Monday, 16 January 2012

Nada Surf- The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy (City Slang)

It's easy to be brutal and hate when you can be a complete fanboy about other bands and I've been in Love with Nada Surf since 2000. Fresh from the instore this evening at Rough Trade East, that love has grown even bigger, naturally. Nada Surf played a 50 minute set with songs from the new album, Goodmanson produced Lucky, personal favourite The Weight is A Gift and my freshman experience with them Let Go. ("Happy Kid" was my first encounter)

While never a massive band in this country, the american three-piece write poppy, anthemic pop songs which never disappoint... and their new album, released next week in the UK, once again demostrates their ability to craft an excellent melody out of the ether. Now on their 7th album into a TWENTY YEAR CAREER, tonight's instore was possibly one of the best stripped down sets I have ever seen... (big words but warranted)

It's currently streaming on the always reliable NPR First Listen and is released on City Slang on Monday. Welcome Back Nada Surf!

UPDATED: Sleigh Bells- Comeback Kid

Sleigh Bells' drop the first track from "Reign of Terror" a few weeks ago, and blogs went wild about the new sound (not really "new" at all really) but the most exciting thing about the 2nd track from the new album "Comeback Kid" is how mighty Alexis Krauss' vocals are sounding... (un)holy and beautiful.
Album Drops Mid-February!

These Two are so fucking beautiful... you need to see the video. WOOF WOOF WOOF! (But not with the blonde wig!)


As two of 2012's great white hopes go up against each other in the first of the big release weeks of 2012!
ROLL UP ROLL UP To See two really irrelevant bands to battle out who is less likely to play anywhere bigger than the electric ballroom but probably should still be playing the garage.



From somewhere in America, which makes them seem a bit more exotic than they are. Howler are like a group of tourists that come and hang out for you for a bit, at first you like them, but once you discover that they are repetivitve and incredibly annoying, you soon want to smash them in the face and kick them to the head as they beg you they wont make anymore annoyingly "fuzzy" (vibe term) rock and rolly rubbish again. The album is annoyingly "lo-fi" in the way that it is designed to be "lo-fi" and mixed to be "lo-fi" and mastered to be "lo-fi" in a vain attempt to blend it to the small town, uncomfortable to be mere tourists. A nod to the 60's british uk rock and roll sound, some songs a strokes knock-off band from 2011 with a couple of bonafide "hits" thrown in for a re-release for the summer festival crowds. For Fans of ultimate irony, America Give Up could easily be re-released as Howler Give Up!


Tribes seem also quite appealing, the vocalist's raspy Christopher Owens meets Issac Brock meets Johnny Whitney over expertly structured guitar ballads with lad sing-a-long choruses. Wait. Lad Sing-a-long choruses, it all got dark there. If Howler are annoying tourists, Tribes are the lads you were mates with, that won the battle of the bands and got incredibly cocky, moved to a slightly bigger city and never spoke to you ever again. Judging by "Baby" they'll be moving back to their Mam's houses sometime mid 2013 with the head's firmly between their legs.
Tribes are far more interesting than Howler, but it's more or less the same concept, as filler outnumbers the killers 10-2.

WINNER: Tribes- it's still unmemorable dross which will surely be forgotten shortly, but at least its has a bigger picture to it, against the dime-a-dozen wannabe credible mix of Howler. And of course we should support the local lads really anyway, they might be cretins now but they'll soon be home and working in the local pub before you know it. Although obviously being American buzz crush superstars Howler are better looking. But saying that makes me as bad as them doesnt it...



NME 100 New Bands of 2012 Reviewed Day 3 (21-30)

Today's artist will undergo an X-Factor like scenairo... because really someone should be policing all the various emerging talent nights around the country and not in that lacklustre, show potential sort of way but in a "you should really give it a rest, the only people that like you are your mum (and the only artist she really like it's mariah carey so what the fuck does she know anyway..." sort of a way...

Of Course the following 10 have progressed past that status and none would get anywhere in the real talent "can you sing in a generic way that is marketable to anyone under the age of 18, over the age of 50, labotimised british public or the others than dont really like music..." shows...


