Sunday, August 31, 2014

Only Shadows, Exclusive new song preview!

Photo: Tomorrow ...I saw Only Shadows, First up on the bill, at the rather brilliant Curb Show At the Sunflower Lounge, a few months back. I enjoyed their set and their willingness to have a laugh and put on a good show to the handful of punters.  I nabbed a copy of their Ep and enjoyed it  too.
Now that I've checked my face book outbox one of them has sent me an exclusive listen of their new single, which is out tomorrow (or most likely out now, by the time you read this). It's called 'Our Sands'  or (Our Sands Master, on my iTunes).
So what it sound like?
Well it begins rather slowly, with some nice gentle guitar melodies, the singer, sings the opening lines in a deep, but not too deep voice. It then kicks in and instantly reminds me of Interpol, or to be more accurate the underrated and now sadly defunct Oxford band 'The Scholars'. The drums roll, guitars play off each other, and it all sounds pretty accomplished and well produced for  a young band. They've mastered the Loud/Quiet dynamic very well. Overall if you are already aware of Only Shadows and like them then you'll like this, if you haven't this will be a nice song to get you into them.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Opinion: Albums sales reach all time low.

You may have read this on countless other blogs by now,  but basically the story is that in America this weeks album sales have  hit their lowest point in 20 years.  a tiny 3.97 million figure. at number one is the new record from Wiz Khalifa, which has sold a palty 90,000 units.
So where has it all gone wrong?  It seems that we've got a quiet week for new releases, well there is over there anyway. it's easy to argue that substandard music has been dominating our charts for some time now. it feels that credible artists only get signed to major labels as a kind of excuse, for the label to appear credible and pretend that they are not just interested in selling pretty faces to teenagers ans those with littl
e interest in music.  You can hate the likes of One Direction as much as you like but you cannot argue with the sales. The problem is that everything seems to follow these tried and tested templates, and therefore only few new acts get to make it this big.
The fact is we're too used to getting things for free, hip hop is one of the main money spinners in the land of mainstream music. Mixtapes are a common part of the culture, you build up an audience, then supposedly they buy the full product? Why buy Blacc Hollywood when you can simply download Taylor allerdice?
You only have to watch the vmas or some similar garbage to realise that music has become a commodity, Lorde deserved to win, as she's a brilliant.  but in the rock category?
the industry seems determined to kill rock n roll, giving us pale imitations of its real raw power.
the truth is mainstream music isn't all that bad, but we've been pushed to much of music that is more image based. watching any music channel on telly today is like binging on sweets, you think you'll enjoy it but soon get tired of it and with too much of it your teeth will rot.
naturally many will bring up streaming as the main cause of this dip in sales but in my case it only encourages me to buy more music. Now that I can listen to albums I would normally not be interested in buying, and its made me buy a lot more records.
the days when everyone would listen to the same thing are over. I mean why listen to just what's in the charts when you can check out some new afrobeat? some underground hip hop, a band from down the road from you, some krautrock, 60's folk, some Hungarian gypsy folk? kids are less divided now. we can listen to who want when we want. we are all individuals now.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Platypus Baby

Usually I am quite professional with this blog, and will write up anything  that I have seen. there is one gig however which has eluded me. The night  I went to see Swerve at Talk nightclub. I've already done a write up on the first few bands, including The Scribers which you will find if you do a bit of scrolling. The problem is that I went on holiday before I got much chance to give this a proper write up. Sadly this means I cannot use my writing skills to transport you to that fateful gig.

So instead let me tell you about the first time I heard of Platypus Baby. It was another one of those Killr Punx gigs at Talk nightclub (I forget who was on) I'd just finished watching a band and came upstairs to find my friend talking to a lad my age. He had blonde hair and a very cool vintage denim jacket.  i think he might have been wearing plastic sunglasses too. We got talking about the scene and ended up discussing a band called Platypus Baby. I was convinced that he''d made it up as a joke, but as it turned out, he was genuinely in a band called Platypus Baby.

fast forward a few months and I was once again at talk, but the stupid fucker of a security guard didn't let me hang out with my friends, and I was alone. The band were reclining so much that they were almost literally horizontal, discussing the virtues of Kanye West's back catalogue, (I probably shouldn't have been eavesdropping but had nothing else better to do)

When they got up to the stage they were everything I'd hoped they'd be. Tight, Funky yet with a strange quirky vibe. dressed in strange vintage clothing. I was impressed and enjoyed the set. As it turns out the band have taken up a hiatus  since this. All demo's of theirs have promptly vanished from the internet.
All I can hope is that the band come back with awesome new songs and some cool new reinvention.
keep an eye out for their return.

