Tuesday, 28 July 2009

LIVE REVIEW: Frightened Rabbit @ Siren Music Fest, Coney Island NY - 7/18/09

Continuing the round up of Siren, whilst we're still in the same month, one of the bands I harped on about most in the lead up to the fest was Frightened Rabbit.

The Scottish quartet hit the stage not too long after
Japandroids yet promised quite a different spectacle, with their music more befitting a grey, rained out Glastonbury mud-fest than a bright and bouncy beach location. Nonetheless, they donned thick shades, factor 1 million sun cream, and took to the stage to give it their best shot. As it turns out, their best shot wasn't far from the best aim of the day.

MP3 (via Insound): Frightened Rabbit - Old Old Fashioned (Live)
Taken from
'Liver! Lung! FR!'

Buy it at Insound!

Starting off with a few level issues, Scott Hutchison's thick accent is buried somewhere under the heavy drum mix and the haunting effect of opener The Modern Leper is drastically reduced. A few songs in, though, the sound lad has obviously returned from sampling those fine Nathan's hot dogs over on the boardwalk and fixes things in time for an excellent Good Arms vs Bad Arms. Indeed, all the cuts from 08's intricate, darkly beautiful The Midnight Organ Fight that follow sound much larger and more imposing with the increased power to Scott's vocal. Meanwhile, keyboardist Andy Monaghan is described as "still steamin' from last night" (i.e. hangin' over, non-English English speakers) but shows little of the effects as he switches effortlessly to guitar and sports the cheapest pair of sunnies ever exported from Manila.

Set highlights include a rousing run-through of Old Old Fashioned and the absolutely huge Heads Roll Off, which manages to feel upbeat and melancholy all in one breath and note. Leaving in as understated a manner as they arrived, it's clear that this is a band that only ever needs to let their music do the talking. And when it's so eloquently spoken, who's to argue with such an approach?

Now playing: Alejandra O'Leary - Rally
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 27 July 2009

They're Grrrrrrrreat

With this past weekend being hotter than a summer trip to the lair of the big red fella downstairs, the British aversion to humidity hit and effectively rendered me useless. Other than finding time for a 5 mile run, my productivity was limited to revisiting my Mighty Boosh DVD's and pissing myself laughing ("Science teachers and the mentally ill, that's all jazz is for"), on the odd occasion.

Before all this abominable lethargy hit, however, I was able to catch a barn storming live set on Friday from nascent Brooklyn electro-rockers Great Tiger. A dynamic duo wielding only a guitar and 'the box', they fuse a Daft Punk sense of electro-melody to a powerful barrage of serrated riffs for several minutes, then take a step back to proudly admire the sonic destruction wrought. Coming on with the high energy DJ antics of The Chemical Brothers but keeping proceedings firmly anchored to rock showmanship at the same time, the momentum they build in a small but enthusiastic crowd is quite overwhelming.

Unfortunately their lack of many months together also equals a lack of much recorded material, with the Myspace stream of Last Night being about the most slick of their current offerings. Elsewhere, the Workshop demo hints at the more riotous nature brought about in a live setting.

All of which means that it would be best to catch the next dose of supercharged electronica at The Annex in New York on August 31st, for it is then the Tiger roars again. If you're in both the city and a party mood, I can vouch for an electrifying spectacle.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Run to the Hills

Strictly speaking, this is nothing to do with music but, as with swine flu not so long ago, I can generally twist most things around to the subject with some convoluted logic and a few song titles. Onward.

So my wonderful lady and I are running the NYC half marathon on Sunday August 15th, which comprises 13.1 miles around the beautiful surroundings of Central Park and then out into the urban insanity that is lower Manhattan (at which point, I am reliably informed, Welcome to the Jungle blares out to power one on.....quality). We're been training for over 2 months now and are up to 8 miles, so the stamina is slowly building to the required level. Now, however, comes the really hard part.......

......we need to raise $2000 between us! The fund raising site has just gone up here so that we can begin collecting generous donations towards fighting child asthma in Kenya.

There are more details on the site but, suffice it to say, this is a really great cause and World Lung Foundation, for whom Jen works, does an excellent job for lung-related disease across the globe. Any amount that readers of this humble blog can offer would be extremely gratefully received and, of course, thoroughly praised in these here pages after the event.

