Saturday, 31 December 2011

Top 5>>Reunions for 2012

1. Afghan Whigs//Their announcement was rather under the radar, filing in for Guided By Voices who had cancelled their slot at I'll Be Your Mirror Festival. Playing their first show in 13 years, the Ohio quartet will headline the final night of the London ATP festival in May. One of the most underrated bands of an impressive and creative 90s decade, they were noted for the terrific live shows and their soul-influenced rock always stood out amongst others. Hopefully this will lead to a longer tour too.

2. Soundgarden//Their reunion already started in 2010, where they headlined the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, but it won't be until 2012 that Chris Cornell and co return to the UK. The Seattle grunge legends are scheduled to play Rock am Ring and PinkPop and are expected to appear at UK festivals too. A new album is also on the way.

3. Black Sabbath//Headlining the final night of Download's 10 anniversary, Black Sabbath's reunion is one of the biggest stories of 2012. The highly-influencial quartet from Birmingham, who are credited with creating heavy metal, are expected to release a new album as well, so it looks as though they're in it for the long haul.

4. No Doubt//A fake poster has shown them as one of the Coachella headliners, but although that wasn't real, No Doubt will be back in 2012 after 10 years away. Gwen Stefani's Californian ska band were huge in the 90s, where they had a number one single in "Don't Speak", and a few UK shows wouldn't go amiss.

5. The Stone Roses//Probably the biggest reunion/story of the year, they managed to sell out three huge homecoming shows in Manchester in just a few hours. Pioneers of the UK rave era in the late 80s, they are sure to make up for their last show, which was their disastrous headline appearance at Reading Festival in 1996. Expect to see many middle-aged men in tears at their shows.

Features//2012 will rock because....

Reunions//The Stone Roses, Afghan Whigs, Soundgarden, Verse, Beach Boys, Black Sabbath, Garbage, Mansun, Bloc Party, No Doubt, Marion. Rumoured: Blur, Refused, At the Drive-In, Happy Mondays, Queen + Others.

New Albums//Sigur Ros, The Shins, Metric, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Silversun Pickups, Titus Andronicus, The XX, Lana Del Ray, Smith Westerns, The Gaslight Anthem, Rush, Phoenix, Pearl Jam, No Doubt, Rivers Cuomo, Weezer, Guided By Voices, The Lemonheads, The Bouncing Souls, Billy Talent, Rancid, How to Destroy Angels, Muse, The Killers, MGMT, Garbage, Franz Ferdinand, Best Coast, Of Montreal, Vampire Weekend, Public Enemy, The Maccabees, The Stone Roses, QOTSA, Tool, The Strokes, The Walkmen, Bloc Party and countless others.

Festival Headliners//Black Sabbath, Stone Roses, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, are just a few of the big names already announced for festivals in 2012, and we are still awaiting news from plenty others. It looks to be an exciting year ahead.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Best of 2011: The Albums

Mastodon - The Hunter (Roadrunner)//The Atlanta quartet took another quantam leap in 2011, with the excellent The Hunter. Brann Daillor's powerful percussion are the album's driving force, alongside the heavy guitar work, that even the most Mastodon novice can head-bang to. You don't even have to be a metal fan to enjoy this.

Fucked Up - David Comes to Life (Matador)//Described as a "rock opera", the Canadian punks' concept record was one of the years' highlights. It's catchy, it's fun, it's hardcore, but it's also downright brilliant. The ambition of the record pays off and gives the six-piece a deserved masterpiece.

The Antlers - Burst Apart (Transgressive)//When mentioning The Antler's Burst Apart, it's hard to see a review that doesn't mention ther previous masterpiece, Hospice. Whilst this album probably isn't on the same level, it is still a terrific album which shows why the New Yorkers are one of the most underrated bands around at the moment. It's heartbreaking atmosphere yet elegant production, will break your heart, yet still requires repeated listens.

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake (Island)//Album of the year from 13 different publications and Mercury Music Prize winner, it was hard to argue against the success and critical praise that Polly Jean Harvey received. Written through emotions of anger and passion, it is Harvey's best work to date of an impressive back catalogue. Powerful and deeply layered, bloody and bruised, it tells of England being built on bloodshed and battles.

M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (naïve)//A double album is always a shaky ground to tread; it could either be a grim prospect of a twin dose of boredom or a generous extended reward for the listener. Thankfully, Anthony Gonzalez (aka M83) gives us the latter. It's breathtaking force and grace travels through a dreamy experience, which is gradually culminating to a resounding climax. It's an ambitious album and one that will put Gonzalez on a much grander pedestal.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Best of 2011: The Singles

Does exactly what it says on the tin: The best singles of 2011.

Cold War Kids - Royal Blue (Cooperative Music)//Cold War Kids returned with their third album Mine Is Yours in February, and the standout track from that record was this scorcher. Nathan Willett's soaring vocals mixed in with groovy basslines and hand-clapping percussions, showed the Kids at their damned good best.

The Horrors - Still Life (XL)//The Southend band's transition from goth rock to shoegaze continued in 2011, with their critically accliamed ablum Skying. The atmospheric basslines are evident of Joy Division influences, plus the dream pop vocals of Faris Badwan will help you drift off into the sunset.

Arctic Monkeys - Don't Sit Down, 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair (Domino)//The Sheffield band dropped the casual lad rock to a deeper grunge/psychedelia sound for their fourth album, Suck It and See. Alice In Chains would be proud of those kind of basslines that Nick O'Malley sported in this song. A definite return to form after the mixed Humbug.

Foster the People - Pumped Up Kicks (Columbia)//You couldn't escape this song in the summer. After being used in a mobile commercial, the LA trio scored the catchiest hit of the year, with the re-release of "Pumped up Kicks." Despite it's catchy chorus and dancefloor vibe, the song had much darker connotations, written from the point of view of a high schooler wanting to go on a killing spree. Yikes.

The Antlers - I Don't Want Love (Transgressive Records)//From it's opening chords, you can feel the tears beginning to fall and this track doesn't get any happier after that. Peter Silberman's voice will break your heart, yet remains beautiful and poignant. A great song that makes you look back on past regrets.

The Black Keys - Little Black Submarines (Nonesuch)//The Akron duo's El Camino became an eleventh hour contender to the "album of the year" ranks. With tracks such as this, you can see why. Starting off with a "Stairway to Heaven"-style riff, the blues rock number gradually builds up pace and noise levels, before launching into a psychedelica-garage rock chorus and excellent solo from Dan Auerbach.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Seen It>>Smashing Pumpkins at Brixton Academy - 16.11.2011

Billy Corgan and the new Smashing Pumpkins ensemble - consisting of guitarist Jeff Schroeder, bassist Nicole Fiorentino and drummer Mike Byrne - descended onto London for the second night at Brixton Academy, for an intimate UK tour of new material and old favourites. The majority of the crowd seemed to be young adults and teenagers getting their first taste of the Pumpkins and the line up didn’t seem to bother anyone. For the first time since the original line up, it seems that the Smashing Pumpkins have a sound that gels incredibly well together and the craftsmanship they process is one of a band who have been together for years, not just a matter of months.

The one complaint seemed to stem from the lack of big singles -”Today”, “Disarm”, “1979” and others were missing - which was exactly why this was a show for the most ardent of Pumpkins fans. B-sides from the album Pisces Iscariot, “Starla” and “Frail and Bedazzled”, made the setlist along with Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness tracks, “Muzzle” and “Thru the Eyes of Ruby”, and Siamese Dream’s “Geek U.S.A”, “Soma” and “Silverfuck.” Even at 44, the older and still balder Corgan showed he could still handle the long and pounding solos, shredding the shit out of the guitar at every opportunity. New songs from upcoming album Oceania and online album Teargarden By Kaleidyscope, included “Quasar”, “Panopticon”, “Lightning Strikes”, “Oceania”, “Pinwheels” and “Pale Horse.” The songs’ blend between heavy guitars riffs and long solos, prog rock and shoegaze, dream pop was the typical mixture of genres that the Smashing Pumpkins became known for.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest cheers of the night came for the singles, “Siva,” “Cherub Rock”, “Zero” and “Bullet With Butterfly Wings.” However, undoubtedly the highlight of the night was the surprise inclusion of “Tonight, Tonight” into the setlist, the only time on this current tour that it was performed. It drew the biggest singalong of the night, drawing some passionate screaming with arms aloft and, played even without the orchestra, remained as beautiful and poignant as always. The transition from “Thru the Eyes of Ruby” (which included an extract of “I Am One”) to “Cherub Rock”, into “Tonight, Tonight” and “For Martha”, was an excellent showcase of the band’s altering back catalogue, from head banging and air guitar grunge to moving and delicate singalongs. It was the prefect way to send the audience home happy.

