Finally the Friction Tour rolls in to Bristol. The wait is all but over but before the evenings main draw, there are three other bands to contend with. The Thekla has a crazy curfew of 10pm due to their Saturday evening club night. Considering doors were half six, shoehorning four bands in seems like a pretty tall order. Humanfly take to the stage just fifteen minutes after doors which unfortunately for them means that the modest audience is still adjusting to their surroundings. The band deals in sludgy adrenaline injected stoner riffs mixed sparingly with vocals that range from deep death metal growls to Iron Monkey esque yelps. 25 minutes isn’t long to get your point across and it’s even harder when the audience is so small but given the circumstances, Humanfly were pretty impressive this evening.
Maybeshewill sounded exactly as I thought they would tonight, I’m still trying to figure out whether this is a good thing or not. For me they seem to perfectly sum up Explosions type post-rock with all of the relevent boxes neatly ticked. Upon initial listens I was pretty excited by their sound but the more I listened the more I suspected that there was something amiss. Not that I could possibly level any kind of criticism at the band, although the boy band posturing and graceful hair flicks did catch me off guard a little. There is something that keeps me liking Maybeshewill but stops me loving them, I just can’t quite put my finger on what that thing is. Seeing them live only cemented my indecisiveness.
The Ocean were up next. Second time seeing them, the last time when they supported Dillinger Escape Plan. I couldn’t remember too much about them but after a couple of minutes it all came flooding back. The Ocean have everything they need to be an arena metal act; expensive looking gear, elaborate CD packaging, eye-catching light shows, not to mention all the moves. What they lack though is substance to back up all of that style. Not only that but they sounded pretty awful too, for all of his rigorous endeavours the singer may as well have not been anywhere near the stage. Even when the band weren’t at full throttle during the token singing parts, he was barely audible. Things improved slightly towards the end of the set but I remain unimpressed.
I reckon I must have seen ET9 around 7 or 8 times back when they were last active, on not one of those occasions did I leave the venue feeling anything less than blown away by what I had witnessed. I feel a strong connection with the band having witnessed them progress both in terms of their recorded material and also as a live band. To get the chance to see them again almost a decade later is both exciting and unnerving in equal measures. Some things are best left in the past, all of those memories could easily be crushed with a dodgy, poorly judged re-union. My nerves were appeased somewhat by the new song Tide Of Ambition which was a scathing return to form and easily sits alongside past glories. Part of me was hoping that they would open with Grind & Click but when Off Kilter exploded from the Theklas tiny stage I couldn’t help but shed a grin. A grin born of pure elation with a hint of relief, ET9 all of a sudden seem like the most essential band in the world again. Back 10 years ago I was watching an incredible band struggling to get the exposure that they deserved, now I am watching a triumphant second coming and these songs have grown in to the classics that I always knew they would. Even songs from debut album Lo-Def(inition) Dischord sounded absolutely phenomenal, I have never heard Withered sound so colossal. True, Karl and the boys don’t necessarily move like they used to but shit, they sound exactly like they used to. My only complaint is the brevity of the set, fifty minutes simply wasn’t long enough and surely on the back of this a headline tour is imminent? Tide Of Ambition was the only new song to get a stroll out but live, it was a set highlight. They conclude with I Nagual Eye, and leave the stage to rapturous applause from a modest but floored crowed. When I reflect back on why this was such a good gig, it comes down to the fact that the band looked like they were enjoying themselves like I’ve never seen before. I think that Karl spoke more tonight than he did during all of the times I saw them combined, it really seems like the band are as excited to be playing for the fans as the fans are to be seeing the band. the new EP is a cracker too, will try to get a review up sometime soon. If you are unfamiliar with ET9 and like a bit of metal, I would highly recommend you check out the digital best of (of sorts) Inside, Embers Glow which is available for FREE HERE.
For Emma, Forever Ago was self released way back in 2007, which seems like an age ago now considering that we are still awaiting the follow-up nearly half way in to 2011. Justin Vernon has kept himself pretty busy though, with side projects such as Gayngs and Volcano Choir along with high-profile collaborations with the likes of Kanye West. We also had the Blood Bank EP, which I personally think was underrated and often forgotten. Calgary is the first taste of the self-titled follow-up album due out next month (although if you’re in to the words, then the album lyrics are up on the Jagjaguar site).
