29 Jun 2015

Alvvays & Gengahr @ The Joiners (live review)

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The all-Canadian charm of Alvvays at their Joiners headline gig, their warmup before they took to Glasto, was something of a glitter covered indie pop fest. The Joiners once again pooled together a sweaty crowd of all ages eagerly awaiting (albeit mellowed out) Nova Scotian) anarchy.

Beginning the gig, much anticipated support from Gengahr could only be described as entirely apt for the occasion. Following their debut earlier this month (speaking of which, you can read our review here) they played a ethereal set fuelled by the mature and whimsical falsetto of Felix Bushe. Their live sound was much heavier than on record, and showed just why they keep getting compared to shoegaze bands constantly. The repetitious She's a witch and Heroine illustrated to anyone present that the band were not unknown to the crowd, and nearly as hotly anticipated as Alvvays themselves.

Opening the set with the unexpected Agency, Alvvays followed the dreamy Gengahr, with their very own Wes Anderson film nonchalant cool. Frontwoman Molly Rankin is not one to be described as enthusiastic during her bands performance, but the gig was nonetheless enjoyable for the rest of us. Cracking a smile at intervals the band described their guitars as something similar to a 'slip and slide' - no doubt caused by the malfunctioning air con, and asking the question whether we have 'wild ponies' here. This did not deter the crowd, who appeared to be looking for something more rock than pop, and they were far from disappointed, the bands cover of Alimony (by The Hummingbirds) may have even got the crowed jumping!

Electrified by this rather more 'crazy' side to Alvvays, the rest of the set, consisting of the whole self-titled album and finishing with Adult Diversion, was intensified, making the whole experience something of a gift to the south coast's music and gig scene (it's not everyday you see an internationally respected band for 12 quid).

An encore consisting of Red Planet was much welcomed as Rankin's head voice soared right into space itself. A well crafted performance, enjoyed by all, Alvvays haven't lost any sparkle since the release of their debut album in 2014. Maybe in the future Molly Rankin will even start to look as though she enjoys the insane performances she gives as much as the crowd do...

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28 Jun 2015

Kanye West Is The Greatest Living Rockstar On The Planet

Rising from the midst of a hate-storm, Kanye West appeared on stage at Glastonbury to one of the most incredible receptions in years. Deafening applause, hugely animated fans, and a crowd more than capable of belting out every word back at the man. A huge crowd, exactly what the huge, huge talent (and ego) of Kanye West is completely and utterly worth of, right? RIGHT.

Well, a few people don't think so, and by a few I mean loads. Loads of (certainly) close-minded, (certainly) uptight, (potentially) closet racist music snobs, FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER, couldn't embrace Kanye (and if you want proof these FUCKBOYS exist try here, here and both the comments AND the actual petition here). I think a lot of the general hatred for Kanye comes for a variety of reasons; people are intolerant to difference, people aren't happy that he isn't a white guitar band, and people are just small minded fucks that haven't given the man a fair chance.

In fact, as I tweeted my general disgust for people that fall into the right circle of my diagram, I got an overwhelming response of "I'm not racist, I love Bloc Party!!!!", "Lad yer completely wrong he's just a pile of shit" "mate is this a joke he's just shit", which was entertainment in itself, especially because WHEN I CONFRONTED these white hetero male LADS about it they had no general response. It's these closed-minded snobs that were calling for West to be replaced with a (white) (boring) rock band, in case - with The Foo Fighters and The Who being the headliners 'til a week and a bit ago - there wasn't enough boring white rock bands playing already. But who needs to dredge up the corpses of the bloody Who or Fleetwood Mac or anyone else like that. With Kanye West, Glasto had already booked the greatest rock star on the planet - and you can't even hate West for knowing that he's the greatest rock star on the planet.

Kanye has an admirable arrogance to him, in the same rock 'n' roll way that makes the likes of the Gallagher Brothers, Hendrix, Keith Moon and John Bonham so appealing in the eyes of the public. Like great singers that want social change, he stands up completely for what he believes in, and when he makes mistakes, like the Beck-scenario, he's also happy to apologise with a hell of a lot of humility. Sure he's arrogant, and larger than life, but name one culturally significant 'rockstar' that isn't?! You can't. And people will tell you Kanye can't be a real rockstar, because he doesn't play actual 'rock'; I mean, what makes someone a rockstar is kinda subjective, but because whilst I think it's confined to music (or art), you can be a rockstar no matter what genre of music you play; Pete Doherty's in an indie band, Prince writes pop songs, Thom Yorke (the greatest of them all, according to a commenter on an NME article) writes ambient electronica, and Anton Newcombe, probably the only person nearly as rock 'n' roll as Kanye JUST PUT OUT A (fucking brilliant) ALBUM OF MELLOTRON SOUNDTRACK PIECES, to go with a back catalogue of psychedelia. Of course you don't need to play rock music to be a rockstar.

And like almost everyone I mentioned above, West has the material to justify the mouth; 6 albums, almost all brilliant; My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy has a 9.4 on metacritic, and is Any Decent Music's 5th greatest album of all time (both of these sites aggregate critical reviews to come up with an average score), whilst all of his other releases are ALL highly acclaimed across the board. Whether you see it or not, Kanye's music is loved by many, highly technical, well-produced, and far more intelligently put together than 99% of indie guitar rock.

He has a big ego? Of course, but he's one of the few people with an ego that can justify it with brilliant music, and if you've discarded his art without giving it a fair chance and signed a petition to get him removed YOU ARE A DISGRACE TO MUSIC FANS. Last night, his performance of hit-after-hit proved to anyone with an open-mind that Kanye West is at worst a highly talented individual, good at what he does, and at the best, Kanye West is the best in the game, a real hero, and the best headliner Glastonbury has had for years.



27 Jun 2015

Wolf Alice @ Glastonbury (live review)

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Earlier today we had a review of The Libertines' secret set (which you can read here), so our armchair coverage of Glastonbury continues with this : a review of Wolf Alice's set. They played songs from their new album My Love Is Cool and even crowdsurfed. Here's our review of one of our favourite band's stunning sets...

Wolf Alice, London’s favourite four piece, kicked off their set on Glastonbury’s Park Stage with Fluffy - one of the earliest songs from 2013, and highlighting quickly how hard they have worked to get where they are today. After getting the crowd going, Wolf Alice jump into You’re a Germ a song from their debut My Love Is Cool (which we reviewed here), a powerful song full of their signature drops and Ellie Rowsell’s haunting vocals. The crowd are entranced by the gang’s glitter and guitars.

Wolf Alice have made a huge jump from their debut at Glastonbury last year on the John Peel Stage early in the day to playing an open stage near the top of the bill just a year later.

They followed up You’re A Germ with two songs from their first EP Blush; She and 90 Mile Beach, both of which have become crowd favourites by now. Next is The Wonderwhy, the final track on My Love Is Cool which features both glittering riffs mixed with their new style of distorted backing vocals. It created a wonderful atmosphere for fans to dance to and chant along to, making Wolf Alice's set one of the day's best. Half way through the set in typical British Festival style it started to rain, but Wolf Alice undeterred carried on their electrifying set, the crowd happily staying with them.Wolf Alice continue with Lisbon, a massive track featured on their album. Blush and Bros follow, two other early songs which, personally, are exactly what drew me to them in the first place. They play the album version of ‘Bros’, which is although quite different from the original release, is soaked up by the crowd anyway.

The sun returns to shine on Wolf Alice as they played their final two songs Giant Peach and Moaning Lisa Smile. Giant Peach (a single which Zane Lowe named hottest record in the world) is a fantastic song that has been part of their setlist since their early days under the name of ‘Jam’. The set draws to an end with Moaning Lisa Smile, and it saw Ellie crowd-surf (for the first time ever) on the arms of those that drawn in by their sparkling set. Both their set on Friday and secret set on Thursday (alongside Drenge) have led Wolf Alice to be named Glastonbury’s breakthrough band - a well deserved and rightful title in my eyes. An immense performance which showed the amount of talent they have and also the journey they have been on to get the success they have today.

(written by isobel mcleod)

The Libertines @ Glastonbury (live review)

OKAY, so this isn't an actual review of something I actually went to, but here we go anyhow. The Libertines' first UK show since their Ally Pally residency in 2015 was a surprise to almost everyone 'til they actually came on, and whilst most people knew they'd play on the internet, no one had any idea at all til yesterday morning.

The quartet walked out to a greatly positive reception; not many people were disappointed that it wasn't Taylor Swift; and immediately smashed their way into The Delaney, a b-side, fan favourite, and regular set-opener. Whilst they weren't as animated as they have been, their playing was so tight that even amidst an almost tangible reluctancy or tiredness (they'd only just flew in via copter, and had to shoot off to Russia afterwards), the band sounded energetic.

