Thursday, 28 October 2010

Captain Hooked: Talons Need No Words On Debut

Freed from the hustle-bustle of last week - watching free live music sure is tough...pity me - I've finally been able to wade through the (sorely neglected) H-T-A inbox today. As always, hidden amongst the remixes of a DJ's remix of an indie band's b-side and awkwardly pitched trance compilations, a few gems did lurk.

Not least of these comes from back home, in the form of Hereford's fierce instrumental rock troupe, Talons.

I rarely fail to find a soft spot for instrumental rock/metal, although it does take some outstanding chops and variety to really catch the attention in a genre omitting lyrical hooks. Talons deliver in spades, particularly on lead off track Peter Pan.

Fusing wave after wave of serrated guitar crescendos to a strong spine of dramatic strings, the band resists the urge to push into the sprawling territory often inhabited by their peers, keeping this one to a neat 3 minutes or so. It pays off, with the riffs taking centre stage and washing through the auditory canals like a flash flood, devastating and cleansing in one fell swoop.

MP3: Talons - Peter Pan
Taken from the forthcoming album Hollow Realm, out December 6th - PRE ORDER

Although they aren't yet hitting the impassioned highs of their stated influencers, the much-missed Aereogramme, that Talons are showing the potential to do so this early in their band life is a mouth-watering prospect.

With a full length, Hollow Realm, due out right before the year's end, I hope to be making a frantic dash to add it to the end of year favourites in mid December. If it maintains the quality they're displaying on first listens, you'd have to say they're a shoe in. Mighty fine.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

CMJ Report: Day 5 (The End)

The chance to lie in and spend the morning lazing around is most welcome after several consecutive days of bands and booze. Of course it makes all sense to schedule the final day of CMJ on a Saturday, giving the hardy week goers one final fling before Sunday rest, as well as a chance for those limited by the weekly routine to get their share on the weekend. Even so, to the schedulers I say simply: cheers.

Once I finally awake from my own personal multi-nap marathon, it's off to the Living Room to catch the start of Music Snobbery's day event. Specifically I want to watch Alessi's Ark, the young British singer-songwriter whose endearing cover of Skynrd's Simple Man caught the attention last year.

With her unique, charismatic voice, 20-year old Alessi has a beautifully subtle approach to her songs. The likes of Shovelling and  The Robot are charming in their fragility. Unfortunately this characteristic seems to extend to the creator as well and she has difficulty pushing through certain sections, even succumbing to a fit of giggles during one number. Whether this is down to a lack of confidence in an unfamiliar environment or some other factor, those in attendance are firmly behind her and willing her on. When she hits all the right notes it's a joy to behold and hopefully the experience helps rather than hinders her growth as a performing artist.

As the next band due on here is also scheduled to hit the next event I plan to catch - the I rock I roll party down at the multi-floored Delancey - it seems natural to move on and try to stick around in one venue for at least a few hours of the Marathon. This next party reputedly having unlimited nachos makes it a prime candidate.

Ravens & Chimes are playing as I come in and up, up, up to the attempted jungle on the Delancey's roof terrace. The pedant in me mumbles about the lack of band visibility through the foliage, as the main mind marvels at the weird and wonderful venues of the city. The band themselves are pleasant  and intricate indie fare that sounds like they have a bit more to offer in a full live setting.

Down one flight of stairs and Millionyoung is setting up to deliver one of several sets he's lined up for CMJ 2010 to feast our ears upon. On decks and guitar himself, Mike Diaz calls on a bassist and drummer, both positioned awkwardly in the middle of a walkway to the upper deck, to round out his live sound. And despite some gripes with the sound (a fatigued looking tech seemingly covering 3 stages all on his lonesome) they bring a warm, hazy atmosphere to the party. Particularly so on new single Calrissian, which sounds more organic than any MillionYoung material I've heard to date. The rise of this skilled Floridian seems set to continue, on this form.

Back upstairs and a band of whom I've seen plenty written, yet heard nothing at all, Savoir Adore are midway through an acoustic set. It's hard to tell just how much of this is their usual style with such a stripped down set up, but there's a simple beauty to the songs they deliver all the same. With a light, elegant vocal, Deidre Muro has the perfect tone for the setting, as the guitar bobs gently underneath her. As I say, no definitive opinion taken but an enjoyable set for this format and one that invites a full listen.

Every festival, especially those with an industry element to them, throws up a buzz band whose name grows as the days pass by. Last year it proved to be Surfer Blood, eventual darlings of CMJ '09 and propelled along nicely by the hype from it. This time around it feels as though Newport Beach's Young the Giant are getting that surge. A full to bursting Delancey basement for their last set, if not cementing that outcome, certainly does nothing to detract from the likelihood. 

