Friday, 29 October 2010

Ones to Watch - The Detachments

There’s something deeply enticing about the darkness. Whether it’s the way that the corners of seedy dance floors seem to curl a proverbial index finger and beckon you to come hither, or the way that brooding back alleys cause you to turn and inspect at a second glance, it’s the shadows that are interesting: these varying shades of black stir up something in us that few other things can.

Lurking somewhere beneath the melancholic gloom are Detachments, the London-based quartet who spew-out heavy synths and noise rock, with a smothering of 80’s electro pop and a dreary miserablism, all of which has made lazy comparisons to the likes of Joy Division and New Order an inevitable pain in the arse for the band. “We get called ‘industrial’ a lot – what the fuck? I don’t even know what that means. And Joy Division blah, blah, blah. I think songs like HAL actually come out of my love of Hip Hop,” lead singer and creative force, Bastien Marshal, explained. “In fact, if I was stuck on a desert island and had to bring an album, I’d choose Pet Shop Boys instead of fucking Nine inch Nails.”

Feeling more misunderstood than a thirteen-year-old on the Jeremy Kyle show, Detachments channelled their disenchantment into an enthralling debut. The marriage of sleaze, frustration and seduction on tracks like ‘The Flowers that Fell’ and ‘Circles’ tempt you in a way that is hard to fight—like a hostage with Stockholm Syndrome—and it’s almost impossible to not find this despondency alluring, one of the band’s traits which Marshal is more than aware of. “I don’t take much notice of many other bands but I can’t sense anyone doing quite what we’re doing. The flavour we have is somewhat different, it’s a bitter, an acquired taste perhaps,” he says. “But once people get it they’re hooked.”

Having taken the decision to alter their sound earlier this year, Detachments spent most of 2010 re-establishing themselves as a live band and getting used to their new musical dynamic. “The album was completed in Spring, with the vast majority recorded on synths. As a result, we had to ditch bass and guitars to make the switchover this Summer,” Marshal
explained. “The change meant that we’ve only just got the re-invented live show up and running again and it meant we weren’t ready to play festivals or anything over the Summer.”

Making up for lost time, Detachments kicked off an extensive Autumn UK tour in September to promote the release of their debut. And with future plans for a second album sounding even more eclectic than its predecessor, Detachments look set to carry on enticing us into the shadows of Marshal’s warped, creative mind.

Words by Laura Routledge

Where: North-West London
What: 80’s synths and electro sleaze
Unique fact: Marshal recently made his acting debut in a film by an Italian Director
Get 3 songs: ‘HAL’, ‘The Flowers that Fell’, ‘Circles’

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The Big Chill 2010 - Mr Scruff Tea Tent

Us English are renowned for loving a good brew, and for thousands of hungover and dehydrated festival-goers it’s the only remedy to feeling slightly human again. This is where Mr Scruff’s Tea Tent comes in. Like us, when Mr Scruff isn’t DJ-ing, producing or drawing cartoons, there is nothing he likes more than to tuck into a good cup of tea. And if he isn’t drinking it, he’s making it.

Since setting up his own tea company, Mr Scruff’s aim is to provide top quality, great tasting, 100% organic and ethically produced tea for festival-goers to enjoy. Using ingredients including a blend of organic rooibos, sweet pear, cinnamon extracts and valerian (a natural relaxant), Mr Scruff has developed a wide range of popular flavoured tea available at all good festivals, as well as many respected retailers.

While Mr Scruff is better known for his DJ-ing and collaboration with record label Ninja Tune, he began selling tea from a small room at the Music Box, a club in Manchester where he was a resident DJ. Mr Scruff then took his teashop on tour and has appeared at festivals ever since with his online tea company, ‘Make Us a Brew’ and his own range of fair trade teabags and tea-related paraphernalia, having been born from this.

Offering a wide range of innovative and tasty teas, one of Mr Scruff’s proudest cuppa flavours is his ‘English Breakfast’ tea. Hailed as the perfect kick-start to the morning with it’s full-bodied texture, the organic tea originates from Assam, the birthplace of Indian tea and the largest tea-growing area in the world.

‘Look Lively’ is another popular flavour, blending lemongrass, yerba mate and mint. Its high-caffeine levels and uplifting flavour make it the ideal for those looking for a bit of a pick-me-up first thing or something to spur on their second all-nighter.

‘Mint & Chilli’ is perfectly demonstrative of Mr Scruff and co’s creativity; combining peppermint and spearmint for a refreshing base, with a pinch of chilli for an extra kick. Also caffeine free, it’s the perfect late night warmer during the unpredictable weather of UK festivals, But don’t just take our word for it. Whether you are in dire need of some caffeine, you’re experiencing Tetley’s-withdrawal symptoms or you just cant quite get your head around chilli-infused tea, drag your wellies down to Mr Scruff’s tea tent to see and taste for yourself.

The Big Chill 2010 - Words in Motion

Monday mornings are categorically depressing. Whether you’ve had a weekend that rivals the likes of The Hangover or just a chilled one spent eating your body weight in pizza, come Sunday night the resentment starts to creep in and you find yourself feeling thoroughly fed up. And never has this feeling been truer than the miserable Monday that proceeds a music festival. Not only does it follow a weekend of so much escapism that it’s easy to forget that in the real world you aren’t more hippy than Bob Geldoff and you actually work in an office, but to make matters worse, the first few hours of Monday are usually spent in a horrifically smelling car, queuing in traffic jams.

The Big Chill feels your pain and the Words in Motion stage is hoping to soften this inevitable blow, by treating Big Chillers to ‘An Evening of Unknown Pleasures’ on the Sunday night. With co-founder of Joy Division and New Order bassist, Peter Hook and the best selling author and notorious drug smuggler Howard Marks, taking to the stage to talk to the audience about the Hook’s brilliant best-selling book, 'The Haçienda - How Not To Run A Club'.

