Thursday, 29 March 2007

Mixtape Blog

Since I've not been to any gigs in the last week, I thought I'd upload a mixtape for your listening pleasure. So here it is, the first in an irregular series of mp3 blogs.


  1. Battles - Race In
  2. The Hold Steady - Chips Ahoy!
  3. The Maccabees - Latchmere
  4. Rotary Ten - Oh No! Oh Yes!!!
  5. Kubichek! - Stutter
  6. DANANANANAYKROYD - Some Dresses
  7. Faraquet - Cut Self Not
  8. This Ain't Vegas - 100 mph
  9. Deerhunter - Octet-stream
  10. Owen - I Woke Up Today

We start the very first SCSD Mixtape with the opening track from the new Battles album. If you've heard the new single "Atlas", you'll know they've started using vocals. The vocal part on this song sounds a bit like Destiny's Child meets The Chipmunks, but mixed with the usual tech-math-rock vibe of Battles it works well. Next up is The Hold Steady. They sound a bit like Bruce Springsteen. Watch out for the keyboard break. Listening back, it seems that the mp3 of "Chips Ahoy!" is fairly low quality. For this, I apologise. From a song about horse racing we move to a song about a swimming pool. Part of me doesn't want to like The Maccabees but it turns out their recently leaked album, from which this is taken, is actually pretty good. What do you know. It also turns out that a band (Rotary Ten) whose main influences are Haven and Longview can be good. Not really. They're better then Longview.* Kubichek! have been around for a while now and finally released their debut album this week, and very good it is. Why not read Matt's review of it here. This version of "Stutter" is taken from their very first 7" which came out a couple of years ago on Fantastic Plastic. DANANANANAYKROYD are from Scotland, have two drummers and are very, very good. This is all you need to know. Faraquet were a three-piece from Washington DC. They put out one album, "The View From This Tower", on Dischord, which is worth tracking down if you like jerky, angular indie-rock. Or math-rock, if you're not adverse to such a genre. Returning to the North-East we have This Ain't Vegas with a song from their very first 7", released many years ago. They released their second album last year, which builds on the whole Devo-meets-Fugazi sound of "100 mph". If you ever read Pitchfork you've probably heard of Deerhunter; their latest album was recommended listening last month so they may well blow up by the end of the year. They play a kind of droney-shoe-gazey thing; lots of delay and reverb. All good. Finally, we round things off with Mike Kinsella's Owen. Technically he is a sing-song writer, but don't let that put you off. This version of "I Woke Up Today" is taken from a session which you can download from here.

So there you have it, my very first mp3 blog. Did you enjoy? Do you have any thoughts or comments? Did you bother to read/listen to the whole thing?

*If you actually listen to their song, you'll notice they don't sound like Haven or Longview. At least not a lot.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Cool As Folk

Slow Club/Indigo Moss @ The Raynor Lounge, 21/03
Black Wire @ Fuzz Club, 22/03

Given that I pretty much don't like any folk bands, it was with a certain amount of reservation that I headed to the Raynor Lounge for the Cool As Folk 1st birthday party.
As I went in, I caught the end of the first act, which consisted of one man feeding back his guitar. These folk kids have won me over. Slow Club play a kind of chirpy, jaunty folk thing. It could well be anti-folk. I've no idea. Listen to them yourself. Here. Indigo Moss were more straight down the line folk. They had a banjo, which never bodes well. Their set confirmed my suspicions that no band with a banjo are good. They also fell foul to the Raynor Lounge Sound Problem. Not enough mandolin in the monitors.
So that was my folking night out.

I fell I should also congratulate Black Wire; they've recently got themselves a proper drummer to replace their drum machine and they still suck as much as ever. Well done boys!