Note: I have started reading Nick Kent's memoirs, Apathy for The Devil. I think it may have influenced this piece.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dumb, Live at Left For Dead

As you may know by now Left For Dead is by far my favourite record shop, and so with a day off I decided that I would go check out Dumb play an acoustic set. One of the first 'B-Town' bands to catch my attention. Dumb formed early last year from, the ashes of math rockers the Carpels I've sung the praises of these guys for some time but this was my first time getting a chance to see them play.
The guys sat down and sun the songs in the centre of the store, while a small gathering of friends  and other band members, to play a short set of three songs off the new EP.  The mood  was slightly awkward due to the lack of space. But it was a good little set to come and watch. They also signed some vynil copies of it (Signed copies are still on sale at the store for a very reasonable £7.50).
what struck me about the songs is that stripped of their distortion they sound more brit-poppy than the grungey recordings they've put out. They all seem like friendly enough lads too.

 Here's a video.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

SLAVES, Live at the Wagon and Horses

After watching the amazing God Damn playing in the tiny upstairs room, it was now dark and the YR Welcome Brum Headliners SLAVES were taking to the stage. Slaves are probably the last band you'd expect to find on a major label record deal, as it happens though, the reasons why are obvious when you see them live. The fact is SLAVES play a take on punk rock that actually seems fresh and unique. It might be partly how they dress, apart from the tattoos they look properly dapper. they look cool, but with a slight sense of irony that matches the sarcasm of the songs. It might be partly that their singer (if you can call him that) is their drummer too. He bashes on his bass drum while snarling and shouting like smartest dressed ape you've ever seen.  It also might be that they've got a charisma none of their peers share. For 'Girl Fight' their now shirtless front-man walked into the crowd to tell the story that inspired the song. Although the lyrics pretty much explain it all themselves "GIRL FIGHT!... I don't Want to get too close, my shoes are new my shirt is white", and after all that buildup for the song. Girl Fight lasts all of 15 seconds. Despite being a headline slot the set only lasted about half an hour. As the two rude boys from 'Royal Tunbridge Wells' sung about Bigfoot on 'Where's your Car Debbie' girls fighting and relationship politics on 'White Knuckle Ride'. Which stands out as a brilliant song, featuring the chorus.  'I like you more when your angry with me, Cos your so boring when you're nice'. By the end some bloke had come on stage to sing with them a guy who looked like Gary Barlow- If Gary Barlow had never become a pop star and ended up an Ex-con instead. Whoever he was he sung well and was clearly a good mate of the bands.
Afterwards i had a look around the merch stand and found that they were giving away free badges and bottle openers. the t shirts and vinyls had been left unprotected all day. I told the guy manning the stand that Slaves were awesome and that he should tell them I said so.

At the moment Punk bands either seem to be of the poppy variety that teenage girls listen to, or the serious variety that have beards and refuse to even pretend  that they'd like a bit of success for fear of selling out. SLAVES are the punk band we need right now, like all the best punk bands of the 70's  they're here to take the piss and have fun. The future sound of punk has arrived.

Monday, August 11, 2014

GOD DAMN Live At the Wagon And Horses.

That GOD DAMN gig I saw back in February was a show I'll never forget. The Wytches are awesome, but compared with the sheer raw power of GD they just weren't the best band there. Despite being head-liners The Wytches just weren't as good. My neck was sore for three weeks after that gig, and for some reason the pain would return whenever I listened to heavy music. I was chatting to a drunk Canadian woman before this gig and told her that it Table Scraps blew her mind then GD would destroy it.
Things are looking up for this band, the room - Which is even smaller than the Sunflower lounge- was packed out. As usual people went crazy for it. we got to hear some new songs tonight, which will hopefully hit the album at some point. Everything God Damn do is just bigger and heavier than anyone else, the riffs are louder, the Drummer lifts the sticks over his head to make each hit harder. While Most metal bands scream, Thom Edwards yells like deranged Dalek, he even talks like one while bantering between sets, about how its odd that there are so many rock n roll duos at the moment. He also made a good point that it was nice seeing that no one at the entire festival had a moustache, that he's all for individuality, but when "individuality becomes a uniform it's fucking disgusting isn't it"

Of course  no God Damn Gig is complete without Crowd surfing, and there was plenty of that. I got kicked in the face by someone getting lifted up. One kid was in a God Damn Shirt got lifted up and was just held there for a few minutes, while god damn bantered and threw a towel at him. This kid was later given a CD for some reason by one of the other guys there. This kid was clearly having the time of his life. the guy who gave the kid the CD told me that it was the 12th time he'd seen them. making me feel like a bit of a novice having only seeing them twice.
And once again Thom Edwards was lifted up and carried away by his fans. Just another days work for  God Damn.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Yr Welcome Birmingham. Review

