For editor Mary's coverage of SXSW 2013, go here.
For TGTF team coverage of Liverpool Sound City 2013, go here.
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When you say a band has burst onto the scene, it’s usually the digging up of a worn-out old cliché. But for The Computers, there is seldom other ways to describe the Exeter-based five-piece. They arrived with a 24-minute debut album of punk rowdiness that was extremely raw and reminiscent of Pulled Apart by Horses debut record ‘Meat Balloon’.
So what did I expect from The Computers’ new album, ‘Love Triangles Hate Squares’? A bluesy, ’50s inspired quasi-homage to jazz was not the first place I was going to. In fact, it was pretty far down on my list of avenues the band would go down. It’s always worrying when a band tries to dramatically U-turn on their style, but The Computers I can confirm have done it with class, elegance and seamlessly have kerplunked themselves as a much more radio-friendly outfit altogether.
They’ve still got a raw kind of edge, and that’s blatantly obvious on the honky-tonkery of ‘Selina Chinese’. The gruff roars of ‘Group Identity’ and ‘Cinco De Mayo’ are replaced by piano grooves and a toe-tappingly catchy drum beat provided by the bands effective as ever engine room. Almost from start to finish, ‘Love Triangle Hate Squares’ is a thoroughly pleasant trip down memory lane, transporting you back to the dance halls of the ’50s, but spicing them up with a bit of 21st Century brashness. It’s an odd mix and at times, like on lovelorn lament ‘Cruel’ it all gets a bit too much.
But if you’re looking for some unashamed giggles and something which you will most definitely not bump into with any other band, then ‘Love Triangles Hate Squares’ is a solid bet, as with mainstream music at the moment, you won’t find something this original and uplifting anywhere else.
The record was mixed and recorded with producer Mark Neill, who has worked on The Black Keys‘ music, in Valdosta, Georgia, and the producer’s impact is underlying in the entire album. Whether that’s too much, could be an issue, but with the band’s new sound it seems like the band have met with Neill at the right time to produce a funky new sound for The Computers.
The Computers’ latest album ‘Love Triangles Hate Squares’ is out now on One Little Indian.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 14th May 2013 at 6:00 pm
Girls Names from Belfast will be appearing at the Great Escape on Thursday, gracing the Fly’s stage at Coalition. Don’t miss them! The band have a new video for ‘Hypnotic Regression’, from their current album ‘The New Life’ out now. It’s sonically so perfect, you’ll just have to listen to below to understand what I mean.
If you recall, I caught three of their band for a chat at this year’s SXSW (listen here) and their first appearance in Austin was at the NI@SXSW showcase on the Monday.
Header photo by TGTF Head Photographer Martin Sharman
Home-grown boys Alpha Male Tea Party’s set started abruptly, causing the amassed gaggle of hipsters to spill their cans of Tuborg. The three-piece. who could only be described as being dressed like male ejaculate, ripped into their set with a wave of screeching guitars passing over the crowd in Screenadelica, a venue which did its best to remind you of a scene from any poor horror film, but with more attractive artwork.
They busted out the hits, including that well-known tune ‘Bill Paxton is a Fucking Clogger’, which saw the band’s bassist pull an assortment of serial-killerish faces which the arrayed photographers ate up glutinously. The instrumental heaviness seemed to translate well on the audience that had gathered and for a band with obviously very little touring experience; they acquitted themselves well with some well-crafted riffs from their diminutive Alex Pettyfer-lookalike frontman. Their live set is similar to the frantic chaos of a Pulled Apart by Horses set, but the tunes unlike PABH aren’t there yet. Ones for the future, perhaps? (7/10)
Struggling to follow up to the lunacy of Alpha Male Tea Party were Luxembourg’s (supposed) finest Mutiny on the Bounty whose opener can only be described as an overegged tribute to the original Power Rangers theme tune. Normally from me that would be a compliment, especially if the band were looking for that kind of nostalgic comedy. Alas, MOTB were not aiming for that level of self-depreciating comedy and instead embarked upon an almost entirely instrumental set of wonky riffs and constant panning to the crowd.
At one point the band’s lead guitarist who was sporting the look of the day, a well-coiffed boutique moustache, pled for the crowd to come closer. A few obliged, but it was an indicator of how little the band’s peculiar metal-math-rock stylings were endearing them to the Sound City punters. (5/10)
A change of scenery then to Liverpool Sound and Vision, where alongside watching the acts, you can get a freshly made stone-baked pizza, as if the music wasn’t enough! This was to see The Pukes who are an 11-piece band, fronted by eight female ukulele players who played a hilarious assortment of punk covers and their own material.
