24 September 2009

"The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem..."

As you can (hopefully) tell from the title, I've been watching High Fidelity. It involves girls and music, how did I not find it/start worshipping it earlier? In fact, I can pretty much see my life being like that in 10/15/20 years, should I make certain decisions. Hell, it's pretty much my life know...just minus the constant stream of women (more like being drip-fed one per year) and my very own record store (more like this blog and the rest of the internet).

Anyways what it relates to is the Spotify mix playlists that I have created for you lovely people...at least I'm hoping you're lovely...to just spread a bit of aural goodness around. No, I don't see myself as some sort of musical Maharishi, imparting pearls of great music to you, the unenlightened. Being honest, most of you reading this will probably know infinitely more about this than I ever will and should you open one of the playlists, laugh in scorn at my woefully "mainstream" choices. But who gives one? I just want to share stuff I think is freaking awesome with anyone who wants to listen, hopefully convert a friend or two into liking a band and kill a bit of boredom.

Playlist Numero Uno is full of more well known bands/tunes of this year, with the odd suprise. So expect "Bonkers", "Dog Days Are Over", "Run This Town" and "Zero", though not "Bulletproof" or "In For The Kill" by La Roux. Even I'm sick of them by now.


Playlist Nummer Zwei is the best of the lesser-known, "weird indie shit" (as I'm certain some acquaintances would call it) to appear this year. So album tracks from slightly less mainstream bands, obscure groups you're not sure how to say the name of (hello, Dananananaykroyd!) and basically good stuff. I've gotta say though, listen to the Noah & The Whale album in one go, as it is, not shuffled. You'll thank me later.

Enjoy even more!

Hopefully you'll enoy them, go buy the various albums/singles, see the bands live and, y'know, be a proper music fan. Or, if you're disgraced by my tastes, feel free to send me a playlist back to "educate" me. It could be fun. And these playlists will over there in the sidebar should you ever feel like downloading in the future and can't be bothered to click a few times right this second.

Oh and if you don't have Spotify, I reccomend you get it. Now.

22 September 2009

NEU! featuring Muse, The Chapman Family, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, The Hot Melts, Girls

Muse - Uprising
The first official release from "The Resistance" (after the bonkers "United States Of Eurasia") sees the Teignmouth trio in usual fine form, even if this does sound like a million different other songs. Hints of "Spirit In The Sky", "Shoot The Runner", "Personal Jesus" and even the Doctor Who theme tune all crop up, but seeing as Muse have never been the most serious of bands (Evidence? Here and here) it's pretty much acceptable. After all, what's rock & roll without a little bit of madness? "Uprising" isn't up there with previous Muse classics, and it's not even the best song on the new album but the simple catchiness and awesome-as-usual guitar work should make it a hit with both new and old fans.


The Chapman Family - Virgins
First it was "Kids", now it's "Virgins". You'd be forgiven for being worried by The Chapman Family due to their song titles, but leaving that to one side, this new single is an altogether more radio-friendly affair than its predecessor (basically there aren't blasts of face-melting guitar every 5 seconds). That's not to say the Chapmans have gone all Jonas Brothers. "Virgins" is still a brooding slice of post-punk genius, with Joy Division-esque bass and the oddly anthemic edge we've come to expect from the Teesiders. For anyone anticipating their upcoming tour or a possible album, this will only serve to get you even more excited
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Come Saturday
One of the bigger names of the shoegaze craze (both in popularity and actual length), TPOBPAH have the balance between pop tunes and feedback just right, something that a fair few bands in the scene cannot manage e.g. Times New Viking. That said, "Come Saturday" is a bit anonymous compared to the rest of The Pains' debut, despite a great intro which sounds like a twee Clash (sounds horrible, but it's pretty alright). I reccomend the rest of their self-titled album, but just skip this one.

The Hot Melts - Red Lips
Well this is something new; a Liverpool band who aren't directly influenced by The La's/Shack. The Hot Melts favour big rock tunes rather than jangly Merseybeat, and when combined with the typical Scouse pop nous, we get one of the freshest and best new bands around at the minute. Plus, should you lack enough funds to actually go out and buy their album, the band are giving it away for free. If The Hot Melts don't get big, then I'll eat my hat...after going and finding one first.

