Tag Archive | "Allo Darlin"

Sixteen of the Best Songs of 2016

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Sixteen of the Best Songs of 2016

Posted on 29 December 2016 by Dorian

We recently published our Top 20 Albums of 2016, but this only reflected a section of the amazing songs that came out this year.  There were great albums we missed, albums that just missed out and songs that came out on single this year. So, as a bit of an end of year bonus, here are the best songs of 2016 that didn’t feature in our end of year album list.

16. ESP Ohio – Royal Cyclopean

It wouldn’t be Neon Filler without a Robert Pollard track, and this horn driven gem from his latest collaboration with Doug Gillard is one of his best this year.

15. The Wedding Present – Rachel

There are rumours that this year’s Wedding Present album may be there last, if that is the case then they are finishing on something of a high.

14. Childish Bambino – Me and Your Mama

Donald Glover is a successful comic actor, the face of the young Lando Calrissian and a Grammy award-winning singer, sickeningly talented.

13. The Shins – Dead Alive

The Shins releasing a song that sounds like they could have recorded 15 years ago may not seem that exciting, unless you think early Shins is about as good as music gets. Which I do.

12. Allo Darlin’ – Hymn on the 45

Allo Darlin’ sadly called in at day in 2016, but just as they played their final shows they released one last single. A final document, if nothing else, of why they’ll be missed.

11. Car Seat Headrest – Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales

Car Seat Headrest is the work of Will Toledo, this year’s bespectacled indie geek de jour. The album justifies the hype this time around.

10. The Avalanches – Subways

The new Avalanches album may not be much of a step forward given the huge gap between this and their debut recording, but there were enough good songs to make it worth a listen.

9. Parquet Courts – Human Performance

The New York band have been releasing consistently great music since they broke through with Light Up Gold in 2012. The title track from their latest album shows them in almost subdued mode.

8. Angel Olsen – Shut Up and Kiss Me

2016 was a bit of a breakthrough year for Angel Olsen, her 4th LP getting a lot of attention and radio play. This track showcases as much fuzz-pop as folk and is a bit of a break from the softer country vibe she’s associated with.

7. Case/Lang/Veirs – Best Kept Secret

Three of the best vocalists in country-pop come together and, unsurprisingly, the results are great.

6. Okkervil River – Judy on the Street

Every two or three years Will Sheff’s band release an album and they all range from good to excellent. This track from Away is no exception to the rule.

5. Teenage Fanclub – Thin Air

More than a quarter if a century in and Teenage Fanclub can still produce some of the best melodic guitar pop around.

4. Girl Ray – Trouble

One of the best bands that we saw at Indietracks this year and one of the bands to watch out for in 2017.

3. Field Music – Disappointed

Due to its release at a busy time we sadly didn’t get round to reviewing Field Music’s excellent 2016 album Commontime. We still loved it though and can assure you it was a typically excellent release from the Brewis brothers. This was a single and one of the best tracks.

2. Luke Haines – Smash The System

Smash The System saw Haines revisit some of his previous themes, with a number of nods to his Baader Meinhof album. The Monkees references in this song are confusing but welcome.

1. Eyelids – Slow It Goes

Eyelids didn’t have a new album out in 2016, that is coming next year, but they did release this song and showcased what we can look forward to. Excellent video as well.

Compiled by Dorian Rogers

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Darren Hayman – Florence

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Darren Hayman – Florence

Posted on 26 October 2015 by Joe

Time and place are key to this latest, comparatively low-key, release from Darren Hayman.

In recent years the former Hefner frontman has been embroiled in ambitious full-band projects, from putting William Morris’s political writings to music to a trilogy of albums about his native Essex.

Darren Hayman

His forthcoming project, an art and musical homage to those rare English villages where all their First World War soldiers returned alive, is set to be another large-scale piece of work.

But here he uses the more simple idea, of a short winter holiday in Florence staying at the apartment of his indiepop chums Elizabeth Morris and her husband Ola Innset, of Allo Darlin and Making Marks respectively, to write and record a melancholy collection of songs.

While a rare solo project it is far from being a lonely or sad album. Friendship is a key theme and there’s a cosy warmth to its winter setting too.

Opener Nuns Run the Apothecary is a great song about friendship. Here Hayman charts the directions and instructions from Morris and Innset to their apartment. ‘We’re sorry to miss you’ and ‘treat our home like your own’ are among the lovely phrases where Hayman draws out the sense of affection among friends.

There’s good music and melodies here too. From the Square to the Hill has the rhythm of a sightseer abroad, taking in the sky, buildings and people around him at that nothing time between Christmas and New Year.

