Wednesday, 8 December 2010

RIP Throats

Throats announced they were splitting up last night which is, quite frankly, a massive loss to the UK hardcore scene. Having released an incredible split with the band Maths and their own self-titled mini-album (which featured at number 21 in my albums of the year) earlier this year, Throats were one of the most promising hardcore bands in years. Sounding like early Converge, with some grind and d-beat influences thrown in for good measure, it's safe to say their sound was intense and furious They announced the news over their twitter simply saying, "THROATS IS DEAD. FUCK OFF." No reason has been given although they are apparently considering a farewell gig and are selling off all their merch for cheap over the next couple of days. They will be sorely missed.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Gallows @ The Well, Leeds 24/11/10

Photo by Bart Pettman

When Gallows announced their 'Back to the Dives' tour, in which they would return to the smaller venues they used to play, The Well was almost a given. The Well not only seems to be the perfect sized venue for this tour but was so important in Gallows' meteoric rise to fame a few years ago that it would have been quite rude not to. As usual with Gallows, tonight was quite pricey for a hardcore gig but you get what you pay for with three supporting bands in Last Witness, 33 and Dead Swans.

I unfortunately didn't get their in time for Last Witness which was quite annoying as (with them being signed to Holy Roar) I was expecting good things. Next up were 33 whose fun and energetic pop-Punk influenced hardcore was enjoyable but nothing new. Then Dead Swans were up next who, while their album was incredibly disappointing after their fantastic Southern Blue EP, played a heavy and great if a little sloppy set.

The first question to ask after Gallows' break from touring is do they still have it? And, from the first notes they played, the answer is a definite yes. Flinging themselves around the stage and screaming like their life depend on it, Gallows are off from the word go. Their songs sound just as furious and energetic as they always have; they almost feel like their break has given them a whole new lease of life. Gallows are in their ideal setting here; no security and no barrier and they take full advantage of this with Frank Carter throwing himself in to the crowd. Tonight's gig saw a much more varied set than there was on recent tours, with them drawing heavily off their first album, Orchestra of Wolves.  The crowd went absolutely wild for it, singing back each and every word, showing this band still has a large and devout following. In true Gallows' tradition, Frank invites one of the support bands on to help with a song. This time it's one of the singers from 33 doing Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro's part on Graves. It sounds great and makes for an almost night highlight if it wasn't for closer Orchestra of Wolves which seems to have had a new lease of life in itself; climaxing with Frank standing on the crowd screaming the lyrics without a microphone.

Near the end of this evening Frank Carter shares with the audience Gallows' plans for the future. He claims that they plan to have an album out next summer and that they plan to play The Well (not once but) twice when they next tour. While this all seems like wishful planning on their part, it is great to know that this band, whose future seemed so unknown at the beginning of the year, is far from dead.

Albums of the Year 2010

So what a year for music it's been huh? The amount of great releases this year has been absolutely astonishing and it speaks volumes that there doesn't seem to be any form of consensus on what has been the best this year. There were so many albums that I wanted to have on here but had to miss out that it's ridiculous. For me, this year has been all about electronic music with some absolutely incredible albums being released during the year. It also seemed to be the year for the older musicians too but more on that later. Anyway, without any further ado, here are, in my opinion, the thirty best albums that 2010 had to offer:

30. Gonjasufi - A Sufi and  A Killer
29. Liars - Sisterworld
28. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
27. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
26. Salem - King Night
25. Curren$y - Pilot Talk
24. Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network Soundtrack
23. Twin Shadow - Forget
22. Ceremony - Rohnert Park
21. Throats - Throats
20. Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here 
19. Foals - Total Life Forever
18. The Body - All The Waters of Earth Turn to Blood
17. Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers
16. The Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis
15. Grinderman - Grinderman 2
14. Pulled Apart By Horses - Pulled Apart By Horses
13. Four Tet - There Is Love In You
12. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
11. Gold Panda - Lucky Shiner

10. Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
In the last few years there have been so many bands reuniniting but probably the most surprising was that of Swans. Michael Gira hardly ever seemed the type of man for nostalgia and, quite frankly, seemed to have more self-respect than to take part in a tour, playing the greatest hits to earn himself some extra money. This reunion was made even more worrying for Swans fans when Gira announced that he and the newly reunited Swans would be releasing new material. If he treaded out an album that sounded exactly like old Swans it would feel like a complete cop out for a band that were renowned for their constant ability to evolve between albums. If he released something that sounded completely different it would completely alienate Swans fans of old and would feel like a pointless effort to have resurrected the Swans name. However, Gira took the third, and best possible, option and created an album that sounded exactly like Swans would have sounded like in 2010 if they'd kept going. Doomy as fuck, folk-influenced, Post-Punk/Noise/No Wave as only Gira can do.

9. Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise
While technically being a minimal house musician, Hendrik Weiber doesn't really fit in to the scene. In a genre, which to many, seems tried and stale, Weiber constantly adventures in to new and unfound territory. This is a record that will completely drag you in and not let you got for the full hour and ten minutes of its duration. Through incredibly delicate minimal beats, backed up by various percussive instruments like a glockenspiel, Pantha Du Prince has made one of the most dreamy and textually beautiful albums of the year. However, the highlight comes on the most un-Pantha Du Prince moment, Stick To My Side. Featuring the vocals of Noah Lennox (AKA Panda Bear from Animal Collective), Stick To My Side is the closest that Black Noise gets to Pop but is also, arguably, its most beautiful moment.

8. Deftones - Diamond Eyes
Diamond Eyes sounds exactly like a Deftones album, e.g. like nothing else. They were always different from their 'Nu-Metal' counterparts because of their desire to experiment and their massive palette of sounds. This palette has grown even further on Diamond Eyes thanks to their range of influences from '80s Post-Punk bands like The Smiths and The Cure to recent electronic musicians like Kode 9. These range of sounds make a profound and incredibly forward-thinking listen, adding a beauty and melodic aspect to their, otherwise, heavy sound. The fact that Diamond Eyes was not even the album we were supposed to listen to is a mind blower. Deftones were originally supposed to release the album Erors but it was postponed after bassist Chi Cheng was in a serious car accident which left him in a coma and has now been indefinitely shelved as they felt it is not a good example of their current sound. The idea to axe Erors was clearly a good idea as Diamond Eyes is an absolutely phenomenal album and a fantastic return to form for Deftones.

 7. Emeralds - Does It Look Like I'm Here?
Does It Look Like I'm Here? is a tricky one to describe. Firstly, its an album of contradictions. It is an album of the gradual build up of layers of electronics that develops in to a drone yet Does It Look Like I'm Here? has a feeling of urgency throughout. It is an experimental electronic drone album yet from start to finish it is nothing but beautiful. This album is the definition of a grower yet feels accessible from the moment you put it on. Maybe its these contradictions which have led to Does It Look Like I'm Here?'s widespread acclaim which seems so rare for this type of music. Maybe it is Mark McGuire's beautiful guitarwork under the layers of electronic which keep this on the ground. Or maybe it's just how damn forward thinking and experimental this album is which has led to it being so widely loved.

6. Caribou - Swim
Caribou's biggest advantage on Swim is probably its ability to be danceable and fun. It manages to be the complete opposite of pretentious while being experimental, ambitious and forward thinking which is a rare feat in modern music. On Swim, Caribou draws in a massive range of influences from modern pop to psychadelia, there is even a huge krautrock influence on the percussion throughout. Even Caribou's instrumentation is unusual for dance music, using not only a full band but also even having a flute on opener Odessa. While the band goes through their 'intelligent' dance music, Dan Snaith's voice is only a whisper or a murmur over the top and it sounds fantastic. Smith claimed that he wanted to create "dance music that sounds like it's made out of water" and I can't think of a better description for this than that.

5. James Blake - Klavierwerke/CMYK
Well Gorilla Vs Bear counted them both as one release on their list so I've decided I'm allowed too. James Blake is a 21 year old electronic producer from London who is often linked in to the whole 'dubstep' thing but he is, quite frankly, so much more than that. Burial is probably the closest you're going to get to James Blake's delicate and minimal arrangements with plenty of room to breathe. That is, however, about where the similarities between them stop as James Blake really is an individual with a complete sound of his own. Blake also includes his own vocals, which are quite frankly breathtaking, and piano playing into his tracks. James Blake is the most promising new musician of the year and I simply cannot wait to hear his album in the new year.

 4. The Fall - Your Future Our Clutter
The Fall really are a phenomenal band. Not many bands after twenty eight albums and thirty four years can still be constantly developing and morphing their sound and also releasing some of the best albums they've done to date. Maybe the secret is The Falls' rotating door of members (there have been over fourty different line-ups) or maybe it's just Mark E Smith's incredible ability to adapt. Your Future Our Clutter sees Mark E Smith and Co develop their krautrock tinged garage rock in to even further territories, even including a Daft Punk sample in the song Cowboy George. Mark E Smith's literary genius is on mark yet again with brilliantly undecryptable lyrics and references to Murder She Wrote. Your Future Our Clutter is a bundle of energy and doesn't stop throughout, from the pounding drum opener to Mark E Smith's finishing whispers of 'you don't deserve rock and roll'.

