Posts Tagged ‘london’

Low @ Koko sometime in November – em, they were crap.

December 16, 2008

I thought this was going to be an evening of rare beauty.  Instead we got a ponderous, pretentious, over-blown set entirely lacking in subtlety or restraint.   Each song seemed to reach about a dozen thrilling crescendos and the pace of various songs was slowed, presumably with a view to giving maximum ‘atmosphere’ – but the beautiful, bleak and haunting harmonies don’t need over-egging and we don’t need more time to appreciate them.  All delicacy was lost, we were being asked to NOTICE THE BREATHTAKING HARMONIES rather than just listen to them.  I thought they fancied themselves quite a lot.  Also, they did some hideous kind of reggae-lite christmassy song – REGGAE-LITE FROM LOW.   We mentioned Culture Club.  They also did that ‘come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum’ christmas carol, whose name escapes me – this is one of my least favourite christmas carols and Low’s version seemed to go on for ever and ever.  Then we had some ‘Santa gone bad’ song accompanied with chords of doom.  This just about finished us off.  And we were not alone.  Suddenly a male, American voice shouted “This is a travesty!  I’ve been coming to see Low for 11 years and this is not the band I know”.   People booed the comment but I thought it was bang on the money.  Allan from Low tried to laugh it off, but the atmosphere had gone sour and early christmassy feelings were not to be found, so myself and boyfriend took ourselves off home early.    Sandinista sounded fantastic though.

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My Morning Jacket at Kentish Town Forum – hmmmm

July 17, 2008

I have only ever mildly liked MMJ.  Some tracks I have thought pretty great, others not so much, but generally they have just failed to really capture my interest.  I guess maybe they are on the periphery of the kind of stuff I like – a bit more 70’s influence than I’m into (although, saying that, I love Midlake), perhaps a bit of the old Christian rock about them (although I have no idea if they are actually religious), a little bit too country.  They’re kind of difficult to pigeonhole and they’ve just released a really weird album that veers around all over the place and certainly doesn’t help with neat categorisation.     

Anyway, on the night in question MMJ played unquestionably well to an extremely good humoured and enthusiastic audience – there were a lot of hands waving in the air.  But I was really rather bored.  Rather than ‘rocking out’ it would be more accurate to say that they ‘prog rocked out’ with most songs having long jamming / guitar solo type bits which left me entirely disengaged.  They played for a lengthy 2 hours plus, at least 1 hour of which comprised of aforementioned prog rock style instrumentals.  Yawn, yawn, yawn.  As I was quite uncomfortable (half boiled to death), I moved to the back of the venue from where I spent most of my time deleting text messages.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that at a gig before, yet i have been to far worse gigs by far worse bands.  And MMJ had some great moments.  The odd song hooked me  (Wordless Chorus, Gideon), the music would soar and a really splended and uplifting noise would ensue, but this would quickly descend into yet more self-indulgent rock gubbins.  I was relieved when it was over, and can only wish I had seen them after ‘Z’ was released and not now. 

As an aside, they were very very  hairy, the drummer was like a yeti and the singer shook his woolly locks like a dog after a bath.

Airiel and Ulrich Schnauss at The Social

May 4, 2008

I can never think of clever titles for my posts. 

This was a night run by Sonic Cathedral ‘the night that celebrates itself’ (www.soniccathedral.co.uk), part of the somewhat surprising but welcome (to me anyway) resurgence of shoegaze.  We were promised DJ sets from electronic shoegazers James from Maps and Ulrich Schnauss, and live music by Autumn Chorus and Airiel.  Well, first up, we missed the DJ’ing by James due to drinking too long in the narrow and crowded bar upstairs (worth a visit btw – great jukebox, cheap ‘n’ cheerful menu including crisp sandwiches, interesting variety of booze, always lively).  James was in evidence for the rest of the evening, but I was too shy to go and say hello. 

