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Washed Out – Within and Without – Live Review

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Rough Trade East did a great thing last Friday in bringing Washed Out to the store. They played Lovebox earlier in the day and are currently promoting their latest album release. Within and Without is a great album, and the guys have moved up a gear from their lo-fi days. The quality and fidelity is much higher and the song writing is just as brilliant. It may have lost some of its charm from being so well-produced, but you cannot say it’s not a great album. The big tracks, Eyes be Closed, Far Away and Amor Fati, are highlights, and the rest of the album is much more than just filler. Washed Out have always been an album band anyway, so go get drunk here, wake up with some pretty little thing you romanced in the night and put Within and Without on, let it wash over you, get blissed out and fall in love.

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The In-store was just off the back of their show at Lovebox Festival earlier that day. I’m sure that the full electronic performance at Lovebox was great, but what they did at Rough Trade on Brick Lane was just special. They had stripped back all the electronics and the five piece band had more maracas than you could shake a maraca at, simply wired keyboards and multiple vocalists achieving their lovely sound. Most of the tracks they played were of a lounge-jazz persuasion but it came out brilliantly. Obviously in a record store no one is going to be jumping around like mad so this laid back performance was perfect and it really eschued the talented musicians that Ernest Greene has assembled. They played a couple of tracks from the new album including Eyes be Closed and they also played some of their best from the first two albums; notably Feel It All Around and New Theory. Speaking to the bassist and the super-cool headdress-wearing keyboard player afterwards (who wanted to go riding around on Boris Bikes!) they said they thought that it went better than the performance at Lovebox. Really great, really special and you should have been there. Did I mention it was free?

YOWICS
xoxo

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Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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1-2-3-4 Festival – 09/07/2011 – Review

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Without wanting to spoil the conclusion of this review, I had a great time at 1-2-3-4. Perhaps my enjoyment of it has coloured my memories of the event a little rosier than it really was, but I don’t believe that. All enjoyment is subjective, and my morose compatriot of the festivities is testament to this fact. Aside from a late start, and some as-per-usual sound issues, I can’t think of much that went wrong. The weather was fine, and Shoreditch Park seemed to escape the rain that happened outside London.

The main things that struck me about this festival were probably the size and the people. Some may not look at it as a boon, but this festival is good because it’s small. I could probably jog from one side to the other in a minute, no probs. Yet inside there were four stages, plenty of bars, copious toilets, one large silver Kopparberg Kube (hello again friend!), a VIP area and some dodgems. The people were also (clearly) local. They were not the chumps that come into Shoreditch on Friday/Saturday night and start fights outside the kebab shop; they were the people who lived around Hoxton/Kingsland/Dalston and actually cared about the great (relatively unknown) bands and artists playing at this festival.

First act we properly saw were Arrows of Love who got off to a good start, but fell flat by the second song. Part of that was probably the fault of the awful sound work on the Art Rocker stage. Not enough bass, sounded weak and thin. So we left that pretty quick to go get something to drink and look around. At this stage in the day, there was a lot of space around and you could move from one stage to another in a few minutes. That was refreshing.

We ended up in the dance tent, which probably had the best sound alongside the main stage, and saw Attaque, someone we hadn’t heard previously. He wasn’t bad. Did a pretty good electro set, if a little bit mainstream for the too-cool-for-Ministry of Sound crowd that he was playing to. Could be good playing a heavier set in a dirty warehouse on Scrutton Street or something, but at this time of the day in this atmosphere his otherwise very good work went unappreciated.

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I don’t know if you can see Rainbow Arabia in the background there on the Noisey stage, but they were fairly good. Her vocals do get a little raw after a while and if they hadn’t written some very good songs then I’m not sure I’d be a fan. As it stands, they were one of the bands at 1-2-3-4 who I expect big things from. Next year they will have an album and be playing further up the bill, although I’m not sure they will be headlining anything soon.

The real star of this show was the tiny Asian man standing at the front. Why was he there? How old is he? So cool, with that nonchalant stance and his hat probably obscuring his vision. So effortless. A massive contradiction in a sea of pretence. I figured that the most likely reason for his being there was this:

In Yokohama in 1967, Hiroshi (I have no knowledge of his name or nationality) worked in a little camera shop selling film to the neighbourhood scene kids, when this rock musician walks in to get some photos printed. The two people strike up conversation and one Damo Suzuki invites Hiroshi to a gig at the Town Hall. Hiroshi takes his girlfriend along and they all go back stage to drink Whisky and eat rice crackers. A couple of weeks into their friendship Hiroshi finds his girlfriend in bed with Damo and vows revenge. Damo runs off to Europe to have a career in Can and only now has Hiroshi raised the money to get a flight over and exact that revenge. Underneath that hat is hidden a tiny poisoned dagger small enough to pierce Damo’s heart. It’s possible that Hiroshi missed, because Damo didn’t die whilst we were watching, and so, poor Hiroshi’s grudge remains, probably to be carried into the afterlife.