The energy is high in their addictive blend of alternative and indie rock, which has just enough quirks to appeal to more discerning tastes as well as the memorable hooks that will attract anyone from pop pickers to commercial radio. Nowhere is this more in evidence than final song - nay, anthem - My Body, which is destined to be their breakout tune and probably to appear in adverts for anything from energy drinks to deodorant. Which isn't to detract from it right now, as it's a hugely endearing tune. As appreciative as a crowd of tired, half cut industry folks can be, the response is warming.

Back on the roof, a couple of songs from Miracles of Modern Science boasts the impressive sight of an electric violin, a form of ukulele (I think), and an imposing double bass booming out the low end of this distinctly original sound. Somewhere between classical influences and pop melody, these guys find a catch, quirky mix that lingers in the memory both aurally and visually. Certainly on the list for further research. 

Almost as tiring dashing up and down one venue as hopping between different ones, I resolve to catch the last few moments of Philadelphia Grand Jury and then move on. It's well worth the effort, as the Australians deliver rock attitude in a way only that primal nation can, culminating in an unhinged, yet totally inspired cover of Jay-Z's 99 Problems. The band switch positions, end up in and around the crowd, offer the free nachos to one and all, and generally create a spectacle that probably isn't going to be topped for the rest of the bill, so it seems like the perfect time to move on to my final destination, the Pop Tarts Suck Toasted show at Cake Shop. 

The main reason for this is to catch Pennsylvanian noise makers SOARS, whose wonderful s/t debut I still owe a glowing review. For the moment, a plum live review will have to make do, as the band are visually not so remarkable but sonically a force to be reckoned with. The brooding quality to tracks like Figurehead and Throw Yourself Apart drives past shoegaze and into unknown territory, rarely kicking up a fierce pace but feeling no less formidable for it.  

In a very different way, the final band I catch are just as intriguing. New York's Ava Luna, with three female backing vocalists and a somewhat awkward looking gentleman ,singer who can actually belt out some of the funkiest singing imaginable. They slink and groove their way through an engaging electro-indie set that's quite apart from anything I would have expected. Another to keep an eye out for once the week's chicanery has died down.

Thus marked the end of CMJ 2010, a gruelling but hugely enjoyable week of varied and talented artists descending once again for 5 days of musical long-distance running. Others managed far more than I, so I doff my cap to them especially. Thanks to all the artists that made it such a wonderful experience and expect a summary post with music, video, and plenty of pictures in the next few days. Until next year....

Monday, 25 October 2010

CMJ Report: Day 4

As the weekend dawns, so we move into the business end of the CMJ Music Marathon. With most people's schedules opening up and just two days remaining to catch those last elusive sets, hard choices must be made and plans stuck to firmly. The fact that the constant flow of free ale has a habit of demolishing all such best laids affords no excuse for not making them.

And so it is that I find myself on a frantic double train hop in order to catch as much of the Brooklyn Vegan day party as humanly possible. Hiking down from hipster heaven on Bedford Avenue, the venue is a mere 5 minutes least it is when the siren song of Asobi Seksu is calling. Before them still, I manage to catch the last segment of Oberhofer's set, which comes off as fast paced, good time rock. The band seemed genuinely thrilled to be playing show number who-knows-how-many, leaving me wishing I had caught more.

The main objective is achieved nonetheless, as Asobi Seksu take the main stage. As expected, Yuki's gorgeous songbird vocal is as alluring as ever. The overall sound is lacking, though, with that swirling wall of noise that should be providing the storm to her eye notably muted. The band seem to be hinting at issues with the sound throughout, yet blunted their instruments remain. Although songs from Citrus stand proud regardless, with the diminutive singer soaring, a key part of the band is clearly neutered on this occasion. At least it's free, eh?

With some interest in hanging around for recently announced headliners Devotchka, a new venue in a new area with new artists is calling me. And the lure is too strong to refuse, so I head South to The Woods. As enchanting sounding venue, this spot is due to host the no less enigmatically named Dark Dark Dark. In reality, it's a relatively bright, Bohemian location, at odds with the industrial wasteland that surrounds it. Gracing its small corner stage as I enter are Virginia's pensive Eternal Summers. With a minimalist, rough sound, the band keep things moving along but do little to rouse us beyond polite nods and applause. Later I find it they're considered a 'must see' at CMJ by some...needless to say I didn't find the magic they did.

Dark Dark Dark are quite another story, however. Initially slow and potentially pretentious, it requires only a few switches of instrumentation and their winding, enigmatic songs to realise that this band offer all kinds of overgrown trails to explore. Their hushed, fragile sound vaguely recalls the depth of Midlake in tone, but varies greatly in style and retains a very individual feel to the songs. The intricacy of the sextet's material, along with the variation of instruments at work - from accordions to piano and French horns - weaves together to form a compelling sound and spectacle. Worthy of much deeper investigation...and seeing at night, in a dark, smoky environment.