In some ways this is my favourite Hayman album for some time. It’s got the song writing of the best of his Essex trilogy and the warmth of much of his January songs project, recorded at this same time of year and involving him writing, recording and releasing a song a day with help from his musical friends and social media community, including my own dog.

Although in a different city to his native London this most melancholy of times of year once again provides the perfect inspiration for his songwriting.

To buy Darren Hayman – Florence click here.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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Tigercats – Mysteries

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Tigercats – Mysteries

Posted on 27 January 2015 by Joe

With Isle of Dogs, Tigercats arguably produced the perfect debut album. In garnering a rare 10/10 from us it seemed to perfectly encapsulate 20-something urban life as each song meandered across the records shops, bars and venues of their native East London. Now signed to Fortuna Pop and with Allo Darlin’s Paul Rains in their ranks they have also managed to nail the potentially tricky second album too.

Tigercats

Second albums can be a minefield. So many bands just try and repeat their debut hoping the sound will still be fresh, while others try too hard to change, veering off into experimental and unsuitable areas. Here Tigercats have met that challenge by ensuring their sound has moved onto the next level, while at the same time sticking true to their original ethos. It sounds simple enough, but so few bands manage it.

So how has the sound changed? Firstly, it is more polished, thanks to the band able to rack up a considerable amount of hours at Soup Studios, where bassist Giles Barrett works.

Secondly, there is real ambition here sonically. Not content, as so many indie pop bands are ,with a simple sound they’ve drafted in Gallon Drunk’s Terry Edwards to supply saxophone and horns across the album. This perfectly completes their core drums, bass, guitar, keyboards sound and sets them further apart from the pack. Rains too really adds some polish to the guitars, as he does so well in his day job with Allo Darlin’.

The third and perhaps most welcome change is the elevation of keyboardist Laura Kovic’s role. While on Isle of Dogs her vocal duties were largely confined to final track Johnny, here she is everywhere. She not only duets perfectly with lead singer and songwriter Duncan Barrett across the album but has lead vocals on two tracks, Laura & Cesar and Sleeping in the Backseat. It’s a smart move by the band, really adding depth to the songs with her softer vocals perfectly matching Barrett’s. At times with the horns and Kovic’s vocals there is even a Prefab Sprout quality to their tracks, which here seem more romantic, albeit in a sardonic way thanks to Barratt’s clever lyrics. Junior Champion for example manages the zenith for indie-geeks everywhere, of being simultaneously a love song and ode to chess.

In our review of Isle of Dogs we said Tigercats were an indie pop band you can dance to. For Mysteries they emerge as an indie pop band you can actually first dance to at a wedding – and there are not many of those bands around. With this amount of progress they have set the bar high indeed for album number three.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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Allo Darlin’ – We Come From The Same Place

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Allo Darlin’ – We Come From The Same Place

Posted on 01 October 2014 by Joe

Three albums in and the wait for a truly great Allo Darlin’ album continues. They have great songs and lyrics, thanks to lead singer and songwriter Elizabeth Morris. They are all accomplished musicians with oodles of connections across London’s indie music fraternity. They have also caught the ear of the trendsetting Pitchfork, whose staff are clear fans.

But there continues to be something missing. Perhaps it is because they still produce albums that sound like any other small band starting out. Maybe they don’t realise how good they are and that they are head and shoulders above the bulk of jangly, introspective bittersweet indie pop out there.

We-Come-From-The-Same-Place-608x608

Having said that We Come From The Same Place is  by far their best album to date. There is a greater emphasis on guitars in the mix and Morris’s voice sounds stronger here than it did on second album Europe, where it sounded strained at times.  The lyrics are just great here as well, full of beautiful lines about love and hope. This is an optimistic, happy album with Morris’s recent marriage clearly a key factor in it upbeat, romantic feel.

Among my favourite lyrically is fourth track Crickets in the Rain with lovely lines such as “The truth is when I realised I loved you, It was like everything I had lost had come back” as well as images such as an “apricot sky over the city lights” and “you’re lips are sweet from the Juicy Fruit.”

Musically, We Come from the Same Place is beautiful, especially the guitars and Another Year is particularly good with its sumptuous slide guitar. It is this  Americana sound I’d like to hear more of from the band and could be the sound that dominates Allo Darlin’s as yet released great album, that still only exists in my dreams.

But much of the album, particularly the unimaginative production,  is still standard indie fare. Romance and Adventure for example sounds like it’d be great live but on disc sounds like too many other bands.

