Tuesday, 30 March 2010
I've been a big fan of Yusuf Azak's two releases, 'Light Procession' and 'Gazelle' (both available for free download). Here are two previews of his new tracks 'Eastern Sun' and 'Time to Kill'. The latter features lush string arrangements with Azak's token rasping voice only just peeking through the wall of sound which erupts in euphoric waves of sound. 'Eastern Sun' features skillful guitar plucking, which is more in key with his previous releases but also demonstrates the originality and progress this young songwriter has made in such a short space of time.
The tracks will be featured on the Aberdonian-by-way-of-Glasgow's debut album, due for release this year. These tracks further excitement for it.
He is supporting Meursault at their Glasgow album launch on the 10th at Captain's Rest.
Yusuf Azak - Eastern Sun
Yusuf Azak - Time to Kill
Thursday, 25 March 2010
All human endeavour is pointless..
I mean really.
What the fuck? 1 billion views. This is the pinnacle of popular culture, apparently. All those billions of years of coincidences and explosions, atoms splitting and re-combining, galaxies forming and dying and spinning endlessly across the unknowable void, all the DNA mutations and binary fission, the first life forming and evolving and crawling from the primordial void. The Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Aztec and Olmec and the ancient Chinese. The Dark Ages, the Renaissance, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Strauss. Penicillin, television, nuclear fission, moon mission.
All so the kids can get down and enjoy Lady fucking GaGa. A being so devoid of talent and charisma and even well-groomed eyebrows that she makes Jordan look like a valued member of society. A "performer" who has been quoted as saying she writes songs with a view to what crrrraaaazy outfit she'll wear whilst singing it. This is apparently the new Thriller. I have to say I was more sexually aroused by Zombie Jacko than I was by this harridan and her "masterpiece". Is the bar so low? What have we done? I'm beginning to think David Icke has a point, only a race of all-powerful sentient lizards could come up with this shit and get away with it. Who is inspired by this dross? Are we to have a whole generation of girls who fondly remember this shit? Global warming can't come soon enough.
At the other end of the scale, I was pottering about on That Internet when I heard this:
Listen to the last minute or so, that Clint Mansell (he of the Moon and Requiem for a Dream soundtracks that basically form the musical bed of every trailer and programme on Sky at the mo) is a good lad. He's made in one minute what U2 have been trying to do for 30 years, then he fades it out just when it's getting climactic. Me likey.
I shouldn't read the Guardian. It riles me up so.
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
The death of Alex Chilton rekindled my love for a band he inspired greatly, Teenage Fanclub. Coincidently they have just announced the tracklisting of their new album 'Shadows' released May 31st.
1.Sometimes I Don’t Need To Believe In Anything
4.Into The City
7.Shock And Awe
8.When I Still Have Thee
9.Live With The Seasons
10.Sweet Days Waiting
11.The Back Of My Mind
12.Today Never Ends
[MP3] Teenage Fanclub - Baby Lee
It's just lovely. Welcome back boys.
I'm posting this video for two reasons. Firstly, I think it is the tightest the band have sounded live. Secondly, I think this is to do with the brilliant sound supplied by WOXY, who today announced that they have been forced to suspend their live broadcasts due to lack of financial support. I suspect American bloggers and music lovers will try and help WOXY in the same way British independent music fans have for the BBC 6 Music cause. Let's not lose one of the best resources on the web. UNITE!!
Vacuum Spasm Babies are the brainchild of Malcolm Spasm and Charles S. Bravo (hopefully their real names). They are releasing their 'Science EP' on the 5th April for free via Shark Batter. They sound like The Beta Band, if The Beta Band had a nervous breakdown. It won't be for everyone, but for me it lands on the right side of avante garde for it to be enjoyable.
Vacuum Spasm Babies - Science Division
When a band is named after a phenomenon in weather patterns you would assume their music would be a lacklustre affair. A name coinciding with a subject people turn to when they have ran out of rubbish small talk. North Atlantic Oscillation are not a boring band, and debut effort Grappling Hooks equates to something extremely far away from boring small talk.
The Edinburgh band’s debut combines Squarepusher inspired electronic soundscapes with other influences weaved throughout. NAO are a band that keeps their influences on their sleeve but shake them off which each new song, with every track featuring a familiar sound, yet also sounding distinctly unique. Opener ‘Marrow’ mashes together an array of synth sweeps with hammering drums and euphoric modulated vocals, colliding to form waves of hypnotising sound. Second track ‘Hollywood Has Ended’ masquerades as an acoustic lament and a stark contrast to the opener, then transforms into a full-blown rock track, with pounding guitars and a Theremin taking the song to space-like levels.
