Thursday, 29 November 2012

Nordic Giants @ Green Door Store, London

Image Courtesy of Brighton Music Blog

Nordic Giants are a post-rock duo from Brighton, and I was lucky enough to catch their last show in Brighton of the year at Green Door Store, supported by Curxes and Jake Emlyn. Green Door Store is a small, dark venue, which has seen a variety of bands pass through recently including Man Like Me and Palma Violets. Located just around the corner from Brighton station, on quieter nights it's easy to miss (I spent half an hour looking for the place, although that's probably more due to my terrible navigation skills and my phone's not so decent Maps app). Having little to no background knowledge of Nordic Giants, I expected the venue to be packed, as post-rock is supposedly on the forefront of today's popular emerging music genres, but it was dead when I showed up, and after conversing with one of the bartenders, it didn't seem like a huge crowd would turn up. I bought a drink (£4.10?!), made friends and caught a couple of support acts, the first being a Curxes, a girl/boy synth pop pair somewhat reminiscent of Summer Camp. Not what I was expecting, at all.

Image Courtesy of Sideways Glance
Jake Emlyn also played, an interesting, androgynous character from London, and a rapper/singer/songwriter, in love with Eliza Doolittle. I'm still not sure whether I loved or hated him, and it was during his set that I realised my camera was definitely, definitely not up to the job of taking decent photos in poorly lit conditions of constantly moving subjects. Nevermind, I guess I have some lovely pictures of the ground outside. Finally, Nordic Giants took to the stage wearing feathers and facepaint and not much else, surrounded by instruments and video projectors.
Put simply, were mind blowing and I'm not even a fan of post-rock. They had my full attention from the beginning to end and I can only compare what I felt to something like a religious experience; it was almost cathartic. Their captivating music is accompanied by a series of short films, which embrace all manner of issues, and easily evoke whatever emotions they desire.
Switching seamlessly between a variety of instruments, the duo at one point played a guitar with a stringed bow, perhaps the influence of Sigur Rós? Powerful, evocative, and mesmerising, if you ever get a chance, get down and see these guys.
You know when you can feel that a band is about to have massive breakthrough? Yeah. That. 

Jessie Chapman

Monday, 26 November 2012

Sound Influx Albums of 2012: Numbers 50-21

It's that time of year again, where we at Sound Influx ask our writers the daunting question: "What are your favourite albums of the year?". Well, the writers answered in force, and their suggestions have been meticulously tallied up into a rather fine list of this year best and boldest. Here are the albums we loved this year, that didn't quite make our top 20 (which is coming soon,) and links to the ones we did original reviews of. Enjoy!

50. Delicate Steve - Positive Force
49. The 2 Bears - Be Strong
48. Actress - RIP
47. ScHoolboy Q - Habits And Contradictions
46. David Byrne and St. Vincent - Love This Giant
45. METZ - METZ  

"The only danger they’re in is that with one record built primarily of tracks under the 3:30 mark, there’s simply not enough to satisfy the ravenous demand." Read Braden Fletcher's review. 
44. Jessie Ware - Devotion 
43. Best Coast - The Only Place 
"The return of Best Coast on the music scene is a welcome one indeed." Read Bella Roach's review.

42. Plan B - Ill Manors
41. Yeasayer - Fragrant World
40. William Boney - Good Vibes

39. How To Dress Well - Total Loss 

"‘Total Loss’ is a haunting and intelligent album that will play well with a particular type of intellectual pop fan" Read Max Sefton's review.

38. Deerhoof - Breakup Song

"Breakup Song is a great party record from a band unafraid to reclaim pop for their own ends."

37. Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man

36. Lone - Galaxy Garden

35. Peggy Sue - Play the Songs of Scorpio Rising

34. Dan Deacon - America

33. Lucy Rose - Like I Used To

32. Of Montreal - Paralytic Stalks

31. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp

30. The Men - Open Your Heart

29. Ty Segall Band - Slaughterhouse
"A songwriter playing with the same freedom and love of noise, melody and self-expression that his heroes did all those years before." Read Max Sefton's review

28. The Cribs - In The Belly of the Brazen Bull

"In The Belly of the Brazen Bull is by far the darkest and heaviest Cribs record to date, but also the most important. The Cribs have come to reclaim indie rock." Read Aaron Lewins' review.

