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 RĂ©gine 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.