By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 2nd September 2014 at 6:00 pm
It’s the day after Labor Day here in America and all the kids are back in school, which means autumn is basically here. So it’s extra good timing for Bear in Heaven to release the promo for their song ‘Autumn’, off their fourth album ‘Time is Over One Day’ out now. The visuals are like stepping into a blurry, trippy RPG. Watch the video below.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 2nd September 2014 at 12:00 pm
Subtlety was never We Were Promised Jetpacks‘ strong suit. In their debut album ‘These Four Walls’, the emphatic vocal style adopted by frontman Adam Thompson accompanied by the relentless instrumental sound of the band on ‘Quiet Little Voices’ was many fans’ first introduction to the Scottish group. (Another standout from their debut, ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’, was incidentally the first song I’d heard from them, leading me to write this Bands to Watch in August 2009.) ‘Medicine’, the first single from their 2011 album ‘In the Pit of the Stomach’, followed a similar formula, with a driving rhythm and unwavering vocals. However, the latest new material to come from the WWPJ camp bears a curious title: ‘I Keep It Composed’. It follows track ‘Safety in Numbers’, which was unveiled in July.
Thompson stretches his vocal cords a bit more on this track, while also bending and holding his notes as well, giving the track a psychedelic feel at times. The bass line seems more pronounced than on their past recordings, but it remains to be seen live if it’s due to the mix and not an actual change in sound or playing on Sean Smith’s part why this is the case. And the overall sound is fuller, and this is no doubt thanks to the bringing on of a fifth band member, Stuart McGachan, who plays guitar and keyboards. Indeed, it’s McGachan’s notes that seem to provide most clarity in a wall of sound slowly buzzing and building towards the song’s eventual climax.
The problem isn’t so much the musicianship; what We Were Promised Jetpacks have created here is good. It’s just not terribly interesting or unique. Perhaps this was the point: ‘I Keep It Composed’ wasn’t recorded to be a pop masterpiece, or even to be a radio-friendly song like ‘Safety in Numbers’. (Now why wasn’t that released as a single, huh?) The title, sounding tongue in cheek, sounded like we were to expect something a bit different from these Scots, but it seems we were sorely disappointed. What will the rest of new album ‘Unravelling’ sound like? Guess we’ll have to wait for October to come to find out.
‘I Keep It Composed’ is the first single from We Were Promised Jetpacks’ forthcoming third album ‘Unravelling’. The single drops on the 22nd of September on Fat Cat Records, with the LP to follow on the 6th of October.
Prog-rock quartet Syd Arthur, who melted my face off earlier this year at SXSW 2014, have announced a full headline tour of the UK, starting in just under 3 weeks’ time. The band’s new single ‘Autograph’, from their recent album ‘Sound Mirror’, will be released on the 6th of October through Harvest Records. You can watch the video for the album’s first single ‘Garden of Time’ below the tour date listing.
Wednesday 17th September 2014 – Bristol Louisiana
Thursday 18th September 2014 – Birmingham Sunflower Lounge
Saturday 20th September 2014 – Kendal Brewery Arts Centre
Sunday 21st September 2014 – Glasgow Broadcast
Tuesday 23rd September 2014 – Leicester Cookie Jar
Wednesday 24th September 2014 – Hull Adelphi
Thursday 25th September 2014 – Newcastle Cluny
Friday 26th September 2014 – Sheffield Leadmill
Saturday 27th September 2014 – Folkestone Quarterhouse
Monday 29th September 2014 – Brighton Komedia
Tuesday 30th September 2014 – Southampton Joiners
Wednesday 1st October 2014 – London Dingwalls
Thursday 2nd 1st October 2014 – Manchester Band on the Wall
Drummers-turned-songwriters Hyde and Beast (otherwise known as Dave Hyde and Neil Bassett) have announced a headline tour of the UK to follow on the August release of their second album ‘Keep Moving’. The album has already received airplay on BBC 6music, where its title track was featured as a Single of the Week on Shaun Keaveny’s breakfast show. If you missed it on the radio, you can watch the video for ‘Keep Moving’ in our earlier feature here. Tickets for the following live shows are available now.
