Archive | December, 2012

Mission of Burma – Learn How: The Essential Mission of Burma

Mission of Burma – Learn How: The Essential Mission of Burma

Posted on 12 December 2012 by Joe

As comebacks go Mission of Burma’s is up there with Jesus Christ, Elvis and Johnny Cash. Formed in the late 1970s punk scene of Boston they spent a handful of years pushing the boundaries of punk, introducing melody as Husker Du were doing a few states away in Minneapolis and perhaps the only punk act at the time to have a tape manipulator.

The band, of tape manipulator Martin Swope, Roger Miller (guitar), Clint Conley (bass), Peter Prescott (drums), split in 1983 after just one EP, Signals, Calls and Marches and one album, Vs. This was no acrimomious split though, it was for medical reasons due to Miller’s tinnitus.

Fast forward to 2002, with Miller’s ears and headphone technology  able to cope better with the band’s live sound they reformed and the previous two decades break melted away.

Signed to Matador they released three frantic, energetic, innovative albums that sounded as if they were some sprightly young band: ONoffON (2004), The Obliterati (2006) and The Sound the Speed the Light (2009). In 2012 they moved to Fire and released Unsound, which featured added trumpets courtesy of their comeback era tape manipulator Bob Weston, from Shellac.

There have been compilations before, but these have either focused on their pre-1983 output, such as A Gun to the Head: A Selection from the Ace of Hearts Era, and  Accomplished: The Best of Mission of Burma, released by Rykodisc in 2004 ahead of OnoffON.

With this Fire Records compilation taking in the best from their pre 1983 and comeback eras this is just about the best Mission of Burma compilation  out there. There’s just enough from each album and era to give a good flavour of their sound and encourage full album buying, while at the same time acting as a good collection in its own right, of some of their best singles and album tracks. Its also good to hear how they’ve evolved over the years, getting faster and harder as they grow older.

Early tracks such as Academy Fight Song show a band heavily influenced by the likes of Gang of Four and Wire, all jerky punk with melody. This is perhaps best shown on one of their most well known tracks from their early era, That’s When I Reach For My Revolver, with its infectious chorus. Its on this track where Conley’s vocals particularly shine, sounding similar to Husker Du’s Grant Hart, another singer at the time to focus on melody among the chaos.  The XTC esque backing vocals on the live Peking Spring and the This Is Not A Photograph are other highlights from their early career on the first disc of this double album.

But while welcome to hear these early tracks its their comeback songs across the second disc that really stand out for me, in particular those from Obliterati. The opening from 2wice, the riff from Spider’s Web and the brilliant disco punk chaos of Donna Sumeria are my highlights.

Including tracks from Unsound, their most recent, brings the compilation bang up to date, but strangely excludes some of the best tracks from the album, such as This is Hi-Fi, which will appeal to fans of Canadian band No Means and sounds like their signature tune already.

Just two tracks from OnoffON also seems too few, but at least acts as one almighty tease to go and buy the album. And at least the two that chosen are the wonderful Dirt, with its harmonics solo and The Set Up, which has one of the best, albeit simple, riffs on the album.

Mission of Burma are one of those classic, influential bands that I’m sure many people have always meant to buy something by but never got round to. For those in that position do yourself a favour get this, get hooked then start educating yourself with their full albums, with Obliterati and Unsound arguably next on your shopping list.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

 

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Singing Adams – Moves

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Singing Adams – Moves

Posted on 10 December 2012 by Joe

Steven Adams, songwriter and frontman of Singing Adams, loves to muck around with words. On Moves, the second album by the former Broken Family Man’s indie pop focused act he plays around with clichés, messes with metaphors and delivers another set of bittersweet tales of relationships and life.

Most often he clearly delights in taking a familiar saying, digging a little deeper, adding a bit of realism and suddenly making these cozy words feel a little more sinister.