Bizarrely, very little music has been employed during our training, as we're generally finding talking to each other more useful in spurring on our wearied legs. Nonetheless, iTunes search facility shows me there are many 'run' songs, so let's get this back to the tuneage to close out:

MP3: 65DaysofStatic - Aren't We All Running?
Taken from 'The Fall of Math'

Buy it at Insound!

MP3: Cut Copy - Midnight Runner
Taken from 'In Ghost Colours'

Buy it at Insound!

MP3: Aereogramme - The Running Man
Taken from 'My Heart Has A Wish That You Would Not Go'

Buy it at Insound!

MP3: Animal Collective - No More Runnin'
Taken from 'Merriweather Post Pavilion'

Buy it at Insound!

Now playing: Iron Maiden - Run to the Hills
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

LIVE REVIEW: Japandroids @ Siren Music Fest, Coney Island NY - 7/18/09

Rather than keep procrastinating on posting one almighty supernova of a review of last weekend's stellar Siren festival, I thought I'd break it up into palatable, asteroid-size chunks, band by band.

Although technically the first band I stumbled upon was
Bear Hands, it was for the last song and I couldn't form any useful opinion. They looked to be enjoying themselves and seemed to be suitably upbeat, however, so I'm sure they were a good time.

All of which left it to Japandroids to kick off our sunny afternoon in the kitschy environs of Coney Island, taking to the Main Stage in the shadow of the rickety old Cyclone roller coaster. As I've previously mentioned, this Canadian duo have been much hyped (at least in the inward looking blogosphere....quite what's going on in the real world, how should we know??) but bear out a lot of this chatter with their noisy-yet-harmonious take on garage rock. Hence the piqued interest and the anticipation of their early afternoon set.

With the drum kit featuring more prominently front and (slightly left of) centre than usual, the pair clearly see the need to pad the stage out. More at home in packed, tight clubs - singer/guitarist Brian King quips at one point that all the folks they've ever played to still wouldn't amount to today's audience numbers....aww - the relatively large stage does seem to dwarf the performers upon it in this instance. They plow on nonetheless, with King roaming the stage to offer a little more visual stimulation, leaving drummer/also-singer David Prowse to pound away relentlessly at his kit.

Truth be told, the set is something of a hit and miss affair. The empty space isn't entirely an issue except that it's constantly referred to between songs, to the extent that it draws one's attention to the visual aspect above the music at times. Sonically, the sound is reasonable - not the case for all the bands to follow them - and the elevated volume suits Japandroids just fine. Their energy levels and enthusiasm are never in question, yet some songs simply meander noisily around a central riff that fails to lead anywhere memorable.

Japandroids - Heart Sweats
Taken from the album 'Post Nothing'

Buy it at Insound!

When they do strike gold, however, they could give Fort Knox a run for its money. The staccato flow of
Rockers East Vancouver, the familiar and expectedly anthemic Young Hearts Spark Fire, and the pure rock drive of outstanding set highlight Heart Sweats, all deliver the goods. In doing so, they mark Japandroids out as a band that most likely simply need a little more time to develop a full canon of similarly undeniable material.

So despite the few misses, Japandroids certainly delivered the energy and shot in the arm usually required to kick start a large outdoor musical event. Next time, though, let's meet in a tiny little dive club and do this garage rock thing right. See you down the front........

Now playing: Jeff Caudill - Remember The Time
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 20 July 2009

REVIEW: The Perms - Keeps You Up When You're Down

Not so long ago, I gave a succinct nod - uncharacteristic, indeed, but true nonetheless - to The Perms most recent single Give Me All Your Lovin'. An enjoyable nugget of bouncing melodic rock, it was enough to make me want to listen to the album from whence it came. 'Keeps You Up When You're Down' duly arrived on my desk and I've had a scorching summer week to digest the whole thing.

Despite the fact that the album was released last autumn, I have a feeling that I was supposed to hear it just as the weather improved. Delivering a relentlessly upbeat, breezy set of rock songs that chiefly take their cues from classic Cheap Trick, 'Keeps You Up...' is an ideal summer time listen.