Girls - Lust For Life
Along with The Drums, Girls are the buzz band of the second half of '09. Both deal in bittersweet indie pop, but Girls seem that little bit more dangerous or typically "rock & roll". Once you get past the slightly odd, slightly androgynous vocals (which isn't too easy with lines like "I wish I had a boyfriend/I wish I had a loving man in my life") you'll find that this is one of the best pop songs of the decade...if a little scuzzed up. Whether Girls end up as an indie one-hit wonder or a classic underground band remains to be seen, but for now you can just stick this on repeat

21 September 2009

Soup Of The Day: The Drums

FROM: Brooklyn, NY
GENRE: Indie/Pop
SOUNDS LIKE: The soundtrack to either a lost classic 80s teen movie or a 1960's surfing flick. Or what's hidden underneath the feedback and noise of every shoegaze song; perfect pop. Or a pop Joy Division, which I know sounds horrible, but turns out top be pretty awesome.
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "Let's Go Surfing", "Best Friend", "Down By The Water"
YOU'LL LOVE THEM IF YOU LIKE: Pop, Vampire Weekend, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, The Answering Machine, Blink 182 (at a very big push)
CHECK OUT: Their aptly-titled "Summertime" EP
MORE INFO?: MySpace, official website

It's hard not to love Muse sometimes...

Okay, Oasis and Nirvana have done it before, but Muse are better.

19 September 2009

The Hitsville UK Alternative Mercury Prize! Results!

Yes, I'm fairly late in posting this and yes, hardly anyone voted but I have a duty as a music blogger/nerd to do this sort of thing. And just so there are no complaints (not that there ever are), only British albums released in the last 12 months that weren't nominated for the actual Mercury could qualify. So here are the results of The Hitsville UK Alternative Mercury Prize or The Thermometer Award (Thermometer, mercury...geddit?)

VV Brown - Travelling Like The Light - 3/30%

Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed - 3 votes/30%
Franz Ferdinand - Tonight: Franz Ferdinand - 2 votes/20%
The Maccabees - Wall Of Arms - 2 votes/20%
Metronomy - Nights Out - 2 votes/20%
We Were Promised Jetpacks - 2 votes/20%
Grammatics - Grammatics - 1 vote/10%
Jack Penate - Everything Is New - 1 vote/10%
Manic Street Preachers - Journal For Plague Lovers - 1 vote/10%
It Hugs Back - Inside Your Guitar - 0 votes
Late Of The Pier - Fantasy Black Channel - 0 votes
Sky Larkin - The Golden Spike - 0 votes

So congrats to both LC! and VV Brown on being joint winners. A well deserved victory for both, if fairly suprising (my money was on The Maccabees). "Travelling Like The Light" is a superb album, fusing parts of 50s/60s rock 'n' roll with soul and modern pop. If I was going to be lazy, I'd say she was the alternative to the hype storm of La Roux, Little Boots and Florence...alright, she basically is. It does have something for pretty much everyone, except death metal fans and that awful breed of human that drives around at 100mph at night listening to awful dance. Ok, "Crying Blood" is essentially a reworking of "The Monster Mash", but it doesn't stop it, or the album from being any less awesome.

LC! on the other hand, are a somewhat more acquired taste. But if you persevere with "We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed", you're in for a treat. The band are probably most known for their painfully accurate lyrics ("As if I walked into the room to see my ex-girlfriend/Who by the way, I'm still in love with/Sucking the face of some pretty boy with my favourite band's most popular song in the background/Is it wrong that I can't decide which bothers me most?" is one that is now ingrained in my mind, and what indie guy hasn't felt like that?), that sum up angst in a way not seen since Morrissey. "WAB,WAD" is a massive step forward from their debut "Hold On Now, Youngster" both musically and lyrically, fully embracing the range of LC!'s influences (from the alt.pop of Kenickie and Bis to the punk rock of Fucked Up and Black Flag, as well as the noise of No Age and Xiu Xiu). Judging by the new track "The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future", things can only get better.

10 September 2009

NEU! featuring Ian Brown, Weezer, The Black Box Revelation, and The Drums

Ian Brown - Stellify
King Monkey may not have that many big tunes of his own (as evidenced at Leeds) but this is certain to join the few in his canon. Lo-fi and clearly dance-inspired with the entrancing piano line. Driven along by an great marching beat and like pretty much everything to do with Brown, it's got a certain swagger to it which is more than enough to propel it into classic status.

