Thursday, January 14, 2016

JJ Pluto - Just Waiting

Ever since Alex Moir donned a patchy jacket and a new moniker, I have wondered what direction the new project will take him in. While he had a good band and live show under his own name. His Debut EP 'The Numbers Game' was let down by the tacky production, despite the quality of the songs. 'Havana' may be a really catchy song, but it doesn't really reflect who he is now. The best song on the 'Numbers Game' EP was the title track, which he produced himself.  Like 'The Numbers Game' he uses samples of people talking. This contrasts the minimal sound of the song, and also reflects the feelings of loneliness in the lyrics. Just Waiting might just be the most gentle, yet also saddest song he's written. It feels dark yet emotionally honest in the same way as classic songwriters, such as Nick Drake, that he admires. Unfortunately the song is only a minute and a half long. I don't know if it's a taster for the full song or just a very short song. Yet It still bodes well for the d├ębut EP that he's releasing on March 25th. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Goodbye Blackstar.

Somehow tweeting 'R.I.P David Bowie' and posting a link to Ziggy Stardust just does not do the great man justice. Obviously by now you will have heard the news from several respected news sources and the obituaries will cover his 'Golden Years'. What has made this especially difficult for me is that recently I have become more and more of a David Bowie fan. Scary Monsters is one of the first albums I have bought on vinyl and it sounds every bit as wonderfully strange today as it did then. What's really shocking is how he had seemed in such good health. Only now does the chorus of the Next Day's title track seem to ring with a sharp irony, 'Here I am, Not quite dying'. Since being diagnosed with cancer David managed to release two albums, star in several music videos, Launch a retrospective at the V&A in London and also help create a Broadway musical 'Lazarus' based on his own songs.
The Next Day was a great album. Packed full of great songs but very much another retrospective of his own career. Throughout it's track listing were songs that could fit onto any of his classic albums. Even though it never seemed possible that man of such stature of David Bowie could die. It is fitting that just like his old frenemy Lou Reed, he should leave us with one last album, and rather than going the easy route, making album 25 one of of the most adventurous of his career so far. Of course unlike 'Lulu', Blackstar is brilliant.
Kendrick Lamar has been credited with being a big influence on the album, you can spot where Bowie has nabbed a lyric or two. On 'Girl Loves Me' he used the phrase 'Po-Po' as well as making up a few phrases of his own. He sang in a similar style to rappers such as Drake or Travis $cott. Of course in typical Bowie style he had taken influence from younger stars. But he did it in such a way that his music sounded fresh and unique even with those reference points. It may seem odd that a white man at the age of 68 could sing a line like 'Where the fuck did Monday go?' and not sound ridiculous, but he must have been aware that he was the only rich, white 68 year old man who could. Blackstar is also Bowie's first venture into jazz. Much like Kendrick Lamar's masterpiece 'To Pimp a Butterfly' he found a way to tie the two genres together but he also threw a bit of drum and bass into the mix as well. Despite having never explored two of those genres of music before. Because David Bowie was not a Gangstar, not a filmstar, not a popstar, marvelstar, wandering star, or a pornstar, he was a BLACKSTAR. It was the ultimate boast, because David Bowie was the best. And he damn well knew it.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Field Harmonics + The Wrecks Live at the Sunflower Lounge Review (9/1/16)

Considering the utterly horrible weather,  going out and seeing two gigs in the space of one week in January 2016 feels like an achievement. The gig I went to on Saturday was put on by Birmingham promoters, was only £5 and only had two bands on the bill. Due to a pub session over running I only managed to catch the last half of The Wrecks set. The Wrecks were a bit of an odd support choice for the Electronica of Field Harmonics. The lads from assorted Midlands towns (lets just say Shrewsbury) describe themselves as such: "From the scrapheap of decades of boy bands emerges The Wrecks, a four college lad combo where the only thing fresher than their sound is the smell of their deodorant. Capable, competent, and complete in their covers of contemporary sounds which are merged effortlessly with their home-grown 'wreck n roll'". If that makes no sense to you either then I'll simplify it. The Wrecks evoke the same young, horny and surprisingly talented, indie spirit as those beloved early Arctic Monkeys recordings. They're hardly original but they're pretty good. 

