Friday, 31 December 2010

theAmp's Singles of 2010

The standout tracks from the best artists of 2010, as chosen by theAmp.

Surfer Blood - Swim//Ok, we're cheating here as it was actually released in 2009 in their native US, however across the pond we didn't get the album till January 2010, whilst it was released on Rough Trade in May. One of the leaders of the rebirth of lo-fi surf rock in 2010, this track from the Floridians is drenched in reverb, while the echoing vocals of John Paul Pitts will leave you singing it for weeks. But what was it about, swimming or suicide?

Vampire Weekend - Diplomat's Son//Based on a song from the Clash and a borrowed M.I.A sample, this was the standout track of Vampire Weekend's excellent sophomore album. The whole song is set around a wild house party, with the song's protagonist coming out. An emotional rollercoaster ride, written by keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij about his struggles with his sexualty, it brought the summer early in January 2010.

Yeasayer - O.N.E//One of the best dancefloor tracks of the year, this odd track from Yeasayer was one of the suprise hits of the year, bringing the trio into the mainstream and even appearing as a track on FIFA 11.

Ce Lo Green - Fuck You//A simple track about a cheating lover, the former Gnarls Barkley frontman had one of the biggest hits of the year with his track, cruelly censored by the Auntie to 'Forget You.'

Titus Andronicus - A More Perfect Union//Six and a half minutes of epicness is the only way to describe this song. Three interchanging guitar solos from wild frontman Patrick Stickles, epic choruses leading into battle 'Rally around the flag' and an opening epilogue from Abraham Lincoln's Lyceum address, whilst remaining energetic and different throughout. Brilliant.

Fang Island - Daisy//The energy in this song will leave you bouncing around for hours on end, while the song will refuse to leave your head. A great track from one of the great finds of 2010.

The Black Keys - Tighten Up//Another band to find mainstream success in 2010, the Akron, Ohio duo kept their bluesly rock to the backburn, with the groove of hip-hop beats bringing out the hidden cool side to Dan Auerbach.

theAmp's Albums of 2010

It's been another busy year in the music world, but there have been some gems been released and here's theAmp's pick of the bunch.

The National - High Violet//Although you could say it was somewhat an inferior comeback to 2007's excellent 'Boxer', album no.5 was the one to bring The National to escalating heights. The deep emotional lyircs of Matt Berginer, both feel uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time. A deserved placing into the mainstream for the hardworking New York quintet.

Titus Andronicus - The Monitor//The probable only way to describe Titus Andronicus is 'Bruce Springsteen brawling with The Pogues in 19th century America' however that will still only get you half-way there! The New Jersey literates once again bring their druken, punk energy to the front of their sound, which mixes from eccentric guitar solos, to slow, moving tracks. They probably recorded the most expansive album of the year, which was based on the American Civil War, featuring the readings of Abraham Lincoln, Walt Witman and even a bagpipe solo.

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs//Although an album with 16 tracks, does look like it would be filler material, Arcade Fire manage to somehow produce an album where every track is great. Unlike 'Funeral' and 'Neon Bible', where there were a few outstanding tracks sublemented with weak tracks, there is no weak track here on The Suburbs. A triumphant year for the Montreal band, with headline appearances at Reading and Leeds and a sold out arena tour, the pressure will be on them to deliver another masterpiece next time around.

Fang Island - Fang Island//"The sound of everyone high-fiving everyone" is how this energetic lo-fi band describe themselves, and with their energy and creativism it's hard to argue otherwise. It's been a year of the lo-fi revival, and while some bands have been bland, Fang Island have been a fresh air amongst the crowded market and certainly stood out.

Vampire Weekend - Contra//Contra seemed to have an adverse effect on Vampire Weekend. While it didn't ooze the same mainstream sound as their self-titled debut, it managed to propel them to new heights and went number one on the billboard charts in the native US of A. They experimented more than the previous with reggae, reverb and harps, but once again they lead the pack of chasers of their peers.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas: The Sleighlist

Celebrate Christmas with some of Indie's finest and their take on the holiday....

The Futureheads - Christmas Was Better In The 80s//Sunderland's finest go all bleak on us with their offering, and despite the impressive christmas guitar jingle, well I still think Christmas was better in the 90s.

The Killers - Boots//Breaking away from his solo project, Brandon Flowers rejoins the Vegas boys for their annual take on Christmas. A hommage to Jimmy Stewart in 'It's A Wonderful Life', the bleak haunting sound gives an uplifting turn to how Christmas brings everyone together to forget their troubles.