Take the track London Trocadero for example and lines such as “we try and keep our heads above water” before adding “we keep on ducking under.” The chorus also plays on this theme when he sings “I think it’s the end of the world, or its a joke I never got. Is it funny because its true or funny because its not?”

In promoting this album Adams is keen to point out it is an attempt to “make a London album.” In many ways he’s succeeded, with the tracks full of images of tiring commutes across the capital, in particular the images of trains on Theme from Moves and the social media references in Building A Wall.

There’s also some fine indie pop here, as there was on the band’s 2011 debut Everybody Friends Now, with this latest album featuring two killer singles, the jaunty Good Luck and the downright raucous Dead End.

But while these are great songs, it is the slower, more maudlin tracks that are the most interesting on Moves, with the slow electro pop of London Trocadero and the piano ballad What Happens Now, standing out in particular.

When we caught their live show in Bristol in September 2011 they delighted in playing word games with the crowd in between songs. This love of playing with lyrics coming across far stronger on this album than the band’s debut.

And as with the slower tracks on this album it was the tender, final song of the set St Thomas, from Adams’s solo album Problems (2008) that was recorded under the Singing Adams name, that stood out more than the indie pop.

Another set of thoughtful tracks and fine tunes from a band which we quite rightly named as a key band to watch out for in 2012.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

 

 

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North Sea Scrolls – Komedia, Brighton (6th December 2012)

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North Sea Scrolls – Komedia, Brighton (6th December 2012)

Posted on 08 December 2012 by Dorian

An album of fictional historical events featuring songs by two of music’s grumpiest men and a narration by an Australian journalist isn’t likely to be everyone’s cup of tea. However, we liked it so much that it sneaked in as a late entry into our albums of the year chart. Even though I had enjoyed the recordings a lot I was curious to see how the album would work as a live performance.

North Sea Scrolls

And a performance is what this was, it wasn’t a gig in the conventional sense. There was no support and the entire album was performed in order including Andrew Mueller’s spoken introductions to each song. The musical line-up was Luke Haines on guitar, Cathal Coughlan on keyboards and Audrey Riley providing cello accompaniment.

As with the album Haines and Coughlan sing their own songs, but seeing them play instrumentation on each others songs made the set seem more unified. This isn’t a close collaboration like St.Vincent and David Byrne but seeing the album performed live make it seem more cohesive than on record, especially as Mueller (a bashed gavel between each song) ties the performance together.

The three men are dressed in white suits and pith helmets, their musical underground tribute to the Raj, and this adds to the absurdity of the performance. Performed in character, there are no words between songs, they make their stories seem deadly serious even when they concern Chris Evans, Ian Bell from Gomez or an Australian IRA tribute act.

Luke Haines is in the middle of a bit of a purple patch and his songs on the album continue in the same vein as his wrestling exploration from 2011. He has received the lion’s share of the attention in reviews of the album and it is true that his songs are the more immediate and obviously witty on the album. ‘Broadmoor Delta Blues’ is a particularly enjoyable track and starts the show and album brilliantly.

However, Coughlan’s songs have as many merits even if they take a little longer to sink in. In live performance his songs sound even better, his voice being a striking instrument with some power. Just as on the album it is the contrast between the two artists style and voices that make then set so satisfying.

As a whole the album works brilliantly as a live performance piece and I hope the two artists will unite to present more discoveries from history in the future.

By Dorian Rogers

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Top 20 Albums of 2012

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Top 20 Albums of 2012

Posted on 07 December 2012 by Joe

The  culture of illegal downloading and Spotify playlists have conspired to give the album a torrid time this year.  According to latest figures from industry body the BPI, album sales fell by 13.8 per cent during the first half of the year and in the second week of August Rhianna’s album Talk That Talk became the lowest selling UK number one album when it  shifted just 9,758 copies.