 3. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
On Halcyon Digest, Deerhunter are not messing about. They have cut the ambient bits and scrapped the noise parts and just left what they are at heart, an Indie Pop band. Halcyon Digest is 45 minutes of catchy fuzzy pop songs which, while sounding like a waste of Deerhunter's talent for noise, really isn't. These are songs that will get stuck and swirl around in your head for days. Halcyon Digest's greatest moment might not come until its final track, He Would Have Laughed, a dedication to the late Memphis musician Jay Reatard who died from drug use earlier this year. The song starts off with beautiful electronics and ambiguous lyrics ('I'm a gold gold diggin' man/I won't rest 'til I buy your land') only to break down into a fantastic acoustic part which is a definite competitor for the greatest two minutes of music in 2010.

 2. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
What is there to say on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy that hasn't been already? After the events of recent years (the death of his mother, the split between him and his fiancé, the lukewarm reception to the incredibly underrated 808s and Heartbreak, 'Taylor Swift gate') many thought that Kanye was down and out. But sure enough, here is, not only, Kanye West at his best but also mainstream hip-hop at its best. You will not hear a mainstream album as ambitious as this in 2010. From the samples (everything from Aphex Twin to King Crimson) to the guests (everyone from Elton John to Bon Iver to the RZA) there is so much thought and effort in to this album that it is almost impossible to fault. It is also an album where it is impossible to pick a highlight; is it the nine minute tearjerker Runaway? Is it the fantastic single Power? Or is it the incredible closing duo of Lost in the World and Who Will Survive in America featuring samples of Bon Iver and Gil Scott-Heron? In fact, when I think about it, it could literally be any of the thirteen tracks here. Amazing.

1. Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
So here it is, my favourite album of the year. While Flying Lotus hasn't massively changed his sound in any way here he has still managed to develop everything about it. He has introduced a much larger jazz influence and even video game sounds in to his instrumental hip-hop sound. He has also broadened his sound palette even further by adding samples from some of his friends. Several of the songs on Cosmogramma include some fantastic live bass by Thundercat and even vocals by Thom Yorke on ...And The World Laughs With You. Cosmogramma sees FlyLo pushing his sound in to even more experimental territory, playing around with some fantastically bizarre sounds and time signatures. Flying Lotus has always made beautiful songs but Cosmogramma pushes that to a whole new level. Cosmogramma's sound is a difficult one to describe; it sounds 'aquatic' (for need of a better word) but also like it's from the future at the same time. This album just proves that Steven Ellison has to be one of the most consistent musicians out there.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

LCD Soundsystem @ MAGNA Centre, Sheffield 13/11/10

Like many fans, when this was announced I found myself asking the question; Why the MAGNA Centre? I mean, not only is it quite out of the way in Rotherham but it is also an educational science centre during the day and is rarely used as a venue. I found myself asking why even more when its location led to me missing not only Shit Robot (genius name by the way) but also Hot Chip. However, upon arriving at the MAGNA it almost felt like it was made for LCD Soundsystem. The futuristic architecture and lights seemed more than fitting for LCD's robots-with-hearts sound. The set up of the main room was also fantastic with the stage being really so high everyone could see even though it was a massive room.

When James Murphy and co rolled on to the stage fifteen minutes late, the MAGNA's secret weapon was finally revealed. The sound was absolutely incredible. Everything from the thumping beats of opener Dance Yrself Clean to the cowbell of Daft Punk are Playing at My House sounded huge. It might not be expected by them, as they're generally seen as a studio band, but LCD Soundsystem are really tight live and have a massive amount of energy. In the live setting, they somehow make their Low-era-Bowie influenced Electro Funk even more danceble. This energy didn't rub on to certain areas of the crowd but I suppose that's to be expected from a co-headline tour and some people being their to see Hot Chip. The setlist tonight came as quite a surprise as there was no Losing My Edge and nothing off Sound of Silver other than All My Friends. It was quite dissapointing to have them only play one song off their arguably best album but it felt fitting for a last ever UK tour to focus on the old and the new. This was especially the case when it meant them pulling out awesome older songs like Yeah and Movement. I feel that their usual set closer New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down would have been a much better finisher than a verison Home with some of Hot Chip but oh well.