The popular book takes the reader on a journey through Mark’s unfathomable tales of the aforementioned iconic club, New Order, Joy Division, the 80's acid house to the 90's gangs, drugs and corporate greed. Covering careers that have spanned over three decades, the rock icons will chat candidly about the fame, the high points, the tragedy and everything that came in between. From Mark’s forty-three aliases in the mid 1980s, to his money laundering and dope-dealing, to his Oxford postgraduate course and dealings with MI6 and the CIA – it is guaranteed to be one of the most interesting audience/artist interactions ever experienced.

Let’s face it, your mates’ stories can get pretty boring after living together day in and day out since Friday, so get along to the Words In Motion stage on Sunday to hear some truly incredible anecdotes - they’ll undoubtedly blow your friend Dave’s story about the time he met Kate Moss’s brother in Vodka Revs in Reading out of the water. The evening will also be compered by Mr Nice, as the tales of Hook and Mark’s misadventures inevitably shock, bemuse and whole-heartedly entertain festival-goers. The perfect distraction from the forth-coming Blue Monday.

The Big Chill 2010 - Dereliction Drive in & The Cinema Tent

Now back by popular demand, this year’s movie sets will see each day curated by various big names from the world of film. The BFI will host present a selection of Cinematic and Audiovisual delights on Friday, including highlights from the upcoming BFI Southbank season ‘Future Human’ and an eclectic survey of the human condition in cinema, looking at films from early sci-fi ‘Things to Come’ to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and ‘The Terminator’.

Saturday will be hosted by Warp Films, the sister company of electro label Warp Records, and responsible for Dead Man’s Shoes, This is England and Four Lions. Showing films in the cinema from early morning, Warp will start with family films from the likes of Studio Ghibli, The Cat Returns and The Railway Children. As the day progresses, Indie favourites including ‘You, Me and Everyone We Know’, Dave Chappelle’s ‘Block Party’ and gothic thriller ‘Devil’s Backbone’ will also be shown. The cinema tent’s display will finally round off with their own ‘Donkey Punch’.

Warp Film is also responsible for this year’s Demolition Drive-in space. Dubbed ‘The Wonderful Warped Cinema Circus’, the films shown will include Dead Man’s Shoes, the suicide bomber satire ‘Four Lions’ and Paul King’s (Director of Mighty Boosh) ‘Bunny and the Bull’. “’Bunny and the Bull’ is a road movie that never leaves the flat. It’s about a guy called Steven who’s become completely reclusive and trying to shut out memories of a road trip which keep coming back to him,” explained Peter Carlton, head of Warp Films. “It’s incredibly inventive and all shot in a studio with animation, but the objects in his flat keep animating to tell the story.”

Continuing the theme of audience participation, Warp Film wants you to get involved in this. ‘Bunny and the Bull’ has a reoccurring narrative theme of placing bets. Steven and his friend bet on horse racing, they bet on a bull fight and eating crabs, so during these points in the film, the film will stop and competitions will be run within the audience. Festival-goers will be able to bet on human horse racing, a crabstick eating competition and there will even be an enormous bull pit featuring human bulls where punters will be invited to try their hands at being matadors. In conjunction with performance group, Bearded Kitten, festival-goers will feel as if they’ve stepped into the film with cast actors performing around them. “It will be a real festival, circus atmosphere and God knows what will happen,” laughed Peter. “They’ll probably going to be making it up as they go along! They’ll be all sorts of other mad things going on too with blue cocktails will be being served, again in reference to the film. DJs will also be playing sets between the movies and doing horror mash ups and we’ve even got VHS DJs.”

This brilliant mayhem will all kick off from 8am Saturday morning, with festival-goers able to make their bets and chill out on the twenty or so sofas set out. “Festivals are great but there is the bit of a feeling that you now get the same headliners at all festivals, so festivals can start feels the same. Actually what people will remember from a festival isn’t just the headliners, but it’ll be the different ways people create special little experiences away from the music,” explained Peter. “One of the things we really love about The Big Chill is that they create these little spaces where people can have these experiences. Part of it we lay on but we also allow the punters to invent it a bit for themselves. So the idea is that for an evening, we’ve created a little world with this circus feel where people come and watch mad things, but they can join in and I think that can make festivals a bit more special.”

Sunday will also see Popcorn Caberet bring The Wizard of Oz to life – keep following Clash’s Road to the Big Chill for more information.

Klaxons - Surfing the Void

Four years since the release of their acclaimed debut album, Klaxons return with a fresh offering of space-age noise pop. Dragging you at full force into their deranged fantasy world, the cacophony of ‘ExtraAstronomical’ and racket of the title track sit like the soundtrack to a meteor hurtling into a space-ship.

But this is exactly the chaotic energy and underplayed showmanship that made their debut such a success. Combining this pandemonium with a more polished finish on the cosmic pop of ‘Echoes’ and trademark falsetto chants of ‘Venusia’, it’s safe to say ‘Surfing The Void’ was worth the wait.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Glastonbury Day 3: Happy Birthday to ya

The last day of the festival and for some, the day that England played f**king awful and were elimated from the World Cup. For the others, the day they watched Slash play a slightly disappointing set, due to his rather dominating vocalist, Myles Kennedy. Whilst many were left wanting to hear more from the 44-year old guitar legend and less from his unknown and rather annoying side kick, nonetheless Slash showcased his completely unprecedented guitar skills and played a few crowd pleasing Guns and Roses classics including ‘Sweet Child of Mine’.

Kinks frontman Ray Davies followed with a brilliant set, refusing to cut it short and playing ‘See My Friends’ in a moving tribute to late Kinks bassist Pete Quaife. Including the likes of ‘Lola’, ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and fittingly ‘Shangri-La’ into his set list - the crowd were completely entranced and as sad to see Davies leave the stage, as he seemed to be to go.