27. Sigur Rós - Valtari

26. Tall Ships - Everything Touching
"Time spent with this record is indeed precious, but definitely not forgettable." Read Braden Fletcher's review.

25. Porcelain Raft -  Strange Weekend
"Strange Weekend does however manage to come away feeling like a good pop record, and whilst it may not last a life time, it is at least an enjoyable and interesting listen." Read Will Hall's review.

24. Kindness - World, You Need A Change Of Mind
"World, You Need A Change Of Mind is exactly what you would expect from this Peterborough-based pioneer who seems to be capable of reviving any genre that’s thrown his way and make it relevant." Read Aurora Mitchell's review.

23. Swans - The Seer
"The listen is definitely a very long and full experience, but ultimately rewarding and rich, with vast swathes of colour and atmosphere." Read Eliot Humphreys' review.

22. Killer Mike - RAP Music

21. Hot Chip - In Our Heads 
"Accomplished, dreamy and jubilant throughout." Read Holly Read-Challen's review.

That's your lot for now, stay reading for 20-1 of the list coming soon!

Compiled by Toby McCarron

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Lucy Rose - Interview

Sitting down with singer-songwriter Lucy Rose for a quick interview in a dressing room in Southampton, you realise the only thing that’s missing is the cup of tea. Lucy Rose Parton has been touring the country playing small venues and flogging her homemade jam and tea to the country who most appreciate it. “It’s ginger and plum, I just wanted whatever had ginger in it and then it depends on what fruits in season so it was rhubarb over the summer.”

By the end of the night Lucy’s Builder Grey tea is long gone and only three or four jars of lumpy ginger and plum fruit preserve is sat waiting to be sold. “My friends make it, it’s a charity which half of the money goes to.” London based Rubies in the Rubble is attempting to take out two birds with one stone by using fruit which is perfectly good quality but discarded and paying a number of the rising amount of unemployed in London to create these jams and chutneys.

Whilst selling her range of eccentric products, twenty three year old Lucy also makes her own brand of beautiful indie folk with her backing band of four. “We’ve been on tour since the first of October really. Europe first and then this is a five week UK tour, it’s kind of a long one.” Selling out sixteen dates of her 24 date tour around the British Isles Lucy and co are seeing crowds which they didn’t expect. “Newcastle was especially good, the singing was just so loud, I couldn’t believe it.” Latest single Bikes has racked up over a half a million hits on YouTube and is a highlight of the set. “Bikes is the last one of the set and it has been going down the best.”

Debut album Like I Used To was released at the end of September with Columbia music but Lucy hasn’t read any critical reception. “Hopefully reaction is good for the album I don’t really know how to gauge it. The albums not even been out two months so it’s hard to know how it has gone down. It is only at the beginning of its life so hopefully people will carry on sharing it and liking it.”

Lucy’s festival season may be long over but there are fond memories. “Reading was up there as one of my favourites. That was fun. Green Man was the first show we got an encore at so that was pretty mad, for a festival anyway. Field view was good as it was the first time I ever did a real stage dive. I had a really lucky and really fun festival season.”

Stage diving is becoming a regular occurrence of Lucy’s live set. “I did a ridiculous stage dive two nights ago in Brighton, it was completely insane. I did land on a few 15 year old girls and was worried.”

She only has nice words for the boys of Bombay Bicycle Club. “They’re five of my closest friends; we met in a pub three and a half years ago.” Lucy contributed vocal work to the albums Flaws and most recently A Different Kind Of Fix for the London four piece, but will there be more? “Who knows, if they ever ask me to work with them again in the future I will always say yes. I will just have to see what they do and what they decide to do next.”

So what’s next after the last few gigs on this tour? “Christmas, finally have a break. I’ve got gigs in Hong Kong in Shanghai and Beijing. Then next year but I’m not really sure what I’m doing yet.” Her date in Hong Kong is at Clockenflap Festival which she played last year with Bombay and now she returns to play herself. “I’ve never been to China though so Shanghai and Beijing should be really interesting.”