From those artsy leanings, the evening fare ventures quickly into more immediately accessible territory. Back on the Lower East Side, Fontana's is the stage for mainstream rockers The Vanguard and the pop-friendly strut of Locksley to show us what they got. In the case of the former, it's lashings of grand, melodic radio friendly rock. With elements of The Killers in their keys and vocals, the band border on the anthemic more than once and have a sound that could fill much larger settings than this. With a show at the Bowery Ballroom coming up, they have a chance to do just that.

Locksley are another group that clearly have designs on rock and roll grandeur, with a tight, high energy set that pulls out all the right poses. From the duelling guitars to posturing on the monitors, these chaps are seasoned performers wearing their influences on their sleeves. Those influences span a lot of classic British 60's guitar pop, with a liberal dose of punk attitude thrown in, at least in their electric delivery. Good stuff as a spectacle, if a tad derivative musically on occassion.

With the good time rock sensibilities fully sated, the last stop of the night is right on the route to the subway and takes in Jackpot, Tiger at the rather pub-like National Underground. With pillars obscuring sight lines left and right, it's far from an ideal space, yet the crowd is packed in and enjoying the off kilter indie-rock of this NYC band. The band move fast and their male-female vocals lend them a Los Campesinos! quality, one which also finds its way into the loose, raw element of their playing. It's only a few songs that I catch but they raise a smile, not just on my wearied mush but on those of a crowd in full Friday night revelry. That, in itself, can only be a good sign for this fledgling band.

Another varied, enjoyable day of music behind me, I leave the young and the restless to continue their drinking and focus my mind on some solid rest before the 'big push' of the final day. With day parties everywhere, 3 floors of band action at The Delancey, and a need to squeeze in a great many H-T-A friendly acts that have somehow escaped the eyes and ears to this point, I'm going to need it.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

CMJ Report: Day 3

After the non starter of the first day and heady catch up on day two, day three of the CMJ Music Marathon proved to be a healthy mix of aspiring talent, established names, and old friends of H-T-A.

As ever, one of the best places to hang around, especially for the day shows, is the upper end of Ludlow Street on the Lower East Side. Finding the cosy and varied venues of Piano's, The Living Room, and Cake Shop almost side by side, the only thing slowing one down between bands is the lure of free (or dirt cheap) beverages at the various bars. And maybe those delicious looking cupcakes that give the latter venue its tasty name. Mmmmm.....wait, bands, music is why we're here. Onwards...

The cavernous basement of said venue is exactly where we start today, catching up with Brooklyn's purveyors of electronic-pop discord, Keepaway. With an extended set up that essentially consists of 'more of this in monitor...more of that in house...more more MORE!', it's already fair to assume that this trio likes to bring the noise. When they eventually kick off and the bass/synth elements reverberate through skeletons, the hypothesis bears fruit. Keepaway have a solid groove that keeps things accessible, with enough energy and chops at work behind the poppier elements to retain an edge. The songs don't hold in the memory for long enough after the set to fully convince, but the entertainment value and charisma is high enough to warrant a closer eye and attendance at one of their own shows in the near future.

After an aural assault, it's up to the more sedate setting of Rockwood Music Hall - now with additional stage goodness - to catch up with a talented gent first covered in these pages last year, Danny Ross. After catching his full on performance at Mercury Lounge over the summer, it was the rockers that caught my attention. Here, though tunes like Country Wind and the ever-pugnacious Woman receive welcome run outs, the high point of the set is a heartfelt duet on Forgive Me Love. Welcoming Joely Pittman - who also sang on the record, One Way - onstage, the two sing harmonies into the same microphone, perfectly capturing the intimacy of both the song and the venue itself. With the great effort that the talented Mr Ross puts into making every show special for those in attendance, there's always something to live in the memory from each and this is the one that, for a few minutes, quiets the hubbub of the CMJ-mania in full swing outside.

The marathon element can only be quelled so long, however, and soon the focus swings to the next move, which for me is all the way down in mid-Brooklyn. With uncertain set times and a potentially extended transit time, the lure of hanging around at Rockwood is overcome and I jump the trains. Unfortunately this means missing the manic acoustic-rock of Goodbye Picasso up next, a band I caught last year at CMJ and always have a good time watching. With a new record out called The Book of Aylene, I make a mental note to catch them on the next possible occassion and hit the grimy bricks of the L.E.S.

Part of the joy of my first CMJ last year was becoming familiar with a plethora of new venues in the city. That factor is obviously somewhat lessened in the second year but kicks in again for my next stop, The Rock Shop in Brooklyn's Park Slope. Chock full of strollers and soccer moms (or the closest New York has to such a thing) the neighbourhood is nonetheless home to many a skilled musician and has the venues to back it up...the singer-songwriter yang to Williamsburg's more hedonistic yin, if you like. 