Albums are arguably becoming a more niche  purchase among consumers, which is why there will be a whole bunch of albums in this best of list that you will have never heard of and by bands whose names will be new to you. But that doesn’t mean the quality of these albums is diminished. We have at least one enormous seller, a couple of concept albums as well as some stunning debuts by brand new bands. Above all all those on our list are interesting, have tales to tell and are showcasing artists doing interesting things with music. Album sales may be down, but the quality of music produced this year shows that critically at least 2012 was a great year for the album. Sit back, get your Christmas lists ready and enjoy Neonfiller’s Top 20 Albums of 2012.

20.North Sea Scrolls

North Sea Scrolls is an album that brings together two celebrated musical grumps, Luke Haines and Cathal Coughlan, along with journalist Andrew Mueller, to create an alternative history of the British Isles. That’s right its a concept album, but one that has a worthy place on our list due to its notion of a Britian where the broadcaster Chris Evans is ritualistically sacrificed, 60s producer Joe Meek is culture minister, Enoch Powell is poet laureate and Ian Ball, the kidnapper of Princess Anne, has a crisis of identity in Broadmoor about Ian Ball the singer from Gomez. (DR) More

19. Jack White  – Blunderbuss

We are proud to admit that foppish indie bands who struggle to shift a few thousand CDs are our usual review fodder. It is unheard of for us to review an album that is top of the UK and US albums charts at the time of writing. But for Blunderbuss, the stunning solo debut of former White Stripes man Jack White, we will make an exception. (JL) More

18. Lambchop  – Mr M

As Lambchop albums go Mr M lurks somewhere between the soulful sound of Nixon and the intimacy of Is A Woman.  Its tender subject matter and strings give the impression that Lambchop leader Kurt Wagner is drifting up to heaven with Vic Chesnutt, the late singer- songwriter and friend to Wagner who the album is dedicated to. One of the most beautiful albums of the year. (JL) More

17. Shearwater – Animal Joy

Shearwater have come along way since they were formed by Okkervil River man Jonathan Meiburg as a folky side project. Now signed to Sub Pop  and with Meiburg long departed from Okkervil River, they are a fully fledged indie rock band in their own right. This is arguably their most accessibly release yet, with Meiburg’s fiercely environmental lyrics blending well with a raft of powerful and thought provoking indie rock tracks, with Breaking the Yearlings and centrepiece Insolence among many highpoints. (JL) More

16. The Shins – Port of Morrow

The Shins - Port of Morrow

James Mercer’s Shins are back and getting regular play on alternative and mainstream radio stations alike.  There aren’t many acts that can appeal to such a large demographic, but then not all acts are able to expertly serve up one of the best summer pop music albums of the year. Mainstream music with an alternative edge doesn’t  get better than this. (DR) More

15. Efterklang – Piramida

Efterklang - Piramida

This is the least orchestrated album the Danish band has produced. It takes time to reveal itself, but it is worth the initial persistence to let it unravel its charms. It is not an album that will appeal if you are looking for catchy melodies or a sing-a-long chorus, the songs brood and build and work their way into your brain over time. (DR) More

14. The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth

As you would expect from frontman John Darnielle’s writing there is still a hell of a lot of lyrical self-help, with the track Until I Am Whole a fine addition to the Darnielle survival songbook. But with the birth of his son Roman this year he has presumably less time to wallow, as his life fills with even more hope and optimism. The use of brass, arranged by Matthew E White, across the album probably best typifies the uplifting feel, particularly the trumpets on the relentlessly upbeat Cry for Judas and the sumptuous horn arrangement on White Cedar. Another great release from the man many believe is one of America’s greatest living lyricists. (JL) More

13. Darren Hayman and the Long Parliament – The Violence

In the final instalment of the former Hefner man’s trilogy about his native Essex he turns his attention to the horror of the county’s 17th century witch trials. This double album is packed full of history, subtle melodies, powerful images and above all a sense of humanity typifies so much of his songwriting. The Violence has been a huge hit among critics this year who admire Hayman’s attempt to find Albion, a quest  that has been in decline in the music industry since the 1960s and early 1970s heyday of The Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention. A modern folk classic. (JL) More

