Wednesday, 8 October 2008

On The Road

Stop Clapping, Start Doing will be taking a brief hiatus for the next complete of months. I'm going to be traveling around America until January next year; there may be sporadic updates from the road, but I'm not sure. I may cover the following gigs: Les Savy Fav in Brooklyn, Fucked Up in Brooklyn (twice, including that 12 hour show) and a trip to The Smell in L.A. Then again, I may not. I don't think they have the internet over there. We'll see.

Wish me luck.


Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Lovvers - Think

Realistically, Lovvers shouldn’t be in this situation. They shouldn’t be releasing their debut record on Wichita, home of indie luminaries such as Bloc Party, Los Campisenos! and The Cribs. They’re too messy, too hard to understand, too damn weird – that someone has decided to take a chance on them suggests that the music industry may not be completely out of touch. Lovvers are the kind of band to turn up unannounced, knock your drink over, spit in your face and disappear in a wall of feedback. It's as if Lovvers' main intention is to confuse and aggravate their audiences.

Think clocks in at just under 13 minutes, the 7 songs racing past in a flurry of noise and feedback. Some parts are more immediate than others; opener "Human Hair" recalls the surf guitar meets garage rock stylings of The Make Up, whilst "No Fun" sounds like the slowed down punk rock of Flipper. Most of the vocals are completely unintelligible, save for the odd phrase or word here and there, the wirey guitar sounds over power everything else, pushing the speakers into the red and overloading everything.

As a whole, this record conjures up the spirit of The Birthday Party, not necessarily in sound, but certainly in approach. Though they do at times come close to sounding like the Post-Punk meets junkie fury of Nick Cave's mob, albiet with a slightly more Antioach Arrow/Gravity Records twist, but it's more the attitude and the audacity of them that Lovvers echo. Both bands come across as if they're going to fall apart or implode at any minute, like there's no real way they could sustain such a ferocious and intense performance for any extended period. It's the complete disregard that Lovvers show for their audience that makes them so appealing. Whilst most bands would pander to a crowd, Lovvers are a big "Fuck You" to everyone. The phrase Punk Rock could never be more appropriately used.

Realistically, you probably won't like Lovvers. But then, the best bands are never that popular. Like the first time you heard Bleach, or when you first saw the video for "New Noise" on MTV2, you probably won't understand what all the noise is about. But Lovvers won't care - right now, we need them more then they need us.

More information here and here.

Monday, 8 September 2008


"Twat gave you a car"

Making the jump from being a hotly tipped, well known local band to being a hotly tipped, fairly well known national band is usually the breaking point for most groups. To go from playing to a full venue with an appreciative audience to playing at some toilet venue in a town you've never heard of, to a crowd consisting of one apologetic looking promoter and his three bored friends, all for a case of 18 warm cans of cheap lager, simply because one magazine tagged you as "Ones To Watch", is more than enough to take the wind out of even the most enthusiastic band's sails. To get 4 people to all agree that this is a great way to spend the next 3 years of their life is a hard task, and is one that will most likely cause a breakup. After all, being in a band is like being in a marriage. Sheffield's Umlaut were no exception.

Started in 2003 by three University friends, Umlaut took to mining that rich vein of influences that is Indie Rock. An obvious comparison to the Pavement is understandable - they're slightly loose in their performances, almost to the point of sloppy, plus there's that monotone vocal delivery, but it all comes together because they can write a proper song. A couple of months later, they added a second guitarist and a whole new bag of influences - Midwest Emo, or Midwestmo, if you will. Taking cues from the likes of Cap'n Jazz and Braid, particularly in the drums, which have that scatter shot, all over the place approach that divides opinion (personally I really like them), Umalut, over the course of an academic year, became the go to support band in Sheffield. They had an actual fan base that wasn't just their friends from halls, they had a demo cd that was getting played in Sheffield's finest Indie clubs and, most importantly, they were actually good, unlike a lot of the bands active at this point.