So basically a fantastic venue, fantastic sound and a fantastic band. Being the second last show on their last ever UK tour, it felt a more than fitting farewell and they will be missed loads.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Hang the Bastard - Hellfire Reign

Since Hang the Bastard's EP, Raw Sorcery, last year the band have been very busy. Having played several tours and released two split 7"s, the band has been working at a breakneck speed. This pace can not only be seen in their work schedule but also in the rapid developement of their sound.

From the eerie synthesiser (played throughout the album by Rolo Tomassi's James Spence) that begins the opening track, Acid Bath Vampire, you know that Hellfire Reign is far attached from Raw Sorcery. While the EP was very successful at combining Sludge and Doom with their rifftastic Metalcore sound, it was too easy to compare them to their predecessors such as Doomriders and Coliseum. On Hellfire Reign however, by taking influences from all over the place and then successfully blending them all together, Hang the Bastard have not only found their own niche as a band but have really come in to their own. While some bands try too hard to mix up their influence and end up sounding fake and contrived, Hang the Bastard's development sounds entirely natural and genuine. These eclectic influences are best shown on the album's peak, Goodbye Piccadilly. It, again, starts with James Spence's creepy synthesiser noises before spiralling in to a crushing, Black Metal sounding wall of noise before ending with massive Rock 'n' Roll riffs.

However as I mentioned earlier, the elements that made Raw Sorcery great and stick out from the rest of the Metalcore crowd are still here on Hellfire Reign. I mean this is still a heavily Stoner Doom and Sludge influenced Metalcore album. The album is still crammed with huge riffs. In fact, if anything the technical proficiency on the guitar has been knocked up a notch. They even throw out some fantastic solos like on the final track, Farwell Leicester Square. They've even kept the massive Thrash Metal and Slayer influence not only on thethe riffs but also the guitar tone throughout. Another element that makes Hang the Bastard stick out from the Metalcore scene is their breakdowns. These are not your typical, generic breakdowns, these breakdowns are really fucking good and sound huge.

While Raw Sorcery was an impressive EP, it felt like it was missing something; Hellfire Reign has that something. By keeping to their original sound but constantly absorbing new influences, Hang the Bastard have finally found their sound and it is fucking huge. The riffs and the production have both been knocked up a notch which makes this album even more crushing. This is overall, one of the most promising Hardcore releases of the year and I am really looking forward to, hopefully, seeing them go far.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Lil' Wayne - A Milli (Flying Lotus Remix)

To coincide with Lil' Wayne's release from prison, here's Flying Lotus' remix of his song A Milli. Everything FlyLo touches turns to gold and this is no exception, adding an underwater and really chill feeling to Lil' Wayne's best song. This track shows that not only is he second to none when it comes to original compositions but also when it comes to remixes as well. You can download the track for free here or you can listen to a stream below.

Pulled Apart By Horses - Yeah Buddy

Yeah Buddy is Pulled Apart By Horses' third single off their debut self-titled album. It's due on the 29th of this month and they released the video for it today. Yeah Buddy is a prime example of Pulled Apart By Horses doing what they do best, blending everything awesome about the early nineties (Noise Rock, Post-Hardcore, Grunge etc) and adding a modern tinge on it via The Blood Brothers and Dananananaykroyd. Pulled Apart By Horses' singer, Tom Hudson, once said this song is about someone who took so many steroids that they went insane. Anyway, the new video makes no sense what-so-ever but is absolutely hilarious. It includes fireworks, a foam hand and a fuck load of duct tape. Enjoy!

So as I said, it's out on the 29th and you can also pre-order your very own signed copy here.

run,WALK! - Back of my Mind

It seems that every other band these days is two-piece Noise Rock with drums and a guitarist or bassist so you'd be forgiven if you thought that everything had possibly be done with the sound. That is, if you haven't heard run,WALK! With influences raging from Post-Hardcore heroes Fugazi to NME darlings The Maccabees; run,WALK! make quite an eclectic mess but an awesome one at that. I want to call them Post-Math-Noise-Indie-Hardcore but I'd probably be shot on site. They have recently released their rather long-windingly titled but great EP I Hope This All Works Out So I Can Stop Standing On Even Amounts Of Manholes In The Street on Holy Roar records. Here's the opening track, Back of my Mind, off it:

Thursday, 4 November 2010

James Blake - Klavierwerke

I'm a bit late on this one but I finally got around to listening to James Blake and all I can say is WOW. This guy is not only completely original and innovative but also an incredible producer and has an amazing voice. I feel Blake represents exactly the direction that Dubstep should be going in, the complete opposite way to Wobble (or whatever everyone is calling it now). The much-hyped 21 year old producer has already released three EPs this year and is currently working on his first album. The song below is called Klavierwerke and is off the EP of the same name. Prepare to have your mind blown.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Crystal Castles - Not In Love (featuring Robert Smith)