12. Hospitality – Hospitality

Central to the success of this Brooklyn indie-pop trio’s self titled debut album is the singing and songwriting of lead singer Amber Papini. Her turn of phrase, effortless vocals and keenest of ears for a catchy single are only hinted at on opener Eighth Avenue, a kind of Belle and Sebastian rip. But as the album progresses track after track of hook laden, memorable, potential singles follow. If you don’t believe us, then maybe Rolling Stone will convince you. The magazine has named it among their Top 50 albums of the year. (JL) More

11. Beach House – Bloom

Beach House’s fourth album is called Bloom for good reason, as it emerges spring like from the icy cold wintery pop of 2010’s breakthrough album Teen Dream. As with Teen Dream, Bloom is still full of wonderful dreamy synth and guitar pop but the duo, of singer and keyboardist  Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally, are no longer walking with snow crunching under foot. They are now in a sunlit meadow somewhere gazing at the dandelions and marvelling at the world. (JL) More

10. Django Django – Django Django

Good old-fashioned pop with some modern art rock sensibility is key to Django Django’s appeal. Storm and the insane Duane Eddy-meets-astronaut-meets-Cairo market trader single Wor are included and are immediate standouts. But there’s plenty more pop up the sleeves of this London based band that topped our Bands to Watch Out for in 2011 list and met while studying art in Edinburgh. (JL) More

9. The Walkmen – Heaven

To use an REM comparison, The Walkmen’s latest album Heaven is their Lifes Rich Pageant moment. Just like that fourth album by REM, Heaven is an album by a band on top of their game in life and career and enjoying every moment. Some fine work behind the production desk by Fleet Foxes, Modest Mouse and Built To Spill producer Phil Ek has helped create this joyous sound. He’s not only added some pastoral Fleet Foxes moments, but has also roped in the Foxes’ Robin Pecknold for backing vocal duties. Think Fleet Foxes with balls. (JL) More

8. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

The road to Nebraska is littered with the ghosts of Americana and getting there demands a humble homage to the stoic wraiths of bearded plaid shirts to navigate its precise route. It’s rare for outsiders to succeed and unknown for the path to start from suburban Sweden, yet First Aid Kit have majestically transposed their whimsical folk deep into the mid-west, repairing the genres often passive conservatism, to redefine the contours of alt-country. (DN) More

7. Bob Mould  – Silver Age

The former Hüsker Dü and Sugar man has gone back to basics for his first album in three years. Amid an eclectic career, which has included devising TV wrestling shows and DJing, Mould has returned to what he does best for this album; fronting a three piece indie rock band with his gigantic voice and crunching guitar. (JL) More

6. Frankie Rose – Intersteller

Well this was  a surprise. There we were bracing ourselves for another standard indie-pop release from former Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls member  Frankie Rose when this pops into our in box . Turns out she has created not just one of the best indie-pop release of the year, but one of 2012′s best pop albums. More

5. Field Music  – Plumb

Field Music Plumb

If you haven’t been sold on Field Music by any of their previous releases you are unlikely to be converted here, but you are clearly a lost cause. If you love their previous work you may find Plumb takes some time to reveal its brilliance, but once it does you’ll be hooked by their XTC and King Crimson-style riffs and quick fire pop. (DR) More

4. Guided by Voices – The Bears For Lunch

Release the Bears is an excellent record by a seminal 1990s act enjoying their productive renaissance. This is album number three for the band in 2012 alone and is the best of the bunch. Sure, there are a couple of underdeveloped tracks and throwaway numbers, but us die-hard GBV fans wouldn’t have it any other way. (DR) More

3. Tame Impala  – Lonerism

It was no surprise to see MGMT, Mercury Rev and Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridman credited with applying the finishing touches to Tame Impala’s second album of psychedelic pop. Largely recorded by Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker at home, in hotels, studios and even a plane, Fridman has added that final pop savvy touch, just as he did to the band’s stunning debut Innerspeaker (2010). The end result is something that perfectly blends the care free attitude of a bedroom recording act  with the swagger of a seasoned old pro behind the mixing desk. (JL) More

