Thursday, June 27, 2013

Peace, institute. 26/6/13 Gig review.

Tomorrow Peace are playing the John Peel stage at Glastonbury, To prepare for the first Glastonbury gig of theirs Peace announced a one off warm up show on Tuesday, Tickets sold out in a few hours and by last night 100 or so people packed themselves into the Tiny Temple room at the Institute. No support acts, No light shows, All Peace did was come on stage and play hit after hit after hit. From the moment they came on stage and played Follow Baby the crowd went mental. At times there were near 5 people crowd-surfing at a time over a sea of denim, and one guy (who looked like Fred from Spector) actually managed to stand while crowdsurfing, surfing on two peoples hands like a professional surfer on water, for a good 5-ish seconds.
I tripped up on piss but managed to get up again without incident and I'm actually quite surprised that I kept upright for the rest of the gig.
Meanwhile Peace, kept on playing all the best songs, following, Follow baby with Wraith, Lovesick and bloodshake, only slowing things down for a slightly more laid back performance of 'Float Forever'
For me though a highlight was finally getting to hear 1998 live, the song that blew my mind when I heard it last year, sounds perfect live, IT got stretched to well over its 10 minutes and Harry swapped his guitar for a double necked Jimmy Page Gibson SG* half way through.
There was a good atmosphere and everyone there seemed genuinely friendly, happy and loving the music. People jumped about, danced and At times I could barely move because I'd been squashed between a few people at the front.
Before the encore Peace had already played California Daze and instead confusingly went for 'Scumbag' and then went off stage. Dom, got the crowd surfing again by playing the drum intro for Scumbag, a few times over, then jokingly said 'I don't know where the band have gone' and of course they joined a moment later to play the rest of the song.
We also got to hear Peace's re-working of AlunaGeorge's White Noise, which has been given a Nile Rogers style funky makeover and a cover of Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the wall (Part Two)**. The show closed with 'Higher Than the Sun' and the sweaty denim covered mass headed off to Snobs. I didn't go to Snobs as I had work the next day and the new friends I'd made at the gig had to get the train back to Walsall. 

Loads of people will have 3 great days of their lives at Glastonbury this year and I'm sadly not going to be with them. After the show Peace put on last night, they're probably going to slay the open air, and much bigger glasto crowd, I can at least say that I was at the awesome sweaty warm up show 2 nights before, which in some ways is probably even better. 
No gimmicks, No light shows, No support acts, Not much banter, Just a short set list of the best songs***.  It was one of the most mental gigs I've ever been to and i got to see how crowd-surfing works, (its more difficult than it looks) and nearly got kicked in the face a few times. 

It all proves is that not only are Peace one of the best bands of this generation, but also that Rock n' Roll is alive and well.

I just wish I had photo's

*I have no idea whether it was actually a Gibson, but you get the idea.
** The famous one, any Floyd fan knows that there are 3 parts, and that part two is way better when played after 'The best Day's of our Lives' but I'll let Peace off.
*** waste of paint and Delicious were not played

If you missed this then no worries, Peace are playing the 02 academy on Friday 13th December, and Shepards bush on the 6th.

UPDATE:  There is a very good little self review by Peace on The* (who put the gig on) which includes this set list

‘Follow Baby
‘Float Forever
something else
‘California Daze
one of the other ones (oh yeah ‘Lovesick‘)
We played ‘White Noise’ by Disclosure  in the encore."

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mutes. EP review

Today I'm starting my blog with an apology, you see what with working a full time job and all I don't get to write this as much as I used to. A few people have sent me the odd message wanting me to review their bands and I've not responded as i had some other stuff I wanted to get off my chest first.

So I'll start by listening to Mutes, a Birmingham based singer songwriter who sent me a link to his EP and describes himself as such "I'm Mutes and I've just released a self-produced EP. I'm from Birmingham, but I am sure as fuck not B-Town. Sonically, the release has been compared to Flying Saucer Attack, Panda Bear, Vondelpark, Lotus Plaza and others." he also tags it as "alternative, abletoncore, b-town (not) bedroom-gaze, loneliness, post-everything, and  Birmingham" on the bandcamp page I'll be streaming it from.

lets give it a listen shall we?

