Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Field Harmonics - Corners: Album Review you are familiar with Field Harmonics live show then you will probably have a good idea of what to expect. If not then opening track Life is a perfect introduction to the bands sound. Field Harmonics mix samples of their own vocals, and looped beats to create a wall of sound. It sounds almost as if Phil Spector had produced the Human League. They make catchy yet huge sounding pop songs.  Opening track 'Life' is a dramatic opener, mixing ethereal noise, moody bass, clicky beats and glitchy vocals to make a perfect introduction to the bands sound. 'Girls' is a bit more upbeat. Yet Bryony Williams' lyrics seem both vague yet very personal. Lyrics such as "We never felt so far away, we live like ghosts in our lives" hints at a poignancy and a human heart beneath all the robotic beats and cold synths. 'Girls' is simply a brilliant pop song, and it's easily the best track on here.
'Instance' is a bit slower, more of a ballad, and the lyrics 'Convince me to Follow', and 'Wrapping these circles around my chest', carry on in the theme of being heartfelt but a little bit odd when taken out of context. Some tracks such as Corners and Acre sound good but feel more like interludes than full songs. I feel that an album of only 9 songs could use a few more big tunes, rather than little bits of filler. However this is forgiveable in a bands début album.
What I do like about Field Harmonics is that while I can make many valid comparisons to current acts like Chvrches, Grimes and Crystal Castles, as well as older acts such as The Human League or Eurthymics, this album feels like the work of a great band in it's own right. There are no obvious influences or homages to other acts, and it is less the music they make but how they make it that makes them unique. The way they sample themselves to create a bigger sound than the two of them could make themselves. 'Corners' harks back to 80's synthpop, yet sounds very fresh and very 2016. While the instrumentals could make an album of ambient electronica on their own, Bryony Williams, vocals and lyrics are a big part of what makes this a great pop album.
'Fear' is the longest song on the album and one of the best. By giving themselves 8 minutes to play with, they've made a song that shows off the best of both their songwriting ability and their musicianship. The lyrics seem to touch on anxiety and its definitely the most anthemic track on here.
'Corners' does seem like the work of a band still finding their feet, but it's shows loads of promise. 8/10

*review at

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Smart Casual, Crime and Punishment 2011. Live at The Flapper Review (18/2/16)

I'd already had a very vague idea of who Smart Casual were before I saw them but I had no idea of what to expect. Truth is they're a lot more punk than pop-punk and a lot more Smart Aleck than Smart Casual. Their attitude summed up by their singer's quote "if anyone is offended by my language, fuck off, this is a rock show". Smart Casual could have easily headlined the bill.  They bought along their fans (their shirt was worn proudly on the chest of  some punters). They even bought their own in-jokes. Their human meme of a drummer, Nathan Talbot wore 'Talbot says... AVE IT!'  on his shirt. Two very dedicated fans took it upon themselves to make it an amazing show by starting a two-man moshpit, taking their shirts off and waving them about.
Jokes aside they can play. Their lead guitarist can really shred. Their songs feel like anthems for a disenfranchised youth but without any of the preachiness* that usually comes with protest songs. Even their single 'Festival Girl' seemed more like a genuine story than just a song about a girl. They messed up a little bit at the end, and their other guitarist had walked off stage, amp in hand before the unexpected encore. But you know a bands good when the crowd demands an encore despite two other bands having yet to play. Their cover of Limp Bizkit, got me to turn my red cap backwards and join in the sudden and violent moshpit. My camera was OK, but my jaw wasn't. 7.2/10

Birmingham's premier Grime-Metallers, Crime and Punishment 2011 had a hard act to follow but they had the biggest crowd I've seen them play to yet and some brand new songs to perform. D.A.N Carter was aware that they were a bit off an odd act to see on the bill, stating that 'You all came to see a pop-punk show and we've come here to ruin your night'. This show was being filmed for their upcoming second music video for 'Clones', off the 'Extra Hour' EP. Which might be why they all managed to stay on stage for their first track. Then came the squelchy beats of House of Pain  and they started running about, jumping screaming and antagonising the audience. As usual they were
met with a mix of awe and confusion. Though people actually seemed to like it this time, with some rather awkward dancing that you'll probably see in the video.
One new song 'Paralysed' is their take on Trap music. There's some properly dope beats on that track and I think it's the best thing they've done yet. The last two songs were admittedly 'Depressing as fuck'. While they possess a camaraderie and a sense of humour, The new song 'Storms' and 'Scared of the dark' were intense. 'Storms' has a refrain of 'there's a reason why, storms are named after people' and while the lyrics are pretty dark. It was taken to the next level by Dan's unnerving performance.  One minute he was jumping around the next he was curled up in a ball under a table.
The show felt very unsettling all of a sudden.
Jason (their Beat-maker) has started to become less of just a beat-maker and more of an MC, delivering verses while wrapped up in a massive parka.
Crime and Punishment 2011 may be a bit marmiteish**, but no one else round here is doing anything like it. This was their best show yet and the signs show that they are honing their craft and developing their sound very quickly. Keep an eye out for the 'Clones' video. I'm the guy in the red hat. 7.6/10

