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Concrete and Glass Line-up

The line-up has been announced for the Concrete & Glass festival on Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd October 2008. TV On The Radio and Port O'Brien look like the chimp highlights:

20 Jazz Funk Great/ Anni Rossi/ Apes & Androids/ Barringtone/ Bass Clef/ Beyond the Wizards Sleeve/Bjorn Torske/ Blacktape Records/ Blacktape DJs/ Bloggers Delight/ Bodies of Water/ Border Community/ Casper C/ Cats in Paris/ CMN/ David Thomas Broughton/ Dead Kids/ Eat Your Own Ears DJs/ Errors/ Euros Childs/ Ezra Bang (Hot Machine)/ Fairmont live/ Frightened Rabbit/ Greco-Roman/ Grovesnor/ James Holden/ James Yuill/ John Kennedy presents/ Kid Harpoon/ Kim Hiorthoy/ Kimmo Pohjonen/ Let's Wrestle/ Lindstrom/ Liz Green/ Lucius Works Here/ Ludovico Einaudi/ Magistrates/ Matthew Sawyer & The Ghosts/ Mechanical Bride/ Merok Records/ Micachu/ Muscleheads/ O'Death/ One Little Plane/ Oren Marshall/ Owl Project/ Pete and the Pirates/ Pilooski + Dirty Sound System/ Port O'Brien/ Primary 1/ Screaming Tea Party/ Semi Finalists/ Serious Presents/ Sky Larkin/ Small Town Super Sound/ Stolen Recordings present/ Sweet Baboo/ Swn Fest present/ Telepathe/ Ten Thousand Islands/ The Big Pink/ The! Local present/ The Oscillation/ The Real Heat/ The Stool Pigeon/ Younghearts/ Threatmantics/ Time Out Barcelona/ Time Out London/ Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs/ Truckers of Husk/ TV On The Radio/ Twisted Wheel/ Untitled Musical Project/ Vladislav Delay/ Wave Machines/ Wet Paint/ Wichita Recordings/ Zun Zun Egui


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5th Aug 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Concrete and Glass

With the festival calender close to morbid obesity this year, Concrete and Glass looks to be providing a slightly more slimline tonic. Based in and around Shoreditch ("within 9 minutes of Brick Lane"). Mixing music and art, the exhibition end of things has been organised by Flora Fairbairn and Paul Hitchman and includes the likes of Gavin Turk and Gerry Fox.

Tapping into the unique infrastructure of spaces in the east end, the art strand will feature over 30 projects in disused warehouses, outdoor spaces and empty shops in collaboration with curators, artists and galleries. Heart of Glass, a show of new, site-specific work by 25 artists in Shoreditch Town Hall’s basement, is the hub of the arts projects.

Only catch is, the music has yet to be announced - but Eat Your Own Your Own Ears are in charge, who have recently been responsible for the Field Day festival, as well as the recent Summer Sessions, which included the Justice show. Hosts for the music events include Rough Trade East, Young Turks, Drowned In Sound, Fence Collective and Wichita Records amongst others.

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17th Jul 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

Los Campesinos!

Hold On Now Youngster

Wichita Recorings

WIth a rousing battle cry of "1,2,3,4!", sprawling Cardiff 7-piece Los Campesinos! arrive on your speakers like a mini-bus full of students on trip up to a Hoxton art gallery.

The Ramones-esque names, wacky song titles and personality that the band seem to have in bounds will certainly go a long way to propel them into mass popularity, but their success comes from the punchy delivery of their call and response style - male counterpointing female, then teaming up for a rousing chorus. Obvious maybe, effective certainly.

While enthusiasm goes a long way to pasting over the cracks of the band's fairly limited range, their pocket book poetry and student theorising of This Is How You Spell "Haha Ha, We Destroyed The Hopes And Dreams Of A Generation Of Faux - Romantics" is a little hard too bear, and at times you might feel like your on a mini-bus trip up to and art gallery in Hoxton.