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So this is Damo freaking out. He was good too. I was worried he was going to get a bad neck though because he kept pulling his head real sharp to the right when he sang, and it was probably doing some damage. I don’t really know Can, or Damo Suzuki’s music, but Krautrock is cool, right?

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This was Sex Beet on the Rough Trade stage. They have some great songs, and were pretty good on the day. No complaints. Definitely one to watch. However, I can’t remember too many details about them mind, so I was either having too much fun, or they weren’t that special.

Lydia Lunch was good for an aging punk who looked like my ex-girlfriend’s mum (that said, my ex-girlfriend’s mum was quite cool). Autokrats were fairly consumate too; something like a cross between Soulwax and Duran Duran, they were both industrial and hard electro but 80s and ridiculous at the same time.

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Black Lips, on the Noisey stage, were obviously who everyone was there to see, and they didn’t disappoint, although I did remark later that they might have been a bit disappointing. An Irish girl I met later thought they were awful live, and that they were awful live as a rule. However, I really enjoyed it. Getting smashed around at the front like I was 15 again at my first Taproot gig was a lot of fun. I was launched into a crowd surf more times than I care to remember and have a lot of bruises to show for it. I had a lot of fun, I was pretty drunk by that point, and my friends just kept throwing me back up there.

At one point the band threw a plethora of toilet rolls into the crowd and we had a TP party for a while, but that was about as crazy as it got. Given that Black Lips are known for on stage fights, vomiting, stage invasions and more I was surprised we didn’t even get a snog between band members. On all other fronts, I can’t complain about their performance.

All-in-all, it was a great day. Small is the new big. You get to see the bands you want, there are no dickheads about pissing in their cups and throwing it at your head, and 80% of the people there could walk home in 20 minutes. This meant that the after parties were a great option. Twenty minutes walk and a can of K-cider later and we were watching Babeshadow at Hoxton Square Bar and Grill continuing to have a good time.

Special thanks go out to the guy who found my phone in Shoreditch Park and called my friend who subsequently met him, gave it to our other friend and returned it to me later in Hoxton Square Bar and Grill much to my elated surprise.

5 Crumbles – Because it was fookin’ great!

YOWICS xoxo

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2011 in News, Opinions, Uncategorized

 

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Live Review – Stay + (formerly Christian AIDS) @ The Victoria Thursday 30th June

After months of waiting, last week we finally got the chance to see what we (and now most of the mainstream music press) believe to be one of the most exciting acts to come out of the UK in a long time. Thanks to the good people at Eat Your Own Ears, The Victoria in Hackney hosted the first London performance of Stay +, the new moniker for crumble favourites, Christian AIDS. Following legal action from the chairty of the same name, the guys have had to change their name and branding a little bit, but rest assured the music is just as good as before if not better.

The whole set up of the gig was a bit weird. The room was pitch black except for the warming glow of the projector screens at the far end of the room. It felt more like an art installation than a live performance. The guys haven’t played many performances so far, I think this was something like their fourth, so they haven’t quite got a road crew set up yet and had to do most of the preparation themselves. After a little bit of popping on and off stage finally they took their places behind their macbooks, four people appeared at the front of the stage wearing ‘S’ ‘T’ ‘A’ & ‘Y’ t-shirts and the room filled with hipsters.

To be fair to the guys, they really do put a lot of thought, preparation and effort into their performance. As well as having people stand at the front of the stage for the whole show in complete silence, they also have the three projector screens for their visuals, two LED light bars that they’ve brought with them and even the little apple logos on their macbooks have been customised to look like little ‘+’ signs. Despite the fact that they haven’t got much of a budget it doesn’t stop them from putting on an incredibly impressive show.

They kicked off with one of the few tracks that have been doing the rounds on youtube, ‘Fever’. The instantly gripping intensity was built up to a mighty crescendo beautifully accentuated by the live vocals (both male and female) which I didn’t realise they would have. They rattled through the tracks (some familiar ‘Young Luv’, ‘Scum’ and ‘Stay +’ and some new) relentlesly without leaving pause for breath let alone applause. I later found out the combo behind Stay + are actually a two piece, complemented by two live vocalists. While one is taking care of the sound, the other is video editing live to the music with incredible effect. Although the format may not be particularly new, the energy of the performance is definitely original.

