more relaxed vibe which half this album sounds like. Probably my least favourite track, but still not a bad song. However, the next track is my absolute favourite track (and video) that Childhood have ever done. Solemn Skies is up there with my top 10 favourite songs of the last 12 months and I think it's just brilliant. The lyrics, the music, the dancing in the video and the song as a whole just makes you want to get up and dance and sing along. It sounds phenomenal in the height of summer and even better live. 100% shows off everything that Childhood have to offer and if you don't usually listen to Childhood, listen to Solemn Skies and you'll be converted to a fan. Utterly brilliant.




The next two songs; Chilliad and Pay For Cool are two very strong album fillers, which both display different elements of Childhood's massive musical diversity. Chilliad brings back that uber chilled vibe (it's literally in the name) and calms the tone of the album down, before Pay For Cool with it's quick drum beats, bouncy chords and fast lyrics get you going again. A terrific progression between two great songs. 

Final song When You Rise combines a usually absent rockier element with their signature surf/indie vibes to create a catchy track with dirty riffs. Seemingly more about the music in this song, When You Rise is almost five minutes of showing off this bands incredible ability to create a bloody good song and to end a debut album in the most badass way. Still dancey, still very Childhood, just a little darker and dirtier. 




Overall, this album is up there with my favourite albums of 2014. It's an essential summer album for anyone and everyone, and after having the pleasure of seeing a large portion of it live, I look forward to the next couple of times. This band will go far, so snap up their debut while you can. Well done to the Brixton boys, an album to certainly be proud of.

Rating: 17/20




(Written by Poppy Marriott)