MP3: The Perms - Give Me All Your Lovin'
Taken from the album 'Keeps You Up When You're Down' - Buy

Kicking off with the aforementioned single - and, unsurprisingly, one of the band's strongest tracks - things get off to a cracking start with a short, snappy song, the chorus and hooks of which will require invasive surgery to remove from one's mind. The vocal harmonies
in particular, when mixed with the call and response of the chorus, add up to one huge tune that Foo Fighters or Weezer would have been happy to pen. As You Were begins in the same vein but lightens up a little, offering softer vocals and quieter guitar passages before returning to a driving rock riff. Running Away is then a natural follower again, with more reflective moments ("You & me.....tragedy") but never losing that pop sensibility that provides the keystone of The Perms' sound. Falling back again on the Cheap Trick comparison, this track in particular recalls moments of Surrender somewhere in the distance of the guitar sound. A good thing. A very good thing.

The Perms Live at The Cavern Club from The Perms on Vimeo.

As the album continues, it becomes clear that The Perms have a distinct nack for writing these mostly 3 minute catchy rock songs, heavy on the hooks. The Mess and Nightshift add further weight to this and provide a couple more highlights. With many of the tracks sticking to this tried and trusted formula, it's fair to say there's a certain amount of repetition as one enters into the final quarter of the album. For the most part, however, the galloping positivity wins out and binds everything together to create a great listen for the bright summer months.

In summarising the album, its own title provides about the best reference point. 'Keeps You Up When You're Down' is a fun, catchy listen for those moments when an aural pick me up is the requirement. Whether blaring from a car stereo on a road trip or pumping through the headphones on a balmy summer stroll, The Perms are sure to raise a smile with this thoroughly enjoyable effort.

Friday, 17 July 2009

REVIEW: Silversun Pickups - Swoon

Silversun Pickups (SSPU) arrived to some small fanfare in 2007, with their debut full length
'Carnavas' garnering some solid critical support and affording them the not entirely selective 'one to watch' tag. An album with some standout tracks - none more so than sprawling live favourite Lazy Eye - there was still something incomplete.....it wasn't an album that one would necessarily need to listen through end-to-end in order to gain the maximum enjoyment. This is what playlists made acceptable, right?

Wrong. A coherent full album that realises the potential of a band and showcases its varied qualities remains one of the most laudible achievements in music creation. Despite the ever-shifting sands of the music industry and a tendency towards track-driven sales and listening, quality albums are still of great importance, at least for the forseeable future as those generations nurtured on the format are still listening and, more importantly, buying.

Which all relates back to SSPU because with sophomore effort 'Swoon' the band has returned with the rounded out, well-balanced album at which they had only previously hinted.

It holds onto the fuzzed out,
Smashing Pumpkins-heavy 90's influence - something which seems to have become an unfortunate millstone around the neck of the band in certain critical corners - but pushes further on, lending a sweeping majesty to the album. This confident dynamism offers a greater depth to the band's sound, which broods in places, only to shake itself from the temporary funk and come back brighter with a joyous attack of guitars and unrestrained drums. Nowhere is this better evidenced than on the magnificent Growing Old is Getting Old, which arrives inconspicuously but surfs out on a powerful wave of guitar noise.


In seeking a criticism of 'Swoon', the most obvious comes in the lack of individually accessible, immediate songs. Panic Switch is the lead off song being used for promo/video purposes, yet in a blow-for-blow match up with an established hero like the Well Thought Out Twinkles, it would come out with a bloodied nose and a confused expression. Ganged up with the rest of its mates from Swoon - including the emotive Sort Of and expansive, grammatically troubling opener There's No Secrets This Year, however, it is more than capable of delivering a knockout revenge attack on those from Carnavas.

With all this said, what the new album offers is a neat counterpoint to the highs and lows of their debut. Both will certainly mesh together to form a solid live set. But in coming back to a personal listening experience, when the time permits to take in a full length, it's undoubtedly Swoon to which I'll be returning.

MP3: Silversun Pickups - Growing Old is Getting Old
Taken from 'Swoon', out now

Buy it at Insound!

"maybe we're sealed in silence

maybe we feel a guidance
maybe your own devices
will keep you afraid and cold"

Now playing: Jarvis Cocker - Disney Time
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Worlds Collide

Aside from being an obscure nu-metal tune from the late 90's and a classic Seinfeld sketch, the subject at hand befits the setting for William Elliot Whitmore's free set at the plush-looking City Winery in lower Manhattan yesterday. Far from being awkward, however, Mr Whitmore (William? Billy??) made everyone from the hipsters to those in the Trump Soho space feel at home, by lightly poking fun at the situation ("I'd usually be thrown out of places like this...but I feel at home on the loading dock") and playing the role of wine connoisseur ("Smells good....tastes good").