2. David Byrne and St Vincent – Love This Giant

Love This Giant

Collaborations are something to approach with caution, for every example where the combining artists bring out the best in each other (Iron & Wine and Calexico) there is another where the worst of both is brutally exposed (the appalling Lulu by Lou Reed and Metallica). The good news is that Love This Giant, the work of David Byrne and Annie Clark AKA St.Vincent, falls firmly into the former category. Love This Giant, from the opening seconds of the brilliant ‘Who’ shows itself to be a fun, high quality, set of pop music. It is clever and sophisticated, but never in a way that stops the music being accessible. (DR) More

1. Tigercats Isle of Dogs

 

Our only 10/10 score for a new album this year and our only ever top mark from our co-editor Joe Lepper for a new album. As an indie-pop album goes this is as good as it gets. It’s teaming with radio friendly, infectious hooks, especially on Full Moon Reggae Party, Easter Island and Banned at the Troxy. It also has a sense of completeness as the band take us on an indiepop road tour across the east end of London. This is an album that may take time  to find a wider audience but over the next decade will gather more and more fans. (JL) More

Reviews by Joe Lepper, Dorian Rogers and David Newbury

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Top Ten Acts To Watch Out For In 2013

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Top Ten Acts To Watch Out For In 2013

Posted on 04 December 2012 by Joe

Each year we give our run down of ten acts that have caught our attention over the last few months and are set for bigger things in the coming year. These are artists that we’ve either seen as emerging artists at festivals or as support acts, or those that have released teasingly good singles and EPs during 2012. Some are old stagers, some are brand spanking new bands. To be boastful for a moment, we  have a pretty good track record with our lists, with the likes of Tigercats in our bands to watch out for in 2012 list  more than delivering this year with the release of their album Isle of Dogs. Tigercats also played at our Oxjam gig in October among a raft of gigs across the UK, France and Spain. Even when we mess up we just about get it right, our top act to watch out for in 2011 Django Django ended up spending most of that year in the studio, but did eventually become a huge success in 2012 to spare our blushes.

10. Owl and Mouse

Owl and Mouse, a four piece from London, fronted by Australian born songwriter Hannah Botting are self confessed lovers of “ukuleles and bittersweet pop songs”. They came to our attention on a set of free Christmas releases by Fika Records last December in which their tender track Sandwich Day was the perfect way to showcase Botting’s intimate, beautiful vocal style.

During 2013 they have plans for a UK tour during June and July and possibly some European dates too.  A split 7” picture disc single featuring their track Canvas Bags is due for release in January and you can catch them at the Hangover Lounge, at the Lexington on January 6, 2013, where they will be launching the release. An album release is also a possibility during 2013. Hannah says: “We’ve been at Soup studios with Giles (Barrett) from Tigercats and have enough material for an Album which we’re determined to release in 2013.”

Their five track EP, called EP One, is available for just £1 here. Incredible value.

9. Evans the Death

The summery indie pop spirit of the mid 1980s courses through the veins of this London band, which released their self titled debut in 2012.  Cut them and they bleed Shop Assistants and Mighty Lemon Drops. We just missed out on reviewing the album through time constraints, but are making amends now by recommending them for 2013, when they attempt to take the next step in their career by impressing the great and the good at the South By South West annual music meat fest.

Signed to Slumberland in the US and Fortuna Pop over here they already have two respected labels of the indie pop world to promote them and further their credentials as one of the UK’s most interesting new bands. Fans of Allo Darlin and Veronica Falls will find a lot to like in their music and we’ve been particularly impressed with the vocal talents of Evans the Death singer Katherine Whitaker.