Comparisons to early Wedding Present or Arcade Fire seem a litlle misplaced, as Los Campesinos! lack the depth and musical breadth of either of those bands - at any stage of their careers. By far the longest song here, You! Me ! Dancing! shows some promise, trying to mix it up a bit, adding a slow-building intro which builds up nicely before reverting to the exisiting formula.

While it's hard not to get spent along in the boundless enthusiasm, there are very few specific tracks or highlights that can be pulled out here. It's all the same. All inoffensive. All fun.

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25th Feb 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Is Is

Wichita

And so the YYY juggernaught rolls on, unstoppable in it's strength and relentlessness. Hot on the heals of the spectacular second album, Is Is shows them expanding to a more fuller sound. Their sound is, on the whole a more polished gem compared to the earlier eps and debut album but in place of grit we get profound depth that manifests into dazzling might. From the rumbling and stabbing ferocity of opener Rockers To Swallow it sure is good to have this New York outfit back in our ears even if it's only for a brief 17 minutes. Karen O's vocals are as blood curdling as ever as she coughs up throaty howls from the depths of her being. Down Boy is a more contemplative affair with deep, rumbling tension while Is Is displays soaring melody over dark plodding drums.

10 x 10 pounds in with echoing, resounding guitars that sound like metal piping being bashed together. It's a perfect example of the multi layered structure that give this band their shambolic, raw edge. They are an immaculately tight band but somehow give the impression of chaos. They can clash and pound around so hard that you can almost feel the reverb down your body but then they'll sweep it all up and come at you head on in a focused shot of teeth-baring rock. This maybe an interlude ep but in it's 5 songs the YYY's display more ideas that most band do in a whole career.

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27th Jul 2007 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Simian Mobile Disco

Attack Decay Sustain Release

Wichita

With Dance Music Guy on extended leave due to ‘exhaustion’, the job of reviewing any music with beeps, bleeps and several beatsperminute generally falls to whoever is hanging around chimp hq after hours. Like stumbling round the darkened corridors of an after hours clubs for the first time, the move from Distortion Feedback Superfuzz Bigmuff to Attack Decay Sustain Release can be a disorientating affair.

Or is it? From the Prodigy, through Leftfield and the Chemical Brothers, casually throwing in a bit of Daft Punk and perhaps a dash of Air and onto Basement Jaxx and Groove Armada, the list of dance acts (groups) that have crossed over into the relatively mainstream world of drums and bass (plus rhythmn and lead guitars) have been few and far between. Which is understandable really, coming from a style of music that wears its underground credentials more proudly than most. Simian Mobile Disco, like those listed above, have brought the clubs up to the people, rather than forcing the people reluctantly down into the clubs. And it’s a no-lose situation for both sides. Simian Mobile Disco are guaranteed a nice slice of uncompeted success, whilst the ageing zeitgeist hunters can keep their finger in the region of the pulse, but their feet away from the dance floors.

Attack Decay Sustain Release allows us sun kissed indie heads to dabble in the dark side, getting that weekend vibe before going to the pub to continue the Kings of Leon debate, head back home at closing time and maybe come down with a bit of Neil Young’s Harvest.

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7th Jun 2007 - 3 comments - Add Comment - Tweet

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Some Loud Thunder

Wichita

No sooner have I compiled my best of 2006 list with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's stunning self titled debut coming in at number one when it's follow up, slated for a January release, lands in our laps. They say the second album is always the difficult one and this must be made all the more so when your debut received such overwhelming critical acclaim. Some Loud Thunder is certainly not what I was expecting and after the first few listens I was quite disappointed not to be dazzled by the energy that was present on the first album. I would like to tell you that now after about 25 plays it has solidified it's place in my 2007 list but I can't. I am enjoying it a lot more than I was, but there remains a slight whiff of disappointment still.

The structure of the first album was was quite relentless with many high points, few lows, some nicely placed instrumental breathers - all of which culminated in a fantastic finale that just made you want to start the whole thing again. This time it's a different agenda. It's a much more low key affair with really only one obvious peak coming mid way through the album. Most of the songs seem as if they are building to something but never do and while they have virtually abandoned the instrumental fillers they have adopted a slow burning sound that whispers rather than shouts. This new approach at times produces some beautiful moments and really challenges the listener to stick with the program but also makes parts of the album quite laborious.