As per, they motored through the most of their near-perfect debut, Up The Bracket; the early set contained a smashing rendition of Horrorshow, as well as Time For Heroes and Vertigo, whilst they later managed to squeeze almost all of the rest of the album in towards the end - only missing Begging, Up The Bracket, and Radio America (the only track on the album that'd be better off not existing) - meaning that whilst they did thrust a few new ones out into the open, the set was ultimately rooted in some of their earliest material.

A sorta-orchestral version of early career gem You're My Waterloo tugged right on the 'strings, making sure that it was - like in September - a highlight of the set; slower than the studio version, Doherty's impassioned "AND TO SAY I BROUGHT YOU FLOWERS" was heartbreaking to say the least 'cos as I'm sure you're all aware, it's one of Doherty's more personal love-songs, and a love song for Barat nonetheless.

The two new tracks, Gunga Gin and Anthem For Doomed Youth, recieved a mixed reception, with some people getting really over-excited and others, like me, being crushed by the general feeling of disappointment at how lackluster it is. Gunga Gin is a ska-influenced track that just doesn't really have the heart it could have, and Anthem For Doomed Youth feels big, but ultimately it literally sounds like a parody of themselves.

However, despite this, there was a triumphant air to the band's set; storming versions of I Get Along and What A Waster made sure that the set was closed in style, before they topped it off with a brilliant rendition of Don't Look Back Into The Sun, proving that they really are one of the most vital bands of the 00's.

Throughout the set, they did seem tired - thankfully due to their hectic schedule than the drug problems that have plagued them in the past - and whilst they were definitely more energetic in September, they're now safely off the drugs and on course to only get musically better. But still; they put on (for me) a much better show than Florence (who was great, but did sonically force me to listen to theneedledrop's verdict on this week's releases), and above all, they seemed like a proper band again. Their new material, it's not great, but they do feel like they're sincerely reuniting, and despite the fact it is like their third reunion since their 2004 split, The Libs are back in business.

(written by calum cashin)

26 Jun 2015

DIIV / Oshin (album review)

American dream-pop band DIIV are reissuing their debut record Oshin, so I thought I'd take another look at the record that seems to have made them such a cult sensation among teenagers. It came out originally in 2012, and with their second record on it's way, the band are giving a chance to buy a new vinyl copy of Oshin (with alternative artwork because of a copyright issue).

Oshin relies quite heavily imagery wise on the astrological sign of the water, but you wouldn't really know that if you hadn't been told that in the tracklisting because vocals are so deep in the mix. Or maybe you would be able to work it out, because the guitars are very emotive, and do genuinely carry a lot of the weight of the meaning. Anyway, I think the fact that the guitars definitely do the most of the talking, and that's the best way to summarise this record.

Oshin starts of with a 2 minute instrumental that echoes of Joy Division's Disorder, but via DIIV's own distinctive knackered-converse & over-sized t-shirt shoegaze feel. The melody to this track is a total dream, and it completely pulls you straight into DIIV's own little world.

Track 2 is Past Lives, which is one of the albums bona-fide bangers; a descending riff of forlorn, surfy guitar races through yr eardrums and Zachary Cole Smith's vocals reside under the guitars, echoing about some past love or whatever. Human, like Earthboy and Sometime later on the album, are the kind of fillers that you'd definitely skip if you got presented with them on shuffle, but as part of the album help to keep you subsumed in the album's own mystical feel.

Air Conditioning is a bit of a classic (but 10000x improved live, google it), with it's wafting sunny feel, and it's still really hypnotic, and it's otherworldly guitar melody towards the end really makes it a really euphoric moment. It, like every song on this record, has it's own feel, and DIIV manage to create their own world with it - although, if this kinda kraut-pop shoegazing isn't your cup of tea, it could be misinterpreted as repetitive - but then again, if rap isn't yr thing To Pimp A Butterfly could be read the same way, and the same thing with Swans' To Be Kind, if that's not your cup of tea. And let's be honest, no one can deny that these are fantastic records.

As you get onto the second side, you find DIIV's sound gets even more honed, and even though it remains safely within the confines of that aquatic dream-pop, the songs get better as you get towards the tail end of this album. Sometime and Follow are really nice, forlorn numbers, and (Druun Pt II), which kicks the side off, has a really krautrock feel to it, because, well, the music sounds like it's really moving, in the same way that NEU! and Can's records (and John Coltrane's too).

It's the duo of Oshin (Subsume) and Doused, though, that are the cherry on top of the cake for DIIV. The title track is a visceral, building rock song, that sets DIIV's grimiest sound with chants of 'fuck the world, alien love', and whilst it's probably the second best song on the album, it can't prepare you for the ABSOLUTE BANGER that has closed all their sets for the past 3 years. Doused is an explosive 223 seconds that revolves around a frantic, descending guitar line, and some almost-barked vocals, really deep in the mix (whilst Doused is the highlight of the LP, on their new album Is the is are, DIIV are likely to feature a song called Doused Pt. II). Closing the album concisely after that is Home, which is a very forgettable wishy-washy 2 minute lullaby, and it does kinda work, but it would have been a more effective LP if it closed on Doused, I think.

Although DIIV have, probably quite rightly been covered in controversy because of the whole 4chan thing, (and because of various other things that have been going on for the band - i.e. drug arrests, etc),  if you let the music speak for itself, and distance the art from the artist, this is a fantastic, fantastic album. DIIV are a far stretch from the 'voice of the generation' figure that Cole Smith wants them to be, but they're almost culty enough among younger audiences to really get somewhere. And because despite the bassist clearly being a bigoted cyber-troll, Cole Smith is a otherwise a genuinely moral guy, who no doubt has a lot of good stuff to say. Sure, he needs to kick the bassist out, sure, he should probably do something about his drug problem, sure, he needs to get a grip, because DIIV aren't the biggest thing in the world ever, but ON IT'S OWN, as an album, Oshin is a really accomplished debut, and it's something that deserves a reissue.


DIIV are reissuing this album - for those that need LP, CD and cassette copies of it - and you can get yr hands on it here. It's out September 4th. It has the same tracklisting as the 2012 issue, but only has different cover art - if you want an original copy, prices are now pushing on £30/£40 on eBay and it's difficult to find, so try snaffle yrself a reissue copy.


25 Jun 2015

CULT CLASSIC ALBUMS #2 - Explosions in the Sky - The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place

A tear rolls my eye, maybe 3 minutes into album opener First Breath After Coma; the gentle chimes of post-rock guitar soundscapes slowly overcome you, as if they're rising up from a deep sadness. The entirely instrumental 9 minute-long opener is an evocative beginning to the album, and is every bit as poetically beautiful as you'd imagine taking your first breath after a coma to be.

First Breath After A Coma is the first of five songs, or movements even, from Texas four-piece Explosions in the Sky's third album The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place (released 2003), which I'd say, if pushed, was the single most beautiful work of the 21st century. 5 songs; all clocking in around 10 minutes each; this record is outstanding, and it's a relatively accessible entrance point for anyone to get into the post-rock genre on the whole.

The band have their own real distinctive feel - it's entirely guitar driven, and the guitars are played in such a way that it will generall knock you dead. Quiet, noodly bits sound glacial and dreamy during the quiet bits, and then the climatic build ups arise, and sound so beautiful that it's really quite tear jerking. A lot of the album does genuinely consist of quiet bit-loud bit-quiet bit, but ultimately this structure is so flawlessly executed that you'd do better to find a more emotionally compelling record.

The album's said by some to be a concept album - hmmm? It lacks any lyrics at all - and I can kind of see where people with that view are coming from. The album (for me, it's instrumental, so it depends how you read the music) has a uniting message to it, present throughout - as the title suggests, THE EARTH IS NOT A COLD DEAD PLACE. There is hope. Humanity can get itself back on track. It's not all shit. And this record proves it.

The Only Moment We Were Alone's 3 or 4 minutes of outro are absolutely perfect; you think it's ended, before EITS play the same motif a couple of times, and then you're immediately, again, overcome with colourful bursts of sound that are really the most incredible, exhilarating pieces of guitar music I've ever heard. With art like this, the Earth is a vibrant, beautiful place you just want to stay forever. The chiming euphoria of Explosions In The Sky is pretty much the most incredible sound a four-piece guitar band can make, and it's no use trying to put it into words if you've never heard it before, but, well, after living with this record a year I can safely say nothing evokes feelings of hope, and feelings that there's a higher more powerful being out there, and I guess if music can do that to someone like me, it must be powerful.

