Thursday, December 29, 2016

More bands to watch in 2017!

Nova Twins
Of all the bands I have seen in 2016, the one which seems the most obvious shoo-in for 2017 success is Nova Twins. A trio who recently played the Afro-punk festival in London. Which seems an apt description of the bands sound. Which is a bass-guitar heavy mix of fast raps and punk attitude. They lie somewhere between the  current revival's of both punk and grime. They seem like the perfect band for the times we live in.

Injury Reserve
Do you ever listen to a band and wonder how are these guy's not huge? Injury Reserve are the  upstarts that US Hip-Hop desperately needs right now. In some ways they resemble the Native Tongues movement in New York during the late 80's and early 90's where De La Soul, a tribe Called Quest and The Jungle Brothers put their own unique spin on the sounds of the time. IJ's new free album 'FLOSS' continues the dental theme of their début and with it the witty self depreciating lyrics and elements of trap and 'jazz-rap'. The imaginative production and BARS! put the current crop of mumble rappers and their producers to shame. With tunes such as 'Oh Shit! and 'All this Money' surely they should be huge soon?

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
They may have graced this list before and already have a big cult following, but they are on this list because they are amazing live and because they will release FIVE albums next year. All of them will be great.  

Levelz are a commune of MC's and producers from Manchester. Grime from anywhere but London can get a bit ignored, which is a shame as their début mixtape LVL11 is one of the most exciting new projects to hit the scene  in a long time. Mixing humour, politics, Ska, Garage, D&B, a load of skunk  and thick manc accents into an exhilarating whole.

Raised By Owls 
If you love Grindcore but also don't take your self seriously, then Raised By Owls will be your new favourite band. Their début EP 'The Great British Grind Off' is a crash course in everything that makes our country great. Mary Berry, Cliff Richard, Bruce Forsythe, Sunday Roasts, Harry Potter and much much more are celebrated via the medium of ear destroying-ly noisy Grindcore.

It's no secret that I am a big fan of Crywank, and the reaction I get when I tell people that my favourite band is called Crywank. James and Dan have been living a nomadic life, recording hundreds of demo's and touring up and down the country. They've built up a cult following, while their last album was the 2nd best of 2016 (on my list anyway). 'Don't piss on me I'm already dead' is a huge step up from the bands lo-fi acoustic sound. Mixing punk rock with sad folk and painfully honest lyrics. 2017 is likely to see more material and more gigs following it up. Crywank's cult following is sure to keep growing.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Crywank Live at the Actress and Bishop review (11/12/16)

The first time I saw Crywank it was at the Wagon and Horses in Digbeth. The supports were Craterface and Luke Rainsford. In a bit of a coincidence, once again all three acts were set to play a small festival at the same location. This festival was cancelled and moved to the Actress and Bishop for only £5 and then put on as free entry. The first act  I saw was James Lees who wears his admiration for Luke Rainsford  on his sleeve, or rather his shirt. His acoustic songs are very much in the same vein, heartfelt and moving.  As were the songs played by Craterface in his unmistakeable growl. Luke Rainsford was accompanied by a drummer, tapping out beats on a wooden box, much like Crywank later on.  While his new album has been announced for next year the songs were all favourites from his début album I'm nothing like my dad turned out to be. As usual he bought along a fan-base of pretty girls, all  ready to to cry at his sad acoustic songs. Yet despite the sad songs and the news that Luke's pop-punk band Layover have called it a day, The show was a nice way to cap off what has been an eventful year for Luke
Crywank were easy to spot, with James now sporting a meter tall red hat on top of his footlong  black hair and black trench coat. The pub wasn't packed but there were some definite Crywank fans in the audience. While 'Dan the Snail' now has a full drumkit and Crywank's last album used electric guitars, this show was business as usual for the lo-fi acoustic duo. Despite the sadness of songs the show was a lot of fun. With airing of fan favourites 'coolest kid in the world' and 'song about paper clips' (at my request). Older favourites, 'Memento Mori' and 'Song for a guilty Sadist' are more vibrant and noisy than on the bands records and far better for it. I can only hope that Crywank put out a live album at some point.

Crywanks'  album 'Don't piss on me I'm already dead' was my 2nd best album on 2016. Luke Rainsford's début album was also on the list at 35.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

FALLS The Flapper 18/12/16 leftover photos

 Click for better quality.

FALLS, Enquiry, Live at The Flapper review (18/12/16) - Part 2

'Digbeth Sadcore' trio Enquiry's last EP was titled 'What a time to be alive'. It came out weeks before the terrible Drake/Future project of the sane name. They got thousands of streams from very confused Drake fans. This show was the first gig of theirs for well over a year and the fist time I've seen them in 3 years. Yet despite all the hatred from Drake fans (cheekily acknowledged by their singers Drake T shirt) and lack of shows, Enquiry played a set that was tight and energetic. Sounding as if they hadn't been gone a day and gaining fanfare from the crowd that alluded them last time around. They even had a surprise guest scream from Someone said Fire/Crime And Punishment 2011's Joey Sniper. Later on I bought a t shirt of theirs for £3. It has a cat on it.

By the time you read this FALLS (8.4) will have split up. Their penultimate show was a celebration of their short career that made Christmas look tame and dull. In an age where male beauty standards are as unrealistic as women's FALLS wore their slightly chubby, hairy, sweaty, tattoo covered dad bods with pride. Both looking and sounding like a Biffy Clyro that never reached the point where their frantic garage rock reached an mainstream audience. What made the show special and frequently hilarious was FALLS complete inability to give a shit any-more. From openly admitting who their diss track was about and both naming and slagging the metalcore band off**. Admitting their sudden lack of relevance 'We were never cool anyway, so who the fuck cares' and asking an audience member (me) to read out the exact time before shouting 'you're wrong! It's romance time!
They were happy to plonk their mic stand wherever they wanted and sing along with their fans and other band members. The whole gig had a great feeling of community from all of the bands and fans which is a rare thing. FALLS penultimate gig was a laugh a minute show with brief intervals of frantic math-rock. If you want to hear a band who is now completely irrelevant then you can check out their new 'Cream' EP.