As with their first two albums I’m left feeling like I’ve heard a good album, but frustrated that it is not the great album I’m convinced they have in them.

I have a nagging fear though that my search for the great Allo Darlin’ album will continue for some time and more good, but not great, albums like this will follow. What if, to quote Morris on Europe’s standout track Tallulah, that “I’ve already heard all the songs that’ll mean something” from this band?

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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Indietracks Festival 2014

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Indietracks Festival 2014

Posted on 09 August 2014 by Dorian

When going to camp at a music festival there aren’t that many things you need to ensure a good time. Enough money for food and drinks (and any merch you might desire), a sleeping bag and enough clothes to last the three days. What you do need however is a tent, and discovering that nobody in your party remembered to bring one after you’ve already driven the 130 miles between Brighton and Northampton is a bit of a panic moment. Luckily we live in an age of convenience and a quick online search, followed by a trip to the nearest Argos, saves the day.

Owl

The combination of a tent diversion and a three hour traffic jam on the M25 means that by the time we get to the festival site we have already missed three of the four bands on offer for the first evening. The good news is that the weather is lovely, the owls are out, the bar is open and we still have Allo Darlin‘s set to look forward to.

Allo Darlin

Allo Darlin

I love the type of bands that play Indietracks, but I can understand why a lot of them are a cult concern. Allo Darlin’ on the other hand have everything it takes to be one of the few bands on the scene that deserve a big crossover moment. The new songs they open the set with sound great, but it is the favourites from their last two albums that the festival crowd want. Each band member does their thing perfectly tonight, bouncy bass (playing the slap bass interlude on a cover of ‘You Can Call me Al’ is particularly good), skilled guitar work and a captivating front-woman. It is ‘Tallulah’ sung solo that remains the high point of their set, magical stuff.

The following day has a  much more relaxed start to it with a visit to the train sheds, the obligatory owls and then some excellent music.

First up is Ace City Racers, a bit noisier than expected with some of classic rock and roll in their sound. There is even a touch of Australian veterans The Hoodoo Gurus about their early songs. Skeletal Shakes offer us a sunnier more acoustic set on the appropriately sun drenched outdoor stage. They are nice enough but a very limp cover of ‘Heatwave’ does rather expose the bands limitations.

‘Heatwave’ would have been an appropriate track as part of Bill Botting‘s set on a very hot and crowded train. It is a performance that shows he has good enough songs and a good enough voice to stand alone away from Allo Darlin. The intense heat and some obvious nerves lead to some mistakes and fluffed lines, but you can’t not feel positively inclined to someone who plays a cover of ‘God Only Knows’ accompanied by a woman, babe in arms.

Bill Botting

Bill Botting

Escaping from the train to some desperately needed fresh air we catch the end of Thee Ahs‘ set. They have  have a cute sound, not entirely dissimilar from Go Sailor, but with less immediately memorable songs. The Yawns follow and are a more interesting prospect. Although advertised as a five piece they seem to have lost two members on route to the festival. Their mixture of drones and feedback may not quite suit a sunny afternoon but they do make for a refreshing change.

Laura J Martin

Laura J Martin

In the church the change of pace continues as we are greeted by Laura J Martin. Starting out at a piano playing songs that sound like a more cultured Gorkys. When she gets to her feet to play a whole mix of instruments things get a lot more frenetic and experimental. Playing a mixture of solo, and accompanied, the musicianship is of a consistently high quality. The looped elements of the songs are complex and recall Andrew Bird, with some arrangements that evoke Sufjan Stevens. Pretty great stuff.

I first heard/saw The Spook School at Indietracks in 2012 and they sound just as much fun two years later. Good songs played with enthusiasm is a winning formula, and they have a pretty good pop sensibility. It is their amusing drummer that attracts the most attention on the stage with his between song interludes, but the song ‘Something’, sung solo,  is a powerful moment.

The Spook School

The Spook School

Despite being a Brighton band I don’t remember any of The Popguns’ songs, so it is hard to be nostalgic about them. They play a pleasant set and get a good reaction, but I think familiarity would have added a lot to my enjoyment. Your enjoyment of Dean Wareham, inside the train shed, also rests to some degree on how well you know his work. I know a bit but not much, and the stage performance is rather a dry experience. However, the quality of the show on a purely musical level is pretty exceptional, and he makes a pretty good noise with his guitar. There are a some pretty captivating moments and you can see why he has such a legendary status, among those in the know at least.

