30 March 2010

Hot Chip - I Feel Bonnie (Club Remix)

I've been pretty obsessed with the latest Hot Chip single recently, and now here's the equally amazing remix featuring vocals from Will Oldham a.k.a Bonnie "Prince" Billy. It's times like this I wish I was a DJ, if only to play this...

NEU! featuring MGMT, Chiddy Bang and Stornoway

MGMT - Flash Delirium/Congratulations
Much has been made of MGMT's anti-singles stance on their sophomore album. Having had three of the biggest "choons" of 2008 ("Time To Pretend", "Electric Feel", "Kids"), announcing that you're shunning the single system might seem a little contrary for the sake of it, but that's just MGMT. If you'd delved further into "Oracular Spectacular" than just the singles you would have found a wealth of modern-day psychedelic and experimental pop. Personally, I was never a fan of that album as a whole, sticking to the aforementioned Big Three singles and nowt else. Now, the supposed lack of radio-friendly material on "Congratulations" should scare someone like me away, but the first two tracks to see the day of light from the album are surprisingly accessible, nothing like the proggy noodling that pre-release hyperbole would have you believe. "Flash Delirium" takes a few listens for it to grab you, and when it does, it reveals itself as a fairly conventional classic rock song with a psychedelic twist. That is, until the raucous last twenty seconds and the completely grade-A batshit video. The title track and album closer is a far more laid-back affair, so much so that it's not completely unlikely to think that the band recorded it horizontally. Neither track reaches the heights of the Big Three, but are still worthy additions to MGMT's canon. It just remains to be seen whether "Congratulations" lives up to it's hype or is more of a mess than a student kitchen.
MGMT - Flash Delirium MP3
7/10 / 7/10

Chiddy Bang - Opposite Of Adults

Speaking of MGMT, "Opposite Of Adults" by Philadelphian MC/Producer duo Chiddy Bang samples "Kids" and creates what will likely be one of the biggest party songs of the year, akin to Asher Roth's "I Love College" last year. In fact Mr. Roth gets a namecheck/diss (whatever you young lot call it now). The sampling of "Kids" is a fantastic reworking, sure to breath new life into what has already been a huge hit. Admittedly, its lyrical content isn't too great ("Follow me, follow me I'm the leader/And when I park cars I don't pay for the meter". I'm sure Dylan's crapping his pants...actually considering his age, he probably is anyway) but party hits are never known for being dense explorations of the human psyche. Plus it references Ron Burgundy, which is an instant winner with me.
Download "Opposite Of Adults" and more

Stornoway - I Saw You Blink
I don't think anyone was asking for a hybrid of Vampire Weekend and Mumford & Sons (I certainly wasn't. I don't want VW's perfection tainted by that shit) but we've got it in "I Saw You Blink". The elastic bassline and breezy tone are reminiscent of the Afrobeat-loving Brooklynites, whilst there's a folk-friendly edge that recalls Mumford, without making me violently angry. Breezy enough to not get annoying, but catchy enough to no go in one ear and straight out of the other, Stornoway are one band to keep an eye on. They'll be all over Radio 1 by August.

29 March 2010

Happy Nick Cave Day!

I've decided today is Nick Cave Day. No other reason, other than he's a genius and I woke up in a Cave mood this morning. Enjoy the best of the (former) owner of the best facial hair in music.

20 March 2010

LIVE - Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip @ O2 Academy 2, Liverpool - 19.03.2010

It's fairly safe to say I was one of only two people wearing a shirt and tie at this gig (the other being Pip himself) and I was certainly the only person to be wearing a cardigan. They're not exactly hip hop clobber, unless you're involved at the rather nerdy end of the rap spectrum. Instead, tracksuits and trainers are the preferred uniform, as opening act Sound Of Rum adhere to. Frontwoman Kate looks as if she'd be more at home mugging you for lunch money than rapping on a stage. It's refreshing to hear live instrumentation (actual drums, guitar and bass) in hip-hop than simply relying on laptops etc. Although this means SOR occasionally veer close to rap-rock, it's never too much of a concern and they provide a lot of fun for a support act.