They freely admitted that the gaggle of people standing between tables and by the bar were in fact the youngest crowd they had played to ever. The lasses fronting the unique outlet emitted a very ‘70s punk revival feel, whilst the crowd really got on board with what they were trying to do. The band didn’t exactly cover any untouched ground, no boundaries were broken and the time signatures were as ordinary as Jeff down the pub on a Saturday. But it was good fun, nothing sordid, seedy or particularly rude. Just a ruddy good time and some punk rock. (8/10)
To close the stage at Sound and Vision were a personal favourite of mine, Dingus Khan from Essex, whose music was first billed to me as “the missing link between Blur and Slipknot”. With a billing like that, it was obvious that their live show was something to behold. And with three bassists and three drummers in such a small space, the sound they made was nothing short of catastrophic. For one I was surprised that the building held up under the aural assault it was being pelted with.
Sound problems dogged them at the start, but instead of going all diva on the soundman the affable chaps of Dingus took it in their stride and powered on through a half hour set of immense bass chugs and oddly relatable songs. From the start lead singer Ben Brown relays to the crowd, “if this sounds abrasive and weird, we’ll have done it just right”. Weird, it does sound and abrasive, well, it’s not the kindest on the ear I suppose, but the songs and the pure rock ‘n’ roll attitude of the boys combines for a show of unknown excitement. Songs like ‘Knifey Spooney’ from their new record ‘Support Mistley Swan’ were barrels of fun, whilst frontman Brown continued to accentuate their eccentricity by climbing tables and singing without a microphone. To finish the gig of a bout of coordinated dance moves from the Khan boys was a classy end to a genuinely fun, over-the-top gig, with the best bit of whistling since Peter, Bjorn and John’s ‘Young Folks’, which whilst not being tunefully spectacular, left everyone with a firm grin affixed to their chops. (9/10)
The less said about Unknown Mortal Orchestra (pictured at top) at the Garage really is the better. For a band so hotly tipped to fall so flat, really is a surprise. What’s likeable about them is a mysterious factor to me and it seemed anybody in the half-filled Garage as when each song ended their seemed to be a pause to look around to see if anybody else was going to gratify them with applause. To me that is not right, but further investigation may be necessary to discover to what extent this band blows. (4/10)
As the night entered the wee hours and the 3rd turned to the 4th, attentions turned to Screenadelica again for Arcane Roots, whose new album ‘Blood & Chemistry’ is pulling up trees for their brilliant take on alternative rock. Arguably, they are the first band who properly gets the crowd into what you would expect from a rock band, which is of course a swaying mass of flailing limbs, windmills and the occasional mosh pit.
Frontman Andrew Groves is resplendent in an elegant suit jacket and his almost soprano tones are close to a screech as he channels all his energy into a wild riff ridden set, intermittent with screams from hairless bassist Daryl Atkins. Their frenetic set features big hits like ‘You Are’ and caters for the casual audience well enough for them to have earned a good few new supporters as they leave the stage to be replaced by the behemoth that are Future of the Left. (8/10)
Future of the Left are outstanding from start to finish, with ‘Small Bones, Small Bodies’ apparent as one of the biggest tunes of the entire festival, even in one of the smaller venues that the festival is being hosted at. The fans throughout go utterly ballistic, even to the point that one of the members of Dingus Khan who shall remain unnamed gets a little too excited, crowdsurfed then almost pulled a light fitting off, before being restrained by security and knocking one of them over.
As the hordes in front of the stage get within touching distance of ‘the talent’ on the pedestal, lead singer and post-hardcore hero of banter Andy “Falco” Falkous diffuses the crowd with his indescribable wit and guile. The set overall was a triumph, with the band’s stock as diehards of the scene truly nailed down in front of the swirling mosh pit. (9/10)
Martin’s high-res photos from the Thursday can be viewed on his Flickr.
