Monday, 31 August 2009

Live - Leeds Festival

I nearly always scan a few web boards post any festival, it's really the only way to find out if you had a good time. Having done this for a few years I can give a very accurate review of Leeds Festival without actually attending.

It's full of pissed up kids, pissing in bottles in the pissing rain and I'm not pissing going again.....oh and I got pissed and it was great this one last time! (always need an exclamation mark). There you go, I've saved you hours of trawling the internet.

For me and a number of pals, Leeds is now a 3 day bus journey / meet up party interspersed with musical interludes. This year was no exception with the cider filled reunion starting at 11.30 am Friday at the bus stop and real life stuff not interfering, I'm pretty confident we'll be within 10 minutes next year. And without further ramblings a few highlights and a lowlight, I'm limiting myself to one lowlight or I'll get tagged as the miserable git.

Despite the usual M62 Friday traffic nightmare we arrived in supermassive 'you could get wembley stadium in there' NME/BBC twin sponsored tent just in time to see the Delphic set.


Delphic have been extensively hyped as the next big thing and with an inoffensive line in 80's style danceable guitar music us old blokes had a jolly good foot tapping 30 minutes. I think there is video evidence of synchronised leg twiddling and the compulsory offbeat head nodding from the three old gits on the barrier. This may not be the most incisive review either but, 'I quite like them'. There is non of the in your face screech guitar dance about them and its not quite the metronomic beat of Hot Chip or Hockey. New Order meets Joy Division is a bit obvious, but it really is like that. The good news is that they've actually written some decent tunes with melodies to back up the dance beats and it's probably this element that's helping them stand out from the ever increasing keyboard bleep bleep twiddly dance crowd.

Along with everyone else, they also have an album out in September

British Intelligence

British Intelligence were playing the 'Introducing' Stage which is situated close to the side of the main thoroughfare to catch the ear of unwary passers by. Unwarried we were and 30 minutes later I thought they'd played an absolute blinder. The music is heavier then my normal jangly taste, it's based on a Rage style rhythm and screechy lead guitar, but then with added Run DMC style rap over the top. Before you write it off at this point they did have a couple of things going for them;

Firstly the songs were really good and had a political UK edge rather than a west coast US rap and style.

Secondly it was really good fun, the band were having a ball and it had a feel of The Clash about it, which is always a good thing. That's another album to buy in September

Marina and the Diamonds

Next it was off to see Marina and the Diamonds in another small tent, I'd seen them at The Big Chill and came away a bit non plussed as the set had extreme highs and lows. Never one to write someone off too early I thought I'd give them a second chance.....oh did i mention Marina isn't exactly difficult to watch for half an hour. I'm no fashion guru but the distinct change in clothing style from The Big Chill to Leeds didn't bypass me. The Big Chill outfit included a pair of hot pants which have probably secured their place on the locals against the Chill committee meetings agenda for a whole year, such will have been the outrage-on-wye.

Possibly warned about the density of testosterone driven teenage boys at Leeds ready to throw piss at anyone who piqued their interest, Marina opted for an acceptable in Riyadh combo. Marina has a defiantly non welsh accent to her singing which tends fairly close to a Hazel O' Conner lilt at times (obviously a good thing) and in parts a bit Siouxsie Sioux. Strangely the closer to her own voice she gets the better she sounds, the less she makes moves from The Eighth Day the better she looks. It's fairly early days and the group have 2 or 3 good tunes (worked for MGMT) but they'll need to decide Indie Dance or Pop Dance. Everything is going to be a variation of dance in 12 months time but that's a different theory.

The Virgins

The Virgins played in 'the big tent' early on Sunday morning which was a perfect opportunity to sit around and listen to non aggressive pleasant tunes whilst reading the paper. Or drink way too much wine way to early. The band made the effort to travel over from New York so I went for plan B and discarded the paper. I enjoyed their funky take on Indie, OK it was a bit like Vampire Weekend had bought a Chic album instead of 'that' Paul Simon album, but again they had a few really good songs which makes all the difference. Look out for them on a kids TV programme near you soon.