They returned after the encore, covering “Stephen” by Gene Loves Jezebel along with two of the band members, before the audience got what they were waiting for; the angry, fist pumping anthems “Zero” and “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”, which were full of sweaty mosh pits and teenage angst.

A beaming and grinning Billy Corgan even had time at the end for a bit of US v UK banter with the crowd. Much like Corgan and the rest of the band, the crowd left with grins across their faces. A fine welcome back to the UK for the Pumpkins and a great send off at the same time.

Geek U.S.A
Window Paine
Lightning Strikes
Frail and Bedazzled
Pale Horse
Thru the Eyes of Ruby (plus I am One)
Cherub Rock
Tonight, Tonight
For Martha

Stephen (Gene Loves Jezebel cover)
Bullet With Butterfly Wings

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Seen It>>Jeff the Brotherhood - The Lexington 14.11.2011

Nashville’s Jeff the Brotherhood, a pair of brothers (though none are called Jeff), descended onto London’s The Lexington as part of the mini-European tour. The duo have been garnering mass critical praise in the last couple of years, thanks to albums Heavy Days and We Are The Champions.

Jake (guitar, vocals) and Jamin (drums), who were both former members of Be Your Own Pet, brought along their Southern-fried psychedelic punk rock anthems, which have seen them be compared to the likes of The Black Keys, Weezer, The Ramones and Sonic Youth.

Jake’s guitar may have only had three strings, but that didn’t stop him from belting out Prog drones such as “Heavy Days”, “Shredder“, “Heavy Krishna” and “Hey Friend.” Meanwhile opener “Bone Jam”, with its danceable grooves and ‘wooos’, helped get the crowd involved from the off. Jake was busy modelling the porno moustache look that Caleb Followill had sported in the Youth & Young Manhood days and his frequent dash into the crowd saw him go missing on occasions. Jamin brought along a torch light and was busy waving it around, while drumming one handed to closer “U Got The Look.” His pounding drum beats add a heavier touch to the bands sound. Their drum kit, which had sported the name “Jeffro Tull” was nowhere to be seen, as their equipment had been stolen in July.

The crowd had been headbanging constantly all night, but it looked as though this gig was an introduction to the band, rather than a crowd of fans. It looked as though they were here to see the excitement and hype behind the band. All in all, it was a great introduction for the band to make and a relentless surge of energy on stage, which transpired back onto the crowd.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Seen It>>Reading Festival - Sunday 28.8.2011

12.45-13.25//Fucked Up//The Canadian art-punk band brought their anthems to the NME stage for an early afternoon slot. Frontman Pink Eyes even managed to break his microphone in amidst the circle pits and the moshing crowd.

14.05-14.20//Frank Turner//The singer-songwriter has built up a cult audience at Reading following his 5-year consecutive span at the festival. The former Million Dead frontman had been upgraded to Main Stage this year and his legion of fans joined him by singing along to his plethora of tunes, such as "I am Disappeared" and set-closer "Photosynthesis."

14.35-15.20//Cage the Elephant//The Kentucky quintet were up for causing hell on the NME stage, bringing their alt-grunge tunes back to Reading, including "In One Ear", "Back Against the Wall", "Ain't No Rest fr the Wicked" and "Shake Me Down." Matt Schultz, vocalist of the band, went into the crowd and disappeared for ages, before returning and then being knocked out by a crowd-surfer and resurfacing again at the end. Bonkers, but brilliant.

16.45-17.30//Warpaint//The Los Angeles all-girl four-piece played a lazy Sunday afternoon set on the NME stage. The drug-fueled anthems such as "Elephants", "Warpaint" and "Undertow" had the crowd in raptures, whilst it was hard not to space out during the set thanks to some odd smells.

17.50-18.20//Hot Water Music//Chuck Ragan and co returned to the Lock Up stage, after a long hiatus. Launching into "Remedy" had the mosh pits already forming, whilst the band later covered The Bouncing Souls' "True Believers."

18.35-19.30//Interpol//The New York-based band returned to Reading after an absence of four years, but this time returned without mesmeric bassist Carlos D. However, even without him, Paul Banks and co gave another solid performance to the crowd, including songs such as "Evil", "Slow Hands, "C'Mere" and "Obstacle 1." The only downside being fashion-conscious Banks' odd choice of Adidas jacket, black trousers and sunglasses.

19.00-19.45//Death From Above 1979//The re-formed duo from Toronto were back on the Line Up for the first time in six years. A nasty clash with Interpol, unfortunately meant a loss of some of their set. However the crowd were rowdy for the duo's electro-punk anthems, including "Blood On Our Hands" and "Romantic Rights."

20.00-20.50//Frank Tuner (Special Guests)//The biggest kept 'secret' at Reading 2011, was in fact the special guest on the Lock Up stage, was another set by Frank Turner. His army of fanaticals were treated to his back catalogue alongside a cover of Queen's "Somebody to Love" which was the festivals biggest singalong of the weekend.

21.10-22.00//Flogging Molly//The Celtic-Punk band were the penultimate band of the weekend on the Lock Up and they sure as hell made it so the party continued. "Seven Deadly Sins", "Drunker Lullabies" and "Float", drew the usual casual and drunken attempts at Irish jigging, inside a packed crowd.

22.30-23.30//Descendents//The Californian pop-punk legends closed the festival on Sunday and were the Lock Up stage's headliners. A somewhat small crowd, competing against Muse's 'Origin of Symmetry' set, were delighted and bellowing out every word of the band's set, including "I'm the One", "Everything Sux" and "I'm Not A Loser." A giddy Milo even fell off the stage a couple of times, but was quick back to his feet.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Seen It>>Reading Festival - Saturday 27.8.11

12.00-12.40//The Joy Formidable//The Welsh alternative rockers opened the Main Stage on a rainy Saturday afternoon. The trio launched into many tracks from their debut, "The Big Roar", including 'Austere' and 'Whirring.'

12.45-13.15//Title Fight//Pop punk from Kingston, Pennsylvania, the quartet were lively and had the mosh pits forming on the Lock Up stage.

13.50-14.35//Seasick Steve//The 70-year-old bluesman brought along his homemade guitars and instruments. Oakland, California's finest was joined on stage by Led Zeppelin legend John Paul Jones, joined by a backup drummer, and the trio created old-fashioned and enjoyable blues on a sunny Main Stage. Props go to the drummer and his broom.

14.55-15.35//OFWGKTA//The hip-hop collective from California, were greeted by a large and insane NME crowd, playing all sorts of hits from Tyler the Creator's 'Yonkers' to Earl Sweatshirt's 'Earl'. Sadly, an over-the-top bass interrupted the sound, and unless you were right at the front, it was hard to hear much.

15.45-16.20//Mariachi El Bronx//The band's usual hardcore five-piece were in action on the Lock Up, which meant a welcome return for the Mariachi side-project. They previewed songs from new album, self-titled "Mariachi El Bronx" (much like the first), alongside old favourites such as 'Cell Mates' and 'Slave Labor.'

17.25-18.15//Jimmy Eat World//The quartet from Arizona returned to Reading and the Main Stage, for the first time since 2007. The unleashed new tracks such as 'Coffee & Cigarettes', whilst launching old favourites including 'Bleed American', 'The Middle' and 'Sweetness', which drew one of the loudest singalongs of the festival.