Dean Wareham

Dean Wareham

My Gruff Rhys experience is rather blotted by an incident involving my nose and a horse fly. I’ll not not dwell on this but suffice to say that it wasn’t a fun way to miss the first half of his excellent set. This gig-come-lecture is based on his American Interior album and divides equally between his ancestral story and the songs from that album. He is witty and engaging, the story is interesting and the songs are of the high quality we’ve come to expect from the former Super Furry Animals front-man. It is a lovely end to the evening (musically at least).

Gruff Rhys

Gruff Rhys

Axolotes Mexicanos bring some very enthusiastic punk pop to the stage to open proceedings on the Sunday. Officially the sweariest band so far, but in Spanish so I only recognised a handful of the colourful sounding phrases. Enthusiasm wins over competence through a set that is low on musical skill but high in charm.

The Thyme Machine have a front-man dressed as a leopard, offer a comedy description of their home town (Lancaster) and also sing about their favourite seabird. Sometimes that is enough. On top of that we get a set of amusing songs in the tradition of Half Man Half Biscuit, songs that are available to buy on floppy disc in the merch tent. Between songs they distribute Tunnock’s tea cakes to the crowd (I manage to catch one) and fire glitter confetti cannons. All in all it is a surprise highlight of the day.

The Thyme Machine

The Thyme Machine

The afternoon is spent wandering between stages catching bits of Bordeauxxx, seeing The Hobbes Fanclub playing to a very enthusiastic crowd and heading off for a train-ride.  Indietracks is a unique festival in many ways and it is important to take the time to soak up the atmosphere of the whole site and take enough time to enjoy the various (warm) alcohol on offer.

Back at the main stage Sweet Baboo play a sweet and melodic set that sits really well in the early evening sun. These are good songs played well and with a distinctive voice. There is something about Sweet Baboo that promises more, and I think future albums will demand some attention.

Mega Emotion‘s performance in the Church is something else entirely, starting out with all three members singing and playing drums to an analogue synth backing. Through the rest of the set abrasive post punk guitars sit alongside a very 80s synth pop feel. Early Devo springs to mind as does the sound of Sheffield in the late 70s/early 80s.

Withered Hand

Withered Hand

Each festival really needs an act that can play anthems and Withered Hand are that band. They play brilliantly and the songs sound great tonight, the crowd getting behind the big choruses and impassioned performance. Recent album New Gods is heavily represented and ‘Horseshoe’, ‘Black Tambourine’ and ‘Heart Heart’ all go down as great sing-a-long moments with the audience.

The Hidden Cameras

The Hidden Cameras

I don’t really know anything about The Hidden Cameras beyond having heard the name a few times over the years. One of those times being hearing how their set  was abandoned due to power failure at the Indietracks event in 2011. Technical hitches aren’t a problem tonight and the band look distinctive dressed in matching black kilts and gold sashes.

Their sound is full and has plenty of drama, with very nice arrangements, but my initial concern is that it lacks a little in fun. Like Still Corners last year they seemed to be overly serious for a final night headliner. But as they communicate more and the set progresses they relax and more humour and personality start to come through. I can’t confess to being able to remember one song they played, but they won me over with a strong and confident set.

The music finished there is enough time left to enjoy a last drink, an ill-advised burger and wish  a final farewell to the owls before heading back to our tent (which surprisingly survived the weekend despite a budget £20 price-tag). Indietracks remains a unique event in an increasingly homogenised festival calendar, and long may it continue. It is unlikely to ever be more than a cult concern but for those that choose this event to get their festival fix they are guaranteed a weekend to remember.

Top 5 acts of the weekend:

  1. Laura J Martin
  2. Gruff Rhys
  3. Allo Darlin’
  4. Withered Hand
  5. The Thyme Machine

Words: Dorian Rogers | Pictures: Nic Newman

To see more of Nic’s pictures from the weekend go to our Flickr page.

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Talulah Gosh – Was It Just A Dream?

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Talulah Gosh – Was It Just A Dream?

Posted on 14 November 2013 by Joe

Music journalist Everett True’s gushing sleeve notes for this best of compilation of 80s indie band Talulah Gosh show how much of an impact they had on his life.

To him they were carrying on the punk tradition of the previous decade, playing DIY music the good way and combining it with a wonderful twee C86 indie pop glow of the time.

Talulah-Gosh-Was-It-Just-A-Dream-500x500

Among musicicans as well they have proved just as influencial. Just visit the Indietracks festival, held in Derbyshire each year, to see a raft of bands looking and sounding like the direct musical descendants of this Oxford quintet, from more familiar names such as Allo Darlin’ to more obscure ones such as Big Wave.