Weezer - (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To
The first release from Weezer's awesome-ly titled seventh album "Raditude" is just what you'd expect from Rivers Cuomo & the other three. The skiffle-y intro makes way for a great pop chorus, with all the ingredients for a classic Weezer tune; girls, lsuting after them, some reference to summer and Slayer. After the 50/50 awesomeness/filler of The Red Album, "Raditude" is gonna be...well...rad!

The Black Box Revelation - I Think I Like You
There hasn't been a young, brash, permanently-wearing-leather-jacket-type rock 'n' roll group with both tunes and attitude around in a while (The Enemy? Really? Did you hear that second album?!). What Oasis would sound like if they were still 20, playing shite clubs and showed a hell of a lot more passion for what they do, instead of cosying up to Russell Brand or starting fashion labels. It's not what you'd call original and whilst it may have been done thousands of times before, TBBR are making garage rock what it should be; exciting and not giving a fook.

The Drums - Let's Go Surfing
There's no point in anyone releasing any other single this year. This is the best song of 2009. It's what is under all that feedback and droning of the current shoegaze revival; pure classic guitar pop, just guitar, bass, drums and packed to the brim with hooks. "Let's Go Surfing" is the perfect summer song, and had it recieved more exposure, it would have been this year's "A-Punk"...just less annoying. If you can stop yourself from listening to it on repeat/humming it throughout the day, then I'll eat my hat.

Arctic Monkeys - Humbug

These days, virtually every big record has a collection of buzzwords mentioned in every preview, review, interview and article associated with it, and "Humbug" is no different. Mentions of Turner & co's third effort have never been far from the words "dark", "mature" or "Josh Homme". Regular producer James Ford has been reduced to involvement on just three tracks, whilst band idol Homme has guided them to somewhere a world away from the Sheffield nightclubs and dancefloors associated with the Monkey's debut. It would appear Britain's biggest band of the moment are growing up.

Pre-album hype may have been just that, as mutterings of Black Sabbath and psychedelic influences aren't exactly at the fore of "Humbug". If anything, it's more Last Shadow Puppets than QOTSA in places. Opener "My Propeller" could have comfortably slotted in on "The Age Of The Understatement" had a string section been tacked on. It gives the biggest hint that Turner's songwriting and ear for a melody has been honed to perfection thanks to his work with Miles Kane. "Mardy Bum" it ain't. That's not to say it's wholly inaccessible, pretty much the opposite in fact. It's very easy to imagine the Monkeys hitting the upper echelons of the charts should they pick their singles well from "Humbug" (perhaps unsuprising to discover the most chart-friendly tracks are the Ford-produced ones). For the casual listener (a.k.a your mum/dad/uncle with questionable taste/chavvy cousin who liked "When The Sun Goes Down"), this album will take a fair few more listens to "click" than the previous two. This may be a bit of a cop-out but it's a grower.

Even if you find yourself enjoying it on the first few times, repeat listening is required to appreciate how far the band has, pardon the pun, evolved. Turner has turned into an unusual mix of Nick Cave and Morrissey in the body of Jim Morrisson, Jamie Cook is growing into a damn good guitarist whilst the rhythm section of Matt Helders and Nick O'Malley dominate a hefty chunk of the album, in particular "Pretty Visitors", possibly the band's heaviest track to date. Turner's vocals have gone from the spikey adolescent quasi-rap that characterised their debut, to a smooth, almost-lounge lizard croon that undoubtedly suits the tone of the record. The darker, sexed-up likes of "Dangerous Animals" and "Fire And The Thud" wouldn't exactly suit the mile-a-minute delivery of yesteryear. That's not to say that everything on the album is "mature" i.e. darker, moody etc, as two standout tracks are possibly the most obvious ballads Turner has ever written. If you shut your eyes "Secret Door" and "Cornerstone" could be offcuts from the Last Shadow Puppets, and as both bands progress, it's likely that the similarities will keep on increasing.

"Humbug" is nowhere near the difficult album some are making it out to be. To those with a wide taste, or even those who just like good songs the new set of songs will be immediately accessible. But any fan lusting after songs about "Topshop princesses" and being "thrown in the riot van" will be severely disappointed for the remainder of the Arctics' career. As they stated a few years ago "We'll stick to the guns/ Don't care if it's marketing suicide/We won't crack or compromise". If that results in more of the same as "Humbug", then good on them.


9 September 2009

Rants In E Minor: "Screamo", its bastard children and why idiots should not be allowed instruments...