8.Southern Tenant Folk Union

One of our favourites since the release of their last album Pencaitland. While broadly speaking this is a bluegrass act, they exhibit a range of influnces from soul to cinematic music to indie rock that gives them a real edge. Those that like Miserable Rich and Leisure Society will have a lot to like here and 2013 looks set to be a busy year with the release of their album ‘Hello Cold Goodbye Sun’ and a string of dates planned. This is set to be an excellent follow up to their previous album Pencaitland, which was among our highlights of 2011.

We caught their live set in Frome last year (pictured above) and urge you to go and see them when they play near you. Superb music that adds further depth to the vibrant British folk and roots scene.

To hear tracks from Hello Cold Goodbye Sun check out their soundcloud page.

7.Soccer 96

Brighton drums and keyboards duo Soccer 96 make some of the best low budget electronic music around. Powerful and catchy hooks that adorned their self titled debut album impressed us this year and during 2012 they were named as one of BBC 6 Music presenter Steve Lamacq’s ‘new favourite bands.’ They are primed for more live shows during 2013 to build on the good publicity they’ve already received during 2012.  This includes a show at The Green Door Store in their hometown in March with Can singer Damo Suzuki and members of Sons of Noel and Adrian.

They are also in the studio working with producer Dan Swift on some new tracks which, accordng to the duo,  “promises to be a real step up production wise” A second album release is pencilled in for 2013 and a  collaboration with Stereolab’s Joe Watson is also on the cards next year for the duo, who go by the pseudonyms Danalogue and Betamax to hammer home their back to basics approach to electronic music. As our review said of their debut album “The drums are heavy and the analogue synths pleasingly squelchy and bassy, with 8-bit style squeaks and beeps adding retro texture.”

6.Fever Dream

Fever dream play music you can lose yourself in. It’s what some might call showgaze, others call indie rock and they call “dark, fuzzy menacing music that blurs the line from noisy new wave to angular post punk.”

We were first introduced to them via 2011’s Vostok 5 compilation CD about space flight and since then they’ve released a self titled EP, which they will continue to promote during 2013.   They are back in the studio this month to record some new tracks. As Adey from the band tells us: “If we can scrape ten or so songs together, I’m sure we’ll call it an album.”

They played the Long Division and Land of Kings festivals during 2012 and more festival appearances during 2013 are sure to follow. Adey adds: “As we’ve only played one foreign gig so far – in a toilet, in Berlin – it would be good to spread our wings and creative juices all over the World, so if anyone fancies inviting us to play abroad we’ll jump at the chance.”

Fever Dream’s Soundcloud page can be found here.

5.Ralegh Long

This London based singer songwriter’s EP of piano ballads The Gift left us really impressed in 2012. There’s more to come in 2013 with a follow up EP planned, plus the possibility of a full band record. Heavily influenced by the likes of Bill Fay and John Howard his songwriting is full of subtleties few others can match.

Long is an emerging talent that you should keep an eye out for in the gig listing, where he tours with his band Primary 3 as well as solo, as well as the new release sections. Among our favourite of his tracks is Elizabeth from The Gift.

4. Boomgates

If you are in Australia next year we urge you to check out this Melbourne based indie supergroup Boomgates, who are oozing with DIY punk spirit, catchy indie pop hooks and fronted by one of our favourite singers, Brendan Huntley from Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Other members include Teen Archers’ Gus Lord, The Twerps’ Rick Milovanovic, Sean Gionis from Trial Kennedy and Steph Hughes, ex of Children Collide.

They’ve got a raft of gigs planned in Australia during 2013 to continue promoting the release of their 2012 debut album Double Natural and are sure to continue to pick up interest in the US, where Brendan’s stock is high after  a string of Eddy Current Suppression Ring releases on US garage punk label Goner. 2013 will also see them support Wilco during the Australian leg of their tour, which is certain to bring their ramshackle pop to a wider audience.

To here more tracks from their debut album click here.

3.Rotifer

Robert Rotifer has been knocking around the indie and alternative scenes of Europe and England for a while now and with a new album planned for 2013 we sense this will be one of his band’s most successful year’s yet. Now a three piece, Robert has assembled two of the UK’s most experienced  musicians , Death in Vegas’s Ian Button and The Television Personalities’s Mike Stone.