It was around this time that the music press was writing about the "New South Yorkshire" scene and lots of bands were getting unreasonably hyped (Bromhead's Jacket? Really?) simply by virtue of where they lived. Whilst Umlaut avoided all this, for whatever reason, it probably helped bring them to the attention of Fantastic Plastic. At least for the sake of this blog it did. Fantastic Plastic released the Winter Coat 7" in October 2005. Featuring a re-recording of demo track "Winter Coat" on the a-side and the b-side featuring a post-rock by way of twee song entitled "Professionals", the single gained good reviews and more national exposure. So Umlaut did what any sensible band would do and split up.

By July 2006 they'd played their last ever gig, leaving only one 7" and a demo cd in their wake. Aside from debut single Winter Coat, the demo has two other songs on it: "First Song", which surprisingly, they always played first, and "Lea Green", possibly the only song to feature a chorus of "Twat gave you a car". Typically described as "Cap'n'Jazz meets Hefner in the botanical gardens", these three tracks perfectly encapsulate Umlaut's charm. They're poppy, but not to the point of being a pop band; they're sloppy but in a charming way rather than a can't actually play way; and they're twee but not so twee that you feel like the singer regularly jacks off to Catcher In The Rye. A bit like Los Campesinos! without the knowingly web 2.0 lyrics. And they use an old Casio keyboard, which is always nice.

A final thought: their last gig suffered from some sound problems. After some calls to "turn the guitar up", one audience member called for them to "turn your commitment up". A fine heckle indeed.

Some of the dates in this blog might be off. I'm guessing some of them. Why not use the comments section to tell me how wrong I am.

Monday, 1 September 2008

The Shitty Limits

"There's limits everywhere!"

A good band name is a rare thing – if even the most influential pop group of all time has a name that fulfils Homer Simpson’s criteria of being initially witty, yet subsequently less and less funny every time you hear it, then what hope does your shithouse band have? Personally, I always find that sticking a swear word in there helps. I probably wouldn’t go and see The Champs but The Fucking Champs? They’ve got to be good. The one exception to this rule is Jackie-O Motherfucker. Great name, but they’re one of the worst bands I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen Milburn.

Thankfully, Guildford’s The Shitty Limits live up to their moniker. Their sound has been described as a combination of “60s Garage, 70s Punk and 80's Hardcore” which pretty much hits the nail on the head – they’re loud, fast, snotty and yet still melodic. They’ve pretty much distilled the best bits of the last 30 years of punk music into succinct 2 minute bursts of noise. They’ve got the garage riffs, the hardcore rhythms and the right attitude, right down to refusing to be involved with the NME – The Shitty Limits are essentially a lesson in punk rock. Name any band in that is considered in any way punk and you can see how The Shitty Limits have taken a cue from them. The Stooges, The Sonics, Wire, Minor Threat, Black Flag, it's all there. But don't mistake them for some sound alike band - The Shitty Limits are their own band, they have their own sound, they can play with the best of them. Just do yourself a favour and listen to them.

And no, it's not just a clever name.

For more music, and free downloads of all their records, head to myspace.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Chemistry Of Common Life