So, purely on the strength of their debut I have persevered with this one and have come to see it in a new light. Instead of viewing it as the weak follow up to a fluky start I have a sneaky feeling that this is the work of a band that intend to be around for a while. It seems their debut was designed to get our attention and all the praise that this brought has provided them with the creative space to explore new territory. This could be the album that calms things down and eases off on the pace that quite often leads to a bands early demise, or it could be just plain crap. - BC (3 stars)

Some Loud Thunder is by turns intense, moving and powerful. There is barely a bum note on the album and the song writing and music have taken on a depth and scope beyond Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The album sounds quite like a movie sound track in places and a lot of the music often seems very familiar - regularly sounding like a reprise to a track you never heard.

This quality is also it's flaw and the first few tracks sound like a slow building intro into the album, before the remaining tracks quickly sound like tghings are winding down. With the exception of the obvious single Satan Said Dance there is no middle ground on the album and it feels like it is missing it's heart. The album never quite grabs hold of you as a complete piece of work, and it lacks the cohesiveness of the first record. The infectious, awkward quality of their previous effort is also noticeably absent.

The relative lows are no where near as annoying as the ditties on album one, and the album remains almost completely solid in quality - but also lacking in the giddy highs of Yellow Country Teeth, Is This Love, Home On Ice or the countless other peaks on the rollercoast ride of the debut album. Some Loud Thunder's main flaw is in it's pace. Improved track sequencing and editing back of some of the tracks, plus a couple more more tracks would have made this an instant classic, rather than just a solid follow up - CSF (3.5 stars)

Here's a song by song break down:

1 - Some Loud Thunder. The album starts abrubtly, with the band mid-flow and sounding at their most Talking Heads. This seems an odd place to start as it sounds like a mid-album track. This song makes it clear that this isn't going to be an album like the first one. No real chorus to speak of but some nice rhythm and hand claps. Hopefully the shocking sound quality of this track is due to the promo only featuiring a rough mix, that will be improved by January.

2 - Emily Jean Stock. This seems a better place to start but sums up the first half of this record. The whole song seems to brew like it's building up to something but never does, but it has a lot of the harmonies that made the first album so listenable.

3 - Mama, Won't You Keep Them Castles In The Air And Burning? A very low key affair and continues the steady build up of the record. It simmers up to mid point then plateaus nicely into a harmony filled home-straight. A bit like a Radiohead b-side, with a few tuning up/washing up sounds.

4 - Love Song No.7 (mp3). The beautiful piano opening of this one mark it pout as a definite highlight. The sparse, atmospheric atmosphere smake sit sound like a love song rising out of the chaos of a sound check.

5 - Satan Says Dance. This is where the album peaks and it's tempo puts the previous songs into context as you realise that everything has been building to this point. It is the one song that recalls their previous work as we are treated to the rolling drum running pace that made the last record so electrifying. They have thankfully updated this format with a myriad of electronic bleeps and tweaks that lay down a rich tapestry of sounds, sounding like tuning up chaos in a kids music class. We get the familiar repeated vocals of and the odd "alright now" which certainly gets the toes a tapping. This song rises like a polished, crisp gem from a murky pool to become the standout peak of this album, and a certain single. "No whips, no chains, just dancing, dancing, dancing". Welcome to Hell.

6 - Upon Encountering The Crippled Elephant. This is the only instrumental ditty here and and makes fine use of the stereo recording format. It's as if you're walking down a deserted street and in the distance a lone figure approaches, as he gets closer you realise he is playing the accordian and you stop and cautiously watch as he passes you by without so much as a glance, then he is off on his way into the distance once more. That is unless he bumps into Damon Albarn and spends the afternoon in an East End music hall.

7 - Goodbye To Mother And The Cove. This is a beautiful song that starts off with a delicate high pitch plucking and ever so slowly builds. Sounding like a reprise to earlier themes, the vocals are dripping with melancholy and help to gently carry the tune to the military drum finale.

