Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Top 5>> Bands You Must See at Reading/Leeds

5. Funeral Party (Friday Reading/Sunday Leeds Festival Republic)
Californian trio bring their post-punk dancefloor filling choons to you in the early afternoon. The LA band are one of the tipped bands for 2010 with their Rapture-esque sound, and "NYC Moves to the Sound of LA" will be one of the soundtracks of the festival.

4. LCD Soundsystem (Friday Reading/Sunday Leeds NME/Radio One Tent)
With James Murphy all set to pack it in, following the release of "This Is Happening", this will perhaps be the final chance you will be able to see him at the twin festival. There won't be a dry eye in the house when he plays the final note of the show.

3. Pulled Apart By Horses (Friday Reading/Sunday Leeds Festival Republic)
This brutal and sweaty set by the Leeds awesome foursome should have awoken the entire site from their all-nighter hangovers. Prepare for stage diving, crowd surfing, the lot. It is actually like being pulled apart by horses (groan.)

2. Surfer Blood (Friday Reading/Sunday Leeds NME/Radio One Tent)
West Plam Beach, Florida's Surfer Blood bring their atmospheric, reverbed(reverb-less in a live sense), lo-fi surf pop to the early starters on Friday afternoon. One of the most-hotly tipped bands of the year, the band are said to sound like fellow festivalers Modest Mouse and Weezer, so you can check if they do for yourself.

1. The Libertines (Saturday Reading/Friday Leeds Main Stage)
Of course, no story for the 2010 festival could be complete without the (second) reunion of the bad-boys of Indie. Their last two shows at Reading (2003,2004) didn't feature Pete, so the whole band will be a sight for sore eyes. Don't expect them to return to the festival anytime soon, however.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Top 5>>Worst Reading Headliners

With the news that Guns 'n' Roses are indeed playing Reading and Leeds, claiming Axl Rose's twitter was hijacked - or more likely a publicity stunt, it only seems fair to look at some of the worst headliners in recent years.

2009: Kings of Leon
Rather ironically given that they decided to release radio-heavy songs such as Sex On Fire and Use Somebody, that the band would lay into the crowd for not singing along to their older (and better) songs. However the bands set was so terrible, that they even requested for the BBC to cut out their last few songs, meaning fans at home would have missed highlights including Caleb's rant and Matthew smashing his guitar into pieces.

2007: Razorlight
Errr, surely the title says all.

2004: The Darkness
Sadly, not a joke. They DID actually headline Reading and Leeds.

2007: The Smashing Pumpkins
Akin to Guns 'n' Roses this year, it is not the same Smashing Pumpkins that we all know. No D'Arcy and no James, made it look like a 'Billy Corgan and friends' type gig, with the main focus being solely on their newly released album 'Zeitgeist' at the time and missing some older songs.

1996: The Stone Roses
Their last performance was this shameful and embarrasing headline gig, so much so that they were booed and hit by objects throughout. Ian Brown's vocals were even described as "so off-key it was excrucitating to listen to." Needless to say, they packed it in in October.

2010: The year of the Solo

Paul Banks as solo alter-ego Julian Plenti

With the recent news about Maximo Park's Paul Smith soon to be releasing a solo album, he has become the latest in a long list of indie band members to enter the solo world in 2010.
Obviously the most successful so far being Bloc Party's Kele Okereke, going just by his first name. His debut album 'The Boxer' was released in June, where he opted to follow on from Bloc Party's last album 'Intimacy', in going for a dance sound as opposed to their guitar-based earlier efforts. He has also taken up the bands seemingly-permanent residence at the Reading and Leeds festival. Perhaps he could be one to stay on the solo route?

Whilst we wait in hope that The Strokes' early-anticipated new record will actually be released some time soon, Julian Casablancas decided to step away and release his own stuff through 'Phrazes for the Young.' Although he has been around the globe playing festivals himself, such as the FIB Bennicassim, he has also reunited with his aforementioned band, including playing at Isle of Wight and Rockness here in Blighty.

The Killers' Brandon Flowers has also jumped on the bandwagon, which culminates with the release of his album 'Flamingo' in September. He claimed it felt weird being without his bandmates, reassuring fans that the band will return at some stage.

Julian Plenti, aka Paul Banks, aka him from Interpol, brought out a release called 'Julian Plenti is...Skyscraper' in August 2009. Despite going into the solo world, the band are set to release their new self-titled album, either in late 2010 or early 2011, however this time without bassist Carlos D.

