Sunday, 30 December 2012

Top Ten>> Albums of 2012

Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory (Carpark Records/Wichita)
Japandroids - Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
Titus Andronicus - Local Business (XL)
Grizzly Bear - Shields (Warp)
Tame Impala - Lonerism (Modular)
The Men - Open Your Heart (Sacred Bones)
Swans - The Seer (Young God)
The Walkmen - Heaven (Fat Possum/Bella Union)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)
Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city (Interscope)

Monday, 17 December 2012

Seen It>>Rancid at The Forum, 15 December 2012

Rancid were in town to celebrate their 20th anniversary tour, with a co-headline triple-header at The Forum alongside East Enders, Cocksparrer, who in turn were celebrating their 40 years of punk anthems. On this occasion, Rancid were the “warm up”, with the bands switching roles on different nights, but judging by the passion from the crowd, Rancid looked like the main band that many inside had arrived for.

Formed in 1991, from the ashes of ska punks Operation Ivy, the quartet from Oakland, California were one of the most important punk bands of the 90s revival. But unlike Green Day, The Offspring and Bad Religion, Rancid remained underground and independent from major labels, something which has seen them retain their energetic and loyal fan base throughout their career, but not the same wider attention as those bands.

Opener “Radio” was a rapid introduction into what carnage was expected, whilst “Roots Radicals” gave Lars Fredericksen the first fist pumping sing-along of the night. Tim Armstrong’s new Charles Manson-style beard seemed to be the talking point of the tour, but their rapid stroll through their impressive back catalogue provided the main attraction on stage.

“Journey to the End of East Bay” and “Maxwell Murder”s groovy bass lines, showed why Matt Freeman is one of the greatest punk bassists around, whilst “Olympia WA”, “Fall Back Down” and “The 11th Hour” were the comradeship that are synonymous with punk shows.

The band also previewed a new look into their next studio album, due next year, with “Fuck You”, which already looks to be a crowd favourite. Rancid returned to a rapturous welcome for the encore, with ska-influenced “Time Bomb” and “Ruby Soho” providing a chilled finish, compared to the frenetic start.

With Rancid on top form, it would be hard for even the legendary Cocksparrer to follow. 

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Seen It>>...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead at Scala 10 October 2012

In the ten years that has passed since Austin's art rockers Trail of Dead’s magnificent, Source Tags & Codes, the band have slowly lost all the hype and momentum that turned them into potential world beaters. Bloated albums on major labels, band members leaving, a brief period of two drummers and choreographed stage antics threatened to spoil the band’s purpose. Thankfully, 2011’s Tao of the Dead was a welcome return to form, which saw Lost Songs set for release a week after the gig.

The Scala is an intimate venue, which is perfect for the raucous show that is expected. “Strange News from Another Planet” was an apocalyptic burst that was supplemented by Conrad Keeley’s Slint-esque spoken word, but it was ferocious anthems like new song “Up to Infinity” and old classic “Mistakes & Regrets” that saw the crowd moving frantically. “Caterwaul” added some emotion to the set. 

Despite a new album set for release, the band delved into their back catalogue, giving a greatest hits set including “Relative Ways” and “Richter Scale Madness”, while the antics they were most known for, were briefly touched upon when drummer/guitarist Jason Reese stage dived into the rowdy crowd, for the chaotic “Homage.”

The quartet returned for the encore, with “Another Morning Stoner”, where Keeley briefly touched upon the demise of the old Astoria venue where the video was filmed, before closing on world-ending “Will You Smile Again?” 

….And You Will now Us By the Trail of Dead are a band who seemed to be going through the motions just a  couple of years ago, but their performance and acclaimed new album seem to be putting them back onto the road where they were set to go a decade ago. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Seen It>>Reading Festival Sunday, August 26

Pulled Apart By Horses>>Main Stage>>The Leeds-based band have quickly complete their assault up the Reading line up, going from FR openers to Main Stage openers in just three years. The bigger stage and field didn't prevent their usual crazy antics and lairy crowds for anthems such as "High Five" and "I Punched a Lion in the Throat".

Mongol Horde>>Lock Up Stage>>Frank Turner's new band were unveiled on the punk stage at Reading, which saw a huge crowd greeted to covers of artist including The Streets and Nirvana and their own original songs. 

The Gaslight Anthem>>Main Stage>>With the release of Handwritten edging the New Jersey punks to more of a stadium rock sound, their earlier blue collar punk anthems such as "The '59 Sound", "Old White Lincoln" and "The Backseat" struggled to fill their surroundings, suggesting that they are better off in a tent than the open air. 