Intro track Hope Etc gets the vibe going with a repeated echoes vocal refrain, that carries on nicely from the Jagwar Ma album I was just listening too (which is awesome)
M.P.D.G has a similar sound to it, where gently strummed guitars build a hazy atmosphere. there's a lot going on here, its very mellow yet most of the song is buried under a hazy fog that's most likely deliberate as much as it is down to bedroom equipment.
Port Sunlight is a bit less foggy, the guitars are acoustic this time and it's all very mellow. vocals are low in the mix and a subtle organ sound rings out in the background.
Inhabitants  reminds my dad of Brian Eno and is very much more of a musical landscape than a song, as is much of the EP
Smother finishes the EP and begins with a Horrors style keyboard line which the rest of the song builds itself around. Its lovely echoey stuff and the most accessible song on the record. If anything this Ep reminds me of the 1975's recent EP's, where catchy songs are surrounded by ambient musical landscapes.

I also recommend the Various distractions EP which contains the brilliant 'Awake'

The music this guy makes is difficult to review, it can be very ambient at times and at others very hazy and challenging. But there is definitely talent here, its amazing to think that this guy only started recording songs late last year and only a few years ago you would have needed a professional studio to create a sound like this yet somehow James Brown does all this in his bedroom.

You can download this Ep and the various distractions EP via the link below (for free or donation download)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kerrang! Radio is Dead. Long live Kerrang! Radio

Jonny Doom raising cash for kids money with Rock aerobics.
So the bad news has recently been announced that tomorrow Kerrang radio's owners Bauer media (no relation to the Harlem shake) are closing Kerrang!'s Lionel street studio and replacing the 105.2 frequency with the currently DAB only station, Planet Rock. For a casual on looker this may seem all well and good, after all Kerrang! will still broadcast as a radio station via DAB, Digital TV and mobile devices.
And at least there will still be one major rock station broadcasting in the Midlands, the problem though is that Kerrang! radio is probably the only rock station in the country that caters for a younger demographic, Planet rock is aimed more at an older target audience and will prefer to play classic rock as opposed to the variety played on Kerrang! radio.
I should probably explain that about 5 years ago (when I was still in my emo phase) my dad bought a new cd player that for the first time allowed us access to DAB stations. Planet Rock was one of the first stations we got into and for a brief period became a part of our lives. While at first it was a great novelty being able to hear Metallica songs first thing in the morning we quickly got a bit bored of it. Apart from Alice Coopers brilliant (now defunct) breakfast show, none of the presenters had the charisma or personality of K! jockeys such as Johnny Doom, Loz and Keith or the late great Stuart Cable (I still miss his Saturday breakfast show, RIP).
What also worries me is that Kerrang! radio has provided a huge amount of attention to young, emerging artists over the years. Whether it be inviting bands to play at club nights, airing, unsigned music or having a Single of the week Kerrang! at the very least did their bit to support new talent. Not to mention the huge amount of charity work Kerrang! did in its 9 years on the air.
I have no idea how Kerrang! will fare as a DAB station, but sadly with the Lionel street station closed Birmingham will have lost one of its very few non-regional stations*. There will be job losses and I don't know how many people will be able to jump ship to the new k! or the new Planet Rock. This is bad news for Birmingham in general.
However the future may be bright, a few years back my favourite station BBC 6 Music was set to sink without a trace. I discovered this amazing station after my house gained digital TV through the switch-over. I think many more people may have done too, as the station is now bigger than ever. Given the choice though, despite having listened to Kerrang! since its inception, I'd still prefer to listen to 6. Now that DAB is becoming a bigger format Kerrang! may well carry on being a successful station (now broadcasting from London). An official statement reads that "The change to Kerrang! will allow the station to come directly in to line with the artists featured in Kerrang! magazine". Which is good news if your a fan of emo bollocks, but less good for Indie kids like me who tuned in for those glorious occasions when they played The Strokes.
I still feel though that on the FM airwaves Kerrang! was the best alternative station and had a variety of music barely found on other airwaves, a lot of bands may now have lost major airplay because of this.