Monday 20th October 2014 – London Lexington
Tuesday 21st October – Brighton Prince Albert
Thursday 23rd October – Leeds Belgrave Hall
Friday 24th October – Bristol Start the Bus
Saturday 25th October – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Monday 27th October – Manchester Night and Day
Tuesday 28th October – Glasgow Broadcast
Wednesday 29th October – Newcastle Cluny 2
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 1st September 2014 at 6:00 pm
Broken Bells, the rock duo comprised of James Mercer and Dangermouse, released their second album ‘After the Disco’ back in February. Both their self-titled debut and this latest LP have allusions to space travel and otherworldly pursuits, so it makes sense that their latest promo for ‘After the Disco’ track ‘Control’ would have old film clips of space, crop circles and UFOs. Interestingly, that pink dodecahedron thingy on the cover of ‘Broken Bells’ also makes several appearances. Even more randomly, clips of Mercer and Burton play are included, as are computer-rendered images of the two as an ‘unknown organic compound’. Huh? (I’m also wondering if the surviving members of Joy Division will sue for the usage of what seems to be the rippling waves of the ‘Unknown Pleasures’ album…) Watch the video below.
Martin’s Day 1 roundup from
Kendal Calling 2014 is here.
There’s no doubting the scale of The Ramona Flowers‘ ambition – theirs is all big reverb and hanging guitar notes, large-scale emoting and words like “bittersweet”. There’s a common comparison with U2, which is fair enough, but in comparison the Flowers seem a touch lightweight: at least U2 managed to write about politics before moving on to songs which can be played at weddings. ‘Brighter’ is a spacey affair which manages to tick all the boxes of swirly, effected guitar, emo-pained yet meaningless vocal meanderings and a stadium-friendly drum track. Does the world need another bunch of U2 wannabes? Probably not, but the experience is pretty exhilarating while it lasts. Steve Bird is a strong frontman – which basically means he knows how good he looks and plays up to it – and the rest of the band bang out the massive tunes with competence and enthusiasm. If, like Professor Peach, you “like ‘em big”, then The Ramona Flowers are where it’s at.
Amber Run (another set, another meaningless two-word band name) belong to that most dreary of genres: Quiet-Loud-Folksy-Rock-With-Big-Crescendos-And-Wide-Eyed-Faux-Innocent-Vocals. Even if this was your very first introduction to the wonders of live rock music, you’d still be forgiven for thinking “is that really it?”. ‘Spark’ has a pointless refrain of “let the light in”, repeated ad nauseum – a defining feature of the QLFRWBCAWEFIV genre. ‘Noah’ has all the other tropes – mildly ironic orchestral baubles (in this case, xylophone) and vowels stretched to the very limits of decency. They’re not as irritating as Eliza and the Bear, although that’s like saying syphilis is preferable to AIDS. Both to be avoided as much as practically possible.
We Were Evergreen do their thing, which is to be very funky and French indeed. We’ve covered them before at Deer Shed Festival (read about this year’s appearance here), so there’s no need to go into detail about their virtues again here, except to say that TGTF had a chat with them afterwards, so watch this space for that.
Thank goodness for Findlay, who can be relied upon to be a proper rock star. There’s more attitude in her slight frame than any number of mopey, reverbed boy bands. ‘Your Sister’ is even more acerbic live, the minimal band (another example of the current superfluosity of bassists) rocking hard to an ancient blues riff over lyrics heavy with innuendo. She breaks out the overdrive microphone for ‘Greasy Love’, which is still a very naughty piece of music, its references to sweaty sex just about as raunchy as rock gets right now, and its music is as dirty as its lyrical content. A new track called ‘Stoned and Alone’ is unleashed with the order, “if you’ve got a spliff, smoke it now!” to the raised eyebrows of security staff; what a rebel. If there’s a girl doing better blues-rock than Findlay right now, call the Guinness Book of Records.
