We'll be at SXSW the week of 10/03/14, so if it's more quiet than usual here, that's why! Check out our
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 7th March 2014 at 6:00 pm
It’s been a long week, and it’s time for something fun. What could be more bonkers than Franz Ferdinand‘s Nick McCarthy dressing up like a woman with a fur hat and lipstick cavorting around Bavaria? (I did a double take: was that really the same guitarist I met last October?) You just have to watch the hilarious video for ‘Erdbeer Mund’. You can thank us later.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 7th March 2014 at 12:00 pm
The meteorological start of spring is only 2 weeks off now, but Sheffield indie band High Hazels are already looking much further ahead. To summer. Last Friday, the group revealed new song ‘Summer Rain’, to feature on an upcoming EP with Heist or Hit Records, whom they signed with last summer.
Like previous single ‘Hearts Are Breaking’ (review here, video here), this new one features what might just become High Hazels’ trademark, guitars sounding echoey – and therefore plaintive in their loneliness – accompanied by frontman James Leesley’s melancholy yet surprising bright vocals. Yet the overall feel is noticeably softer. The lyrics this time were penned by bass guitarist Paul Barlow, and reading the words out as if poetry are as powerful as hearing them in the song. The refrain of “I was sleeping while you were letting our love slide / I was sleeping and I dreamt of you with another” comes across strong with Leesley’s buoyant vocal, yet the actual lyrics suggest the abject helplessness as the only outcome when your imagination runs wild with the thought of the one you love(d) belonging to someone else.
Imagination is a good word to use in describing ‘Summer Rain’, as the imagery Barlow takes you through is quite gorgeous despite the very real pain of the protagonist. The summer rain falls on a window pane, seemingly uncaring about the love that has “waned”, as the voice of the song is in disbelief, “love has waned / I never thought I’d see it change”. He imagines his lover swimming in a stream with another man, then recalls what how their love (or quite possibly also the woman herself) was so beautiful, “jewels are scattered all around / I’ve forgot just how they shined”, but he’s tortured by this faceless man who has taken his place.
The nail in the coffin? “I was sleeping and you walked away turned your back, lover.” So sad. How did our protagonist get here? I’m not entirely sure and I think that’s a question for Barlow in person one day, but getting here is a beautiful, beautiful journey.
The new release from Sheffield’s High Hazels, the ‘In the Half Light’ EP, will be released on the 7th of April on Heist or Hit Records and will be available on limited edition 10″ and also digitally. The group will be supporting The Crookes on their April UK tour and also at their homecoming show on the 31st of May.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 6th March 2014 at 6:00 pm
Summer Camp‘s new video for ‘Crazy’ is just as advertised. See what we mean by watching it below. The song features on the band’s self-titled second album released in the autumn of last year, out now on Moshi Moshi.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 6th March 2014 at 2:00 pm
“What not to like about two guys in tweed?” So sayeth my cousin’s wife whose daughter I brought with me Tuesday night to see Public Service Broadcasting make their Washington, DC debut. The duo are a little difficult to explain about, aren’t they? They certainly don’t sound like anything you’d hear on top 40 radio. There’s an educational element in their usage of public information films, but at the same time, it’s the spoken word from these reels of yesteryear that serve as lyrics, if you could call them that, so both of those parts are very unusual. Before Mumford and Sons, you could argue having a banjo onstage at a rock concert was unique as well, but not so much now, with all these Mumford wannabes running round.
That said, after watching Public Service Broadcasting up close and personal in my own hometown, I got a very different feeling about them than when Martin took me last May to see them play a packed Cluny. (Read Martin’s eloquent description of exactly what they do in his review of that show, as I could never get anywhere close to that brilliance in writing about them.) Whereas that gig in Newcastle was stifling and I felt like my neck was going to give way any second, spending the entire night craning my neck upwards to see them playing, Black Cat Backstage’s less than a metre tall stage made my second viewing of them all the more relaxing and intimate.