Mark Lanegan Band>>NME/Radio 1 Stage >>Something of a legend at Reading, having performed previously with Screaming Trees, Soulsavers and The Gutter Twins, Mr Lanegan was here with his own band this time around, performing tracks from his illustrious career and new album, Blues Funeral. 

Gallows>>Lock Up Stage>>With the loss of frontman Frank Carter to Pure Love, who were also on the bill, Gallows returned with former Alexisonfire man Wade Macneil on lead vocals. The band may have changed, but nothing much else did, a relentless burst of raw London punk noise including, "In the Belly of a Shark", "Abandon Ship" and "Orchestra of Wolves" had the tent going up in a dust bowl. 

Me First & the Gimme Gimmes>>Lock Up Stage>>The world's greatest covers band as they are known, gave a party atmosphere inside the lock up tent, which was second to none all weekend. Hawaiian shirts, beach balls and rubber bananas, ensured that Reading Festival 2012 may have been coming to an end, but not without a party. Punk versions of "I Believe I Can Fly", "Jolene" and "Country Roads" had everyone going mental, along with the ukulele singalongs of "Enjoy the Silence" and "Somewhere over the Rainbow", which made the punk supergroup a welcome festival band and helped Reading go down with a hangover. 

Foo Fighters>>Main Stage>>The place where Dave Grohl's Foos made their name, they were back at their spiritual home. A three hour set saw them play the usual classics, but also time for them to sneak in a few first album treats such as "Wattershed" and "For All the Cows". 

Less Than Jake>>Lock Up Stage>>Foo Fighters finishing earlier than their expected 23.30 time, meant a brief glimpse of Gainesville ska punks Less Than Jake. Their set included a homage to their hometown  "Gainesville Rock City", as well as old favourites including "Al's Town" and "History of a Boring Town". 

Friday, 28 September 2012

Seen It>> Reading Festival- Saturday, August 25

Green Day>>NME/Radio 1 Stage>> The festival's worst kept secret became reality, as Green Day took to the mid-sized NME stage at 11am to deliver a pulsating retelling of their large back catalogue. Everyone in the audience was enjoying every minute, even those who had gone off Green Day in recent years (yours truly), but had growm up listening to them. Anyone who was lucky to be inside witnessed something special, and something that won't be re-encountered again for sure.

The Shins>>Main Stage>>The last time the indie pop five-piece were at Reading in 2007, James Mercer was fronting a different band. However he is now the sole remaining original member and the Portland-based quintet were here to support new record, Port of Morrow. The likes of "New Slang", "Phantom Limb" and "Simple Song" ensured that it would be a blissfully enjoyable late afternoon set in the sunshine.

Billy Talent>>NME/Radio 1 Stage>>The Canadian quartet have become something of a cult band at Reading over the years and they only added to their popularity, with another entertaining set full of hits such as "Devil in a Midnight Mass", "Viking Death March" and "Red Flag".

Mastodon>>NME/Radio 1 Stage>> Metal bands are becoming something of a water in the desert at Reading these days: hard to find. Mastodon were included in the line up after Sonisphere went belly up and they showed that metal bands still have a place at Reading, with an entertaining set that had the tent headbanging in unison.

The Cribs>>NME/Radio 1 Stage>>The Cribs are recent Reading legends and they seem to enjoy the festival more than any other band and they showed why they keep getting booked to come back. "Men's Needs" got its usual lairy crowd response, whilst Ryan Jarman was up to his usual crazy antics, as he seemingly didn't want to leave the stage. And why would you, when you're having such a great time?

At the Drive-In>>NME/Radio 1 Stage >> The year's most hyped up reunion (along with Refused), saw the El Paso post-hardcore quintet back at Reading Festival, after their 2000 appearance cemented their reputation as one of the most exciting live bands. 12 years, however, is a long time and the band looked painfully out of sorts. But that didn't stop their small but passionate crowd giving it everything and making sure they enjoyed every second of what looks to be a short reunion.

Seen It>> Reading Festival- Friday, August 24 2012

O'Brother>>Festival Republic Stage>>The post rockers from Atlanta, Georgia had the dubious honour of opening 2012's festival. They had a loud, atmospheric set which suited their surroundings perfectly, with songs such as "Machines Part I" and "Lay Down" gaining warm applause.