Whilst Fucked Up might not be the best hardcore band around at the minute, they are without a doubt, one of the most interesting bands around at the minute; hardcore or not. Since their beginnings in early 2001 Fucked Up have been accused of being fascists, experimenting with mind control, made extensive use of Sigils in their artwork, written about the Situationist International, possibly penned their own interview for Maximum Rock and Roll, released an 18 minute long single, adopted a probably non existent svengali/manager called David Eliade and collaborated with Nelly Furtardo. They’ve also made it pretty much impossible to own everything they’ve ever released, possibly as a dig at record collectors; their huge discography contains incredibly limited 7”s, a couple of 8 tracks, one mix tape and a fake 7” entitled Hoxton Cunts, intended as a dig at the band and their relationship with Vice. Not bad for a punk band from Toronto.
October sees the release of the band’s second album, The Chemistry of Common Life on Matador Records, which the band describes as “an expansive epic about the mysteries of birth, death, and the origins of life (and re-living)."
From the get-go, it’s clear that Fucked Up are making the most of their new label’s recording budget. Opening track 'Son the Father' features a flute, bongos, some synth and lots of guitar tracks. Lots and lots of guitar tracks. It also features some questionable, overly sassy backing vocals, which reappear at the end of the record. It seems that Fucked Up are trying to avoid falling back on their standard hardcore sound, almost as if they’re trying to distance themselves from it or prove that they’re not limited by it, which is understandable considering how long they’ve been together and what Year Of The Pig sounded like.
One of the problems with hardcore records, and especially the “classic” hardcore records, is that they all suffer from poor recording and production. More often then not, it’s hard to reproduce the intensity of a live band on record, making the band sound flat or lifeless when in reality they’re anything but. Oddly, The Chemistry of Common Life almost suffers from being too well produced; there seems to be so many guitar tracks and additional overdubs that it creates a dirge like effect at points, notably on 'Days of Last.' It’s kind of similar to the approach that Oasis or any number of bands in the mid to late 90s; too much coke in the control room perhaps. If you think the Oasis comparison is weird, 'Crooked Head' sounds like 'Rings Around the World' by Super Furry Animals.
The second half of this record lags a bit; it’s not until 'Twice Born' that it picks up again. Of all the songs, this is probably the one most reminiscent of Hidden World. It’s your standard Fucked Up affair – Poison Idea-style hardcore with a bit too much compression. It also marks the reappearance of the female backing vocals from the beginning of the album – they provide a sassy response to Damian’s call of “hands up if you think you’re the only one.” Whilst it veers a little close to sounding like the guy from Blood Brothers, it still ranks as one of the stand out tracks.
Despite being a whole twenty minutes shorter then their debut, The Chemistry of Common Life still seems too long. A lot of it comes across as wholly unremarkable and passes by without really doing anything, and in doing so it high lights the problem with Fucked Up – they’re just not that good. Undeniably, they are a great live band; however, on record, and especially on this record, they fail to do anything to elevate themselves from being an above average band to an amazing one. If you get the chance, and you probably will considering their touring schedule, go and see them live. If maybe a cliché, but they really are better live.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that there's a big shoegaze influence on this record. Lots of swooshing guitars. An abundance of wah, if you will.

Fucked Up - Son the Father

(click on the icon to play the song)

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

When It's Time To Party.....

Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Monday, 18 August 2008

King Khan & The Shrines

In an effort to alleviate the shitty weather we've been having recently, and to kick start this here blog back to life, I'm kicking things of with what would be a perfect summer jam, where it not for this rain. God bless British summer time.

Formed in 1999 in Germany after the demise of his previous band The Spaceshits, King Khan put together a big band in that age old soul tradition and named them The Shrines. Since then they've released 3 full length albums, the latest being 2007's What Is!? on German-based label Hazelwood, which coincidentally features today's song entitled 'Welfare Bread'.

Blending your typical soul influences of James Brown and Sun Ra with a subtle dose of garage rock, King Khan & The Shrines sound like a vintage 60s group but with added punk rock feel. Built around a simple horn riff, laid back drums and some tasty falsetto, 'Welfare Bread' is a love song about trust, faith and bread. Written about King Khan's wife, the chorus suggests that put more faith in your partner and to try and be little more carefree, with the couplet "you don't have to pay your bills anymore/girl you just got to eat my welfare bread". If there were every a song to encourage people to start claiming benefits, it could be this one. So it's probably a good thing that King Khan & The Shrines are pretty unknown. Having said that, they were signed to Vice at the end of last year, so you could soon be seeing lines of hipsters snaking out of your local dole office very soon. And that's without factoring in the lack of media and graphic design jobs available due to the credit crunch.

Back on topic, I would like to finish by pointing out that in the time it's taken for me to write this blog entry, it's gone from being dead sunny to absolutely pissing it down. If only I'd brought a coat to work.