Anyhow, The Rock Shop is a relatively modern, solid space to add to said venue list, having only opened this past May. Tonight it plays host to a headline show for Brighton, England's Blood Red Shoes, which is exactly why I'm in attendance. First up we are to be entertained by Apache Beat, however, a New York indie-rock act thankfully in no way related to the Indian namesake who created Boom Shaka-Laka! Small mercies and all that. With thickly layered songs and a clear fire in their bellies, the band tear through a solid set that is underpinned by the blisteringly tight drumming. Although I struggle to cast my mind back to any specific songs, the set overall is engaging enough that I'm interested in hearing their album. With a support slot to Neon Indian later this month at Brooklyn Bowl, Apache Beat also clearly have their sights set on winning the hearts and minds of Brooklyn's indie elite.

The final action of the night is also the action I've been awaiting for nigh on three years, catching my countryman/woman duo Blood Red Shoes in a live setting. Granted, a few years back I could have ventured into Liverpool to catch up with them, but at that point it was still early days for their winding, furiously-paced blend of garage and alt rock to be taking hold of auditory canals. After a couple of years in the US, their sound has grown in my mind and I've been left to rue the missed opportunities. One more reason to dig CMJ personally is that it brings these types of rising UK act to West Atlantic shores, affording me not one but four possible chances to see the band this week.

A relatively unassuming duo visually, Steve Ansell and Laura-Mary Carter create an almighty racket once plugged in and in full musical flight. With Carter's neo-alt guitars ripping at full volume, Ansell's drums fuelling the fire, and both of them belting out vocals to give some added meaning to the ruckus, it's an impressive sight to behold two people getting all this done. The quick fire assault of songs like It's Getting Boring By The Sea, Light It Up, and Don't Ask keeps the pace high, touching on garage rock sensibilities but with a more dense quality. Although this similar pace does lack some variation - at one point Ansell quips that 'all our new songs have titles that are like insults...this next one is called Go Fuck Yourself...!' - it makes for an exhilirating overall listen for the majority of their set. The late inclusion of I Wish I Was Someone Better and its inner-voice 'Made a mistake, I made a mistake' refrain is a final highlight, reminding the crowd that some of their debut Box of Secrets material rocks just as tough as the stuff on Fire Like This.

A thoroughly enjoyable end to a varied day, it's only a short ride home to get some much needed sleep before day four swings into gear. That being the weekend and the closing couple of days, things are about to get fast and furious on Friday...

[Ed. Note: Pics, vids, and MP3's to be added in the next day or so. Netbooks do not a multimedia friendly environment create.]

Friday, 22 October 2010

CMJ Report: Days 1 & 2

So New York City has been plunged headlong, once again, into the yearly industry showcase sprawl that is the CMJ Music Marathon. Aptly titled, as outside of South by Southwest (I assume) there can be no more widely spread music pow wow extending over almost an entire week. Marathon indeed.

Despite the subject tagging day one here, my action was severely limited by a tight 'real life' schedule and a need to pace the week out correctly. The free evening show at Brooklyn Bowl, with Yo La Tengo and Screaming Females looked appealing, yet a trip to Williamsburg after hours means an all nighter given the horrendous transit links to my patch, so it was nixed. I did manage to catch a stripped down drum/acoustic set in passing Washington Square Park, however, which I later found out was most likely Canadians Yukon Blonde. Tunes sounded good even in their barest form, so I'll be digging a little deeper into where else they're playing.

The next day yielded the first day day show action, with the folksy Addie Brownlee firing her powerful voice into the lush acoustics of the Living Room. Solid songs, rounded out by a particularly bittersweet (and darkly humourous) gem most likely entitled I Hope You Never Find Love ensure a good start to the musical running.

A quick hop down the road - the beauty of hitting the Ludlow Street venues - finds the Terrorbird showcase underway at the Cake Shop. Time permits me only to catch Texan deckmeister Botany, whose beats are layered and undoubtedly skillfully crafted, though not totally my cup of tea if truth be told. The visuals add a nice touch, but in a basement venue with near zero visibility unless you're in the front two rows, they're largely missed.

After catching up with another talented singer-songwriter, Rob Holzer, in something quite removed from the CMJ shenanigans, the evening shows become the focus of attention. That gent is worthy of mention, however, for breaking up the running around with some expertly played covers of the Chilli Peppers and Stone Temple Pilots, a welcome throw back to my youth during a festival obsessed with digging up the next big things.

The Canal Room is the next destination, where a mate directed my attention to the ASCAP showcase. The first band up are a crunchy melodic rock bunch from my homeland, The Xcerts. Without reinventing the wheel, they deliver powerful wallop with riffs that pound away in the good old style of Long Island core, set againsta more accessible, almost powerpop element to the vocals. The energy keeps things moving along nicely.

