Thursday, 27 February 2014

Cheatahs - Cheatahs

NB: We're aware this has been out a month, but some things need shouting about okay?

In an age that we’re told what to listen to by Capital Radio pushing their YouTube ads of Will.I.Am and The Wanted at us all, it can be refreshing, even for an audience with an increasingly pop taste to hear something that’s both nostalgic and forward thinking in terms of modern rock and roll.

Of course, rock and roll these days is sold to us on the front cover of the NME as Alex Turner’s quiffed head stares deeply into our souls, as he queries those who gave his band the Brits limelight and those who, en masse bought tickets to a huge Finsbury Park show alike “R U Mine?” Most of us look back with moderate tentativeness, before admitting that yes, we probably are. For bands like Artcic Monkeys, Foals and Kasabian, it’s been a lucky ride at times. Kasabian themselves admitted that their signing and huge promotional drive felt like being the last band to jump on the lifeboats to success whilst Sheffield and Oxford’s finest used the new-fangled media that was MySpace and relentless efforts of playing solid shows to make it off the sinking ship that we call the music industry. Once in a while, bands like The Vaccines, Mumford & Sons and The1975 are allowed to swim to the safety of Brixton Academy and beyond, but by that point, they’re just pop bands for those living in the aftermath of Generation X.

Now, it’s not like a reviewer is going to tell you that, amongst the colossal pile of what’s often referred to as landfill, Cheatahs are the one band you can count on; but when you take a live show as energetic as the London band’s (see aforementioned The Vaccines mixed with the relaxed anarchy of MBV) and mix it with the kind of sounds that we hear from slightly grimier success stories (see Blood Red Shoes and Drenge) of recent times; it can be accepted of you to vanish into a pile of fuzz pedals and declare your Topshop-purchased Nirvana t-shirt to be part of your gateway down the slippery slope to the last track of  this, Cheatahs debut and eponymous record.

Perfect? Far from it. The production possibly leaves out more edge than you’d desire from a record of such distortion to do whilst lyrically, there’s not so much as a whisper of poetry from the majority. Of course, it’s difficult to demand from shoegaze-influenced modern-rock, but if Sonic Youth could occasionally touch the heartstrings, you’d like an inkling of it from this record. It, after all, is a debut; something pained over through teenage years of angst and bad decisions.

This then, is the start. Lord only knows what it’s the start of, but for Cheatahs, let’s hope it’s the start of something that lasts. When you can centre a record around two singles (The Swan and Cut the Grass) that don’t even sound similar, the sky can be the limit. Here’s hoping there’s another raft on its way that will pick up these feline rule-breakers.


Braden Fletcher

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Sudanim - The Link EP

Her Records co-founder and South London electronic music maker Sudanim has released his new EP The Link this week. Wish Grime could take a few more steps forward into the modern age? Sudanim's got it all covered with this, his debut EP which hits you for 5 tracks of pretty intense and exciting music. Of course, across his genre, production is imperative and HR's co-boss delivers on that as well with Guy Fridge making the production sound incredibly tight whilst Sudanim creates music at the very cutting edge of club music.
We'll surely be seeing a lot more of the Her Records crew over the next years as the hotly tipped group play across the country and DJ regular shows in and around London.
For now though, have a listen for yourself. Best to switch the lights off first though, just to get a bit of atmosphere maybe?
Braden Fletcher

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Sound InPhotos: Our Final Hour // Unicorn Camden

Hardcore outfit played a special show at Camden's Unicorn just before heading out to Europe on a tour on Sunday. Braden had his camera with him to take photos.

Sound InPhotos: We Are Scientists // Camden Barfly

Winding up for their upcoming TV En Francais record, We Are Scientists made a fleeting visit to the UK and played a show at the Camden Barfly. Mixing in their singles collection with a hefty chunk of their new tracks made for a great set; definitely worth keeping an eye out for the new record when it comes out in March.
Braden was on hand to take photos; here's a few of them...