Despite the gloominess outside a decent little crowd had assembled for Field Harmonics. Who came along with three tables covered in wires, synths, and various techy stuff. Their music is reminiscent of 80s pop, such as Eurythmics and The Human League but the sound has been given a very modern twist. Much in the style of Chvrches or Grimes. The bass once all the equipment had been plugged in made the room throb and shake. The two of them both sing but also bury their vocals low in the mix while singing on top of pre-recorded vocals. The beats and the synths cut deep and go straight through you. They are only a duo but by using pre recorded tracks they create a huge  wall of sound,  full of depth and little melodies. After a while it all starts to evoke a trance like sensation. The songs all bode well for the upcoming album (out in March). Overall it was a short but really enjoyable set, and by the end of it even the mate I'd dragged along admitted that he'd enjoyed it.


Friday, January 8, 2016

Crime and Punishment 2011 live at subside 8/1/16

Happy new year! I've not seen you lot since 2015! It's got cold hasn't it? obviously during this bitterly cold winter that we have suddenly found ourselves in, while others were happy watching shit TV I decided to get out there and watch some bands play. While I went out on loads of occasions in 2015 I didn't actually see that many bands. This is something I want to fix in 2016.
Having never been to the old Subside I didn't really know what to expect. As it turns out the former Dubliner is much more of a pub than a club. It has a nice atmosphere and the feel of a place that has been open for a lot longer than a few months. They've got a punching machine, two pool tables and free bands every night on Thursday. It was a great opportunity to hang out and watch Crime and Punishment 2011 Aka, Dan, Glitch, Joey Sniper and Pink Violence play.
Off stage they are all friendly people. They're the kind of clique that you just want to be a part of, sharing in-jokes and a friendship that not all bands have. On this occasion I forgot my camera which is why I only got a bunch of rubbish blurry photographs taken on my phone. Taking photographs of this lot with proper equipment is hard enough. On-stage none of these guys stay still. They didn't scream right in people's faces as much as they did last time I saw them but that's only because there were less people to scream at. Joey screamed the hooks and choruses, Glitch rapped the bars and Dan rapped in his deep brummie voice. The dark lyrics of his bars proving that C+P are no mere comedy act. Especially when he delivered these verses while curled up in a ball under the bar. Most of the songs came from the new 'Extra Hour' EP. They covered Linkin Park's 'Nobody's listening', but sadly not 'Hotline Bling'.
All The Rest
Onlookers seemed to either love what they were hearing or looked confused and a bit unimpressed by it. They make a huge amount of noise when all on the mics together, and in the lack of a moshpit, decided to be their own moshpit. Even the beatmaker joined in, asking a guy to look after his laptop. Then joined in the screaming, while dressed in a beanie and looking like the kinda guy who'd nick your car. Even the B-town blog got a shout out on stage.
Crime and Punishment are the kind of act who divide opinion. Mixing Grime with Nu-metal and squelchy electronica with a self aware style of comedy. Birmingham needs bands like this to shake things up right now.  (6.8/10)
Following on from this was the singer/songwriter 'Wood and Nails' who played a mellow take on pop-punk with just his guitar and vocals. He's clearly talented, but could use a band to take things to the next level. (6/10). After this was the head-liners 'All The Rest' whose drummer had put on the show. Watching him play,  I was impressed by his skill and how easy he made drumming look. All the rest play pop punk with a hint of hardcore. Unfortunately the mix was so bad I had no idea how good they really were. Their vocals were inaudible over the drums and guitar. I was left with the impression that All the Rest might be a great band, but during that show it was hard to say.

All The Rest

Wood and Nails

Crime & Punishment