So Crystal Castles have teamed up with Robert Smith, the lead singer of the highly influential Post-Punk band The Cure, to create this little slab of Synth Pop goodness. This song is almost too catchy, too Pop and just too downright eighties for it's own good but still remains great throughout. It's a cover of a song by Platinum Blonde and is being released on iTunes on the 6th December. Here's a stream to listen to Not In Love and a link to download it for free.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Avey Tare - Lucky 1

Animal Collective have always presented themselves as, well, a collective so it's surprising that one of their most prominent song writers, David Portner (or Avey Tare as he'd rather be known), hasn't released a proper solo album until now. I say proper because he did release an album with his wife, Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir, back in 2007 where all the songs played backward. Anyway, Avey Tare released his solo album, Down There, this week on Animal Collective's own label, Paw Tracks, and his first single, Lucky 1, has been circling for a few weeks. His solo stuff sounds basically like all the songs he is responsible for in Animal Collective; the slower, experimental, psychadelic, less pop ones. It's pretty great but I was hoping more from it, hope it's a grower. However, Lucky 1 is a brilliant song and you can see the video below. Avey's bandmate Panda Bear also releases his solo album, Tomboy, soon. We'll just wait to see which one is better. Here's that video of Lucky 1, as promised earlier, for your enjoyment:

You can download the track for free at RCRD LBL.

Also in Animal Collective news, they will be curating next year's only ATP festival. It takes place at Minehead's Butlins and takes place between the 13th-15th May. Bands already announced include Lee "Scratch" Perry, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti and the fantastic Zomby. I may or may not cry over the fact that I cannot go.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Girls - Heartbreaker

Girls released one of the best albums of last year with the adequately titled Album. Their sound was, on the surface, fairly standard Beach Boys influenced jingly-jangly Surf Pop but what made Girls' debut special was what hid beneath, and that was the sound of heartbreak. Whether this heartbreak came from Christopher Owen's time in the Children of God cult or something completely different, it is definitely there and can be felt throughout their debut. Girls will be releasing the follow up to Album on November 22nd in the form of an EP called Broken Dreams Club. They've released the first song off of it, called Heartbreaker, and it is everything that you expect of Girls eg. fantastic.

Download for Girls - Heartbreaker.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Lovvers - Strangers

Lovvers are destined for thousands of lazy comparisons between them and Wavves purely based on the repeated use of a letter in the name. However the comparison does carry a bit further, they are both pop bands at heart hiding behind their punky, fuzzy noise and lazy vocals. Lovvers are a lo-fi band from Nottingham who play punk straight out of '77 with a pop tinge. They released the great Think EP back in 2008 and released the good-but-not-as-great OCD Go Go Go Girls last year. Their new song, Strangers, however seems a return to form with Lovvers stretching their sound even further into melodic territory. You can check out Strangers on their MySpace.

Pixies Give Away Live Recordings

Pixies are a band that need no introduction, they were hugely influentional on the alternative rock scene and are still to this day adored by many. They have recently given away a few live recordings on to the internet. First is an EP of a selection of songs from their Doolittle 20th Anniversary tour last year recorded at Brixton Academy. Doolittle is quite frankly one of the best albums ever and I was lucky enough to catch them on that tour so can vouch for how incredible it was. It is more than worth getting. The second recording is not just an EP but an entire set, recorded at Coachella in 2004 when they were freshly reuinted. It's been put up to celebrate the launch of their new site where they plan on putting up entire live shows for cheap every week and are encouraging fans to upload their own videos and pictures.

Both recordings can be found at the new Pixies Music site.

Here's a live video of Pixies performing Debaser at T in the Park back in 2004 just in case you need reminding of how amazing this band is:

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Flying Lotus - Kill Your Co-Workers

Under the alias of Flying Lotus, Steven Ellison has released some of the most innovative, interesting and downright brilliant music of the last five years. Earlier in the year, Flying Lotus released the critically acclaimed Cosmogramma (an easy competitor for album of the year) which not only saw Ellison expanding and evolving his sound but also reaching a whole new audience. Not to be pinned down, he also recently released the Pattern+Grid World EP. This saw the FlyLo sound develop even more dramatically from jazz influenced glitchy Hip-Hop in to much more electronic territory. The video for Kill Your Co-Workers came out this week which is absolutely brilliant. It starts off with a parade but everything turns horribly wrong when robots start killing everyone. Watch it below.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Rollerpalooza II @ Sheffield Skate Central 08/10/10

To celebrate their 10th birthday, music website Drowned in Sound put on a series of events around the country. In Sheffield they put on a follow up to last year's successful Rollerpalooza. The concept of Rollerpalooza is a bizarre one, yet an unbelievably fun one. It takes place in a skate rink and you basically skate, drink, buy slushies/chips and watch bands until three in the morning. Needless to say I was quite excited for this one, especially when one of my favourite live band of recent times, Pulled Apart By Horses, and a band I've wanted to see for years, No Age, were added to the line-up.