Cancer Bats>>Main Stage>>The Canadian hardcore punk rockers were more at home on the Lock Up stage, as their set looked flat, and whilst their usual crowd would have been energetic, the atmosphere was anything but. Their "Sabotage" cover due the biggest reception.

Coheed & Cambria>>Main Stage>>Again the atmosphere around the main stage had a flat and early morning feel to it, which clearly affected the band's set. Set closer "Welcome Home" had everyone headbanging and air guitaring though. 

JEFF the Brotherhood>>Festival Republic Stage>>Nashville, Tennessee's brotherly duo were the first band to liven the audience on the (usually) groggy first day. Rockin' numbers such as "Shredder", "Heavy Days" and "U Got the Look" were like being thwarted back to the 70s with their heavy distortion. The perfect band for an early afternoon beer. 

The Hives>>NME/Radio 1 Stage>>Howlin' Pelle Almqvist and his mad cap band were back at Reading after an eight year absence. Quite how such an entertaining festival band as The Hives were away for so long is anybody's guess, but they showed just what Reading was missing with a jam-packed set featuring classics, inane banter and freeze frames. Fagersta, Sweden's number one export (besides steel) were fantastic as they delivered song such as "Main Offender", "Hate To Say I Told You So" and "Tick Tick Boom", which featured the aforementioned Hives freeze frame. 

Touche Amore>> Lock Up Stage>>The post-hardcore quintet from Los Angeles were in town to play tracks from most recent album, Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me, including "Home Away From Here" and "~". The boys seemed delighted to be at Reading and the audience were delighted to have them. 

Graham Coxon>>NME/Radio 1 Stage>>Former Blur man was back at Reading and, well, it wasn't one of his best days. A set containing mostly new material failed to grab the somewhat (shamefully) small crowd's attention, with only "Freakin' Out" getting the audience moving. 

Every Time I Die>>Lock Up Stage>>The mentalist crowd of the day went to Buffalo, NY's Every Time I Die. The metalcore quintet were making their first appearance at the festival and they didn't disappoint, delivering a brutal set containing "Holy Book of Dilemma"and "Wanderlust" amongst others.

The Cure>>Main Stage>>Robert Smith and co returned to headline Reading Festival after some 33 years. The majority of the crowd would have not have even been born then, but they were still able to appreciate a legendary British band showing off their distinguishable career, with hit after hit, and a wide mixture of genres. 

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Reviews>> Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania (EMI/Martha's Music)

In the five years that have passed since The Smashing Pumpkins’ last studio album, Zeitgeist, was released, there have been numerous line-up changes. Most obvious of course, being the departure of original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, who was replaced by 22-year-old Mike Byrne, a long-time Pumpkins fan. Unlike on Zeitgeist, rhythm guitar and bass duties weren’t supplied by band leader Billy Corgan, but by Jeff Schroeder, who’s a somewhat veteran in the band, having been there since live shows in 2007, and Nicole Fiorentino, formerly of Spinerette and Veruca Salt fame, respectively. This therefore makes Oceania the first full band release for the Pumpkins, since 1995’s colossal double album, Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness, which incidentally, Corgan had claimed that Oceania would be their finest effort since then.

Over their long career, the Pumpkins have always fused together an amalgam of different genres and this release is no different, taking a trip through different stages of their career, from arena rock to prog to dream pop and electronica. It isn’t a completely new sound for the Pumpkins, a couple of songs could be found at home on earlier releases, but it is an attempt to make its own mark in the Pumpkins vault, rather than rehashing past glories.  

Opener “Quasar” hits you early on, with its pounding drums and soaring arena-ready guitars, whilst the ensuing “Panopticon” continues where its predecessor left off. The new wave “Pinwheels” could well be the “1979” of the album, a beautiful dreamlike composition comprised of floaty guitars and atmospheric-synths. The title track is the Pumpkins at their grandest and most ambitious; an epic, evolving nine-minute journey through dreamy space rock, progressive rock, acoustic balladry and funky basslines.  Ballads “My Love is Winter” and “Violet Rays” are melodically beautiful, whilst “The Chimera” and “Inkless” revisit the early Pumpkins, with their fuzzy, heavy progressive riffs. “Pale Horse” is a futuristic space rock odyssey.  It does tail off towards the end with “Wildflower,” but with listening to the album all the way through, it is worth enduring.  

Overall, it’s a great return from The Smashing Pumpkins, but it’s also a great prologue for them to continue off on their next release.