It is fair to say that Grappling Hooks is an extremely ambitious record. Each track is choc full of instruments scrambling and competing to make the biggest impression. With most bands this would end up in a noise filled mess, but North Atlantic Oscillation ultimately end up on the right side of indulgent. Lead single ‘Cell Count’ demonstrates this exceptionally, with hooks found in abundance in the form of pulsating bass lines, tight drums and a repetitive but catchy chorus (‘It’s amazing what you can do’). ‘Cell Count’ is a powerhouse of a song, and vindicates the bands towering ambition. ’77 Hours’ is a throw back to several 80’s theme tunes, with an indie backdrop. It is again brimming with hooks and intent, yet is perhaps one of the album’s more subtle moments.
My one complaint about Grappling Hooks is that it would perhaps benefit from some quieter moments. Some calm in between the storm of sound that we know we should take cover from, yet we are so intrigued by that we bear it’s brunt.
Grappling Hooks is an album that reaches for the sky, and is all the more better for it. Fearless ambition need not always mean failure, and North Atlantic Oscillation demonstrate this emphatically. Far better than talking about the weather.
Monday, 22 March 2010
I cannot write this review of Over the Wall's new single 'Settle Down' with an unbiased opinion. They are one of my favourite bands and I used their song 'Thurso' for my own cathartic gain when I was having issues communicating thanks and admiration to my dad (which I have still never fully expressed), so I have nothing but blind love and admiration for them. However, 'Settle Down' has a totally different feel to it than 'Thurso'.
I'm not sure whether it is the break-neck electronic beats or the yelping vocals (think Scottish Spencer Krug) which draws me deeper into this song, but it exudes a hypnotic quality which is deliciously moreish and undeniably danceable. The chemistry between Gav Prentice and Bill Hillman is more evident than ever (as anyone who has seen the band live will testify), demonstrated by their token harmonies and head spinning hooks (pick between trumpet, guitar, synth or that catchy chorus) pulsating throughout the song. 'Settle Down' truly cements Over the Wall as one of Scotland's most promising and talented bands, it doesn't take a bias opinion to see that.
Over the Wall - Settle Down
'Settle Down' is released on 7 inch vinyl and digital download on Monday 5th April on Motive Sounds Recordings. It is the first release following their debut EP ‘The Rise and Fall of Over the Wall’ (available in places which sell music, that song 'Thruso' is on it) and is taken from their forthcoming album ‘Treacherous’ due in the summer, so look out for that. They are also playing a gig for Ten Tracks at Verden Studios in Edinburgh on the 27th. Their album launch is at Captain's Rest on the 5th of April.
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Brooklyn 5-piece Fang Island released their debut last month, it hasn't been off my rotation since with it's feel good sound, soaring guitar riffs and harmonies. I sat down with them to talk about their influences, fictional scenes, dancing hipsters and Point Break.
HF@D; You've just released your self titled debut, it sounds to me a bit like Animal Collective raping Rainbow/Journey/Van Halen with some Thrash beatdowns thrown in. How would you describe your sound and which bands have influenced you?
FI; We are mainly influenced by friendships, summer, beach parties, fireworks, bop-it, rochester garbage plates, CRT's (culturally relevant textiles), and Michelle Tanner from Full House.
HF@D; You're a Brooklyn band, is there a scene for bands like you there?
FI; Yes, check out Bare Naked Gentleman, Iamtheshaman, Bloody Blunts, High School Hugs, and Satan's Freak.
HF@D; What is the secret to getting hipsters to dance?
F.I; Sorry, that is a secret recipe.
HF@D; Andrew W.K hosted your album launch night. How did that come about? Has he given you an inspirational talk yet?
F.I; He has been a hero to us for a long time, and ended up singing on our record. Listening to The Wolf is an inspirational talk to us all!
HF@D; You're playing SXSW then going on a pretty extensive tour. Is this your first time at the festival?
F.I; Yes. It is!
HF@D; The video for Daisy features former presidents, a lucha libre with a flag, some campy dancers and two weird looking creatures. Do they represent anything?
F.I; Everything in the video was a reference to Point Break. Everyone huddled around the piano at the end is a perfect representation of our band.
HF@D; Any plans to come to Britain?
F.I; If you book it, they will come.