18.45-19.45//The National//The Brooklyn-based five piece have slowly but deservedly worked their place into mainstream recognition, following a strewth of critically acclaimed albums, the last of which being 2010's "High Violet." Third from top on the Main Stage and a setting sun in the background, gave the perfect backdrop to the band's tales of loneliness, isolation and love. A fantastic performance saw tracks such as 'Abel', 'Fake Empire', 'Bloodbuzz Ohio' and 'Terrible Love' given the applause they so richly deserved. The only down point was the rather small crowd that gathered to watch them in action.

20.00-20.50//The Bronx//Without the Mariachi suits this time, the Los Angeles quintet were a totally different experience this time around. Launching into straight-out hardcore punk on the prepared Lock Up crowd. Frontman Matt Caughthran disappeared into the crowd and the ensuing mosh pits, whilst screaming out the words to 'Knifeman', 'False Alarm' and 'The Kill Us All (Without Mercy).'

22.30-23.30//The Mighty Mighty Bosstones//Following Jane's Addiction cancelled headline performance on the NME, it was going to be hard to be cheered up. However, the ska punk legends and Lock Up headliners were a great alternative. The Boston based 8 piece had the crowd skanking along to old favourites such as 'Where'd You Go?', 'The Rascal King' and 'The Impression That I Get.' A great way to end the penultimate night, with many crowd members leaving the gig with large grins etched across their faces.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Seen It>> Reading Festival - Friday 26.8.2011

12.00-12.35//Pulled Apart By Horses//Opening proceedings on the new NME tent, were Leeds alternative rock quartet PABH. The boys played host to several tracks from their debut self-titled album, as well as launching new songs such as "Wolf Hand" and "Shake Off the Curse."

12.55-13.40//The Blackout//The Welsh post-hardcore rockers returned to the Berkshire festival, with a new album, "Hope", in tow. It was earlier tracks such as "Children of the Night" and "ShutTheFuck Uppercut" that had the teenage audience starting the circle pits. Vocalist Sean Smith also directed the crowd to throw mud at each other, which they did.

14.30-15.15//Mona//The Nashville, Tennessee based indie band made their Reading and Leeds debut in the NME tent. Their debut self-titled album borrows heavily from U2 and fellow Nashville band, Kings of Leon, but that didn't stop the crowd from singing along to tracks such as "Teenager" and "Listen to your Love."

15.45-16.20//Cerebral Ballzy//The New York punk band brought along bundles of attitude and spiky tunes from across the pond. The Brooklyn quintet were intent on tearing up the Festival Republic stage, which perhaps they could have done, had their songs been longer than 2 mins or so.

16.10-16.55//Rise Against/The Chicago punk band's set was beset by sound problems, cutting out the vocals of Tim McIlrath. However, their energetic Main Stage set included "Help is On the Way", "Prayer of the Refugee" and a Clash cover of "White Riot", inspired by the recent England riots.

17.20-18.15//Deftones//The Californian quartet returned to the festival, with another blinding set on the Main Stage. The mosh pits opened for "Back to School (Mini Maggit)", while frontman Chino Moreno entered the crowd and almost lost his shirt in the process. Moreno also dedicated "Minerva" to bassist Chi Cheng, who has been in a coma since a car accident in November 2008.

18.35-19.35//The Offspring//The Californian punks were back at Reading, for the first time since 2004. One of the best bookings on an overall weak line up, it's fair to say the majority of the crowd weren't too up for their set. However, a large mosh pit opened for "Come Out and Play (Keep 'em Separated)" and stayed open, until "Self Esteem" at the end. Unsurprisingly though, the somewhat subdued crowd truly awoken for party anthem "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)".

20.10-21.10//30 Seconds To Mars//Whether Jared Leto thought he was filming a movie or not is another thing, but the theatrical set from the LA trio was strange and an unwelcome sight to say the least. From Leto entering the stage from the floor, to singing their biggest hit (The Kill) all by himself acoustically, the set was always going to be dominated by Leto's ego, as opposed to watching the band perform. A complete waste of a sub-headline spot.

22.00-23.30//My Chemical Romance//The emo-rockers have much to prove for their headline appearance, given how criticised their booking had been. Playing a host of classic tracks that had the crowd singing along, "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)", "Helena", "Teenagers" and "Welcome to the Black Parade", whilst a few bland songs from new album "Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys" also made the cut. While the set was OK at best, and not the mediocre performance many were predicting/hoping for, it's fair to say, the majority of the crowd cheered once Brian May was announced on stage for the encore. A cover of "We Will Rock You" and the aforementioned, "Welcome to the Black Parade", rounded off the set and first day.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Preview>>Reading and Leeds Festivals 2011

This summer's festival season has almost come to an end, meaning that Reading and Leeds is up next. The twin festival will be headlined by My Chemical Romance, The Strokes and Muse. This year's festival has come under criticism with regards to the line up and choice of headliners, with the festival failing to sell out for the first time in many years.

Headliners on the NME/Radio One stages are Liam Gallagher's new band 'Beady Eye', Los Angeles' Alternative legends 'Jane's Addiction' and Belgian electronic duo '2manyDJs', respectively. Britpop legends Pulp will perform under The Strokes at Reading, but will headline Leeds' version.

Also appearing over the three days are Elbow, Thirty Seconds To Mars, The Offspring, Interpol, The National, Madness, The Streets, Friendly Fires, Two Door Cinema Club, Deftones, Crystal Castles, White Lies, Death From Above 1979 and Frank Turner. The dance tent will be headlined by UNKLE Sounds, with ska troupe The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and pop-punk legends Descendents the Lock Up stage's headliners. The Horrors, The Midnight Beast and Peter Doherty will headlined the FR Stage, where new bands and bands with less mainstream appeal play.

The action will be covered by BBC3 and BBC Radio One from Friday at 7.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Top 5>>Reading Headliners

There have been many headliners during Reading's chequered 40 year history, with some more memorable than others. Here are the top 5.

5. The White Stripes (2004) Reading Saturday/Leeds Friday
Surely the biggest band (so far) of the 21st Century, the blues rock duo were a massive coup for the festival, given Meg's disapproval of playing festivals. A year on from the release of the defining album "Elephant", which had propelled the duo to headline status, from their 5th from top position they held the two years previous. They treated the crowd to old songs, new songs and covers including, 'Jolene' and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' 'Maps', showcasing what geniuses they were and truly ahead of their time.

4. Arcade Fire (2010) Reading Saturday/Leeds Friday
One of Reading's more controversial headliners, many had argued that the Montreal octopulet were not big enough to headline the festival, with many questioning who they were. However, they simply blew that notion away, with a stunning performance to clear away the mess that Guns N' Roses (sorry Axl N' Friends) left behind the previous night. Their third critically acclaimed album "The Suburbs" had just been released and Arcade Fire showed once again what a different beasts they are, when it comes to live performances. It turned out to be a truly inspired booking and helped them on their way to becoming the global superstars they now are.

3. Nirvana (1992) Reading Sunday
Probably the headline performance that defined Reading Festival and one of the most talked about in the festivals history. From Kurt Cobain being wheeled on stage by music journalist Everett True in a wheelchair, to the trio launching every hit to a packed crowd, this was a special set. It also happened to be the grunge legends final UK show. Presumably one of those 'I was there' moments.

2. Smashing Pumpkins (1995) Reading Friday
Maybe a shock to see the Pumpkins above Nirvana, but ignoring all the media hype for a second, few could argue otherwise. Playing a couple of months before the release of their classic album, "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness", the Chicago 90s alternative heroes gave a flawless performance of classic hits from their first three albums. One of only two occasions where the Reading crowd were treated to the original line up (1992 was the other), this was a true representation of what the Smashing Pumpkins (forget 2007 for a second) and the 90s were all about. Who could forget Billy Corgan's haunting rendition of 'Disarm', with just the crowd for company?