King Khan & The Shrines - "Welfare Bread"

Obligatory flyer description: Soul via garage punk.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Here Come The Remix

A couple of nights ago my friend, who works as a promoter, told me a funny story. In the mid to late 90s, whenever a band turned up to play their first and main concern for the night would be whether they had any coke. Nowadays, when a band turns up, the first thing they do is head straight for the wireless internet hotspot. Make of this what you will.

Attached is a song I found on The Hype Machine the other day. Usually I don't really go in for remixes and such, but this one is pretty damn good, particularly Ludacris's verse. Take a listen.

M.I.A feat. Chamillionaire & Ludacris - Boyz (Dj Doc Rok Remix)

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Something For The Weekend - Secondsmile

Do you remember when Deep Elm used to put out good records? I do certainly do. Yesterday I was thinking about listening to an old compilation cd I had from them. It's probably Deep Elm-mo at it's finest; Appleseed Cast, Planes Mistaken For Stars, Red Animal War. None of this Fightstar rubbish. Then I realised I couldn't be bothered to go through all my boxes of Cd's and so instead went to the old internet for something to listen to.

Secondsmile are from Bridport, but sound like they belong in the Midwest. But maybe from further south. Sounding like late period Appleseed Cast with sound Minus The Bear guitar bits, they make a good attempt at the Deep Elm sound; Deep Elm-mo, if you will. It's not strictly Midwest-mo, I think it's a bit too post-rock for that, but it's worth a listen. Typically, bands of this ilk are best suited to sunny days, but Secondsmile have enough of a dynamic to their sound to work on a rainy Saturday. Which is lucky considering British summer time.

This song is called 'Years'. This a download link for it. It comes out on Big Scary Monsters in the next couple of weeks. Have a listen to it and see if you can work out what the hell I mean with all my "-mo" style genres. Next up God-mo.


Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Dananananaykroyd - Sissy Hits

As a sometimes music blogger you'd think that I bought Cd's a regularly I couldn't move for those little bits of plastic? Well you'd be wrong. For various reasons I've not bought a CD since the end of last Decemeber, but last week saw me finally break the drought and part with some of my hard earned cash. The CD in question was Sissy Hits, Dananananaykroyd's debut ep. They've had a lot of press these last few weeks so I thought I'd add my 2.0 cents.

Now, if like me, you're totally hip to new bands and that, you'd have been waiting for this ep since the beginning of the year, when it was supposed to be out on Jealous Records. This is what I said about them in January. So not a lot really. Sissy Hits is basically more of the same but better because it has six songs on it. Opener "The Greater Than Symbol And The Hash" sets the tone for the ep. It starts of with some duel drumming and some choppy guitars, a lyric about "one million buildings crumble" before going double time into a post-hardcore sprint before again falling apart in a wall of guitar noise and clattering drums that would make Sonic Youth proud. You'd think that would be enough for one song but not for these Scots - with a simply cymbal hit the song morphs back into a droning half time riff and comes to a grinding halt.
The rest of the ep continues in the same way - it has loud bits, some quiet bits, some thrashy bits, gang vocals and some wonderful duel drumming. As a frustrated air drummer I highly recommend playing along to this ep.

Instead of posting mp3s from Sissy Hits, I thought I'd post their original 3 track demo and the lead song from the 7" they released on Jealous last year. This is for two reasons:

1. Whilst we're all guilty of downloading music for free, it's probably a good idea to still support indie labels; Holy Roar is run out of someones bedroom so they deserve your money.
2. All together now: "I prefer their earlier stuff". Lolz!

Here's the track listing:
  1. The Greater Than Symbol And The Hash
  2. Totally Bone
  3. Song #1 Puzzle
  4. Some Dresses

And here is the link.

Enjoy the music and let me know if you think this blog layout sucks.


Thursday, 22 May 2008

1, 2, 3, YouTube

Fugazi are one of those bands that I always forget just how good they are. I think because I don't listen to them that regularly, I'm always pleasantly surprised when I hear them again and remember why they're revered so much. I've recently been watching videos of them on YouTube and it saddens me to think that I passed up on what was most likely my only real opportunity to see them, assuming they don't come out of retirement. These videos are from the tour they did for 'The Argument' which was quite a dramatic change of sound for Fugazi. They had proper singing on it and everything.