HF@D; High five?
F.I; Two handed high five!!!!
Fang Island - Daisy
Fang Island - Life Coach
Fang Island is out now via Sargent House
Thursday, 11 March 2010
We Were Promised Jetpacks' debut 'These Four Walls' was released last year, and several lazy journalists compared them to Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad, because all three are Scottish and on FatCat Records. However, 'These Four Walls' was a Gang of Four-esque urgent affair, with bass and guitar hooks galore, making every song climax into a wall of noise and ferocity. Is 'The Last Place You'll Look' a simple imitation of 'These Four Walls'? The answer is a resounding 'no'.
Opener 'A Far Cry' is desperately bleak yet equally optimistic, as it indicates WWPJ are a band who have grown in a very short space of time. They are still doing everything they did on their debut but they are doing it more subtly and clinically. The song doesn't use quiet-loud dynamics for no reason, the bleak lament draws you in, then the thundering drums are introduced and truly take the song to a new level. The reworkings of 'Short Bursts' and 'This Is My House, This Is My Home' are an improvement from their previous incarnations. 'Short Bursts' introduces cello, trumpet and epic marching drums, making We Were Promised Jetpacks' sound far more restrained, mature and assured than ever before. 'This Is My House, This Is My Home' has been transformed into a piano led lament featuring Adam Thompson's token heartfelt vocals complimented by a slow build up of strings. 'The Walls Are Wearing Thin' is the song most in keeping with the bands previous sound, yet the build up is again shown to be patient, subtle and a lot more effective than most songs on their full-length with brass again contributing immensely to the crescendo of the song.
We Were Promised Jetpacks really demonstrate how talented and versatile a band they are. 'The Last Place You'll Look' is definitely the best work the band have done, showing restraint and depth like never before. The new sound is a direction I hope they continue to flirt with, if not completely convert to.
We Were Promised Jetpacks - This Is My House, This Is My Home (New Version)
We Were Promised Jetpacks - The Walls Are Wearing Thin
The Last Place You'll Look is released on April 12th via FatCat Records
Toronto's Hooded Fang released their excellent self titled E.P in 2007 and we haven't heard much from them (in terms of new releases) since. I caught up with them to see how their debut album was getting on, what their influences are, and discuss the Canadian music scene.
You guys haven't released much of anything since your E.P in 2008, what's been happening?
Intrigue, 30 rock, hibernation. New Tracey Morgan inspired full-length coming out SOON!!
How is the debut getting on?
Pretty good. Our roommates are sick of it. All them mixin' sessions.
How did you all of you meet?
Space camp. ZOOMBA!
Who influences you guys?
POW! WAP! BAM! Disco D, Doo Wop, old school Hip-Hop beats, Buddy Holly.
What were some of your favourite releases of 2009?
Timber Timbre, Smith Westerns, Weather Station, Nobunny, Pangea (LA), Young Governor, Crystal Stilts, Major Lazer, Times Neue Roman, The Magic.
Canada seems to have such a healthy music scene in terms of open mindedness and quality. Why do you think this is?
Poutine, good peeps, maple syrup, Winter and Good Music Series': Wavelength, No Shame, Elvis Mondays, Over the Top Fest.
Can you recommend any good Canadian bands?
See above, and also add tonkapuma, Hut, Spiral Beach, The Miles, Weather Weather, Sean Nicholas Savage, The Bicycles, Slim Twig, Calm Down Its Monday, Lightmares.
I really like the artwork on your e.p. Who did it?
It was mail order! Supervised by Vanessa from Montreal and Dan in the band.
If music is not your full time job, what do you guys do to make ends meet?
Smart secret things, write musicals, act in plays, teach little kids, organize concerts and become Masters of the Universe.
Hooded Fang - Highway Steam
Hooded Fang - Fall Leaves
If urgent indie pop in the same vein as Sky Larkin is your kind of thing, then look no further than the Halifax 5-piece The ABC Club. With racing guitars, driving drums and punchy basslines, The ABC Club are a perfect remedy for most of the miserable stuff I usually post on here. Zandra Klievens' patient, sometimes warbling vocals make them come across as part female Morrisey and part 4AD bands of the early nineties.
New 7" single 'Thieving Magpie' is out via Rough Trade, iTunes and that place with all those adverts, Spotify, now.
The ABC Club - Get Set Go [MP3]
The National - Terrible Love (live on Fallon) [MP3]
New album 'High Violet' released on May 11th.