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Seen It>>ATP I'll Be Your Mirror at Alexandra Palace - 27.05.2012

Halfway through the final day of the I’ll Be Your Mirror weekend, was recently reunited indie punks Archers of Loaf. The North Carolina-based quartet reformed early last year after disbanding in 1998, and had played the ATP’s Nightmare Before Christmas event last December, which was curated by Les Savy Fav. They were famous for their energetic shows and, even older and balder as they were, they still showed they could still rock as hard, with bassist Matt Gentling energetically leaping around the stage like an excited child on Christmas morning. Playing the first and, so far, only show of their “tour of Palaces”, they drew a small but passionate and vocal audience, who bellow out the words to “Audiowhore,” “Plumbline” and “You and Me,” as if they had never been away. The final two songs of the set, “Web in Front” and “Nostalgia”, draw frantic bouncing and moshing from the crowd, to signal an energetic show that was highly enjoyable.

The locally-based 90s revivalists, Yuck, were at home on a bill that include three reunited bands, whose heydays were all in that decade. On opener “Chew”, with its wall-of-sound guitars, you get a feel of their My Bloody Valentine influences, whilst the ensuing boisterous “Holing Out”, is more from the Dinosaur Jr textbook and it gets the crowd bopping along. They seem to feel very nervous on stage, showing a lack of stage presence, with frontman Daniel Blumberg shyly thanking ATP for having them on their bill. The distortion-powered “Get Away” draws the loudest cheers from the crowd, before they end on the 9-minute long “Rubber”, a long lo-fi stretch of reverb and distortion. Overall, it was a decent set, but nothing special.

The Make Up, having recently reformed for I’ll Be Your Mirror following a twelve year hiatus, were greeted by a large audience. Their sound was a mixture of post-punk atmosphere, with gospel keyboards and garage rock guitars, a complete contrast to the other day’s bands. The madcap frontman, Ian Svenonious, who was previously with the Nation of Ulysses, was almost as excitable as the audience, with his high-flying scissor kicks greeting his every highly-charged word. Think Mick Jagger fronting The Strokes and you’ll get a brief image of his on stage behaviour. He spent a significant amount of time in the audience, climbing on top of audience members, in order to get closer to the crowd and spread his word like the rock preacher he so naturally is. Before long, he returns to the stage, confidently serenading the audience with the funky “We‘re Having a Baby” and “Every Baby Cries the Same”. The most eclectic band on the bill, showed why there were in a league of their own, providing the perfect spiritual rejuvenation  for a tired audience, and granting the perfect warm up. Although they were the penultimate band of the weekend, they could have easily topped the bill, which would have still left the crowd going home happy.

With sweltering temperatures both outside and inside, The Afghan Whigs turned up the heat, with a blistering set that brought the house down and the event to a emotionally drained climax. After thirteen years away and a couple of prior shows, including Jimmy Fallon’s talk show, Hollywood and New York comeback shows and the Pinkpop festival, the Ohio band were back and were in scintillating form. Whilst not as big as most of their Sub Pop contemporaries in the early 90s, they made up for it in critical acclaim and cult status. Greg Dulli’s smouldering soulful rock chargers opened up with the noir-esque “Crime Scene Part I”, before launching into the highly-powered “I’m Her Slave.” But it wasn’t until the likes of “What Jail is Like” and “Gentlemen”, that the roof threatened to blow off and Dulli’s vocals were drowned out by the bellowing screams of the intoxicated, passionate audience, who seemingly had waited many years for the chance to sing these anthems again and even with the Whigs being the final band of the weekend, the energy inside wasn’t sapped. Dulli told the audience to keep dehydrated due to the baking conditions, before deciding on the draining “66” and “Debonair”, that had the entire audience bouncing for one last time. “Faded”, over 8 minutes long, gave the audience a chance to get their energy back in time for the encore. They returned to rapturous applause, delivering a four song encore. The final part, “Miles iz Ded”, proved to be the perfect parting gift, with a large congregation of singing along to ‘Don’t forget the alcohol…ooh baby’, to many a raised pint glass. Even after well over a decade away, The Afghan Whigs prove to be more in demand and as powerful as ever, leaving many middle-aged men dewy-eyed after a riveting and mesmerising show.

Overall it was a great day of music, but the show did certainly belong to The Afghan Whigs.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Incoming>>JEFF The Brotherhood - "Sixpack"

Tennessee's brotherly duo, JEFF The Brotherhood, have enlisted the help of The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach for their upcoming EP, Hypnotic Knights. The first track to be taken from it, "Sixpack", is a chilled-out departure from their usual wild, prog-punk rock; it's a Pinkerton-esque fuzzy guitar ode to getting hammered. Hypnotic Knights will be released on May 22.