The weird thing is, the whole thing is like an art piece. The video editing is like their youtube clips, graphic and visceral whilst retaining an element of intellectual awareness and social comment. The effect is fantastic, but also confusing. Quite often I was caught in two minds whether or not I should be standing and appreciating or jumping around and dancing. I think what the guys need is someone to give them an opportunity to play one of their sets in a much bigger club with a much louder sound system. A pub in Hackney is fine for most bands starting out, but these guys deserve something much bigger.

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I can’t really do the energy of the performance justice. And considering that they are still relatively new to performing and the they can already deliver such quality, I highly recommend you go and check them out yourselves as soon as you get the first opportunity. Unfortunately, that won’t be at 1-2-3-4 this weekend. After chatting to the guys afterwards I found out that they have unfortunately had to pull out. But fear not, crumble’s favourite band from Manchester to not be born, live or work in Manchester, are sure to reappear in the capital soon enough. As soon as we find out when, you’ll be the first to know!

Joe

xoxox

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Hooray for Earth – True Loves’ Album Review

Hooray for Earth are the kind of band that could go unnoticed. I don’t know what it is about music that is synth driven into outer space that makes it indistinct, but it would not be wrong to compare Hooray for Earth to MGMT, Yeasayer, Klaxons, Late of the Pier etc who all seem to disappear until a new album comes out and everyone remembers them again. All these bands are loved dearly for a short period of time and passed over to the annals. I would like to hope, for Noel Heroux’s sake and our sakes too, that this won’t happen to Hooray for Earth. However, it’s a sad inditement of music today that it’s all too transient and short-lived.

Having said that, forget all about it, max-screen this video, turn the volume up and let it wash over you.

I knew I would write a postive review of this album within about the first two minutes of the first song. The euphoric opener (Realize it’s not the sun; above) is an impressive intro to a very good (and sometimes fantastic) album. It sets the tone of space dreams and nightmares of the distant future well, and it sticks to it. Songs like Hotel show lonely, depressed element of Heroux’s personality that has been documented before. However, other key tracks (the better ones on the album) have an overwhelmingly euphoric and dare-I-say-it ‘epic’ effect. It’s like listening to a great tragedy where the love story ends in massive heartbreak but it’s so beautiful that you are glad it ended, as it would never have been important if it hadn’t.

The title track of the album (True Loves; above video) is probably the best to date, and the video really works. Like 2001: A Space Odyssey meets Yearsayer’s Ambling Amp video.

The music is huge. Layers upon layers of synth. Two vocalists. Stacks of drums and beats. I want to see this happen live in a big way, and can’t wait for them to tour here in the UK, of which there are no current plans.  They are currently touring with Architecture in Helsinki in the US, but the album was just released on 7th June via Dove Cote Records, whom I assume you will be able to buy the album from if you are in the US?

Hooray for Earth first came to my attention from their work with Twin Shadow. Twin Shadow did an excellent remix of Surrounded By Your Friends (from the Momo EP) and then they collaborated to write A Place We Like. I leave you these gifts and will probably be playing them at our new night ‘Bon Bon’ on 16th July, to be held at Albert & Pearl on Upper Street. Click for the Facebook event page and the ‘Like‘ page. Hopefully see you there!

Hooray for Earth – Surrounded By Your Friends (Twin Shadow remix)

Hooray for Earth Vs Twin Shadow – A Place We Like

4.5 Crumbles

YOWICS xoxo

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2011 in Opinions, Uncategorized

 

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The Soft Moon – Live at The Lexington 11/05/11

I’ve waited a long time to see old Luis work his magic on the stage and last night at The Lexington The Soft Moon made their UK debut. What I was expecting I don’t quite know, but after eight months wait, I just hoped it wouldn’t be a massive fucking let down.

Support was provided by Mafia Lights and The First Loves. Unfortunately we missed most of Mafia Lights set, but from what we heard thats probably for the best. The First Loves were a pretty good choice to line up next to The Soft Moon. The London based outfit could be described as solid post-punk/new wave revivalists, retaining the classic high tempo bass driven rhythms and ably commanded drum loops. Whilst not terribly original they did a pretty good job of sounding like they just arrived in a Tardis from early 80s Lancashire.

At times it seemed like they were maybe trying a little too hard to be the next Interpol, when settling for the a slightly better version of the Editors would be more achievable. As long as they stick to the more up tempo stuff they should be worth watching in the future.