Adjectives are coming left right and centre to explain how much Lucy has appreciated the lovely crowd she’s received on this stint. Yet she explains the reputation of her live show is sometimes subject to a game of Chinese whispers. “Someone sent me a tweet saying I heard you give away free jam and tea at gigs, I want some.”

James Peckham

Findlay - Your Sister

Rocking an S&M themed video to match its sexually charged lyrics, Your Sister is the debut single from female-fronted rockers Findlay. Vocalist Natalie Findlay spits lines like ‘Second chance, fuck romance’ in a howl reminiscent of The Kills’ Alison Mosshart over a raw garage blues. The opening riff is basically Jean Genie by David Bowie and there’s a cheeky nod to T-Rex’s ‘Hot Love’ later on but the basic vibe is just a squalling solo and a vinyl fixation away from Elephant-era White Stripes. A swaggering first statement that buzzes and crackles with energy, the song sounds like it was designed to be belted out live. With just two tracks available to listen to online it’s hard to tell whether Findlay have the madcap creativity to make something really original but for now this is thrilling stuff.

Max Sefton

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Beak> - Mono

BEAK> are a band formed by Geoff Barrow, that one from Portishead, and are not to be confused (like I did) with the bird-masked Sunderland noise-niks ‘B>E>A>K’. This track shows why, consisting of eerie, plaintive vocals over melodic bass and pulsing synths.

The song is moody and atmospheric, but also distorted which makes it a slightly disorientating listen. It is the disorientating synths which make to song so addictive, however, and the bass manages to weave it all together to prevent it from becoming too much. The wailing ‘oohhs’ of the last 30 seconds or so are really quite hypnotic, and it seems like the song is cut just a little short. Lugubrious yet somehow bright and addictive all at once.

Holly Read-Challen

California X - Pond Rot

Need a sludgy grunge fix to cope with the unbearable sleekness of the modern world? Well, once you've worn out this year's batch of Ty Segall albums, give the new California X track a whirl.

'Pond Rot', taken from the groups forthcoming eponymous debut album out on Jan 15th, is a welcome slice of American grunge, modelled in the image of Dinosaur Jr. The riffs are thumping and fuzzed up although sound much more produced and focused than previous material, while the vocals are suitably whiny and depraved ("I want a pond to rot in") What's not to like?

Toby McCarron

Bands to look out for #15


It seems nigh on impossible for a new band to sound original nowadays, with an endless stream of copy-cat guitar bands coming out of the UK, and dreamy, floaty nonsense from the US. So if you can't always be original, it's best to find another way of grabbing people's attention, which ON AN ON have done by being emotive and exciting, albeit in a way that may sound familiar. 

The first song released by the Chicago three-piece, 'Ghosts' is a striking listen. It hits quite bizarrely though, like your spine-chilling first exposure to Interpol's Turn On The Bright Lights or The National's Alligator except not as instant, and infinitely more uplifting. It's quite plodding at first, but carries a depth to its body when given repeat listens. The vocal delivery sounds pained, tired and tortuously accepting of some kind of paranormal possession "There are spirits coming to find me, they're not stopping until its done". The nonchalant vocal delivery pays off well, where other bands just sound bored ON AN ON come across as weary and heartfelt, which backed with some interesting guitar progressions makes for one of the year's most beguiling listens.

Other recently surfaced track 'The Hunter' too is an interesting listen, employing electronically distorted vocals and carrying a much heavier weight to it. Instead of the emotive trudge of 'Ghosts' however, this time ON AN ON reach for the blueprint named 'M83 style huge epic song' and appropriate accordingly. Both tracks are just hints at what's to come from ON AN ON, but if their forthcoming debut album is anywhere near as exciting as the current cuts, 2013 could be their year.

The band's debut album Give In is released on January 29th via Roll Call Records.