We Are Scientists followed with a comical, if slightly poor sounding, set on The Other Stage. By no fault of the eccentric indie collective, high winds lessened the tracks impact and whilst the band were energetic, the set found a lot of audiences leaving or taking the opportunity to lay down and have a snooze.

Broken Social Scene graced The John Peel Stage early evening. With ten members of the Canadian outfit on stage and a plethora of, often unrecognisable, instruments, the band wowed with their orchestral, big band sound on tracks like ‘KC Accidental’ and ‘World Sick’, while still managing to deliver the goose-bump provoking delicate vocals of ‘Fire Eye’d Boy’.

With the final headline act of Stevie Wonder every bit as surreal and festival affirming as each crowd member had hoped for, the musical legend rounded off with bringing Michael Eavis on stage to sing Happy Birthday. And what a party it was.

Glastonbury Day 2: 'mon the Biff

With the weather feeling even hotter and a serious dent made in the dry shampoo, Kate Nash played The Other Stage to a huge crowd brimming with high expectations. Blasting out tracks from both her new album and her debut, it was often clear that the majority of the audience were more there for the pre-fringe lemon-consuming Kate, than the screaming flailing version that accompanied her newest tracks. Sounding at times mroe like a really pissed off Stacey Slater, the qualitiy of tracks from 'My Best Friend Is You' was a little lost and to seemingly attempt appear more alternative and less cockney popster, it all ended up a little unceccesary.

Special guests and possibly Glastonbury's (delberately) worst kept secret, Biffy Clyro took to the Park Stage later in the day and played tracks from their incredible back catalogue, as well as the more mainstream pleasers. The end result being a effortless display of talent that is now as characteristic of the band's live shows as their success is deserved.

Electro charmers Foals took to the John Peel Stage as the sun set to showcase tracks including 'Miami', 'Balloons' and the one that we were all waiting for, 'Spanish Sahara'. The Oxford-hailing five-piece seemed to hypnotise the audience, with them dictating the movements of each audience member as both inside and outside of the tent the crowd danced on each beat and sang back every one of Yanis's crafted lyrics.

Muse later headline the Pyramid stage in a set that drew on their achive of tracks and demonstrated exactly why they had deserved their prestigious slot on Glastonbury's 40th line up. Rounding off their set with U2's 'Where the Streets Have No Name', The Edge joined the band in a sincere tribute to a band that a lot of fans were disappointed to have not seen.

By Laura Routledge

Glastonbury Day 1: All Dizzle, No Drizzle

Having already spent two days camping in temperatures hotter than Brazil, you could have been forgiven for forgetting you were at a festival at all, let alone at Glastonbury - usually better known for flooding and mud wrestling than bikini clad festival goers and their typically British t-shirt tan lines. So kicking off the first day of music with a surreal early morning set from none other than Rolf Harris, seemed like the perfect reminder that sunshine or showers, Glastonbury holds the crown for the most eclectic line up of all festivals. After re-starting tracks because of crowd clapping that was out of sync, the 80 year old (yes, really) treated the audience to renditions of 'Two Little Boys', a cover of Led Zepplin's 'Stairway to Heaven' and of course, 'Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport' before inciting a chant about himself. Completely surreal but spot on. Miike Snow later appeared on the John Peel Stage, showing how perfectly his own brand of electro pop translates into a live show and leaving few disappointed as his vocal prowess prevailed in the rammed tent.

Snoop Dogg took to the Pyramid stage early evening to greet hordes of fans, curious bystanders and some rather sceptical glares. Donned in a tight white wife-beater vest and some serious, ahem, bling, whether it was the setting sun or the aroma of marijuana filling the air, Snoop Dogg seemed to not only exceed the expectations of his fans but put a smile on even the most serious of music fans, who had doubted his credentials and ability as a main stage act. Yelling out more explitives in between tracks than a character on Shameless, the American rapper included 'Gin and Juice', 'Signs' and crowd pleaser 'Jump Around' in his set list. After bringing out Tinie Tempah for a remix of 'Frisky', Snoop had some wise words to leave with the crowd, 'Every morning when you wake up, you must clean your teeth, thank God you are a live....and smoke some m**** f****** weed ya'll' Cue crowd hysteria.

Mumford and Sons later played to a packed out John Peel Stage, with the band looking and sounding noticeably humbled by the difference that a year has made to their loyal fan base. The crowd exuded more folk-driven giddiness and hoe-down happiness than Dr Stomp (a YouTube must) as the band leaped barefoot through tracks from their debut and showcasing four new tracks.

The headliners of the night were of course Gorillaz, replacing U2 due to Bono's back surgery. Promising something of an audio visual spectacle and with such big boots to fill, Gorillaz failed to make a lasting impression as despite bringing out Snoop Dogg and other guests from the album, the crowd talked amongst themselves and petered off. Many of whom found themselves at The XX's late night headlining of the secluded Park Stage, the perfect backing for their spine-tingling live renditions of their debut album, and indeed the perfect end to the first night of the festival.

By Laura Routledge

Friday, 30 April 2010

Review // The Temper Trap @ 02 Academy, Bournemouth

For a band best known for their spine-tingling debut single, it was a little unexpected to see the four walls of this grand, South Coastal venue so full.

Having released their first album ‘Conditions’ back in August, aside from a few festival appearances The Temper Trap – like so many talented bands - had seemingly failed to fight the current that would have kept them plastered on music magazine covers and on many a music fan’s iTunes playlist. In fact, off the back of the what quickly became the soundtrack to last Summer and the comparatively moderate success of their rockier follow up singles, you could be forgiven for thinking The Temper Trap were something of a one-trick pony. You would, however, be wrong.