This is the zenith of a great band's career, and whilst its sound continues to be hard to pen down in a few words, I guess the best way to explain is that they really do sound like their name suggests. They're a band that make music safely in the confines of the post-rock genre, but they're more accessible than Godspeed You! Black Emperor, more dreamy and entrancing than Mogwai, and - whilst their songs are structurally very formulaic - one of the greatest, most original bands to make loud noises this side of the turn of the century. And if you're saying it didn't leave you breathless, and emotionally drained first time you heard it, you're lying.


CULT CLASSIC ALBUMS #1 - Sparklehorse - Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot

“All you've got to do is look in the sky and wish” declares an uncharacteristically literal Mark Linkous in the opening line of Rainmaker; it’s a sentiment that rings true to the small daydreaming nation of modern day Sparklehorse enthusiasts. Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot - Sparklehorse's 1995 debut - is, by its very nature, a record for daydreamers.

My first encounter with the aptly titled disjointed masterpiece was pretty overwhelming. I’d heard some Sparklehorse tracks before from various records and been stunned, so I set about listening to their output in chronological order. Opener Homecoming Queen is in two-parts an abstractly written glitchy ballad and analogue mess which fades into a sorta warped fairground-esque organ melody, the sonic repress of any kinda conformation in terms of recording is a kind of poetry in itself. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Vivadixie... consists exclusively of warped lo-fi folk songs, though. In truth, there’s a real sense that the LP doesn’t really know what it wants to be, Linkous certainly wasn’t making any kinda of mission statement here, but if anything that adds to the character of the album; the lack of understanding and identity sonically sorta aids the apprehensive lyricism.

The record has some moments which are more distinguishably 90’s alternative, with the distorted guitars on tracks such as Someday I Will Treat You Good racing through pretty uninteresting chord progressions and offering relatively dull lyrics, at least for the first half of the song, but even some of the more cliché couplets that Linkous recites (“I left my baby on the side of the highway/she just couldn’t see things my way”) almost come as a relief to his generally pensive and visceral approach to writing. That said, it’s still an absolutely huge sounding track, and its narrative increases as the track develops. Sad and Beautiful World offers a haunting sobering, kinda sounding like Sparkehorse’s own Pale Blue Eyes. Even though it often relies on abstract metaphors to be so, the writing throughout the debut is almost uncomfortably intimate; with an uncompromised sense of longing in the reverb-laden confessions of ‘Saturday’ (“You are a car, you are a hospital/I’d walk to hell and back to see you smile”) and a kinda heartbreaking nostalgia in the childlike wonder and humour which is akin to Syd Barrett on Most Beautiful Widow in Town (“I knew this must have been a dream/’cause your mother would never let me in her house”).

It’s hard to tell how much of the genius of Vivadixie... is intentional. The keys which often serve to create the fittingly atmospheric backdrop for Linkous’ poignancy are at times out of tune, as are the guitars, and his naturally sleepy sounding voice tone has a lot more to do with expressing his deflation than his vocal ‘ability’, whatever that means. What matters is that in 1995 Mark Linkous, under the moniker of Sparklehorse, released what I believe is truly one of the greatest records of all time. As with other records I was given by my girlfriend’s flawlessly musically trustworthy dad at the same time (See in the Aeroplane over the Sea), Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot is about as undeniably perfect as something as subjective as music can be.


24 Jun 2015

5 Reasons It Sucks That The Who Are Headlining Glastonbury

Ladies and gentlemen, I've got a confession to make. It's my fault that The Who are headlining Glastonbury on Sunday. I didn't mean to hurt anyone, but I've come to terms with the fact that I'm entirely to blame for these circumstances. A few months ago, I went off on one, on a rant about why Kanye West is the perfect headliner, and well, in jest I suggested 100% sarcastically that we should dredge The Who up for the slot, and, instead of announcing a shock surprise headliner for 2015's Glastonbury headline slot, Emily Eavis thought "you know what, if Cal thinks we should dig The Who up, we'll dig The Who up", and now we're in this situation. But I can accept the blame, and make it up to you guys. The first thing I did to make it up to you all was write a post of bands you can see instead; which you can read here, which is quite a mature way and quite a rational way to deal with the whole situation. But as well as that, I got myself a list of reasons that the booking of this rock band is annoying me, and why the fact that it's not annoying people, when Kanye West's booking sparked a petition that got nearly as many signatures as Glastonbury got ticket buyers.

The Who are just a heritage act
The band haven't put out a new album since the last time they headlined Glastonbury - their 2006 album Endless Wire was their first new album since 1982 - so you've got to ask yourself, should a band that's put out one album in 30 years, and are so blatantly in this for the £££, be headlining the Glastonbury Festival Of CONTEMPORARY Performing Arts?!? If you've got any beef with Kanye, you should leave it in the fridge, because Kanye's currently working on his fifth album since The Who last went into a recording studio, so you can't argue that he's immediately better qualified for Glastonbury.

They played the festival in 2007, in the same position on the bill
And not only this, but the band have done bugger all to advance their career since 2007, they've not pushed any boundaries since. Unlike Arctic Monkeys, who put out three best-selling albums between Glasto headline performances, they've not really done anything notable, at all. Ummm, what have they done? That's a good question. Since 2007, the band have raked in the cash playing shows occasionally as a heritage act, BUT C'MON; they raked in the cash in this spot 8 years ago. GIVE SOMEONE ELSE A SHOT.

They're ridiculously old
No, this isn't an ageist comment. I just like artists that sing with a lot of conviction. And a 71 year old singing "I HOPE I DO BEFORE I GET OLD" has as much conviction, resonance and truth to it as David Cameron's claims that The Tories are the party of the working class. And it's not like The Who have laid off playing My Generation, a fully blown banger, and charging anthem of youth, since they've been playing 21st century shows, it's been something they've played time and time again - ROGER DALTREY WAS EVEN ON TV LAST WEEK SINGING IT. I'm sorry, but there has to be something in the world more capable of headlining the biggest festival in the world than some 70-odd year old men singing about dying before getting old. There has to be. Put Kanye on two nights.

I'm not sure having someone that's been on the sex offender's register for buying child pornography is a very morally sound prospect.
In 2003, Pete Townshend was found to have clicked on a computer link that said 'pay £7 for child pornography', and then paid £7 for the said wares. He was let off with a five year spell on the S.O register, because he was allegedly researching the horrors of pornography, but because that research hasn't seen the light of day, I'm not sure I can tell myself that having this man's band headline Glastonbury is in any way a morally sound idea. You can disagree, and it's probably legally best if I don't imply anybody else, but I'd just rather we put someone that's never been on the register in the position of Glastonbury headliner.

How many members of a band can die before it's too many?
In 1965 til the late seventies, what made The Who a genuinely great was the chemistry between them; they had one of the greatest rhythm sections of all time, and well, people have voted My Generation the greatest bassline of all time in the past. SO. Are The Who still The Who without their legendary drummer and ingenious bass player? I'm not so sure. But they're definitely depleted in force, even with replacements, I mean only being 2/4 The Who should subtract some of the midichlorian count that needs to be full for them to headline Glas5 4to, right?

The Who aren't a bad band, and you could say for a period in the 1960's they were great, but really, I think it'd be nuts to suggest them as 2015 headliner material, with all the creepy allegations, member deaths, and growing-old-and-singing-about-dying-before-getting-old. INSTEAD, to be constructive as well as destructive, I put together a haiku for Michael and Emily, to help them find out what to do next.

Patti is playing,
On the same day as The Who,
So choose her instead.

(written by calum cashin)

23 Jun 2015

The Great Side Projects That Time (Unfairly) Forgot

A few months ago, whilst partaking in a fairly routine clear-out of our loft, amidst the decrepit monopoly set, old PC hard drives and Beatrice Potter ornaments; there was a rather enticing pile of CD’s which till recently, belonged to my uncle. In this goldmine were gems such as Bauhaus, The Cure, Pearl Jam, Stooges and others from days gone by. However, as well as this, was an eponymous album by a band called ‘Codeine Velvet Club’, who I knew absolutely nothing about.

So, 2 Sundays of bickering and roast dinner related trauma later, I thought I’d give this album a listen. I really loved the whole thing, its unique blend of cabaret, baroque-pop and garage rock clatter blew me away. The album featured 2 dominant vocalists, a male and a female. The male vocal, whilst being the weaker in my humble opinion, really reminded me of someone deeply lodged in the distant reaches of my long-term memory. After a quick Wikipedia update I was impressed to find that the male vocalist was Jon Lawler of The Fratellis, a voice that had left me going ‘Oh it’s what’s-his-face from that band’ for the album’s entire duration prior to the discovery of his true identity.