Yes, it's another feature, and yes I'm fairly rubbish at regularly updating the blog (massive apologies) but I'm putting that down to a) my laziness, b) having a megaton of stuff to before uni and 3) it's summer, gimme a break! But I digress, "Rants In E Minor" will be me, letting out my inner Bill Hicks and basically spewing a lot of hate and bile into a post, whilst panning for a bit of comedy gold.
Basically what I'm addressing here is bands who scream/roar/whatever in every single song. Obviously it's impossible to reprimand everyone of these tools, and I'll admit one or two bands pull it off (namely Gallows), so I'll focus on the main culprits. First up; Enter Shikari. You do have to feel a little sorry for the St Albans troglodites as they're one example of the NME's cycle of building bands up to knock 'em down. But ES are one band who deserved it, in my humble opinion. Welding a few rave synths, bleeps and bloops on to nu-metal does not equal genius. It barely equals music! In essence, Enter Shikari are an English Limp Bizkit. I'll admit I had a soft spot for "Sorry, You're Not A Winner" when it came out, but apart from that everything else is an assualt to my fairly small ears. Take recent single "Juggernauts", the musical (I use that word lightly) equivalent of a piece of play-doh that's been under the sofa for a decade and accumulated god-only-knows-what onto it. Sounds that should be left on a Gameboy, lyrics on "community", maaaan that even the most pretentious 6th Former would reject, banal action moive shout outs ("(What the hell will happen now? I really don't know man!")...it baffles me how people can actually listen to this claptrap and deem it "awesummm!!11 :P lol". What's even worse is the video for latest single "No Sleep Tonight". A piss-poor metaphor, basically the masses against the classes. The lead singer bumps into some guy who looks pretty well off, proceeds to stalk him and then with an army of idiotic fans tells him he "won't be getting any sleep tonight. Pure genius, I'm sure you'll admit, but the problem is Enter Shikari are most likely the offspring of the smarmy middle class type of guy shown in the video, so all they're doing is shouting at Mummy and Daddy for not getting them the right Christmas present, or something just as petulant.Accross the Atlantic, there's even more to make you want fill your ears with cement. Starting with Brokencyde, or as they prefer to be called; brokeNCYDE (The name apparently comes from the idea of their music "being broken or "broken inside" due to their relationship problems"...real deep). You only have to look at what the band call themselves before deciding someone has to be physically punished. "Se7en", "Phat J", "Mikl", and "Antz" are four white-than-white suburban boys from New Mexico who make an unholy mixture of screamo and "crunk". That's probably not even the most hateable thing about them. Only one of the band plays any form or instrument and one guy is there for lighting. LIGHTING! Controlling lights does not make you part of a band! And I haven't even got to the lyrics yet. If you thought normal hip-hop was bad for sexism, cast your peepers on these words of wisdom; "I walk into the club looking kind of sexy now/I see these shorties in the corner, they started making out/They pull their panties down, they take their pants off/Then they started getting freaky on the dance floor/Shake it mommy give it to me like you need some love/I got some bottles in the caddy that we can open up/Let's get drunk tonight, baby we don't have to fuck/And bring your friend along, maybe we can have some fun". You read them in Stewie Griffin's voice too, right? You know the world is messed up when John Lennon is murdered, yet music like this is allowed. If you're going to kill someone, you should have some taste.

The final part of this tripod of evil is Attack Attack!, who are more hilarious than they are hateable. Don't get me wrong, they are still everything that is wrong with the world but you can't help but chuckle...possibly in disgust or horror. Effectively an American Enter Shikari, concocting a mix of electronica and nu-metal. For an NME-esque reference, Funeral For A Friend and Aqua. Yes, Aqua of "Barbie Girl" fame. They have someone lip-syncing the screams of the old singer, they have a song called "What Happens If I Can't Check My MySpace When We Get There?" which I suspect isn't ironic, and the video for "Stick Stickly" shows what is possibly the worst guitar playing style ever. Between this bollocks, X-Factor pap and donk, it's hard to decide what to hate more.

Leeds mutha'uckas!

Leeds. Was. Awesome. But that's stating the obvious considering the line-up, which was suprisingly unpopular with large chunks of the ticketgoers. But without further ado, here's a review of the entire weekend.

Fightstar - 12:45 - 13:15 - Main Stage
I think I prefer Busted. Seriously. You can't look at Charlie Simpson without hearing "Year 3000". Fightstar are what you imagine the metalheads/emo kids two years below you in school would make if they had a ion of talent. Not to say they were any good. Murky and muddy through most of the set, the only thing of interest was the growing size of the first mosh pit of the festival.

