By CoCo Wong on Thursday, 24th March 2011 at 12:00 pm
Fancy some percussion-induced music? Look no further: Islet from Wales will definitely give you a minty fresh feeling about percussion-based music. This quartet were formed by four very talented multi-instrumentalists, Emma, Mark, AL and JT. They often switch their instruments around from song to song, thus creating an experimental sound. Three-quarters of the band play drums, so you should be able to tell from their songs that they’re pretty drums-orientated. In addition to their dislike of the internet (the band have been known to send around homemade publications by snail mail), the band is known for their amazing live set, which is not hard to imagine given their percussion-heavy sound.
Having released two mini albums, ‘Celebrate This Place’ and ‘Wimmy’, the band are now writing their debut full-length album. The first Islet song I’ve ever heard was ‘We Shall Visit’ (video below), from ‘Celebrate This Place’. At first, I found their genre a bit weird. But after you’ve given it another listen, you’ll just go “wow!” and be amazed by the band’s creativity and uniqueness. They are fun, and rather raw-sounding. None of their songs sound alike one another. Each of their tracks takes you on a journey of its own kind. To a certain extent, I think Islet have kind of created their own genre as they are rather hard to classify.
‘Holly’, one of my favourite Islet tracks, is extremely wild and somehow extreme. I t has a tinge of heavy metal essence in it, owing to the drums and the vocals. I especially adore the part after the break, at which time the whole song goes mental. Be warned though, this song is rather like marmite, you either love it or hate it. On the lesser extreme side sound-wise, ‘Ringerz’ is another great track by the band, not as heavy as ‘Holly’. With a rather subtle start, the track then is given more depth with the joining of various kinds of percussion. The video for this track is worth mentioning, with its real life animation featuring a lot of low-fi and slow-motion clips with bright colours. I enjoyed every second of the video as much as I do with the song.
Islet has been announced for Primavera in Spain and Bestival and will no doubt be gracing other stages this summer.
By CoCo Wong on Thursday, 24th March 2011 at 11:00 am
One of the most highly-anticipated music festivals in the UK is returning to Richfield Avenue and Bramham Park this summer. Yep, it’s Reading and Leeds, held during the August bank holiday weekend.
Apart from the headliners, this year’s line-up looks not too different from the one from last year. The Strokes, who have just released their new album ‘Angles’ (TGTF review here), seem to be one of the biggest names this year. Elbow will be a blast as well as they will no doubt play tracks from ‘build a rocket boys!’ Other headliners include Muse (pictured above), My Chemical Romance, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Pulp and Interpol.
Let’s move on to the NME/ Radio 1 stage, the stage I’m most interested in. Metronomy and Patrick Wolf will definitely be highlights. I personally think that Reading’s second day on the NME stage line up is the best for Ilike all the bands playing; I’m particularly looking forward to Everything Everything’s performance, and Kiwis the Naked and Famous are going to be fun to watch as well. Other great acts include Noah and the Whale, White Lies, Crystal Castles, Bombay Bicycle Club, Warpaint, Chapel Club and Cage the Elephant.
The Festival takes place on the August Bank Holiday weekend – Friday 26th to Sunday 28th August 2011. The tickets are available from SeeTickets (0870 060 3775). As for purchasing in person, tickets are available at the following 3 HMV stores: Reading Oracle, Southampton (weekend tickets only) and Oxford (weekend tickets only). Tickets are £199.50 for the weekend and £89.50 per day.
By CoCo Wong on Tuesday, 22nd March 2011 at 12:00 pm
With a neat intro, ‘Tolerate’ takes me on a journey back in time and lets me get off at around a stop in the ’60s. The rather retro-sounding vocals provided by Giant Steps‘ James Girdler are captivating enough to keep you hooked on the band upon the first listen. ‘Tolerate’ is the debut single by the Reading three-piece. Formed in 2009, members Girdler, Dan Stargatt and Dan Webb are actually childhood friends who grew up and went to school together. No wonder they all share similar music tastes and eventually ended up making music together.
This track is based on the work of Weegee, the late New York based photographer known for his stark black and white images. One thing that this song has in common with Weegee’s photography is that they both have a hidden dark element in them: Weegee captured crimes, injuries and death in his photography, while Giant Steps show the ‘darkness’ in their song by making it sound rather blue.
As a whole, ‘Tolerate’ has a really laid-back feeling. It’s the kind of thing that makes me feel so relaxed after a long day. Get yourself a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy this bit of time travel. Giant Steps are currently working on their debut album; This soul rock/jazzy sound band are definitely going to be on my 2011 radar.