I've hinted at how good I expected the man's latest, "Animals In The Dark", to be earlier this year, but have been remiss in not picking it up to date. I've heard plenty of it, nonetheless, with many of these favourites present in Whitmore's post-work set here as part of the Hudson Square free series. Switching between standard acoustic geetar and a slightly detuned but satisfyingly twang-heavy banjo, Whitmore provided a soulful set, heavy on the blues yet light-hearted in the contented summer delivery.

William Elliott Whitmore - From the Cell Door to the Gallows
Taken from 2005's "Hymns For The Hopeless"

Buy it at Insound!

With a deep, gravelly country drawl, Whitmore is every inch the farm boy in the big city. His amiable and effusive between song banter - not to mention hand-shaking with the entire front row - marks him out as a fella who genuinely loves playing music in any setting, the kind of entertainer we all enjoy watching.

Offset against the rush hour in NYC and the heavier subject matter of set highlights like Old Devils and Hell or High Water, his infectious enthusiasm transports us temporarily to another place in the way all good live music should. If all the remaining artists are able to provide such an experience, I can certainly see myself back at this swanky loading dock for future performances.

Now playing: Mississippi Fred McDowell - Done Left Here
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 13 July 2009

United Kongdom

Flitting back and forth between UK and US acts (with the odd stop further afield, for the sake of culturing oneself) has always been a given for Heavier-Than-Air. Being based in a hotbed of US musical activity now, however, it affords an extra bonus in keeping these ears actively trained over to old Blighty, now that they're not exposed to homegrown talent on a daily basis.

Aside from providing more interesting sounds to write about in this here space, it also largely prevents me missing exciting releases from my own back yard. It helps me avoid missing excellent releases from bands like Kong.

Featuring members of Manchester's Oceansize, the only element significantly retained from that band's wonderfully sprawling audioscapes is the ambitious scope of the songs. Where Oceansize is the respectable, talented kid done good, though, Kong is the mutant offspring locked in the attic, being fed fish heads.

Their sound lurches wantonly across genre boundaries with scant regard for the dissonance and confusion erupting in their wake. As an example, the track that introduced me to the band - Sport - rides in on an angular riff that wouldn't feel out of place on a Shellac or Fugazi disc, before breaking down into a sludgy mélange of shrieked vocals, low-slung riffing, and schizophrenic drumming that recalls anyone from The Locust to Crowbar. A healthy headfuck of an adventurous aural mix, if ever there was one.

Kong - Sport
Taken from the new album 'Snake Magnet' - Buy

Dig a little deeper into Kong's visual element and the images/videos only add to the unhinged attraction of the band. Check out the video for Leather Penny below, for starters:

Produced by Roach Productions
Band: Kong
Track: Leather Penny
Label: Brew Records

The new album, 'Snake Magnet', is out this week over in the Euro zone and with any luck their renowned live shows will earn them a reputation that some US contemporaries can't ignore. I can already hear some favoured Brooklyn venues being laid to waste.....destruction never sounded so beautiful.

Now playing: Oceansize - Heaven Alive
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, 12 July 2009

LIVE REVIEW: Enter Shikari @ Gramercy (Blender) Theater, NYC - 2nd July 2009

H-T-A has been all over Enter Shikari in the past few weeks and, with a review of new album 'Common Dreads' in the pipeline, that isn't likely to cease any time soon. Despite this, I couldn't let their recent rave-cum-demolition in Gramercy go uncovered.

Being a 16+ show, the supports had been and gone by the time I arrived, shortly after 9pm. The crowd comprised mainly energetic young thangs hailing from some hinterland between hardcore and nu-rave......think mosh pits and glo-sticks......with the odd gnarled, veteran mosher in attendance to represent the old guard. Somewhere in the middle of this generational void, at least being British gave me something in common with many of the folks present.

Before even taking the stage, the band elicits a surge of anticipation with a countdown from the crowd: 10....9......8....etc etc, until the lights begin to flash neon green and they tear into
Step Up.

A frantic lad pushes back into the quieter part of the crowd, clears himself a path, and proceeds to sprint at his mate's back, vaulting into the swirl of bodies that has quickly erupted in the centre of the room. It's been too long since I've witnessed such voluntary carnage and reminds me of the reason I should be attending more heavy stuff in a live setting.

