Thursday, August 29, 2013

Minimum - Smash Routine Ep

Hello! I'm kind of embarrassed that over the past week I have written more about polka bands and mysterious graffiti campaigns than the actual music scene. I've also been writing about mainly indie bands when there is a wealth of other genres still out there.
I saw these guys at sound lounge 21 a while back and they put in a solid performance, after the show their singer gave me a free copy of the Smash routine EP. You can get yours for £3 here

EP cover art
The title track Smash Routine is the song that's got the most attention for the band and its a pretty good introduction to their sound. It begins with a spacey techno style electronic intro that morphs into the electronic backing that goes with the rest of the song. Its got big riffs, powerful drumming and reminds me of Enter Shikari* (before all the politics), but with a White Lies sense of style and ambition. I'm also pleased that Minimum play Post-Hardcore without any of that faux american accent or screamy-screamy nonsense.

'Yeah My Girlfriend' follows on and happens to be a much bouncier, poppier track. They've managed to sound effeminate and aggressive at the same time, it features a more stripped back keyboard sound and the overall vibe is a bit more fun and less serious than the other tracks. It once again reminds me of Enter Shikari, but more of their poppier songs such as 'Jonny Sniper'

'Organics' is a slower more Ballard-ish track, which is backed by subtle electronic sounds but it builds to a chaotic climax where the band really kick out the jams

Overall these 3 songs are growing on me and are a great showcase of the bands talents from slow building ballads, power-pop to straight forward atmospheric hardcore. I like how the songs are a bit unpredictable and can change direction from structured rock songs to chaotic jams in seconds. There are many bands a lot worse than this in the limelight

There is also another version of this EP that includes the song K-T Extinction, though I'm not sure where you can find it. Its an acoustic song in the vein of 'Organics' that includes some metronomy style synth backing, that as with the rest of these songs doesn't stay that way for very long.

*Remember that? it was 2007 and this band obsessed with glow sticks, laser pointers and tiny shorts had welded punk and dance music together. I love 'A Flash Flood of Colour' but back in the early hype days for a while, it seemed like we were hearing the music of the future.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I'm in love with 2 Sisters

Hello! I'm back from a  short holiday in Yorkshire, where nothing blog worthy happened. But to keep  you all entertained until the next blog here is this.  It has absolutely nothing to do with Birmingham, but its the stuff that you tube was made for. I found it because  i Google-ed 'Polka music' on you-tube curious as i'd never heard this genre before. and i found this brilliance. Enjoy

Thursday, August 15, 2013


This mysterious image has been appearing in  major cities all over the world. I'm happy to say that Birmingham is one of those cities. 
these photographs are being collected on an instagram site and there is also a website with a video of the image 
Rumour has it that this has something to do with the Arcade Fire album out this year. 
The NME reports that "The trio of new pictures would seemingly tie in with reports in June of this year, which suggested that Arcade Fire would release new music on September 9. Revolt TV cited sources close to the band and claimed that a brand new track  would be released in the autumn".
This makes some sense seeing as Arcade Fire are one of the few bands around probably big enough to run a promotion like this, even if they've probably spent all the cash on Haiti relief  funds.  while the video does hint that this mast be music related.

what we do know is this
  1. @arcadefire you're my favorite
@fifferwright Thanks. Our new album will be out October 29th.
and this
View image on Twitter
Here's hoping that the buzz is right. The Suburbs was to me what Ok Computer was to kids of the 90's, or Remain in Light  was to those of the 80's. A defining musical moment in a decade. Hopefully we've got another masterpiece on the way.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

RIP Jon Brookes

from the Charlatans Facebook page  

"It is with great sadness that we have to announce that Jon Brookes, the drummer with The Charlatans, died this morning aged 44.

Following a seizure on tour in Philadelphia in 2010, Jon had been receiving treatment for a brain tumour and had undergone several operations, although he had been working on new material with the band over the summer.. He passed away peacefully in hospital early this morning with his family at his bedside.

Jon was a founding member of The Charlatans, who formed in the West Midlands in 1989. He was much loved by those who knew him and regarded as one of the finest drummers of his generation and will be dearly missed by all who knew him.