They were our headliner for our October Oxjam gig and have one of the best live guitar sounds around thanks to Rotifer’s playing and Button’s electronic wizardry. Their last album The Hosting Couple, which featured Darren Hayman on bass, was one of our highlights of 2011 and is worth checking out while you wait for their new album.

Rotifer’s Soundcloud page can be found here.

2.Esben and the Witch

Another Brighton band on our list, who are set to release their second album Wash the Sins Not Only The Face on indie heavyweight label Matador in January 2013, followed by a 12 day UK and Europe tour ending on Feb 26 at London’s Scala. Described by NME as “gothic not goth” they are as haunting and unsettling as that description suggests.

While their 2011 debut album received a reasonable response, from what we’ve heard of their latest release it’s set to  bring them to a far wider audience and make 2013 the busiest year yet for the band.

For more information visit their website here.

1.Stealing Sheep

This Liverpool trio with a folk surf feel somewhere between Pentangle and a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack have the accolade of being the best support band we saw all year. They quite simply  blew the crowd away when they supported Field Music on their sell out tour this year. By the end of 2012 their debut  album  Into the Diamond Sun, with great tracks such as Shut Eye, had received similarly excellent reviews and they were headlining shows in their own right.

It’s at 2013 festivals where you should particularly watch out for this band, after a run of successful festival gigs in 2012 garnered them even more attention. Great live band with a wholly original sound. A deserved number one in this list.

For more information about Stealing Sheep visit their website here.

Compiled by Joe Lepper

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The Miserable Rich live at The Dome Studio Theatre (30/11/12)

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The Miserable Rich live at The Dome Studio Theatre (30/11/12)

Posted on 01 December 2012 by Dorian

When The Miserable Rich take the stage at Brighton’s Dome Studio Theatre it is a bittersweet event for the home crowd who have ventured out into the cold to see the band play. You know that a great show is in the offing, but there is also the knowledge that this is the band’s last show, if not for ever, for a long time.

The Miserable Rich

Since I first heard the band in session playing ‘Boat Song’ on Marc Riley’s 6 Music show I have managed to see them seven times in total. This may not seem a lot to the kind of people that obsessively follow their favourite acts, but I have always loved variety and seldom see anyone play that often. It also occurs to me that I have seen them play in a wider variety of venues than any other act.

Here, for posterity, is the full list:

  1. In the heart of South Downs at The Beachdown festival
  2. Upstairs at the Union Chapel as part of a Willkommen Collective takeover
  3. In Resident Records
  4. Downstairs at The Hare and Hounds
  5. On an derelict bowling green in Queen’s Park
  6. In The Green Door Store
  7. And finally, in The Dome Studio Theatre

The significant point about all the shows being that they all had a different feel, but were all a brilliantly performed showcase of great tunes, the final night being no different.

The set-list picked pretty evenly between the band’s three albums, the quality mark being so high that it is hard to pick out highlights from the set. ‘Ringing The Changes’ was memorable as James de Malplaquet forgot the words, not once but twice, and the rendition of ‘Boat Song’ played (as has become tradition) from within the audience was a fitting finale. Also notable was a version of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ that sits in nicely with the band’s other excellent cover choices through their time together.

The band were joined on stage for about half the set by their original guitarist Jim Briffet, boosted to a seven piece from their original five member line-up. One of the great skills of the band is their ability to move between big sounds and delicate moments, sometimes several times within a song.

The band are officially on hiatus, the members pursuing alternative musical endeavors for the time being. The good news here is that there are several great new acts that could rise from the ashes of the band in the next few years. I hope that they do reunite at some point in the future, the prospect of a forth album and more shows is certainly something I would welcome. If, however, this really is the last we’ll see of them then at least I have been lucky enough to enjoy them more than most.

By Dorian Rogers

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