Not being entirely familiar with the new material, other than the excellent lead-off single Juggernauts, it's immediately apparent how well it compares to the handful of outstanding tracks on Enter Shikari's debut LP, 'Take to the Skies'. Songs like Havok B and Antwerpen manage to deliver that urgent, dynamic sound clash present in earlier efforts, whilst also delivering a slice of melody and cohesion that sets them a level above. Nonetheless, the older school is more than successfully represented via the rapturous handclaps of Sorry, You're Not A Winner through to a crushing rendition of Labyrinth.

Late into the set, Rou and Rory descend into the crowd, causing immense confusion as three distinct areas of the floor draw focus from the stage. Rou mounts the small bar - largely unused, aside from myself, due to the vibrant youth of the crowd - and Rory shreds away from somewhere over by the merch stands. Fists are raised, pitting continues, and the energy level keeps climbing to reverential highs. Closing with their blistering eponymous track, sing alongs abound and grins as wide as Long Island spread from ear-to-ear.

During a night of highs, the only slight detraction for these ears was a set lacking
Anything Can Happen in the Next Half Hour. This appears to be a regular choice from the band, however, and the plethora of choice new cuts more than compensates for any absent old friends.

With a venue at best two-thirds full and yet filled to the brim with such boundless energy, it's frightening to consider what Enter Shikari might achieve as their US fan base, if all goes to plan, continues to build. They have the songs, they have the stage presence, and if some smart-arse scientist can find a way to harness the power they whip up live, then they may just have the key to saving the planet. No pressure, like.

Enter Shikari continue their US tour in July, before returning home for festivals and a UK dates in October. Check dates out here and get yer arse to a show folks.


"I'm not saying that we could do better / But given the chance we'd try"

Now playing: Kong - Sport
via FoxyTunes

Friday, 10 July 2009

Sound the Sirens

Continuing the shameless lauding of this area's free summer shows, the next big, nay elephantine, event is the
Siren Music Festival. This goes down in Coney Island on Sat July 18th and features what for some - myself included - looks to be a who's who of currently hot indie-rock acts. Of course this is always subject to the cynicism and subjectivity that's particularly rife in this region of the musical map, but at the end of the day it's free and there will be something for almost any fan there, so this can only be a good thing, right? Right.

So the reason for this focus is that set times (left) have now been released, which gives everything a very real and plannable feel. It also affords an opportunity to pluck out some of the performers I'm most anticipating......some old hands with whom I've been familiar for some time, others being recommendations that can now be vetted without any significant expense to my moth-inhabited wallet.

Having covered them the most recently, Scotland's Frightened Rabbit is probably the band that I'm most excited to catch live. Quite how the dour feel and downbeat subject matter of the mostly inward-looking songs will go down on what will, hopefully, be a bright summer afternoon is a question mark. I'm sure the music will rise above, however. Also back on home shores, Welsh trio Future of the Left are certain to put in an amusing and hard rocking shift mid-afternoon. Having seen them previously in the UK a couple of years back, it will be interesting to see how the new material comes across.

Moving onto the up and comers, Canadian garage rockers Japandroids have to be one of the most hyped bands emerging from the ether of the last few months. Upon closer inspection, cast with the sceptical eyes (and ears) reserved in particular for flavour of the month indie, they bear out some of the love. With a raw and unrestrained attack on the familiar sound, it feels like there will be something worth seeing. Their excellent showcase track, Young Hearts Spark Fire, is a good intro to the band and seems to be posted over at the wonderful Hype Machine every couple of hours by someone, so no need for me to add to that static. Just head over here for the most recent link......and don't forget to hang around a sec to read the blog post to which it's attached, that's just pleasant like.

Not so up and coming, having been releasing material for over a decade apparently, but certainly of the moment are Thee Oh Sees. More from hearing continuous buzz about their live show than spending lots of time with their music, I want to catch these guys if possible. Another chance to vet and write s'more, should inspiration strike to do so.
MP3: Thee Oh Sees - Ghosts in the Trees
Taken from album 'The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In'

Having heard more first-hand reports about NYC post-rockers A Place to Bury Strangers, this is a live set that I have great faith will be excellent, despite again lacking an intimate knowledge of their releases. What strikes me is that it will be broad daylight when they take the stage, yet their wall-of-noise guitars and moody vocals seem altogether more suited to the cloak of a dark night sky. Nonetheless, this promises to be one of the more deafening sets of the fest.