Catfish and the Bottlemen pack the Calling Out tent, punters squelching around in boggy puddles on its periphery, desperate to catch a glimpse of a band that are shaping up to be the next big thing in mainstream rock. The stars were all aligning for their Kendal performance – their album about to drop, it was frontman Van McCann’s birthday, and he’d just exclusively revealed to TGTF that he’d like CATB to be bigger than Oasis. Fair enough. And on the evidence of today, their trajectory is indeed inexorably upwards. Their songs are adventurous yet simple: big choruses, hooky melodies, modestly sweary of lyric yet innocent of eye. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, no novel song arrangements, no obscure instrumentation, just a wall of guitars and an endearing mixture of humility and genuine cool from McCann. Back in March last year, TGTF declared “anyone pondering the future of British guitar music should add Catfish and the Bottlemen to the list”. Come 2014, not only are they on the list, they’re fighting hard to be at the top. Care to bet against them?
With their run of festival performances this summer, Suede have pulled off one of the most profound comebacks in recent memory. Not only are they generally regarded as being, if not quite the inventors of Britpop, then certainly the trailblazers, they have managed to resurrect a career that was in danger of becoming a footnote in pop music history – a blazing start followed by a long tail of increasing mediocrity. No longer. Following their superb comeback 2013 album ‘Bloodsports’, Suede have crafted a live show utterly worthy of a headline slot at any event in the world. Even (whisper it…) Glastonbury. Mumford and Sons? Give me a break.
After an appropriately long wait, a shadowy figure emerged from the depths of the stage to the mournful piano strains of ‘The Next Life’, a hugely brave move in front of a Northern festival crowd known for its rowdy enthusiasm. Impressively, the crowd was hushed and reverent as Brett Anderson knelt, almost foetus-like, his cracked falsetto hypnotising them into silence. A beautiful moment of Kendal history. But in a blink it was gone, replaced by a romp through 20 years of Suede history. They played more than half their debut album but just a single track from opus ‘Dog Man Star’, perhaps reinforcing this author’s opinion that, good though ‘Dog Man Star’ is, it’s ‘Suede’ that is a true pop-rock masterpiece, with the perfect combination of punk, pomp and peroxide, and much more relevant in the live arena.
There’s four tracks from ‘Coming Up,’ demonstrating just how valuable the first Oakes-written Suede album is to their back catalogue. The move to single-word song titles (‘Filmstar’, ‘Lazy’, ‘Trash’) neatly summarises the fresh, efficient, to-the-point Suede 2.0 which emerged from the ashes of the ‘Dog Man Star’ sessions – such songs are remarkably fizzy, electronically-enhanced shocks of guitar pop that still sound fresh and vital today. We also get this writer’s favourite ever Suede song, ‘Killing of a Flash Boy’, never released on a non-compilation album, but a perennial live favourite, a dystopian singalong with a similarly worrying video.
There really isn’t a comparable story in pop to that of Richard Oakes. Plucked from nowhere as a schoolboy with a penchant for playing Suede songs in his bedroom, his mimicry of Bernard Butler was astonishing then, and his ability to write original guitar parts in the true Suede style is nothing short of a musical miracle even now. His recent portliness may not be true to the skinny Suede style of old (Anderson, however, remains as sticklike as ever), but is at least a visual reminder of the years that have passed since his joining. Despite what many longstanding fans may want to believe, Oakes has been in the band almost three times as long as his predecessor, and is the true sound of modern Suede.
The high-water mark for Britpop reunions is arguably Blur’s performance at Glastonbury in 2009, with perhaps an honourable mention for Pulp at Primavera in 2011. The difference here is that Suede aren’t just doing a one-off gig or two, this tour has been going for the best part of a year, featuring several festival appearances. This a proper career reboot, and with a new album slated for 2015, Suede are proving that they’re not happy simply with inventing Britpop. They want to reinvent it too.
More from Martin on Kendall Calling 2014 will be on TGTF soon.