The video of 'Waiting Room' features some great moves from Guy Picciotto, which have been ripped off by pretty much every front man of any loudish indie rock band since the mid-90s.

The other two videos feature a second drummer. Which is exciting. After those two videos there's one of Black Flag for no other reason then me liking it and that it was uploaded by the same person as the Fugazi videos. I would recommend you look through his or her videos. They are very good. Essentially this post is me exploiting someone else's hard work. What can you do. Here are some videos:

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Knee Deep At ATP Vs Pitchfork

I think I've used this title on my blog before; however this year it seems all the more appropriate given that Los Campesinos! were playing. In keeping with the slightly weak LC! references, I have decided to format my review in lists. I told it you it was weak. Since it was ATP Vs Pitchfork, I shall also be providing handy Pitchfork style ratings for you.

  1. Pissed Jeans - Downstairs room, Sunday

  2. Of all the bands playing this year, I think Pissed Jeans were the one I was most looking forward to and since they've never played in the UK before, I was expecting a lot. Thankfully, they didn't disappoint. Opening their set with a feedback ridden version of 'Secret Admirer' from last year's Hope For Men lp, Pissed Jeans didn't let up for forty minutes going from slowed down one note metal riffs into fast, pissed off hardcore, they provided what every Sunday afternoon needs. In addition to being awesome musically, Pissed Jeans managed to win not only the best equipment award (Sunn Model T head, Ampeg SVT bass head) but the best and possibly only stage dive of the weekend, which saw they drum jump over his kit, cross the stage in two steps and leap over the barrier. A perfect way to finish.

  3. The Hold Steady - Upstairs room, Sunday

  4. In contrast to a lot of the bands playing, The Hold Steady are a pretty straight forward band. Bruce Springsteen is an often used and pretty fair reference point. Given that musically they can be fairly straight ahead and simply, it does allow Craig Finn's lyrics to become more of a focal point. Personally I enjoyed this verse from 'Ask Her For Some Adderall' (I realise you may not):
    If she asks, don't I'll tell her that I'm living hand-to-mouth.
    Don't tell her that I'm sleeping on your couch.
    And if she asks just tell her that we opened for the Stones,
    It's her favourite band except for the Ramones.

  5. Les Savy Fav - Upstairs room, Saturday

  6. At last year's ATP, Les Savy Fav played one of the best gig I have ever seen and whilst their set this year wasn't as good, it was still pretty fucking good. As you'd expect there were some costume changes, most notably Tim Harrington putting on a Pink Panther costume he had removed from an audience member, ridiculous banter and some songs. A rare airing of 'Dishonest Don' that segued into 'Rome (Written Upside Down)' provided an effective way to end. The end of 'Rome' saw three of LSF lead the audience out of the upstairs venue and into downstairs one where the Black Lips were about to start playing, all the while carrying and playing drums. The only downside of this great piece of showmanship was that we almost got tricked into seeing Black Lips.

  7. Dirty Projectors - Downstairs room, Saturday

  8. Dirty Projectors have an unfair advantage over most bands - Black Flag covers. If there's anything that makes a band more enjoyable, it's the prospect of seeing them bust out some Black Flag. That they also managed to perfectly replicate all the harmonies from last year's Damaged lp, which in itself is admirable. Not only that, both their guitarists did some great John Fahey style finger picking, which is enough for any band to win me over.

  9. Yeasayer - Upstairs room, Saturday

  10. Listening back to Yeasayer, it becomes obvious that they would have problems translating their songs from record into a live setting. On record, they utilise a lot of samples, sounds and tones which it seems they can't replicate live to full affect. Due to this some of their slower, more downbeat material suffers from a lack of production, but when they hit their stride with their faster songs, notably 'Sunrise' and '2080' (which itself is such a good song they could have played it for forty minutes and everyone would have been happy), they prove that they're a band worthy of attention.