The Rakes - 13:30 - 14:10 - Main Stage
Last seen; supporting Franz Ferdinand, Manchester, Oct 2006
For all their great tunes, The Rakes have never really gotten "big". Sticking them on the main stage, this early probably won't help that. Considering the arena was still mostly made up of hardcore kids left over from Fightstar/still waiting for Enter Shikari, The Rakes were never going to be too popular. Alan Donohoe's vocals don't really seem to have the same effect live as they do on record, going from lively and cool to shrill and fairly annoying. That said, they still put in a pretty good performance, just it'd be much more enjoyable in one of the smaller tents.

Eagles of Death Metal - 14:20 - 15:05 - Main Stage
Josh Homme's other other band (after QOTSA and Them Crooked Vultures). Although that is a slight fallacy seeing as he only plays on their records and never live. Not that it's noticeable, with frontman Jesse "The Devil" Hughes more than filling Homme's stage presence and acting the classic rock & roll frontman. Most people (including myself) only know two songs, but that doesn't matter as EODM make up for the lack of tunes with showmanship and a good-time feeling. An unexpected highlight if only for the phrase "I just want to shake my dick and make you all feel happy."

The Chapman Family - 15:00 - 15:30 - Festival Republic
Unfortunately I only caught "Kids", having forgotten their stage time and needing to get back to camp. But as expected, The Champans did not disappoint and were furiously superb for that one song. With a new single and tour this October, I can only hope I get to see an entire set.

The Courteeners - 16:00 - 17:15 - Main Stage
Oasis had broken up, but noone seemed to notice or heard at Leeds with The Courteeners doing a pretty good job of filling in. Not direct descendants of the Gallaghers per se, but with enough swagger to replace them, The Courteeners look to be going from strength to strength, especially with the confidence to chuck away their two biggest songs as set openers. Judging by the new songs on show, the second album should be a treat.

Ian Brown - 17:35 - 18:20 - Main Stage
Despite taking an age to arrive on stage, King Monkey provided the best set of the day so far. Okay, it wasn't a set for casual fans but the triple whammy of "F.E.A.R", "Stellify" and "Fools Gold" ("this one's good for boppin'. Whatever happened to boppin'?" went the introduction from Brown) made sure it left a lasting impression.

Maximo Park - 18:40 - 19:25 - Main Stage
A few may have been puzzled at Maximo's high billing as, like The Rakes, they haven't exactly reached Arctic Monkey status with the British public. But by the end of the set, there would have been few unconverted to the Geordies cause. Smart, sharp, fun, funky, and some fantastic dance moves from Paul Smith, the Park showed that they're more than capable of growing and growing to bigger things. The brass band augmenting the end of the set was a masterstroke.

The Prodigy - 20:00 - 21:00 - Main Stage
Bonkers before they'd even started setting up, there's less pushing in a ward of pregnant women. "Omen", which before now had been a minor chant amongst campers, turned into a full-blown festival anthem the minute it was played. Due to the fear of being crushed to death, I made a fairly swift exit. I managed to return for the closing "Out Of Space". There's little more fun than going mental in a field of other people going mental to probably one of the best dance tracks ever. I doubt it was as much fun on the front barrier though...

White Lies - 19:30 - 20:10 - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Last seen; on the NME Awards tour, Jan 09
Having escaped death by rave, I managed to catch the last few songs of White Lies set. In the space of seven months, they've gone from doomy post-punkers to a rather epic rock band. In a strangely sparse tent, they still managed to bring the house down with "Death" and with a second album, they could definitely move swiftly to headliners of the NME stage or even high on the main stage. You'd be foolish to miss them.

Arctic Monkeys - 21:30 - 23:00 - Main Stage
Last seen; Manchester, Dec 07
The local(ish) boys return to...well, mixed reactions really. There were those who were only there for "Dancefloor", those who were underwhelmed by the performance and pissed off Turner's transformation to cliched arsehole rockstar and then there were those who thought it was a great rock show. I was pretty much in the latter group, having memorised the new album and pretty much every song that was played. Yes Alex Turner is too far up his own backside, coming out dressed in RayBans, leather jacket, awful hair and obviously pissed/coked up to the eyeballs, but that doesn't take much away from the live show. The new songs sound powerful and confident whilst older tracks are given a new breath of life e.g. "Fluorescent Adolescent" is slowed down with a new middle eighth. "Bring on the backlash" has been the Arctics attitude since they first appeared, and whilst the backlash is beginning, I don't think they give a monkey's.