Little Death Machine
                 Hang around the house or go see a whole bunch of bands for £7.50? (£10 for both days!) The choice kind of made itself. by the time I got To the Wagon and Horses at was about half 6 and on the outdoor stage two men with beards were standing. one was holding a guitar, while the other was walking about. the guy on guitar was  making noises, like deep ohh ahh noises, which gave the set a bit of an odd ambience. Not much longer though had the two piece  hardcore act started screaming and shouting through their set. They were called FRAUDS and they were very loud. I definitely enjoyed them but I wouldn't buy an album of theirs. Little Death Machine  played the indoor stage. My god were they emo, much like another band on the bill Anima, I got the sense that for these guys, being a tortured goth kid is a full time job. They were also a bit screamy, but I felt that they more than made up for it by being inventive, they had a really cool light show, and a guy on laptop was substituting for a bassist. Subtly adding bits of electronica to the mix. Their singer used a telephone to warp his voice too.  I went down stairs and found yet another bunch of guys- Ratel, screaming. A lot of people seemed to be enjoying them, but I sat this one out.

So thank Fuck for Table Scraps then. By far one of the best Birmingham bands going. Sure there is screaming in this band, but the guy genuinely sounds angry, as if he wanted to sing, but it came out as a bunch of loud rants instead. Table Scraps are Rock n roll, there is a rebellious punk spirit to them, from the clothes to the music, to the stripped out approach to playing. I don't quite know why, but for two brummies, their desert rock sounds strangely authentic. They're both such cool people too, they took the piss out of each other in between songs. Yet its obvious that they love each other (in a Meg/Jack White sort of way). The little upstairs room was packed out for this show. A sign that they are starting to get some hype, now that their d├ębut single 'Bug'  has just been released. In fact many people at the front were moving their hands like sock puppets, in tribute to the video. The songs from the bands first Cassette such as 'In the ground' and What You don't allow' went down brilliantly too. I heckled for their cover of Blue Monday and got a 'maybe' response from Poppy. it didn't bother me that that song was unplayed, the show still made for a nice reminder of how awesome Table Scraps are.

Ghosts Of Dead Airplanes

Afterwards was another band I wasn't too fussed about, Ghosts of Dead Airplanes who were good, but also a tad screamy. This is by no means a full review of the Yr Welcome Birmingham gig. there is a whole bunch of new acts playing today. and a whole bunch I missed in the morning. here did seem to be  slight lack of variety which is my only real complaint. I would say the same for the food if the vegan menu hadn't been so delicious.  Also I  have decided that I will blog about God DAMN and SLAVES separately. So keep a look out for those.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Broken Witt Rebels. Live at the Wagon and Horses, 26/7/14 Review

You might have to walk around the block a few times to find it, but the Wagon and Horses in Digbeth  (by the Rainbow) is a true gem. a rather old fashioned looking pub at first, complete with a local cat that occasionally wanders in. The Wagon and Horses has a beer garden in the back, complete with a stage where bands can play.  it has a brilliant atmosphere, kind of like the best BBQ you'll ever go to. It also happens to be where The Broken Witt Rebels played their first ever gig, small wonder that they decided to come back there for the launch party for the 'HOWLIN' EP. having been invited by the band and put on the guest list, they made me feel welcome by passing me one of their beers from the backstage area bathtub. I missed the opening band sugar razors  but caught the other two acts who were both brilliant. And as the sun went down the crowd all packed in for the rebels, one peeping tom had sneaky peek by looking down from over the fence. The atmosphere was just great.

As usual one guy was heckling the cries of 'UGLY CUNTS!'  that the band are by now all used to, (he reckons that if he didn't it would curse the show. As the band came to the stage Danny core shouted confidently 'We are Broken Witt Rebels, please inform your mother'. I know I've said this before, but unlike a lot of hype bands and a few B-Town bands what sets The Rebels apart is that they really can play. Their songs mix the swagger of Oasis with a raw blues rock style. This time around for some reason Danny Core's voice reminded me more of that guy from Kings of Leon too. Throughout this show the power of Danny's voice and the musicianship of the band  blew me away.
The old favourites from the last Ep still sound great, only I was a highlight and the crowd still know exactly when to shout WOOO! during Call out the Sun.  Yet so do the new songs, Queen Bee gave the band a chance to briefly slow things down, while Botom of the hill has a huge groove to it, almost like something off a metal song. Same goes for Cloud My Day, there's so many great riffs  in these songs.the whole new EP

is brilliant.

After the show I got the hang out with the band in the makeshift back stage are and hang out in the pub till about midnight. they really are great guys and it feels great to be even a small part of the bands entourage. Something special is definitely happening here.