It'a yes from me.... big opening chorus, nice pedal looped distorted guitars, nice if slightly overwrought lyrics, reverbed enough to make them sound like a harmony, i mean of course it has elements that sound like a lad rock band hit the wrong pedal and went space rock White Lies Karaoke, but lots of potential here, which I hope doesn't get bogged down in what has come before.

if the idea of Ke$ha going rap and time traveled back to the 2.27 seconds that Uffie was cool in 2006, then I think you'll probably dig this pure excuse for "music" that is only likely to be enjoyed by teenage girls who's idea of culture is a Jersey Shore marathon. Go Home Love.


Not sure how or why How To Dress Well Or Palmistry are on this list and despite the obvious genius, the likeliness that this will transcend the mindset of your average NME Reader in 2012 is slim to none. Nor do I imagine a hungry hoard of Vaccines fans to be boning their girlfriends to either of these this year. File Under Hipster. Excellent though.

If Jamie T died, Tom Vek was blugeoned to death (and anyone cared) and anyone actual gave a fuck about nu-rave... then Breton might make it. No-one does. The End.

This is just what the music industry wants us to like? Someone pretending to be Nick Cave pretending to be Mike Flowers???


If you think ladrock is still being sidelined by Music in the tens and you really really liked Viva Brother, cannot wait for the new Twang album and dont understand why your the only one- All The Young. New Favourite Band. Give Me A Fucking Break.


I like the name far more than the band, imagine if this band was Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, Norm and Woody Harrleson... wouldnt that be amazing?!? even if they were really shit, it was still be amazing! The Cast of Cheers sound like Two Door Cinema Club/Foals Overruns, judging solely on Goose, I think this a good call, its catchy, simplistic structured hooky pop and like I said... good name.

Awful Name The Jezabels and basically we've all heard this before, it's basically Chrissie Hynde fronting howling bells... which to be fair could just be the shoegaze pretenders anyway, The Jezabels will do okay but I'd probably kick em out in the next round.

The Maccabees- Given to the wild

Last week saw the return of The Maccabees, "Uk's No 1 Indie Band" and I'm sure we are all meant to fall to our knees out of jaw dropping respect for their exciting new direction as they inevitably take the world by storm (Escape) in 2012. TM (Hyperbole department)

But "Given to the Wild" is so incredibly average that the best it could hope for is half hearted thumbs up.

Of Course, The Maccabees are trying something different (different in that they all know how to play their instruments a bit better now, gone for that math rock pop shimmering guitar sound that the Foals went for on their last album and have included something new into the mix e.g. bongos bring Unknow to it's "staggering conclusion...") and Orlando Weeks' voice has improved a million times from the band's first album, the notes he can now hit are one of the un-borecore features of this record. Because otherwise the macca's third album is relatively songless, pleasant but forgettable affair. When they do take it one step up and try and build to something exciting, it takes so long to move away from total mind-numbing boredomland that you've probably turned it off already.

Lead single "Pelican" stands out like the "most beautiful sore thumb I've ever seen" but there's nothing more that will appeal to the fans of the maccabees vital, embracing and engulfing sound of the previous two records, but wall of arms signified a bit planning to experiment... in the shadow of so many other great bands. They have earned the mainstream credibility which makes "Given to the wild" an even more disappointing affair. 5/10

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

NME 100 New Bands of 2012 Reviewed Day 2 (11-20)

So the previous post dealt with the big 10, those are the bands that we should have wet our pants over by the end of 2012, if not I'm going to be disappointed, although at least half of them are boring (but will probably headline Brixton Academy by the end of the year- good luck to you) So the following 90 are recommedations from various formats, bands which are the new this or that

Time to me best westwood impression cos that's the world that P Money be rocking, Example things it's well good... Example's Shit, P Money is 4 real better.


No, not the Les Georges Leningrad london dance popsters, but Albini produced NY/Illnois project from John Grabski, who formed the once nameless project as a reaction to a personal bout with Cancer. Teeth are loud, violent, introspective, a true emotional record which propels from Albini's abrasive production style. Album is out in February, second one to follow shortly after...


Really! Sharks! Again! I'm not listening to this again... Don't know how they got on this list.

More silliness from yet more fucking members of Odd Future, isn't your five minutes up yet.

15) Y NIWL
Welsh Surf rockers who released an excellent album at the top of 2011 and have been on tour with Gruff Rhys ever since... Don't know why they are on this list but far more deserving than most of the artists on the list, Nicky Wire flying the flag for Wales as usual (and good on him!)

