Posts Tagged ‘indiepop’

LIVERPOOL SOUND CITY – Day Two

June 4, 2013

Day two commences with math-pop heroics courtesy of Vasco da Gama. Difficult to dislike a band with such fluid mastery of musicianship, especially when they’re so goddam modest about it. There’s frequent nods to The Dismemberment Plan and Dischord Records, but for all their clever arrangements, there’s a lingering suspicion that they’re a pop band at heart. Winning choruses mesh perfectly with the frenetic fretwork of guitarist Chris Lynn, leaving early evening revellers dazed but excited.

It’s a shame that the equally energetic Hands don’t attract a bigger crowd – their forthcoming Synaesthesia album ranks amongst the most immediately catchy collections to bolt from the Kill Rock Stars stable. They bounce adorably and ecstatically around the stage, with the soaring pop melodies of songs like ‘Trouble’ suggesting there’s even better to come from a band who’ve really got this ‘hooks’ thing nailed. Keep an eye out; they could well be soundtracking your summer.

Suitably cheered, we head to The Kazimier for something a little grittier, and Bad Meds are happy to oblige. Something of a local supergroup, the band includes Vasco da Gama drummer Dave Kelly and Hot Club de Paris’ Paul Rafferty amongst their number, and as such the curious cognoscenti are out in force. Theirs is a fun and frantic take on the skate-kid hardcore of early Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, replete with knowing banter (“Has anyone been signed yet? That’s the ultimate aim of Sound City, isn’t it?”) and a gloriously sludgy cover of ‘It’s Grim Up North’. Instant favourites.

Meanwhile, up the road, the much-hyped TOY decorate the Anglican Cathedral with their mountainous noise and Cousin it haircuts – given the time they’ve probably seen their music described via the shoegaze cliché ‘sonic cathedrals’, you gotta wonder if they ever imagined they’d actually play in one. As it turns out, the venue suits their sound rather well, as woozy riffs pile into each other atop a motorik rhythm section. Some of the more subtle chord changes of ‘Colour’s Running Out’ feel a little lost in the melee, but it’s a small price to pay to have your hearing blown out so magnificently.

The dashing Dan Croll is somewhat easier on the ear, and his take on classic pop songsmithery feels positively heart-warming. An evident knack for a hummable tune is enough to make every song feel instantly familiar, almost masking the dextrous subtleties of the band behind him. More of this winsome loveliness please.

The day’s final trek to the Cathedral feels, ludicrously, like the furthest Gigwise has ever had to walk, but The Walkmen are more than worth it. As dapper as ever, the band’s newfound maturity sees the majority of the set pitching for a rather more windswept approach than the energised stress of old favourites like ‘The Rat’, and it suits ‘em pretty neatly. Difficult to believe that they’re more than a decade into their career when their manifest enthusiasm still feels so fresh.

It’s been a pretty stellar day thus far, and Gigwise begins to worry that something is bound to suck at some point. And so we come to the tipsters’ faves Savages – on hand to prove that if you’re gonna be bummed out, it should owe a debt to their own high levels of menace and intensity – they’ve drawn plenty of comparisons to Souxsie & The Banshees, but the taut funk of their basslines owes just as much to the hypertension of The Bush Tetras, while Gemma Thompson’s strafes of white-hot atonality flash across the stage like electric storms. Every song drips with vitality and purrs venomously: once bitten, you’re lost to ‘em forever. Band of the weekend? Don’t bet against it.

Melody’s Echo Chamber present a much more relaxed affair, as their dizzy psychedelic alt pop proves to be much less acrid. Their delicacy serves as a neat counterpoint to their tendency towards off-kilter shonkiness, making them lovably delirious in the best sense possible.