That debut was always going to be a hard record to follow, partly due to its reception but mainly because of the unique circumstances in which it was recorded, and how integral that was to its appeal. Everyone loves an album with a back story but there’s no way that this guy was ever gonna go back to that cabin by himself and record a new batch of songs, for this reason there is going to be a portion of the hardcore fan base that might feel disappointed with the extra instrumentation and flirtations with electronica. Although none of this should come as a surprise to anybody, the entire basis of Gayngs is collaboration, and Volcano Choir was pretty experimental in terms of studio manipulation. Calgary eases you in slow though, a sombre organ introduces Vernons distinctive falsetto, the song dies temporarily before swelling louder around a similar refrain. The third time around, drums and a few synthesised melodies are added to the mix. The trick is repeated for a fourth time by which point the full complement of sound is present and the song feels fully formed with guitars audible for the first time. It’s a clever trick, taking a stripped back idea and repeating it each time building up the layers. It makes the final quiet passage of acoustic guitar and vocal all the more sombre and stark. I’m enjoying this song quite a bit, it’ll be interesting to hear how it compares to the sound of the rest of the album and how it fits in with the other songs. By itself though it stands up pretty well, hopefully the album will be able to exist outside of the shadow of that debut.
Listen through the video below or head over to Jagjaguar for a download.
The clue is kind of in the song title with this one. The spacey synths twist and warp around a disco beat that just hits so hard. Listening to this track is such a pleasure, it just keeps getting better and better as it progresses, breaking down and rebuilding beautifully at around the half way mark. So much happens throughout the song, it changes and mutates just when you think you have a handle on it. Amazing track.
When you’re done having your mind blown by the original edit, check out the Brassica mix. If the original was perfect for a club or a decent stereo then this mix is perfect for outdoor headphones. The beats are still present but everything seems a little more subdued and dreamlike, less clean sounding, the emphasis clearly on the progginess of the keys. I love the way that the melody that bookends the track almost playfully verges on falling apart. One to stare at the stars to. Seriously!!! Check these songs out!
Gareth Cheshire – Galaxia (Brassica Remix) – MP3 (Right Click / Save As)
Curren$y has teamed up with The Alchemist to release a new EP entitled Covert Coup. It’s only 10 tracks and the majority of these clock in at under three minutes. This all suits me down to the ground as I often find hip-hop albums to be overly long and difficult to digest in one sitting, Curren$y kept the reins on for this release and it pays off big time. Check out the awesome album closer Full Metal below and head HERE to download the full EP for absolutely nothing more than your email address.
Curren$y – Full Metal MP3 (Right Click / Save As)
I picked up an awesome compilation yesterday called Local Customs: Dubbed at Boddie. I got my copy on cassette but the vinyl and CD versions are titled Pressed At Boddie and Burned At Boddie respectively. The 17 songs span genres as diverse as, but not limited to garage rock, soul, funk, psychedelia and gospel. Each of these songs has been painstakingly chosen and compiled from the vast output of the Boddie Recording Company, a husband/wife business run out of Cleveland, specialising in nothing in particular other than immortalising any artist that happened to walk through their door. I believe this was a Record Store Day release and as such numbers are limited, but if you can get hold of a copy of this I would highly recommend it, not just for the music but also the fascinating sleeve notes. More info HERE.
Purity Rings song Ungirthed has been doing the rounds now since the beginning of the year. Now that the physical 7″ is imminent, the B-side Lofticries has surfaced and very quickly spread like wildfire. For good reason too, these songs are beautifully put together. The vocals sound like a less waif-like Joanna Newsom or a more organic sounding Karin Dreijer Andersson. They are pitched perfectly to a backdrop of spacey synths and a moving collage of auto-tuned vocal samples. The vocal manipulation and stop start nature by which they are pieced together is kind of reminiscent of dubstep, but the way it all comes together elevates it way beyond such a lazy comparison. Both these songs are incredible and it’s no wonder the internet seems to be tripping over itself in disbelief, I for one am very excited. Check them out below:
Purity Ring – Lofticries MP3 (Right Click / Save As)
Purity Ring – Ungirthed MP3 (Right Click / Save As)
Also, I posted an MP3 of the Californian artist Evan Bailey last week. I wrote a review of his self-titled album for Buzzpost, click HERE to check that out.
Saw Glassjaw last night, pretty big deal considering that the last time I saw them was the 7/7/7 show in Brixton. Interestingly, that set began in much the same way as this one, but I’ll come to that shortly.
Napalm Death were up first, an odd choice of support but it transpires that Daryl requested them personally. Needless to say they slayed, a 25+ year career has done nothing to dampen their intensity, speed, nor ferocity. From my perspective, I ticked a box. I like Napalm Death in as much as I enjoy their music and respect what they do, but I’m not going to pretend to know all of their songs, nor will I bitch and moan about what they did or didn’t play. I guess from a neutral perspective, they were tight as fuck, loud as fuck and heavy as fuck! Scum was the obvious highlight, but I have always wanted to witness You Suffer live, of course I only realised that I had done once it was over. It might not have been their audience tonight but the brummie vets did a serious number on this weird-ass venue.