Great Name! And sure to piss people off! Their songs sound like they are recorded by someones half broken taped up walkman... so cant really tell if they are good or bad, but on the thin line between, if Divine and John Walters were still a duo and making movies... they would provide the soundtrack.

if this was 1992, Fear of Men would be the best name for a riot grrl band, but its 2012, so Fear of Men sit somewhere between Throwing Muses and Sky Larkin, which is not a bad thing, but the demos never truly mark them apart just yet, set to be determined on the release of the full-length.


Bournemouth needs a surf rock band, I cant decide whether Bos Angeles is the best or worse name ever, ultimately they sound like a load of other lo-fi American surf rock bands, but since this is a genre or sub-genre I dig... Bos Angeles do it very well.


NO.... Hipster band by hipsters for hipsters that no hipsters will enjoy. maybe peaches geldolf.

punked up boy/girl lo-fi, again half a million bands that do exactly this... but they do it very well. I don't know how many times I will write this going through this list. No offence to Ghost Outfit, your the best of this entry.

I wouldn't hold my breath for instant fame for any of the above...

NME 100 New Bands of 2012 Reviewed Day 1 (1-10)

Who's The Hot Shit in 2012?

We live in a time where we all predict who is going to be the big thing before the end of the year, we all do it, whether we manage artists, book artists, do PR, write for a magazine/zine or just love music.
I also have no clue what is going on with certain genres, so looking through kerrang/hammer/rock sound whatever is kinda pointless for me because I've been out of the loop on metal/hardcore etc for literally a decade now.
As much as I ride it, NME is still a pretty respected in the industry sources for breaking artists, and no they don't get it right all the time and a lot of the stuff that is pushed within it's pages is utter dross....
But this week's issue is about the 100 bands you must listen to in 2012, so given the influence it has or has had over the industry and over my musical growth as a teenager (as I'm sure is still the case with a lot of indie teens today) I'm going to check out those 100 artists...

Day 1- 1-10


Howler look and sound like a NME band, they sound a bit like a garage rock Drums (Strokes/Libertines) etc, got Rough Trade's A&R wet and have already supported NME's boner of 2011 The Vaccines. And although I'm not too sure how much anyone listens to (or respects) Johnny Marr's opinion in 2012 but he like's them too.
Howler sound exactly what you'd expect from them... competent indie rock and roll to bounce along to at a summer festival, not challenging in the slightest, but what they do they do pretty well, good harmonies and nice guitar lines. Will they save music? NO FUCKING WAY! But it's enjoyable enough for the youth of now to fall in love with this year before they forget and move on to whoever sounds exactly like this in 2013.


"Thrash pop band from Brisbane" states their Tumblr, I like Brisbane (home of my favourite Australian band The Grates) and their in your face house party owes more than a fiver to Death From Above 1979, which would be a lazy comparison if it were not so fucking spot on. Of course it's meant to be "brutal, uncompromising etc" but its also disposable, and not in that party time way, as nothing hits in the same way of the much more impressive two piece sing-a-long "BFF vibe" of Japandroids. Not to say that it is terrible, just you've heard it all before, much better... So while the noise matches DFA1979, it resonates with the same emptiness of Test-icicles, like a joke you thought was really funny but now have forgotten the punchline. I'll wait for the album.... I'd rather hear this that probably 60% of this list...


Pharrell, Nas, Beyonce, Jay-Z and Kanye West all in the headline and all in love with him, certainly an impressive batch of names... Frank Ocean's background from Odd Future and creating music since he was a teenager also work to his advantage. Ocean's vast collection of You Tube hits present a slick vibe which is certainly intriguing, a nice vibe for 2012, I cant imagine this is really appropiate for me, but I wouldn't turn off Kiss FM if this came on.


Sounds like the plot of a movie, Harlem's "spoiled-ass motherfucker" saw his bro capped and turned to drug dealer before coming "the future of hip hop" and signing a mega bucks deal. He raps about the usual guns, drugs and bitches, so if you havent heard enough of that... you'll fucking love this.


Alabama Shakes appear to be Alex Turner's choice for 2012, and that's an interesting place to start because that reveals nothing about the band. Whether they like it or not, Alabama Shakes are "soul revivalists" and whether she likes it or not frontwoman Brittany Howard voice is from another time, that glorified American image of the rise of civil rights movement, the true african american deep south and of proper soul. Alabama Shakes stand out on this list because they are the first band with soul, real soul and thank Jesus, Howard hasn't kept up with modern music because 2012 is better for it. All the best to them, Thanks Alex, good that we can rely on you. Recommended.

