Archive | March, 2015

The Go! Team – The Scene Between

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The Go! Team – The Scene Between

Posted on 26 March 2015 by Joe

Boom! That’s right it’s a rare 10/10 from us for this comeback album from The Go! Team.

The press release rightly points out that this album “has a heavy focus on melody”. That is an understatement if anything. The whole album from start to finish is teaming with singles, with wonderful hooks, riffs and choruses shining throughout. Its perfect pop and I challenge anyone who professes to have any form of appreciation for a good pop song to dislike this album.

The Go Team The Scene Between artwork SMALL(1)

The secret to its success is simplicity, with Mr Go! Team Ian Parton writing, performing and producing the entire album and then using a range of female singers to take lead vocal duties. Each brings to the album a genuine chart feel, like a credible Katy Perry in places. There’s lashings of sampling too, helping it to retain The Go! Team’s genre crossing credentials on an album that ends up sounding like a beautiful mix of The New Pornographers, Polyphonic Spree and The Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique.

It is too tough to single out any track, they are all great. But if you were to look up one on Youtube or Soundcloud to verify my  enthusiasm go for the  euphoric title track and the beautiful pop of Waking the Jetstream. But please don’t stop there, buy the album, and then enjoy the St Etienne-esque Did You Know and many more pop gems too.

I’ve had this album for at least two months now and I’m still playing it on a weekly basis with its pop proving itself far from throwaway as Parton delivers arguably his best ever release.

10/10

by Joe Lepper

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Hysterical Injury – Blood Burst EP

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Hysterical Injury – Blood Burst EP

Posted on 20 March 2015 by Joe

Bristol based brother and sister bass and drums duo Annie and Tom Gardiner have been flirting with breakthrough status for around eight years now, gathering plaudits but not the wider audience their music arguably deserves.

Along the way they’ve managed to skip over inevitable The White Stripe comparisons, mainly because they sound nothing like them, and enjoyed more welcome comparisons to Sleater Kinney and Sonic Youth.

blood_burst_booklet-cover

With this latest four track EP from the duo let’s add a couple more comparisons into the mix. For starters early 1980s new wave act Pylon spring to mind, especially on the lead track Under Milk Wood, which has the Athens, Georgia based band’s  similar jerky rhythms, albeit supplemented here  with Annie’s very English sounding folk vocals.

The early 1980s sounds continues with Woken With a Warning, with the sparse urban bass lines of Young Marble Giants a point of reference. Annie also sounds more than a little like YMG’s vocalist Alison Statton here.  This track could stay a YMG homage and still be fine, but then the drums crash in it becomes something even more impressive. Like Under Milk Wood another excellent lead track emerges. It is this track that on repeat listens emerges as the most triumphant.

Ready to Burst and Blood on a Daisy, the other two tracks, reveal themselves as interesting extras to the two main attractions here. Special mention though to the vocals on Ready To Burst, which reminds me a little of the prog-rock disco that Field Music and their various off shoots excel at.

As a collection of four tracks this has it all, two awesome singles, two more more than competent filler tracks and perhaps, dare us West Country music journalists dream, at last a breakthrough release for one of the region’s most interesting acts.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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Morrissey – Capital FM Arena, Nottingham (March 13, 2015)

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Morrissey – Capital FM Arena, Nottingham (March 13, 2015)

Posted on 16 March 2015 by John Haylock

Morrissey, the man, the myth, the mardy bum. Love him or loathe him you cannot ignore him, some call him a self obsessed opinionated bore not realizing how much some of us dearly  love nothing more than a self obsessed opinionated bore.

March is upon us and we have a further five dates of Morrissey’s latest tour coming up on top of a handful at the tail end of 2014. This constitutes a flurry of live activity in Mozworld, a rare(ish )treat not to be missed. He completed the previous tour at London’s 02 Arena and that was a phenomenal experience for this reviewer. Could this opening night of the 2015 tour come close? (plot spoiler, no not quite)

morrisey1

On the day of the gig the local paper reports the not very shocking news that all meat products are banned tonight (then have to explain to a readership of young dullards and aging pensioners that the ex-Smiths vocalist is a vegetarian and that they once had an album called Meat is Murder). Local radio have tenuous links to Morrissey in the form of  an aging rocker called Vince Eager as one of his tunes was once chosen by Moz as a favourite to be played at his funeral. When asked if he would be going tonight Mr Eager said ‘No’. What a captivating local story .

There is no support tonight but we do get the preliminary 30 minute film of footage from such unlikely bedfellows as Charles Aznavour, The New York Dolls and Sylvia Plath, the same as the London show, but tellingly with a new clip, Fade to Grey by Visage, in tribute to the passing last month of Steve Strange.