  11. Fuck Buttons - Downstairs room, Friday

  12. Current darlings of the ATP stable, and certainly a band to name drop for those in the know, Fuck Buttons played to an eager crowd on the first evening of the festival. Having never seen them before, I was looking forward to see if they lived up to all the hype. Opening with 'Sweet Love For Planet Earth', they got off to a good start with some nice distorted bass synths and the old noise trick of yelling into a mic plugged into a suitcase of pedals. As their set progressed, it became apparent that where you'd expect them to exercise their noise muscles and play with their delay pedals, they instead chose to concentrate on those pesky melodies and getting the audience to dance. Whilst this is in no way a bad thing, personally I felt that they'd have been better if they'd have just messed about with some feedback instead of moving into the realms of laptop electronica.

  13. Bon Iver - Upstairs room, Friday

  14. At this point in my list, it became a bit hard to find bands whose entire set I had watched and enjoyed. This is mainly down to how hot it was - both of the venues suffered from poor ventilation, which made it hard to persevere with a band, unless you really wanted to see them. The other factor was the old "fall asleep at whilst watching a band in a mid-afternoon slot". I saw the first half of Bon Iver before I nodded off. What i saw was pretty good; quite folky but not in a way that made it suck. I believe he's on Later.. this Friday so watch that.

  15. Glass Candy - Downstairs room, Saturday

  16. I think of all the bands I saw, Glass Candy were without a shadow of a doubt the worst. The problem wasn't that they weren't so bad that it could be considered a joke band (or even ironic) but that they were sincere in their desire to genuinely want to play Italo-Disco, a genre that is so bad it makes me want to both laugh and cry. And for some reason, I made a point of going to see them and watching most of their set. I think it was down to the Troubleman connection.

  17. Meat Puppets - Downstairs room, Sunday

  18. Fulfilling Sunday's quota for re-united grunge bands, the Meat Puppets were pretty good. I can't really think of anything constructive to say. They played both of those songs Nirvana covered.

  19. Los Campesinos! - Upstairs room, Saturday

  20. Normally I'm a bit harsh on Los Campesions! - whilst I think they're pretty good I always feel that they aren't as great as everyone says (blogs) they are. It seems that the amount of touring they've done has paid off, with them appearing to be much more comfortable and focused with themselves, compared to the previous times I've seen them. Saturday's set was certainly an emotional affair, with Gareth referring to ATP as "our Knebworth, our Wembley, our Pyramid Stage", which only added to the excitement that LC! play with. Whilst Fuck Buttons may be playing every ATP event possible, it's Los Campesinos! that represent the perfect ATP band.

So that was my weekend. A special mention of all my friends who put up with my annoying jokes for the whole weekend.

Next installment should be a Kinsella themed mixtape. Exciting.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Return Of The Blog

Hello there, blog fans. It's been a while hasn't it? I'm not sure why I've not written anything for so long. But fear not, for there is a brand new web application that I'm taking advantage of for this return post. Yes that's right, I've made a Muxtape. Only two months behind everyone else. Details below.

Hello, I made a mix tape for you and called it "9 Songs Not As Good As Born To Run."

1. Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road
2. The Jesus Lizard - Boilermaker
3. Drive Like Jehu - Caress
4. Black Flag - Six Pack
5. Archers Of Load - Wrong
6. Pissed Jeans - I've Still Got You (Ice Cream)
7. Make Believe - Sam Rollerskating Backwards
8. Dirty Projectors - Six Pack
9. The Hold Steady - Killer Parties

Bonus points to anyone who spots the title reference. Some of these bands are playing at ATP Vs Pitchfork, so this should act as a primer of sorts. I should have some more bands to write about after that weekend but who knows?

I also made a Muxtape for a feature on Sweeping The Nation. It's songs from the year 1995. I wrote a hilarious track by track description on the Drowned In Sound message board, but I didn't save it so you'll have to make up your own jokes. Sorry.