*I think I just made that word up
** probably not a real word either


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Luke Rainsford, Wallflower, Insominiacs: Live at The Flapper Review (18/2/16)

Luke Rainsford
I had come to The Flapper to witness and be a part of Crime and Punishment's music video shoot for their song 'Clones'. Weatherstate were headlining and 6 bands were on the bill including the excellent Smart Casual. I will talk about those three in the next blog but for now I will focus on the first three. The first act on was Luke Rainsford. Who is the singer in Wolverhampton punks Layover. At a lot of shows lately I have seen solo singer songwriters perform.  Luke is one of the best of these I have seen for a while. His songs are simple and passionate, as well as being very easy to relate too. Smart Casual were at the front heckling him, but it was all very friendly. Luke's music has a bit of an emo feel despite being just him and his acoustic guitar, almost like an acoustic Funeral for a Friend. Overall his set was a lot better than I'd expected the token singer-songwriter at a pop-punk show to be.
South Londoners Wallflower were a bit more moody, a little bit emo, and a little bit shoegazy. Some of their songs were fast paced and some were a bit more slow and melancholic. They play well togther as a band and they've got some nice bassy guitar tones and melodies in their songs. I enjoyed their set but can't think of an awful lot to say, or other bands to compare them too.
Next up was The Insomniacs. As it turns out there is a good pop-punk scene in Birmingham that  has been pretty much under my nose the whole time. Local bands such as 'All the Rest' and Smart Casual have been bringing the genre back to its former glories. Redditch's Insomniacs evoke the good old days of Bowling For Soup, Blink 182, Sum 41 and yelling WOOOOAAAHHH  OHHHH!! at the top of your voice. It's not really my thing but they seem to be having fun with it. They got a couple of kids dancing, and had a good time. And that's really all this rock n roll thing is about isn't it?
The Insomniacs


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Vitamin + Charlie Pitt. Live at COW 10/2 Review

I think there should be more gigs at vintage shops. If you feel awkward and self conscious  being there by yourself you can just look through racks of clothes, and if you're with someone else, instead of finding subjects to talk about you can just go looking through racks of clothes. Lack of beer is a bit of a downside though. Surprisingly this freebie gig had a support act, local Access To Music student Charlie Pitt. Charlie only played a handful of songs, and those were mostly covers, but I liked the echoey sound from his semi-acoustic guitar. he's  got a good voice and his own songs show a lot of early potential,  he covered 'Creep*' Something by Fleetwood Mac, and 'UNI' by Ed Sheeran. Ed is one of Charlie's main influences and despite being a long term Sheeranhater**, I was pretty impressed by  how good a cover it was. I also like the line, 'time flies like throwing watches of buildings' from one of his own songs. Clever stuff.
Vitamin are so hip that they should be attached to a torso, so hip that tonight was part of a tour of COW vintage shops***. The band NME once described as 'Leeds answer to the 1975' have scrapped drums for electronic beats and steel pan drums. Unlike the rather tuneless steel-pan rubbish you hear in shopping centres. Vitamin use the instrument sparsely and melodically. Like me they've probably been listening to a lot of Jamie XX lately. Their music is not quite indie rock, not quite pop and not quite electronic. It's an upbeat and chilled out mix of all that, not far off from Bastille or early Swim Deep.
Vitamin have an inbuilt audience of teenage girls with multicoloured hair, which is only set to grow. Their singer has the natural swagger of a star. He has hair that looks like it was messed up on purpose and clothes that barely hang onto him. You can even see it in the way he stands, sort of half balanced - half couldn't give a fuck.
The only thing I love more than free gigs is free shit. Vitamin reward their fans with free T shirts-which vanished as soon as people realised were free. They were actually really cool dye - dipped shirts. They also had free Tote bags. I never though I'd say this, but I now have far too many tote bags. After only a handful of songs, they were mobbed by a small crowd of fans. I think that all Vitamin need are a few catchy tunes and they really could be the next big thing.

*By Radiohead. Obviously
** No need to go over all that again, I wrote about it at length here.
*** Until today I thought there was only one.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Crime and Punishment 2011- Exclusive 2nd Interview!