Finally, Razorlight's former drummer Andy Burrows, brought out his own self-written and recorded album 'Sun Comes Up Again' in August, under the name I Am Arrows. Having also recorded with We Are Scientists for their 2010, forth album, 'Barbara', Burrows has certainly showed that there is a hidden talent behind Razorlight.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Seen It>> Kings of Leon at Hyde Park - 30/06/10

Followills Matthew, Caleb, Nathan and Jared rock out to the Hyde Park audience.

Their first trip back across the pond since their embarrasing and disastrous Reading headline performance last year, Kings of Leon seemed determined to put that behind them, opening their biggest ever concert in high tempo.

The 65,000 concert sold out within minutes, when it went on sale, and the Followill clan received a warm reception with opener Crawl, from 2008's Only By The Night. The entire crowd greeted the opening bass riff in hysterics and everyone seemed to yell the lyrics back at the band. However the collosus crowd is somewhat relaxed when Aha Shake Heartbreak's Taper Jean Girl begins playing, perhaps suggesting many of the crowd are unaware of their older guard.

The next biggest cheer comes 7 songs later with Closer, another of superstar-breakthrough album Only By The Night's crowd favourites. However older songs, Wasted Time, Molly's Chambers (both from debut album Youth and Young Manhood), Four Kicks and The Bucket, show off why the band's early efforts gave them their 'Southern Strokes' title.

"We've been away for a while," frontman Caleb tells the crowd, "but since we've last seen you guys, we made another record." The band launch into new album songs, Immortals, Mary, Radioactive and Southband. However it's not long till Caleb tells the crowd, "don't worry the song you're waiting for is coming." Then cousin Matthew begins the two-note riff of Sex On Fire, leaving the entire crowd in raptures, suggesting perhaps some had only come along for this song.

A cover of Pixies' Where Is My Mind and Youth and Young Manhood's Trani, ends the first session. The band returning for their encore with the seven minute rendition of Because of the Times' Knocked Up, greeted by "oh woahs" from the crowd, before the secong biggest cheer of the night comes via Use Somebody. Their set is ended on Because of the Times song Black Thumbnail.

Almost one year on from their last set in the capital, it seems Kings of Leon have learned to accept that their fame and crowd appeal remains with their newer radio-friendly songs from Only By The Night, suggesting why there was a lack of older songs missing from the set.


Seen It>> The Drums at Heaven - 09.06.10

Jacob Graham, Jonathan Pierce and Adam Kessler of The Drums.

"We love you London, you're our second home." Jonathan Pierce, lead singer of The Drums, reitarates his point to the crowd throughout the night. The Drums are at Heaven playing the second of two sell-out nights, on the week of their debut album's release, further cementing their place as one of the bands of the new decade.
Sweeping onto stage some time after his bandmates, Pierce begins his frantic dancemoves, reminiscent of the late Ian Curtis, while his stage presence and swagger is similar to that of a young Morrisey, in The Smiths' heyday of the early eighties.
His late enterance on stage, meant he missed the opening to It Will All End In Tears, whilst the crowd and band begin to get in the groove, through second single Best Friend. Guitarist Jacob Graham joins Pierce in prancing around the stage, complete with tambourine and sporting dancing that looked as if he was a drunken ballerina. This shows they have the arrogance and attitude which suggests they will be more than just a fad and will be selling albums for years to come.
The band are then quick to play out songs from their critically positive debut EP, Summertime!, including the Cure-esque Submarine, upbeat summer hit Saddest Summer, former B-side I Felt Stupid, Make You Mine and the doo-woop liden Down By The Water, where the entire crowd chant the words back, overpowering Pierce's voice. They are later joined on stage by Gregory's Girl Clare Grogan for the lovers' tiff duet, Don't Be A Jerk, Jonny.
Another three songs from their self-titled debut follow, Book of Stories, Me And The Moon and recent single Forever and Ever Amen, before the band head off backstage.
Their encore consists of their biggest hit, and crowd favourite, Lets Go Surfing. At this point, it seems the crowd have fully woken up and break into a dancing frenzy.

On this evidence, it seems The Drums have the ability to be live favourites for years to come, with both their songs and stage authority being the right formula needed to please their growing fanbase.


Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Making Waves - The Rebirth of Surf Rock

Undoubtedly, the sound of 2010 has been the strange - if not welcoming - ressurection of the surf rock genre. The sound of the '60s quickly began creating momentum towards the back end of 2009, with acts such as The Drums, Beach House, Surfer Blood and Best Coast being tipped as the stars of 2010. The sounds of summer, bittersweet romance and rejoice have taken listeners back to the genre's peak, when artists such as The Beach Boys, The Surfaris and The Kingsmen were some of the world's most popular bands.