MP3: A Place to Bury Strangers - My Weakness
Taken from the s/t debut
Buy it at Insound!

And then, of course, we have Idaho's unassuming indie-rock standard bearers, Built to Spill. Their sound has taken a little longer than expected to grow on me, but the winding songs and carefully constructed lyrics have a happy way of creating a place in one's heart. They will certainly be worthy headliners and bring a certain amount of experienced rocking to a fairly newborn, rising line-up of hot shots.

Is anyone going? And recommendations?? Have I grossly overlooked any of the acts? Speak now or forever hold your peace.....until a week Saturday, at least.

Now playing: Japandroids - Young Hearts Spark Fire
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 6 July 2009

Live Free

With Yankee Independence Day falling handily on a Saturday this year - not to mention the sun finally deciding that a week deep into summer might be an appropriate time for it to finally emerge - Battery Park in lowest Manhattan saw a prime opportunity for a huge freebie. So it was then that, in the shadow of Lady Liberty, former Saddle Creek stable-mates Jenny Lewis and Conor Oberst - Mystic Valley Band included - hit the River 2 River stage for the big event.

Having had the temerity to arrive with pup in tow (see right...now who could refuse that face??), access to the premium seating was unavailable, but thankfully the locale is wonderfully casual-viewer friendly with vantage points all around the park and ferry dock. Even so, at times these areas were also packed out, with a mixture of devoted hipster fans, local revellers, and bemused onlooking tourists, freshly released from the Statue tour ferry and drawn to the party.

Both artists got plenty of stage time, which was a pleasure to behold given some of the curtailed freebies that we've attended in recent months. Granted, it's taking liberties to ask for much when tout est gratuit, but it's nice to be treated to a full show when you get out there to witness something, nonetheless.

Jenny Lewis was first up, covering material from both her two solo releases and from longer term project, the much-loved Rilo Kiley. Looking every inch the down-home country girl, her tunes straddled the borders of indie, folk, and to some extent the country sounds to match her get up. Notable moments were You Are What You Love and The Next Messiah, both fine points spread across her two solo releases. Unsurprisingly joined by Oberst towards the end of the performance, an excited cheer was raised at the prospect of all still to come. Lewis' set was extremely well received, with many later putting her above Oberst as the event highlight, and a pleasant soundtrack to kick off a warm holiday celebration.

MP3: Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins - Melt Your Heart
Taken from the album "Rabbit Fur Coat"
Buy it at Insound!

Much like Lewis - more so, in fact - Conor Oberst has multiple musical projects and a wealth of recorded material from which to pull when performing live. With excellent new disc "Outer South" just released, though, it's to be expected that many of these newbies are liberally sprinkled through the nearly 2 hour long set.

MP3: Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band - Nikorette
Taken from the album "Outer South"
Buy it at Insound!

Looking faintly Amish in an extremely wide-brimmed hat.....looked like a cowboy hat from a distance, until my eagle-eyed better half pointed out it was much bigger.....and with a history of semi-rebellious musical output, Oberst cuts an odd figure to be representing all that is American on this most patriotic of days. Maybe that's the point, however. Set against the tragic farce of 'elections' in countries like Iran and Zimbabwe, that Americans can celebrate their national day with protest songs (including lines such as "I hope you haven't got too lazy / I know you like your apple pie / Cause the working poor you've been pissing on are doing double shifts tonight", poetically delivered a short walk from Wall Street) can only push home the general objective that some in those countries seek. It may not perfect but by comparison few would question the concept.

With the plethora of new stuff, a dearth of anything from Desaparecidos, and my general apathy/ignorance (delete as applicable) towards most things Bright Eyes, it's left to cuts like the aforementioned closer Roosevelt Room and Worldwide to provide my highlights. If anything the encore does drag a little, extended as it is from "one quiet one, one loud one" to an increasingly raucous medley of five songs, but it's sunny and everyone's on holiday, so there's not a complaint to be heard.

So yet more outstanding free live entertainment served up and the calendar shows no sign of letting up with freebies most Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays throughout the summer. In case I haven't mentioned it.....and if only to avoid buying one of those sodding t-shirts......I <3 NY.

Or, as another gentleman's shirt phrased it in so local a fashion: GO <3 YOUR OWN CITY.