Incoming>>Fang Island - "Asunder"

Brooklyn-based indie trio Fang Island have unveiled the first track to be taken from their sophomore album, Major, due out July 24 via Sargent House.  It continues from where they left off on their eponymous debut album in 2010, with more energetic power-pop metal riffs which come with accompanying headbanging and handclaps. They have previously described their sound as "everyone high-fiving everyone".

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Reviews>>Silversun Pickups - Neck of the Woods (Dangerbird)

After the mass success of their sophomore album Swoon in 2009, which reached number 7 on the Billboard 200 chart, you wouldn’t be surprised if Silversun Pickups decided to stick with what they already had on their new release, Neck of the Woods. However, that couldn’t be more opposite of this album’s intention. Enlisting the help of U2 and R.E.M. producer Jacknife Lee, Silversun Pickups go for a louder and bolder sound on their third LP, which sees them dropping the distortion and fuzz-Pumpkin riffs, progressing onto a darker and brooding atmosphere, which frontman Brian Aubert previously described as sounding “like a horror movie.”

Lead off single “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)” may carry the name of a teenage horror movie urban legend, but its melodic synths and cinematic dream pop gives it that scary and unsettling feel, whilst the industrial “Make Believe” shows a different side to their sound. “Here We Are (Chancer)” carries Aubert’s mysterious, ghostly vocals over a mellow drum-machine beat. “Simmer“ is the album’s seven minute prog epic, “The Pit” has 80s synth-pop in the style of Depeche Mode and haunting basslines from Nikki Monninger, “Gun Shy Sunshine” generates jangly riffs and reverb, whilst “Busy Bees” is Ok Computer territory Radiohead. The gothic “Mean Spirits” is their most Pumpkin-esque track on the album, an amalgam of arena-heavy wall of sound guitars and powerful drumming courtesy of Christopher Guanlao. Final track “Out of Breath” is pretty much usual Pickups territory with its driving atmospheric guitars and robotic drum work.

If Silversun Pickups have long been compared to 90s alt-rock legends My Bloody Valentine and Smashing Pumpkins, then Neck of the Woods shows that they have moved into a new direction, following M83 into incorporating electronica into their sound. It is a beautiful flow of trancelike electronica, that shows the quartet are unafraid of trying something new with their sound and are able to tackle a variety of styles successfully.


Monday, 30 April 2012

Incoming>>The Gaslight Anthem - "45"

The Gaslight Anthem return with “45″, the first insight into their forthcoming fourth album, Handwritten, which is due out on July 24 via Mercury Records. The track, which got its first play worldwide on Zane Lowe’s Radio One show at 19.30, sees a return to the energetic punk Americana of their second album, The ’59 Sound. 
Handwritten was produced in Nashville, Tennessee with Brendan O’Brien, whose previous credits include Pearl JamSoundgardenAerosmithNeil Young and Red Hot Chili Peppers. You can definitely get a feel of stadium rock-style anthems that will no doubt dominate Handwritten, through “45″.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Reviews>>Jack White - Blunderbuss (Third Man/XL)

In a span of just fifteen years, Jack White has had the career to fill a lifetime. From festival headlining, Grammy Award winning, multi-platinum sellers The White Stripes, to successful super group The Raconteurs, to his recent endeavours on drums with The Dead Weather, White was inevitably due to record a solo album on his next career step. That debut solo album, Blunderbuss, sees him crossover all aspects of his career so far, while still maintaining something fresh at the table.

This ruthless neo noir takes a sinister ride through tales of deception, femme fatales, guilt and lust. The title track sounds like White Blood Cells-era White, while the song’s piano and violin melody add in a new dimension to his recognisable bluesy rock grooves and progressive riffs. “Weep Themselves to Sleep,” pays homage musically to previous efforts in The Raconteurs. “I’m Shakin’” is a doo wop, rockabilly cover of Little Willie John, whilst the vaudevillian “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy,” is a bit of a leftfield surprise, driven by jangly and happy piano melodies, which sounds like the final piece of the “My Doorbell“ and “The Denial Twist” trilogy. Lead off single, “Love Interruption”, is a duet with Ruby Amanfu about the violent things they both desire from love. Album closer, “Take Me With You When You Go”, who’s additive fuzz riffs will have air guitars at the ready, is probably the record’s standout track, as White ponders whether displaying his own inner desires may be harming someone else.

