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Editor’s note: We realise this album has been out since March in the UK. But we thought it was high time to take a closer look at it…
The Vaccines. The hype around these four Londoners at the moment is enough to drive any band to almost Gallagher-esque levels of cockiness, the title of their debut record ‘What Did You Expect From the Vaccines’ tells it all, really. They know they are good, they know you want to listen to them; they don’t think they need to try really and it’s when they stop trying that they are at their best.
Some of the songs sound lazy almost as if the songs just kind of fell off of the fretboards of their guitars. ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ (watch video here) is a picture perfect example of this: clever lyrics, lazy hooks, simple. But the final four tunes in the album (‘All in White’, ‘Wolf Pack’, ‘Family Friend’, ‘Somebody Else’s Child’) are the best examples of this, of how they can with a simple bass riff, some echo effects, double tracking on their guitars and a few “ahhhhs” can create an indie pop track that you want to hear again, no matter how lazy ‘All In White’ sounds.
You get the feeling if the Vaccines started trying too hard that it wouldn’t work though. Think for a moment about when people are yearning for endless genre crossovers, with synths dripping from it all, a samba rhythm with a undertone of jazz… Why not just play good old fashioned guitar music? Well the Vaccines do this, with catchy tracks that get your feet tapping: it’s as simple as that. The production is good, but the record all the same doesn’t feel overproduced.
Single ‘If You Wanna’ (watch the video here) is the most radio-friendly track and this works to its favour as while the album is palatable, without the initial draw of ‘If You Wanna’ will you listen to the entire record? I say no, so I ask of you, prove me wrong, eh? Skip track 2. But if you do this, you’ll see this is where the album falls down slightly. But only slightly though; it is a lot of the same kind of ideas. But when you have a good idea, you run with it, yeah? That’s how they have done this; they got a good idea, perhaps one you may have heard before. Get a drummer, a bassist, a lead guitarist (let him grow his hair a little so you can stay ‘alternative,’) and a good looking frontman who wields his guitar like a machine gun and has a powerful voice. Ta-da! Good ol’ fashioned British guitar music.
This is a polished record and as I mentioned, it does include a lot of the same idea. So it leads me to question, while they have hit the mark with this record, are they going to fall at hurdle number two (the second album)? Time is the only thing that can tell that, but for now England has their own Strokes and while this may not be their ‘This is It’, it could be the start of something.
‘What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?’ is available now from Columbia.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 3rd June 2011 at 11:00 am
WU LYF‘s star has been rising by leaps and bounds as of late. The Manchester band have released to the wild their song ‘Dirt’ (video below) as a taster to their album to come out on the 13th of June, ‘Go Tell Fire of the Mountain’ (a cheeky dig at the Christian spiritual ‘Go Tell It on the Mountain’, perhaps?) The album is being released on their own Lyf Recording label. Matt Wilkinson of NME is already a massive fan, dubbing them “fucking amazing”: time will tell where and how high this band will fly in the coming weeks and months, no doubt.
In the meantime, if you’re already sold on the band or need some encouragement because you aren’t completely converted yet, we’ve got two pairs of tickets to some upcoming shows of theirs this month, and we want to give them away to you. If your name is chosen from the entries received, YOU get to choose the gig you want a pair of tickets for. Simply fill out the form below with your name, email address, and choice of gig, and you’re in the running. This contest is now closed. The winners will be contacted soon. Thanks for entering.
Wednesday 8th June 2011 – Leicester Y
Thursday 9th June 2011 – Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
Friday 10th June 2011 – Liverpool Kazimier
Saturday 11th June 2011 – Sheffield Queens Social Club
Friday 17th June 2011 – London Village Underground
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 3rd June 2011 at 10:00 am
The Boxer Rebellion are getting ready to release a new single, ‘The Runner’, on the 27th of June. Before then, how about downloading and listening to a remix of the song, done by the Joy Formidable, all for just your email address? Go on, you know you want to.
We reviewed their latest album, ‘The Cold Still’, in February.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 2nd June 2011 at 6:00 pm
Here’s the video for Justice‘s ‘Civilization’, the title track of the duo’s new EP out on 6 June on Ed Banger Records. Maybe this should have soundtracked the rapture hoax, eh?