Eventually this blog may become active in the future; I'm already planning some entries but I think it depends on me finding some stuff that is exciting in some way. There may even be a face lift along the way (by this I mean change the background to white).

Enough of my typing. Listen to some music.


Sunday, 17 February 2008

Print Journalism

I have made my way into the heady world of print journalism. I reviewed Rolo Tomassi when they played corp last week. Here is a link to the review. Below that is the original review, which I've posted mainly for the Hilary Duff reference.

Rolo Tomassi @ Corp

"What strikes you first about Rolo Tomassi is how awkward they look when the come on stage. Given their average age of 18, they give the impression of a group of kids lost on their way to their school talent show. Such impressions are short lived however, as they suddenly explode into a melee of flailing limbs, guttural screaming and blast beats. Dancing around the stage in the same way that most teenagers would only dance in the privacy of their bedrooms, seemingly unaware that there’s an audience watching, Rolo Tomassi display the kind of reckless abandonment that only the young can get away with, suddenly going from balls to the wall grindcore into what sounds like the theme music from Tetris, only to stop as suddenly as they started, as if they’ve simply grown bored of what they’re playing. Over the space of thirty minutes, Rolo Tomassi manage to have a go at more styles of music then most bands do in their entire careers, going from chugging, sassy hardcore into prog-inspired keyboard breaks, doom metal riffs into 8-bit Gameboy pop then back into some overly technical grindcore, all of which is topped off by front woman Eva’s vocals. Despite bearing more than a passing resemblance to teen star Hilary Duff, her death metal growl recalls that of Tom Araya from Slayer or JP from The Locust. Only far more pissed off.
Closing with an epic rendition of “Curby”, which sees an arpegiated keyboard line morph into an intense driving metal outro, Rolo Tomassi leave the stage as quickly as they arrived, having safely proved why they’re currently the best band in Sheffield."

Now that I'm officially a journalist, I have a legitimate reason to refuse to pay for things.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

2008: The Indie Hipster's Guide

So it's about that time of the year when the message boards and blogs are a buzz with talk of who's going to be hot and who's not in the year 2008, the time of year when magazines run articles called things like "The Class Of 2008" and include bands that you were listening to last year. Because, let's face it, you're a hip indie bastard. But in this post 9/11, post-Web 2.0 age, there's so many bands to listen it's almost impossible to know who to look out for, who to name drop and who to avoid; it's getting harder and harder to tell your Twang from your Tunng. In order to help you wade through such shit as Jo Lean And The Jing Jang Jongs and find some good new bands, I've assembled this handy guide to hip new(ish) bands for 2008. GO!

Johnny Foreigner - Champagne Girls I Have Known
We kick off proceedings with this little nugget of noisey indie rock. Johnny Foreigner manage to sound like all the good shouty indie bands of yesteryear with out sounding like they belong in 1998. A kin to Idlewild when they could be described as "a flight of stairs falling down a flight of stairs" with some added nods to Cap'n Jazz. So all in all pretty good.

Fuck Buttons - Bright Tomorrow
Up next we have the indie hipster's noise band of choice, Fuck Buttons. Recently signed to ATP Recordings this song is the lead track from their debut picture disc, released last year. Avoiding the typcial noise band route of yelling into a microphone whilst playing with a delay pedal, Fuck Buttons create semi-ambient drones from layers of keyboard loops and tribal drums before adding some yelling into a microphone. If you're going to namedrop them, just describe them as drone.

So far DANANANANAYKROYD have released two 7"s, both of which are sold out. They debut ep comes out on Jealous Records in March. An important thing to note is that they have changed singers since those vinyl releases. This gives you plenty of opportunity to maximize your indie credibility - if their name ever comes up in conversation simply say "Oh yeah those guys - I only really like their early stuff with the original singer; you know the guy from Kill Yourself?". With this one sentence, your friends and relatives will know that you are far cooler and hipper than they could ever be. You are indie. They are not.