Most people associate The Fratellis with lad-stomper Chelsea Dagger or CBBC sound beds like Henrietta and Baby Fratelli, but this was completely different. It featured lush orchestral arrangements countered by the powerful nostalgia evoking vocals of female vocalist Lou Hickey, I was left feeling deceived.

Codeine Velvet Club became a thing after Jon had finished touring The Fratellis’ Here We Stand album as something to do and recording began after Lawler’s wife introduced him to Glaswegian singer-songwriter Lou Hickey to record this album. Anyway, whilst the album isn't perfect, it’s pretty good, better than anything The Fratellis released. (Sorry Jon)

So while many long for the nostalgia of a Fratellis reunion to relive their finest year 6 #LAD stomping sing-alongs, I’m gonna patiently wait for another Codeine Velvet Club album to hit the shelves so I can say that I heard them first.

The discovery of Codeine Velvet Club lead me to the conclusion that maybe the world needs to remember some other cool side-projects that we all forgot about as opposed to the obvious ones (i.e. Grinderman, Broken Bells, Last Shadow Puppets, Gorillaz etc.). So here we go:

Name: Old and in the Way
Side Project of: Jerry Garcia/Grateful Dead

Walking hippy commune Grateful Dead are a band that I've never really been able to appreciate, like if someone gave me an album by them I’d listen, but if my house was burning and that album was still inside, I’d leave it there. However, after being introduced to Old and in the Way by Andrew Hackett, (guitarist in The Rockingbirds and founder of Angel Music) I began to find some amicable quality in the music of Jerry Garcia that wasn't an underwhelming tribute from Kula Shaker.

Old and in the Way draw the fine line between super group and side-project. They were formed in 1973 by Jerry Garcia and John Khan and played fairly standard bluegrass music, a genre of which my knowledge is limited yet I find easy to enjoy. Old and in the Way’s initial formation was short-lived but not lacking in creativity with 4 studio albums recorded between ’73 and ’74. Despite their eponymous debut being one of the biggest selling bluegrass records of all-time and a 2002 reformation, (minus Garcia and Khan) Old and in the Way remain strangely forgotten. Blending playful melodies and wistful harmonies with fun upbeat accompaniment, regardless of your opinion on bluegrass or Grateful Dead, their rendition of Rolling Stones/Susan Boyle hit Wild Horses as well as more conventional folk songs such as Pig in the Pen can’t help but bring a smile to your face. As well as being a good band, they also helped me learn to appreciate a band that had never particularly intrigued me, whilst I wouldn't call myself an avid ‘Deadhead’, OAITW helped me learn to love a band I'd never thought I would.
Hear a bit here

Name: Diane Coffee
Side Project/random solo record of: Foxygen

Foxygen are a band who waltzed out of nowhere then just exploded into one of the biggest 60’s revival bands in the world at the moment, with their sonically unorthodox changes of melody and colourful blend of everything they heard in the 60’s from Scott McKenzie to Todd Rundgren, the popularity is understandable.

In 2013, Foxygen drummer and former Disney voice-actor Shaun Fleming got really ill and spent 2 weeks indoors recording what would later become album ‘My Friend Fish’ under a solo-project entitled Diane Coffee. It was a fairly chaotic recording process involving cabin fever and a home-made drum kit but in just over 2 weeks, the album was finished and it’s fantastic to say the least. How it didn't break into the mainstream I don't know. The album also played a part in contributing the single Green which was hands down my favourite single of 2013. These songs alone should beckon the listener to hit up label Western Vinyl and buy the fucking album. With Green’s Phil Spector-inspired backing vocals, tear-jerking lyrics (I’ll feed you soup and I’ll hold your hand, ‘cos I will never leave you baby) and the pet sounds-esque arrangement, that track makes me melt every time I hear it and dream of a new album to follow-up the wonderful My Friend Fish. So keep an eye out for Diane’s next album which should be finished in 2015.
Hear a bit here 

Name: Space Lime Peacock
Side-project of: Tame Impala/Pond

The Perth music scene is incredible to say the least, with musicians being traded between bands like they’re Yu-Gi-Oh! cards on a primary school playground. Whether it be the Parisian dream-pop of Melody’s Echo Chamber or the psych-pop symphonies of Tame Impala that tickles your fancy, there’s always something happening. Space lime-peacock, like Old and in the Way,

Space Lime Peacock weren't around very long, but with a name like that, any sort of commercial success or formality wouldn't feel right. The band most notably consisted of Impala veterans Kevin Parker and Jay Watson as well as Pond founding-member Nick Allbrook and a few others milling around the ever evolving Perth scene. SLP’s music consisted of psych-funk influenced Space Rock. Their most notable track is the fantastically named Shit A Cosmic Jam which is an 8 minute space-rock epic that incorporates a range of influences from Cream, Amorphous Androgynous and King Crimson to Beastie Boy’s trippy funk jazz song Time for Livin’. The track is a fun-filled, anarchic jam that deserves some recognition, because as far Australian avant-garde, cosmic, funk jams go; it’s brilliant.
Hear Some Space Lime Peacock here

Name: The Glove
Side-Project of: The Cure/Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Whilst fellow Siouxsie side project The Creatures enjoyed moderate success, Goth heartthrob Robert Smith, The Banshees’ Steven Severin and former Zoo dancer Jeanette Landray formed The Glove as a way of killing some time and battling Smith’s crippling depression filled drug addiction. With new-wavey pop songs that make you wanna dance till your legs ache, swirling synths and phenomenally overlooked vocal performances from Landray, the goth-pop trio’s only album Blue Sunshine was an undisputed masterpiece that never got the attention it truly deserved. Despite dark undertones, the album is full of great pop-music that lingers on your mind like a good bacon sarnie when you're hungover. With the substance that made acts like Yazoo and well… The Cure so big, it’s a shame this album was never given the commercial recognition it deserved and that Smith never really wanted. Like many of god’s favourite side-projects, The Glove had too short a life-span, but with 1 classic album to prevent any flaws in their discography, maybe it helps preserve the great music.
Hear a bit of The Glove

Name: Matt Berry
Side-Project of: Matt Berry

You may know Matt Berry as pervy CEO, Douglas Reynholm from the IT crowd as well as the guy that keeps being in everything; well you may not know he’s an incredibly talented musician and songwriter. I first came across his music work when some friends from Acid Jazz Records gave me some vinyl, amidst this was Matt Berry albums Witchazel and Kill the Wolf. The album covers were good enough for me, seeing Douglas Reynholm with a pheasant made me feel that simply owning the LP [Witchazel] before I even listened to it was a life success.

It’s fair to say both albums are pretty fantastic, with echoes of Robin Hardy’s classic movie ‘The Wickerman’ and Julian Cope’s criminally overlooked Fried, both albums just blew me away. The albums also possesses a cauldron of influences, whilst being primarily folk-revival orientated, there are splashes of The Byrds, Donovan, Herbie Hancock, Eno, Roxy Music, Spirit and lots of other weird and wonderful artists that he sprinkles his magic over.

Standout singles include the irresistibly catchy Medicine from Kill the Wolf as well as the lyrically and melodically beautiful Take my Hand from Witchazel (theme tune to Matt Berry comedy Toast). With a live band that includes The Bluetones’ Mark Morriss, collaboration with Paul McCartney and another completely different and brilliant studio album under his belt, Matt Berry music guy is starting to catch up with Matt Berry actor guy. If he can keep up with such a steady output of great albums, fun live shows and cult following, he could stop being the ‘bloke off the telly’ and become ‘the bloke off the radio’.
Hear a bit.

But there are still a lot of other really successful and great side-projects, a small number include Cat’s Eyes, Panda Bear, Dead Weather, The Raconteurs and The Breeders etcetera and who’s to say the ones in this article won’t be exhibited to a new audience? So to conclude this journey, just remember, next time you’re bored, ill, battling addiction or sick of your commercial success, form a side-project! It could be the catalyst for a new-found popularity that could launch your career and cement a future in the music business; it certainly did wonders for Miles Kane.

(Written by George Orton)


I can't really pin down what I'd call my favourite genre, but ummm, if there's a genre tag that could encompass the alt-rock scene of NYC where Sonic Youth et al made a lotta noise, the Thames Valley shoegaze scene, and then maybe stuff inspired by that a little like the BJM, then that's my favourite genre. They're all cut from a similar sonic cloth, I'd say, but there isn't really a word that perfectly describes them all at once.

HOWEVER, so frustrated by this, because I couldn't make a playlist of this sort and give it a coherent title, I thought 'FUCK YOU, FUCK YR GENRE TAGS I'M GOING TO MAKE A PLAYLIST OF SONIC YOUTH AND SHOEGAZE AND THE BJM AND EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY AND NO ONE CAN STOP ME'. This ultimately led to me putting together a playlist, and scratching my head about what to call it, before deciding that the one thing that all the artists in my playlist idea were united by the theme that they kind of all reminded me a bit of culty films like Heathers and The Craft and The Virgin Suicides, and even the Perks of Being A bloody Wallflower (which, if yr too cool to know it is like a 90's cult film Hollywood-ised for 2012, but it does have the Cocteaus, Sonic Youth and Cracker's Low on it's soundtrack).