Vampire Weekend - 17:05 - 17:50 - Main Stage
Yeah, considering VW were fourth from top on the second day, you can tell I didn't get around much. Anyways, the buzz band of 2008 lived up to my high expectations, what with them making my album of last year. Of course, the majority of people only knew "A-Punk" (in the words of my friends, "they should just play A-Punk for half an hour then get off") but for those who, y'know, actually like to delve deeper and listen to albums, the set was a treat. Perfect for a somewhat sunny afternoon and the two new songs have got me and probably a lot of others eagerly anticipating their sophomore effort.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - 18:15 - 19:05 - Main Stage
The eternally hip band. In the mass-music-industry-fap over New York in the early part of the decade, the YYYs were almost gods, even compared to The Strokes and Interpol. But despite their elevated status in the world of indie, there isn't much that comes to mind that justifies a third from top billing on the Main Stage. But they do have the big songs. "Zero", "Heads Will Roll" and "Date With The Night" are all crowdslayers and a beautiful acoustic version of "Maps" should have brought a tear to the eye of even the most wasted reveller. The YYYs just seem like a tent band, they could have comfortably slotted in as headliners at the NME stage this year, and are a bit wasted on a field full of Radiohead fans.

Bloc Party - 19:30 - 20:30 - Main Stage
Or Radiohead Jr, as some seem to view them. Bloc certainly have a similar eclecticism and experimental side to them and can probably lay claim to the affections of an equal amount of indie kids' hearts, but they're an altogether more festival-y band i.e. you can dance around to them. And dancing was certainly the order of their set with only two slower numbers included. The segue of "Song For Clay" into "Banquet" in particular sent the place wild. Though despite all this, BP seem like they're forever consigned to penultimate band status. It's hard to envisage them making the step-up to headliners, seeing as they've played lower down for the last five or so years. But for now, I'll enjoy them wherever they are.

Radiohead - 21:00 - 23:00 - Main Stage
Reading gets "Creep". Reading got "Karma Police. Reading got "Street Spirit". Three songs I was pretty desperate to hear live on what was probably the only time I'll see Radiohead live. But this was the only complaint from a phenomenal performance. The lack of real hits dampened the atmosphere somewhat since your common garden Radiohead fan doesn't know "(Nice Dream)" or "A Wolf At The Door" so by throwing them into the set along with other less-known tracks won't exactly increase the bonhomie. But regardless, this was five outstanding musicians playing outstanding songs with an entrancing stage show. If only they'd played "No Suprises"...

Little Boots - 15:05 - 15:45 - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Now you wouldn't imagine big, bold, shiny pop would fit in with rain-soaked, northern fields, but somehow Little Boots made us all forget the horror of barely-cooked beans and pissed-on tents for 40 minutes. Especially by bringing her monumentally wasted brother up on stage to play tambourine. On this evidence, it appears Ms Boots will stick around longer than her counterparts

The Horrors - 16:05 - 16:50 - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Last seen; supporting Arctic Monkeys, Manchester, Dec 07
A very large jump from blatant pop of Little Boots to dark and moody shoegaze of The Horrors. The last time I had the "pleasure" of seeing them, they were awful, possibly the worst proper band I had ever witnessed. What a difference just under two years makes. No longer goading and insulting the crowd, the band have perfected their look and their sound to make for a superb set, which is slightly lost on the sections of the crowd who only recognise Faris Badwan as "that goffy fella who was shagging Peaches Geldof".

Jack Penate - 17:10 - 17:55 - NME/Radio 1 Stage
From pop to shoegaze and back to pop again. The ever-effervescent Mr Penate attempted to bring a little bit of joy after the gloom of The Horrors. Okay, it did feck all to brighten up a miserable day but it certainly made the NME stage a happier place. Crowd surfing, crazy dancing and a cheesy grin are all part and parcel of a Penate live show and it was no different here. Whilst his newer material may not have brought the carnival that Friendly Fires did later on, it was the best warm up they could ask for. Pity about him losing his shoes though, they were rather snazzy.