ALLUSONDRUGS, Wax Futures. Live at The Flapper review (18/12/16)

Telfords' 'Slacker Post-Hardcore' trio 'Wax Futures' (7.2) got the party started and set the Christmas jumper dress code for what was to be a celebration of Falls' very short career. Their short set was full of laughs as their singer (who could easily play in -Ned Flanders themed metal band- Okily Dokily). did impressions of American Nu-Metal bands, and begged us to all buy their merch so his wife can have the spare room back. while the crowd may have requested 'Wonderwall' Wax futures own song 'Breadcrumbs' impressed me and the crowd with it's math-rockish take on Weezer nerd-rock.
In a surprising move, having just finished a headline tour of the UK my faves ALLUSONDRUGS (8) were relegated to 2nd on the bill. Part of the joy of following this band since first seeing them live three years ago is seeing their constant evolution. The departure of a founder member, songwriter and guitarist would be a tough blow for most bands. After Damian Hughes' departure their music seems sparser and lacking in guitar melodies. Yet they seemed determined to fill his space with as much guitar pedal effects as possible. Their singer, Jason looks a bit like the dude from Yazoo* with his new haircut and threads. While he seems a bit more serious on stage. He was less of a joker and refrained from gobbing on the ceiling. Overall It was business as usual for the UK's most underrated rock band. New single 'Good People' was a hit with the crowd as well as older cuts like Nervous and a rare performance of 'what's the porn like in heaven ted?' Later on FALLS talked about how someone needs to make ALLUSONDRUGS rich and famous and I couldn't agree more.

Next up Enquiry and FALLS

* No offence Jason, I mean it well. Also I know the guy's name is Vince Clarke. Seriously though the guy has been in Depeche Mode, Yazoo and Erasure. Not just one pioneering synth pop group but three! That's impressive. 


Friday, December 16, 2016

The Best Shows of 2016

Obviously these are the best shows I have been to in 2016. So many great gigs other people have been to will not be on the list. The list is rather flawed as my number system works on rating the band itself rather than the show. Many bands haven't been rated, and some have been scrapped from the list because of repeated scores. But this is roughly the best shows I have seen this year.

Unsurprisingly  Jeff Lynnes' ELO (9.6/10) are at the top of my list. While many aspects of live shows I usually go to were missing, (cheap tickets, meeting the band after, getting to mosh/dance around) ELO had incredible stage projections, musicianship and a set list packed full of classics,  which made 90 minutes feel like half an hour. Bring Me The Horizon (9.2) proved why they are one of the few modern British metal bands to break through into the big leagues with a fantastic set at the FKANIA*.
The Zombies (9.2) are one of the most effortlessly brilliant live bands I've ever seen. Much of their Lunar Festival set was made up of the band talking about their own legacy. However this didn't feel egotistical in the slightest as they had a warm humour and understanding of the importance of their music. As such they played most of their classic 'Odyssey and Oracle' LP and some Argent hits too. Bentley Rhythm Ace (9.2) put on a show like no other band I've ever seen. A live Drum N' Bass/big beat extravaganza, complete with fire breathers, exotic dancers, an air raid siren, and a converted Mini Cooper DJ sound-system. BRA know how to party. Mercury Rev (8.8) are surprisingly brilliant live, as unsurprisingly are King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (8.8) whose 90 minute Hare and Hounds flew by. It was a crazy show, full of extended solos, moshing and psych blasted madness. Another highlight of the Lunar festival were Rhino and The Ranters (8.8), who put on a hugely entertaining set of rockabilly tunes in a packed out tent.  Another big surprise was the dutch 'comic jazz' group The Busquitos (8.4). A free show in Solihull's Mell Square which was loads of fun. Featuring about 90 minutes of trad jazz standards, with added serenades for certain audience members. I am proud to say that I saw Skepta (8.4) in one of his few 'Konnichiwa' shows at the Rainbow Warehouse. A straightforward no thrills hour of non stop bangers. Crywank, ALLUSONDRUGS, Black Mekon and Dorcha all scored 8 respectively. All of these are favourite bands of mine yet hugely different in styleSuper Furry Animals (7.6) were a tad disappointing, but made up for it by dressing up as Yeti's and playing 'The man don't give a fuck' in it's entirety. BMTH's Support act Don Broco (7.6) were nowhere near as shit as I was expecting. Given a few years they could headline arenas themselves.

Some unrated acts include MC Starstrukk, who impressed me with his gnarly take on grime beats and lyrics that Sacha Baron Cohen, would think a bit too rude. Max Raptor at the rainbow and God Damn at the Sunflower Lounge were both loud as fuck. But only the latter turned the small room into a sauna of moshing. While INME's Dave Mcpherson played a great set at The Sunflower Lounge of heartfelt acoustic Ballardry
In case you were wondering, the lowest rating I've given to a performer all year goes to Badly Drawn Boy (4.8). For his rather disappointing and depressing set at the Lunar Festival this year. Although even he may not be the worst act I saw this year. 
Ultimately I feel annoyed that I have missed so many great shows later in the year. Including many I've had tickets for. 2016 has proved that my obsession with live music shows so signs of ever stopping. 
*The venue formerly known as the National Indoor Arena.