Moz and the band appear to rapturous applause, launching into thunderous renditions of The Queen is Dead and Suedehead, the same intro as London and it soon became clear that this would be a re run set wise of the London show and that is what transpired. He again concentrated on his latest album World Peace Is None of Your Business, but fed us crumbs of previous classics, particularly nice to hear was a cracking version of People Are The Same Everywhere, which was the B side to the 1989 single Last of the International Playboys back in 1989, and the reception that greeted Everyday is Like Sunday was like a tsunami of karaoke joy.

morrisey4

The tracks from World Peace came over really powerfully, the older he gets the more vitriol he spits and it’s all the better for it.

Meat is Murder with it’s awfully graphic accompanying video was visually and aurally an assault on the senses. Istanbul is a raging anti war song, I’m not a Man rages against stereotypes and ‘The Bullfighter Dies’ does what it says on the tin.

Meanwhile, ‘Smiler with a Knife’ was breathtaking, leaving the the audience spellbound by the intrigue hinted at in the lyrics and topped off with a dramatic guitar solo from Jessie Tobias.

Light relief for the night comes in the form of the tremendously upbeat ‘Kiss me a Lot’ and for this reviewer the icing on the cake was a delirious version of ‘Stop Me if you Think you’ve heard this one before’. A special mention must go to former Smashing Pumpkin Matt Walker on drums, who was a one man engine room of palpable thunder throughout the set. He even got to do the kicking over the drum kit rock n roll cliche thing at the finale, superb!

London was a ten, this is a nine, only because of the incessant chattering on row K and no ‘Shoplifters of the World Unite’. Minor quibbles on an otherwise thoroughly uplifting night.

Dear Moz, can we please have a Smiths reunion before I croak ?

 Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes.

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Evans the Death – Expect Delays

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Evans the Death – Expect Delays

Posted on 05 March 2015 by Joe

The term “Cameron’s Britain”, with all its echoes of “Thatcher’s Britain” is not used nearly enough to describe the inequality and greed that has been seeping out of government since 2010. Step forward Evans the Death to put that right, with the term proudly used on their press release for their latest album Expect Delays.

Its used  here to describe the band’s last three years “eking out an existence on the poverty line” through a succession of minimum wage jobs and benefits interviews. Its a grim existence that thousands of young people can sadly associate with.

As if tackling poverty line Britain wasn’t enough for this London four piece there has been further upheaval over the last few years. Chief among those was the departure of Alanna McArdle to Joanna Gruesome. Now with a slightly rejigged line up, that includes new recruit James Burkitt on drums, they are back to make 2015 hopefully a far better year both musically and politically.

evans

Sometimes adversity can bring out the best in musicians and that’s certainly the case here with the backdrop of upheaval and despair creating a powerful album, full of frustration and anger. Lead singer Katherine Whitaker’s folk punk vocals are on particular top form, whether on one of the album’s low key acoustic moments, such as on Intrinsic Grey, or epic punk numbers like Enabler, she sounds like she means every word and is living every emotion. Enabler in particular is a fearsomely good track, with more than a nod to Swervedriver as it motors across its three minutes.

There are echoes of the similar C86 path that their contemporaries continue to tread, but there’s a raw power to the production here that gives it a far more attacking feel. Even the jangly guitars and Blondie-esque feel of Sledgehammer sound angry and menacing.

It’s this edge that will possibly prevent Evans the Death from garnering too much radio airplay. I hope I’m wrong there because as well as attitude this has some great tunes. Sledgehammer and Enabler have a timeless classic indie single feel to them, emerging here as modern alternative pop anthems for ‘Cameron’s Britain.’

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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Matt Creer – The Leeward Tide

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Matt Creer – The Leeward Tide

Posted on 04 March 2015 by Joe

Matt Creer came onto our radar thanks to a tweet by Chris T-T declaring his love for the Isle of Man singer songwriter’s latest track North Northwest. We listened, we agreed, we got in touch and Creer popped his new album The Leeward Tide in the post.

creer

As befits a biography that boast music credits working with the aforementioned Chris T-T, as well as Mike and the Mechanics’ Paul Carrack and Beverly Craven, on The Leeward Tide Creer straddles mainstream, independent music and folk with aplomb.

There is an immediate comparison with Seth Lakeman, who with the aid of a Mercury Music Prize nomination brought his Devon folk rock to a wider audience. Creer could quite easily do the same. In fact listening to this album I’m struggling to see why Creer isn’t headlining Cambridge Folk Festival and gaining regular UK airtime as Lakeman does.

Creer is getting there though. He’s made the top ten of the iTunes singer songwriter chart over 2014 and 2015 and at the time of writing The Leeward Tide was in the top 20 of the same chart just a day or so after release.

As well as the instant appeal of North Northwest, there’s the beauty of the harp on Flesh and Bone and the tender Islands that also stand out; as does Shout Me Down, which reminded me of Scottish based folk collective Southern Tenant Folk Union.