Over at Leaf, The Still Corners seem to be struggling with technical difficulties that delay their set by a full half hour. When their reverb-drenched indiepop finally gets going, there’s a palpable sense of relief, albeit underpinned by a sense of irritation that it’s taken this long to get going. As a result, Gigwise ends up at the back of the queue for Thee Oh Sees, whose sweat-drenched set creates such demand that the rickety old Kazimier struggles to cope. There are angry scenes as waiting punters realise they won’t get to see the show, but what we eventually manage to catch amounts to a furious blast of psyched-out garage rock. Bodies spill over the monitors as the heaving moshpit flings itself back and forth with reckless abandon; sweat-sodden riffs riding hip-swaying basslines that pummel the guts and spill out the messy yards of intestine within. You can’t help but love a good rock show.

Speaking of which, that’s precisely how Future Of The Left opt to close out the day’s events, spraying a rowdy 2am crowd with gallons of molten riffage and barbed witticisms. The somewhat inebriated audience dances, screams and collapses into dazed heaps on the ground, surrendering to the forceful rage of the band… but that’s nothing compared to what happens when FOTL unleash two classics by frontman Falco’s previous outfit Mclusky. ‘To Hell With Good Intentions’ sees the first outbreak of pure euphoria, while the bon mots of ‘Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues’ amount to a twisted singalong with everyone’s shit well and truly lost. They close with a cover of Andy Kaufman’s infamous ‘I Trusted You’ – a helluva song and bona fide contender for greatest piece of performance comedy ever devised. Which is as decent a summation of this Cardiff quartet’s modus operandi as you could possibly desire. Bed time approaches – not with a whimper, but a full-on roar.

(Originally published by Gigwise, 06/05/2013)

Teenage angst has paid off well

April 24, 2012

Good lord. Has it been that long?

I am immensely lazy.

Well, more to the point, I’m not. I’ve been very busy. But I’ve neglected you, dear old WHTB, and that’s got to change. Last year I decided I was going to use this page to review every single record I’ve been sent, which was a shit idea – blogs should be personal, so I’m gonna get back to the stuff I love.

So no more sifting through the review pile and gritting my teeth at the latest in a seemingly never-fucking-ending stack of godawful electronic shizzle and singer-songwriter dullness – or not on my own time, at least. Instead, here’s a couple of 7″s that have rarely strayed too far from my turntable over the past few months. Diggit:

 

MAZES/EAGULLS split

(Italian Beach Babes)

Two UK indie rock bands covering songs by fuzz legends The Wipers – pretty risky, no? Luckily, this is a doozy. Mazes do that whole Pavement thing with a minimum of fuss, all lacksadaisical jangles and privileged apathy. You can bet they write their own press releases and fill ‘em with words like ‘laconic’ and ‘arch’, but at least they get the simple things right. Eagulls, meanwhile, are utterly fucking awesome. Slop-gaze noise-punks with their eyes on nothing more than the beer they spilled all over their pedal racks, their own Possessed trumps the cover, bedecked in woozy guitars and nonchalant sneers. This record makes me wanna stand on street corners and throw fruit cocktails at yuppies. Seriously great.

 

BAM!BAM!  – Let It Go

(self-released)

Realistically, I’m not sure if I’d have found this band, had HHBTM‘s Mike Turner not pointed me in their direction. I’m so fucking glad he did, however – the above track Hi Fi Widows blew me away like nothing since Tunabunny’s (Song For My) Solar Sister last year. They remind me of Bratmobile, K Records and the years I idled away in shitty pubs’n’clubs, drinking shitty beer and hoping desperately that one of the bands on the bill would do more than merely not suck. If only BAM!BAM! had been around then, back when I really needed them. Now I’m teetering dangerously on the precipice of 30, almost too aware of my own mortality to commit to the moment and dance myself to delirium. Actually, scratch what I said earlier – I need them now. It takes something pretty fucking special to make me want to surrender it all and just feel aliveThis record does exactly that, and then some. Man, I really hope they come over to the UK.

I only wanna stare you down

September 9, 2011

It’s been ages, so let’s have another round of ‘songs i fucking love at the moment’, eh?