When we finally made our ways downstairs Autumn Chorus were already playing.  This lot hail from Brighton and produce music of the post-rock variety with vocals.  We all agreed that the singer sounded a bit like Thom Yorke, Jeff Buckley and maybe Nick Drake.  So really, really upbeat and cheerful then.  They made a goodly noise, quite beautiful and delicate at times, but it all sounded a bit samey with no  memorable melodies or individual songs that really grabbed me.  Perhaps not the most accessible sort of stuff to listen to in a crowded little venue when you’ve never heard any of the material before – I reckon they are worth a second listen.

http://www.myspace.com/autumnchorus

Next we had a little surprise – instead of DJ’ing, we had a proper set from Schnauss.  Good visuals and great ambient shoegaze electronica (and there aren’t many people you could describe that way).  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HOVwJq8b5A

Airiel are a “four man noise unit from Chicago”.   They are loud.  Really loud.  My ears were still ringing slightly the next morning.  They reminded me hugely of Ride (earlier Ride, when they were good), albeit with less impressive songs (i’m harping on about melody again here).  But their material is still pretty good, they played with youthful ferocity, and the general sound they produced made me happy.  Oh, and I haven’t seen such a very fine set of fringes since 1992.  I was less impressed by one of the guitarists standing on a table on stage for the entire set though – the stage is certainly very small (not actually fitting the drummer) and not particularly high, but this struck me as a bit wanky really.  I spent the set slightly hoping that his fringe would get caught in the lighting. 

http://www.myspace.com/airiel

I drank too much beer that night.  Had a bad hangover the next day (luckily had day off work).  Drank banana milk, tea, ribena, diet coke, water.  Started a thread on www.drownedinsound.com asking for recommendations for good hangover music.  Some sadists suggested hardcore techno – bastards!  Others were kinder, and I eventually found Galaxie 500, Slowdive, and Lemon Jelly to work the best.  I also dragged my sorry self out to vote in the London Mayoral election – may as well not have bothered given the stupid tory fucks that i am apparently living alongside.   

 

 

sadly not quite miraculous

April 6, 2008

The recent album ‘Five Roses’ by Miracle Fortress has crept into my heart kind of without me noticing.  It is romantic, dreamy stuff with a heavy Brian Wilson influence, and I love melody and harmony, so it was probably a foregone conclusion that I was going to love this.  A last.fm friend called this ‘music to fall in love to’, and I would have to agree with that (in theory at any rate).  Apparently it is mainly the creation of one guy, a red-headed arty clever clogs from Canada (if they’re not from Canada, they’re from Brooklyn at the moment it would seem), Graham Van something or other.  Anyway, he has gathered a band around him for the purposes of touring and they have become a four piece. 

First things first, the live performance totally failed to capture the magic of the album.  Instead of being carried away on waves of harmony, transcending everyday cares to enter a dreamworld of aural bliss (see, I could write for the NME!), I remained resolutely in Kilburn in a slightly miffed mood.  The sound was ALL WRONG.  Subtle harmonies were omitted or done half-heartedly and the really lovely electronic sounds present on the album were drowned out by a disconcertingly unbeautiful guitar noise.  One of the new band members was the female bassist who also did duty on vocals.  On the album, the sound is achieved through layering and looping Graham’s voice, and sadly her non-descript vocal just wasn’t up to the task.  I thought they would have been better off using technology to add loops of vocals and stuff (i dunno how, what am I, a technogeek? – but Panda Bear does it apparently so it must be possible).  That bassist really got on my nerves actually – she reminded me of the woman from Arcade Fire – all ‘i am a child-woman spirit that roams wild and free, see how i walk barefoot on the grass and pick the flowers in the morning dew’ ish.  They all kept playing different percussion instruments too, another reminder of Arcade Fire.  Nothing against Arcade Fire (well, nothing I’m going into in this post), but I had never picked up their influence in the album before and it was unwelcome live. 