The highlight of the evening proves to be from the left coast, as Los Angeles-based Grouplove take the stage. Drawing comparisons to Arcade Fire from those around me, based solely on their get up it seems, they warrant some of that allusion with their anthemic melodies. They inject a bit more light-hearted fun into their engaging brand of hippy-indie-pop, however, and offer a number of different reference points with both their retro look and undeniably tight, catchy tunes. Lots of fun and well worth a closer listen once all this madness subsides on Sunday.

The last act I manage to catch is Good Old War, from whom more gentle, refined indie folk song flow to ease the crowd into a more relaxed state of being. The calming herbal tea to Grouplove's double espresso, so to speak.
Feeling the pull of a long subway ride and the Blue Moons taking their toll, I head off into the night to contemplate what the next day of venue hopping might bring...

[Ed. Note: Pics, vids, and MP3's to be added in the next day or so. Netbooks do not a multimedia friendly environment create.]

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Picture Perfect: Solomon's Hollow Debuts Exclusive New Video

Not so long ago, I had the pleasure of delving into the subtle charms of Genre Studies, the forthcoming album of Solomon's Hollow. One of my favourite slices from the release was - still very much is - Silent Film, a sedate and optimistic number with touching lyrics that warm the heart.

It is with pleasure, then, that the humble pages of H-T-A are the first spot you can view this deceptively simple video for this very tune...

Aligning well with the song's stripped down beauty, this stop-motion film (I believe...experts?) is set in black & white, following a frustrated painter who eventually finds the images he seeks within himself...sort of...ish. Hey, this is why I leave the life postulations to the right-brained folks.

If you sit back and enjoy you should certainly get a kick from the way the visuals sync up to the lush tones. Should that prompt you to delve deeper, don't hesitate to click through to Barn Owl Records or Myspace for some extra-curricular listening activity.

All of which prepares you nicely for the full release of Genre Studies on November 9th. My hope is that this still gives it a little time to register on other end-of-year lists in the blogosphere....what say you?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

[Guest Post] NYC Spotlight: The Gay Blades

H-T-A Note: I caught this gig a few weeks ago but the review didn't flow from my brain as perhaps it should have. Given that MaryEllen directed me to the band in the first place and wrote such a glowing piece, I thought I'd offer up her prose instead...

I hope that all you NYC'ers have at least heard this name passing through someone’s lips recently.  These guys are gaining loads of hype. Point proven: I logged onto The Deli and, somewhere through today’s stalking of the website for good tunes, an ad popped up that told me to DL their new album, Savages….well played pop-up, well played…but I already gots it.

The duo, made up of drummer Puppy Mills (Quinn English) and singer/guitarist Clark Westfield (James Wells) has been wreaking havoc for a few years now.  As afore-mentioned within my first post – I am an a-hole and just started this blogging thing, millenia too late….but I’d like to pay The Gay Blades homage….better now than never! 
The Gay Blades

The last time I saw these guys play was a recent Wednesday night at The Studio, Webster Hall.  The first few times I saw these guys play was about 2-3 years ago, in and out of sketchtastic little bars around the CT area.  It’s the age old cliche – not much as changed, but at the same time, a lot has.

Their debut album, Ghosts, is one of those raw and passionate trash-rock-n-roll albums.  James’ vocals are the epitome of emotion, cracking throughout the lyrics.  Drums and guitar are all that is needed.  However, Savages introduces a new side to be seen of the group.  Many of the songs incorporate additional instruments, such as keys, sax, trumpet, and even a little violin.

MP3: The Gay Blades - O Shot
Taken from the aforementioned album, Ghosts - out now

BUY (Band site) 

Buy it at Insound!

Even with all these new bits added, it doesn’t take away an inch of what makes The Gay Blades, well…The Gay Blades.  What makes Puppy and Clark so amazing is the fact that they have such a visible passion, and the bond/amazing duo-powers are still as strong as ever.

Their single off the album, Try To Understand, is a perfect example.  It’s brilliant – it’s the old and the new combined.  It’s funky fresh…trash-pop and danceable with some new instruments added, and still showcases the brilliance of Clark’s voice and the drumming skills of the notorious P. Mills.  They will always be the epitomy of two best friends, doing something that they do best.


And no matter what – The Gay Blades always put on a memorable show.  And I don’t say that lightly.  When they play, their intensity and passion for their music shine through.  It washes over and spills into the crowd.  Combined with the random banter of James and the people sprinkled throughout, you really won’t forget ever seeing these gents play live (unless you were wasted – in which that’s a different story entirely).

They are completely comfortable on the stage, and it’s where they are meant – and hopefully will continue - to be.

Kudos, gents. 

