The crowd for the headline act were a mix of US ex-pats singing along to all the words and interested newcomers. Menomena opened up their first ever show in 2001 with a cover of The Flaming Lips’ “The Abandoned Hospital Ship”, and though far from similar (far less spectacular for one, but then this venue only holds a few hundred), this seems be pretty apt place to start as this low-key show displayed both bands’ shared core of sonic experimentation, a fierce rhythm section and technological savy.
For Qui’s second outing (first on Mike Patten’s Ipecac) the original Drums/Guitar two piece are joined by ex-Scratch Acid, ex-Jesus Lizard frontman David Yow. Given Yow’s profile, one of the most suprising things about the record is that he does not contribute until the second track. The opener “Apartment” employs the vocals of drummer Paul Christensen. The comparison between this and the second, where Yow’s vocals dominate shows plainly his contribution to the group.
This is the first long player by Passenger, who came together in London when singer-songwriter Mike Rosenburg met a soundtrack composer called Andrew Phillips at a Free Burma benefit gig. They spent a year or two writing their debut and in that time recruited additional members to cover keyboards, drums and bass.
There are faint touches of electronics throughout on Wicked Man’s Rest add to the tapestry, but it generally feels like a small gesture – like an Warp Records pin badge on a Del Amitri t-shirt. Despite the aural window dressing these are melodic, slightly melancholic MOR pop songs in the vein of Turin Brakes or David Gray.
well-produced but unremarkable
The opening title track is a little gem of this ilk, shades of Gray’s “Babylon” in a song that builds to a nice crescendo. The only thing is that 7 of the subsequent 9 tracks have a similar feel. “Walk With You” is a pleasant Teenage Fanclub-esque up-tempo jangle (albeit with a spree of rhyming dictionary lyrics) and “Stray Dog” starts as a mournful elegy before it kicks into an acoustic strum, but the rest, however compentent, are cast from a similar mould — quiet, opening followed by the standard verse/chorus/bridge musicalities of too many others.
All-in-all Wicked Man’s Rest presents a collection of acoustic pop that is well-produced but unremarkable and follows a well-worn path; one which leads Passenger to get lost amongst the wooden trees of their contemporaries.
Four years between albums and slipping out of public consciousness, Kosheen burst back into the UK live music scene with a show including their classic drum and bass infused hits with material from new release Damage. It was a case of gone but never forgotten as the old songs were greeted with the same vigour which made them dancefloor favourites while the fresh tracks exposed a dark, brooding and atmospheric direction for the band.
Unsurprisingly it’s full of dirt-tinged anarcho punk rock, clever enough to offer a little more in song development than three chord repetition still without straying too far from the latter-wave punk template. Apparent in various places are the darker edge that crept into the post-punk songs of Wire, Joy Division and the like, with the bouncier parts of Gang of Four etc and the dub hints found in the same era’s PiL and The Slits.
Talkdemonic’s Beat Romantic offers soft and subtle myriads of sounds and ideas with light melodies developing over soothing deeper effected drones while splintered rhythms flit from glitchy electonics to brushed frantic acoustics. Although only a two-piece, Portland, Oregon’s Kevin O’Connor and Lisa Molinaro, Talkdemoni deliver a rich and varied texture and array of instrumentation throughout this, their second, record. While Molinaro switches between synths and emotive viola, O’Connor keeps his hands full by taking up duties on guitar, banjo, bass, synths, pianos, wurlitzers, rhodes, accordion and programming as well as beating out the dynamic live drumwork.
Norwich six piece Bearsuit have had a modicum of cult success up to now, having been featured several times in John Peel’s ‘Festive Fifty’ end of year poll. Were the great man still with us the likelyhood is a couple of cuts from this, their third album, would do so too.
Friend and Foe is the third record from Portland, Or. born Menomena and the first UK release, their previous output receiving a fairly limited release on one-man Portland independent FILMguerrero.
Chicago band The Changes is promising to dispel any thoughts their music can be pinned down to a blueprint when their debut album is released on Monday, September 17th — by claiming to make it impossible to compare them to anyone.
Dan Snaith released two LPs as Manitoba in 2002 and 2003 before a rather silly lawsuit threat from ‘Handsome Dick’ Manitoba, singer with proto punks the Dictators, forced him to re-moniker as Caribou. His first release bearing that name was the excellent The Milk Of Human Kindness (2007). Andorra sees a similarly densely-layered sound (some of the vocals were multi-tracked 40 times, for example), but where that prior release featured a more krautrockin’ element to the sonic experiments this latest album has a more English bent.
The Modfather Paul Weller has gone back to his Northern Soul roots by teaming up with Britpop DJ-turned-artist Andy Lewis.