Toby McCarron

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Crystal Castles - iii

Crystal Castles have had a relatively painless career to date. Since the wave of popularity swept in whilst all the kids watched Skins on E4, Ethan Kath and Alice Glass have been riding the top like a schizophrenic Poseidon. Their 2008 debut album sits pretty comfortably with a Metacritic rating of 73 whilst their second effort two years on had an equally comfortable surf into shore; but as the Canadian duo enter their third record, will more of the same suffice?
Well if the first track we heard from the imaginatively titled iii, Plague was anything to go by; possibly. Whilst the howling Alice Glass that we’ve grown to love over the years is present, Kath’s more reserved pulse signals some distance from the more reckless days of Castles. What it builds into is a frenzy of beautifully produced synthesia that proves to be a standout from their entire catalogue to date. The confidence in reservation doesn’t hold up either as you power through the record. Kerosene sees the video-game samples that made the likes of Crimewave so enticing take a backseat role as Glass presents a more delicate version of herself. “I’ll protect you from all the things I’ve seen” she sings, recognisably.

The attention to aggressive soundscapes that found its way through the first two records has been all but replaced by attention to slow crescendos and a refinement of a sound that could fill more grandiose scenes than perhaps they’ve been used to before. If Crystal Castles had written Pale Flesh, Transgender or even Telepath three years ago, they would have been a (more than welcome) assault to the senses. You’d have a hugely increased pulse from the raw energy Glass demanded from you whilst Kath would stand behind, sulkily forcing wave after wave of computerised sound into your nervous system. Now however, they sit, delicately placed in the Crystal Castles roster, comfortable in their maturity. That’s not to say that they’re not enjoyable, nor is it true that there’s not still some of these tracks left. Sad Eyes, whilst the smoke is Glass’ echoed voice, the smoke at the bottom of it is a throbbing beat as full of impending doom as Baptism. Insulin too has a bass sound that will make your ears tremor.

In their third record then; Crystal Castles haven’t taken their ripped clothing and sent it out for another lap, nor have they burnt it in favour of new clothes all together. No, in iii, the Toronto duo have simply taken those clothes, cleaned them up and added a jacket. At their core, they’re still the band that played to Tony and the Skins gang, only now they’ve grown up and that’s fine with me.


Braden Fletcher

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Ninetails - Slept And Did Not Sleep

Ninetails are a Manchester based quartet, playing “experimental prog-rock” with considerably less 14 minute keyboard solos and lyrics about wizards than that genre usually entails, though they do gain a bit of love from this reviewer for featuring a Pokémon reference as their moniker. ‘Slept and Did Not Sleep’ is the minimal follow-up to their Ghost Rides the Whip EP and features five new tracks of drifting post-rock and spacey, echo-laden math-rock.

Opener ‘Maybe We’ shimmers for its first three minutes before an ominous voice ushers in some Pink Floyd style crashes though unfortunately they fail to resolve themselves into anything particular, instead giving way to the more instant ‘Body Clock’ which rocks a more conventional rhythm. The guitar line through the verse could almost come from an eighties pop record and the ‘na-na-na-na-naa’s wouldn’t seem that out of place with Alt J. The chorus, ‘My body clock cocked up enough to break me,’ is an interesting fusion of northern colloquialism and extra-terrestrial grooviness but the lengthy almost silent sections indicate a band keener on downbeat minimalism than catchy choruses.

The funky ‘Rawdon Fever’ comes closer to conventional indie fare with angular jabs of one guitar contrasting nicely with the bouncy indie riffing of the other while closer ‘Mama Aniseed’ sounds like Friendly Fires if they got stuck on a loop, forced to play until they fell down from exhaustion. The gloomy eight minute drone of ‘Boxed’ feels like its making up the numbers but otherwise there’s a surfeit of thought-provoking material here. ‘Slept and Did Not Sleep’ is interesting, moderately experimental stuff though it probably won’t keep you up at night.