And after that little break in cynicism, comes Spector, who are garbage, garbage in that there's at least one of these bands every year, over-stylised, no substance, well-dressed, "gosh he's dating Peaches Geldolf" (because of course Peaches Geldolf is the most talented of all people with a huge knowledge of music, a tastemaker if ever such person existed, I mean she's the london style/music/talent everything isn't she?) and come on by now hasn't everyone dated her! Good God!
Spector aren't really about the music though are they... these douchebags never are, they hypnotize teenage girls with their fringes into beliving that there is something more than a song you've heard before with lyrics fresh from the recycling bin. Dev Hynes is the NME Champion for them which explains a lot... and they claim their musical cues are taken from the Strokes, but at least they had one and a half good records, I suspect Spector may struggle to find 1 and a half second of one. Spector don't just talk bullshit, they are bullshit.

Okay, I love a suprise, while the previous 6 have been familiar to me, Willis Earl Beal is out of the blue. Big New Signing to XL, Beal has natural talent, easy to spot on his acapella you tube videos, the "NME buzz story" TM is as follows discharged from the US Army for medical reasons, slipped into depression, his first gig was 6 months ago while previously he had only left engimatic CD's around town for people to pick up in attempt to find a girlfriend. Beal's voice recalls the raw power of Otis Redding but his claims to have no particular style yet. NME states he wants to work with Cat Power, could front a soul band or go experimental, but basically Beal doesn't know what he wants to be yet and no-one else does either... so maybe it's a little early to pass judgement just yet, but the raw energy of this one is enough to make his first album released in March, worth a listen. Watch. This. Space.

8) 2:54
UK Based Ghostly Female-Fronted 2:54 have so far backed up their buzz status with a list of atmospheric ethereal singles which sets them apart from their obvious comparisons. They are the sum of their parts and every review will of course include "sounds like Warpaint, sounds like PJ, sounds like girls fronting My Bloody Valentine, sounds like Lush, sounds like Howling Bells (albeit with more than one song tbc...)" Alan Moulder is of course involved and while Zola Jesus, Chelsea Wolfe et al have got this covered, it's got a epic hook to it that will seem them taking this to the mainstream in the new year with the "authenticity" that other's could not and would not, because 2:54 are within their own realm.


"I can be the answer..." begins Azealia Bank's already smash hit 212, with it's 1.6 million views regularly requested in clubs everywhere. 212 sets the bar satellite high so only time will tell if the record is as strong as her epic introduction. Banks has a huge voice (It's my personal highlight of the track), can spit with the best of them, and if all of her tracks can explode genres as much as 212, I have to agree that 2012 will be Azealia Bank's year... I cannot fucking wait for this record!


NME is a bit late to this party, as Claire Boucher's Halfaxa featured on many best of the year lists but something tells me that this introduction will be the first for many. Nothing can really be said that hasn't already, Halfaxa and Geidi Primes speak for themselves, Boucher is an incredibly talented musician who i can only imagine will only grow in 2012. But I cannot imagine her having the same mainstream impact as most of this list just yet...

More Tomorrow....With P-Money, Teeth, Sharks, The Internet, Y Niwl, Connie Fucking Francis, Fear of Men, Bos Angeles, Brown Brogues and Ghost Outfit... Seems the NME is a little slow on some of these as well...


Meant to post about this last year, but my main man from Community (Best TV Show ever) Donald Glover released his debut album "Camp" in November, has already sold out 2 nights at Camp (Basement) later this month... Apart from his starring turn in "Community", Glover is an accomplished stand-up and a former (award-winning) writer of Tina Fey's 30 Rock.

Another actor turned rapper you ask? Heard it seen it before.... Glover is something different though, he is a great comedian but Camp is not a hip hop spoof, it's seemingly the combination of range of experiences from heart-breaking women (name-checking a "ironic" Rugrats tattoo) to growing up to people thinking he must be related to Danny Glover (cos they are both black and actors-a regular joke from his hit show) Gambino is not about fucking bitches and drug dealers, its real, but not in that way!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Delicate Steve

Still Slamming Through some of the records I did not get a chance to plunder from last year, case in point from New Jersey (mainly) instrumentalists Delicate Steve and the wonderful acoustic meets psyche fights a world influence of genre spinning pop of debut "Wondervisions"

Excellent Gem