When I arrived, I was just a tad concerned. The place was pretty empty. Oh dear. Please, DC, do not embarrass us as a city, will more people show up already? This is an important band! As gear was moved and swapped round, the Backstage started to fill up, interestingly with mostly gig goers in their 30s and older, generally male and actively swilling beer. This is not my usual crowd; I’m usually surrounded by kids who are younger than me, with Xs on their hands. As in the show in Newcastle, synth master J. Willgoose Esq. relied on the mechanical recorded voices in his sequencer to say, “hello!…Washington, DC!” I knew it was coming, of course, but the rest of the punters didn’t, and rather than be an annoying gimmick that fell flat with the Americans, the tinny voice greeting all of us throughout the set was met with much laughter. Thumbs up. Since seeing the band in Newcastle, the band have been writing new material, including ‘Elfstedentocht Parts I and II’; we were treated to part I live, prefaced with the robotic intro of “Last year we wrote two songs about ice skating in Dutch.” ::pause:: “Here’s one of them now!” Ha! (The songs were actually written at the request of a Dutch culture festival who wanted some original songs about a famous ice skating race.)
Beyond the actual use of the archived sound clips and the plethora of instruments and samples that the duo uses to create their sound live, I think some people would be surprised that they’re actually a pretty groovy act and in some cases, they show off their dance colours more than their rock ones. ‘ROYGBIV’, while taking advantage of forward-thinking spoken thoughts about the future and the importance of colour in it, is a rhythmic tour de force live, definitely much more dancey live than on record. The matchless star of their debut album ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’, ‘Spitfire’, has its rockier moments with its guitar lines, but underlying it all is its driving beat provided by drummer/percussionist Wrigglesworth that naturally gets toes tapping and heads a-bopping. Clearly, that is going to be the key to the band winning fans at SXSW next week and further afield. As song after song were played, the audience’s reaction exponentially increased, and when they announced they were playing their final song, a loud sigh of disappointment circulated the room. With its appropriate chilly keyed notes, yet also with its expansive and hopeful musical story, the synthtastic ‘Everest’ ended their first-ever set in the Nation’s Capital on a high note.
As I was chatting with Willgoose after the show, I told him that the number of bodies moving during their set was a testament of how great they actually were live, as it is often very difficult to get stoic Washington crowds moving. He then folded his arms over his chest and said, “y’mean like this, like London crowds?” That made me laugh, while also making me homesick. But I felt encouraged by the turnout and such positive reaction to Public Service Broadcasting’s first of what will be many shows in our city. The song ‘Everest’ concludes with the words, “Why should a man climb Everest? Because it is there.” I find the words very prophetic: PSB, along with several other bands we will be seeing at SXSW, will be trying to break America and become a success stateside and then hopefully, globally, and they can try to do this because they’ve received kind funding from UK Trade and Investment. As long as UKTI keeps worthy bands’ dreams alive and shows they understand the value of real music, the sky’s the limit.
After the cut: the set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Public Service Broadcasting at Black Cat Backstage, Washington DC – 4th March 2014
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 6th March 2014 at 10:00 am
The life of a music editor is, well, busy. That’s the only explanation (I know, weak) that I haven’t written a Bands to Watch on Dundee’s Model Aeroplanes yet. I think they’re great – I tipped them last autumn on Generator’s Tipping Point, so it’s not like I haven’t been in the know, hardly!
Here is your chance to get acquainted with them: a free download of new track ‘Innocent Love’. You’ll hear snatches of Two Door Cinema Club and Friendly Fires (no wonder I like these boys -they’re making me recall the early days of my blogging career in 2009 and I’m enjoying the look back!), but with harmonies. Listen to it below and if you like it, grab it for your very own. Enjoy!
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 5th March 2014 at 6:00 pm
Manchester’s The Kill Van Kulls have revealed their new video for ‘Wishing’, which is prefaced with the knowledge that they self-recorded this and have never acted before. But that doesn’t really matter for a rock band though as long as the music’s good, yeah? (Well, I guess if you get claustrophobic and don’t like Mancunian in close quarters, this might make you anxious…) Watch it below.