Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Weeknd LIVE at The Electric Ballroom

Here's a posing question.... Is it good or bad to hear your fans singing over you? Well after the live performance from The Weeknd last night at the Electric Ballroom, Camden this question raised its awkward head a few times. It's a beautiful thing to hear a crowd sing back the lyrics towards the stage or fill in the blanks. Not only was the crowd evidently loyal, enthusiastic and a real mix of personalities and sexes but boy, were they were loud. This DID leave me to question the capabilities of the Ballroom's sound system. In all fairness however, when I've been to gigs there before the sound system was never an issue. This leaves me to assume that the majority of the tracks, simply due to their laid back beats and starkness to enable Abel Tesfaye's vocals to take centre stage gave the night the perfect level and production for the crowd to feature in the live performance as much as The Weeknd himself.

The pace was for the most part slow, as could be predicted but was hyped up with the inclusion of some faster paced tracks or larger productions 'Glass Table Girls', 'The Party & After the Party', 'Lonely Star', 'Heaven or Las Vegas' and of course Drake collaboration and hit 'Crew Love'.  The drop or mix of one track into another was smooth resulting in the show seamlessly and ever so smoothly serenading the crowd with those sexy, sexy vocals. The use of a self indulgent, prog rock like guitar solo here and there gave an emotive but alternative break down at an R&B gig but suited the heavy production and dirty bass well.

With such similar vocals to Michael Jackson it must have been hard to break into the scene... However, The Weekend's instrumentation, use of heartfelt pain and appeal to his crowd means the only way for this 23 year old can go is up. As he said "I want to see all your faces before we start playing arenas". This guy has big plans and I have no doubt The Weeknd will get all the support he needs from his ever loving and LOUD fan base.

Monday, 4 February 2013

All Bands These Days Sound The Same....

There's so much music out there. So many genres. So many bands and DJs. It's getting to a point now where they're all starting to sound SLIGHTLY similar. For example, I text my mate to invite him to a James Blake gig and get a reply with "Is he the guy that sings 'Goodbye my lover?'". So if you don't know your Jessie J from your Jessie Ware then to a certain extent, fair do-s but lets see what other trip hazards there are out there...

James Blake vs James Blunt

Speech Debelle vs Wild Belle

NineTails Vs Nine Black Alps

Jessie J Vs Jessie Ware

Tribes vs The Other Tribe

Kills vs Killers

Kooks vs Kinks


Fake Club Vs Flake Blood

Blackeye Vs Black Eyed Peas

Angel Vs Angel Haze

Tinchy Stryder Vs Tinie Tempah

The Strypes Vs The White Stripes

Temples Vs Temple Songs

Foxes Vs Fleet Foxes Vs Foxygen

Zedd vs Zeds Dead 

...and I'm sure there's more. Comment to add your own.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Daughter LIVE at the Hackney Empire 24/0/12

I'd never been to the Hackney Empire before and I didn't have the highest of hopes and so was pleasantly surprised... Correction, I was BLOWN AWAY by the gorgeousness of it and the high sound quality. I'm not one to choose seated over standing either and seeing as there wasn't the option to stand I was grumbling about it. Turns out, seated was what I needed. It allowed me to not worry about knocking drinks out of people's hands or people pushing in front of me. It was about absorbing as much atmosphere and sound as I possibly could because I wanted to take Daughter's music away with me forever after last night.

The band comes from a mix of countries inc. Switzerland, France and "Greater London" the crowd discovered after some polite heckling halfway through the set. Despite having a nervous stage presence, Daughter managed to deliver pleasantly shy stage banter that set the crowd giggling and respond by showing love of the three piece's tracks.

The gig was the trio's largest headliner to date and was the perfect opportunity to showcase a couple of new tracks that blew us all away. With more of a rock feel when performed live as-opposed to on record, the build and emotive push of the tracks were all the better live. For instance, the use of a violin's bows for tracks including the gorgeous 'Love' meant the emotions felt on stage could only be reciprocated back to them from everyone in the crowd.

Technically, the band was spot on, Elena's vocals faultless, a small snag on the guitar here and lack of control in tempo there... but as such a minimal group, the control, direction, builds and anticipation of drops were faultless.

The newer tracks, 'Love', 'Landfill', 'Home' and 'Run' were all stand out tracks for me that kept my eyebrows knitted together in concern and a heartfelt pain.