Stepping out on Tuesday night to showcase just how flawed these assumptions were, front man Dougie Mandagi thawed out a rather stationary audience with the relentlessly anthemic ‘Rest’ before the band launched into their trademark driving guitars on ‘Fadar’. Pausing to briefly speak to the audience and introduce the band, Dougie displayed an inherent shyness that was as endearing as it seemed genuine. And just like that, the crowd were spellbound.

With the night’s set list the perfect juxtaposition of mesmerizing, falsetto vocals and the urgency of guitar-driven indie rock, the audience responded in sync to each polarized style. From the gentle swaying throughout ‘Soldier On’ to the seemingly unavoidable body thrashing on ‘Drum Song’, hoards of tightly-packed music lovers seemed to collectively fall for the Aussie five-piece.

After an extended instrumental introduction, ‘Sweet Disposition’ became recognisable and the band finally launched into the track that everyone was waiting for. It was also the first time in the evening that the audience were prompted, and perhaps able, to sing along. The band picked the track’s place in the set list wisely with it undoubtedly the highlight for the majority of the audience.

Gracing Bournemouth’s stage one more time for a two-song encore, a welcomed newfound confidence was noticeable as Dougie yelled, “How the fuck are you Bournemouth?” before an impromptu crowd dive during the final track.

Apart from new single ‘Rabbit Hole’, with only one album to draw from, the set was disappointingly short at just 45 minutes long. Nonetheless, as Dougie sang out the final chorus of ‘Science of Fear’ supported by the hands of some of The Temper Trap’s newest converts, the band proved they are anything but a one hit wonder.

Set List:
Down River
Love Lost
Soldier On
Sweet Disposition
Drum Song

Rabbit Hole
Science of Fear

Monday, 26 April 2010

Interview // You Me at Six

Three years ago when You Me at Six burst onto the Emo meets Pop Rock scene off the back of their debut album Take Off Your Colours, you would be forgiven for thinking this was just another side fringe-led, Topman promoting boy band. You would, however, be wrong. The Surrey hailing five-piece have since completed three sell-out headline tours, released their second album Hold Me Down and been nominated at the Kerrang! Awards “Best British Band” in both 2008 and 2009. So Noize caught up with guitarist Max Helyer ahead of their busy Summer schedule to talk Arsenal, Marvin Gaye and volcanic ash.
Hi Max, how are you? Where in the world are you now?

Max: Im good. Recently I’ve just been taking the weekend’s lovely sun to play some football in the park and watch my team Arsenal get beaten by Wigan 3-2, that wasn’t impressive! But it’s been an up and down week, it’s certainly been interesting!

So your new single Liquid Confidence came out yesterday – what’s the feedback been like from your fans from the so-called difficult second album?

Max: The reaction so far has been really good. We’ve been tweeting about it and trying to get people involved and the album’s got two live tracks from our live tour with Paramore last year at Wembley, so I think they’ve been psyched to get a couple of live tracks on it too. It’s been good I think people are just vibing on the song as well, especially as the weather’s getting better as well –it’ kind of an upbeat Summer song so people are really into it.

What aided your transition from the sound of the first album to the second? Did you find the pressure was on for the second album?

Max: We did feel that there was going to be a lot of pressure as when we finished our headline tour for Take Off Your Colours in 2008, we left our old label and management and we wanted to take it a step up. We also wanted to write music that we were really happy with. Obviously it’s a natural thing and kind of clichéd to say but the maturing thing happened for us too. We were on tour for a very long time, we all grew up as a band and we all started to get new music tastes which we wanted to incorporate into the new songs. I think the pressure helped us as well as I think our band work really well under pressure, it keeps us on our toes and trying to get our stuff the best we can produce.

And last month you had your biggest tour to date – what was that like for you?

Max: It was quite weird! But it was a great feeling as well. Playing shows like Manchester Apollo and Brixton Academy were some of our dreams that we wanted to do since we were little kids playing music, so having that opportunity to do that was amazing. We’re so privileged to have all these great, amazing fans so we wanted to produce something that they could really remember as well. So we took a lot of lights and a stage ramp and stuff like confetti on some shows, all just trying to take it up to the next stage for You Me at Six and do something different.

How has the live show changed for you since you started off as a band? Do you think your dynamics performing have progressed

Max: Yeah definitely. Obviously we’ve been touring for such a long time now so we’ve kind of learnt how to do stuff on the road and learnt new moves on stage –like the right points on stage where you should go mad and the points where you should kind of take it back and be like ‘right this is an epic song, so try and make it look as epic on stage as you can’. We try to incorporate almost a theatre style into the performance

Any amusing stories from touring or is it a case of ‘what happens on tour, stays on tour’ for You Me at Six?

Max: I can tell you a classic You Me at Six story from when we were on tour. This was one of our first tours in 2007 and Dan, our drummer, had just joined the band. We were on a Summer tour in the UK and one night we had to stay in a car park with the other band, who were in a caravan on wheels. So everybody had a few beers and we were playing football and then all of a sudden our mate Jack dives for a header and puts his head through the caravan window! We heard all the noise and were like, ‘What’s going on?!’ and found him outside with this massive gash open on his head! So at 5am we had to get someone from the other band to drive to the hospital and get him stitched up. It was quite a rough night but something we laugh at now!

The beauty of hindsight! So what are your Summer plans?

Max: Well, we’ve got a couple of shows in Spain in May - so hopefully we can get there if all this volcano ash disappears! We’ve kind of got a bit of time off in May too so will get writing a little bit for the new album.

Then we go away in June and do a few festivals and couple of headline shows in Paris and a couple of shows with Bring me the Horizon, which will be awesome. Then we go away for the Warped Tour so we’re all excited to do that as obviously we only did three weeks of it last year, so we didn’t really get the full experience. When we get back we have Reading and Leeds and a couple of festivals in Europe.