Certainly a trip down White’s career memory lane, but still an adventurous and unconventional release from the man who’s already done it all, so early in his career. The White Stripes may be sadly long gone, but with an impressive debut as this, that may well be a good thing.


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Features>>Pavement - Slanted & Enchanted: 20 Years Later

Friday marks the twentieth anniversary of Pavement’s debut album, Slanted & Enchanted. Considered one of the finest indie albums of all time, it’s not hard to see its influence in modern indie bands’ sound; everyone from Modest Mouse to Wavves, can claim an influence from the band’s lo-fi fuzz recordings. Their inspirational debut helped to shape 90s alternative America and the lo-fi slacker generation, paving the way for the likes of Beck, Weezer, Guided by Voices and Built to Spill later on in the decade. Even British bands such as Blur and Radiohead were indebted to Pavement in their early careers.

Recorded by a bunch of sarcastic stoners; security guard and vocalist/guitarist Stephen Malkmus (known under the pseudonym S.M) and guitarist Spiral Stairs (Scott Kannberg), with help from hippy drummer Gary Young, who owned the studio they recorded in. It was part recorded in Young’s studio in Stockton, California and part in Brooklyn, New York. It was a self-produced masterpiece. Fifteen noisy, yet melodic songs, which sounded sloppy and unfinished, yet still sounding genius and like a work of art. The catchy fuzz riffs and obtuse lyrics, which may sound abrasive at first, make for repeated listens and get suck in your head, even if you don’t have a clue what Malkmus is saying. Pavement give off that “Ramones” effect of wondering if a band couldn’t try any less or be anymore sloppy, yet still make kickass anthems.

Officially released on April 20, 1992 on Matador Records, it had been surfacing around the underground on cassette tapes a year previously. Though Pavement never received the mass attention that many of their 90s alt rock contemporaries did, they still received mass critical praise. Slanted & Enchanted received perfect tens, that Nadia Comaneci would be proud of, from the NME, Spin and Pitchfork. Rolling Stone listed it at 134th on their 500 Greatest Albums of all Time list. Blender called it the “greatest indie album of all time”. However, not everyone was a big fan. The Fall’s Mark E. Smith said Pavement were a “rip off” of his band, and they “didn’t have an original idea in their heads.” Ouch. The other members of The Fall were far more complimentary, however.

Pavement would later become a full band, hiring bassist Mark Ibold, percussionist Bob Nastanovich and replacing Young with Steve West on drums, and go onto record other masterpieces, such as Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and Wowee Zowee. Unlike the vast majority of their colleagues, Pavement never signed to a major label and stayed independent throughout their career.

Considering Pavement were never more than a cult underground band, it’s amazing, how 20 years later, they now sound like the radio regulars they never were. It’s a testament to their sound and their influence. Slanted & Enchanted was one of the earliest bursts of creativity from within the American 90s underground, yet as a tribute to its standing, is still sounding as fresh and original 20 years later.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Incoming>>Yuck - Chew

London-based 90s revivalists Yuck, return with a new song entitled “Chew”. Sounding as ever, as if it were produced by Alan Moulder, who has worked with the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Smashing Pumpkins,Nine Inch Nails and the Jesus and Mary Chain, Yuck continue to pay homage to their heroes in a big way.

The guitar sounds, particularly the opening riff, are certainly reminiscent of previous Moulder-work, sounding somewhat similar to Smashing Pumpkins’ “Plume,” whilst the floaty-shoegaze atmosphere is complementary to the likes of MBV and Ride.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Incoming>>Silversun Pickups - Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)

Los Angeles' Alternative rockers, Silversun Pickups, return with "Bloody Mary", the first song to be released from their third album, Neck of the Woods. It continues their usual 90s-style floaty, dream pop sounds, but also sees the inclusion of synths and reverb.

Neck of the Woods will be released May, 8 on Dangerbird Records.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Incoming>>Titus Andronicus - Upon Viewing Oregon's Landscape with the Flood of Detritus

Patrick Stickles from New Jersey band, Titus Andronicus, debuted a new song on a Jersey City radio station last night.

Going by the name, "Upon Viewing Oregon's Landscape With The Flood of Detritus", it is a first glimpse into new material prior to the release of the band's third album, due around November.

The rockabilly number continues from where they left off on last album, The Monitor, a drunken gibberish of words, mixed with two repetitive fist-pump chants, "built to last" and "thrown away", and a melodic lo-fi guitar sound, that sounds like it was recorded back in an old-timey saloon.