TDK Cross Central bowed out of its Kings Cross venue with a packed-to-the-rafters finale. Famed for its trend-setting mentality, the Sunday was predominently for the techno, electro and house fans looking for their fill of beats, bleeps and uplifting melodies. It made for a highly-charged atmosphere of anticipation that became strained under the mass of bodies everywhere despite being spread across three clubs and 11 stages. Even so, it was a fitting send off that will ensure the event remains one to watch when it returns to a new venue in 2008.
Bearsuit sound like another of the absurdly young indie-pop bands that currently abound, like Cajun Dance Party or Bombay Bicycle Club, but have in fact been around for a while and and had three top 5 singles in the late, great John Peel’s festive 50 poll.
With a musical moniker taken from their childhood nicknames, it is unsurprising that the music on In Camera from Seattle’s Grant Olsen and Sonya Westcott’s Arthur & Yu offers blissful, wistful melodies, although the tunes are tempered away from a twee sweetness by often clattering accompaniments and rawer, free recording techniques.
After the immense success of “When the Night Hears My Song” brought Bedouin Soundclash into the limelight here in the UK last year, it has been a long wait for a new album since 2005’s Sounding a Mosaic. The Canadian trio have been working away on their blend of reggae, rock, punk and soul along with Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer for a album that is sure to build on their growing popularity.
Leo Chadburn, AKA Simon Bookish, is a classically-trained composer who straddles a fine line between performance art and pop music on his myriad projects. He has remixed the likes of The Organ and Grizzly Bear, performed with Leafcutter John, Saint Etienne and Patrick Wolf and presented dozens of exhibitions and performances in the last few years.
It was literally a case of welcome to the sauna as Bedouin Soundclash treated Brighton reggae fans to a blisteringly hot night of meaty tunes to cap off a rare sunny day in the UK this summer. The heat cooked up inside Concorde 2 came courtesy of the Canadian trio’s ability to get their fans singing, dancing and clapping to produce an carnival atmosphere of good time vibes.
My Brightest Diamond is the pseudonym that the extraordinary Shara Worden has chosen to deliver her compositions to the world. Bring Me The Workhorse is released on Sufjan Steven’s own label, Asthmatic Kitty, after Worden toured as part of the ‘Illinoisemakers’ backing band for his Come On Feel The Illinoise LP. She is similarly prodigiously talented to Mr Stevens too: this record is written, played and produced by Worden and fairly unusually (helped presumably by her classically-trained background) she also scored all the string arrangements.
o’death’s Head Home is a fantastically eclectic collection of intimate country-folk, tin-pot bluegrass, right royal hootenanny and gypsy punk stomp leaving no room for either expectation or relaxation. Reference points can be drawn from a pool including Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Gogol Bordello, The Meat Puppets, Flogging Molly, Black Ox Arkestra and even Godspeed at various moments.
Immaculate Machine hail from Vancouver, British Colombia and share more than a passing resemblance to fellow proponents of Canadian indie pop The New Pornographers, which is to some degree to be expected as IM’s Kathryn Calder featured on the NP record Twin Cinema. The simplest summation of the sound of this record is a slightly brighter reincarnation of the NPs with cleaner, more pop production.
The Broken Family Band started out life as a full on alt-country outfit with banjos, accordions and fake American accents. This template has been left further behind with each release on their way to this, their forth full length, which contains none of the instruments which often define the genre but does retain a distinctly country feel both rhythmically and in terms of lyrical themes.
This is the first in a series of 4-way split 7”s from new, Brighton based label OIB (One Inch Badge) Records. The series is designed with the commendable aim of documenting local creativity and a providing a platform for relative unknowns. Volume One features The Tumbledown Estate, Munch Munch, Gay Against You and Lonely Ghosts.
Italians Lino Monaco and Nicola Buono had a long history of combining heavy rhythms to minimal electronica, with RETINA.IT their most successful project. It has brought their efforts to fine-tune their sound with soft vibrations, warm production and a keen sense of classic melodies, hooks, structures and samples. Semeion is a collection of the rare original works and unreleased tracks designed to introduce them to new ears or polish off fans’ collections.
When the levee broke and their hometown of New Orleans was virtually washed away by Hurricane Katrina, Telefon Tel Aviv was forced to take inventory of their lives and careers. Hence, this compiling of their remix work following Joshua Eustis and Charlie Cooper through their production work. Their blissful reworkings underpinned by their skillful composition that blends digital trickery with live instruments makes for an interesting blend of re-imagingings.
The word Om appears simple and straightforward, yet in reality, or spirituality, offers a profound resonance (pun intended). Similarly, Om the band appear so simple and straightforward — just two people, and two people who play ten or twenty minute pieces essentially formed of just one riff — however, living up to the power of the word taken as their name, Al Cisneros and Chris Haikus (formerly of Sleep and previously the recently reclaimed Asbestosdeath) have perfected the art of the musical mantra, taking the spiritual power of repetition to the noise-loving masses.