Another (final) criticism is that they seemed just a wee bit shambolic – there were times when I really wasn’t sure whether the music was going anywhere or whether they’d just forgotten what came next.   I don’t mind bands being all over the place if it adds a feeling of excitement to the proceedings, if they make you feel you might be about to witness something amazing, but I just thought Miracle Fortress could do with practicing more.  It may be that their live act improves over time, I hope so.  Happily, I listened to the album when I got home and it sounded as wonderful as ever.  Highly recommended for romantic souls. 

Oh, and I might have liked their performance more if I had been in a better mood 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryJVQcG3tXg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z94V2phbWKY&feature=related

 

The 64’s @ PUNK

March 28, 2008

Went to see this lot, who come from Hertfordshire I think, because my friend James’s friend Al (are you following) is the bass player.  Unfortunately, Al couldn’t play due to carpal tunnel problems, so they had someone else filling in.   James didn’t think they would be my cup of tea “too rock”, and he was largely right, but there was still much to enjoy.

Their music is a bit strange actually.  It is definitely ‘rock’.  The rock was quite cock.  Lots of guitar solos of the ‘is he playing the guitar or having a public wank’ variety (blushed as i typed that!).  This is never good in my book.  But someone in the band has a real pop sensibility and a good ear for a tune, and this kept things from ever getting too self-indulgent or macho.  I’ve heard far worse on the radio frankly.  At other times, the music veered towards metal – these were my favourite bits by far (i have often lamented heavy metal largely being done by complete misogynist twats with stupid lyrics.  I particularly love that thing the drums do in metal – is it where they have a double kick pedal? – i dunno, i am completely ignorant about such things – and the guitars make that kind of drilling noise.  Anyway, i digress.)  This mixing of diverse influences might make them more interesting, but it does give a bit of an uneven flavour.  I can imagine that this has contributed to them remaining unsigned, despite being very ‘tight’ (even with the stand-in bass player) and having good songs.  All the small indie and metal labels wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole because ultimately they are just too ‘rock’.  But they aren’t quite clearly ‘rock’ enough to interest the big boys (the sort who signed Stereophonics for example – don’t get me started).  And one couldn’t help thinking that this sort of music just isn’t really that popular anymore – the ‘fashionable’ mood of the moment definitely still lies with indie of The Libertines kind (don’t get me started on them either – I will just comment that they aren’t what i mean when i talk about ‘indie’, and have brought a lot of people onto the scene who i could quite easily live without.).  One of the other acts on – Baxter (stupid name – nearly called my dog that) – were much more in the trendy indie fashion with ‘hair styles’ and ‘cheekbones’ and ‘military coats’ in the style of Kasabian.  Can’t even remember the music.  No doubt they will be famous by next week.   

 Oh, and Dave the drummer of the 64’s was a huge Ride fan.  I want to know how he keeps his glasses on while playing. 

Can I just say that I absolutely hated PUNK as a venue.  Apparently it is very fashionable.  Bah!  It was very ‘west end’, lots of carefully ‘eclectic’ and ‘vintage’ chairs and sofas to sit on (nothing against eclectic or vintage you understand, i just really hated the feeling that they had been chosen by someone who would have bought elephants legs for stools if they thought they were currently fashionable), and these really annoying beaded curtain things that served no purpose except to give the place the air of a posh lap-dancing club.  The stage was tiny and low (any rockers getting carried away and doing exuberant jumping stood in grave danger of clouting themselves smartly on the head), the lay-out was long and narrow with sofas and chairs in awkward places, and the loos didn’t have clear signage because that just wouldn’t be cool or something.   And too many staff wandering around keeping an eye out for totally non-existent trouble.  Expensive too, but you expect that near Tottenham Court Road. 

ummm, hello then world….

March 28, 2008

This is my first go at a blog, and I don’t really know what I’m doing.  The vague idea is to write about music, because I go to a lot of gigs in London, and buy a lot of cd’s.  Why anyone else should give a hoot patoot about my opinion is open to debate.   I can’t promise not to occasionally go ‘off topic’ and yammer about random stuff.  Still, here goes nothing!