Check out MaryEllen's post in its original format, plus her other  splendid musical (and life) musings on her What A Mellen blog

Upcoming Tour Dates for The Gay Blades

  • Hoboken, NJ

  • Oct 21st - Spike HillBrooklyn, NY

  • Orlando, FL
  • Newport, KY
  • Nov 2nd - Beat KitchenChicago, IL

  • Nov 4th  Sneaky Dee'sToronto, ON, CANADA

  • Poughkeepsie, NY
  • Nov 6th - M RoomPhiladelphia, PA

Sunday, 17 October 2010

No Wars, Just Stars: MillionYoung Keeps Shining On Calrissian

With almost a year having passed here since the last coverage on MillionYoung, two things are clear:

1) Time is a ridiculously swift mistress, and
2) She must, nonetheless, be coerced into focusing her wiles on past friends of these pages. 

Basically, check in with interesting musical folks more often.

Add to this almost year long gap in coverage the fact that the dreamy Floridian's new tune, Calrissian, is culled from a 2011-scheduled release, and we have the chronologically-rooted anxiety continues to build. Thankfully this is neatly cured by simply allowing the tranquil embrace of this new song to wash over the senses. 

Taken from the  forthcoming debut LP, due early 2011 on Old Flame Records 

Containing a similarly looped, warmly warped version of the chillwave material posted previously, Calrissian also adds a more organic element to the mix. Perhaps it's the more emotional acoustic guitar lines, as the vocals are remain a distant speck on the horizon, but there's definitely an increased human touch to this track, where once the electronics took centre stage. Whatever it is, it's perfectly welcome. 

As an added benefit to this exercise in catch up, MillionYoung has several shows in NYC this week as part of the sprawling industry clusterfunk that is the CMJ Music Marathon. Although vaguely aware of the artists that will be treading the grimy stages of this fair city, my schedule is as nebulous as the hazy aesthetic of the chillwave style. 

This post also acts as my arse kicker to use that funky smartphone calendar for more than just doctor's appointments. Expect to see much, much more this coming week...but take some time to kick back with Calrissian too.

MillionYoung Tour Dates


10.20: Littlefield CMJ Showcase @ 622 Degraw Street, Brooklyn
10.20: Swan 7 Recording Recording Studio @ 268 Meserole Street, Brooklyn
10.21: ARCADE44 Presents "One Night Stand" at The Bowery Hotel (2nd floor private event space)
10.21: I Guess I'm Floating Party @ Pianos
10.22: The Sky Report CMJ Showcase @ Bar Matchless
10.22: Impose Magazine "Imposistion" @ The Woods
10.23: Flowerbooking CMJ Showcase @ Piano's
10.23: I Rock I Roll Party @ The Delancey
10.24: FMLY Party @Shea Stadium

For all forthcoming 2010 dates, check out the Myspace page. 

Monday, 11 October 2010

Sub Aquatic Sounds: Eat More Cake Bliss Out, Underwater

I've been coming across - and enjoying - more music from home shores recently, which is gratifying after a period absorbed within my own borough here. This continues with the understated allure of London's Eat More Cake

Despite an appellation guaranteed to fuel spiralling obesity rates, the most recent track of this quartet from the capital starts out as quite the low calorie option. With a simple piano intro and almost whisper-light vocals, it builds with a complimentary acoustic strum and some understated percussion. Further in, the electronica elements that the band cite on their Myspace page make an appearance, though only in the most subtle manner. 

MP3: Eat More Cake - Underwater
Taken from the forthcoming album 'Climb The Ladder, Live The Dream', out Oct 25th 

The appeal certainly lies in this apparent simplicity, which builds slowly and winds together to create an actually quite heavily layered tune with a gratifying crescendo. On the back of this rather delectable slice, I'm intrigued to check out just how much of the purported electronica and hip-hop sound creep into the rest of their debut album, which has been garnering radio attention in the UK and can now be streamed in full below. 


For starters, I project that Underwater will prove equally alluring to your ear buds and suggest downloading it for the morning commute. With soothing vocals and a calm climb to the peak, it sounds like just the kind of music to ease one into the day.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Blast From The Past

Less a blast, perhaps, more a sentimental glance back at a beautifully melancholy moment from the ashes of a necessarily grim grunge scene. 

Screaming Trees' video for Sworn & Broken, taken from the classic Dust album, wasn't an immediate favourite for me but grew to be much more than that. It has singer Mark Lanegan - now more familiar to many for his work with Isobell Campbell of Belle & Sebastian - in fine fettle, delivering wistful lyrics with all the delicacy he can muster.

Look into the aforementioned Dust or the retrospective Ocean of Confusion if you need a place to start with these chaps. They most certainly deserve the attention and I'm glad I was pulled back in as my musical horizons widened back in the day.

Buy it at Insound!