The Walkmen - Holiday Road//A cover of Lindsey Cunningham's song from 1981, the boys give it a rockabilly Christmas moakeover. The guitars sound refreshing towards the bleak usual Christmas tune, whilst Hamilton Leithauser's vocals once again soars above everything else. A great tune to get you in the party mood.

Los Campesinos! - Kindle A Flame In Her Heart//Not as uplifting as their usual work, Gareth Campesinos just wants a kiss from someone under the mistletoe to make him feel better inside. Receiving a lump of coal from Santa instead of his favourite present, Graeth must have had it bad.

Best Coast & Wavves - Got Something For You//Bethany Consentino and Nathan Williams go all lovey dovey on us to celebrate the holiday. Soemone pass the sick bucket, I think I'll stick to watching shit TV and a traditional festive booze up.

Summer Camp - Christmas Wrapping/Anyone who thought the duo wouldn't be able to survive the freezing conditions, well they have and they've given us this delightful Waitress' cover. A relaxing take on everyone's feeling of being too busy for Christmas, it oozes of Christmas cheer.

Rage Against The Machine - Killing In The Name//Ok, it's not a Christmas song, however any song that keeps Simon Cowell's money juggernaut from the festive top spot deserves to be annually recgonized. Plus with the recent student protests, and overall hatred towards the Coalition Government, what better song would represent the feeling of 2010's Christmas.

Merry Christmas and enjoy the holidays.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Seen It>> Interpol at Brixton Academy - 06.12.2010

The New Yorkers live up to their name, as they walk out in suits that wouldn't look out of place in the FBI. This is their first show in London since November 2007, so it promises to be a good one. It is also their show in London without departed bassist Carlos D, so things will look different at first.

Dengler's touring replacement David Pajo doesn't carry the same authoritive stride as his predessesor, however with Paul Banks and Daniel Kessler on top form it's hard to notice him. It's evident that the fans have turned up to see the classics from years gone by, as opposed to the new self-titled album, with shouts of "Stella" (Stella Was a Diver And She Was Always Down) being heard throughout the show. At times on 'Interpol', it sounds as though Banks is getting bored and some times in the show you can feel the vibe, "Lights" builds up an atmosphere that quickly dissolves to nothing. The new tracks are flatly received in comparison to the older tracks. "Slow Hadns" probably receives the biggest cheer of the night, lifting the tempo of the crowd and atmosphere in the venue, whilst during "Evil" you probably get to the hear the atmospheric surroundings of the Brixton Academy for the first time.

While Interpol suit the darkened room, it's hard to see with the lighting system that's in place, which then affects the atmosphere and tension inside, no doubt. It seems a bit flat and that something is missing, maybe without Carlos D's presence, or maybe just a feebled reaction towards the new material. Anyway, all doesn't seem right, and why it's not Interpol's fault, maybe it will just take time for Interpol as a three piece to be accepted by the crowd.

Say Hello To The Angels
Length of Love
Rest My Chemistry
Slow Hands
The New
Summer Well
Take You On A Cruise
The Heinrich Maneuver
Memory Serves
Not Even Jail

Seen It>> Pulled Apart By Horses at Relentless Garage - 02.12.2010

"Ultimate Power, Maximum Life!" What a year it's been for Leeds rockers Pulled Apart By Horses. A highly-regarded debut album, frequent plays on MTV and Radio One, Two Live Lounge sets, tearing up Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, and now selling out London's Relentless Garage.

It's a day when the large snowfall has affected some people's journey, however the boys aren't affected by the weather and joke around with the crowd about being "Southern softies" and guitarist James Brown tells us we should "go and watch a Boyband, if we can't make the show because it's snowing."

Opener "E=MC Hammer" is a brutal start to proceedings, with the mosh pit already opening up at the front of the crowd and the people at the front already beginning to get crushed. It doesn't take long for Brown to enter the crowd, as he does during "The Crapsons", crowdsurfing whilst still playing the guitar! The band also handed out free foam fingers to advertise the release of Yeah Buddy, and during this song most of the crowd are waving their fingers in the air. During "High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive", singer Tom Hudson requets for the crowd to high five eachother, which they do.

During the sole encore of "I Punched A Lion In The Throat", the band are joined on stage during members of 'Gay For Johnny Depp', however Hudson and Brown are both in the crowd anyway, raving in the mosh pit, whilst Hudson is mobbed by the crowd and ends up on the floor.