I unfortunately missed the two opening bands, Liars Beware and Hey Sholay! due to pre-drinking across the road, queuing ages to get in/get skates and then learning to skate (I've never done it before ya see). The third band on however was Male Bonding who were quite an inspired choice, their fun, noisy punk songs being perfect to skate to. The sound was pretty great for Male Bonding as well considering the size and set-up of the place they were playing.

"Who's fallen over?" asks Tom Hudson, lead singer of Pulled Apart By Horses, to a show of hands. "Me too," he replies, "and I haven't even put skates on yet." Fuelled largely by alcohol, Pulled Apart By Horses put on an incredibly energetic and furious set. The band were constantly throwing themselves around the stage and at the crowd. I've seen this band a bunch of times and, even with a couple of technological problems, this evening is easily the best I've ever seen them. It wasn't long until this energy transposed on to the audience with people moshing and crowd surfing on, ahem, skates. Their set consisted entirely of songs off the album but they still managed to cram in all the fan favourites like Meat Ballooon and The Crapsons. They're also currently opening their sets with E=MC Hammer which works brilliantly, getting them off to a massive start. A fantastic set.

No Age had the difficult feat of coming on at two in the morning when everyone was shattered from roller skating all night. No Age's set was also the moment when the size and ambience of the venue got the better of the mixing desk as the sound was quite muddy for a lot of their set. However, No Age more than made up for it with some noisy, experimental goodness. They played a large chunk of stuff off new album Everything in Between and just about everything else was off their last album, Nouns. With the induction of a third live member on electronics, No Age seem to have found the only way to make their shows even noisier. However at the same time, their performance had an almost psychedelic trance like feel to it. It's been a long wait for me to see No Age but it was worth every moment.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The Body - All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood

Back in June, New York duo The Body released the incredible All The Waters of The Earth Turn to Blood. The album is not only one of the best metal album of the year but one one of the most original as well. The album throws just about every metal genre there is in to the mixing pot from Doom to Sludge to Black Metal. However, it also includes tons of elements outside of metal such as IDM style electronics, Post-Rock ambience and a 32 piece choir. However what makes this album so great, rather than the vast range of sources, is the natural beauty hidden behind the aggression of this album. What The Body have created here is a profound, powerful, emotional and truly underrated piece of art.  Check out the song A Curse below.

Kanye West on Saturday Night Live

Last Saturday, Kanye West appeared on the US show Saturday Night Live performing new songs Power and Runaway. As can be expected from Kanye, it definitely was not your usual live television performance. Wearing a bright red suit, performed what he's described on Twitter as 'performance art'. During Power, he had a full performance group of dancers perform the 'moving painting' from the music video while during Runaway the dancers stood as a backdrop in ballet shapes. He was accompanied during this song by a MPC and a verse by Pusha T. It really does need to be seen to be believed, like so much of Kanye's recent activity. It's also very opinion splitting (again, just like everything else he does), people either thinking it's genius or just another boring example of how big his ego is. I think I'm leaning towards the former. Both the old school Kanye sounding Power and the 808s and Heartbreak era sounding, auto-tune fest Runaway have been released as singles and will appear on his new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which is out in November.

Friday, 8 October 2010

No Age - Glitter

Los Angeles' duo Randy Randall and Dean Spunt, better known as No Age, released their new album, Everything in Between, last week. No Age have always written dreamy pop songs but hidden them behind feedback, noise and the fury and energy of punk. However on their new album, while all these elements are still there, their melodies and pop tendencies are far more forefront and in the open, not sounding dissimilar to My Bloody Valentine. Not quite the direction you'd expect from these vegan skate punks who used to be in the hardcore band Wives but it really is a great album. The second song on Everything in Between is called Glitter and is probably the most poppiest moment on the album. However, in typical No Age style, Glitter's dreamy vocal melody and guitar parts are accompanied by a tinnitus inducing noise loop. It's brilliant. Someone has created a fan video which goes perfectly with the song which you can see below.