Arriving on stage in what appears to be a Chinese Alan Partridge mask, with a beard to rival Pip's and a bulk to rival Giant Haystacks, B. Dolan has a pretty immediate stage presence. His first bit of banter; "It's my first time here and I only know one thing about Liverpool. That thing is.... the women are loose". Whilst I won't comment on that (for fear of having to deal with the backlash from female friends), Dolan's set was incredible and set the bar high for Dan and Pip: "The Reptilian Agenda", a call-and-response song revolving around the line "The Queen of England is a Lizard"; "a party jam about agoraphobia"; "Joan Of Arc" (dedicated to "Sarah Palin; my muse, my sexual chocolate") whose chorus goes "Joan of Arc had a dildo named Jesus/made of wood from the cross of its namesake/she considered the splinters atonement/and when she came it would fill her with light!" and a bit of audience participation in the form of Dolan stipping down to an Evil Kenivel suit and jumping over the first person to climb the barrier. You don't get this with Kings Of Leon.

Personally, I never thought of Dan and Pip being the most popular of bands. Sure, they obviously have many, many fans, that goes without saying, but selling out the Academy to a rather varied crowd wasn't something I expected. An intense, loud and sweaty gig was par for the course. Whilst I had all the movement space of a dwarf in a pillowcase, I tried my best to obey Pip and get dancing. Songs both old and new were met with near-Beatlemania shouting. Clearly Dan & Scroob fans are quick learners when it comes to lyrics. Cynics usually criticise the duo for being over-earnest, but in the live arena it's clear to see that whilst sincere, they never take themselves too seriously. With both Dan and Pip on fine form, the closing hattrick of "Thou Shalt Always Kill", "Get Better" and "Letter From God To Man" is the perfect ending that any fan could hope for.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT: Either Dan's mid-gig biscuit craving (someone actually brought a pack with them...) or "N Dubz, get better; Chipmunk, get better; Tinchy Stryder, get better; Scroobius Pip, get better..."

LIVE - Wild Beasts @ O2 Academy 2, Liverpool - 18.03.2010

Wild Beasts are one of a number of contemporary bands who, had they existed 20 to 25 years ago, would have been one of the biggest bands in the country a la The Smiths. There's certainly a similarity between Morrissey, Marr, Rourke & Joyce and the Kendal-via-Leeds band. Sharp, fluid guitar lines, acrobatic vocals and often laugh-out-loud lyrical imagery are part and parcel of Wild Beasts; all three are brought to the fore during their live show.

First support act Lone Wolf certainly lives up to his name. Playing guitar and keyboard solo (the live band "couldn't make the tour") and looking a little lupine, he plays a bewitching set, reminiscent of Bon Iver, just without the overplayed backstory and haunting falsetto. The highlight of the set is forthcoming single "Keep Your Eyes On The Road", which never sounds the same for more than thirty seconds. On the basis of this set, debut album "The Devil And I" should be pretty special.

Erland & The Carnival are up next, and sound like a menagerie of a number of different bands. There are elements of tonight's headline act, the funk of Egyptian Hip Hop, the folksiness of Beirut, the strut of second album Franz Ferdinand (not a bad thing, despite popular opinion) and even the experimentalness of late Blur. This last comparison should come as no surprise when Simon Tong (of The Verve, Blur, Gorillaz and The Good, The Bad & The Queen) is one of the core members of the band. Tong's guitar, along with the relentless drumming of David Nock drive the band's performance. With the current folk rock revival (hello Mumford & Sons, Noah & The Whale, Laura Marling), 2010 could very well see Erland & The Carnival propelled into the spotlight.

By the time Wild Beasts arrive on the stage, the audience are at fever pitch. According to singer Hayden Thorpe, the last time the band headlined a Liverpool gig, there were roughly six people there. There's at least seventy-five times that amount in attendance this time round; "very humbling", in the words of Thorpe. With two stellar albums to pick a setlist from, it's no wonder Wild Beasts turn in a stellar performance. Even though on record, lyrics are occasionally indecipherable thanks to Thorpe's unusual voice, nearly every word is sung back to the band. On this showing, Wild Beasts certainly have the fanbase to reach the level of mainstream adoration that The Maccabees and The Horrors did last year. But should they fail to be picked up by the fickle fifteen year-old "indies", they'll be the biggest and best cult band in the country, which is no bad thing at all.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT: Either the short, bald guy next to me dancing like it was the Happy Mondays on stage or "We've Still Got The Taste Dancin' On Our Tongues"