1. Pearl Jam (2006) Reading Sunday/Leeds Saturday
Not their fellow grunge band from Seattle Nirvana, but arguably Pearl Jam produced the best headline set in Reading's history. It's of course controversial; mainly as Nirvana's set is generally considered the best, it was good, but it wasn't Pearl Jam in 2006, that's for sure. Their first festival appearance, since the Roskilde disaster in 2000; where several people where crushed to death in the crowd, Eddie Vedder and co had decided against playing festivals again, but thankfully they came around. The emotion was still there on Eddie's face throughout, thanking the crowd for "being safe" and having double barriers up to prevent crushing. However unlike 2000, the music did the talking for Pearl Jam that night, especially Mike McCready's soaring guitar solos, the highlight of which being "Alive" during the encore. The packed out crowd, full of euphoria and emotion, were roaring their throats dry all night, culminating in a truly stunning end to the festival.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Top 5>>Reading Line Ups

With 2011's Reading and Leeds festival all but a week away, and ticket sales rendering this year's to be a flop, it's time to take a look at the best line ups in the festival's 40 year history.

5. Reading 2002
What happens if you take 2011's line up and add some quality bands and headliners to it? Well you get 2002's line up of course!
Headliners: The Strokes//Foo Fighters//The Prodigy (Guns N' Roses played Leeds only)
Subs: Pulp//Muse//The Offspring
Elsewhere: Weezer//The White Stripes//The Hives//Andrew WK//Incubus//Slipknot//Spiritualized//Black Rebel Motorcycle Club//Feeder//Aphex Twin
Future stars lower down: The Libertines//Death Cab for Cutie//Yeah Yeah Yeahs//The Vines//Interpol//The Streets//UNKLE

Weekend ticket: £90 Day ticket: £39

4. Reading 2005
One of Reading's strongest line ups in recent years, saw legendary indie band Pixies headlining during their first reunion tour since their split. Foo Fighters were back and Metal fans got Iron Maiden closing the festival on Sunday night. Kings of Leon treated fans to one of their best set lists on their R+L debut, a host of classics from Youth & Young Manhood and Aha Shake Heartbreak. Those were the days.
Headliners: Pixies//Foo Fighters//Iron Maiden
Subs: The Killers//Kings of Leon//Marilyn Manson
Elsewhere: Queens of the Stone Age//Razorlight//Iggy & the Stooges//The Coral//Kasabian//Bloc Party//The Tears//My Chemical Romance//Echo & the Bunnymen
Future stars lower down: Arctic Monkeys//Arcade Fire//Mystery Jets//We Are Scientists//Bullet For My Valentine//The National

Weekend ticket: £125 Day ticket: £60

3. Reading 2007
OK, so the headliners weren't too memorable; Razorlight?, RHCP giving their worst performance ever and the return of the Smashing Pumpkins not being as exciting as it should have been. However the line up just draws you in and who could forget memorable sub performances from Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire and Nine Inch Nails? Perhaps the first time in Reading's history where the subs have overshadowed the headliners?
Headliners: Razorlight//Red Hot Chili Peppers//The Smashing Pumpkins
Subs: Kings of Leon//Arcade Fire//Nine Inch Nails
Elsewhere: Interpol//Gossip//Bloc Party//Maximo Park//Lostprophets//Fall Out Boy//Klaxons//Ash//Jimmy Eat World//The Shins//Enter Shikari//Dinosaur Jr.
Future Stars lower down: Paramore//The King Blues//The Horrors//Crystal Castles//Bombay Bicycle Club//Foals

Weekend ticket: £145 Day ticket: £62.50

2. Reading 1992
Probably Reading's most memorable line up and headliner, Nirvana. However, the rest of the line up is fantastic and shows a great array of talent and originality from the era.
Headliners: The Wonder Stuff//Public Enemy//Nirvana
Subs: The Charlatans//Ride//Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Elsewhere: Public Image Ltd.//PJ Harvey//Manic Street Preachers//Mudhoney//Teenage Fanclub
Future stars lower down: Pavement//Suede//Melvins//Beastie Boys//The Smashing Pumpkins

Weekend ticket: £49

1. Reading 1995
While it might not be the most recognizable line up in Reading's history, it is arguably it's strongest ever line up. A host of superstars from the 90s filled the stage, alongside the "legend" headliner, Neil Young, that is so sparse to find at the Berkshire festival these days. A true representation of what Reading should be about.
Headliners: The Smashing Pumpkins//Björk//Neil Young
Subs: Green Day//Paul Weller//Soundgarden
Elsewhere: Hole//Pavement//The Boo Radleys//Foo Fighters//Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine//Teenage Fanclub
Future Stars lower down: Beck//Ash//Cast//Pennywise//The Cardigans//Super Furry Animals

Weekend ticket: £60

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Preview>>Latitude Festival 2011

The British festival season continues this weekend, with Latitude Festival taking place in Henham Park from Friday until Sunday. Headlining the Suffolk festival, are The National, Paolo Nutini and Suede respectively, with further performances from the likes of Foals, Kele, Bright Eyes, Eels, Paloma Faith, My Morning Jacket, The Cribs and Seasick Steve.

Brooklyn Indie quintet The National, have garnered critical acclaim throughout their career, but have only recently broke the mainstream through last year’s album, “High Violet”, which saw them nominated for two BRIT awards, ‘Best International Breakthrough’ and ‘Best International Album,’ losing in both categories to Justin Bieber and Arcade Fire respectively. Scottish singer-songwriter Paolo Nutini is headlining his second festival of the summer, after also topping the bill at Rockness festival in June, in his native country’s Highlands. Re-formed Britpop band Suede close the festival on Sunday night, in their first headline performance in the UK, since 1997’s Reading Festival, and they are keen to play a host of classics.

Tickets for the event have sold out, with weather predictions saying it will be muddy, with “strong winds and showers”. The event will be broadcast live on Sky Arts 1 from 9pm on all three days.

Seen It>>Weezer at Brixton Academy - 06.07.2011

Playing only their second gig in the UK since 2005, Reading and Leeds in 2010 being the only other, LA nerd rockers Weezer delighted a packed out crowd at Brixton Academy, playing a host of tracks from their first two albums. This was essentially a "warm up" to their weekend festival shows at Oxegen, Sonisphere and T in The Park, respectively, but this is by no means a warm up. It's the perfect chance for Weezer to show why they've become one of the biggest cult bands and influential bands since their formation in 1992.

Given that they had been touring around their native USA, playing both 'Weezer (Blue)' and 'Pinkerton' in full, a lot was expected of Weezer to deliver something similar. Opening track 'Undone - The Sweater Song', set the template for the night, as the crowd were in raptures and signing along to every word.

This was a night for the more hardcore Weezer fan, with Pinkerton tracks 'El Scorcho', 'Pink Triangle' and 'Tired of Sex' drawing louder cheers than perennial crowd-favourite, 'Buddy Holly.' Non-Blue or Pinkerton tracks such as 'Island In The Sun', which included front man Rivers Cuomo's improvised soliloquy to the crowd, 'Hash Pipe' and 'Pork and Beans,' also prove popular amongst the crowd. But the crowd went wild whenever a Blue track was unleashed, including 'No One Else', 'My Name is Jonas', 'The World Has Turned and Left Me Here' and 'Say it Ain't So.'

They even had time to throw in a couple of covers, most notably their ironic take on Wheatus' 'Teenage Dirtbag' (OK, own up, how many of you thought Weezer sang this?!) and Radiohead's 'OK Computer' classic 'Paranoid Android.'

A fan wearing a Weezer snuggie is allowed onstage for the encore and his singing and air guitar, during 'Buddy Holly', sums up the genial, party atmosphere inside the venue. A set like this makes it hard to pick out a highlight, as there were so many.

The band delivered a best-of Blue/Pinkerton set, with the crowd leaving in raptures and grins across their faces. This, pretty much, comes close to the perfect gig.