1. Tunabunny – (Song For My) Solar Sister

(From their forthcoming album Minima Moralia on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records)

2. Cheap Girls – Pure Hate

(From their split 7″ with Lemuria on No Idea Records)

3. Sometimes Always – Be True

(From their free download EP on EardrumsPop)

4. OFF! – Upside Down

(From their First Four EPs compilation on Vice Records)

5. Sourpatch – Cynthia Ann

(From their forthcoming second album on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records)

 

 

Bits and pieces don’t equal the whole

March 8, 2011

Yeesh, it’s been a while. Since then, labels have been kind (dumb? no, kind…) enough to send me stuff to review on these here pages. Which will happen in due course. Once I’ve given it all a fair few spins.

In the meantime, here’s one of those cop-out ‘what’s been blowing my mind lately’ posts. DIGGIT.

1. Sourpatch – Deli Dream

(from the totally superlative Mira Mija EP on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records)

2. Cheap Girls – Ft. Lauderdale

(from My Roaring 20’s on Paper + Plastick… still not bored of this, somehow)

3. Hickey – California Redemption

(fuuuuck yeh! from s/t album reissue on 1234. i’m a latecomer to Hickey. they fucking rule)

4. Eux Autres – The City All To Himself

(stars of the first show to be promoted as a WHTB shebang recently. except on here, of course. from Cold City on HHBTM)

5. Bad Banana – Celery

(acoustic version of a great track from super-lo-fi pop-punks’ demo album. i heart the shit out of this band)

Love and trust and friends and hammers

July 20, 2010

Although a thick, Septemberish grey is currently hanging over us in Liverpool, it’s still summertime. Admittedly, without the dazzling sunshine of previous weeks, there ain’t nuthin’ goin’ on but the rent, motherfucker, so we’re gonna have to make this summer pretty special. WHTB is currently getting excited about the forthcoming weekend’s trip to Butterley in Nottinghamshire for the Indietracks festival – a weekend of booze, fun and indiepop in the midst of the East Midlands’ foremost railway museum. It’s been a full two years since the tent last saw daylight, and ‘excited’ doesn’t quite do justice to the anticipatory feelgood factor at WHTB HQ.

With The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart amongst the headliners, you can betcha sweet ass there’s some party heads being warmed up. There’s also a plethora of other bands (notably SHRAG) and friends that I’m pretty stoked to be seeing. It’s gonna be AWESOME. I won’t say ‘expect a full report’, because I’ve made and subsequently broken promises like that before. But hopefully there’ll be some words scribbled down to communicate my gibbering glee.

AWESOME!

recent listening:


Projekt A-Ko – Yoyodyne

Buffalo Tom – Birdbrain

Red House Painters – Retrospective

Leatherface/Hot Water Music – BYO Split Series Volume 1

Beach House – Devotion

William’s Wish Wellingtons (birthday compilation made by MD)

Guided By Voices – Alien Lanes

Guided By Voices – Box

Kristin Hersh – Hips And Makers

peace out

w x

Oh, what can it mean…?!?

June 15, 2010

One of the great things about pop music is that it speaks for itself far better than the clumsy galoots who attempt to fling steaming great piles of meaningless wordy drivel at you. Pop music actually sticks as well.

Since it’s universally agreed that the Japanese have mastered all aspects of this pop malarkey far better than anyone else, it makes perfect sense that Shonen Knife should be responsible for today’s redoubtable Best Thing In The World Ever.

Siiiiiiigggghhh.

Absence

March 13, 2010

Over a month since the last post… i’m slipping already.

Anyway, fans of cute pop records with boy-girl vocals should be ecstatic to learn that thoroughly ace Liverpool trio Meow Meow have finally released something. I Wonder What Went Wrong is a free download available through top indiepop label WIAIWYA as part of their monthly singles club, and it’s backed by a nifty cover of Go Sailor’s Ray Of Sunshine. Lovely stuff all round, and well worth your perusal. Get it while it’s hot!

Personally, WHTB deeply loves this band. They’re cute as a bug’s ear, instantly loveable and catchy as hell. The sound of pop music falling out of a tree to tell you it loves you, before running back into the woods to hide again.

(As ace as Meow Meow are, it should be noted that Mark also spends a lot of time on the road with Earache thrash-punks SSS and Down And Outs, both of whom are a bit louder but no less awesome).