By CoCo Wong on Tuesday, 15th March 2011 at 2:00 pm
This three-track digital EP from MGMT is like a bad dessert after an exceptionally good meal. The EP features three remixes of songs taken from the band’s latest album, ‘Congratulations’, released last year (TGTF review here). Two of the remixes are my favourites off the album (‘Congratulations’ and ‘Siberian Breaks’) plus ‘Brian Eno’.
‘Brian Eno’ was remixed by Japanese electronic artist Cornelius. The original track not only has its own lyrical wit, but also is a very fun song to listen to (or dance to, if you were me). But somehow, this remix sounds hideous. This remix sounds like a music project by a group of primary students trying out different sorts of instruments. The rappy vocals were made really awful as it on purposely, doesn’t go along with the music at all.
The ‘Congratulations’ remix was provided by London based DJ Erol Alkan. The original has so much emotion that Andrew Vanwyngarden memorably teared up during one of its live performances last year. The remix turns such an emotive song into a club blaster. The break of the song also has a slight Oriental twist. (Is it because MGMT are touring Asia soon?)
The last remix on this EP is done by the Ed Banger All-Stars, a group formed by artists on the Ed Banger Records label. ‘Siberian Breaks’, being the longest track on the original album, also has the longest remix at over 10 minutes. The remix starts off with some fine piano chords and the original vocals, both of which I found rather calming together. Everything was lovely before 3:10, when sudden lullabye music kicks in. After that, the remix is starting to go downhill, turning the song into what I reckon would appeal to children more than adults. From 6:18, there is another phase of the remix that is really heavily synthed. It doesn’t even seem to include any elements from the original track, and that part continues on until end. What you would expect from Ed Banger but not MGMT. In short, this remix is so weird as it comprises of an elegant piano part, a lullaby and an electronica outro.
I am really glad that this EP is only going to be released digitally, as the remixes are not that great to be physically released. ‘Congratulations’ is much better on its own without this remix EP.
By CoCo Wong on Friday, 11th March 2011 at 12:00 pm
Coastal Cities is a five-piece – Declan Cullen, Will Clark, Lewis Slade, Sean Semmens and Dan Hardy – from High Wycombe, and they are all around 16 or 17, self-described as “snotty boys”. Heh. They met each other at school and were determined to make some lighter music in contrast to what they’ve been hearing locally, which they consider too heavy. In the case of ‘Thinktank’, their debut single, it’s mission accomplished. Very upbeat and fun, ‘Thinktank’ is definitely shows the youthful and endless energy coming out the pores of this band.
Not only it has really catchy lyrics (“This is a thinktank, this is a thinktank!”), it also has really distinct guitar lines with an intense beat throughout the song. The sweet music is accompanied with some sad, sobering lyrics – not all that uncommon in the world of pop. And if people can relate to the words and dance to the song at the same time, why not?
Coastal Cities was previously featured on a ‘BBC Introducing…’ programme and it’s not hard to see why: ‘Thinktank’ is a promising single from such a young band. The band will release their second EP, entitled ‘Transgression’, on 6th April and a tour will accompany the release.
By CoCo Wong on Friday, 4th March 2011 at 12:00 pm
Lately I have discovered a lot of fab London-based acts, and the quartet Islington Boys Club are on my list of great discoveries. They are a four-piece consisting of Andy Lovelee, Daniel Silvester Taylor-Lind, Drew J. Kennedy and Ed Pearson. This band’s name reminds me of the famous Salford Lads Club, although bassist Drew has denied that they are at all associated. The band members initially met through mutual friends through the London music scene. Since then, they’ve played with O.Children and Dark Horses and have gained quite a following.
Upon hearing only the intro of their track ‘Plastic 16’, I already knew I was in love. The immense amount of power that this band gives is easily felt through the thumping drum beats that opens the song. This song has been released alongside ‘Pristine’ as a double A-sided single; ‘Pristine’ has a rather retro feeling (watch the video for it below). Yet the sure-to-be-iconic guitar riffs running through it bring a relatively modern twist to it.
And with such a defining and glamourous frontman, Islington Boys’ Club are not a band that will be easily forgotten. They will be playing a few shows in England in the coming days. Catch them playing in your town (on the below dates, they are supporting Ulterior).
Wednesday 9th March 2011 – London Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen
Thursday 10th March 2011 – Brighton Hope
Friday 11th March 2011 – Leeds Common Place
Sunday 13th March 2011 – Nottingham Bodega
The ‘Plastic 16’ / ‘Pristine’ double A-sided single was released on Club. The. Mammoth and is available now on 7″ here and on iTunes.