Ending on 'Home' meant I continued to hum the track the entire way home.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Dutch Uncles' 'Out of Touch In The Wild'

These Uncles have been around for a while...BUT with the release of their latest single 'Flexxin' and video to accompany which launched this week to co-inside with I'm sure, the album 'Out of Touch In The Wild' released on the 14th January.

This is the bands third full length album and it's shaping their musical career....With fairly gentle instrumentation and sympathetic vocals that remind me of Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor, the lads have created an authentic, edgy, indie album. If you're a fan of Vampire Weekend, Hot Chip, Field Music, Imogen Heap or Bombay Bicycle Club then you'll most likely want to have a wee listen of this here album.

 'Flexxin' is an upbeat and joyous track featuring jovial strings, whilst ' Brio' boasts a grandeur build in layers and larger soundscapes. Perhaps the catchiest out of the ten tracks is 'Fester' which'll get your head bobing and encourage the listener to join in with the addictive vocal motif 'takes me to the bone'. Ending on 'Brio' has the advantage of an ongoing chugging of the strings that provide a continuous tension towards the end and build of the final climatic chorus which serves as a wonderful desert to the album.

A more down-tempoed track, 'Phaedra' has the exquisite joy of unpredictable turns and directions. The ongoing motifs and general accompaniment parts are sewn together via keys, xylophones and stripped percussion. Whilst the movement of the chords and the vocals leap around - in a way that keeps the listener on their toes but also unable to singalong too. So sit, shut up and listen.

Fave tracks: 'Flexxin', 'Brio', 'Phaedra' and 'Fester'.

Check out the video here for 'Flexxin'.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Everything Everything's 'Arc'

So I may have been slightly reluctant to listen to the new album. But then I heard 'Cough Cough', loved it, listened to their previous stuff and was again, sadly disappointed. I was assured by a reliable muso source however that the new album is something to give a listen to and so I did.

With such a distinctive falsetto that undoubtedly gives the band their alternative flavour likened to contemporaries unusual vocals/frontman based bands Bombay Bicycle Club, Alt J and Klaxons, the boys based in Manchester are up against some tough competition.
Obvisouly, the opening track 'Cough Cough' is an indie anthem favoured by all Xfm and Radio one listeners as well as fans of Foals, Friendly Fires and all of the above.
Next single to be released 'Kemosabe' has also received much airplay and with its quirky electronic beats, repetitive hooks similar to that of Delphic I'm sure it's set to please.

I wasn't quite expecting such troughs and peaks to the album though, with tracks such as the gentle 'The House is Dust' which is a slow paced track unfortunately fails to develop. The distinctive vocals and patiently sparse instrumentation goes together well and a striped down track is also unexpected in this album. However, it simply fails to deliver anything exciting until the warming winding down and Radiohead influenced outro takes over.
Similarly, 'Torso of The Week' also lacks anything distinctive apart from well produced guitar licks.

Otherwise tracks 'Duet', 'Choice Mountain' and 'Undrowned' all contain dominating riffs and smoother vocal lines that have stronger musical directions.

Fave tracks; 'Cough Cough', 'Don't Try', 

Monday, 14 January 2013

C2C's 'Tetra' album

Electronic French turntable group, C2C bring out their  first full length album 'Tetra'. An amalgamation of DJs and producers who have been active since the early noughties offer their latest album which has much to offer to those disco hunting and genre mashing enthusiasts out there. They endeavour to create and write music themselves with the use of turntables to create new approaches to the tracks. If you like Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx, Gorillaz or even Disclosure  then you'll like these boys. If you're having a down day, need a pick up, then there's not one down turned paced track on this album, o no. It's nothing but pure good fun from start to finish.

Opening with 'The Cell', the first track is gentle on the ears as far as electronica goes. Next up,
'Down the Road' is a southern state R&B influenced track. With such distinctive vocals including a strong blues line and all the magic of a harmonica - the track is a brilliant mash up of two completely clashing genres that C2C manage to blend together perfectly. With large drops, sparse instrumentation in places and massive layers in others, the track is very Daft Punk influenced, the catchy vocals and exquisite production has sewn the track together as a stand out feature on the album.