What annoys me most of all is that Bauer have won the war before the first battle, those of us who liked Kerrang! in its rightful place on 105.2 FM have had no say in this.

There is an open group on facebook called 'Hands off our kerrang! radio' but it seems too little to late to me.

To say goodbye to the station that I've enjoyed since those days in 2004 when they regularly played Eminem and Gwen Stefani songs (yes, really) allow me to quote a vaguely appropriate a line from 'The Boat that Rocked'

"To all our listeners, this is what I have to say - God bless you all. And as for you bastards in charge, don't dream it's over. Years will come, years will go, and politicians will do fuck all to make the world a better place. But all over the world, young men and young women will always dream dreams and put those dreams into song. Nothing important dies tonight, just a few ugly guys on a crappy ship. The only sadness tonight is that, in future years, there'll be so many fantastic songs that it will not be our privilege to play. But, believe you me, they will still be written, they will still be sung and they will be the wonder of the world"

*by which i mean not broadcast just for Birmingham such as stations like BRMB 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Tim Fletcher, Pink Violence, Sunrise over Europe and Spotlight Kid. Actress and Bishop.

stage times not accurate
Last Sunday my friend Jason (Pink Violence) performed his very first Pink Violence DJ set at the Actress and Bishop in Birmingham and sold me a ticket to see him for £5.
What excited me was the fact that Both Sunrise over Europe and Spotlight kid were playing, one who as already a fan of and the other i'd heard good things about. 

First up was Tim Fletcher, a Frank turner-ish singer-songwriter who pulled one of the biggest crowds of the night. What mainly impressed me about him was his guitar playing skills, he was able to use his acoustic guitar as percussion instrument while playing it, quickly tapping it like a drum in between the notes he would play. The guys finger tapping skills are also hugely impressive, the sort of thing that wouldn't seem out of place in a Rodrigo Y Gabriela gig. His voice was good too and he had some decent songs.

Next up was my mate Pink Violence who disappointing me slightly when he showed me that the set would be played on two laptops and an iPad, i was hoping he'd come up with a keyboard or something at least. I also wasn't expecting his set to be played on a bar table. it was a good set though, comprised of subtle samples and pounding beats. He didn't play any songs off the EP, instead mixing things together well you know, like a DJ. His music is still as forward thinking and futuristic as ever.
Sunrise over Europe have an album out called 'We Raised the Flames and Built a City on the Ashes' which I downloaded for £2 a few days before. If i was to put their music in a box I would put it next to The Boxer Rebellion, or 'Given To The Wild' era Maccabees. In reality though its very hard music to categorise, on the records they have a violinist who couldn't be there on that night. She was apparently having a baby, which the band joked was selfish of them. they coped well without her violin and other instruments on the record and instead focused on making echoing guitar based sound-scapes. On one or two songs they used three guitars, to build a haunting atmosphere, though on others they simply rocked out.

It was up to Nottingham's Spotlight Kid to finish the night, which was a big task considering the set S.O.E had played. They pulled it off though! Spotlight Kid are a band you can put in the same genre of indie as S.O.E only they use keyboards and have two vocalists, one female, one male. They put on a high energy set full of great songs, including the great new radio 1 play listed single 'Sugar Pill's. They were lit by strobe lights which gave a very creepy effect and entertained with some good audience banter.

the catchy hooks and energy of songs like 'All is real' impressed me a lot and i enjoyed their gig a lot.
I had a chat with the singer afterwards and bought a promo off her, and they all seem like lovely people.
A good night all 'n all.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Swim Deep, Institute Birmingham. 31/5/13