Los Campesinos! - Death To Los Campesinos!
Finally, we have a band who need no introduction. If you don't know who they are then frankly you should not be on the blogosphere. If you need a bit of an introduction, they're from Cardiff, they got signed after 14 gigs and their demo set the internet on fire. Sounding like a combination of Broken Social Scene, Pavement and any other indie rock band you could think of, LC! release their debut album in February. This gives you a month or so to tell people that you liked them before they got popular. But you probably blogged about their demo didn't you?

Here are the songs.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

A New Start

With the start of the New Year, I thought I’d redo the old blog. The original idea was for me to keep a record of every band I saw over the past year, which, whilst a good idea in theory, proved to be a lot harder in practice. Writing something mildly entertaining about every single gig gets a little tiresome, especially when most bands inspire little more than a “meh”. So I’m going to stop talking about every band and every gig; from now on it’s only the good ones. Or the really bad ones, which leads me to my brand new feature, hilariously titled “Congratulations! Your Band Sucks!”


This month’s lucky band is a four piece band from Sheffield called Flat Pack Heroes.
Picture the scene: you’re planning to go and see Liars, you think you’ve timed your arrival in such a way that you won’t have to endure the local support band. You arrive at the venue. You hear a band playing. Worried that you’ve missed the start of the band you plan to see, you hurry through to the stage where instead of seeing the familiar sight of Liars, you’re greeted by the unfamiliar sight of four boys, two of whom are topless, playing something that is best described as bad punk; a band who you cannot take your eyes off, who demand your attention, not because of how good they are but simply by virtue of the fact that they seem to be doing so many things wrong. That band ladies and gentlemen is Flat Pack Heroes.

The obvious place to start is the music – Flat Pack Heroes are best described as a punk band, in that the music they play bears the most resemblance to the Sex Pistols. However, to say they’re a punk band is to give them too much credit. The attitudes and ideas that are implied by the phrase punk seem to be lost on them. In the same way that a gig promoter will excuse poor turnouts, poor payment for bands, poor equipment and poor venues with the excuse that it’s “rock and roll,” Flat Pack Heroes excuse their poor musical output as “punk.” They represent everything bad about punk, right down to the singer’s Johnny Rotten impersonations. It slowly dawned on me that this one was one of the worst bands I’d ever seen, joining the ranks of The Charlie Brown Story, Bickle’s Cab and The Stereophonics. Not only that, it wasn’t the first time I’d seen them.

About two years ago, my old band did a gig in Cheltenham. One of the local support bands was called The Labels. They had their own banner made from an old Union Jack with The Labels written across it. They also did a cover of “I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor”. I think they must have taken a lot of cues from The Arctic Monkeys because they’ve since re-located to Sheffield and renamed themselves Flat Pack Heroes (that bit was probably obvious). They’ve also made an attempt at social realism. I’ve never known a band to miss understand the point of social realism in lyrics – you write a song that the general public can relate to, most likely about how their life is depressing and unfulfilling but your life is great because you get to live your dream of playing in a band until you get dropped a year later (hello Little Man Tate). Even that guy from The Enemy can manage it. You listen to a Pulp record and go from there (or in the case of The Enemy, you steal wholeheartedly from The Jam). Not the Flat Pack Heroes. The best they manage is the charming couplet “She’s a slag/But I bet you’ve had her”. Just read that again to take in how bad it is. And that was the hook in the song. They also managed to name check Topshop, Facebook and Myspace all in one song. Once again they’ve missed the entire point.

The final nail in the coffin of their set came just before they played their last song. They mentioned they had a free demo cd available. This is a good idea. They then proceeded to throw copies of said demo into the crowd. The crowd consisted of about 30 people; only about 10 of these were stood anywhere near the front or paying any sort of attention to the band. You could hear the clatter of unwanted cds hitting the floor. I think one hit a girl on the head. I feel privileged to have witnessed such a desperate plea for recognition. In fact, I feel privileged to have seen such a terrible band.

Did I mention that two of them were topless?

More brilliant features to follow, including Hot New Bands For 2008 and My Favourite Breaks In Music. There probably won't be any more badly done Photoshop jobs.