You can check it out here at 2:37:00

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Top 5>>Underrated Albums

Pavement//Slanted & Enchanted (1992)
Though this wasn’t considered underrated due to its lavished critical praise, it received a perfect 10 that Nadia Comaneci would be proud of in the NME, it is the thought of Pavement not receiving the coverage they thoroughly deserve that makes it so underrated. Their inspirational debut helped shape 90s alternative America and the lo-fi slacker generation. Stephen Malkmus’ obscure, hilarious and sarcastic lyrics helped turn Pavement into an influence on their contemporaries, including Weezer, Beck and Guided By Voices, and they were the sound of generation-xers who were wondering what to do with their lives. Despite this, their music still refuses to merge with the mainstream masses despite such phenomenal albums, including Slanted & Enchanted and follow up Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. They deserve the same mass recognition that the critics have realised since the band’s conception and Slanted & Enchanted should be a household name to all music fans.

The Shins//Wincing the Night Away (2007)
Arguably The Shins’ finest hour, this bittersweet indie pop release from Albuquerque’s finest was not given the attention it deserved. Though, with “Turn On Me”, they briefly reached mainstream approval, it wasn’t enough to launch them into the big leagues. James Mercer’s cryptic lyrics are sometimes hard to understand, but sounding so good, as “Australia” and “Split Needles” do, it doesn’t really matter to the listener. Despite consistently releasing quality albums, The Shins continue to hide in the background, while some of their less illustrious colleagues reap the mainstream rewards.

Titus Andronicus//The Monitor (2010)
New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus, named after the William Shakespeare play, produced one of 2010’s underrated classics. This epic and ambitious concept album, is set amongst the American Civil War as a metaphor for the trials and tribulations of modern day New Jersey. Borrowing heavily from Bruce Springsteen’s and Billy Bragg’s sound, but still sounding original and iconoclastic, it is a drunken and rebellious rollercoaster ride through a turbulent era. Including recreated speeches from Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, William Lloyd Garrison and Walt Whitman, it sounded completely different to any other of 2010’s releases.

The Replacements//Tim (1985)
You may not know it, but The Replacement’s Tim was one of the most important releases in American alternative rock. Though they never had any commercial success, they helped influence a new generation of musicians. They were the first American underground rock band to sign to a major label in the eighties, before R.E.M and Husker Du, with Tim being the result. “Hold My Life”, “Bastards of Young” and “Left of the Dial” are voice-of-a-generation anthems, the sounds of suburban alienation and despair, whilst the balladry of “Swingin’ Party”, with its self-deprecating twist of hopelessness and insecurity, was an early footprint for the grunge sound. The success of Tim inspired many of their contemporaries to follow their lead, with the album influencing countless bands and also acted as the template for the alternative rock explosion in the 1990s.

Sunny Day Real Estate//How It Feels to be Something On (1998)
In the nineties, while most of Seattle was gripped by flannel shirts and the grunge sounds of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, Sunny Day Real Estate were busy putting emo rock onto the map. Third album How It Feels to be Something On, recorded after their reunion, was their defining moment. Whilst the band had split up briefly, drummer William Goldsmith and bassist Nate Mendel were acquired by Dave Grohl for his new project Foo Fighters, but Goldsmith returned to appear on this album, though Mendel did not and was replaced by Jeff Palmer. The spiritual feel of the record is both discouraging and uplifting, while the album’s sound, a mixture between art rock and progressive rock, is almost trancelike. It is a collection of songs that flow coherently and is hard to find fault amongst the album. It was also one of the best albums of a highly nostalgic and creative decade and certainly an important and influential album for the ensuing decade.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Features//A-Z of 2012