Now playing: MEM - I Just Can't
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Ketchup: Part Deux

Back for another ascent of submission mountain, having already braved the vicious (pleasurably so) mauling of Ouch My Face and the intricate winding passes of Shark Speed. Firstly, though, some idle chatter as we pack up base camp........

Heavier - Than - Air has previously covered lesser known bands through a section called 'Unsigned, Uncovered'. Granted, this is a relatively accurate title, but given further thought I dislike it.....chiefly because of the unsigned part. I'm currently reading through the Indie Band Survival Guide - a gem of a starting point for anyone requiring a band perspective on a business approach to the music industry - which highlights the main issue with the unsigned tag: "Unfortunately, it seems to imply that being signed is the goal, and that musicians who haven't been signed have a lower status than those who have."

Particularly in today's world of immediate global connection to potential fans and minimal requirements for recording, this implication is, although still relatively widely held and lacking a more eloquent term, bollocks.

Although being recognised by a company willing to invest in artist talent is certainly a sign of progress and a basic level of quality - at least in song writing terms - to assign levels of musical appeal solely on the basis of business investment criteria is removing so many other key factors. Anyhow, the main point is that
H-T-A will actively attempt to move away from any traditional business prejudices and judge solely on enjoyment of the music itself. This should be a given on a music blog written purely to those ends, yet some of these perspectives are so historically ingrained in music that they're taken for granted. Well, this is the wake up call. Back to the good stuff.......

So in one submission alone we have more material than can be co
vered in one post, so the focus for this attempt is on Father Abraham's "I Am Not A Sailor, I Am The Captain" release. This moves H-T-A once again into hip-hop territory, an area of the musical map that holds much intrigue but is irregularly frequented. My aural equivalent of Scotland, perhaps. Wow, that may be the most laboured analogy to date..........score.

Abraham Kinkopf - the gent behind the pseudonym - is certainly a busy chap. This producer/rapper from Baaawwwwwston (as, I'm reliably informed by Noo Yawwkers, it is pronounced) not only has 3 albums in as many years, he's also midway through a song-a-week project named
52 Pick up. Whilst I'm still busy wrapping my ears around the aforementioned full length, such dedication and innovation is to be applauded and I'll certainly be digging deeper into the 26 songs that have been offered to date.

Back with
"I Am Not A Sailor, I Am The Captain", though, and a number of my rap/hip-hop reference points are touched upon in this varied, dynamic release. Heavy on synths and samples, we get hints of Aesop Rock (Rock and Roll), Doomisms (helpsaveme), and Beastie Boys in the various conceptual twists and turns. Away from hip-hop, even the Eastern European twangs of Gogol Bordello (Bosnian Man) appear, demonstrating how wide the net is cast on this effort. At times this does feel somewhat incongruous, with styles jumping from track to track, but it is all rooted in a sample-laden rap base that affords some continuity. Taking individual tracks, too, there's a lot to be found and enjoy. Essentially, if you're into the alternative brand of the genre - as often displayed on Def Jux - I see no reason not to add Father Abraham to your lists to check out. Start right here, in fact:

MP3: Father Abraham - Rock and Roll
MP3: Father Abraham - Bosnian Man
Taken from
"I Am Not A Sailor, I Am The Captain" - Buy

So returning to New York City, a band I managed to catch a couple of times in June - thoroughly enjoying each time - is MEM. An intriguing take on alternative/progressive forms of indie-rock, they have a strong visual projection element live but recall anyone from Muse to Animal Collective when you dig deeper.

g all manner of effects and vocal distortions, their new album 'Archaea' may not be to traditionalist tastes but I'm lured in every time I hear a few bars.....even without the ear-catching live staple This One amongst its track listing. A full review is as likely as the media spending all weekend dissecting MJ's last will and testament, so be on the look out if you dig what's up on their Myspace page.

Last but not least would have been Chicago's
Apteka but I'm feeling the burn here and will have to save that particular musical nourishment for the next meal. Do have a listen and feel free to pre-empt my findings, though. Nothing like a bit of healthy debate to kick off a holiday weekend, that celebrates the English getting a bit homesick and leaving the keys with some Yankee locals, right? What d'you mean your history books say otherwise?? That's what you get for ruining perfectly good tea.

A bientot.

Now playing: Enter Shikari - Juggernauts
via FoxyTunes