“Jon was a brilliant drummer, an inspiration, a founding member of The Charlatans, part of our family and a friend to everyone in and around the band. Losing someone who was always so full of life is a tragedy that will be shared by so many. Our thoughts are with Debbie and all of Jon’s family.” - The Charlatans

tributes have poured in, including those from DUMB
RIP Jon Brookes. We wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for you. There are many memories, parties and pep talks on the side of busy motorways that we will hold dearly forever and always. Manager, Friend and a True Inspiration, we love you xxx

Real sad to hear about the passing of Charlatans drummer Jon Brookes. A great drummer and a lovely bloke. The twang.x

R.I.P Jon Brookes, a great drummer, and a great supporter of midlands music xx

and many others.

New Killer Shoes, I Ain't Even Plugged In, Review

I Aint Even Plugged InIt might seem a little bit strange reviewing a tie in acoustic version of a debut album before the album itself (which will probably get a review here soon). but i felt that this acoustic album is far better than the very good blast of rock n roll that is the actual debut.
You see the title is actually a bit misleading, it may be unplugged  but the electronic backing that starts off this version of 'Love Rocket' obviously isn't. It's an intriguing mix that gets the record off to a great start. From here on the vibe is bluesy. The stripped back sound suits the blues cliche's* of the lyrics and these new versions sound much darker and sleazier than the originals. I love the blues and NKS play it well.

Elsewhere we get the new versions of tracks like 'Hypocrite'  or 'Snakecharmer' which are much more reggae, reggae is an influence in the bands usual sound, but normally it doesn't go much further than just the style of guitar playing. Yet here the band are in full reggae mode, and like with the blues they do it well. 'I ain't got a chick' for example is a good example of the classic being broke/girl problems song and the acoustic style brings out the bluesy nature of these lyrics and seeing as its a bit slower, you can listen to whats being said a bit more. For Rock n Roll Thrills get the standard album,  yet for something that's more of a grower that rewards repeated listens and works on a sunny day, get this.
I actually prefer the acoustic versions of these songs,  if it wasn't for that fact that the plugged in sound works so well live, i'd say that New Killer Shoes should make this their default sound.


*Blues Cliches are never a bad thing

Released by:
Gospel Oak Records
Release date:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

New Killer Shoes

Minimum, Friday Club, Taste.


Sound Lounge 21, Birmingham Town hall, Minimum, Friday Club, Taste, New Killer Shoes. Review

After a long tiring day of making frappucino's going to the Town hall's Best of B-Town free gig seemed like it would be a little bit too exhausting a way to end my day. Happily it was probably the most laid back gig I've ever been too. The atmosphere was relaxed, with chairs and sofa's set up. normally gigs are a bit intimidating if your by yourself, but this just felt like a huge common room, where music lovers could come and go as they pleased.
I got there in time to miss a bit of Minimum's set. Minimum played a pretty good set of their post hardcore/electronica, mixed in with samples to give the show a Public Service Broadcasting style feel. This stuff isn't really my thing anymore but they definitely put on a good show, full of the energy and passion you'd expect from a band like this. Songs such as 'Smash Routine' show that Minimum are a band worth keeping tabs on.

Friday Club were on next, I've been keeping a watch on these guys for ages now and it was great finally getting a chance to see them. The thing is though that normally most bands are never as good on record as they are live, there is always a bit of rawness and vibrancy that gets lost in translation. With Friday Club, bizarrely enough it's the other way round. The bands soundcloud demo's had me expecting a punk band  yet the live performance seemed to remind me of Razorlight. This may sound like the ultimate insult but I kept thinking that the frontman looked a bit like Johnny Borrell, and the band sounded a bit like Razorlight too. This is no bad thing, Razorlight were once an awesome rock 'n roll band (the hugely underrated debut album is still proof of that). There is an amazing band in Friday Club waiting to come out which is obvious in the more punk rock style songs like 'All I Wanna do is Fuck'. If Friday Club want to be the leading band in the Birmingham scene (as they've claimed) then they've got a shot as long as they write more songs like that and basically be as punk rock as possible.

Up Next was Taste, who like Minimum I'd never heard of before. Taste were the only real B-Town band on the night (despite being from Redditch). Their singer's laid back attitude perfectly matched the vibe of the room. Taste play funky foalsy* indie rock full of wiry guitar melodies and jazzy rhythms. They're clearly good songwriters as songs such as 'Tame Me' are instantly catchy and lovable. They were so good that they were the only band of the night to have someone at the back shout for more.