Max Sefton

Friday, 9 November 2012

Swiss Lips and Bastille @ The Rag Factory, London

What happens when you sign a Manchester band to a major label, enable them to relocate for a month into East London, specifically a converted factory space and then allow that space to be used for a host of parties fuelled by a mix of free beer and a series of exciting acts on stage? Well, in short; calculated pandemonium. See, East London, for all of its remaining decadence is an area governed by a complex algorithm of image over enjoyment, yet the blend created within The Rag Factory, or the #SwissLipsUnion as its preferably called for November overpowers the math. As Swiss Lips take to the stage to open the night, there are people dressed to impress (who’s outfits do not accommodate for being at the front of a show) who begin to let loose in a way that you can’t help but feel has as much to do with their lack of free-alcohol-maths as it does the music. People are even nabbing hand-made Swiss Lips tie-dye shirts from a clothes line!

Swiss Lips nonetheless are unphased. Set up old fashioned style by  the microphone master and all round Danz-er known to many as “the old man who dances in Manchester for Swiss Lips”, they rifle through a selection of tracks for half an hour of dance-pop. Even those reluctant to move at the start of Danz can’t resist a gentle bop to the hard-pop sound of U Got The Power and new single In The Water sounds notably better in this surrounding than on record.  As they leave the stage, Swiss Lips can be confident that having opened their own party in style they should see their stock rise once they’re out of this venue in the new year.

Of course, much of the hype surrounding tonight’s show, and probably one of the main reasons that there’s a queue outside the door come ten o’clock is tonight’s “headline act.” In a repeat of their sold-out KOKO show just a week before, Bastille follow Swiss Lips on stage (after a Horrors DJ set that hardly inspires but moves the room back to the bar with enjoyment) and as Dan Smith and company come on stage, the room erupts once more. The front hundred of the three hundred assembled begin to dance as Bastille kick off with usual set opener Icarus. It’s catchy as sin but the majority of people here only know a few songs. After their covers mixtape featured a hugely popular cover of City High’s What Would You Do, that appears to get the biggest singalong of the night whilst last week’s storm of the iTunes chart with the (mostly re-released) Flaws EP saw Flaws rightfully get the biggest cheer of the night as Dan is almost engulfed in the front rows of fans.

Arguably, the highlight of the set is recent single Bad Blood. Mixing a dark bassline, singalong bridge and hugely catchy chorus, Bastille take it up a level, explaining to an extent how they’ve earnt the hype that surrounds them. Of course its not all perfect, some tracks (who’s names don’t stand out) need dropping in favour of a more definitive sound as the band are in danger of sounding both wet and repetitive at points. This though, is hardly a worry as in one song they can turn it around again. Overjoyed has a quiet quality that displays the act’s breadth of material and closing the night’s music on a high with their unique cover of Corona’s Rhythm of the Night as Dan jumps into the crowd is certainly an enjoyable touch.
As the last few percussion hits ripple out of the small white room, Swiss Lips take the DJ booth up again as many decide to leave. The party continues for another three weeks but you can’t help but feel that it’s been caught at its best here. Whilst both acts have weaknesses, the atmosphere of the night adequately suffices as filler before the undeniably catchy pop-belters. It’s no surprise that both acts have been snapped up by major labels for their debut records.

Braden Fletcher

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Icona Pop - Iconic EP

Swedish exports Icona Pop have had a pretty enjoyable rise. Having been taken on by New York  Atlantic-offspring label Big Beat Records (Skrillex, Flux Pavilion, Metronomy) in America and having had nods from Mercury to Kitsune here in the UK, their Nights Like This EP came through to an interesting buzz. Now with the likes of hype artist Charli XCX on board, is their six-track offering, the “Iconic EP” actually worth all of the attention?

Opening with the aforementioned Charli XCX featuring track I Love It; you’re instantly thrown into a world that looks and sounds a lot like the kind of music that not only graces the dance tents at festivals, but seeps out across the whole festival. I Love It crosses the upbeat bass of modern Ibiza and the catchy sounds of both Black Kids and the Naked and Famous in a hugely enjoyable opener. If I were to be anal, I’d suggest that the second track; Ready For the Weekend (hello Calvin Harris) should be the opening track as it has the kind of sound that you’d hear regurgitated by a host of djs in *Club Venue, Little Townsville*, but given the diversity of each track on the EP, its hardly fair to suggest this has a huge impact on the enjoyability. Good For You is the first genuinely weak track on the EP in that it’s every euro-pop track that made it to the states in the late-nineties all over again and frankly, it grates the ears.