Undone – The Sweater Song
My Name Is Jonas
El Scorcho
Pink Triangle
Island in the Sun
Teenage Dirtbag
The Good Life
The World Has Turned and Left Me Here
Say it Ain’t So
Tired of Sex
You Gave Your Love to Me Softly
Pork and Beans
Across The Sea
The Greatest Man That Ever Lived
Only In Dreams
Paranoid Android

Hash Pipe
Buddy Holly

Monday, 11 July 2011

Seen It>> Hurricane Festival - Schessel, Germany 17.06.2011-19.06.2011


17.40-18.20//Irie Revoltes//German Hip-Hop/Punk ensemble from Heidelberg. They entertained the crowd on Friday afternoon with their songs comprising topics such as racism, prejudice, homophobia and sexism.
18.25-19.00//Kaizers Orchestra//Norwegian band hailing from Stavanger, the alternative rock band are similar to compatriots, Kvelertak, who were also on the bill, in singing in their native language.
19.40-20.20//Glasvegas//The Scottish quartet seemed to bring the rain and miserable weather with them to Germany, but it didn't stop James Allan and co from belting out their popular tunes, such as "Geraldine" and set-closer "Daddy's Gone".
21.10-22.00//Jimmy Eat World//The alternative rock quartet from Arizona were eagerly awaited by the young audience on the Blue Stage. They bundled their way through past hits and it seemed a rather tame spectacle, until the ending on popular hits "Bleed American", "The Middle" and "Sweetness" back to back.
23.25-01.00//Arcade Fire//The Montreal eight-piece have become a worldwide phenomenon ever since their headline set at Reading and Leeds in 2010, and they played to an eagerly-awaited and excited crowd at Hurricane. The band had opened their set with clips from their new film, "Scenes from the Suburbs" and they played several songs from the album which bored that title, "The Suburbs". However, unsurprisingly their most popular tracks came for their debut album, "Funeral", including the mash-up of "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" and "Rebellion (Lies)", "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" and the encore crowd-favourite "Wake Up".
00.45-02.00//The Chemical Brothers//The duo entertained the cold crowd on the Blue Stage with their remixes and instrumentals. However, it wasn't until they unleashed monster hits such as "Block Rockin' Beats" and "Galvanize" that the crowd really got going.
01.00-02.00/Sum 41//The Canadian four-piece are still proving their popularity, some 10 years since the release of "All Killer, No Filler", that they packed the Red Stage, forcing many revelers to have to stand outside and watch on the TV screen. They played a back catalogue of their biggest hits, including "Still Waiting", "We're All To Blame", "Motivation", "In Too Deep" and, of course, teenage anthem "Fat Lip", getting the mosh pit into a frenzy.

12.00-13.30//Pulled Apart By Horses/Leeds rockers PABH managed to awaken the entire campsite with their relentless and roaring riffs and usual mad stage antics. The breakfast mosh pit was into full gear with a host of tracks for their S/T Debut. They even asked for the rain to "fuck off" as they were on "holiday" at Hurricane.
14.45-15.20//Warpaint//All-girl band Warpaint managed to maintain their psychedelic hypnotic-riffs even though they were playing to open air. The LA quartet delivered crowd-pleasing renditions of 'Warpaint', 'Elephants' and 'Undertow' from debut album "The Fool".
17.30-18.20//Friendly Fires//The St Albans dance-punk trio livened up the early evening crowd in the sunshine, playing tracks from their debut album and highly-anticipated follow-up, "Pala".
19.30-20.30//Gogol Bordello//The gypsie-punks were lively as ever on the Green Stage, with the crowd moshing at every opportunity. Always one of the highlights of any festival they play and they didn't disappoint at Hurricane either.
23.00-00.30//Incubus//The alternative rock quartet from California were returning with a new album in tow, "If not now, When?" and their headline set treated the crowd to new singles such as "Adolescents", plus classics "Anna Molly", "Drive" and "Wish You Were Here."
01.00-02.00//Bright Eyes//Conor Oberst has signalled that the end is nigh for Bright Eyes and rather fittingly, he entered the stage dressed as the Grim Reaper. He seemed to spend more time yapping away, including about his “home girls” Warpaint, than he did play hits. That said, it was an enjoyable experience and should the Bright Eyes project end soon, it would be a big loss.

13.30-14.10//Blood Red Shoes//The Brighton duo seemed to bring the miserable weather with them, as they played host to a drenched crowd in the pouring rain. That didn't deter the rowdy crowd, as they chanted back the lyrics to hits including, "I Wish I was Someone Better", "Light It Up" and "It's Getting Boring by the Sea".
17.15-18.00//Flogging Molly//The Irish-American Celtic-Punk rockers entertained the crowd in the rain, with their collection of hits, including "Float" and "Drunken Lullabies". Irish jigging in the rain never sounded so fun!
18.45-19.55//The Hives//The Swedish garage rockers were up to their usual eccentric ways, belting out tune after tune, including "Main Offender", "Walk Idiot Walk" and "Hate to Say I Told You So." Front man Howlin' Pelle Almqvist had asked where his "25,000 screaming Germans were" and believed that God's intervention had stopped the rain, as "God loves The Hives," proving they've still got arrogance in bundles.
20.15-21.30//Arctic Monkeys//Sheffield's finest played a host of new tracks from album, "Suck it and See", alongside the classics from the first two albums. They were joined on stage by their mate and fellow Sunday performer, Miles Kane, to end their set on "505". They lacked their usual crowd chemistry that they regularly show in the UK, but it was a no nonsense show.
22.00-00.00//Foo Fighters//Headliners and festival closers, Foo Fighters, had a two-hour set packed of classics and new tracks from the album, "Wasting Light". Dave Grohl and co belted their way through an army of tracks, including "The Pretender", "Monkey Wrench", "Learn to Fly" and finisher "Everlong." Their set surely added to their reputation as currently the "World's biggest band".

Seen It>>Arctic Monkeys - Don Valley Bowl, Sheffield 10.06.2011

The quartet returned home to deliver tracks from their eagerly-awaited fourth album, "Suck It and See" and play to some long-lost live favourites. The Monkeys played to a packed 10,000 strong tent, borrowed from the near by Leeds festival site, with fans travelling from all over.

Their intro was a quick and no-nonsense start to proceedings, with "A View from the Afternoon", quickly followed by "Brianstorm." They mostly played homage to their first two albums, including the Yorkshire-clad 2Still Take You Home", about nights out on their home turf. The hometown show, perhaps, was always a best place to debut tracks from their new album, with the crowd singing along with every word, despite the fact that their album had been out for barely a week. "Don't Sit Down, 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair", "Library Pictures", "Brick by Brick, "The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala" and "She's Thunderstorms" being the new tracks.

Though the big moment of the show, was the live return of fan favourite, "Mardy Bum", played to Alex Turner's sole guitar and the bellowing crowd. "You've always been better than me at singing this", Turner revealed looking emotional and struck for words. The band are later joined on stage by support act, Miles Kane, for anthem "505", before ending on "A Certain Romance", with Turner forgetting the words only for the crowd to support.

They may not have gone for the same stage show they had on recent tours, but all Arctic Monkeys needed was a hometown show and a return of live favourites, to once again regain their tag as "Britain's most loved band."

A View from the Afternoon
This House is a Circus
Still Take You Home
Don't Sit Down, 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair
Library Pictures
Teddy Picker
Crying Lightning
Brick by Brick
The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala
Mardy Bum
I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
She's Thunderstorms
Pretty Visitors
If You Were There, Beware
Do Me A Favour
That's Where You're Wrong
When The Sun Goes Down
Fluorescent Adolescent
A Certain Romance

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Reviews>>Arctic Monkeys - Suck It and See (Domino Recordings)

Alex Turner and co return with their fourth album, hoping to once again be crowned 'Britain's Best Band'. After the experimental, desert-rock of 'Humbug', which many felt was a backwards step for the Sheffield quartet, Turner promised the new record would be a "more poppier" affair.

With song titles named after what would seem, a drunken booze up, the Monkeys have stopped taking themselves seriously, with the after-effects being positive. Lead single "Don't Sit Down, 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair", driven by its Alice in Chains bass-riff, contains lyrics such as "do the Macarena in the Devil's Lair" and "go into business with a grizzly bear", whilst "Library Pictures" contains "Library pictures, of the quickening canoe. The first of its kind to get to the moon."