Another song that deserves a mention is Your Dancing Shoes, which reminds me of the smart observational lyrics of Somerset singer songwriter Nick Parker.

The Leeward Tide sounds polished and beautiful, especially on Flesh and Bone, but crucially it is not over produced. It still feels like a group of musicians in an Isle of Man bar or a friend’s living room performing an intimate gig.

It also feel very Manx. As someone who has never been to the island though I should clarify that it sounds like how I imagine its coastal and rural landscape to be. As calms after the storm go this is just about perfect.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

To Download The Leeward Tide and find out more about Matt click here.

 

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Seadog – Transmitter

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Seadog – Transmitter

Posted on 04 March 2015 by Joe

Our friends at Bleeding Heart Recordings bring us news of another talented Brighton based act for us to sink our ears into. Step forward Seadog, the dream pop creation of singer songwriter Mark Benton and musician Max Numajiri, who met while studying at Brighton University, alongside such notable alumni as Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan.

Full of melodic guitars and glockenspiel twinkle the five tracks on  their latest EP Transmitter  have certainly impressed us, from the swirling intro to the title track to the catchy lead track Haunted there’s welcome echoes of other fine Brighton originated acts such as The Leisure Society and Miserable Rich. For those that like even less known acts, Brighton’s Robot Heart, also on Bleeding Heart Records, is another good point of reference.

seadog press shot

As with all good EPs, this seems woefully short. Looking forward to a forthcoming album from Mark and Max already.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

For more information about Seadog and to download the EP click here.

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The War on Drugs – Rock City, Nottingham (Mar 1, 2015)

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The War on Drugs – Rock City, Nottingham (Mar 1, 2015)

Posted on 03 March 2015 by John Haylock

After ten years of hard slog the surprise success of last year’s Lost in the Dream album must have been a huge vindication for The War on Drugs’s main man Adam Granduciel.

For this listener it’s a great album, only let down by some crude cardboard box drumming and a lazy production, but live, oh my Lord, it’s a different experience entirely. Those demo sounding tunes spring into life and hit you right between the eyes, both euphoric and propulsive they come awake and shine like a cocaine supernova.

The War on Drugs's Adam Granduciel

The War on Drugs’s Adam Granduciel

Since 2005 they’ve plied their sonic trade, looking for a niche and searching for a style. The last time I saw them they reminded me of the jingle-jangle of Californian legends The Byrds. On record they’ve veered from gently undulating dream pop to pseudo krautrock as evidenced on their previous album 2011’s Slave Ambient.

The success of Lost in the Dream stems from the fact it has big tunes, something that was not a noticable facet of their earlier albums, which were more focused on atmosphere and experiment. The sold out show tonight proves that people like nothing better than a band from Philadelphia with joyous tunes and a frontman in Adam who is charm personified. ‘You’re a genius’ shouted one enthusiastic punter, Adam just shrugged it off, picked up another guitar, of which there were many and launched into another song.

With only five tickets remaining Nottingham’s Rock City is all but sold out, the band come on at eight thirty and give us a two hour show, with the music fleshed out by five band members, including a wonderful sax player and a drummer with a minimalist Ludwig kit who was precision personified.

The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs

As Adam took centre stage we were treated to their defining tracks of 2014, such as Under The Pressure’ with its life affirming, makes you go crazy swirling sound it really hit the spot tonight, interspersed with some jaw dropping guitar playing from Adam it really was a treat. What follows is some of the most fluid, expressive guitar soloing I’ve witnessed for ages, on a variety of guitars he pulls off solo after solo that pitch somewhere between Dinosaur Jr man J Mascis and Tom Verlaine of Television.

Another album highlight, the title track ‘Lost in the Dream’ comes five numbers in. I don’t know what it is about this number and Under The Pressure in particular, perhaps it’s because of the inherent joy embedded in their hearts ,but you can’t help but be carried along on a tidal wave of rock lurve.

Baby Missiles and Come to the City, from Slave Ambient make a welcome addition to the set, as does Arms Like Boulders from the debut album Wagonwheel Blues. But most of the set comprises of the swathes of twisting morphing sounds of Lost in the Dream. There were three numbers for the encore, Suffering, Coming Through and finally the most incredible version of Your Love is Calling my Name that was a psychedelic trip that just grew and grew with guitar FX to die for and a head crunching band in full on mindmelt mode. Just amazingly cool.

*Support came from Amen Dunes, the solo project of Damon McMahon, a guy with a very distinctive voice and a recommended album called ‘Through Donkey Jaw’ on the Sacred Bones label. He was pretty ok and he and his band played semi acoustic trance like songs; repetitive but quite effective and his unusual voice is one I think we’ll be hearing more of in 2015.

Words By John Haylock, pictures by John Haylock and Arthur Hughes

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