Monday, 19 March 2007

Babies And Old People Look The Most Like Monkeys

The Little Explorer/Situationists/Emmy The Great @ The Raynor Lounge 14/3
Heck/Seal Club Clubbing Club @ Clwb Ifor Bach 15/3
Up C Down C Right C ABC + Start/Make Believe @ The Brixton Windmill 16/3

**Disclaimer: I decided to write this post in the style of a school exam paper so at times it comes across a little harsh (mainly the bit about the DiS night) but on the whole I think it was a fairly successful experiment. I may do an mp3 post sometime this week. Who knows? Who cares?**


Question 1: How many members of Seal Club Clubbing Club does it take to set-up and dismantle their equipment? (3 marks)

Despite being a 5-piece with a number of props, it takes no members of Seal Club to pack up their equipment. Rather, it takes one Scottish man twenty minutes to move all their equipment ten metres. Due to this, Seal Club require twice as long as both other bands on the bill to set-up, despite the fact that they could do it a whole lot quicker if they all helped.

Question 2: Explain what you think is the main reason for the band name "Heck" (3 marks)

I think the band name Heck was inspired by the use of the word "heck" as a curse word. That is to say, when a person injures themselves, makes a mistake or wants to express a dislike of some situation, they would exclaim "Oh Heck!". This would be in the same manner that someone may exclaim "Bloody Hell" although it is a much more polite, and some would say out dated, version. One wonders why they didn't name themselves "Balls" as it as phrase that can be used in the same way, and is a much more accurate description of their sound.

Question 3: Give three reasons as to why you think the Drowned In Sound night at The Raynor Lounge was either a success or a failure (6 marks)

The Drowned In Sound Night at the Raynor Lounge failed on three accounts. Firstly, the venue itself was below standard; The Raynor Lounge is intended to be a club venue and as such its acoustic do not work well with live music. This relates directly to the second reason for failure, that of the sound. The bands playing could not be properly heard over either talking, which was the case with headliner Emmy The Great, or suffered from badly mixed sound, as was the case with The Little Explorer.

Question 4: Using direct comparisons, please explain why Up C Down C Right ABC + Start were a bad choice of opener for Make Believe (10 marks)

Up C Down C.. are a 5 piece post-rock band from Chatham; they are dull, un-inspiring, un-original and bland. Make Believe are an indie-rock/math-rock 4 piece band from Chicago; they are original, exciting and are very talented musicians. Up C Down C's tale on post-rock does everything you would expect a post-rock band to do; it goes loud and it goes quiet. They make attempts to infuse metal riffs into their songs but this makes them sound like a poor-man's 65 Days Of Static, which is no good thing. Comparatively, Make Believe's music makes many unexpected twists and turns; they make extensive use of discordant guitar riffs and off-kilter drum patterns but also know when to pull out a big hook, as can be heard in the sing "A Song About Camping", which you can listen to here. Up C Down C have two drummers and finish their set with a big drum off; Make Believe have only one drummer, namely Nate Kinsella. Comparatively, Nate Kinsella plays in a much more interesting way than both of Up C Down C's drummers; not only that, he plays a keyboard whilst drumming. This allows him to pick out some of the melodies in Sam Zurick's guitar parts, which sound like they are being played by a man with 4 hands. In particular, the song "Can't Tell Cop From Cab", highlights Sam's impressive two hand tapping and finger picking techniques.
In conclusion, Up C Down C were a bad choice of opener for Make Believe. This can be obviously be seen by the fact that in a sold out venue of 150 people, only a handful applauded Up C Down C's set. Make Believe are a very talented group of musicians, compared to Up C Down C who are a poor, run of the mill post-rock band.

Question 5: Explain why The Displacements signing to 1965 Records is either a good or bad thing. Give references where used (10 marks)