It's amazing how far Swim Deep have come in a few short months since I last saw them in February (a few days before I started this blog). When I last saw them they had filled up the Institute's Library and now here they were in a packed main room headline gig. Even before they had come on the signs were showing that Swim Deep have become bigger and more confident. The flowers that Austin throws into the audience are now lined around the stage by a roadie, rather than brought on by himself, he also now has a beautiful multicolored guitar and he dressed entirely in white. The band's twitter showed that they now have multicolored stage time sheets and there was a confetti shower primed to explode, these are all signs of a band growing in confidence, ready to hit the big time (or getting a bit up their own arses)
The truth is though its amazing seeing a bands getting this kind of reception before the albums even out is very special. In comparison I saw Plan B live in a room half the size 2 days before the release of his million selling 'Stricklands Banks' album, while 'Where the Heaven are we?' may not sell as many copies, Plan B still only got the response the B-towners got after selling those million records, while Swim Deep are already  hailed as heroes a month before their record is out
The new cuts from the album all sounded amazing, while last time round Swim Deep padded the set out with B-sides, this time it was prime cuts from the album for the whole gig, each song sounding fresh and new yet also oddly familiar. Highlights included Honey, and King City as you might expect while the performance of 'She changes the weather' made me realise just how good that song is. Each song was played flawlessly

and sounded as groovy as the last, (i'm using the word groovy to describe the sound, i wish i could think of a better word though, as i sound like Austin Powers)
Sadly I didn't enjoy the gig as much as I'd have liked to because i was disappointed that I'd ended up there on my own, in pain after my back slammed into a wooden shelf and annoyed at the fan girls yelling -Swim Deep member- I WANT YOUR BABIES!! down my ear after about the 5th time.
I must have enjoyed it though (none of that was the bands fault), because once again they are playing  Birmingham at the *Town Hall in September and i cannot wait to see them again.

*any gig at the Town hall is special, the place has a wonderful atmosphere and plenty of space, they even let you queue indoors, I saw Marina and the Diamonds there in 2010 and it was a great gig. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

3 times in one year? why not!

Wide Eyed, Institute Birmingham. 31/5/13

Next up was Wide Eyed. I was looking forward to this too as Wide Eyed have been one of the most hyped bands around Birmingham for some time now.

I've not got an awful lot to say about Wide Eyed's set, or many particularly good photos, but all you need to know is that they played in dark, wore plaid shirts like LACED but kept audience interaction to a minimum.
Far from simply gazing at their shoes however Wide Eyed put a huge amount of energy in their short gig and played so loudly that towards the end I could feel my brain struggling to make sense of the noise it was being bombarded with. It's not the first time I've had that experience but the last time that happened the band was LULS, (Who Wide Eyed are much, much better than)

While Wide Eyed had the look (long hair, plaid shirts), the sound and the energy, and got the crowd going mental. The only think that I felt was missing was genuine songs. It got to a point where I felt very little was separating each song from the last, and maybe more melodies and more structured writing could make the songs feel more like songs. If Wide Eyed want to be more than just a comparison to bands like The Horrors and a great band in their own right then I feel that is the next step.

Anyway that's just what I was thinking at the time, only my opinion.

you can make up yours by listening to a few songs here.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

LACED. Institute Birmingham. 31/5/13

Last night I went to see Swim Deep at the institute. while I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have because I was on my own I can at least say that the music was consistently great.  I've decided to span this gig review into three separate blogs rather than cram it all into one post. The first band on was LACED and they were a band I was excited to see, I had a suspicion from the moment I heard Jade Vine that this band was awesome and as it turns out they're even better than I expected.
I've learned about them from this gig that they're a 5 piece, they wear plaid shirts  and have a girl bassist (which makes any band 50% cooler) who introduced the band with the words "Hello were LACED and your sexy".

They're clearly great musicians too, the drumming was excellent and the whole band has a laid back playing style. yet at the same time they were full of energy and all the songs sounded great, full of great little riffs and melodies. They ended the short set with Jade Vine, which as you might expect sounds awesome live and finished by tossing guitars into the air and smashing them on the ground.

This little support slot only confirmed what i felt might be true, that LACED are by far the best band to come from B-Town's 3rd wave.