Whilst 'Humbug' was recorded in the California desert with QOTSA front man Josh Homme in as producer, 'Suck it and See' was recorded in a LA studio, with James Ford back in. Homme, however, does return to add background vocals to "All My Own Stunts", where his voice is almost un-recognizable. In short, the album sounds nothing like the early March teaser, 'Brick by Brick', many predicted it would have been. Turner brings some of his crooning and balladry from the "Submarine" soundtrack, "Reckless Serenade" and "Piledriver Waltz", to show how he has developed as a musician from the days of writing songs about "fucking taxi ranks", a Turner himself put it.

Arctic Monkeys show how they have grown out of their contemporaries and have reclaimed their crown as both Britain's 'best guitar band', but more importantly, as Britain's 'best band.'


Monday, 16 May 2011

Seen It>>The Great Escape Festival//12-14 May (Various - Brighton)

No, not a homage to the classic Steve MacQueen movie, The Great Escape is, to quote themselves, "Europe's leading festival for new music". Quintessentially, the British answer to Austin's SXSW festival, it is the perfect way to start the ever-earlier festival season.

In case you've been living on the moon or in a cave for the past five years, then you would've heard about the festival, as it is the best place to catch the up-and-coming stars of the future. Chances are, your favourite artists of the past five years have played here, with Hall of Famers including Vampire Weekend, Kasabian, Ellie Goulding, Klaxons and current lady-of-the-moment Adele. Whilst it is a festival for discovering new bands, you can also catch artists who have broken through, with Friendly Fires, Sufjan Stevens, Katy B, Example and Warpaint, just a few names who played over the weekend.

Thursday's discoveries were:
Dry the River (Above Audio) - The five piece from London, brought their folk-infused indie rock, which also embraces Americana and gospel sounds. Their energetic and euphoric set was watched by a full crowd in the venue, and they left as one of the bands of the weekend.
The Smokin' Barrels (Komedia Downstairs) - The Geordie trio, heavily influenced by the Mod and Britpop eras. Their sound borrows heavily from their influences. They even had time to cover The Who's "My Generation" too. Ooh, get them.
In-Flight Safety (Jam) - Part of the Canadian invasion to hit Brighton, the Halifax, Nova Scotia quintet played melodic indie anthems to dramatic sounds. Like a cross between the synths and vocals of The Killers and the alternative sounds of Death Cab for Cutie, it won't be long till they're big.
Fight Like Apes (Coalition) - The Irish quartet from Dublin, brought their synth-electro punk anthems to the festival, giving a thrashing performance to supplement their attitude-fuelled songs.
Brasstronaut (Komedia Studio) - The Canadian quintet from Vancouver compress jazz, indie rock and electro, to harness their own impressive sound. Similar to compatriots Arcade Fire, their multi-instrumentals combining together really shouldn't work, but it does and to fantastic achievement, creating an original and highly enjoyable sound.

Friday's discoveries were:
Trails (Komedia Downstairs) - The quartet from Guildford tore apart the venue, with their impressive and raucous live shows. Their heavyweight riffs where supplemented by a collison of relentless energy and melodic vocals. With a summer EP due to be produced by James Kenosha, responsible for Pulled Apart By Horses and Dinosaur Pile-Up, they will soon by joining them as live favourites.
Brother & Bones (Komedia Downstairs)- The five piece managed to upstage Trails, with the bluesy-western folk and loud racket threatening to tear apart the venue. Quite how combining blues guitar solos and bongo drums works is suprising, but it does to great effect.
Gallops (Prince Albert)- Jagged guitars and electronics combine to produce dancefloor anthems, that more than make up for the lack of vocals from this North Wales quartet.
Funeral Suits (Hector's House)- Multi-instrumental Irish alternative band, combining guitars, with synths and keyboards. Their sound incorporates distorted guitars, art rock, electronica and harminous pop. Not bad for a band looking of a combined age of about 16.
Tripwires (Hector's House)- With influences including Sonic Youth and The Smashing Pumpkins, the Reading quartet are intent on bringing back the 90s grunge/alternative sound of the latter. With floppy hair and flannel shirts, it's as if Kurt Cobain has never been away! Their energetic live show includes distorted guitars and compulsory accompanying headbanging from the crowd.
Dinosaur Pile-Up (Jam)- The Leeds trio further enhanced their growing live reputation, with another incredible set that threaten to erupt the venue. A surging mosh that nearly broke the barrier, resulted in the band asking crowd members to join on stage, resulting in some poorly attempts at singing along with anthem "Traynor" and some terrible stagediving. The best band of the weekend, showing the newcomers how to do it.

That concludes the first two days of The Great Escape festival. Sadly, being unable to attend on Saturday, meant missing out on some quality bands, the beach and arcade games. Damn!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Why indie music needs the return of the guitar band

Considering it is the key element for any aspiring rock band, the loss of the guitar band is a strange and unwelcome sight. If the following statement had been said in 2010, you would have been right to be worried about the future of indie rock music, however 2011 has so far heralded the return of the guitar band. While the last few years have been dominated by everything from electro to synth-pop to the worst of the lot, nu-folk, 2011 looks set to be dominated once again by the garage rock band, 10 years on from it’s first revival.

In a year where we lost The White Stripes and saw the return of The Strokes, we have needed a new guitar band more than ever. Known as the “The” bands, those two aforementioned American acts were key to the return of the garage rock revival sound in the early 21st century, alongside The Vines from Australia, The Hives from Sweden and British heroes The Libertines. However those three have disappeared from the world’s main stage, all following their first two albums that were huge mainstream hits across the globe. The Libertines, of course, had a welcome return to the fold, with a blinding and emotional comeback at last year’s Reading and Leeds festival.

Over the past few years, only Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys have stepped up to the plate, with their first three albums quick to hit the top spot. Never has a guitar album seemed so important since their record-breaking debut, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.’ That may have come via The Vaccines’ debut, ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ Although drowned underneath a large fluid of hyperbole, it’s clear from the reactions of most music critics that it is a welcome addition to 2011’s releases. The NME, in their 8/10 review, called it a “British equivalent” to The Strokes’ debut ‘Is This It,’ whilst the BBC called their lyrics “uninspiring” but stated that the band are “consequently very much worth exploring.”

Despite being hailed as the saviours of guitar rock and the British Strokes, only a year ago vocalist and rhythm guitarist Justin Young played folk rock under the name ‘Jay Jay Pistolet.’ This has been met with criticisms and suspicions amongst some music publications, given how quickly The Vaccines had signed to a major label, after only forming in July 2010. However, Young is keen to explain otherwise. “I wanted to do something new because I’d hit a brick wall creatively and lost my drive and focus,“ he tells the March issue of The Fly magazine. “So when Freddie [Cowan, lead guitar] and I were putting a band together with mutual friends of ours, it was instantly refreshing.” Young is quick to point out that The Vaccines hadn’t intended to be a guitar band. “When we started it wasn’t a guitar band. I was playing keyboard and Freddie was playing bass and I’m still writing on acoustic guitar and piano. In terms of where the songs come from, it hasn’t been a massive departure [from the folk material], it’s just been refreshing to present them in a different way.” The quartet are completed by Anri Hjorvar (bass) and Pete Robertson (drums). Their sound has been compared to The Strokes, Editors, The Clash and The Ramones, and whilst sounding unoriginal, they seems to be the band for people who missed out on The Strokes the first time around.

Joining The Vaccines in resurging the guitar band this year, have been Slough’s Brother. The four piece brit-pop revivalists have already graced the cover of NME and been hailed as the new Oasis. Just two months after playing their first gig as ‘Brother‘, they signed to major label Geffen. Similar to The Vaccines, the band have been criticised for their quick foray to a major label, given they were previously a pop-punk band (Wolf Am I) and a screamo band (Kill The Arcade), before they switched to brit-pop. Also hailed as the replacement to Oasis are Liam Gallagher’s new band, Beady Eye. Basically Oasis without Noel, Liam has already stated they are bigger than his former band and has shown his ego hasn’t dipped, proclaiming them to soon be bigger than The Beatles! Liam has also been hard at work slating Brother, calling them “little posh boys in tattoos.” No doubt though, soon both bands’ music will be gracing football terraces around the country.