A is for Azealia Banks//The Harlem rapper topped the NME’s “cool list” for 2011 and is on the BBC’s “Sound of 2012” poll, she’s still unsigned but it won’t be long till she’s signed up. A real buzz artist for 2012.
B is for Bestival//It keeps on getting better and better. In 2011 they had The Cure and Bjork, so if they can improve on that, then it will be incredible.
C is for CDs//A scary internet rumour suggested that CDs could soon be discontinued by major labels. It has been rubbished in reports, but unless they start selling, they could join cassette tapes in being lost forever.
D is for Dry the River//As the “new folk” bandwagon continues to grow, Dry the River are the latest band to sign to a major label. After hyped sets at The Great Escape and Reading and Leeds, they will no doubt be regulars on the festival circuit this coming summer.
E is for Emeli Sande//The Scottish soul singer is tipped to have a big year in 2012. She has already written for the likes of Tinie Tempah, Cheryl Cole, Leona Lewis and Susan Boyle and has been voted as the “Critics’ Choice” for the 2012 Brit Awards.
F is for Friends//Not an ode to the TV sitcom, these New Yorkers have been described as the “new Warpaint.” A more poppier affair than Warpaint’s shoegaze style, they have used R’NB influences to harness their sound.
G is for Greg Dulli//The Twilight Singers man returns to his day job in 2012, as The Afghan Whigs play their first shows in 13 years at ATP concerts in London and New Jersey. Their excellent soul-influenced rock produced classic albums such as Gentlemen and Black Love in the nineties, so make sure you don’t miss this.
H is for Howler//Poster boys for the NME in 2012 no doubt, the Minneapolis quintet have been compared to a hybrid of The Strokes, The Drums and The Vaccines. Their debut album America Give Up is released this month.
I is for Isle of Wight//With no Glasto in 2012, IOW are clearly keen to fill in for them, taking their weekend spot and also by booking Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Pearl Jam in as headliners, they have surely already produced the best UK headliners of any festival this year.
J is for Justice//They make their big return in 2012 and have already been booked for some European festivals, so expect to see them on the UK festival circuit.
K is for Killers//The Las Vegas band also return with a new album in tow in 2012. Except more synth anthems and indie dancefloor fillers.
L is for Lana Del Rey//The biggest star of the last few months of 2011, Elizabeth Grant will be even bigger in 2012. After the success of “Video Games”, debut album Born to Die, released at the end of January, will be one of the biggest and hotly-anticipated releases of the year. So unless you unplug your internet for a whole year, it will be hard to avoid her. That may still not be enough though.
M is for Maccabees//They look set to release the so-called ‘album of their careers’ on 9 January. They have taken their inspiration from the likes of The Stone Roses, Kate Bush and David Bowie on this album, and it sounds like a big change from the jangly indie pop of previous work.
N is for No Doubt//Set to return after a 10 year absence in 2012, the Orange County band will release a as yet untitled new album and are heavily rumoured to be at Coachella festival.
O is for Oceania//Billy Corgan has been calling Oceania, Smashing Pumpkins’ “best release for 16 years.” Following the positive reactions to new songs on their recent autumn tour, it’s fair to say that this could indeed be the real deal. There is definitely a big hole for a huge rock band to release a quality album at the moment, so hopefully the Chicago band will be the ones to do it.
P is for Phoenix Festival//Living up to its name and rising from the ashes, the Phoenix Festival will be returning in 2012 after it had disbanded in 1998. There is certainly a hole in the UK for a major alternative music festival, so fingers crossed it can deliver.
Q is for Queen//If you will believe rumours circulating around the internet, then Brian May and Roger Taylor are set to tour with Queen this year. American Idol singer Adam Lambert is rumoured to be the singer for this tour.
R is for Reunions//Has their been a better year for reunions than 2012? Stone Roses and Black Sabbath top the list of excited music fans’ list.
S is for Spector//Bespectacled indie five piece have been compared to The Killers and The Strokes and are on the BBC’s “sound of 2012” poll. Expect them at loads of festivals this year.
T is for Tribes//The Camden quartet release their debut album Baby in January. Hotly tipped at the start of 2011, this year should see them on an even higher pedestal.
U is for Universal//After buying EMI, the label will be even bigger in 2012, so except a dominance from them and their artists in coming years.
V is for Van Halen//The Hard Rock legends are returning with a new album and a new world tour. Rumoured for Sonisphere festival too.
W is for Wolf//Tyler, the creator was one of the biggest names in music and most out-spoken people in 2011 and his 2012 album, Wolf, should see him continue to make headlines for the right, and probably wrong, reasons again.
X is for XX//They seemed to have disappeared after their Mercury Award-winning self-titled debut in 2009, but the London band are back in 2012. Their second release will be highly anticipated and expected to follow on from their critically-acclaimed debut. No pressure then!
Y is for Y-Not//The Derbyshire festival continues to grow, being named “best grassroots festival” and “best festival toilets” in 2011. Of course if you’ve ever been to a festival, then you’d appreciate how important the latter award is.
Z is for ZZ Top//The veterans are back, with another album on the way in 2012, the first release in nine years. They are sure to also claim their “best beards in music” title back too.