8 - Arm And Hammer. The acoustic strumming structure of this song never seems to go anywhere and the vocals jar more than ever making this one of the weakest tracks, which should probably have been relegated to b-side status.

9 - Yankee Go Home. The free-wheeling of the first album is a distant memory on this methodical and well-planned track. The first of several finales.

10 - Underwater (You And Me) (mp3). This could be the closing credits to a film. The pounding drum beat gives the mood a light feel and never changes all the way through. It is accompanied by a floating bass line and clanging bells that have cropped up frequently throughout the album, again echoing the idea of reprise and themes of retreat. Sadly it's not the final track as it's monotony seems to draw things to a close nicely.

11 - Five Easy Pieces. The monotony is continued however here on the album closer. An acoustic structure this time provides the background to the reverb-heavy distant vocals that wine and wail and threaten never to stop. They are punctuated every now and again by the gloriously dreamy bass line that really makes this song a fine one to bring things to a close.

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8th Dec 2006 - 9 comments - Add Comment - Tweet

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Archie Bronson Outfit

Derdang, Derdang

These days a record label is not complete until it has a David Byrne inspired vocalist on their books. Rough Trade got theirs with The Arcade Fire, Wichita with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and now Domino have found theirs. Hailing from the West Country, Archie Bronson Outfit are not something you would want to listen to if you were of a nervous disposition, or in the least bit on edge. This is not a criticism, it’s just a pretty stressful experience listening to Derdang Derdang, the groups second album. They have managed to create a real sense of urgency that except for the final track is pretty much unrelenting. The whole album can be summed up in the stand out track Dart For My Sweetheart. On the whole, I frown upon songs that use counting, or days of the week as their structure - but this one is an exception. It starts “One is a gun with a dart for my sweetheart,” and continues up to twelve. All this over methodical, driving and jangling guitar and drums. Arp, the drummer and lyricist says, “There’s a nursery rhyme feel to the lyric, the counting stuff.” His kids ain't getting no sleep tonight.

The band claim this album was written and recorded in a very short space of time while they were all living together - and this comes as no surprise to me. It has a captivating sense of immediacy and the ever building tempo in each song threatens an approaching explosion, but rarely gives in. The tension comes from a combination of repetitive guitar rhythms, screeching free jazz saxophone and distinctive, paranoia filled vocals - delivered with such energy and force you have to either switch off or sit up and take notice. On Dead Funny he orders us, “don’t worry just get your head down.” Sound advice I think.

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10th May 2006 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Show Your Bones

Wichita

This wasn’t an album I was anticipating with baited breath, but it has slowly made its way to the top of my recent purchases pile.

Show Your Bones
is the follow up to 2003’s critically acclaimed debut Fever To Tell which never seems to impress me as much as it does everyone else. It's a bit like the album equivalent of Reservoir Dogs. While I consider it a fantastic piece of art and have the utmost respect for it, it’s not something I am likely to stick on over lunch. There is only so much pummelling I can take and Show Your Bones has impressed me for this very reason (the Tarantino comparison stops here, Show Your Bones is no Pulp Fiction) It has retained the grit and muscle of its predecessor but seems to give a gracious and subtle nod towards commercialism. It is more rhythmical, more melodic and just more appealing.

This is evident from the opening track Gold Lion, with its acoustic strumming being slowly obliterated by the inevitable wave of dirty guitar. Way Out follows a similar pattern and Fancy finds us in more YYY familiar territory with the Karen O’s trademark growl/banshee wail scratching its grubby nails down the wall of guitar and percussion. But the stand out track has got to be Warrior. It starts like a song you might stumble across on some far off obscure stage at an alt folk festival but soon picks up its feet and starts running with the line “this road’s gonna end on me.’ I’m sure it will at some point, but on this evidence there seems to be a lot more road ahead.

This album smacks of a follow up that will make die hard YYY fans scoff at people like me for preferring it but as Brakes say in Heard About Your Band, “You shared a cab with Karen O, OO,OOO,” roughly translated means ‘I don’t give a shit.’

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5th Apr 2006 - Add Comment - Tweet

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