(l-r) Dan,?,Joey, Alex (Joey's Fiancée)

The following interview took place on Saturday 30th January 2016 at Uprawr in the Asylum.  It was probably around 1am and everybody involved was pretty hammered, yet surprisingly coherent. What follows has been edited down a bit. It began with me shouting “ B -TOWN BLOG COMING ATCHA LIKE A RAPTURE!!”  My first question was to their bearded screamer, Joey Sniper: 'Now that you are getting married will the marital bliss and happiness there in going to stop you from getting angry and screaming at people for a living?' To which he replied, 'I wish I was married to Morrissey.' Dan is a bit of a character to say the least and his surreal drunken ramblings made up the bulk of our discussion. 'With Joe’s lyrical content, he draws a lot from movies and stuff like The Notebook, where everyone’s happy ever after, so I actually despise him and that’s where the lyrics for Sequel came from, but it's all good, it's all tight. 
Joey: That and Meat is Murder
Dan: Morrissey is Murder!
Joey: I also really like a Mcdonalds Burger aswell.
At this point some Random geezer starts shouting about how Tupac and Kurt Cobain aren’t dead, Dan politely told them to go away. This obviously gets us talking about Skepta. 'You know the thing about that’s not me is that in that song Skepta says "Sex any girl, boy that’s not me". But to sex something doesn’t mean to have sex with it, but to identify it’s gender. So what he’s really doing is hanging around going, yep that’s a girl… that’s a girl"
Dan: I think Skepta is god and nothing he can do is wrong, that’s my end of that question.
Me: What’s Scared of the Dark about?
Dan. Scared of the Dark is the darkest song ever written. It’s about being in that really dark space. Joe and Glitch write their own lyrics but I came up with the chorus. That song to me is like looking at that really beautiful girl over there and being like, Why am I never good enough for you, I dress really well, I go to the gym, I eat like a fucking rabbit, stuff like that. Scared in the dark is the best song ever written, if you disagree then I am sorry but you have not listened to Extra Hour. That was the best EP of 2015.  If you guys don’t like Extra Hour then you guys need to go home and research, fucking lyrics! I am still not a goat! Next question!
Me: Why do you keep insisting that you’re not a goat?
Dan: I refuse to answer questions on this matter. Next question!
Me: Whatever happened to the Bantorious DAN?
Dan: I don’t know who that is! Next question!
Me: Why do you have all these girls after you?
(Dan bursts out laughing): It’s the fringe man! I made fringes sexy again, I’m not even going to dispute that. Like the reason so many girls are like omg he’s a rapper he’s so tight, is like. I am no looker, I haven’t got 4000 chains, and I’m not hanging out with Timbaland.  I’m just a guy with feelings and a fringe, and they can appeal to that. I don’t know why that’s really a thing.
Me:  I want to join your band!
Dan: Were not looking for guitarists right now, we're keeping it as a family. We’ve got a guitarist in house. He does the shit behind the scenes. We’re not really keeping it a movement like that. It’s me Joe, and Jake on stage screaming and Jason on windows media player, cutting it all out but he’s tight, he’s sick. We don’t need a live band, fuck that shit!
Me: All the best hip hop groups have really defined personalities. Like in Wu Tang Clan, you had RZA, GZA, Old Dirty Bastard, and in NWA, Ice Cube, Dr Dre and Easy-E. Do you think Crime and Punishment 2011 have that same dynamic that makes them special?
Dan: 36 Chambers was one of the best albums of all time! Don’t cut that out! 36 Chambers was one of best albums of all time! Obviously Joe brings a lot of influences to the table from his shouty music about his feelings, and Jakes really into stuff like Rizzle Kicks and all that shit! I really like shit like Odd Future and Skepta. I think it’s a really massive combination of influences, and I don’t think any of us try to resolve each other, in any respect. I just think it’s us bringing those influences to the table. If Jake brings a verse I’m like yeah that’s cool. If I write a verse he’ll be like that’s too blatant, you need to add some more metaphors in there. There’s definitely personalities but I don’t think there’s anything to really define it. It’s just shit like that. I’d like to shout out to Joe, his beautiful fiancée and his massive beard.
Joey: I like balloons.
Me: If I get a fringe can I get laid too?
Dan: No! Next question!
Me: This one is for Joe, did you get the beard before you met your fiancée or afterwards? Because I want to know if having a beard is a good way to meet girls or not.
Joey: I came out the womb with a beard, I was more beard than man, before I was a man with a beard. But yes it will help you get the ladies…. The ladies with the beards…
Me: If you had to start beef with any rapper, who would it be?
Joey: Frank Sinatra!
Dan: He’s not famous but there’s this guy from my ends called Young Ken and he’s so shit. He sounds like Young Thug on Paracetamol. Fuck that guy! I’d probably go for him but at the same time pick Kanye West or someone like that.
Me: Why did you release Extra Hour for free?
Joey: Because it’s not worth people paying for! It’s fucking shit!
End of part 1*

*Part two may or may not come sooner, depends how much usable stuff I can get from the other tapes. 

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