And just in case you need reminding of how great No Age's last album, Nouns, is here's a video of them performing Sleeper Hold off it on The Daily Habit.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Pissed Jeans - False Jesii Part 2

Pissed Jeans proved they were more than just a pretty name last year when they released the brilliant album King of Jeans. Their Jesus Lizard inspired noise rock infused with hardcore was energetic and authentically furious at the world. The album is dripping in sludge and noise from beginning to end. King of Jeans is an album that embodies growing up and finding out that man-hood isn't all it's cracked out to be. Anyway, the best song was probably the first song on the album which was False Jesii Part 2. Pissed Jeans have finally got around to making their first ever music video and it just happens to be that song. False Jesii Part 2 is basically a song about not bothering to do stuff. The video is hilarious so check it out here:

Friday, 1 October 2010

Witch House

It's official, the Witch House scene has taken off and is taking the music world by storm. The genre of 'Witch House' is one that is very difficult to describe. It is basically dark, haunted sounding, electronic music with a huge influence from not only '80s gothic bands but also the 90's chop and screw hip-hop sampling technique. They sound like they're continuing the work of their hyped predecessors dubstep and 'chillwave'. It really does need to be heard to be understood, a surprisingly unique sounding genre. However, you can't help but feel a huge amount of the hype this genre is getting is down to the way the musicians present themselves. A large amount of them have stayed anonymous or clouded in mystery by having no communication with the media. Also, a lot of the bands also have, quite frankly, bizarre names such as oOoOO, †‡†, and ///▲▲▲\\\. I honestly can't tell if this is just a phase or something that is hear to stay. I suppose we're just going to have to wait and find out. Anyway, here's a track by Salem called King Night for your listening pleasure.


Holy State

Leeds' Holy State released their first self-titled EP a couple of years back on the mighty Holy Roar Records. The release hinted at brilliance, as did their split with fellow noisy Leeds residents Pulled Apart By Horses last year, but Holy State felt like a band that wasn't reaching their full potential. Their fun, loud and highly Hot Snakes inspired Post-Hardcore was great but felt like it missed something. Their new EP, again a self-titled, has that something. By reaching in to the pockets of Noise Rock bands like The Jesus Lizard and Post-Punk (and by adding, um, horns), Holy State have given themselves an impressive palette of sound to colour this release. You can hear the EP's opening stormer Brain Caves below and if you like it you can buy it from Dance to the Radio here.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Das Racist

Das Racist, the much hyped hip-hop duo, released their second mixtape the other week. It's called Sit Down, Man and you can grab it for free from Mad Decent here. The reason that Das Racist are getting so much attention is because, pure and simply, they're a very interesting prospect. On Sit Down, Man they've gathered a huge range of eclectic guest producers and special guests. The result of this is some original and truly innovative beats. All of these pieces of production all sound very different but at the same time fit together and complement each other. Das Racist's work over these beats are as impressive as the production. Their lyrics, quite suprisingly after hearing this song, are intelligent and genuinely funny throughout. Even their rhythm feels unique on this, probably being closest to the laid-back slur of Lil' Wayne. So yeah, basically this is great and you should get it.

Das Racist - Sit Down, Man - All Tan Everything (feat. Jay-Z) (Produced by Sabzi) by Hypetrak

Monday, 20 September 2010

Kanye West - Lord, Lord, Lord (featuring Mos Def, Raekwon, Swizz Beats, Charlie Wilson)

Kanye West seems to be getting more attention for his Twitter these days than his musical ouput which is a crying shame seeing the quality of his GOOD Fridays project. GOOD Fridays basically consists of Kanye giving away a brand new song for free for his fans every Friday (you can get all the songs so far here). Anyway, the newest is called Lord, Lord, Lord and includes such rap royalty as Raekwon and Mos Def. Kanye's beats are second to none as always but he's gone for something really different on this one, it's really funky and mellow. The song could probably do without Swizz Beats’ section but Mos Def’s opening verse is great and more than makes up for it. These tracks are making me really excited for his new album. I mean, if the throw-aways are this good then how great must the actual final product be? Especially seeing as appearances on the album include RZA, Pete Rock, Madlib and, bizarrely, Justin Vernon. Anyway, the new album is out in November and is currently called Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Kanye West - Lord, Lord, Lord (feat. Mos Def, Swizz Beatz, Raekwon & Charlie Wilson) by waveofsounds

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Deerhunter - Helicopter

It's taken a while to grow on me but the new Deerhunter single, Helicopter, has finally clicked and it is absolutely amazing. I should have known better than to doubt them really, shouldn't I? The long-awaited return of one of the best bands of the last decade can't be anything short of spectacular really. I think my initial disappointment stemmed from the ambient feel of the song which makes it sound more like an Atlas Sound (singer Bradford Cox's solo project) song than a Deerhunter song. However, it's still a dreamy, beautiful song with a gorgeous melody sung by THAT voice. Everything you need from a Deerhunter song then. The video itself is pretty interesting considering how simple it is too. You can see the Helicopter video here:

Good, huh? There's also already a remix in circulation by, British producer, Star Slinger. This version brings a whole new glitchy/hip-hop feel to it. Sounds quite a bit like something J Dilla would have done. It is also really quite good.