Fortunately, if you’re after a big pop track, the only other “new” track on the record is the one for you. Top Rated is better than anything Katy Perry has released in years and a rich dance sound without having to listen to David fuck-face Guetta. The remaining two tracks on the record are tracks taken from the previous EP; each of them moderately enjoyable in their own right but with little place in the 2012 release.

Lots of buzz, a hype artist and a heck of a lot of pop cliché’s, but in these six tracks; Icona Pop display that whether they’re nicking track titles from Calvin Harris and Passion Pit or taking a few too many hints from Madeon and other chart breaking contemporaries, they can still make it their own.  Whether it’s all worth it though, I’m not sold.


Braden Fletcher

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Egyptian Hip Hop - Good Don't Sleep

Egyptian Hip Hop are fashionably late. The party started back in 2010, with a flurry of new Mancunian hype acts clogging up the pages of the NME, and gradually venues of ever increasing size in the UK. Everything Everything became the thinking man's indie fixture with their Dali-like take on lyrics, Wu Lyf yapped and howled their way into a cult following and seemingly perpetual showers of critical praise, even Dutch Uncles and The Heartbreaks made a minor splash. Egyptian Hip Hop probably could have had as much, if not more success than the aforementioned, but instead decided to take a break from it all. Just as tracks like Rad Pitt and Moon Crooner were becoming cherished and wheeled out on all the hippest playlists, the group's presence became less and less noticeable.

While a hiatus has been used frequently as gimmick by marketing types to add some faux-mystery to a usually shitty band, the Egyptian Hip Hop break at least had some seeming validity, with the boys finishing up their latter years of study and expanding their music tastes into new weird and wonderful areas. Not that their debut Hudson Mohawke produced EP wasn't eclectic, compared to most of the other output of new UK indie bands it was a masterpiece, but there were moments where you felt perhaps they could go even further with the experimental side of things such as they displayed on the 6 minute track 'Native' and the knack for tunes like 'Wild Human Child', rather than the largely inconsequential bleeps of 'Middle Name Period'. 

Good Don't Sleep indicates a definite maturity for the group, and a decided embrace of the psychedelic and strange. Opener 'Tobago', scatters and oscillates pleasantly, with lead singer Alex Hewett's vocals droning rather than yapping. 'White Falls' meanwhile begins itself like a cut from the new Actress record at first, before exploding into a mesh of guitar and synth that spirals as Hewett moans atop. And that's not the only drone and reverb Egyptian Hip Hop throw into the mix, with tracks like 'Snake Lane West' and 'Strange Vale' sounding more relaxed and hazy than anything the band have released before; the downside of which being the songs getting lost in themselves.

Fortunately, Egyptian Hip Hop haven't completely neglected choruses and accessibility; new single 'Yoro Diallo' is a highly memorable guitar-centred track where Hewett's vocals are actually distinguishable, and the sleek 'SYH' provides what is undoubtedly the record's highlight with it's lean synth lines, catchy choruses and heavy beats. In fact, it's these more instant moments that really stand out on Good Don't Sleep, and by the time the album has fulfilled its runtime, you sort of wish there were more out and out pop songs rather than more sparse experimental tracks, only few of which really hit the mark (see the post-punk reminiscent excellence of One Eyed King).

This is progress for the young Manchester band and no mistake, but it's a progression that carries fleeting charm and memorability outside of the more straight up tracks. However, it still goes without saying that Egyptian Hip Hop are one of the most inventive and exciting bands to come out of the UK for what seems like eternity, and have many more years to fully unfurl all the tricks up their collective sleeve. 