As career retrospectives go the songs pick themselves as they were only around for such a short time (1986 – 1988). As a result this compilation is their complete recordings and essentially a slightly padded out version of their 1996 compilation Backwash.  As well as all the Backwash tracks, including live tracks and radio session versions, this features four extra demos of Steaming Train, I Told You so, Mmm Mmm, He’s So Dreamy and Sunny Inside.

This makes this pretty much a no go purchase for anyone who already has Backwash, unless of course they are one of life’s completists.

Talulah Gosh, 1986

But for those new to the band, or have only heard them spoken of in hushed tones by their local indie pop band, this is pretty much an essential purchase.

Years on and I’d say the likes of Morris and True are right to hold them in such high esteem. It also shows the huge potential they had to move away from the rigidity of their short twee-punk songs, with their musicianship and production quality growing with each release.

Take Escalator Over The Hill for example. It has that dreamy Cocteau Twins and Velvet Underground feel to it, but the guitar work awakens it into something altogether different, starting melodic before descending into chaos.

The guitars on I Can’t Get No Satisfaction (Thank God) are also superb with The Smith’s Johnny Marr clearly a strong  influence on them.

My Boy Says is just about the most infectiously glorious pop track around. And listen carefully to its intricate guitar melody; it’ll  make you feel really good inside, I guarantee.

Talulah Gosh, their most well known song, is also still great, with its wonderful change of pace from melancholy to frantic.

Its been great listening back through their back catalogue as Talulah Gosh were one of those key bands from that passed me by  at the time. From afar  I guess with all their tweeness I thought they were a bit of a joke act, as I opted instead to The Wedding Present and the brilliantly quirky pop of That Petrol Emotion.  Sounds like I was missing out though.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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Lower Plenty – Hard Rubbish

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Lower Plenty – Hard Rubbish

Posted on 05 April 2013 by Joe

Melbourne’s indie music scene is continuing to reveal some hidden gems, with Lower Plenty, a supergroup of sorts made up of members of other local bands such as Deaf Wish, Total Control, UV Race and The Focus, the latest to catch our ear.

Now signed to Fire Records the band bills itself as “suburban country music”  and on their second album Hard Rubbish it’s a tag they live up to, with a good dash of Allo Darlin’ and the obscure beat poetry of King Missile thrown into the mix. Recorded mainly around a kitchen table the jamming nature of the album gives it a nice, genuine feel and brings out some tender moments from Sarah Hayward’s soft vocals on the album’s more laid back tracks such as Grass and White Walls.

Al Montfort’s more spoken word style vocals are also a revelation, particularly on the album’s standout track Nullarbor with its shuffling drums and twinkling electric guitar.

Hard Rubbish was named best album of 2012 by Australia’s Mess + Noise showing the band  are clearly building up a strong and influential following at home. There’s no reason why that can’t continue to build on that acclaim over here with its UK release this month.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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Allo Darlin’ – The Fleece, Bristol (Sept 4, 2012)

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Allo Darlin’ – The Fleece, Bristol (Sept 4, 2012)

Posted on 05 September 2012 by Joe

If there was such a concept of the eight wonders of the live indie music world, then Allo Darlin’s Elizabeth Morris singing Tullulah is surely on the list, sandwiched somewhere between seeing Hefner play Greedy Ugly People and The Wedding Present  rattling through My Favourite Dress.

As she returned to the stage for an encore at Bristol’s The Fleece and started those opening few bars with just ukulele and vocals of this beautiful track about life, friendship and homesickness there was complete silence. The  small crowd looked in awe as Morris, looking a whisker away from tears throughout, gave an impassioned rendition of this firm fan’s favourite.

Allo Darlin's Elizabeth Morris

Allo Darlin’s Elizabeth Morris

Tullulah is the standout on Allo Darlin’s latest album Europe, which understandably dominated tonight’s set. Opening with tracks such as Europe, Neil Armstrong and Capricornia, with Morris switching between ukulele and Fender Mustang, these tracks went down well and showed just what a fun live act this band is.

Bassist Bill Botting is particular good with a crowd, with his friendly grim beaming out from underneath his giant moustache as he bounced around the stage like a slightly drunk, kindly uncle at a wedding reception. Guitarist Paul Rains’s picking is a pleasure to watch as the hour long set progressed.

Highlights were Kiss Your Lips from their debut self titled 2010 album and Darren, about loving music and dedicated to their friend and former Hefner frontman Darren Hayman. Kings and Queens, a new song that was being played live for only the second time was another treat.

There’s a real sense of warmth watching Allo Darlin’ who didn’t seem to mind that the venue was two thirds empty (which is typical of Bristol mid week gigs, unfortunately) and enjoyed some banter with the crowd in particular thanking their “international fans” from Wales for crossing the border into the English west country.