If any of these new ‘saviours’ of guitar music don’t tickle your fancy, well The Strokes have a new album in stores now, whilst Arctic Monkeys’ fourth effort, “Suck It and See,” is out June 6.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Features//Musicians are hoping to score a new high

Given that rock music suffered its worst performing year for 50 years in 2010, there needs to be a new direction for their artists to find success. While most revenue will come via touring, the strain of doing so can take a while to overcome, therefore rock musicians need to find a new way to promote their music. They must just have found that with film scoring.

Fresh off Trent Reznor, of Nine Inch Nails fame, and Atticus Ross’ victory in the Best Original Score Oscar category for The Social Network, it has paved the way for more of rock’s finest to lend their musical talent to films. Their dark and somber theme sets the mood to the film, turning it into a more dramatic and key film, than the talkative tale it had threatened to be. Reznor’s involvement made such an impact, that he will once again team up with director David Fincher, to score the Hollywood remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is released in November.

Alex Turner is putting the return of Arctic Monkeys currently to the back burn, as he is set to release his first solo work on March 16, sound tracking Richard Ayoade’s debut feature film, Submarine. Ayoade, better known as Moss from The IT Crowd, had previously directed music videos for Turner’s band, including ‘Crying Lightning’ and ’Florescent Adolescent’ and the live DVD ‘Arctic Monkeys at the Apollo‘, as well as for Turner’s side-project with Miles Kane, The Last Shadow Puppets. Turner returns the favour with his bittersweet, mellow crooning, a perfect match for the film’s tales of romance and awkwardness, and a million miles away from Turner’s usual sneering and raucous rock band. It even helps that the film’s lead actor, Craig Richards, bears a striking resemblance to him.

Jonny Greenwood, the lead-guitarist for Oxford’s indie rock pioneers Radiohead, is also set to release solo material scoring the film Norwegian Wood. Its light, slow-paced acoustic sound is certainly unlike the new experimental Radiohead album, however this isn’t Greenwood’s first foray into movie sound tracking, as he did 2007’s There Will Be Blood. There, his orchestral sound is never relegated to background of the film, and it plays an integral part in building the film’s atmosphere.

Daft Punk have also been busy scoring, as they recently sound tracked the Disney film ‘Tron: Legacy.’ The French dance-punk duo created a roaring, electronic theme for the movie, which has proved so popular there is a remix album coming out in April, featuring the likes of Moby and Paul Oakenfold.

Whilst these four have been at the forefront, there have been other rock musicians recently getting their sound across through movies. Arcade Fire’s husband and wife duo of Win Butler and Régine Chassagne scored the film The Box in 2009, the guitar work on the Oscar-nominated score for Inception, was none other than Johnny Marr, Badly Drawn Boy did About a Boy and Elliott Smith contributed heavily to Good Will Hunting. It is a more clinical aspect of a film to use musicians to score and soundtrack the movie, as opposed to dumping a few hit songs on a soundtrack, regardless of how affective or relevant they are to the actual movie.

So in the coming years, Hollywood blockbusters could compulsorily include rock musicians writing the soundtrack, alongside their A-lister actors, directors and expensive sets.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Seen It>>Surfer Blood at Scala - 09.03.2011

With recent rays of sunshine gripping the nation, that means summer is once again on its way, and who better to bring summer closer than Surfer Blood. The Floridians from West Palm Beach brought their grungy-lo-fi tales of summer and youth to warm up the evening.

The Scala is a very intimate venue, that rewards enthusiastic crowds, however at the front of the stage, the crowd is anything but up for the gig. Whether that is the fault of the band or the fault of the crowd is had to see. Having seen Surfer Blood twice before, the crowd were less than enthusiastic, however back then they were playing at a festival and as a support band.

While the album is drenched in reverb, live their songs are not, and in an atmospheric venue, unfortunately their songs fail to match the atmosphere. Opener 'Floating Vibes' however oozes with bass and has members of the crowd starting to liven up, while flamboyant frontman John Paul Pitts begins twirling around the stage, he seems to be the only stage presence and comfortbale live member the band have unfortunately. The rest, including birthday boy (as we're told non-stop by Pitts) guitarist Kevin Williams, who seems to be scared by the crowd, whilst the replacement bassist doesn't seem happy to be there.

However the crowd fail to lift up, especially after 'Take It Easy,' 'Twin Peaks' and 'Catholic Pagans,' though once 'Swim' appears the crowd begin to liven up, suggesting that the majority of the hipster crowd only turned up for this song. Without the reverb, however the song seems to lacking something, but Pitts' shouty voice doesn't fill in.

Overall, it was quite a dissapointing show, especially as I like the Scala as an intimate venue and I liked 'Astro Coast.' Maybe with a new album in tow, things will pick up.

Floating Vibes
Twin Peaks
Take It Easy
Fast Song
Catholic Pagans
Neighbour Riffs
I'm Not Ready
New Song
Fast Jabroni

Seen It>>Rock Sound Exposure Tour at Relentless Garage - 24.02.2011

The London leg of Rock Sound's Exposure Tour rolled into town, with The Xcerts, Japanese Voyeurs and Dinosaur Pile-Up on the bill. They were here to show that all good things come in threes, and that turned to be the case.

Opening up with The Xcerts. Hailing from Aberdeen, the trio had a large army of fans in the venue cheering them on and signing along to every word. Their set was dedicated to their second album 'Scatterbrains', which was released to positive reviews in 2010. Their grungy-pop punk had everyone head banging along, with frontman Murray MacLeod's floppy hair regularly joining in too. For the opening band, they seemed to be the most popular, something you don't see everyday, and they would be hard to top.

Next up was Japanese Voyeurs. I didn't know much about them and wasn't sure what to expect from their set. At times it was a frustrating listen, vocalist Romily Alice's voice was hard to understand, sounding like a squealy American, and hard to hear, which was off-putting. It wasn't all bad though. They had some foot-stomping grungy anthems and the sight of Metal-dressed keyboardist Rich Waldron head banging throughout was an enjoyable sight.

Finally, headlining were Leeds trio Dinosaur Pile-Up. Bringing back 90s grunge, fusing elements of early Weezer and Foo Fighters, this show promised to be epic. And it was just that. A large mosh pit centred in the middle began along with opener 'Barce-Loner', before the cheers grew louder with 'Opposites Attract' and single 'Mona Lisa.' They new song 'Should' slowed the pace down dramatically, but all that was forgotten when Matt Bigland broke into anthem 'My Rock 'N Roll', where the pit grew larger, with bassist Harry Johns entering the crowd during 'Traynor'. The Dinosaurs put on an epic show, and showed that dinosaurs are certainly not extinct, but as alive as ever.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Seen It>>Cold War Kids at Koko - 23.02.2011

Returning to the UK for the first time in over two years, Long Beach-based Cold War Kids played to a sellout crowd at Camden's Koko venue.

In light of the newly-released album, 'Mine Is Yours', opting for a more 'arena' sound, it's evident that the large, upward venue should play host to the band. Nathan Willett's vocals certainly soar all the way to the top of the venue, and newer songs such as 'Royal Blue', 'Louder Than Ever', 'Skip The Charades' and 'Cold Toes On The Cold Floor', plus 'Audience' (from 'Behave Yourself' EP) were certainly recorded to get this effect from a venue.

It's obvious to say that older classics were treated with the most cheers, particluarly 'Hang Me Up To Dry', 'Hospital Beds' and 'We Used To Vacation.' They certainly didn't look out of place within the venue and the arena sounding, with the crowd in full voice throughout, marking the echoing vocals of Willett. Whilst finishing track 'Saint John' saw Willett into the crowd and enjoying himself and probably the band's return to the Capital, as he mentioned several times about how they had wanted to.