Acts of the day: Moongaï, Findlay, The Oreoh!s
Venue of the day: Kazimier Gardens
It wasn’t until the final night of Liverpool Sound City 2013, whilst tramping up Seel Street for the umpteenth time that weekend, that I had a flash of the blindingly obvious: that people other than music fans are allowed to party in this area of the city as well! The past couple of nights had seen the handful of parallel streets that accommodate the countless music venues which form the heart of LSC13 dominated by so many wristband-toting musos that it was easy to forget that regular Liverpudlians on their well-deserved Saturday night shindig were permitted to use the facilities as well. What they made of the invasion of the weird, wild and wired LSC13 crowd was unclear, but none seemed uncomfortable in the others’ company. From established acts with nothing to prove, via young bucks seemingly teetering on the brink of stardom, to those dipping their toes in the waters of showcasedom for the very first time, such was the quality on offer that one could stick a pin in the LSC13 poster and have every confidence that the randomly-chosen act wouldn’t disappoint. Each person’s itinerary is by definition decided as much by practicalities, happenstance and opportunity than judicious planning, and as such is simply a snapshot of the event as a whole rather than any attempt to unravel the latest and greatest. With that caveat in mind, here’s my take on the Thursday:
Any thought of easing in gently is discarded in favour of a powerful punch in the ear courtesy of fellow Tynesiders Nateley’s Whore’s Kid Sister (@NWkidsister). Shorn of the stocking masks they were wearing last time I saw them, but lacking none of their previous raw power, Nateley’s deliver an uncompromising set perfectly summed up by their “alternative sludge” bio description. As subtle as slamming your hand in a car door. [Probably one of the weirdest names for a band since Natalie Portman's Shaved Head too - Ed.]
For some light relief, the first trip to the Kazimier Gardens for Moongaï‘s (@moongai) baroque mélange of idiosyncratic Gallic pop. They’re all in retro fancy dress, the music heavy with that combination of style, eccentricity and camp that the French excel at. Eva whoops beautifully over the band’s electronica-tinged upbeat pop; by the time she has scampered through the entire audience, exhorting them to ever higher levels of appreciation and excitement through a loudhailer, everyone is bemused and captivated in equal measure. Brilliant, original, bonkers.
Findlay give great show. There’s a fine, guitar-heavy performance from the band, with particular mention to the gentleman guitarist who gamely attempts to compete with his vocalist for the audience’s indulgence. But it would be inaccurate of me to say that very much attention was paid to anyone at all but the eponymous lead singer. Attired in a skinny, clingy leopard skin dress, gyrating and emoting for all she’s worth, Findlay the band are essentially a vehicle for the lead singer’s stage presence. Her voice drips with ’70s new wave punk attitude; recent single ‘Your Sister’ showcases it perfectly: a bitter slice of pop rock, its fiercely snarled refrain demonstrating just how much potential this young act have. In Findlay we may be witnessing the emergence of a genuine rock star.
Reverend and the Makers are received with rapturous applause, and Jon McClure unashamedly bathes in it, acting for all the world like God’s gift to rock ‘n’ roll, rather than a paunchy Yorkshireman in his thirties. After a brief meeting earlier in the day, he seems like a delightfully down-to-earth chap, who just happens to be held in a position of adulation by a certain type of laddish crowd previously entertained by Oasis and their ilk. This reviewer is far too much of a music snob to be able to enjoy this sort of thing: the songs are all pretty basic, formulaic affairs, and the whole shebang would have little appeal if it weren’t for McClure’s irrepressible personality. Everybody bounce!
BBC Sound of 2013 alums AlunaGeorge are the great new hope of mainstream British urban music, and their live show just about keeps that optimism on track. Aluna Francis has as good a voice live as on record, and the band are highly competent; one might hope for a little bit more soul in the performance, but no doubt that will come with time.
Next up are one of the most surreal and surprising acts of the festival: The Oreoh!s hail from Halifax and trade in delightful 3-minute punk-pop ditties which sound far more mature than their age would suggest. Did I mention their age? They barely look old enough to have taken their GCSEs, let alone be knocking out some very cool songs at midnight at a music festival. I know appearances can be deceptive, but there’s no way any of them would get served for a much-needed post-gig beer without proffering ID, poor things. The natural conclusion is: if they’re this good at such a tender age, where will they be in a couple of years? Ones to keep an eye on.
As if to prove the fickleness of the music biz, Manchester’s The Kill Van Kulls bring their intelligent, well-honed set of catchy, poppy, guitar epics to a mere handful of people. They were admittedly ear-splittingly loud for such a small venue, but still it sticks in the throat a bit, with memories of the Makers’ enormo-rabble fresh in the memory – the KVKs are leagues ahead in the musical department. Still, the band give it their all, with guitar histrionics aplenty. I need to see them again, in a proper venue, and a proper crowd, which is presumably what they get most other days of the week.