Toby McCarron

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Lost Songs

After recording 2011’s krautrock and Buddhism inspired ‘Tao of the Dead’ in their native Texas the every contrary duo of Jason Reece and Conrad Keely chose to relocate to Hanover, Germany in search of inspiration for album number eight and as always with a Trail of Dead album the question on everyone’s lips is whether they’ve crafted a worthy successor to 2002’s landmark ‘Source Tags & Codes’. Well, Lost Songs certainly has a good stab, replacing Tao of the Dead’s complex rhythms with straight up bludgeoning in the vein of Fugazi or The Icarus Line.
Ominous opener ‘Open Doors’ plunders an industrial opening groove before plunging into heartbeat bass and pounding drums while lead single ‘Catatonic’s lacerating five note riff shows that they are not afraid to push vocals into the background in favour of switchblade sharp grooves. In general Lost Songs never quite changes lanes with the fury of say, The Mars Volta, but most of the tracks still explode out of the blocks in an impressively frenzied state. In fact, it’s a record that’s a consistent and explosive almost to the pointing of being tiring, with even the ominous bass lines that usher in most tracks thundering like a tank rolling through a town square.

Lyrically Lost Songs moves away from the sometimes impenetrable mysticism of ‘Tao of the Dead’ to tackle the duo’s most intensely political subject matter to date. ‘Up to Infinity’ is dedicated to jailed Russian protest punks, Pussy Riot while other tracks attack tyranny at home and abroad. If there’s one rallying cry to this record however it’s a vicious attack on apathy, both in the independent music scene and further afield. Manifesting itself in both the aim-high manifesto ‘Awestruck’ and the Lost Songs buzzbomb title track, Trail of Dead seem to be attempting to single-handedly generate enough electricity to shock the guitar-wielding world from its insular state. The attacks are a little unfocused but that Trail of Dead can still make a record this fresh after eight albums is a triumph in itself.


Max Sefton

Monday, 5 November 2012

Tall Ships & Tellison @ XOYO

This summer, you may recall we went to 2000Trees. One of the best small festivals on the circuit, its brilliance was only dampened by a literal river of mud cascading down the main path through to the arena area. Of course, for many this only heightened the experience and it must be said that the steamy interior of the tent stages wouldn’t have been so atmospheric without insane (mostly bearded) men surfing over other, equally muddy punters.  The warm up night of 2000Trees brought two of the three best sets of the weekend back to back from Tellison and Tall Ships. The duo triumphed with some huge sing-alongs and a heck of a lot of wet dancing fans.
In many ways, tonight is not like this one. We’re not in a field, it’s not raining and sadly its late Autumn. The wellies have been left at home and instead of Cheltenham, we’re in a Shoreditch basement. One thing remains the same though. Tellison, followed by Tall Ships.

First we’re treated to the Norweigan sounds of Dad Rocks! A singer songwriter by trade, you’re won over by the charm of the small supporting cast that includes a double bassist and trumpeter. The vocal harmonies channel a very classic sound, whilst the melody resembles that of one somewhere between Ben Gibbard and Sparky Deathcap (and that’s a high plaudit).

Tellison come on with some bombasity, opening with standout single Edith Wharton and barely stopping for breath as they rattle through indie-rock belter after another. The re-release of their debut album Contact! Contact! coming up sees tracks such as Gallery greeted with new invigoration whilst last year’s follow up; The Wages of Fear tracks like Say Silence and slow single Freud Links the Teeth are greeted with cheers and chorus sing-alongs. Not a bad response for a support act and so far, 2000Trees is matched.

Tall Ships
As Tall Ships take to the stage, its still not raining or muddy indoors but as they set into staple set opener T=0, sonically it’s the same. The Sussex trio’s live soundscape is a formidable one and one that whilst hugely energetic, stays true to the sound of their studio work. Convenient too, as their debut album, Everything Touching is one of our favorites this year. They play mostly from it an as tracks such as Best Ever, a new tune to the Tall Ships artillery blend in with more well known tracks like the re-vamped Ode To Ancestors you understand how the record took so long to make. The diversity in sound goes from a math-rock element in Chemistry (lead single from their debut EP) to a more dance oriented sound on nine minute set closer Murmurations. Its something to admire and whilst those present tonight are hardly dancing to the point of crowd surfing, you can’t help but feel that Tall Ships go from strength to strength as they mature. 

Braden Fletcher