It’s going to be a good Summer and we’re all really excited to just get on the road again, working our arses off and playing our new songs to people who haven’t heard them

Being Surrey boys- what’s it like being on the Main Stage at Reading this year?

Max: This is the third year in a row. We did the first one in 2008 and we were on the Festival Republic stage and that was mid-afternoon, about 4/5pm we played. Then in 2009 we played the Radio 1/NME tent which was sweet. The boost from a 1,000 people tent to a 12,000 camp tent was pretty amazing.

Now we’re doing Main Stage, so it’s been a constant progression and we’re so privileged to play with the bands that are playing on the main stage as well, like Blink 182, Paramore, Weezer, Limp Bizkit, Cypruss Hill. All the bands on that day, we’re all fans of. I’m playing before my favourite band Thrice on that day, so I’m kind of stoked to be playing before my favourite band on the main stage.

It’s cool to go from being the person who used to go to Reading as a camper and have a good time with his friends to the person who is now playing and when you’re playing and you see your friends out in the crowd – it’s a special feeling.

You mentioned working on a new album in your limited spare time, what direction will you move in for a third album do you think? Is there anything that is influencing a new sound?

Max: I cant really tell you. At the moment I’m spending a lot of time just writing with my guitar and I have a few ideas which are kind of like Hold Me Down but kind of a step up and I’m trying to add new influences of what I’ve been listening to. I listen to a lot of old school like Van Morrison, Marvin Gaye and sort of Hip Hop/Soul so I’m trying to influence that and just sort of really clean rock as well. I’m a massive fan of Incubus so the really clean riffs and stuff I’m going for, but we’ve still got a long way before that new album comes out.

Anything you want to add?

Max: We have got another tour announcement coming out soon and that is going to be in December so keep your eyes peeled and tickets should be out soon.

By Laura Routledge

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Album Review: The Automatic - Tear The Sun Down

A long way since the release of their debut novelty-pop rock debut, The Automatic is back and there’s not a monster in sight.

Well, at least not lyrically, as third album, Tear The Signs Down, certainly processes lycanthropic qualities. From the throbbing metal and relentless drums of Something Else to the roaring rock of Race to The Hearts of the Sun which echoes the structure of a milder My Bloody Valentine/ early Biffy Clyro progeny, there are all the signs of demonic outpourings.

Both these heavier tracks deftly build the long-player into something of a frenzied crescendo, but the thrashing pace - whilst more emo meets pop rock - presents itself from the get go. Opening track Insides kick starts the eleven track release bustling with distorted guitar riffs as Robin Hawkin’s trademark vocals cry /I’m not ready to fall/. That is before Interstate and Cannot Be Saved jump back to the chanting chart rock and memorable choruses we’re used to from the band.

With the exception of Run and Hide, which offers the same heavy guitar-led sound, the middle segment of the record shows interesting new sides to the Welsh quartet. List and Sweat Heat Noise – although tedious lyrically at times (/Give me sweat heat noise and I’ll give you the best of me/) – exude more Topman- Indie than the sweat-soaked-fringe rock of the rest of the album. On the contrary, High Time shows a more synth-rich Foals-esque style, which is disappointingly one-time showing.

Ultimately, Tear the Signs Down, is a varied third record demonstrating an inevitable progression. Whilst The Automatic’s debut was bursting with effervescent Indie gems and Wombats-esque joviality, their follow up This is a Fix showed the transition to the rockier, darker sound of the third player taking shape. But this second album evidenced a fear to take the whole leap into this rock cess pit, with the possibility of alienating themselves from their critical acclaim seeming too big.

Having since quit their major label, The Automatic’s newest album comes straight from their own label - something which has given them the balls to finally let their anarchic cannon loose. Whilst at times the lyrics let them down and the screamo-attempts and borderline self-indulgent guitar riffs brink on monotony, Tear the Signs Down is an altogether refreshingly organic record, with the band kicking Raul to the curb and proving it’s time to start taking them seriously.

Single Review: We Have Band - Divisive

We Have Band’s latest single offering comes in the shape of ‘Divisive; just under three and a half minutes of infectious pop-funk.

Toe-tapping contagion to one side and as the relentless repetition of the pulsing beat underpins the repetitive vocals of Thomas W-P; it’s the chaotic edge to this long-player teaser that truly possesses its Mancunian charm.

But in spite of the single’s likeable disco style, Divisive fails to truly encapsulate what makes WHB so deserving of the attention they’ve spent the last two years grabbing. Yet to be signed, this freedom means their musical style is effortlessly true to the band and not pigeon-holed to one marketable genre. And it is this very eclecticism that has made it nigh on impossible to not sit up and notice We Have Band as they dance from electro beats (Love, What Have You Been Doing?) to solemn indie (Piano) at the slide of a fader.

With so few bands able to draw comparisons to Hot Chip whilst echoing the plaintive depths of Editors - particularly so early on in their career - it is not hard to see why Divisive is a little disappointing. The third single’s simplicity does little to truly showcase WHB’s capability and resonates of anti-climax for those who have seen what else this promising new band offer.

Single Review : Foreign Office - Leaving The House/ Voices

Foreign Office’s double A-side release is the perfect mouthpiece to illustrate their irresistibly arrogant breed of electro. The disco beats of Leaving the House are complemented perfectly by the schizophrenic electro soul of Voices and the four-piece’s influences of Talking Heads, Hot Chip and Roxy Music.

Amidst the snake-hipped hysteria of the beat-filled two tracks, it’s easy to forget that whilst your eardrums enjoy the up-tempo rhythms, Foreign Office fail to actually offer up anything new. So far this year we’ve already heard new releases from Two Door Cinema Club and Hot Chip, to name but two of the main players in the already heavily proliferated musical style. But whilst the latter demonstrate an insatiable ability to rework this genre, pulling back the instinctive desire to dance that clouds your judgement - Foreign Office needed to step up their game to come close to this calibre and fail to.