Once again PABH show why they are certainly Britain's best live band, continuing from where they left off at Reading and, dare I say it, improved their live shows even more. They can be congratulated for delivering an epic show, without it being dated or gimmicy.

E=MC Hammer
Back To The Fuck Yeah
The Crapsons
Soft Handed Punk
Moonlit Talons
Yeah Buddy
I've Got Guestlist to Rory O'Hara's Suicide
Meat Balloon
Get Off My Ghost Train
High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive
Den Horn
I Punched A Lion In The Throat

Seen It>> Vampire Weekend at Sheffield Academy - 29.11.2010

It’s been quite a year for Vampire Weekend. Their second album, Contra, went to number one in their native US, thus becoming just the second band on British independent label XL, to have a US number one. Now they are embarking on another sell out tour across the UK, their biggest one yet, which includes two nights at London’s Alexandra Palace.

As temperatures dropped below freezing in Sheffield, Vampire Weekend’s blend of summery, afro-pop tunes went some way to warming up the 02 Academy. Opener ‘Holiday’, with its spunky guitar work, and ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’ ironically told of sunshine and warmth, however the crowd still raved around like it was a warm summer’s afternoon.

Singer Ezra Koenig asked the crowd to join in with his “woahs” of ‘M79’ and also the chorus to ‘One (Blake’s Got a New Face)’, which they did with noise and joy. Meanwhile Koenig’s microphone spilled extra-terrestrial noises for the whole of ‘California English,’ rather ironically about girls dressing like summer in California, during freezing cold English weather.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest cheer of the night came for ‘A-Punk’, with the entire crowd bouncing around for the 2 minutes and vigorously chanting back the “eh ehs.” However, the majority of crowd where in loud voice throughout the show, chanting back the words to every song. The energy levels dropped down to the slow, sombre reggae beats of ‘Diplomat’s Son’, which brilliantly switched between paces throughout the song. While the lighting system followed the velocity, flashing around during the rapid guitars and eccentric drumming of Chris Tomson, during ‘Cousins’, whilst Koenig was given his own lighting when he sang his lyrics to the crowd, as if he was giving his own monologue. Bassist Chris Baio switched to a double bass, during ‘Taxi Cab,’ and multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij regularly switched between guitars and keyboards throughout.

During the encore, Koenig asked fans to put the hands in the air “and wiggle your fingers around, like magic” during the quick and short ‘Mansard Roof.’ Koenig addressed the crowd that the band would be back soon “after the new album” and stated several times how they wanted to come back to Sheffield.

On a bitter cold winter’s night, Vampire Weekend are just what’s needed to bring back the warmth and sunshine of summer time. It’s not that long till summer, is it?

White Sky
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
I Stand Corrected
California English
Taxi Cab
One (Blake’s Got A New Face)
Diplomat’s Son
Giving Up The Gun
Oxford Comma
Mansard Roof

Seen It>> Titus Andronicus at Scala 25.11.2010

Just across from King's Cross train station, lies the Scala venue. It was on a cold Thanksgiving Day's night that a band, whose most recent album was about the concept in the American Civil War, should play a fitting set. Titus Andronicus brought their beer-fuelled drunken epic anthems to London and they didn't dissapoint their reputation for a mad show.

The Scala seems a perfect venue for the New Jersey boys (and girl), as it is small and intimate, with no barrier and is perfect for the evident moshing that will take place. Singer Patrick Stickles' guitar is drapped in the stars and stripes of his home country, whilst there are people in the crowd attempting to copy his wonderful beard, however they don't possess the same cool effect that he pulls off. Opener "A More Perfect Union" is a rip roaring start to proceedings, Stickles' brilliant solos sending the crowd into a moshing frenzy, with many already falling onto the stage beside them. The vocal crowd are already screaming back 'rally around the flag' with the same passion that the song demands.

Things calm down afterwards with "Richard II" and "No Future Part Three", however they still maintained the energy and rawcusness of fist pumping and chanting in union, 'You will always be a loser!' at the end of the latter. During "Titus Andronicus", Stickles ventured into the crowd for the first time, with the crowd climbing on him to chant "Your life is over!"

Towards the end of the set, Dan Treacy, from support band Television Personalities, invited himself and stage and began to play bizarre songs whilst evidently high, however the band went along with it and it looked as though it had been choreographed to happen. Treacy didn't leave without making his mark, swearing at members of the crowd and asking someone to "speak properly English."

The band ended their energetic, sweaty, beer-fuelled set on "Four Score And Seven," bringing to an end one of the best live gigs I've ever seen.