The Airborne Toxic Event

Airborne Toxic Event were next up in the same tent and as everyone was pretty relaxed it seemed churlish not to enjoy the music, the company and a touch more wine....don't mind if I do.

I'd already worried everyone with tales of shoutiness and feedback as that's what I recalled from playing the album. I'm going to have to give it another listen. If you think, the best bits of Arcade Fire with a female electric violinist doing a modern version of the good bits of Talking Heads then you'd be miles away from the truth. It's definitely worth going to see them though as they manage to make a unique, but strangely familier sound which got a great reaction from the unexpectant audience.

The Big Pink

Later in the day and encouraged by the first sustained rain of the festival I made it over to see The Big Pink in the small red tent. The final song excepted, which had some flying guitar tunage going on, the rest of the set was fairly mundane and a bit of a dirge. I think this may be NME over hype about to strike without any depth to the bands songwriting catalogue. Don't get me wrong the lead guitarist is a bit nippy and makes a top sound but they could do with a 'Daddy's Gone' to help them along.

Bombay Bicycle Club

Bombay Bicycle Club followed them onstage and as it was still raining I decided the alcohol break was a great idea and plonked myself down at the back to watch. BBC were much better than I was expecting and the happy faced enthusiasm was a welcome relief from the earnest and irritated shoegazy Pink people. I wasn't totally convinced that I'd enjoy listening to a whole album but for half an hour bouncy happiness at a festival they get my vote.

Whilst writing this I've decided not to go for the huge slagging off option, so a quick summary section just to help you avoid a festival error

The Hot Rats - (Supergrass doing crap covers) unprepared with backing tapes which you weren't supposed to notice. I'm almost certain Gaz was miming at one point. The closest thing to a car crash all weekend

Arctic Monkeys - Enjoy the new direction chaps you may find it cold in the desert at night.


DeadMau5 - It was a bit like 'the best ever 6th form rave' in the Dance Tent and me and the other old bloke were glad of eachothers company but hell this rave stuff is good for the soul. I just know my dad dancing is going to be a Youtube favourite soon.

And finally a very honourable mention indeed to The Gaslight Anthem who played a fantastic Busted tribute in the big tent. Strange how the set consisted of virtually all of the last album and went down a storm with the Indie Leeds crowd. Get tickets for the next tour because the one after that is going to be in the big MEN style sheds.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Album - Cobra Starship - Hot Mess

No-one will have heard of this band unless of course you happen to be American and 13 years old or me. Or have watched 'Snakes on a Plane' which despite the brilliant title is a terrible film.

Three albums in 4 years isn't bad and I saw them on the first UK tour supporting Fall Out Boy at the Manchester Apollo. The first album was pop punk in the Blink 182 kinda tradition, the second was basically Spanish pop with heavy guitars which was a bit weird but still good tunes.

Now Hot Mess is completely different again (Andy you may need to sit down) it's electropop, bongo drums, ah-ha , 80's US punk thing with a bit of rapping at the end. 'oh Andy is so going to hate this album' but he's wrong!

Right from the first track ' Nice Guys Finish Last' its filled with catchy tunes, singalong chorus's guitars and dance beats. A full on singing and dancing album to make white kids dance and with the 80's synths over some heavy drumbeats it does just that.

My favourite so far is the title track Hot Mess which is just going to be mental live, it starts off slow and pretty soon kicks in to an amazing fast chorus which is repeated 100 times at least.

So stop hating American teenage kids bands because they can write great songs too that appeal to lots of music tastes and genres. If you want a copy of the album Andy I'll bring one to the next festival haha


Score = 9.5/11

Monday, 24 August 2009

Live - Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong

Even on a bad day I tend to be a glass way over half full chap and certainly I'd rather write a positive review than a bad one, but really, people should be warned. Just to get to the nub of the issue

dull, unoriginal and uninspired

V Festival may have it's critics and I've got a few pals who won't attend anymore, but if you get the opportunity to play to a tent full of people when you are virtualy unheard of then you really should try a bit. It turned out that V was a whole lot friendlier this year and as long as alcohol was in plastic bottles it was allowed into the stadium. And so, even with a happy drunken audience JJJ managed to be so mind numbingly dull that about 50% of the crowd shuffled off before the end.