Thus, whilst both tracks of seductive disco brim with aural satisfaction, the double A-side falls significantly short of provoking the urge to seek out other Foreign Office material - all factors that make the longevity of Foreign Office questionable at best.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Interview - Scroobius Pip

As the phone rings out, I’m suddenly struck by uncertainty. Should I call him by his real name, David, or his bearded stage alter ego, Scroobius Pip? I make a snap judgement and opt for the former. It seems to go down well.

Catching one half of the genre obliterating duo that is Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip on a rare day off ahead of their UK Tour, Scroobius Pip is as down to earth and inviting as his lyricism would imply. In fact, chatting to one of the most observant and credible spoken word artists of this generation, he is everything you would expect; humble, articulate and humorous. But as he trips over certain words and takes short pauses before pronouncing others, the one surprise about Scroobius Pip is his noticeable difficulty in expressing certain words; a consequence of the little known speech impediment he used spoken word to overcome.

Whilst honing his poetic license, he teamed up with electronic veteran and musician, Dan Le Sac, in 2006. Two years later, they released Angles; a musical cacophony of beats, melodies and subject matters covering God, homosexuality, self harm and love. These often bleak topics and dark comedic undertones alongside their now trademark electronic, hip hop, spoken word musical style culminated in something of a cult following.

Touring extensively ever since, the duo started penning new material whilst on the road last year:

“I sort of envisaged we’d have all this time off to make the second album but we were pretty much still touring and gigging constantly. I think the longest we had without a gig was about a whole month and even when you’re doing that, there are tons of other bits and bobs going on so it was very much written on the road. It wasn’t until October last year that we were in the studio recording it and we had like a month and a half to get it recorded and in the bag.”

After the success of tracks like Thou Shalt Always Kill and such high expectations placed upon Dan Le Sav vs. Scroobius Pip, after two years away from the studio was the notorious strain of second album anticipation a cause for writers block? Not according to Scroobius Pip:

“I didn’t really think about it that much in that sense. I think that’s where I benefited from being on the road so much during it. There wasn’t that pressure of being in the studio and having to do it. We’d been writing it since we finished the last album, so bits and bobs had been coming together and on tour we’d drop songs in here and there, so it didn’t seem like too much pressure.

“I think we lucked out in that the first album got a lot of good exposure and good reviews but we’re still very much on an independent label [Sunday Best] and not a chart act as such. So there isn’t so much expectation that can be measured. It’s not like we need a top ten album, that’s not what we’ve ever done. Our goal is to write an album that we’re really happy with. If we make an album we’re pleased with, in theory the fans should like it ‘cause that’s exactly how we wrote the first one. We didn’t know that anyone was going to hear it really.”

It would seem nigh on impossible for a band or artist not to develop after so long away on the road and away from the studio. Rather, it is something of a necessity and the likes of Radiohead, Modest Mouse and Foo Fighters have this new album reinvention down to a fine art. But with Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip’s distinctive lyrical focus and dynamic genre bashing style, Scroobius Pip recognises that to start their sound from scratch in a bid to increase their fan base would not only have been uncharacteristic but also risked damaging their organic leftfield sound;

“I think it still sounds very much like us. I think it sounds developed and we’ve clearly learnt more and hopefully improved our skills. But it’s not like it’s Jack Penate completely redefining his sound. It sounds like us still. I mean we never really fit into just one genre so it’s still got that, but it feels developed. It’s up in the air as to whether it will win over many new fans if you know what I mean. But using Jack as an example, so many people got into his new stuff that didn’t enjoy his old stuff at all, but I don’t think we’ve had that change and I don’t think we want to

“It was weird with Jack Penate. I’m a big fan of him and gigged with him from early on and that first album I still love, its great pop music. But I think that because he’s a young lad, some of the backlash and criticism did hit through to him. So I was concerned when I was talking to him and he was writing his new album, he was saying, ‘oh I’m writing it this way.’ I was worried he was trying too hard but he nailed it and it was completely right. He did a fantastic job. I think also partly down to a lot of the subject matters we discuss in our songs, a lot of the fans will have that deeper connection than all that.”

So with the new album out later this month and the eclectic duo soon to start a sell out UK tour, things look set to get pretty manic for them this year. But Scroobius Pip can’t wait to get back on the road and showcase their new material:

“For us, this tour is hugely exciting. With the first album, we were touring even before the album came out and that came out now two years ago. So we’ve been playing those same songs to people for about three years and it’s just gonna be great to offer up new stuff. The fan base has grown and grown and we were starting to feel like we were cheating people in some way. It was like another gig, another huge crowd but you’ve probably seen us four times and we probably played all the same songs –it was starting to feel unfair.

“Our key has always been to try and entertain people and give them their money’s worth. Obviously we’ve got a lot of songs which are quite dark and serious and we will play them ,but we don’t want people to come to the gig and just nod their heads and say ‘yep, yep that was a good point’. We do want people to have a good night out as that’s what they’ve paid to do. We have plenty of up tempo tracks in there, some theatrics- I’ve got some costume changes in one of the songs, and you know, stuff like that just to make it enjoyable and entertaining."

Amidst this already packed out year, Scroobius Pip has found the time to put his creative juices to another use; a book of poetry:

“It’s just another reason for me to just be stupidly excited at the moment. I’d been asked a few times if I would release a book of poetry and I never really read a lot of poetry; I like to watch it be performed live, I like to hear the writer perform it. So I decided that for me to release a book of poetry would be kind of arrogant, like ‘I don’t read poetry but you should read mine.’ But the thought of that made me question why I didn’t read poetry as a youngster, so I came up with the idea of putting together a graphic novel of poems.

