Dean Treacy’s an interesting sort of chap. For nearly thirty years he’s haunted the margins of British music, inspiring others who’ve gone on to bigger things — TVP were Kurt Cobain’s favourite band — but never quite breaking through for himself, despite an abundance of talent. Part of the reason for that lies in his talent for self-destruction, and part of it seems to be from his sheer innocence. He’s been called the original Pete Doherty (which is an interesting concept in itself but this isn’t the time or place for metaphysics) but it’s a poor comparison. For a start he has talent.
The Abominable Iron Sloth is a great mythical beast, frozen in the ice age and thawed out many years later in the time of man, where it was revered as a deity and then in it’s new man-made armour, wreaked havoc with a massive campaign of slaughter. Holding this tale close to their hearts, The Abominable Iron Sloth is also a true doom band — huge, with slaying riffs and vicious vocals.
The Concretes can be described by using many similar words to Euros Child’s: folk, indie, pop, quirky, nice… but though the acts share some sensibilities and compliment each other perfectly on the bill, the Swedish headline group are quite different. They sparkle with their special mix of traditional folk sounds, waltzes and ballads and have a great presence with their eight members. The Concrete’s sound drifts, rolls, drives and shuffles through various moods, often very emotive and rousing, sometimes haunting yet always quite comforting, the group even make a disco beat sound like it’s not really a disco beat, catching it up within their beautiful, orchestrated pop.
Named after the great tango hero Carlos Gardel’s racehorse of the 1930’s, Lunatico is the follow up from Gotan Project’s successful 2001 debut La Revancha Del Tango and again sees them returning to the formula of a little tango and a little electronica to make the tropical sound topical.
Alias and Tarsier apparently got working together through a fluke email and like the above suggests recorded their respective roles for Brookland/Oaklyn without meeting or even knowing the other. A little faceless, a little soulless you might suggest, or was this the seed for a global, boundary breaking, genre defineless, meeting of two fractured musical selfs?
Like the japanese soldier found in 1995 who believes that WWII is still going on, TV Smith hasn’t really moved too far from the punk rock modus operandi of his previous band, The Adverts, except perhaps the crisper, more crunchy (probably) pro-tooled production and the use of a few synths. This is no particular bad thing and will find enthusiasts in fans from his youth and perhaps some ‘smash the system’ anarchists. Oh, and some of Germany, where he’s quite popular.
Nathan Fake caught the spotlight when he released Outhouse in 2003 which pummelled dancefloors with a pumping techno beat over a more progressive sound. The result was instant recognition and he has gone on to produce equally excellent tracks that many a DJ would welcome into their set with open arms.
Anticipation seemed to be fairly high for this one — Mogwai touring Mr Beast — the album that was meant to be truer to the volume and intensity that the band’s gigs offered but album’s didn’t anymore, so what did they do? They stepped up, in green Team Mogwai tracksuits, and ploughed through most of said new album — as loud, heavy and emotive as needed, when needed — and backed that up with some classics, like the true pros their reputation suggests.
Stepping into the Concorde 2 on a rainy, wind-swept night it was not the dry and warmth that hit me, but the bone-shaking power of the dub vibes being laid down by warm-up an Iration Steppas dj set. With foundation shaking basslines rippling through my body it was useless to resist swaying to the laid back tunes the formidable soundsystem was launching out at full blast. This was to be a gig that summoned the rhythm from inside you and got everyone dancing to the same beat.
The album is split into two discs, the first of which is an acoustic blues/folk affair sometimes backed up by some mournful strings and low-key percussion. At times it’s reminiscent of Cat Stevens (no bad thing, incidentally) in Harper’s voice and the instrumentation, particularly on the wistful “Crying Won’t Help You Now” and “Happy Everafter In Your Eyes”.
Following Cove, were Enablers, who call San Francisco and Neurot Records home and are over this way as part of a big tour off the back of their recent Output Negative Space album. Enablers are a kind of jazzy, post-rock performance poetry with vocalist Pete Simonelli regailing beat yarns over correspondingly emotive musical arrangements by Joe Goldring, Kevin Thompson and Joe Byrnes. Goldring and Thompson both play guitars but fill out a whole tonal spectrum alongside the drum-work of Byrnes, who switches effortlessly with the flow of the song from light to angry to rousing and back again. The band recall the emotive, alternatively gorgeous/abrasive spoken-word post-rock of Slint with the warm, intriguing guitar feel of Jeff Buckley.
This is the first (relatively low-key) London appearance by this Detroit supergroup-of-sorts, featuring Jack White, solo artist Brendan Benson and two thirds of The Greenhornes (Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence). Their visit follows only one very limited 7” release and proceeds their debut album Broken Boy Soldiers. All but two of the (original) tracks played were new to the audience, but each was treated like a Robbie Williams tribute act at a chav wedding reception. The two songs already released and streamed on their website were given an even more fervered reception. I guess that’s what happens when someone who normally plays stadia, arenas and headlines festivals plays such modest surroundings.