Rumours abound that Bastille is full to capacity, but the opportunity to catch the man of the moment is too good to pass up, so I took a chance and headed over. Even though the room was busy, it wasn’t full – shame the same couldn’t be said for the photo pit, which was rammed with photographers trying to catch that iconic shot which could propel them out of a sweaty pit and into the catwalks of the South of France. The crowd are pretty mad for the well-crafted pop, which catches just enough of the zeitgeist to be cool, but is traditional enough to appear unthreatening to enough people to fill a sizeable venue such as tonight’s disused car park. Bastille Dan takes it all in his stride, despite his trademark gravity-defying hairstyle taking a beating. A competent performance, but I still prefer the record.
Tired of foot and exhilarated of brain, a quick peek into the delegate after party at the Epstein Theatre reveals – in amongst the scattered bodies of industry heads and liggers who’ve indulged in one too many sweet sherries throughout the evening – the final gem of the night. MiC LOWRY (pictured at top) are a five-piece self-described “boy band” who trade in the sweetest harmonies this side of the Jackson 5. Cast in the classic mould of an act like Boyz II Men, for a few brief numbers the Epstein is alive with buttery-smooth soulful sounds from these five cheeky Scouse lads. They’re so eminently ripe for the plucking by a Cowell-style ‘mentor’, you can almost s the X-Factor breathing down their necks. One can only hope they get proper, sympathetic advice that sees them grow their career in a steady, long-term fashion, rather than chewed up and spat out by the industry machine; the world needs to hear MiC LOWRY.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 14th May 2013 at 12:00 pm
J.P. Pitts, chief songwriter of Floridian band Surfer Blood, kindly answered our TGTF Quickfire Questions ahead of the release of their new album ‘Pythons’, out in June.
What song is your earliest musical memory?
‘Barbara Ann’ by the Beach Boys. My best friend growing up had their greatest hits on cassette and we would listen to it the car with his mother on the way to and from school. [This is amazing. I had this cassette too! Wore it out as well - Ed.]
What was your favourite song as a child?
Probably ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ by Third Eye Blind. The ‘alternative’ radio station in the town where I grew up must’ve played that song day and night for half a decade. It was the first ever cassette single I bought, I think it was for sale at a gas station. I had no idea until years later that the song was actually about drugs.
What song makes you laugh?
A song called ‘Son of My Father’ by a band called Chicory Tip. I just love how goofy all of the synthesizer sounds are. The song was recorded in the early seventies when the synthesizer was a very new thing. Consequently the song is really spacey and meandering with all kinds of arbitrary chord/ key changes.
What song makes you cry?
‘Random Rules’ by the Silver Jews is a very sad song and its hard for me not to tear up every time I hear it. The slow pace and the heartbreaking lyrics are the perfect recipe for a good cry.
What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
Pretty much any song off of My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless’ will bring me back to my first feelings of being in love. My first girlfriend and I used to lay in bed and listen to it a lot, the lyrics and melodies are nostalgic and the production is lush and full. To this day I can’t help but feel there is something salacious about the way that album sounds.
What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
“You Only Live Once” by the Strokes is a song I’ve always turned to when I’ve felt frustrated or disappointed. Something feels triumphant about the arc and melody of the song and Julian Cassablancas’ casual delivery gives you the sense that everything is going to be all right. Its a very life-affirming song and its never failed to cheer me up.
Which song (any song written in the last century) do you wish you’d written yourself?
I’m not really sure how to answer that question. I guess I never really ask myself that.
Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
I’d say that Steven Malknus and Kurt Vonnegut are two writers I always tend to gravitate to. They both have a long list of works to their name, I’ve been a fan of both since I was a teenager and I still haven’t digested everything. I’d say they are two of the writers I enjoy the most and I dread the day when I’ve heard and read everything out there from those two.
If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I’m not sure, there’s nothing else I’d rather do than what I’m doing now. I’ve always thought that I would enjoy teaching, I have a relatively patient disposition and I like introducing people to new things. I don’t know if I’d enjoy it the way I enjoy writing and recording music but I’m sure I’d find it gratifying.
If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
That’s an impossible decision; but I’d probably go with ‘Pet Sounds’.
Thanks to J.P. for answering our questions and Tasha for sorting this for us.
Keston Cobblers Club‘s new single out today (13 May) is for ‘Beam’, and it’s got a pretty kitschy video too. Watch it below.
The band go on a headline tour of England in September; the Manchester and London dates have sold out, but the other dates have tickets on sale, all the dates are listed below under the video.
Monday 23rd September 2013 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Tuesday 24th September 2013 – Brighton Sticky Mikes
Wednesday 25th September 2013 – Bristol Thekla
Thursday 26th September 2013 – London Borderline (sold out)
Friday 27th September 2013 – Manchester Castle (sold out)
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