Total marks: /22

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Noise Not Music

Raccoo-oo-oon, Cars, IBLY.DY @ The Red House, 11/3

As with a lot of Noise bands, it's hard to describe what IBLY.DY sound like. In fact I'm not even sure that's what they're called. They were giving out sheet music and set lists which suggest that's what they're called. I can tell you that there were two guys, both of which looked like typical World Of Warcraft players (long hair, plaited beards, shorts and fleeces). One played an electronic drum set, a bass guitar and a tape machine. The other played a didgeridoo. The highlight of their set was finding out they had a song called "Why I Cannot Forgive Daryl Palumbo For Breaking His Edge".
After this, we got treated to two different guys playing drums and various percussive instruments, including a wok. There was some violin bow on cymbal action, which works surprisingly well. They were both good drummers, but who wants to watch someone play drums for 30 minutes?
Raccoo-oo-oon are proof that Noise bands are better when they rock. Despite the presence of saxophone, keyboards and tables full of effects pedals, they were best when they picked up their guitars and rocked out. Judging by the headbanging in the audience, most people would probably agree. Not that Raccoo-oo-oon's more ambient stuff wasn't good, because it was; it was just that compared to the big rock numbers they started and finished with, it seemed to be lacking energy. But then, if you didn't have the bit that sucked, it would make the bit that rocked, rock less.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

This Post Is Brought To You By Topshop, Lee, and Vice Magazine

Kid Harpoon & The Powers That Be/Good Books/The Noisettes/Foals @ Plug, 7/3

Do people really like anything they are told to like? Given the reception and quality of the first three bands tonight, the answer is most likely yes. So Kid Harpoon are on pretty early and there's not many people here, but it doesn't stop a group of girls dancing at the front. Bad acoustic tinged ska anyone? It's 9 o'clock and I want to go home; Foals won't be on for 2 and a half hours. Good-o. the venue fills up a bit and Good Books play. They sound like Athlete with more guitars (© James Trafford) and they've had a fair amount of press so the kids are lapping them up. If a band gets featured in the music press then it means they are good - this is what I have learnt. No-one could seriously like Good Books. At least The Noisettes are entertaining; only slightly, but enough to pitch them above the first two bands. In three hours, the highlight was taking a trip to the toilets and finding this:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Yep, Topshop water.

Eventually Foals come on. It was an odd move to have Foals headline, but this is a Vice party and therefore cutting-edge and hip whilst slightly ironic. Or something. In London, Vice's target market, Foals probably have a slight fan base; but we're not in London, we're in a shitty nightclub in Sheffield, which smells of sick. So Foals get a muted reception to start with. I'm in two minds about them; part of me wants to dismiss them on the grounds that they're just ripping off Battles and Don Caballero; the other part says to accept this and move on; just be grateful they don't sound like The Libertines and are trying something different. I go with the latter and enjoy the silly tech guitar parts and the fast hi-hats and ignore the bad vocals and the fact that they only have one song. Most of the crowd warm to them and by the end there's some dancing going on. At some point in near future, Foals are going to get lots of press and I assume then more people will like them. The question is, will they be described as "like Klaxons, but with guitars!" or "Nu-Rave meets post-hardcore!"?

Probably both. Make your mind up here.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

I Hate Nightclubs

I Was A Cub Scout @ Fuzz Club
Rotary Ten @ The Leadmill
Fury Of The Headteachers @ Under The Boardwalk

Thanks to the magic of band equations, I can describe I Was A Cub Scout in the following way:

The Postal Service + The Dismemeberment Plan ÷ Minus The Bear = I Was A Cub Scout

They are young and full of beans and spunk. Lots of running about and looked a bit scared at how big the gig was; but not too scared, they are seasoned professionals at this touring lark. I have run out of things to say (again); I'm not very good at this blogging thing. IWAC had a couple of less good songs in their set, but "Pink Squares" is very good, as are some more whose titles I don't know. Just listen to them here. The only thing I can add is Todd got his balls out in front of me. If that doesn't persuade you nothing will.

Last night Rotary Ten played The Leadmill. Not their best performance ever, but they are still better than Dark Sparks and Alavarez Kings who also played. Interestingly, Alvarex Kings wrote all their stage patter down on their singer's setlist; I imagine it's fairly easy to forgot to introduce your new song by saying "this is a new song". After the Ten, J and I hot stepped it to DnR to see a very drunk Fury Of The Headteachers play a very fast, very short set. Warren broke three mics. Much better than Decay In Decade, who supported IWAC. Bad support bands are my favourite.

Only nine more months of blogging. I'm running out of ideas fast.