There is a small caveat to what was an enjoyable set in that their sound live, and also on the production of Europe, was a little light. Maybe that’s the point for their indie-pop following, but I couldn’t help but wonder how much better some of the tracks from Europe would have been with some something extra. This may be the moment where Allo Darlin’ fans spit out their lemon squash in disgust but trumpets would have really helped in some of the songs. The instrument does seem to be all the rage in the indie and alternative music world at the moment with The Mountain Goats and even Mission of Burma featuring trumpets on their recent albums.

An Axe

Support was from An Axe, a kind of dirty surf rock and roll trio that benefits from having a  Danelectro baritone guitar player  among their ranks. Cassette Culture  completed the bill. This Bristol once four piece, now three piece admitted they haven’t played for a while, and are now “two men down and one women up”.

Cassette Culture

Cassette Culture tag themselves as lo fi, but they were far too loose tonight with guitarist and vocalist Andy Price breaking a string at the start and the band clearly under rehearsed. Despite this I saw flashes of brilliance from Price’s clever lyrics and delivery, which reminded my of early 90s act Kingmaker at times. I’d like to see them again when they’ve got their act together a bit more, and  have penciled them in on my ones to watch list.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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September Preview

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September Preview

Posted on 04 September 2012 by Dorian

This is the first of a new monthly feature where we preview the best music releases and events in the coming month. Items marked with an * are currently scheduled for review on the site.

Albums

Album of the month: Cat Power – Sun*

Chan Marshal returns with her first album of new material for six years. The sound has moved away from the soul-pop of The Greatest and has more in common with her 2003 release You Are Free. The album has a modern feel with a focus on studio production techniques and features guest appearances from  Iggy Pop and Judah Bauer. Out now.

Cat Power - Sun

Cat Power – Sun

3rd September

Animal Collective – Centipede Hz

Deerhoof – Breakup Song*

Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t

Various – Metronomy: Late Night Tales (Read our review)

10th September

The XX – Coexist

David Byrne & St.Vincent – Love This Giant

Calexico – Algiers*

Racehorses – Furniture*

The Soundtrack Of Our Lives – Throw It To The Universe

17th September

Grizzly Bear – Shields*

Jim Noir – Jimmy’s Show*

Dinosaur Jr – I Bet On Sky

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Meat & Bone*

Menomena – Moms

24th September

Efterklang – Piramidia*

Mark Eitzel – Don’t Be A Stranger*

Yoko One with Thurston moore and Kim Gordon – Yokokimthurston

Tim Burgess – Oh No I Love You

Gigs and tours

Tour of the month: Allo Darlin’

Allo Darlin’ play a string of dates this month with a set drawing strongly from their excellent recent album Europe:

  • 4 Sep Fleece, Bristol*
  • 5 Sep Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle
  • 6 Sep Queens Social Club, Sheffield
  • 7 Sep Deaf Institute, Manchester
  • 8 Sep Kazimier, Liverpool
  • 9 Sep Blackburn Art College, Blackburn  1.45PM SHOW / ALL AGES
  • 10 Sep Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
  • 12 Sep The Haunt, Brighton
  • 13 Sep King’s College, London
Allo Darlin'

Allo Darlin’

Former American Music Club singer Mark Eitzel plays just two gigs in the UK:

Sat 8th Sep – The Palmeira, Hove*

Sun 9th Sep – SXSC Festival 2012, the Railway Inn/The Attic, Winchester.

El-P – The ATP promoted hip-hop act plays a short UK tour:

  • London Scala on Wednesday 12th September
  • Brighton The Haunt on Thursday 13th September
  • Birmingham The Rainbow Warehouse on Saturday 15th September
  • Bristol The Fleece on Sunday 16th September
  • Manchester Academy 3 on Monday 17th September

Grandaddy – Tuesday 4th September, Sheperds Bush Empire London

Deer Tick – Wednesday 5th September, Scala London

Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard – Thursday 6th September, The Haunt Brighton

The XX – Monday 10th September, Sheperds Bush Empire London

Jens Lekman – Wednesday 19th September, The Ruby Lounge Manchester

Dexys – Saturday 22nd September, Colston Hall Bristol

Festivals

The festival season is almost over, and with cancellations, abandonment’s and wash-outs it has not been a vintage year. However, there are still a couple of interesting festivals left that could prove the perfect end to the Summer.