The Big Pink - 18:10 - 18:45 - Festival Republic Stage
The Glasvegas comparisons are going to come thick and fast for the winners of the NME Phillip Hall Radar award and it's easy to see why. For one, they've both won the aforementioned award, they both deal in moody, shoegaze-inspired indie, they're got a short frontman in a leather jacket, a creepily slim bassist, a female drummer who's pretty damn good and a tall one. So as you can see too many similarities to ignore. But whilst Glasvegas have been clumped into the lad-rock zone, TBP are much too alternative for drunkards to start hugging each other to. Droney electronic soundscapes surrounding what are essentially classic soul songs; hypnotic on record but blistering in the live arena. It's enough to make me want to start my own band. So you know they've gotta be good.

Florence And The Machine - 18:15 - 19:00 - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Last seen; NME Awards Tour, Liverpool, Jan 09
Due to being blown away by The Big Pink in the Festival Republic tent and her being forced offstage, I was only able to catch a small part of Florence's set. In comparison to the last time I saw her (crowdsurfing, barefoot, running around the venue) she seems to have matured a fair bit, as well as being pushed into the whole "forest elf" look by someone at her label no doubt. Anyways, it was a good, if unremarkable few songs I heard. That's all really.

Friendly Fires - 19:20 - 20:10 - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Last seen; NME Awards tour, Liverpool, Jan 09
If there's one band that deserves a proper summer's day to perform on, it's Friendly Fires. Unfortunately, they had to deal with a wet and miserable Sunday evening although it didn't put a dampener on proceedings. Racing through their fantastic debut, they're a band that you need to be at the front for, or at least nearby, just to join in with the carnival and dancing. A little disappointing that the Brazilian dancers didn't make a return, but they weren't really needed. FF are well on their way to challenging Muse for the 'best live band' tag.

Jamie T - 20:25 - 21:15 - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Okay, scratch that. Friendly Fires AND Jamie T are challenging Muse. Possibly the most energetic performance of the weekend from the "sexy" (according to some...girls are extremely weird) Wimbledon troubador and with only two tracks from his new album (admittedly two bloody great ones). Spitting out lyrics at the speed of a machine gun, he even manages to convince the metalheads who are here for Faith No More, and Faith No More only, to bop along at the very least. Even if you can't keep up with the rapid verses, every chorus is designed for a festival singalong and the crowd doesn't let up. An unexpected delight.

Kings Of Leon - 21:30 - 23:00 - Main Stage
As expected, the mass exodus to see the Followill clan began the second Jamie T dropped his mic, resulting in the biggest crowd of the weekend, stretching back to the burger vans and one awkwardly placed ice cream truck, eventually destroyed during "Red Morning Light". As with Radiohead, KoL are in essence a group of good musicians playing good songs, and what more could anyone want? Well judging by a few members of the crowd, "Sex On Fire" played 20 times apparently. Even so, the audience "blew Reading to hell" according to Caleb Followill, although that wasn't hard considering the crowd down south had been less accepting of the band. Suprisngly the songs from the fourth album sounded alright and actually worth singing along to, whilst every single older song seemed injected with a renewed passion and feeling. That fifth album may be a while away but my guess is it'll be worth the wait.

Notes on a festival
  • To guys: Stop wearing bandanas! You are not a hippie, you are not in MGMT. And anyways the craze for them was last year
  • To girls: Stop wearng flower headbands! You aren't Florence Welch, you're not a hippy, this is not woodstock!
  • Please don't walk around topless. Okay we get it, you're fit and tanned, stop making everyone else fell inadequate and burying your face in the toilets
  • Dropping heavy metal in a DJ right after The Streets "But You Know It" goes down suprisingly well
  • To those of you who suddenly started saying "I love dubstep, me", stop it. Just because Nick Grimshaw has been banging on about it this week, doesn't mean you should to! Stick to your white, middle-class unimaginative pap.
  • Avoid the Relentless tent, unless you love donk or one of those aforemention "dubstep lovers"
  • If you're going to start burning people's tents on the last night, be polite and ask first
  • People should know that shouting for a band to play something will never result in them playing it
  • The "Green Army!" shout only works when lads do it. This is a proven fact.
  • Half the festival were walking around wearing The xx t-shirts. They were getting given out for free during their set. I now regret missing them.
  • Campsite rumours: Oasis had split (true), Barry Chuckle was found dead in a brothel (false), KoL had cancelled and Kasabian were being flown in to replace them (false)
  • If you're going to go to someone's camp and make friends, don't blank them the rest of the weekend. It's a bit mean.
  • Bring spare sleeping bags. Somehow, people forget to bring their own.