Glassjaw are fucking cool, I’m sold on them, and always have been. If you read this site regularly, you will already know that. I buy in to the whole enigmatic, carrot on a stick thing they have going, I get excited at every little bit of second-hand news that they drip-feed to the internet, and I certainly get excited at the prospect of seeing them live. Just like back in 2007, I can’t help but feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as that ominous drum loop is repeated over and over whilst the band amble about on stage, seemingly oblivious or unperturbed by the chaos that You Think You’re John Fucking Lennon is about to unleash. Without warning the band explode, as do the crowd. Of course, Tip Your Bartender follows immediately and then Mu Empire as a matter of course. It’s an unbelievable, if not predictable start to the set. In fact, it’s not until 10 or 11 songs in that the band play a song that wouldn’t be worthy of an encore for any other act. Before we even get to that point though, the set highlight Stars has barely stopped resonating through my eardrums. Daryl is on top form this evening, playing the role of engaging frontman to such an extent that you would be forgiven for thinking that you had attended a Head Automatica show rather than a GJ one. Of course the glorious noise emanating from the stage tells a different story than Daryls’ dancing might. The 14 song set is made up almost entirely of Worship And Tribute and Our Color Green cuts (plus El Mark), unfortunately the only EYEWTKAS cut to feature is the furious set closer Siberian Kiss, to which of course the crowd respond cordially. Then comes the kicker. By way of encore the band re-emerge to play their new Coloring Book EP in its entirety, front to back. A novel idea, maybe, and one that represents value for money. But in reality, after a furiously satisfying set of some of their more aggressive numbers, it was an idea that kind of backfired. Mainly because the more honest member of tonight’s audience would more than likely not have heard any of the 6 song encore, but also because the bands newer material is so different to that of their older stuff. I’m glad that I was familiar with their new stuff, I’m also glad that I am obsessive enough to have checked the setlists from all of their recent shows. Ultimately, this cushioned the blow of a climax that can only be described as a fizzing out. Having been starved of the likes of Pretty Lush and Piano, it is hard not to appreciate the crowds disinterest at Daytona White, no matter how pretty a song it is.
Amazing show though. Daryl was on serious form, gesticulating wide-eyed in to the crowd and yanking the mic away from his lungs as he hit the higher registers. The band was tight and the sound, on the mark. The set list as with any gig, a minor bone of contention. Of course, to top it all off, I walked away with my copy of The Coloring Book EP.
One of the albums I am looking forward to most this year is the new Grouper, it’s titled A I A and drops this month as either a double album or double album release. Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill was an incredible record and judging by the new track Alien Observer, A I A is set to follow in its footsteps. On top of all this good news, Grouper have been added to the Animal Collective curated ATP next month in Minehead. Check out the track over at P*******K.
The kind of trajectory that The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have taken with their sound can be appreciated visually through their album covers. Compared to the elegant black and white of their excellent debut, Belong is an explosion of pastel hues and even softer tones. Album opener and title track Belong stands out for me, I love how heavy handed they have been with the distortion on the guitars, the brash crunchiness quickly makes way for the softly sung vocals which pack a punch of their own in terms of melody. It’s not necessarily the most memorable song on the album but for me its the most complete. To be honest, as much as I am enjoying the record, I do find its sugary centre a bit much. To listen too many times in a row is comparable to over indulging on sweets, a threshold that is easily reached and instantly regretted. The key, obviously, is moderation and in small doses, Belong is a phenomenal follow-up to their self-titled debut. Check out the opener below:
This is probably me being a dick, fully highlighting my inability to follow simple instructions, but I think Kompakt have fucked up the release of the new Panda Bear single. It was my understanding that a copy had to be reserved in advance by email. Then on release day (today) the single could be purchased as normal through Kompakt, the orders would be matched to reservations and shipped accordingly. Seems fair, I was also led to believe that reserved copies would be held over until tomorrow. Having visited the Kompakt site to order my copy tonight I was greeted with ‘Sold Out’, and no way of adding to my basket, even when logged in to the site. Thankfully, I sourced a copy elsewhere without too much bother but surely all of this could have been avoided if Kompakt had done the decent thing and released the 7″ for pre-order, like the other labels did for the first three releases. It pisses me off because the 4 7″s will make up a set and by way of reward for buying the first three, fans are being made to jump through hoops for the fourth. Not only that but surely this release will sell out regardless, by causing a fuss or building hype, Kompakt are just creating opportunities for people to rip off fans on ebay. Not cool Kompakt, not cool!! what is cool though is the B-side to Surfer’s Hymn, a remix by on-fire UK producer Actress. MP3 below:
Panda Bear – Surfer’s Hymn (Actress Primitive Pattern Remix) MP3 (Right Click / Save As)
Finally, I have written a review of Yucks debut album for Buzzpost, check it out HERE.