Modern day influences are evident throughout the album including garage influenced beats but 'Happy'  is reminiscent of Basement Jaxx 'Do Your Thing' whilst 'Who You Are' contains more R&B influences as well as Olivier Daysoul who has a similar sound to Sam Smith's (From Disclosure's 'Latch' track) combined with Andre 3000s rap textures. Bang on trend in other words. 'Le Banquet' has sounds and DJ-ing that screams 90s influences from the likes of Run DMC but also manages to cram in a sitar and robotic-esque vocals and in places, a dubstep like bass.

Other tracks such as 'Kings Season' (feat.Rita J & Mongai) has a distinctive bass, production and effects very similar to The Gorillaz' 'Plastic Beach' album.
 'Because of You' and 'The Beat' sounds like cousins of 'Kings Season' in that they're a similarly rap based track, slightly more melodic but less electronic based. 

'Genius' is an unexpected small gem on the album with it's 70s influenced vocals, cheesy melodies, it's neo pop/funk sounds add an air of fun and irony to a good song. Very few people could handle these kind of influences but C2C just about get away with it. Contrast that with one of the tail end tracks,  'F.U.Y.A' on the album you'd be shocked to hear that it's the same group of lads with it's strong based melodies and heavy development.

Enjoyed from beginning to end, I haven't heard music as refreshing as this for a while. Definitely a new pre-drink album for a good night out. Speaking of which, the boys are set to play KOKO on the 14th March with more dates to follow. I absolutely have to check them out live.

Fave tracks: Happy, Down The Road, Le Banquet, Genius and Delta.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HegFilQ26I - Le Banquet

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Women to watch out for in 2013

So, lets face it...this year has been pretty good for giving a leg up to women on the music scene.  It would appear that since Beyonce headlined as the first ever female headliner at Glasto in 2011, 2012 has been set a president where females have been encouraged to showcase their stuff and hold the stage.

For the most part, I am readily applauding and pretty happy about this encouraging development. For one, Florence has had a tremendous year, as well as Liane La Havas, Aluna George (well the Aluna side), Grimes, Lucy Rose, 2:54, Jesse Ware, Bat for Lashes, Romy from the XX, B-Traits, Annie Mac, Azealia Banks, Angel Haze and even Taylor Swift. Christ, even the Spice Girls came back for a song or two.

Others have, granted, either been rammed down our throats (Emile Sande/Rita Ora/Rihanna), overly exposed (Lana Del Rey), so media trained her face offends me (Cheryl) or have just released blatantly awful music (Tulisa and Nikki Minaj). I'm not by any means saying that the FORMER - NOT LATTER is the end of the world or demoting of the music at all...but c'mon ladies, surely pulling stunts such as having a sex tape released, flying to 7 different countries in 7 different days or even dumping Rob Kardashian because you've slept with 20 other men should be no way be the route to have your music heard.
Stop ladies, publicising yourself in a ridiculous manner and maybe, just maybe some women with some shame, morals and love for genuine music and not lyrics as awful for example "buns out/wiener/but I gotta keep my eye out for Selener" will get into the top 100.

ANYWAY. Onto 2013 and lets just hope that the recognition of more women in the mainstream will assist in bringing those lesser well light ladies up onto the meteoric dream they've always wished for. Here is my predictions and ones to watch for in 2013;

YEAH YEAH YEAHS - Ok, so technically its just Karen O who is the only female of the band- but she's the lead and amazing. YYYs are due to release album number 4 in 2013 so lets hope it brings them back to the festival circuit where they belong and driving indie kids everywhere wild.

HAIM - the three sisters from LA made a pretty prominent impression in 2012 releasing two singles and two EPS AND supporting the heroine that is Florence on her tour. We can expect the album to drop next year and for it to be a smasher.

THE STAVES - slightly undervalued and perhaps their issue of being too under the radar and reserved. But their music is amazing. Just not perhaps 'big' enough to make a big impact and so I fear will end up being a slow 'grower', but non the less-worthy of some attention

SHARON VON ETTRON - hyped by the Fly and all indie blogs and mags across the USA and UK. Topped for big things in 2013 and will easily fill tents in the summer

STEALING SHEEP - three Scousers with sparkling personalities and psychedelic tunes. Not cut out for the mainstream I fear, but certainly for the indie disco kids.

FOXES - Kayla - the lead has amazing vocals, can hold a stage on her own but perhaps sits in the shadow of other artists today. But if they can cough up a good enough album next year then I'll definitely take some time to pay attention to it after seeing her support other bands.