One of the biggest mainstream hits this year, has been Brooklyn's The Drums. The New York-based hipsters only formed in Florida in late 2008, when childhood friends Jonathan Pierce (vocals) and Jacob Graham (guitar) had grown tired of synathetics of previous bands, Elkland and Horse Shoes, instead opting to pick up guitars. (A feat which is clearly audible through their debut self-titled LP being ladened with one-note riffs.) They later recruited former Elkland member Adam Kessler on second guitar and NYC-born Connor Hanwick on drums. They quickly developed a growing fanbase in New York's indie scene and their eagerly anticipated EP, Summertime!, was released in October 2009. This lead to the band being listed amongst 2010's 'Ones To Watch', by several major media companies, such as the BBC's Sound of 2010, MTV's 10 for 10 and Number One on NME's tips for the year. Their EP released on the Moshi Moshi label, brought the band to the mainstream audience through the debut single, Let's Go Surfing. At first glimpse, you would expect this to be a song about surfing, however the song was written on the day of Barack Obama's inauguration. Thus this inspires the whole record's feel-good factor, yet it is not solely a one-dimensional road, with the doo-woop ridden sadness of Down By The Water included, to give the band an overall differing sound. Their sound has been described as a mixture of surf pop and eighties post-punk, with the band listing their influences as The Smiths, Joy Division and Orange Juice. Frontman Pierce believes they are not a surf pop band, with "the beach thing only being attatched to us as our first song was called Let's Go Surfing." However with beach-like soundng riffs and a list of summer joyful lyrics, you would have to list them among the surf rock genre.

Another tipped as one of 2010's biggest stars, but without the mainstream sucess of The Drums, are West Palm Beach's Surfer Blood. The Floridians debut single Swim was released in 2009, to much critical acclaim and was named as Pitchfork's 37th best song of the year. The added reverb of the songs opening, gives off a echoing Brian Wilson harmonius effect, attatched to the Isaac Brock-esque, of Modest Mouse fame, yelling of singer John Paul Pitts. With a sound compared to Weezer and Pavement by Pitchfork, they are not your typical beach-pop band. Despite residing in the surf-haven of Florida, not one member surfs and their name was created by drummer TJ Schwarz, as they felt it gave them a look they were going for, of "impressionable youth and invulnerable sensitivity." Their debut LP Astro Coast was recorded in Pitts' college dorm room at the University of Florida. It was released to hugely positive reactions, particularly Pitchfork, who called it a "great guitar album." Pitts says their sound is based on their influences of Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth and "really classic 90s alternative stuff."

Like their contemporaries, Baltimore-based Beach House also decide to use a name hinting at the genre of their music. The duo consisting of French-born Victoria Legrand (vocals/organ) and Alex Scally (guitar/keyboards) formed in 2004, with their debut self-titled album released in 2006, with Pitchfork naming it their 16th best album of the year. Their second LP Devotion was released on February 26 2008, which received them greater acclaim and once again being named among Pitchfork's best of album list, this time coming in at 46. However it wasn't until the release of third album Teen Dream in January 2010, that propelled the band into commercial success. The single Norway was listed as one of iTunes's free singles of the week starting from January 12. The BBC called it a "bold evolution in sound" and "the new decade's first essential album." Their sound has been described as 'dream pop', a tag used on influencial-80s Scottish band Cocteau Twins, in recognition of Legrand's haunting lyrics and due to their atmospheric guitar sound.
Finally, Best Coast are the latest surf-rock revilatists to start to crack the mainstream. The Los Angeles trio consists of former child actress Bethany Consentino (vocals), multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno and newly appointed drummer Ali Koehler. Consentino and Bruno had met years before forming the band, as Bruno was her babysitter as a child. Their single Boyfriend was named as a "best new track" by Pitchfork in June 2010. While their debut album Crazy For You was released a month later on Witchita. The album received 8/10 from NME, who singled it out for it's "great songs and immense charm." Their legion of followers even includes Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Hollywood actor Bill Murray, who was spotted watching them at the South by South West festival in Austin, Texas in March. Consentino isn't afraid of their 'surf pop' tag, explaining that she is a keen listener of the genre. "I listen to a lot of '60s beach music. It sounds happy and innocent, but it was made during a time that wasn't happy or innocent at all."