As the stage was being prepared for the main event I was pleased to see that the band had managed to bring a little bit of San Fran with them in the way of what I assume to be the former roadie of the Grateful Dead or former WWE wrestler Mick Foley.

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And finally, the band themselves. The long and short of it, they were fucking fantastic. All the tracks sound a little more special live, and the groups abandonment of standard lighting for digital video back drops and smoke machines gave the feeling like you were watching some sort of 60s New York art house performance even if this was at the expense of being able to get a good photo of them.

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Luis even had time to play an encore of a new track, although after questioning he admitted that the song was actually Phantoms, a B-side from the release of ‘Breathe the Fire’ (cheeky little Luis). When I asked where he thought the band would go from here considering the last album was based on tracks he’d written a decade previous, Luis casually explained he would just have to go much deeper. Fortunately for him, California is not short of a specialist or two in regression.

We haven’t got any live footage from the gig, but here is a video of the guys performing in L.A. earlier this year.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPbHivG4MHk]

It was excellent seeing Luis and the band in fine form, and judging by the female attention he got after the gig, I’m sure we’ll be seeing him on these shores again. I personally can’t wait and hopefully he’ll bring with him  some fantastic new material.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zx00pFVCIDg]

Joe xoxo

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Art: Wanksy – Physical Graffiti Review

Artists have been fascinated by sleeping for centuries.  From Vermeer to Van Gogh, Renoir to R Kelly, many have explored the strange period whilst we are in between normal consciousness.  Now an exciting young performance artist, Wanksy, is giving a new take on the subject in his most recent exhibition by bringing a most unusual, yet quintessentially relevant medium to the fore: himself.

Some may be familiar with Wanksy’s previous works such the critically acclaimed ‘Balance’.  According to the artist, the piece represents a world  ‘where everyday items such as beer cans and Mr Muscle are used to emphasise the importance of a balanced and clean lifestyle’.

Many of Wanksy’s pieces have strong political narratives at the core. ‘Urban Decay’ symbolises the deindustrialisation of much of urban Britain, and ‘Blame Boris’ is a clear attack on London mayor Boris Johnson’s transport policies.

Wanksy is also comfortable using familiar settings for some pieces, as in ‘The Missionary’, which is a commentary on both conformity to tradition and the emergence of feminism replacing male domination in society.

In his most recent exhibition, Physical Graffiti, Wanksy has broken new ground adding extra elements to certain pieces for dramatic effect.  This is clearly demonstrated in ‘Tescopoly’, where the artists has used his own vomit and a plastic carrier bag from a major supermarket chain to give weight to his critique of consumerism in contemporary culture.

Wanksy will be holding regular performances most Saturday nights throughout February and March in McDonalds car park off Commerical Road in east London.

5 crumbles (forbidden apple crumble – Eat it and you will know where God left the remote)

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Bright Eyes – The People’s Key Review

I’ve never been a Bright Eyes fan.  I don’t know if it was the massive super hype that the media have always given Conor Oberst, the fact that everyone seems to think he’s ‘dreamy’ or maybe his natural gloomy style of writing.  So when I got hold of ‘The People’s Key’ I was prepared to be both simultaneously unimpressed and depressed.

Surprisingly neither happened.  Conor has announced that this will be the last album under the Bright Eyes moniker, and it appears as though he wanted to go down a different route.  Throughout the album has some spooky ramblings from some tramp or other which is pretty standard for Bright Eyes really, but the album itself isn’t really standard at all.

Unexpectedly the album has a seriously upbeat tempo that is pretty weird for Bright Eyes.  Jejune Stars and Shell Games are dancey enough to be from any mainstream indie pop band, not the vanguard of moody indie/alternative.  Haile Selassie bounces along like a baby lamb packed full of biblical references leading into A Machine Spiritual (In the People’s Key) (where the album takes its title) which slows things down before picking them up again.  A method repeated through the album.

My favourite track has to be the finale of the album, One For Me, One For You.  Its a simple but beautifully heartfelt song that seems to round off the album, and indeed the band in an elegant and consummate way.

I was recently watching a HBO special documentary on Bruce Springsteen  with footage of him and the E Street Band whilst they were in the studio writing The Darkness on The Edge of Town. It gave me a real appreciation for both the hard work that ‘The Boss’ put into his songs as well as a new found enjoyment of his music.  In a similar way, this album has really helped me find a new respect for Conor and the Bright Eyes band, its just ashame thats come with their last album.

You can stream the whole album using the link below.

4 crumbles (rhubarb crumble with custard – yum!)

Joe xoxoxo

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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