Sound InPhotos: Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip // KOKO

Two sold out nights at Camden's iconic KOKO meant real business for Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip so with guest appearances from support act Itch and the one and only Billy Bragg, these nights were really spectacular.
Braden was on hand with his camera to take pictures of the night.


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Phoenix // Brixton Academy

Post-2000 indie bands, and I count most of my musical existence from that point onward, have bequeathed us a certain disdain for anything too obvious, songwriters intellectualize everything and then release a cryptic love song. Phoenix, on the other hand, are in the business of delivering sensations that, more often that not, get you heart racing like it does in the first days of flirting with a work colleague. You want to wear something nice for a change, girls get their hair done and before you know it, you're daydreaming about running in the rain in Paris while the love of your life chases you into a steamy wine bar. And it doesn't seem at all odd that you would even find yourself wishing for such a pathetic thing.

They didn't play Fences - that alone ought to be the only sentence in this review, as a sort of punishment, and if it weren't for everything else they played - masterfully - it would be. Fences is a great tune. But let's say it's a forgivable lapse when the rest of the performance is punctuated by covers of Playground Love with Nicolas Godin himself on stage and A Cappella versions of Sick for the Big Sun.

I think I forgive them.

Phoenix aren't exactly your everyday grandiose stadium band but at the Brixton Academy on Wednesday they delivered and incredible show: entertaining, clever and leaving very little to chance, Thomas Mars and team sang about love as if they were going through the day's to-do list - "I'll marry you on Tuesday", he goes, like it's nothing. Disarming, that's the word.

Entertainment kicks off the night, it's the first single from their new album Bankrupt!, a synth-heavy concoction, fit for a Californian hotel lounge at times; others for an 80's hen party. The new work blends very trendy techniques such as loud keyboard, half-tempo double clapping and Casablancas-like distortion with tunes hovering R&B and House. After listening to this album, it won't come as a surprise to you that Daft Punk are old friends of the band and Casablancas himself was a guest singer and producer in the latter highly praised Random Access Memories. It's all in the annoyingly talented family.

Crafted to a filigree of detail in studio, Phoenix's music loses some of its layers on stage and that's one of the great joys of watching densely produced bands, the cathartic release they get from playing their songs in a less analytic environment washes over everyone.

The room is warming up and we're all prime to jump around. Lasso and Liztomania, two heavy-weight crowd pleasers from their nearly perfect 2009's "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" follow suit. One couldn't help but admiring the courage - what would they grab the audience with from this point on?


Oh well well well well well well until you know me well", starts "Girlfriend", another chunk of gooey and ironic love from "Amadeus" as the album is tenderly referred to. Mars's echoey vocals are like home-made jam, you just know you're safe now. 
"Run Run Run" is next, what a tune straight from their 2004 "Alphabetical". The opening guitar is very similar to the cadence of a mellow-er Radiohead and it falls like sugar cubes each time Mars goes "fallin', fallin', fallin'"

By the way people are dancing, it's like we've all just been teleported to the sleek lounge of a Monaco casino in the 80s. With what looks like synthetic whistles, Trying to be Cool comes on - "I'm just trying to be cool. And it's all because of you" is a good a pick-up line for a room full of loved-up sarcastic fans as you'll ever gonna get.

The first M83 borrowed tunes of Chloroform kick in and again we're all letting our arms swing there along our torso while we close our eyes and actually nothing else is of much importance.
"Thank you very much Brixton."
Yeah, right.
They come back to gothic organs. The whole floor trembles and then Mars slips into his negligé and sings Sick for the Big Sun with no safety net, barely any guitar and even the room is silence like we're at the Opera or a classic concert venue. A room full of rock fans listening to a lead singer and not attempting to sing as well? Blimey.

Rome finishes it and I leave the room with the sensation of having been showed around the world through the blurred windows of an old friend's car. A friend I was always secretively more than friends with.

Ana França