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 2nd June 2011 at 12:00 pm
There’s no denying it. In the digital music world, this instant gratification age, you have to be pretty full of yourself to go for 6 years without any new material, expecting to be welcomed back with open arms upon your return. As for bands that had massive time gaps between releases, Stone Roses did it, Radiohead did it. It is possible. But not just any act can come through lots of initial buzz with the hint of a comeback *and* a winning album. I’m happy to report that Tom Vek’s latest, the rhymingly-named ‘Leisure Seizure’, comes through with flying colours. In the May 18 issue of NME, Vek contended, “I always maintained that the next piece of news was that there was a new album. It’s necessary to be mysterious about your operations when they’re a mystery to you!” Is that ego, or is that humility? You be the judge by listening to this album.
By now through radio, ‘A Chore’ has probably assaulted your ears. I’ll be honest, I was not too keen on this track when it premiered on Zane Lowe’s show. The melody seems to plod along, and not very interestingly. Was I ever pleased when I got the full album and found there to be much, much greater gems to be mined from ‘Leisure Seizure’. ‘A Chore’ is just the tip of the iceberg. (Watch the video for the song here.) Tom Vek fanatics or people unfamiliar with ‘We Have Sound’: get ready. While this album might not grab you by the heart and the balls, it will certainly command your attention.
The album begins misleadingly mellow with ‘Hold Your Hand’, which slowly revs up with drum rolls and well-placed synth chords. Don’t be surprised if you’re shouting the song title with Vek and his backing singers after the third listen or so. From there, the album just gets better. ‘Aroused’ is a definite standout on the album, even if when you’re asked which track on the new Tom Vek is your favourite and you have to shout, ‘Aroused!’, don’t be embarrassed. With kettle drums beating a path to the islands, ‘Aroused’ is a foot-stompingly good time. If you’re into more melodic guitar with an industrial beat and a mechanical-sounding vocal (say you’re a Beck fan), ‘World of Doubt’ is for you (watch the video here).
‘A.P.O.L.O.G.Y.’, the latest in a line of songs of spelled out letters (take ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N’, Noah and the Whale’?) The chorus is like a toy store come to life, things going off, twinkling and sparkling. I may be showing signs of being a blog editor, but the instrumental jam portion near the last third of the song sounds like the chorus of Blonde Louis’s ‘If You See James…’ (have a listen to both and tell me what you think). By now, you’re probably thinking, where the heck are the dance tracks? ‘Someone Loves You’ comes to your rescue. Envision sweaty bodies bouncing off each other at his sold-out Manchester Ruby Lounge and London Heaven shows in 2 weeks. It’s going to happen. And after they have wiped their sweaty brows, they will probably sway their arms to ‘On a Plate’. In the terribly named ‘Too Bad’, electronic fireworks go off while an almost conga beat mesmerises you. Raise the roof!
The letdowns are in the form of songs that begin ever so promising but never quite get off the ground. Take for instance ‘We Do Nothing’ – Vek’s voice stretches up and down the scale but it ends up sounding more like a rap pulled over a passable backing track. There’s something about his voice, when not put with just the right instrumentation, he ends up sounding…creepy? I once considered that Two Door Cinema Club could make guitars talk. In ‘Seizemic’, Vek manages to make synths talk, as if they’re urging him on. And yes, this one is a little creepy to me too.
Similarly, I like where ‘You Need to Work Your Heart Out’ is trying to go, with its mechanised sultriness, but there seems to be an air of bitterness that I just can’t quite shake. (If someone can get a photo of him smiling and hugging a teddy bear, I think I could be cured of this. Just saying.) ‘Close Mic’ed’ isn’t as creepy for some reason, but maybe it’s because it has a much more relaxed vibe. While it’s not a completely “summer” record and I don’t see it being 100% accessible to the masses, this is an album that makes you think. Which is more than be said for 90% of the rubbish in the record shops these days. Have a listen to the album below, before it’s released on Monday (courtesy of the Hype Machine).
‘Leisure Seizure’ by Tom Vek will be released on 6 June.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 2nd June 2011 at 10:00 am
The Metronomy track ‘The Bay’ (from their latest album, ‘The English Riviera’) has been remixed by London’s Stopmakingme. Thoughts? Listen to it and download it below.
Read Luke’s review of ‘The English Riviera’ (released in April) here. Metronomy will be on tour in the UK in September right after festival season.