For anyone who hasn't heard of this band, this is the stuff I have in my head about them. NME decided they were going to be the next big thing back in 2007, obviously with the NME a randomiser is attached to a shotgun and anyone within 500 miles of a single pellet is the next big thing. My mum has stopped singing in the house just in case she gets a slot in the 'Radar' section.

An NME awards tour and couple of support slot tours with Kaiser Chiefs and possibly Babyshambles followed (not for my mum) and then off to write the album, save the world and get the girl. But no....the album was set for a late 2008 release and then it got canned for 'not being good enough'. Joe had did tell the crowd this fairly early into the set, I think we'd spotted the issue by then.

It's all very well being a skinny indie kid lead singer and wearing gold pants, but a few melodies wouldn't go amiss. Even the odd chorus would have helped but looking like Peter Perret meets Julian Cope and playing a set of Razorlight Light outakes from 4 years ago is woeful. If you really want to hear how that sounds.

It turns out Joe was the drummer in The Pippettes and Rose Dougall is the guitarists sister, so maybe he's just in the wrong place as both of the above are major positives. Other wiki 'fact' you have to be careful as teenagers can edit it but.....Mr Dougal their dad is the news broadcaster Robert Dougal.

Rose post Pipettes and prior to Tan Hill I think

Back to JLJJJ

My prediction is one album released and then into the bargain basement quicker than you can say Shed Seven.

Almost forgot the scoring 2/11

Friday, 21 August 2009

Live - Orbital at The Big Chill

Orbital jacked it all in in 2004 and now like many many many other bands realise they may not have quite got their pension fund sorted. I've never been one to go all purist on this and am very happy to add them to my ticked off list. (I Spy book 31 - old dance bands)

I've got a few of the Orbital albums (just checked and its four) and I kind of quite like them, which isn't a great recommendation for going to see them...however they have a few tunes which are lovely to listen to whilst laying down in a quiet room half drunk/chilled. Again not the best recommendation for outside at a festival late at night. It could be a snoralong.

Peter on the other hand is a MEGA fan and has been bouncing about for 48hours with tales of Orbital as ever the enthusiam has rubbed off on me and at 11.20 pm Saturday night I'm armed with cider and ready to chill. Then blow me and they go all heavy dance and its bloody brilliant, fortunately I'm black hoodied up and can Ian Brownalong with the best of them. thats shuffling not singing in a flat voice along......although.

Hood up, cidered up and off to the front I managed to lose Pete pretty quickly (not on purpose) and about 20 minutes later I lost my head to the wonderful Satan song by the band. Any song where you can shout out Satan at the top of your voice is a good song. The people next to me were shouting it out very bloody loudly indeed and were very off their heads......but they looked freakin happy.

The tunes continued, the lights were mega the little side headlamps dancilicious and we all boogied our arses off till very very late indeed. Being brought up in late and post punk Britain, liking dance music was akin to dancing with the devil, (the more astute of you will have spotted the link a mile off) but since 1989 it's been ok for indie kids to shuffle a lot. Truth is, as an indie dad my shuffling has tended more and more towards embarrassing full on dancing dad and scarily I'm liking it more and more. Chemical Brothers, the brilliant Basement Jaxx, Faithless, Lethal Bizzle and next up 2manyDJs.

I'm now converted to the Orbital camp too, if the tickets weren't trading for £150 each I'd be off to see them in Manchester in soon. The boys played late, did the Dr Who thing and then in good old sulky indie boy style said sod it to the encore....good on them for that too. Oh and we got spooky mist across the lake on the way home.