I first heard of Redditch's New Killer Shoes a while back when i picked up a free EP of theirs in the Music and Video Exchange. That described them as "An aggressive Gritpop*** band... a Fusion of 70's punk, 90's grunge.. pop and indie shaken together with a dash of ska". The band have had an image change since then and the music makes far more sense live. Put simply New Killer Shoes are a Rock band, a modern rock band with riff's guitar solo's and plenty of tunes. Song's like 'Lets go Disco' work better live  but like on record it's still the slower songs such as 'Smooth' that show the bands real talent.
I'm not going to pretend that New Killer Shoes are in anyway cool or trendy, they are a bit cheesy really. But If you want unpretentious no nonsense rock n roll then NKS are your band, they will never get shot to fame via NME, but it doesn't matter because these guys do it the old fashioned way, touring the country and picking up dedicated fans along the way. One family had traveled all the way down from Leicester to see them and being nice guys, NKS thanked them and greeted them afterwards.
Anyway they put on a storming show playing to an audience of about 30 people as if it was Wembley, when it comes to a good rock n roll show New Killer shoes are one of the best bands you'll find right now.

The album 'I Aint Even Lyin' is out now.

*From now on this should be a proper journalistic term
** Viva Brother invented that term, unlike VB the term actually describes this band

Friday, August 2, 2013

Swim Deep 'Where the Heaven Are We' Review

Well the time has come! Where the heaven are we is coming out on Monday and I've had a listen to it. the reviews have been a bit 'meh' from the professional's so here is my slightly biased opinion*.

A short intro begins the album, which is sort of a demo version  of 'She Changes the Weather', with slow piano and acoustic guitar

Francisco takes over with 80's style kick drums and synths. It's all very melodic and laid back, though maybe just a little bit over-egged. The lyrics are full of the optimistic spirit that the band are known for and its nice and all, but i'm not sure if it really works for me. I never was an 80's kid, i had a bit of an overdose of 80's style pop in 2008-2009 so that's probably why i'm not warming to it as much as the rest of the album.

No matter, because King City sounds as amazing as ever. The more I've heard this song the more I've grown to love it. At first i felt it was a bit bland, but now it sounds like a real anthem, its the song everyone wants to hear at the end of  a Swim Deep Gig, and on this album it seems to have had a slight bit more production, just to make it even more euphoric.
Same goes for 'Honey' which is more mellow but if anything even more catchy, and like 'King City' is a real live favorite. 'Don't Just Dream in your Sleep It's Just Lazy' is pretty much a motto for any Swim Deep fan and it sums up the message behind the music.

Colour Your Ways follows on perfectly, and it's instantly lovable, it's like I was saying earlier, this is the first time I've ever listened to it but i feel like its an old song i used to love a few summers ago, i feel happier just listening to it. It's full of melodies, It's a wall of sound but not an overpowering  one, its a wall of euphoric, blissed out summery joy and like a lot of the album this has the potential to stick in your head.
Make my Sun Shine is a song that's been stuck in my head ever since i heard it live back in June. It's a gorgeous love song, one that really seems to sum up what being in love is all about. The funky bass riffs have been lodged in my head since that night and i remember this one going down brilliantly with the (mostly female) crowd.

And then on to another single, 'The Sea' which is about as mellow and laid back as it is possible for a song to be. It has the same vibe as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers more laid back songs. I love how subtle it all sounds, especially the organ, as an organ can make any song just that little bit better. I'm amazed that its even possible to make song quite this laid back and delicately played
'Red Lips I Know' carries on the mellow vibe, with more subtle, funky guitar riffs, while 'Soul Tripping'  is slow burner, more of a ballad, as is 'Stray'.

'She Changes the Weather' finishes off the album, and fittingly so. This song is incredible,  i love the way it slowly builds, it has one of the best intro's to any song I've heard all year. Somehow this track doesn't feel overproduced, it is subtle yet epic at the same time in an almost Arcade Fire type way.

I get the feeling that maybe i'm too much of a miserable git to really buy into this record, but it's perfect summer music, full of funky melodies, euphoric synths and an instant familiarity. I don't mean to repeat myself but the familiarity is a good thing, nothing on here has any obvious influences, yet everything sounds as if I've known it for years, its a nice feeling that makes the songs easy to warm to and enjoy.
It borders on being a bit cheesy but its good enough not to suffer from it. On first listen i was a bit unsure about the production, (it seems under produced at times and over produced at others). Its not perfect, but it contains one of the best runs of singles of any band recently and it's growing on me with each listen (3 times in one day!). I think I'll buy a copy.


*It's tempting to be kinder if your from the same area