“I used MySpace and it’s all from fans and the public. I got artists from all over the world to submit pictures of each poem and turn it into a comic strip almost. The work that came in was amazing and I half expected the standard to be quite average [laughs]. I then took it to Titan Books who put out The Watchman comic books and all sorts of amazing stuff. They saw the standard and loved it and that’s coming out on Titan now; which is a huge testament to the quality put out there”

Interview - Editors

Since forming in 2002, Editors’ gothic smothering of indie rock has seduced a worldwide fan base. Now with the release of their third album, In This Light and On This Evening, the four-piece have once again drawn a breath, taken their sound to a new level and nailed it. Embarking on their twenty date UK tour this weekend, Noize caught up with drummer, Ed Lay, to discuss fame in the US, their live shows and new material;

Hi Ed, so where in the world are you now?
I’m just enjoying a couple of days at home, which is always nice. It’s good preparation before the tour I suppose.

What kind of thing do you get up to when you find you have a bit of free time at home?
Laundry and a bit of cleaning of my broken house. All the really exciting stuff.

All very exciting. What was last year like for you? Was a lot of it spent in the studio working on the new album?
The first part of it was getting the new record together obviously and that’s good for a band to be off the road and writing new songs. When you form a band that’s what you want to do; create albums. So that was a good start and since it’s been released, our feet haven’t really hit the floor. We’re a touring band. I think the best way to get our songs out there is to play live, so we played an awful lot of songs in a short space of time, and it doesn’t look like stopping until the end of the year like.

What was the album-making process for the third album? Was it harder or do you have a sort of system that works?
There’s no system involved. If you start to think about a formula for writing songs you’re going to be in trouble and write really boring songs. We just wanted to write something a little bit different for us. We thought about how to put the songs together a little more but in fact, recording the album was probably the easiest one we’ve done so far. When we first went in for our debut record, we were all slightly nervous and that was bound to happen going into a professional studio for the first time. For the second record, we wanted to get it done as quickly as possible and we were writing songs in the studio. But for the third record we’d rehearsed, we’d kind of been on tour for so long, we were so ready to get back into the studio and just get on with it.

Is there an album you love you play live because of certain drumming sequences or tracks?
[Laughs] Sort of! Purely selfishly, the first two records are actually quite difficult ‘cause there are a lot of fast songs [laughs] But on the third album, it’s a bit more relaxing; there’s some real slow grooves in there.

So you’ve got your March tour starting soon, how are you feeling? As a ‘live band’, you must be pretty excited to get back out there?
We’ve literally just been in America for sort of three or four weeks so we’ve been playing this year and over Christmas we were in Australia, so we’re very settled in the sort of touring routine already. But to come back and play a really long stint in the UK, that’s cool for us. A lot of bands will only do a sort of week and a half, but we’re going to a lot more places on this tour. Some of the places and venues we haven’t been to and that’s interesting.

For a band who’s been touring as long as you have, that must be really good for you to be playing new venues and perhaps even towns you’d never played?
You’re right, we have been going quite a long time so we enjoy having more of a back catalogue to pick our set from so we’re going to see that for the first time. So we’re very excited about that, it’s taken a lot of people a lot of hard work to put it together.

With such a distinctive sound, how have you been received overseas?
Well we’ve always done pretty well over in US and have toured there quite a lot in the past. We tried to build up that following like we did in the UK throughout the years, so to go back there after 2 years away with a new record; we were really well received and really enjoyed our time there. You know, the American record industry is more fucked up than the English one is so it’s difficult to gage how well you’re doing in record sales and stuff. But seeing sold out venues there and stuff, it’s very positive.

Having played so many live shows over the past eight or so years, does playing live still have the same impact for you or has what it means to you changed?
I think it does. You feel more conscious about the audience I guess. It’s not just a personal feeling; you worry about what other people in the crowd are thinking. You just want it to be as perfect as possible every night. It’s only really on the very rare occasions that I get really nervous. As you say, we tour and play an awful lot of shows per year and some of them can be pretty big, you know festivals or our big headline shows. It takes something quite out of the ordinary to get me really nervous but that still is a buzz. To play all those gigs and suddenly get that feeling is a burst of nervous energy and that’s what we do it for I guess.

Are you going to try and squeeze anything else in this year?
There’s not a lot you can squeeze in but we all want to record a record as soon as possible. There’s not point sitting around and congratulating yourself about what you’ve done previously. You’ve got to go in there and record new material. So hopefully before the year is out, we’ll have either demoed some stuff or even got the opportunity to fully record some stuff. We’d quite like to get our own rehearsal space set up but that’s hard because we all live hundreds of miles away from each other.

The new record would be your fourth album, any idea where you would take your sound next? Any inspirations etc?
We’ve kind of spoken about it briefly but I don’t think there’s any point in planning; just see what we fall into; see what mood we’re in at the time of writing. We’d quite like to go a bit heavier. Not like cheesy rock heavy but something that’s got real muscle behind it. We all like live shows and going to see music that really hits you in face.

Bad news for your arms though...?
[Laughs] Yeah, it probably will be!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Album Review: Music Go Music - Expressions

With each track free-falling beyond help back into the 1970s like a less endearing grandparent, Music Go Music's debut album is retro pop at its worst.

From the camp dance beats of Love, Violent Love to Eurovision entry sounding ballad Explorers of the Heart, it is at times hard to tell whether this Abba nostalgia is ironic or a genuine attempt at 'proper' music. Rather awkwardly, it seems to be the latter.

Opening track I Walk Alone kicks off things misleadingly promisingly with electro beats suitably shaping the warbling vocals, but the melodramatics of Reach Out and piano led Light of Love prolong this time-warped hysteria on throughout the rest of the disappointing debut.