So anyway, I put together this playlist of favourites from the nineties-ish, and then favourites by bands that kinda echo that today, and then also Broadcast, Godspeed! and Explosions in the Sky who are kinda a halfway point for the noughties. Basically, this is a playlist of stuff I really love, like really really love, but can't quite squeeze into one genre.

You can listen to it here or above
The MELT DUNES and SWORDZZZ songs aren't on youtube, so check out EPICARICACY and CIVILIAN on our South Coast playlist

Wolf Alice / MY LOVE IS COOL (album review)

MY. LOVE. IS. COOL. The long awaited debut album from London's very own Wolf Alice. MLIC is an explosive 50 minutes of a combination of genres and styles, all wrapped up and held together rowdy guitars and bewitching vocals.

Layers of haunting vocals and drawn out synths open the album, with Turn To Dust immediately displaying the diversity that this band possess. Old classic Bros doesn’t sound out of place amongst all the new tracks, having been re-recorded for this album with the addition of a new chorus and extra backing vocals. You’re A Germ is where the recognisable grungey sound kicks in, with an undertone of a mighty FUCK YOU to whoever this was written about. Lisbon and Silk take you back to the days of White Leather and Wednesday, with ethereal vocals and dreamy guitars that continue to show off the mass variety within MLIC

Reminiscent, in its bridge section, of bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Swallowtail sees Joel (Amey) take on the role of lead vocalist. “It’s not right/But it’s too late for that now/Swallow fear and head straight down into the ground.” At first you think it’s a gentile, calm track, with gentle drums being heard on the second verse, but this is Wolf Alice, so surprises can be expected. Just before the end of the track a wall of sound crashes through, layers upon layers of scuzzy guitars and feedback meet thrashing drums, truly making this song one of the best they have ever released. 

A re-recorded version of Fluffy is the penultimate track, before The Wonderwhy closes it all with Wolf Alice’s signature sound present for every single second. There are catchy guitars, echoing the Fluffy riffs, layers of ‘aah’s’ under Ellie’s vocals that sound as captivating as ever and an essence of 90’s teenagers intertwined throughout. The final surprise on this album comes after the end of The Wonderwhy; in the form an acoustic track entitled My Love Is Cool which finishes the album off perfectly. 

From a personal perspective, this album is everything I could have hoped for and more. From a musical perspective, it’s diverse, exciting and fresh and every song sounds like it could be on a soundtrack for a 90’s film. With a headline show at Brixton Academy almost sold out, and a phenomenal debut album to their name, I have no doubt that Wolf Alice will sky rocket, and they don’t half deserve it. 


Words: Poppy Marriott

The Denim Turtles @ Springboard festival (live review)

An up and coming, four piece indie-rock band based in Hull feature four young men making their mark in the music industry.

One of their most recent gigs at the Springboard Music Festival supported their debut EP due to be released at the end of July 2015.

A typically raucous performance in front of an eager crowd, in an intimate atmosphere adds up to an excellent evenings entertainment for everyone present.

The Denim Turtles hit the stage at 8pm sharp and it was clear from the first minuet the Turtles were up for a rocking good time as they laid into their first track Mrs Know It All Three guitarists and a drummer; paired with vocals created the perfect indie-rock feel the audience were longing to hear. This track set the audience up for what was an hour of pure indie bliss, enabling the audience to fully connect with the music.

Whether you were a long time indie-rock fan or new to the indie community, The Denim Turtles captured the feel of each song so well, it was hard not to love what you were hearing.

The small stage size created a few problems as the drummer, Will Evans' drum sticks went flying however the music continued to flow with a professional feel and the humour caused by this incident create a loving, family feel between the boys that was great to see from the audience. The homemade feel made the set that much more pleasurable and created an overwhelming sense of connection between the band and the audience.

As the evening progressed the Turtles treated us to a Libertines cover upon request of an audience member. This goes to show how the band has an immense connection with their audience, particularly on this evening which consisted of people in the 16-24 age group. Which, I'm guessing, was perfect for them as the young men themselves felt comfortable on stage and therefore comfortable conversing with their audience in between songs.

This united energy created on stage was certainly matched by the energy in the crowd. Everyone seemed to know the the covers, dancing and singing along whilst also enjoying the newer songs written by the Turtles themselves.

Make no mistake, The Denim Turtles are the real deal. They do remind me of the rock music my parents spoke of so fondly and still reminisce of today. They have the energy and attitude of old school rock bands mixed with a modern indie twist. They're most certainly a band I'd be very happy to get out to see again anytime!


HMV and it's position in the music industry

HMV is the UK’s primary and leading retailer of music that’s gone through a huge amount of changes over the past few years after their administration in 2013. I think it, as a business, says a lot about the way the music business works nowadays and the progression (or fight) between physical and digital music.
Everyone seemed to go a bit crazy when it was announced In January 2013 that HMV had gone into administration, simply because they do seem to stand for physical music, and seeing them go out of business would be a clear victory for iTunes, Spotify and the like, and a maybe upsetting defeat for the more traditional ways of selling music.

Hilco UK bought them out soon after this and a lot of their business strategy started to change. They closed down their e-commerce (which has recently reopened) because it couldn’t compete with sites like Amazon and was essentially a fun way of flushing money down the toilet. They changed hmv.com into more of a blog format with interviews, reviews and news. Later on, HMV Digital became another competitor in the world of downloaded music. Their loyalty programme has been developed and is based on collecting points that you can redeem on signed merch of people who’ve come in for signings or shows at HMV 363, their flagship store on London's Oxford Street, priority access to these events, and then smaller things like entering competitions.

I was able to see all these changes first-hand thanks to the lovely people at HMV who took me on for work experience, but I think I noticed more of the changes in music in a broader sense when I was working in my local store for a few months not so long ago. During the time that I worked there, the vinyl section tripled in size during a refurbishment. They started a chart for records, separate from the ordinary CD one. A couple of weeks ago they started selling Crosley record players when they don’t even sell CD players there. You get a lot of people who were really interested in music buying records there and I’d love chatting with them about new releases and albums I recommend. The atmosphere in the store has changed, especially in Milton Keynes where there are literally zero record stores that I know of, so a whole new audience has been lured in. In my store, the whole vibe is so nice, with people that take genuine interest in a huge range of music and I think going in and having a little browse and maybe a chat with someone there is a fun way to spend an afternoon.

It’s quite surreal to think that these giant discs, which are most definitely not the easiest things to store, or even, arguably, producers of the greatest sound, are gaining so much more attention in mainstream retailers like HMV or Urban Outfitters. I’ve asked myself why I love records and I don’t really know the answer, but there’s a certain novelty of pulling out a new record, putting it on and listening to the crackle before it starts. I kinda think that this craze, and it's position of high importance in the eyes of one of the world's biggest music retailers, could possibly die out in a few more years and HMV is going to have to rely more on its digital side to lead the way, but for now, it seems like they’re heading in the right direction. It’s quite interesting to see how HMV have progressed because it reflects quite accurately on where the music industry has headed as a whole. The people most satisfied with physical copies of albums are buying vinyl, the creme de la creme of physical copies, whilst those who are not interested are happy to just listen alone on Spotify or iTunes, and avoid the compact disc middle ground.

(written by isobel moloney)

22 Jun 2015

MY MAD FAT DIARY (a playlist)

My Mad Fat Diary is back tonight for the third and final series. For those of you who don't know, MMFD is a tv show set in 1996 in Lincolnshire. The show tells the tragic and humorous story of a very troubled young girl Rae, who has just left a psychiatric hospital, where she has spent four months after attempting suicide, begins to reconnect with her best friend Chloe and her group, who are unaware of Rae's mental health and body image problems, believing she was in France for the past four months. It's got one of the best soundtracks, the characters are hilariously relatable and the storyline itself is truly heartwarming. You can expect much of the same in S3, as the character begin the last few months of their college life and deal with the stresses of university and growing up.

As huge fans of the show, we put together a playlist inspired by MMFD in light of the shows return tonight, and you can listen to it here!


Also in the next few days we will have a review of tonight's episode live on the blog.

(written and designed by Poppy Marriott)
(with help from IMDb who I nicked the synopsis off)

21 Jun 2015

The south coast has one of the best music scenes in the UK and here's a playlist to prove it

You might not know it, but the general south coast region, i.e. the Southampton/Portsmouth area literally has one of the best music scenes in the entire country. I know it won't per se be the most local music scene to you, and that's cool and stuff, but there are some bands on this playlist that you've really gotta check out regardless of where you live.