Whilst the older songs were greeted with the most cheers, still the crowd sang along to every word from the new album and seeing it live seem to make me enjoy it even more. A great return for the Kids, who will no doubt (and hopefully!) be back again soon.

Royal Blue
Finally Begin
Mexican Dogs
Red Wine, Success!
Skip The Charades
Hang Me Up To Dry
Dreams Old Men Dream
Louder Than Ever
Cold Toes On The Cold Floor
Hospital Beds
Santa Ana Winds
I've Seen Enough
Goodnight Tennesse
We Used To Vacation
Saint John

Monday, 21 February 2011

The Strokes comeback leaves more to be desired

As you may have heard, The Strokes launched their return to the music world, with a sneak preview into their new album, "Angels" due March 22, via the song 'Under Cover of Darkness.'

Despite the commotion and excitment this release caused, the end product is not probably what we were hoping for. Whlist it starts decent, it seems to decend into a 'Is This It' filler track, as the band seem to want to return to that sound, as opposed to launching a different and relentless assualt on the stale, state of rock music today. Unfortunately it isn't the big return many were hoping for, and suggests the comeback won't be as good as promised.

Also, what the heck has happened to Julian's voice??!

Reviews>>Cold War Kids - Mine Is Yours (V2)

Back in late 2006, a band appeared from Fullerton, California, setting the blogosphere alight with their bluesy indie rock tunes. Following the release of highly-regarded debut 'Robbers & Cowards' in January 2007, Cold War Kids unfortunately have yet to recreate that momentum.

While follow up 'Loyalty to Loyalty' recieved warm reviews, it didn't recreate the same mainstream breakthrough, and after touring for the last two years, Cold War Kids return with their third album, 'Mine is Yours.'

Cold War Kids teamed up with Kings of Leon producer Jacquire King to part-record the album in Tennesse, and certain 'arena' sounds are included on this album. Title track 'Mine is Yours' and 'Louder than Ever' are evidence of this new arena, blues rock the Kids seem to be aiming towards.

However, it's not all one way traffic. 'Royal Blue' and 'Sensitive Kid' are Cold War Kids at their best, particularly the former; fast paced percussions and soaring guitar solos, definately the album's highlight. 'Skip The Charades' is also heartbreaking, mellow piano riffs that will probably be the sound track to Grey's Anatomy and other hosipital dramas.

The arena sound certainly suits frontman Nathan Willett's ranging soul vocals, he sounds as they he's been long waiting to express himself to such levels. The 80s sounding percussions also bring the Kids a new dimension.

Overall, it's not a bad return, however anyone hoping for another 'Robbers & Cowards, will be disappointed.


Sunday, 9 January 2011

A-Z of 2011

A is for Animal Band Names//Foals, Pulled Apart By Horses, Dinosaur Pile Up, Chickenhawk all had big years in 2010, so expect more new bands naming themselves after the animal kingdom.
B is for Brother//Seen as the next big thing by anyone from the NME to XFM, the Slough foursome want to bring lad-rock back to the mainstream. Despite a lack of originality and talent, expect to see them everywhere in 2011, mainly as their lead singer Leonard Newell won't shut up and considers himself as the new Liam Gallagher.
C is for Comebacks//Expect 2011 albums after long absenses from The Strokes, Beastie Boys, The Shins, Foo Fighters, Blink 182, Cold War Kids, Queens of the Stone Age, whilst also on the comeback trail are Arctic Monkeys, with their fourth album due around September.
D is for Dave Grohl//Foo Fighters frontman has had fans wetting their lips about their new album, after describing it is a "massive sound." Expect a big year for the Foos.
E is for El Scorcho//Will Weezer be bringing their 'Memories' tour to the UK in 2011? If there's a God, yes. If not, we can do with a Kings of Leon tour instead.
F is for Festivals//Yet again festivals will be eagerly anticipated, from hearing new bands, to long-awaited comebacks and to the best contemporary stars. With Glastonbury taking a year break in 2012 and Reading celebrating a 40 year anniversary, expect some big names appearing.
G is for Great Escape Festival//The annual pilgrimmage to Brighton will uncover the next big things in Britsh, and around the world, indie and alternative music. Last years line-up included the likes of Ellie Goulding, Pulled Apart By Horses and Young Guns.
H is for Hype//Once again the NME and BBC's Sound of 2011, has determined which bands are set to be heard non-stop in 2011. So far, the list doesn't inspire anything new or exciting in the music world, however their hype will no doubt overwhelm their talent.
I is for Iron Maiden//New tour underway in the summer, a comeback album on the horizon, and perhaps a Reading and Leeds headline spot?
J is for Jessie J//Love her or hate her, and I'm certainly leaning towards the latter, expect her to be everywhere this year. Surely the results of when N-Dubz and Lady Gaga had a child, unfortunately she's one of the those bugs you can't flick away.
K is for Kings of Leon//No Doubt, the brothers (and cousin) Followill will be one of the most played and talked about artists of 2011. It is their first UK stadium tour after all, even if they are massive, massive sellouts.
L is for Libertines//After a storming comeback at Reading and Leeds, and a less than impressive Carl Barat solo effort, they could be the next band to announce a reunion and maybe a few tour dates too.
M is for Mona//Seen as the replacement to Kings of Leon's bland, stale, arena rock, the Nashville foursome create a mixture of 50s rock n roll, QOTSA riffs, KOL basslines and the soul of Gaslight Anthem. Not original, however they are a refreshing change to the arena sound which has gone stale recently.
N is for New Jersey//After excellent albums in 2010 from local lads The Gaslight Anthem and Titus Andronicus, who will be the next band from The Boss' hometown to produce a gem in 2011?
O is for Overseas Festivals//Anyone who isn't interested in seeing the best of Blighty's festivals, is inclined to go and see a festival abroad. Most line-ups are already filling up, Benicassim in Spain, Hurricane/Southside in Germany and Coachella in California already look to be epic.
P is for Political//With the upcoming royal wedding and the Coalition government doing their best to outshine Margaret Thatcher, expect a host of political, angry music to explode back onto the scene this year. Johnny Rotten talking about a Sex Pistols comeback? Well, he had to try and get his nose in front of everyone else.
Q is for Queens of the Stone Age//Homme and the boys are set to release a new album this year, which will probably (hopefully!)mean UK tour dates again and maybe another festival apperance, after their storming set at Reading and Leeds last year. Welcome back lads.
R is for Reading and Leeds//Pulling Weezer, Arcade Fire and The Libertines, out of, it seems, nowhere, who will Melvin be unveiling to shock in March? Beastie Boys? The White Stripes? Iron Maiden? 30 Seconds to Mars? (ahem..)
S is for Soundtracks//With more big name movies arriving in 2011, there will be another batch of movie soundtracks coming along. Expect Muse to be at the forefront of another woeful, wet Twilight soundtrack. Jared Leto will probably be sticking his oar into a soundtrack, too.
T is for Theatre//The new way to get your music out there seems to be the theatre way, U2 writing the Spiderman musical, Green Day writing American Idiot, who will jump on the bandwagon in 2011? The Rolling Stones? Muse? Probably.
U is for U2//With Bono back to full health, an expected Glastonbury appearance and a new album in the wings, it means we'll have to put up with U2 all year.(Yay!)
V is for Vaccines//The Vaccines are another band listed to watch this year. Blending a mould of The Courteeners and Editors, sounds terrible, but someone's gotta like it? Haven't they?
X is for X Factor challenge//Simon Cowell's money juggernaunt will be back again and chasing the Christmas number one with their inferior, mediocre cover of a decent track. So therefore once again a Facebook-led rebel campaign will be underway. After Jeff Buckley in 2008, Rage Against The Machine in 2009 and The Trashmen in 2010, 2011 is open to ideas.
Y is for Yuck//Yuck by name, but certainly not by nature. Expect them to be big by the end of the year.
Z is for Z-List//Expect to see more bands on the Z-list (think Guns N' Roses) announce a comeback this year, hoping to gain the type of money they no longer see.