Playgroup Festival, 213ts to 23rd September, Eridge Park – This festival has already moved once this year due to flooding on the beautiful Eridge Park site, so some late September sun would be welcome for the rescheduled dates. Expect fancy dress, games and an eclectic range of music – the theme this year is ‘Lost Toys’. http://www.playgroupfestival.com/

Playgroup Festival

Playgroup Festival

Festival No.6, 14th to 16th September, Portmeirion – A new face on the festival scene, Festival No.6 promises a interesting mix of live music, DJs, comedy and arts at the unique Welsh venue. Acts include Gruff Rhys, Field Music, King Creosote and the Wave Pictures, with New order, Primal Scream and Spiritualized headlining. http://www.festivalnumber6.com

Other stuff

Last Shop Standing, 10th September – Last Shop Standing is a film, released on DVD, that looks at the rise and fall of the record shop in the UK since 1960. Billy Bragg, Johnny Marr and Nerina Pallot contribute to a fascinating film that explores the role of the record shop and considers whether they will survive in the modern music climate. http://lastshopstanding.com/

Last Shop Standing

Last Shop Standing

To get your album/gig/tour/film/book/festival/t-shirt included in our monthly preview please send details to dorian@neonfiller.com.

By Dorian Rogers

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Indietracks 2012

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Indietracks 2012

Posted on 15 July 2012 by Dorian

Indietracks 2012 was my first experience of the “indiepop at a heritage railway” festival and, for reason that should become obvious, it is unlikely to be my last.

Arriving at the campsite, independent from but close to the festival itself, I was a little concerned as the rain bucketed down upon us. The rain soon stopped and sun returned, a sign of things to come with sun primarily dominating the periodical heavy showers over the weekend. Arriving at the festival site itself, the charming Midland Railway Centre, we found that the bands had been driven inside by the inclement weather and would play on the second stage in the cavernous train shed.

Train

Evening on site

The first night of music was limited to just three acts, but it proved to be a pretty satisfying evening’s entertainment none the less. First up were The Smittens, a technicolor blast of cheerful pop from Vermont. Sitting somewhere between Architecture In Helsinki and The Magnetic Fields they put on a good show and open the festival in an appropriately quirky manner. Next up The School set a high bar for the most members in a band with their sweet vocals and soulful 60s pop sound. Belle and Sebastian are a clear influence, or at least the band are coming from a similar musical place.

Finishing the night, and turning in one of the sets of the festival, saw Darren Hayman and the Long Parliament turn in a crowd pleasing mixture of new and old favourites. A new line-up sees Allo Darlin’s Bill Botting move to guitar,  Tigercat’s Giles added on bass and the addition of a keyboard and harmonium player. This backing band could well be the best in his career and the songs, including a version of The Bee Gees ‘I Started A Joke’, sounded brilliant throughout. A closing version of Hefner favourite ‘Painting and Kissing’ goes down a storm and sees Hayman hammering his guitar during the extended outro.

Tigercats

Tigercats

Day two saw the standard pattern begin in earnest as we flitted between the outdoor stage and the train shed to catch the best of the acts. First up outside was the pleasant, if a little generic, pop of The Birthday Kiss. They suffered, as most outdoor acts did, from a smaller crowd as people prepared for rain and headed inside to the guaranteed dry safety of the train shed. (One suggestion for the organisers would be a beer tent near the outdoor stage to encourage people to stay there even if the clouds threatened). First act inside was more interesting as Vacaciones brought an energetic punkiness to their sweet Spanish pop tunes. Flitting back outside we caught a little of the Evans the Death set, a band that impressed me a lot more live than they had done on record.

The outdoor music was cut short as we decided to catch the next round trip on the steam train (free to all festival goers). This proved to be a relaxed and picturesque experienced and meant we got to catch one of the train carriage gigs happening throughout the weekend.  Marc Elston‘s  brand of acoustic songs may not be anything new but it sounded pretty good played to a toddler heavy audience in one of the moist unique festival venues.

Back on stationary ground we headed to the front of the shed to see if Tigercats could live up to the high expectations their debut album had created. They didn’t disappoint turning in a really confident and energetic set which included the bulk of the album. The strong tunes and interesting arrangements supported by a great rhythm section including the best drumming performance of the weekend.

A detour as we crossed the site ended up with a guided tour of the narrow gauge rail shed by one of the Midland Railway staff. It was interesting to find out about the trains, but also to see what a partnership between the Indietrack’s team and the centre staff the festival was. Something that may go a long way to explaining the excellent atmosphere at the festival. He really seemed to enjoy having the festival saying “We are in our 6th year and we are just about getting the hang of it.” adding “We have never had any trouble, except once when a local wandered up the track.”