After the impressive self-titled and Scott Joplin’s Piano Rags EPs and last year’s split 7” with Liverpool’s Mugstar, Energy Czar arrives as Hunting Lodge’s first full-length. It’s often a hard transition from gig to record with bands like this, where the appeal is in the noise and chaos which seems bound up in its performance in the intense live situation. The EPs had done alright but the band seem now to be both noisier and crazier than ever, so how’d they do? Short answer: they did well, it’s an album as messed up as necessary. Long answer: read on.
When I first heard The Advantage it put me in one of the greatest moods ever and I couldn’t help but listen to it non-stop for a couple of weeks with the biggest grin on — their self-titled debut album is one hell of a good-time soundtrack — but the fun does not stop there — they’re back with a new record and this time its got a better name! The Advantage have set it their mission to record every Nintendo game theme and on their first record they offered 26 pieces — with various levels/stages and start/end music from 20 different games. This time around the album is shorter, only 16 tracks, but it’s just as good, if not better.
There is a no nonsense, unpretentious spirit throughout this record. It sounds like it’s recorded ‘as live’ in the main as most songs segue from one into another — but not in a smooth way — as new songs crash in on a drum roll or guitar solo. The album starts with four in-your-face bursts of Hawkwind-style R&R, culminating in the relentless and superb “Lightbringer”.
Babar Luck’s music exemplifies the ethnic diversity of East London and London itself with its sound that is rooted in British rock pop, the Beatles, Clash (without the punk) etc that invites snippets of reggae, eastern sounds and occasionally his Pakistani mother tongue. Central to the mix is Babar Luck’s voice, sounding sometimes like a less lush version of Finley Quaye but fairly sweet nonetheless, many of the songs here are word heavy and fuelled by religion and politics.
The Fucking Champs fit beautifully into an analogy involving some sort of ore or something — some natural, primitive mixture of rock and metal, and theirs is an awesome and relentlessly classic style. Back in December they came to England and played All Tomorrow’s Parties, and so there I made it my business to meet the band, who kindly agreed to answer some questions for me sometime. So a couple of months later I got hold of them and they did. And here’s what they said.
Mixing Kraut-rock and Canterbury Prog, Sixties beat and Gallic pop, alongside other styles like lounge, drone, jazz and soul, Stereolab have been creating their unique blend of luscious balladry and upbeat, arty-indie experiments for the last fifteen years or so. And to my knowledge they’ve never actually made a record which isn’t both incredible easy to listen to and also just a joy to. Unsurprisingly, Fab Four Suture is no different.
This band are called Celebration for a reason — Celebration is a freak-out cabaret record, but with that underlying hint of cold and darkness which typifies most of record label 4AD’s output. The band is made up of vocalist/percussionist Katrina Ford, drummer David Bergander and multi-instumentalist Sean Antanaitis. Ford and Antanaitis have been playing in bands together since their schooldays — some may have heard of their previous groups Jaks or Lovelife — but they feel that this is the band they’ve been waiting and looking for.
This release is the debut solo album of John Maus, affiliator of Animal Collective’s Panda Bear, and key member of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. The Upset! the Rhythm label that this is released through have championed the likes of Lightening Bolt and Deerhoof so its leftfield lineage is impressive. As a record this is solo in the (almost) purest sense — composed and recorded over 5 years entirely by Maus with two tracks performed with Ariel Pink. Maus’ biog describes this as his life’s work, which is a shame as frankly its awful.
You could always gain a quiet pleasure whilst listening to Dinosaur Jr. knowing that before they became the big college indie rock band of the late ’80s they were a speed Hardcore band. It’s a little like having a mate who’s generally the nicest guy in the world but to those who know him know that should provoked, he could be the evilest bastard imaginable. J Mascis, the longhaired lead guitarist of Dinosaur Jr. has just gone barroom himself with his latest project, Witch, which sees him return to his original weapon of choice – the drums – and a little closer to the hardcore sound that pre-empted Dinosaur Jr.
Calla is made up of Aurelio Valle, Wayne Magruder, and Peter Gannon and are now on their fourth album of skyscraping gloom-rock, Collisions, and this show was part of a short tour to promote it.
This 7” is a precursor to the forthcoming full-length Ships, offering the first chance to hear the new form of the former Danielson Famile. This new form, with it’s shortened name, is still based around lead singer Daniel Smith, but now includes all of the Danielson Famile and more. On this release the main “more” addition is from Why? — who produce the A-side track “I’m Slow But I’m Sloppy”, and whose guitarist Matt Meldon lends instrumental work on his 12-string. This is but a taste though of the highly-collaborative Ships, which also features other friends of the Famile like Sufjan Stevens, Deefhoof and Edith Frost.
After an effective collaboration with his brother Ehren on Lillian, Alias releases this 12” taster of work from the soon-to-be-released album of his newest collaborative work — this time with vocalist Tarsier (of Heelamonster and Tarsier fame). Concurrently with his native Anticon label, Alias moves further away from hip-hop on this release, the result being a relaxed slice of electronica/lo-fi dance recalling Lamb or Bjork, or his work with the Notwist’s Markus Archer.
After 2002’s untitled EP and then Purity Pledge two years later, London’s Todd have produced a new offspring, and this one launches itself right at your face, with broken shards piercing your ears. Their previous releases rocked but this is heavy as hell — but not metal, just quite a lot to deal with.