To prove my point about the south coast being the best scene in the world, I put together a soundcloud playlist that's got all my favourites and then some, but it would be kinda dumb to just go put up 90 minutes of music you've never heard without any explanation.

The first six songs are by who are probably by my favourite six bands around the area, so they should grab you straight away and help you get into the scene. Melt Dunes are my absolute favourites (so they kick the playlist off), and when they play live their spaced-out US pysch sound turns into a brilliant, sprawling spectacle - it's so bizarre that they're not huge. Similarly, my second favourites, SwordZZZ are a noise-rock outfit that take what the Jesus and Mary Chain did in 1984, and pulling it into the modern day via space-rock, post-rock, and punk-rock. The track here is brilliant, but it doesn't quite capture the intensity of their live show, which is in itself, really something.

Then you've got the city's finest out-and-out indie-rock band FEVER (joined later on the playlist by the likes of Bel Esprit and Howland), who are such a solid outfit that you should at least give a go. Then Rickyfitts and Battery Hens make some incredible noisy grunge-influenced grebo rock, that I'm stiiiill yet to catch live - but both bands are genuinely fantastic on record and you can't ignore their venomous brilliance. And RA! who are kinda like psych-tinged folk rock I guess, but it's difficult to pin them down to one genre. Oh and don't forget about Funcrusher, who like, whilst they're really not for everyone, guitar-pedal-driven one-man-sound-scape is exhibited here at it's finest, and I know I at least love it.

The rest of the playlist yr gonna have to listen to yourself, but I'm pretty sure that to most the people reading it, the majority of you will find some stuff you absolutely love, so check it out here ;

support yr local music scene

(written by calum cashin)

GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL PREVIEW : ten bands you need to see

Glastonbury's something that happens every year, and for the poorest of us aka me, it's generally a great spectacle to watch from the sofa on the TV with the sound turned up. This year, the line-up's been kinda divisive, and has got an unusual audience reaction, but really, the fact that the band of white guys whose members are 50% convicted sex offenders didn't spark an online petition, but the highly talented black guy had over 200,000 people sign a petition to get him off the bill, and I guess that says a fair bit about the changing demographic of Glastonbury, really. In the past, say the 80's, 100% per cent of attenders were left wing people sticking it to the man, and now it's a kinda in vogue to go to Glastonbury, and vaguely credible websites will tell you what to wear. I bet, just like the population, just under a quarter of Glasto's audience voted Tory even, where no-one would have voted for Thatcher in the 80's, you know?

BUT despite the changing demographic of Glastonbury, it's still a spectacle like no other. I picked out the ten bands you need to check out at Glastonbury this year.

King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard (FRI 6.30, William's Green)
King Gizz play two sets at Glastonbury, but seeing as William's Green is the best stage, you''ll be better poised to see more great bands if you see them here. King Gizzard are an essential live act, and on the stage showcasing the most psych they'll stick right in; I loved their I'm in your mind fuzz album last year, and whilst I've not heard their new LP yet, if it's anything like the fuzzed out surfadelic UK debut (they've put out tons in AUS though), this will probably be the one of best sets of the whole festival.

Stealing Sheep (FRI, 4.30, William's Green)
OK, so this stage pretty much has the ten best acts, so I'm not gonna use the post instead to list them all, see: TOY, The Voyeurs, Bevis Frond, Palma Violets and FURS (and many others), but the most important band here you gotta see is Stealing Sheep. I saw them a few weeks ago, and they have the greatest chemistry seen between a band in a while, and the three members  are perfectly in tune. Expect them to play stuff from their perfect sophomore LP Not Real, and expect some kaleidoscopic tunes to lose yourself to.

Fat White Family (SUN, 4.30, Park Stage)
OK, so the Park Stage is yet another stage with lots of great names, mainly in the Field of angsty punk rock or psyched-out space rock. These include The Fall, Wolf Alice, Spiritualized, Perfume Genius, Flo Morrissey, and of course, The Fat White Family. An incredible, insane live show, you really can't ignore this band's brilliant, insane live power, even if you don't really get their studio output. Frontman Lias Saoudi is an incredible performer, that'll leave you hungry, because he literally brings all the dinner in the world with his performance. The Fat Whites are a must see, honestly, you've gotta see them.

Patti Smith (SUN 2.15, Pyramid Stage)
THIS WOMAN IS PLAYING FOUR ACTS DOWN THE BILL ON THE SAME DAY THE WHO ARE FUCKING HEADLINING GLASTONBURY. PATTI IS ONE OF THE SINGLE GREATEST ASSETS OF MUSIC, AND IS STILL ONE OF THE GREATEST LIVE ACTS IN THE WORLD, AND MOST IMPORTANT FEMINIST FIGUREHEADS, AND SHE'S NOT HEADLINING? EXPLAIN TO ME IN ONE FUCKING SENTENCE WHY FLORENCE WELCH IS FIT TO HEADLINE WHEN PATTI IS RESIGNED TO SUNDAY AFTERNOON. UGH. But no seriously, if you're going to Glasto, Patti is a must see. Her voice sounds better than it did in 1975, and her stage presence is so magnetic, that I genuinely can't believe she's not headlining Glastonbury. If Patti can't headline it, what do you have to do to get to the top of the bill?!? But anyway yes, you've got to see her, she's a genius, and it will be the best set of the festival, wherever it's a headline set or not. She did so fucking perfect sub-headlining Field Day, which, whilst smaller, definitely had a better line up than Glastonbury. Wait, that's a good fucking point; WHY DIDN'T THEY GET RIDE TO HEADLINE GLASTONBURY INSTEAD OF THE BLOODY WHO?!

Run the Jewels (FRI, 7.00, West Holts)
OK, so I don't want to resort to hyperbole, but the duo that is Killer Mike and El-P are the greatest group of their kind in the world. Hip-hop at it's finest - their last album RTJ2 is a masterpiece - performed by some of the most powerful figureheads of our generation. They have such a great live show, and some solid material, and basically they'd be someone you've got to see, if yr not at King Gizz.

Courtney Barnett (SAT, 12.10, Pyramid Stage)
LOOK, IT'S OUR COURTNEY, ON THE PYRAMID. This time last year I was telling you guys how much you need to see her on umm, I think it was the Park Stage, and now she's progressed, and I feel like a proud mother. Her debut album came out a few months ago, and whilst it is really good, her live show is tons better. Expect witty lyrics, bouncing out her mouth in a really great way (intonation pattern wise) and a bit of a heavier sound than on record. Courtney is an incredibly talented singer and I'd love to see her soon.

Alvvays (SUN, 3.40, John Peel Stage)
One of the best pop groups of the past few years, Alvvays are bringing their sun-kissed indie-pop to the John Peel stage, after stopping off at The Joiners on the way. Their really wonderful vocal harmonies are something to watch out for, and just generally some well written pop songs; Archie, Marry Me is still one of the greatest songs of the past few years for me.

Jane Weaver (SUN, 3.00, William's Green)
Celestial godess, Jane Weaver glittery space-rock singer-songwriting is amongst the most enthralling live material you'll ever see, so I couldn't quite not give a special mention to her. She has a really heavenly voice that sounds beautiful atop some spacey instrumentals that go on for about 10 minutes at a time. It's honestly the most majestic thing you'll hear all weekend, and all the instrumentalists are really very talented.

Todd Terje (SAT, 8.00, West Holts)
This is one of the sets you won't quite know what to expect, but you'll definitely have a good time. Terje and his band The Olsens will turn what used to be the jazz stage into a cosmic disco, belting out tracks that fall somewhere between 60's/70's latin jazz and contemporary psychedelia.

and finally

Kanye West (SAT, 10.15, Pyramid Stage)
There are so many reasons why you've gotta see the godlike enigma that is Kanye West live, but if you're open minded and appreciative of different musical styles instead of just white boy guitar indie rock, you won't need me to convince you that Kanye will be excellent live. Basically, he's just got the most powerful stage presence, a barrage of songs that'll sound incredible belted out to 100,000, and essentially, Glasto booking him makes Kanye the most progressive, forward-thinking headline act since, well, I guess West's m8 Jay-Z. Kanye not yr thing? That's cool. You can see Jon Hopkins, Suede, Leftfield, or go to a Northern Soul Disco, or explore or ANYTHING. THERE IS SO MUCH GOING ON AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME THAT IF YOU GENUINELY SIGNED A PETITION TO GET KANYE REPLACED WITH A WHITE ROCK BAND YOU SHOULD PROBABLY DO US ALL A FAVOUR AND JUST SUNBATHE IN THE MIDDLE OF AN A-ROAD INSTEAD OF IN THE MIDDLE OF A SOMERSET FIELD BECAUSE REALLY, SOCIETY WILL PROGRESS WITHOUT YOU AND YOUR BACKWARDS VIEWS.

glastonbury takes place next weekend and you can get tickets ummm LAST FUCKING DECEMBER

(written by calum cashin)

GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL PREVIEW : the festival's hidden gems

It’s only a few days until the biggest music festival in the world commences once more in the beautiful Somerset haven of Worthy Farm. If you were lucky enough to get a ticket then you’re in for an experience like no other. But if you’re at home you can still enjoy coverage of so many brilliant artists.