Returning to the music (via the Burrito van – some of the best festival food I have ever eaten) we made our way to the stage to see one of my most anticipated acts of the festival, Go Sailor. Go sailor are one of those bands that most people will never hear, but are a firm favourite with those that know them. Lead by Rose Melberg (more on whom later) they play a pure high energy guitar pop that is the sound of happiness, despite the bittersweet lyrics. The crowd should be bigger but again the rain comes and people (those without umbrellas at least) are sheltered in the shed.

Go Sailor

Go Sailor

Later in the shed comes the first real disappointment of the festival as Summer Camp fail to live up to the hype. Their whole sound seems too slick and too studied, lacking any innocence or authentic enthusiasm. Reports suggest that the second half of the set was better than the first, but by this time we are enjoying a drink in the train carriage bar and it passes me by. (At this point it is worth mentioning what good value drink was at the festival, and snacks as well. You never felt that you were being fleeced at any point on site)

Headliners Veronica Falls do a better job and it is nice to see a big crowd at the outdoor stage as the sun descends. They walk a neat line between upbeat and dour and it is a reminder to me to check out their album when I get home.

Day three proves to be the most varied and eclectic mix of the weekend. It is apparent though that what a loty of acts have in common, be it the endearing noise of The Spook School or the pitch perfect vocals of The 10p Mixes, is a DIY ethos that reminds me of the first wave of punk. If you can’t guarantee money from music sales then you can generate a fan base by handing out handmade CDs to the crowd.

The Spook School

The Spook School

The rest of the day is dominated by indie veterans who set a pretty high standard for the younger acts. Brighton C86 survivors 14 Iced Bears prove to be the latest victims of the rain adjusted crowd syndrome but their melodic psychedelia sounds pretty good to those that stick it out. Stevie Jackson also suffers from the opening clouds but does a better job of keeping hold of the crowd. He plays an engagingly eclectic set that moves from pop to blues to an appropriate cover of Dillard and Clark’s ‘Train Leaves here This Morning’. His song sounding much better freed from the shadow of Stuart Murdoch on the Belle and Sebastian records.

Super stylish surf pop from Seattle residents Orca Team takes a little while to warm up the crowd in the train shed. By the end of the set it seems clear that this is one of the bands to watch from the festival and they might turn in to something that little bit special in time. One band that seems fully formed, at the busiest outdoor daytime show of the festival, is Allo Darlin’. With two excellent albums to draw from they move from pop gem to pop gem for the partisan crowd. With a rock solid rhythm section (including the engagingly bouncy Bill Botting), a fantastic lead guitarist and a front-woman with real star quality they are the “band most likely to” on the bill.

Sadly I have to cut their set short to make sure of space in the church to watch Rose Melberg play a solo set. It proves to be worth it though as she turns in the performance of the festival to the hushed and attentive crowd. Her voice is sweet and gentle and the songs sad and lyrical, perfect for the setting. She is also the second act of the day to cover Kirsty MacColl’s excellent ‘They Don’t Know’, which sounds pretty lovely both times. I head to the merchandise tent after the set to pick up one of her solo albums to find the WIAIWYA record boss still wiping tears away from her set, I doubt you see that with major label bosses (who are also unlikely to man the merchandise stall).

The Vaselines

The Vaselines

Finishing the festival off in irreverent style is Kurt Cobain favourites The Vaselines, a band who recently returned after a 20 year hiatus. The banter between Eugene Kelly and the filthy mouthed Frances McKee (who offers herself up to the crowd and claims to have given Jesus a blow-job the previous night) is very entertaining, as is there messy alt-rock sound. Supported by some excellent guitar (supplied by Stevie Jackson) they rip through a bit proportion of their small back catalogue. They also prove Kurt Cobain right, ‘Son of a Gun’ is just a brilliant piece of music.

There are a dozen reasons to recommend the festival to anyone but the most indie averse music fan. The interesting setting, the variety of stages, the friendly reception from the railway staff and volunteers and the cheap and plentiful beer on offer. It really is a unique musical event and I hope it continues on in the same vein for years to come. With so many festivals struggling it is important that a few truly independent festivals survive, we don’t end up with bore-fests like Isle of Wight as the only options.

As we stand by the road waiting for our taxi back to the station a car pulls up, “I hope you enjoyed your weekend lads, come back and see us again next year” says the old boy behind the wheel. I bet you don’t get that when you leave V Festival.

Words and pictures by Dorian Rogers

See more pictures from the festival in our Flickr gallery.

Read our review of the 2011 Indietracks festival.

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