Deerhunter - Helicopter (STAR SLINGER REMIX) by Star Slinger

So yeah, all this has made me even more excited about the new album. It's called Halcyon Digest and it comes out a week tomorrow. I highly recommend you check it out.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Converge @ Manchester Academy 2 15/07/10

Converge tours in the UK are rare occurrences but when they do happen they are done properly. With support from two bands big enough to be doing their own European headline tours and one of the most hyped new bands currently in metal, it is safe to say that Converge take choosing their support acts very seriously. The Academy 2 was a venue made in heaven for Converge too; large but still intimate with no barriers or security (a decision the Academy probably regretted after someone had to leave, bleeding everywhere, after a song and a half after a mic was thrown at their head.)

First on tonight is Kvelertak whose attempt at mixing Black Metal with Rock 'n' Roll (or Black'n'Roll, do you like what they did there?) falls short of the mark. Tonight they sound more like a Mötley Crüe cover band being fronted by a Viking (complete with beard and bare torso combination) than what they successfully pull off on the album. This is probably down to the sound which was terrible so all the instruments blurred in to one and the vocals were distorted and too low in the mix. This sound ruined set was a real disappointment seeing how great their debut album is. However, throughout the set was devil horns, beer drinking and references to valleys of doom so it was at least fun for all the family.

By Gaza’s set the sound had been improved dramatically and was note for note perfect for the duration of their set. Not only was there an improvement in sound quality but even a boost in the quality of band as well. While their latest, He Is Never Coming Back, is good, the band reaches a whole new level live; slow, heavy and loud. Towering over the crowd, Gaza's intense vocalist's performance was filled with anger and disgust. Sludgey hardcore is a genre done far too often these days but rarely is it as good as this.

Kylesa, the band behind last year's incredible Static Tension were up next and while the tunes were there they just didn't quite cut it live. Due to terrible sound and a quite uninspired performance, Kylesa's songs all just seemed to blur in to one leaving nothing but a slight feeling of disappointment. While Kylesa's two drummer fuelled cross between Mastodon and Coliseum works on record it seemed to be completely lost here although the soundman may, again, be more to blame than Kylesa themselves. However, the set occasionally reached the level they set on record and those moments were phenomenal.

Converge really are a spectacle live. Having spent almost twenty years in a genre where most don't last three, the four-piece have really learnt their way around the stage. However, in those twenty years they don't seem to have lost any of the energy or intensity, Bannon constantly looking like he is going to explode any minute for the duration of their set. It is also heart warming to see such a veteran band throwing the mic out to the crowd to sing entire verses and constantly thanking the audience for attending. Unfortunately, the length of their career seemed to backfire on them when certain parts of the crowd seemed dissatisfied with their set relying heavily on their two latest albums, No Heroes and Axe to Fall. However, the new and old blended perfectly together during this set from opener Concubine to closer The Broken Vow. Very few words were spoken through the set and the band powered through an impressive eighteen songs in less than an hour. The band put on a performance in the truest sense; emotive and entertaining throughout. Here’s to Converge spending another twenty years on the touring circuit.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Pulled Apart By Horses - High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive

Pulled Apart By Horses released their latest single High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive today and it's an absolute beauty. This Leeds quartet have been building up momentum over the last year and a bit through constant touring, some radio 1 play, the release of their debut album, and a ridiculous amount of touring. More recently, they supported Muse at their massive 65,000 capacity Lancashire County Cricket Ground gig on the 4th. Pulled Apart By Horses play, what I can only describe as, Grunge/Noise Rock inspired Post-Hardcore. A band that sound trapped in the nineties but incredibly modern all at once. High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive is your typical Pulled Apart By Horses song, consisting of huge riffs, pummelling drums, Tom Hudson's yelp-like scream, and ending in a massive, chaotic breakdown. If you like loud, noisy music and big fucking riffs then you need this band in your life.

You can buy the single here or whatever if you're in to that sort of thing.