This year is my second Glastonbury. On arrival last year I was daunted by the sheer scale and didn’t know where to start. The Wednesday and Thursday are ideal days for acclimatising and exploration before the stressful running from stage to stage.

Before the main acts start on Friday there are some musical treats in store. On Thursday night Williams Green is the place to be with a rumoured secret set from Wolf Alice. Also confirmed is a set from chilled folk duo Seafret. With distinctive vocals and serene acoustic guitars it’s something for fans of Hozier or James Bay, and is an ideal way to spend a relaxing evening before the chaos of the weekend.

Aside from the A-list headliners and countless massive names on the main stages there’s plenty of under-rated gems on the line-up. Don’t be put off seeing a band you’ve never heard of because you don’t know what you could be missing.

Up and coming indie band Coasts are bound to put on an upbeat summery set on Saturday on the John Peel stage. Their live shows are energetic filled with big choruses and euphoric songs that are ideal for festivals.

The Ramona Flowers, an electronic alternative rock band from Bristol, provide darker post headliner late night antics at 1:30AM Friday at the suitably mysterious Rabbit Hole. If you can find the prestigious hidden venue expect something a little moodier with blaring guitars and heavy bass.

Ibeyi have got themselves a slot at 1PM on The Park Stage on Saturday. The French twin duo has elements of Afro-Caribbean, French and Jazz music. It’s the ideal way to relax and crank the pace down a notch after a busy day.

New indie pop band Zibra are sure to fill the Introducing Stage tent with high-energy drums and a distinctive electronic sound. With radio one play and backing from Huw Stephens this is a chance to see them in an intimate setting before they break. Also on the Introducing stage the r‘n’b soulful sound of Nao. She’s another act with originality and potential for bigger things and her performance will be something very special.

The best way to finish Glastonbury on a high is the annual paint fight at the “Temple” in the Common, in the South East Corner of the festival. The Aztec- like arena structure is split in the middle and everyone is given a neon bag of powdered paint. The DJ queues up a Dubstep track and at the drop everyone is instructed to throw their paint. It can only be described as an explosion of bright colour and happy energy, creating a stunning 20-second spectacle. It encapsulates the atmosphere of Glastonbury festival and leaves you on a high.

This is just an extremely small segment of all the things that are worth seeing at Glastonbury. Expect the unexpected as there are surprises at any time. Whether you’re fortunate enough to be there or you’re watching from the sofa, I hope you enjoy every minute of the diverse brilliant performances throughout the weekend. It really is the best place in the world.

20 Jun 2015

Ponytail / Do Whatever You Want, All The Time (lost 21st century classic review #1)

Upon research, this review has been a long time coming. Ponytail's 3rd studio album, released in 2012 never made it into the charts due to its unpopular sound and was therefore bypassed by the media. It's hard not to be enveloped in the joyous noise of Ponytail's music, a word often used to describe their work, and with good reason. But that dichotomy is where Ponytail finds their meaning.

The first track on the album, entitled Easy Peasy works in the same way as all of their opening tracks. It begins with a moment of anticipation, where the members gradually layer each element to create the overall sound function. Much like the numerous pairs of socks you put on before venturing out into the snow - the most layers you wear, the more comfort you feel. This "layered" approach Ponytail used effectively created a welcoming feel to their mismatched sound.

The abstract noise, vocal yelps, the giddily plaited guitar lines, the galloping drum patterns -- the song only develops further into a maniacal glee, where the tempo constantly stop-starts, it never reaches an even meter, and ultimately races breathlessly to the finish line with an immense pace at the end.

The child-like tendency to avoid consistent pattern, and keep the audience guessing is what makes this album feel so alive. Couple that with the natural exuberance that bleeds out of the playing, you are instantly lost in the infectious indulgence of Ponytails music.

With that being said, the lyric-less album allows the audience to engage in their own self-expression by following the feelings of the lead, Molly Siegel. You can almost feel Siegel ridding herself of anger and stress throughout the album and allows the the audience to do the same, making every moment of the album that little more enjoyable.

Do What You Want, All the Time is simply 36 minuets of ruckus noise you cannot help but fall in love with.
I would encourage everyone to loose themselves in the Fantasia Land that is Ponytail.


The Strokes @ BST, Hyde Park (live review)

Explaining the importance of The Strokes to me, as a child of the late nineties, is like explaining the importance of sunlight to a plant: Without them I’d probably have withered and died, like a school experiment left in the cupboard over the summer.

In the landscape of the ignominiously titled ‘noughties’, without The Strokes, there would’ve been very little for developing waifs and strays to cling to; Julian Casablancas and co were the welcomed new-dawn after a Britpop hangover, who defined a new era of music. Indie from the early part of the Twenty-First Century might not have been the most consistent movement, but if we had to put up with two Pigeon Detectives for every Strokes, I’m sure you’d all agree it was worth it.

The Strokes playing British Summer Time at Hyde Park was so significantly important because of the influence they’ve had on everyone from the likes of Dev Hynes all the way down the chain to me, a kid whose major talent is having Internet access. During their absence from the UK, the post-Strokes generation has grown up, most of whom never had a chance to see them last time round. As such, attending their biggest show in the UK to date was something of a pilgrimage.

The influence The Strokes have had was evident in a number of the opening acts, Public Access T.V. in particular. They sound like they could be the next step in the tradition of New York bands, taking a great deal of influence from groups like Television and The Velvet Underground. Their signature pop-stomp sits somewhere between the aforementioned headliners and T.Rex; think New York indie with a glam sensibility. Manic performances of brilliant songs like ‘Rebounder’ make them a definite hope for the future.

I’m sure you could see a Strokes influence in Hinds, who also took to the stage, but it isn’t so overt. Their throwaway optimism made for an overwhelmingly ‘summer festival’ experience, but that is, perhaps, because the sun was shining. I’d have to see them again to judge whether or not they could maintain that level of effusive joy during a downpour.

Amongst the bands I unwittingly missed in favour of some time spent at the Carnival stage were Yak and The Wytches, but if you had someone shouting at you to “lean to the left!” as people dressed as neon dragons pass by, you would’ve done the same.

I made it back to the main stage in time for Future Islands, whose music might be a secondary factor in their appeal, but it was a spectacle enough regardless. The band’s singer, Samuel T. Herring is responsible for most of their notoriety by way of his dancing and demonic growl. All I could think is that I’m sure the set would have been equally as good if it was just him on stage.

Following on almost instantly was Beck, who is someone I’ve always been ambivalent towards. His set swung me round from viewing him as the kind of person who plays art-institutions for discerning dilettantes to someone who I consider a talented songwriter.

Songs like Devil’s Haircut and Que Onda Guero are modern classics in their own right, and Beck’s imperturbable calm had a certain charm to it. E-pro, as one might expect, was excellent and the perfect segue to the performance I have been waiting for since the age of thirteen.

The crowd compacted, sprawling back for what seemed like miles, and a well place excitement erupted as the introduction to 80’s Comedown Machine led into Is This It. As you might’ve guessed, The Strokes had taken to the stage for a long overdue meeting with their audience.

So much of The Strokes oeuvre is so incredibly danceable that it would’ve been quite a commendable feat not to have a good time. That, hand in hand with everyone’s anticipation, meant that even if the band had been having an off night it would’ve still been incredible. To put things into perspective I managed to have a good time even after being hit square in the back of the head by a cup of wee – I had as good a time as someone can have sodden by the urine of a moron.

Julian’s voice shone on songs like Barely Legal, which helped to festoon him as a post-punk Sinatra with a multi-coloured skunk-mullet. He wished Hyde Park a ‘Merry Christmas’ and briefly mentioned his love of funk, which was surely more than anyone could’ve hoped for.

The rest of the band was exceptional, too, from Albert Hammond Jr.’s strobed guitar playing, interwoven with Nick Valensi’s precise guitar-solos, to the stoically brilliant rhythm section of Nikolai Fraiture and Fabrizio Moretti. The speed of tracks like Hard to Explain and the technicality of Heart in a Cage boasted how well The Strokes play together; this is a band that deserved to be play Hyde Park.