17 March 2010

VIDEO: Gorillaz - Stylo

In honour of Hitsville U.K.'s first 9/10 album of the year (Plastic Beach, in case you hadn't read), here's the rather cool, Bruce Willis-featuring video for "Stylo" (which doesn't really sound like Eddie Grant's "Time Warp", despite what he says)



6. Ellie Goulding - Lights
Ellie Goudling is in the exact same position as Florence and her Machine were last year. Topping “ones to watch” lists left, right and centre with a Brit Award before her album’s released. That’s a lot of expectation on the former folk singer, and it’s set her up for a fall. Save for the pure pop gold of “Starry Eyed”, “Under The Sheets” and “Wish I Stayed”, as well as the really rather good “Every Time You Go”, there isn’t much to back up the hype. It’s all a bit bedroom pop, nowhere near the levels of Florence, La Roux or even Little Boots. I hate to be so negative, given how cute Ellie Goudling looks (she’s up there with Zooey Deschanel, Marina and Laura Marling for indie-girl crushes) but “Lights” is wholly unspectacular. Really, I should have expected this, considering she’s worked with this dick.
SOUNDS LIKE: Radio 1's wet dream
ESSENTIAL: "Starry Eyed", "Under The Sheets", "Wish I Stayed", "Every Time You Go"

7. Everybody Was In The French Resistance... Now! - Fixin' The Charts Vol. 1
Eddie Argos, he of Art Brut fame as well as smelling like eggs fame (from what I’ve heard from one source) has joined up with Dyan Valdes of The Blood Arm (remember them?) to make...well...an album that sounds like Art Brut going pop. To be honest, it wasn't going to sound like much else, when you take Argos' distinctive half-talking, half-singing style into consideration. Whilst the last two Art Brut albums have been a bit meh, EWITFR...N! (I think I'll just call them The French Resistance from now on) makes Argos sound revitalised with a new lease of life. The chorus of "G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N" is too catchy for it's own good, as will "Think Twice (It's Not Alright)", whilst "Walk Alone" (a riposte to Gerry & The Pacemakers "You'll Never Walk Alone") could possibly become a favourite of Evertonians everywhere (including this one). Okay, it's not life-changing stuff and occasionally a bit too tongue-in-cheek for its own good, but there are worse ways to spend 35 minutes than listening "Fixin' The Charts Vol. 1".
SOUNDS LIKE: Art Brut, if they'd made it to Top Of The Pops
ESSENTIAL: "G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N. (You Know I've Got A)", "Think Twice (It's Not Alright)", "He's A 'Rebel'", "Coal Digger", "Walk Alone"

8. Fyfe Dangerfield - Fly Yellow Moon
After a lacklustre second album, Guillemots have gone on hiatus, allowing amazingly-named frontman Fyfe Dangerfield to go solo. As with Eddie Argos and The French Resistance, "Fly Yellow Moon" doesn't differ greatly from Dangerfield's day job. "She Needs Me", for instance, could slot in perfectly on either Guillemots album, but Dangerfield is a highly underrated songwriter and a world without his songs would be worse off indeed. Opener "When You Walk In The Room" is a bouncy piece of piano-pop that The Beatles would write if they formed tomorrow, and "So Brand New" sees Fyfe switch to '60s crooner mode with good result. "Faster Than The Setting Sun" may veer a bit close to Coldplay territory, but overall "Fly Yellow Moon" is a fine album that should shove Dangerfield's talents further into the spotlight. Now, if we can just get that third Guillemots album...
SOUNDS LIKE: The best alt-pop songs of the year
ESSENTIAL: "When You Walk In The Room", "So Brand New", "Barricades", "Live Wire"

9. Gil Scott Heron - I'm New Here
The godfather of hip-hop has had a rough few years; Gil Scott Heron hasn't released or recorded any new songs since 1994, let alone a new album; has had heavy drug problems, had two spells in jail and contracted HIV. So it comes as no surprise that "I'm New Here" takes on subjects more personal than the political issues of old.Whilst older material was more jazz and beat inflected, "I'm New Here" lends itself more to electronic music. Opening track "On Coming From A Broken Home (Part 1)" pulsating synths give the song a threatening, somewhat aggressive edge, as if Heron's grizzled voice didn't already do that half the time. The album is reminiscent of Johnny's Cash's last few LPs, not as in it's the words of a dying man, and not so much as to sound the same (I can't recall Cash ever delving into trip-hop), but in the intesity and feel of the record, as if Heron has still has a lot left in the tank.
SOUNDS LIKE: That old guy at the back of the bar, who you think might be a big crazy, but is actually a genius being allowed to record an album.
ESSENTIALS: "On Coming From A Broken Home (Part 1)", "I'm New Here", "I'll Take Care Of You"

10. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
If you can get your head around the entirely bonkers back story cooked up by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett to "Plastic Beach", well, you've got a longer attention span than me. As the whole Gorillaz gets sillier and sillier, the music has improved a whole lot. The previous two albums have never really been favourites of mine, thus I've always considered Gorillaz to be a singles band, but Plastic Beach has proved me wrong. Maybe it's the wealth of collaborations, maybe it's the concept of the album, something has just clicked this time. Maybe all future Gorillaz albums should involve Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, Bobby Womack, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Lou Reed, De La Soul and Gruff Rhys, with a bit less Damon Albarn? Don't get me wrong, I love Damon Albarn, but seeing as the best tracks on "Plastic Beach" feature guest stars, it could just work. If tracks that are as playful and layered as "White Flag", "Superfast Jellyfish" and "Rhinestone Eyes" are the future of pop, then colour me happy. The only problem with "Plastic Beach" is that after the title track, it seems to drop off a little. But that's only a minor complaint. After all, there can only be so much genius on one album.
SOUNDS LIKE: Gorillaz. Nothing else.
ESSENTIAL: "Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach (featuring Snoop Dogg and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble)" "White Flag (featuring Kano, Bashy and The Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music)" "Rhinestone Eyes" "Stylo (featuring Mos Def and Bobby Womack" "Superfast Jellyfish (featuring De La Soul and Gruff Rhys)", "Glitter Freeze (featuring Mark E. Smith" "Some Kind Of Nature (featuring Mark E. Smith" "On Melancholy Hill" "Plastic Beach (featuring Mick Jones and Paul Simonon"

VIDEO: Hot Chip - I Feel Better

Directed by walking ball of hilarity Peter Serafinowicz, it's hard to tell which is more mental; this, or "Telephone"...

Hot Chip - I Feel Better

Hot Chip | MySpace Music Videos

16 March 2010

SUMMER CAMP - Ghost Train (video)

...or, what I will be forcing all of my friends to listen to from May to September.

PLAYING CATCH-UP: Albums I've missed over the last two months

In my 64 day absence, I've missed out on reviewing a fair few albums, so I'm making up for that now.

1. Beach House - Teen Dream
Beautiful melodies, ethereal vocals, heavenly arrangements, but there’s only so many times you can listen to the same aural equivalent of a cloud. There’s nothing too heavy or groundbreaking on Beach House; take the songs individually and they range from okay to amazing (“10 Mile Stereo” being the best track on the album), but in one go, it’s just a bit too much.
SOUNDS LIKE: Someone dreaming of Grizzly Bear
ESSENTIAL: "Silver Soul", "10 Mile Stereo", "Take Care"

2. Blood Res Shoes - Fire Like This
Blood Red Shoes have struggled to escape the indie tag they’ve been tarred with, and rightfully so. They are a lot heavier than, say, Two Door Cinema Club. In fact, a hell of a lot heavier as seven minute sludge-rock closer “Colours Fade” shows. But being a little harder and heavier than their contemporaries doesn’t really excuse them from not moving on from their debut “Box Of Secrets”. And when I say heavy, I don’t mean “In Utero”/“The Holy Bible”/“Master Of Puppets” levels of distortion and disturbance; more like Radio 1 midday-heavy, or Hollyoaks soundtrack-heavy. Had this been their debut, it would have been quite impressive, but there’s feeling of déjà vu on pretty much every track.
SOUNDS LIKE: Nevermind-era Nirvana, fronted by a girl.
ESSENTIAL: "Light It Up", "Heartsink", "One More Empty Chair", "Colours Fade"

3. Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip - The Logic Of Chance
In the two years since their debut, Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip haven’t been given the kindest ride by critics. Why? I’ll never know. Le Sac’s beats now rival those of the biggest DJs around, whilst Pip’s flow has come on tenfold. Alright, the opening to Great Britain sounds alarmingly like Hadouken! and the spoken word “statistics” bit may sound cringeworthy depending on your fandom, but the insanely catchy chorus makes up for everything. Sticking with cringe moments, the “Rehab”-pisstake in “Last Train Home” doesn’t sit well with me, but I digress. For a band known for something of a novelty hit (“Thou Shall Always Kill”), the subject matter of most tracks is quite deep and, in the case of “Cowboi”, slightly unnerving. Cynics and year-round grinches will decry Le Sac vs Pip as preachy and overly political, but, at the risk of sound too much like Jon McClure, it’s better than album about girls and drinking. “The Logic Of Chance” is undoubtedly a step-up from the pair’s debut “Angles”, if only for the opening line of “Get Better”; “Imagine a song/that really reached out and touched kids/Not in a Daily Mail way/Innocence corrupted.”
SOUNDS LIKE: That cool-but-brainy teacher who's into hip-hop being let loose in the music department
ESSENTIAL: "Sick Tonight", "Great Britain", "Get Better", "Inert Explosions", "Stake A Claim", "Cowboi"

4. Dum Dum Girls - I Will Be
It would be easy to write Dum Dum Girls off as a third rate female Ramones, based on appearances alone. They’ve got the cool scowls down to a tee, leather jackets, names like Dee Dee, Frankie Rose and Bambi and they look as if they would almost definitely beat you in a fight. But instead of dumb, three chord, bubblegum punk, “I Will Be” contains some of the sweetest pop tunes you’re likely to hear this year, albeit hidden behind swirling shoegaze guitars and a few walls of distortion. “Bhang Bhang, I’m A Burnout” is an ideal sunny summer day soundtrack, whilst “Blank Girl” is already a forerunner for one of the tracks of the year. With only two tracks crossing the three minute line, the Girls don’t outstay their welcome, but leave you with enough hooks and harmonies to keep you satisfied.
SOUNDS LIKE: Girl group pop, with a metric ton of attitude, behind MBV guitars.
ESSENTIALS: "Bhang Bhang, I'm A Burnout", "Jail La La", "Yours Alone", "Blank Girl", "Baby Don't Go"

5. Eels - End Times
Excluding the refrain of “Mr E’s Beautiful Blues” (“Goddamn right, it’s a beautiful day”), Mark Oliver Everett has never been one for looking on the sunnier side of life. Having just gone through a divorce before recording “End Times”, that was never going to change on this album. If you’re having a bad time at the minute, it would be advised to avoid this album, unless you’re a) of sound mind, b) away from anything noose-y or razor-blade-y and/or c) enjoy revelling in downbeat acoustic laments. “End Times” isn’t fill with up tempo indie rock a la previous hits “Souljacker Pt 1” and “Novocaine For The Soul”, but turning misery, heartbreak, divorce et al into positive rock ‘n’ roll is a tricky thing to do, and luckily E steers clear of trying. At fourteen tracks, it may drag a little, but as usual with Eels, it’s never boring, and often brilliant.
SOUNDS LIKE: Music you'd need to make/hear after a break-up
ESSENTIALS: "Gone Man", "In My Younger Days", "Mansions of Los Feliz", "A Line In The Dirt", "End Times", "Nowadays", "I Need A Mother", "Little Bird"

Sincerest apologies

I've been neglecting the blog for quite some time now. 64 days to be precise. Stuff gets in the way; uni, work, life etc. But I shall neglect no longer! Or at least neglect a bit less.

Anyways, it's pointless now but the top four songs of 2009 were:
  1. YEASAYER - Ambling Alp
  3. THE DRUMS - Let's Go Surfing
  4. THE BIG PINK - Velvet
Whilst the top ten albums were:
  1. NOAH AND THE WHALE - The First Days Of Spring
  2. MANIC STREET PREACHERS - Journal For Plague Lovers
  3. THE xx - xx
  4. THE BIG PINK - A Brief History Of Love
  5. THE HORRORS - Primary Colours
  6. THE MACCABEES - Wall Of Arms
  7. JAMIE T - Kings & Queens
  8. MAXIMO PARK - Quicken The Heart
  9. WILD BEASTS - Two Dancers
  10. ARCTIC MONKEYS - Humbug
And that's that. I'm going to see Wild Beasts and Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip in the next few days, so there'll be live reviews up for them soon, and I'll probably revamp the whole look of the blog.