"Winter's setting in again
And it feels
Like the end is near
Sensless sense and i'm alone
Watchin' the seconds
Passin' by

Come January i swear this world

Won't be the one
That we once lived on
Took an oath
For a promise sworn and broken
All that's gone

When Monday morning you can't wake up

Still dreamin' of
What could've been
Something good has gone and left you
It's another tear
One won't deny

Come January i swear this world

Won't be the one
That we once lived on
Took an oath
Another promise sworn and broken
All that's gone
All that's gone before you've changed

Well Monday morning you don't wake up

Still dreamin' of
What could've been
Something good has gone and left you
It's another tear
One more denial

Come January i swear this world

Won't be the one
That we once lived on
Took an oath
Another promise sworn and broken
All that's gone
All that's gone before
All that's gone before
Has changed"

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Local Natives Air Their Dirty Laundry

Dirty Laundry TV comes up trumps again here with a spot on Local Natives, who recently played Fuck Yeah Fest in Los Angeles. Ever rising since excited rumblings throughout 2009, the band talk on signing with French Kiss, making the band a full time gig, and coked up motorcycle fans. Something every band has to deal with, at some stage of their career. Except Coldplay.

Dirty Laundry Presents: Local Natives at FYF Fest from Dirty Laundry on Vimeo

Their debut album Gorilla Manor is most certainly featuring in the higher echelons of many year end lists this December, so I'd suggest you get on the trolley (or your antiquated transport system of choice) and become familiar with it now. Here's a freebie via Insound to state the case far more eloquently...


Catch them on tour if they roll through your town. That means you, Club Academy Manchester... 

Local Natives Autumn Tour Dates

* w/ The Love Language and The Union Line
+ w/ Ruby Suns and The Union Line

Oct 9 2010, Austin City Limits, Austin, TX

Oct 11 2010 +
Tulane University LBC Quad, New Orleans, LA

Oct 13 2010 +
Work Play Soundstage, Birmingham, AL

Oct 14 2010 +
Cannery Ballroom, Nashville, TN - BUY TIX

Oct 15 2010 +
The Masquerade - Heaven Stage, Atlanta, GA

Oct 16 2010 +
Grey Eagle Tavern & Music Hall, Asheville, NC

Oct 19 2010 +
Mod Club, Toronto, ON

Oct 20 2010 +
La Tulipe, Montreal, QC

Oct 23 2010 +
Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA

Oct 27 2010 +
Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA

Oct 28 2010 +
9:30 Club, Washington DC
Oct 29 2010 6:00P +
 SOLD OUT Webster Hall, New York, NY

Oct 30 2010 7:00P +
 Webster Hall, New York, NY
Nov 5 2010 8:00P
L’Aéronef (Les Inrocks) Lille, Nord, FRANCE

Nov 6 2010 8:00P
La Cigale (Les Inrocks) Paris, Ile-de-Fra, FRANCE

Nov 7 2010 8:00P
L'Olympic (Les Inrocks) Nantes, Loire Atla, FRANCE

Nov 9 2010 8:00P
Le Bikini (Les Inrocks) Toulouse, Midi-Pyrén, FRANCE

Nov 12 2010 8:00P
Club Academy Manchester, UNITED KINGDOM

Nov 13 2010 8:00P
King Tut's Glasgow, Scotland, UNITED KINGDOM

Nov 14 2010 8:00P
Constellations Festival Leeds, UNITED KINGDOM

Nov 15 2010 8:00P
The Village Dublin, IRELAND

Nov 17 2010 8:00P
Wedgewood Rooms Portsmouth, UNITED KINGDOM 

Nov 18 2010 8:00P
Thekla Bristol, United Kingdom

Nov 20 2010 8:00P
Koninklijke Schouwburg (Crossing Border) The Hague, NETHERLANDS

Nov 21 2010 8:00P
Arenbergschouwburg (Crossing Border) Antwerp, BELGIUM 

Nov 23 2010 8:00P


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

LIVE REVIEW: BlackDiamondSkye Tour, Madison Square Garden, NYC

If you could pick any three metal bands that check all the boxes, from influential to pioneering-yet-popular to still relevant and beyond, those that make up the ongoing BlackDiamondSkye tour would need  hard shove to dislodge from the overall top spots. 

With the increasingly progressive - and hipster baiting - thrashings of Mastodon, the expansive telo-nu metal of Deftones, and topped off by seminal grunge-laced metallers Alice In Chains, this bill spans the decades to offer something for everyone. 

Unfortunately, what Madison Square Garden offers in grandeur it detracts from with insanely early starts. Mastodon take the stage before the scheduled 7pm show kick off and are long gone by the time we enter, leaving only vague Twitter reports from the sparse, gathering crowd to go by. These range from 'shredding set' to 'drowned out by the size'. Having seen the Atlanta crew in both small clubs and supporting arena acts I'd personally plump for the former as well.

Happily there's plenty of time to settle in for Deftones, a band I grew up with and who continue to blur the boundaries of any genres they choose to inhabit. Initially lumped into the nu-metal scene, the Sacramento group jumped that ship over a decade ago and have been creating vital, forward-thinking metal ever since. With the possible exception of their self-titled blip in 2003, every album has been a triumph of substance over contemporary style and material from each is presented in the all-too-short set this evening. 