Admittedly, Music Go Music earn praise for branching away from the mass-produced beats filling venues around the country and so crafting their own colourful niche in an often monochrome industry. But the lack of relevance and actual enjoyability makes this inflicted theatrical drivel seem entirely unnecessary.

Album Review: Shy Child - Liquid Love

Shy Child's fans will not be disappointed with their latest ensemble of electro delights. Fusing Empire Of The Sun-esque new age, spacey beats on 'Disconnected' and the psych-rich 'Take Us Apart', two tracks in and even the most resistant of hearts struggle to avoid seduction.

Stand out release 'Criss Cross' is a darker bass heavy offering before clichéd 'The Beatles' functions as a disappointing filler as the duos long-player begins to trail off. The bland beats of 'Depth of Feel' and the mellow harmonising of 'Dark Density' struggle to chase the captivating start and leave ears desperate for more of the murky bass sampled previously.

Fans of Shy Child's debut may find themselves craving the hard hitting throb of the likes of 'Drop the Phone' with the final few tracks sinking to a much lower ebb, but the hard hitting standouts seem to pack enough of a punch to overshadow this change in tempo and overall deliver an impressive record.

Album Review : Eight Legs - The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Previously the soundtrack to an anti-binge drinking campaign and several fashion functions, it seems with the release of their second album Eight Legs' versatility and ecclectic style has not gone unnoticed.

Lead singer Sam Jolly's laid back vocals spew all the glottal stops and lazy pronunciation you’d expect to accompany knuckle grazing indie rock. So when it's teamed with the sort of ‘whoops’ of sunshine pop present on album opener 'I Understand' and 80s inspired defiance of 'The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test', it's undoubtedly throwback and entirely unexpected. Yet, on guitar driven 'Best of Me' and scratching rock nostalgia of 'Wish It Was the 60s', the combination of testosterone pumped vocals and harsh guitars is more enthralling than its somewhat novelty predecessors and what the teenage band do best.

Releasing 'The Electric Kool Aid Cuckoo Nest' on their own label Boot Legs, the four-piece utilise the likes of The Beatles on tracks like 'Just So You Know'. This, combined with lad rock tendencies and a sprinklings of upbeat pop through, culminates in an album bursting with more creative licence than a Hollyoaks omnibus.

EP Review - Screaming Maldini - And The Kookabura

If the purpose of a debut is to showcase every musical skill and inch of potential your band has, then Screaming Maldini has nailed it. The five-track EP unapologetically grabs you by the balls with all the force it can muster, meaning like it or not, you have to listen up. But it kind of works.

This eccentric cacophony is entirely over the top but like the youthful exuberance that radiates from these three students, it’s contagious. The chaos and vivacious instrumentation on tracks like 'Secret Sounds' and 'I Know That You Know That I Would Wipe the Snowflake from Your Eye' are so intruding they are almost obnoxious. Yet the infectious enthusiasm seems to shake your very bones, juddering out any cynicism towards this sunshine mentalism.

But as you’d expect, the band do get it wrong. 'Albatross' shoves the band from eccentric electro pop to Disney-esque drivel which sounds like Sophie Ellis Bextor sat on a trumpet recorded for our very own displeasure. The intensity of each track also means that as most songs plough on through to four minutes in length, the blood starts to drain from your head. Screaming Maldini does manage to bring things back on track and the EP to a close with typically theatrical 'Miniature'; blasting out more instrumentation than a big band on acid.

Whilst by the end of twenty minutes with Screaming Maldini, you may feel the urge to plunge your head into a bucket of cold water; their overtly dramatic style is not their downfall. In fact these are the very same qualities that have thrust bands like Yeasayer to the forefront already this year. But what separates Screaming Maldini from the afore mentioned is that the busyness of their tracks make the eccentricity seem more forced than organic. Perhaps with a bit of a production tidy up and a deep breath so as to stop working their tracks so hard, the band’s brashness and the musical abilities the EP showcases could work better.

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Middle East - The Recordings of The Middle East

Meet Australia’s best kept secret; The Middle East.

The five-piece first released ‘The Recordings of The Middle East’ themselves back in 2008 and sold it via their website. No doubt mesmerised by the band’s irresistible magic, Spunk Records have now decided to reissue the five track delight next month; a decision likely to make ‘original’ fans produce a considerable pile of pretentious vomit at the thought of (gulp) the band becoming successful. But in reality, The Middle East are brimming with too much subtlety to hit the mainstream or duet with Timbaland and their music only reaching the ears of music snobs or industry players would be something of a criminal loss to music.

The EP itself is smothered by juxtaposing beauty and heartbreak, which are stripped back to their most addictive bare bones. From the delicate melodies and multi-layered vocals of ‘Fools Gold’ to the enthralling bleakness of ‘Lonely’, The Middle East lead you into their very own haunted fairytale as male vocals fuse with the tinkling of gentle chords.

Opening track Darkest Side perfectly embodies the balance of melancholism and spine tingling enchantment that the five-piece have down to a fine art, something further complimented by first single Blood, which sounds like the chilling progeny of Iron and Wine and Bon Iver.

Whilst on paper, the gentle tide that drapes across the band’s debut EP could risk more ennui than an ITV2 Katie Price marathon, the Anthony Hagarty (of Anthony and The Johnsons)–esque wavering of truly unique sounding vocals conjure the feeling that to peel your intoxicated lugholes away from the 5-tracks would be to miss out on something significant. An idea that is validated by the surprisingly up-tempo guitar led Beleriand, a track reminiscent of Manchester Orchestra in structure, and that leaves us chomping at the bit to hear what delightful cacophony the full length album will provide.

The Middle East is undoubtedly one of the most interesting bands to have slipped under the radar so far this year. With their gentle but inescapable hold on the listener something that seems even more effortless than their dark charm, their success is as inevitable as it is deserving.