The set was heavy with classics – the songs you’ve all been waiting to hear live for years – with a predominance of songs from Is This It; New York City Cops evoked an appropriately chaotic response. Songs from Room on Fire like Reptilia and Automatic Stop, along with a few selections from First Impressions of Earth made me notice how magnificent their ‘greatest hits’ are – to be able to play You Only Live Once, Reptilia and Last Night in the same set is a commendable feat after commendable career so far. Newer material was light on the ground, and an actual version (rather than just the intro) of 80’s Comedown Machine was arguably missed.

This was one of the longest gigs I have ever been to, but it passed the quickest. ‘Take It or Leave It’ was a fitting sentiment to end the night, after nearly twenty cataclysmically, bewildering, astounding years of The Strokes. Is this it? Only time will tell…


19 Jun 2015

Shoegaze - 6 essential albums

OK so if one movement in music's history is easy to poke fun at, it's the shoegaze of the early nineties. Ha ha ha ha, shoegazrs ha ha ha, etc.

But whilst I get that, no really I do (I'm a part of the banned from shoegaze, nu-gaze and dream-pop group), I find it so overwhelming how much great music came about from that period in time. In fact, this sorta period was among the most creative n the history of music. You had yr Rides and yr Slowdives being really fucking great over here, but at the same time, Pixies, Sonic Youth, Fugazi, and eventually Nirvana were releasing great music, so it's hard to ignore just how great a period this was for alternative music. Maybe I should quickly explain what shoegaze actually is; it's not quite, as lots of people would have you believe, a set in stone thing, it's kind of just a tag for a lot of noisy, reverb-drenched alternative rock, that can be slapped loosely on a lot of music. Although genre-police type militants will tell you time and time again 'THIS IS NOT SHOEGAZE!!!11!!1!' you've just gotta put things into perspective, and use the genre tag for it's main positive use; to help you find out more music you love, that sounds like other music you love.

About a week ago, one of our new posters Elliott put up a top 6 essential Elephant 6 Collective albums (nah seriously read it, it's brilliant) and it seemed like a really good format to make like a thing that we do, so I thought I'd pick my six most essential shoegaze albums so you can get as enthused about the genre as a number of certain shoegazrs.

6. GALAXIE 500 - On Fire (1989)
Is this actually shoegaze? What exactly is shoegaze? Who cares?! This is a really wonderful record that came out at the same time as all the British shoegaze bands, and although it has a distinctly messy arrangement, it has a really dreamy guitar sound that bands like DIIV and Sunflower Bean are dredging up now - and let's be honest, you there, tutting because this isn't actually shoegaze, but it's in a shoegaze post, you should probably share a rose petal-laden, candle-lit bath with a toaster, to mellow you the fuck out. This is a really beautiful record, and the singer has a beautiful little vulnerable voice; on Blue Thunder, it's beautifully forlorn, on Strange where he raises it, it sounds wonderfully impassioned, and for the rest of the album it falls somewhere in between. Ultimately, this is the sound of a warm-ish autumn night, and it's one of the best indie albums the nineites (and 1989) produced, period.

5. MY BLOODY VALENTINE - Loveless (1991)
This is an absolute certainty, in any list of this type, and I guess maybe it begs the question of 'why isn't it number one?' more than 'why is it here in the first place?' I guess the answer lies in the fact it's a personal list of favourites, more than anything. I mean, it's not even my favourite MBV album (that honour would go to m b v), so I'd really struggle to be happy to put it at #1. I think bar the four standouts, Only Shallow, When You Sleep, Sometimes and Soon, the most of the rest are shapeless songs, with instrumentation that really all just merges into one. Sure, for lots of people that's a plus, but I prefer the songs when they turn up on Loom: Live in Vancouver, where they sound more like brutish, bassline driven rock songs, that sound slightly warped, rather than ethereal pop songs. Sure, I can't fault it as a record, but the way it's produced stops me from really, really getting behind this. Still, you'll be blown away when you first hear it, and some of the songwriting and guitar sounds are genuinely perfect, but yeah - not my favourite.

Is this shoegaze? Who cares! I've always thought there was a real Ride influence behind this, and the fact that when I spoke to Mark Gardener, he told anecdotes all about Anton and the gang being at Ride's first San-Fran shows, back in the early 1990's. Methodrone is the BJM's second of many, many great albums, and although it's 70 minutes long, there are some absolute gems of the genre on here. That Girl Suicide is potentially my favourite BJM song, with it's reverbed-up guitar, and it's garagey arrangement, whilst bits of it have a straight out Spacemen 3 drone to it. This is the kind of album you can really lose yourself to, whilst it still has quite a clear DIY ethic to it, I guess. It's not my favourite Jonestown album - that honour would go either to Aufheben, Take It From The Man, or Strung Out In Heaven - but it's definitely up there.

3. SLOWDIVE - Souvlaki (1993)
Hey! I recently got really emotional over a documentary about the making of this album. It's basically made by a band of people, and of these was a breaking up couple; hence the fact this is literally the ultimate break up album. It's full of thin textures, beautifully melodic Neil Halstead vocals, and Rachel Goswell's heavenly voice. It's most famous for the single/lead EP track Alison, which is one of the most beautiful pop songs ever written, and whilst critics at the time said 'they'd rather drown in a bath of porridge' than listen to Souvlaki again, if yr like me then you could happily drown in a bath of Slowdive and never listen anything else ever again. Souvlaki Space Station is a floating, astral voyage of the most wonderful sonic order, and When The Sun Hits is seriously the most powerful song you'll ever hear, with it's huge chorus-type bits. Machine Gun, 40 Days, and Sing make up a streak of brilliant, atmospheric pop songs, and well, Dagger is like peering into the soul of someone who has lost all hope - it's probably the most depressing song on the list, but it's superbly written, and really a very resonant end to Souvlaki. Although the 3 songs I've not namechecked are understated, they too work themselves seamlessly into this brilliant, brilliant album, that deserves to be celebrated forever and ever.

2. MEDICINE - Shot Forth Self Living (1992)
Brad Laner was a guy that did a lot of stuff for the American underground music scene throughout the eighties, and in the first years of the 90's, he formed a band called Medicine, who, like Slowdive, Ride and MBV are back to life in the 2010's. Shot Forth Self Living is their debut, and it's pretty much the ultimate US shoegaze record, which is cool, because whilst the US leads the shoegaze revival in terms of new bands, there wasn't a lot in the way of 'gazers in the nineties. This is an incredibly noisy record, and it's incredibly ambitious; you put it on and you're greeted by a screeching drone of feedback that MBV or Swervedriver would probably only be able to conjure in their wildest dreams, and then some Mary Chain bass rumbling. This continues for 9 minutes of Laner bringing all the dinner in the world with his effects pedals, The rest of the record, with songs like A Short and Happy Life, and 5ive, has melodic moments, because of Beth Thompson's luscious voice, but even then they still bring the noise. It's not exactly a cohesive release, but I actually really love every single song on this 9 song release; it's very experimental, and yeah, it doesn't flow like Loveless or Souvlaki, but the songs really go on, and really, this is a bit of a masterpiece.

1. RIDE - Nowhere (1990)
WHAT ELSE COULD IT BE? This is the first album by Ride, who are my absolute favourite band, and because I don't make this statement lightly, it could well be my favourite album ever released. And I don't say that lightly. A tidal wave of sound the size of the one from the book of waves, which adorns the cover, hits you about 20 seconds into Seagull, smashing the listener into a whirlpooly void of intense noise. From there, Kaleidoscope is a three minute pop song, a la Revolver with reverb, and then followed by the beautifully forlorn ballad that is In A Different Place, which is so gorgeous that even Jeff Buckley can only sing it as well as Mark. These, however perfect, are bettered by what the album's last 5 songs have to offer. Decay is a favourite, because it's essentially a bass-driven punk song, given the glossy Ride softness to stop it getting too visceral, although despite this, it's probably my least favourite on the album. Polar Bear is an echoey masterclass of delay-kissed, glacial guitars, and elegant Mark Gardener vocals, whilst Dreams Burn Down, which opens side two, is similarly icy, but longer, more heartfelt, and ultimately, where Polar Bear encapsulates euphoria, DBD captures a hopelessness. The final two songs are probably the among the most beautiful on this list, and whilst Paralysed is perpetually underrated, it's still a sweet, youthful track of angsty sadness, Vapour Trail is what seals the deal making this my favourite album there is - I don't have to explain what's so perfect about that, do I? - and therefore my #1 essential shoegaze album you MUST, must, MUST listen to.

(Written by Calum Cashin)