Opening with the razor sharp riff of recent newie Rocket Skates, Chino Moreno's silky vocal introduces the band with his signature switch from angelic croon to fierce screech in as good shape as it has ever been. With minimal banter between songs, Deftones let the music (and a decent light show) do the talking from the outset. Around The Fur is unleashed for some old school fury, before classics Be Quiet & Drive (Far Away) and My Own Summer (Shove It) complete a trio of gems from their second album. The latter is offered a particularly rapturous reception, with its raging refrain and scream-along chorus fed back to the band with interest by the assembled masses.


What becomes clear as we move further into the set is just how well the new material stands up - and gels with - the much loved older stuff. Diamond Eyes provides a subtle counterpoint to the fury of My Own Summer, whilst the sultry lines of Sextape segue beautifully with the melancholy of Passenger. It all shows just how vibrantly creative the band still is, as well as how skilled they are at crafting a tight set list. Even minus a key member in the much missed Chi Cheng - currently out of a comatose state but minimally concious after his car crash almost two years prior - Deftones sound immaculate, with ex-Quicksand man Sergio Vega doing a stirling job filling in on bass duties. 


Ending with a dual shot of Adrenaline material, the speed of 7 Words whips up a frenzy before they head off into the night, with the briefest of thank yous to the crowd. Having just been given a master class in contemporary metal, it's all that we require. Although another hour of songs wouldn't have gone amiss, perhaps....always leave them wanting more though, eh?

 Continued tomorrow with Alice In Chains...

Monday, 4 October 2010

Jurassic Parc Guell: Dinosaur Pile Up Channel España

Score. That might be our worst (or at least most tenuously linked) title ever....oh well. 

The point here is that Britain's rising answer to the Foos, Dinosaur Pile Up, release their debut Growing Pains today across the 'pond' (read: big bloody oceanic expanse). New track Barceloner is also doing the rounds as a taster for the gloriously retro sounds of the new album, following hot on the heels of the recently posted video for Mona Lisa.

Taken from the new album Growing Pains, out now in Europe - BUY 

True to previous form, this is a blustering slice of alt-rock that makes no bones about loving the decade from whence Foo Fighters, Kerbdog, Nirvana, The Wildhearts and many more all sprang. It bristles with energetic drumming, urgent vocal harmonies, and riffs that race to the finish line as if chased by a rabid wolfhound.  

Part of the charm lies in the unrestrained element that places no real value on current styles or norms, instead choosing to worship at the altar of fast, melodic rock. Chances are that it you enjoy any form of accessible rock music then you'll dig this, so have a listen and pick up the album if you a) enjoy and b) have access to do so.  


Saturday, 2 October 2010

The City Sleeps: SOARS Find Creative Freedom At Home

Not checking one's e-mail for a few days can be a foolish oversight in this feverishly digital, 24/7 age. It may well be a key way to relax but, when there could be invites to see a band like Pennsylvania's SOARS in your back yard - at their CD release show, no less - the opportunity cost is just too bloody high. 

Mercifully for my disconnected self, the quartet will return later this month for a slew of CMJ shows. Furthermore, they're offering two free MP3's from said new album, Soars, to coax unsuspecting listeners into their brooding, stratospheric sound.


MP3: SOARS - Figurehead  
MP3: SOARS -  Throw Yourself Apart  
Both taken from the new self-titled album, out now - BUY 

Of the two, Figurehead is the more foreboding; the secluded night wander down a dimly lit road to Throw Yourself Apart's dawn stroll along the beach. The former boasts a minimalist yet pounding beat that wouldn't sound out of place on Portishead's 3, set weaving below a distant vocal that sounds almost monastic. The latter is more soothing, gently lapping in on waves of melody, with that same far off voice conveying a more optimistic air this time around.

Though visiting their nearby urban sprawls regularly, SOARS call semi-rural Pennsylvania home - as rural as an area bordered by multiple interstates can be called - and seemingly revel in the lack of creative boundaries that could potentially be foist upon them in the scenes of NYC or Philadelphia. Instead, they pursue an open, far reaching sound that speaks well of their slower-paced, imaginative home setting.

For you I offer the chance to avoid making the same mistake as myself, by listing the band's upcoming tour dates and hoping you'll 'do them the solid' (isn't that the most appalling phrase?) of picking up the debut here at La Société Expéditionnaire. Me? The H-T-A account is now connected to my phone, so amongst the umpteenth remix and release announcement, I'll catch the little gems such as this one that got away... 

SOARS tour dates:

Friday, 10/22 - Brooklyn, NY @ Bar Matchless (CMJ)
Saturday, 10/23 - New York, NY @ Cake Shop (CMJ - Day Party)
Wednesday, 11/3 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Garfield Artworks (with Masaki Batoh of Ghost)
Saturday, 11/27 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brendas (with Sore Eros, Amen Dunes, Aunt Dracula)