Monday, September 22, 2008

Who wants a body massage?

This has absolutely nothing to do with music and and I'm sure you've seen them before but these make me pee my pants....

Sky Larkin - New Video!

Now then, Now then! So after a week sunning myself and eating out every night I return to Newcastle as a slightly less ghostly figure. The first thing thats brought to my attention as i re-acquaint myself with teh intenetz is the new Sky Larkin video. They're from Leeds and they remind me of good Veruca Salt. The tune's called 'Fossil, I'. Boss, mate!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ross Killed Yer!

“There’s a lot of joy to be taken from the misfortune of others”. This is a delightful saying that sprung up on a recent visit to the Roskilde festival, held yearly just outside of Copenhagen, Denmark. Whilst basking in the glorious sunshine, drinking icy booze and contemplating seeing bands who fitted unarguably in the ‘legendary’ category, we spared a thought for all the poor fuckers back in the UK enduring the mini-monsoon season it was experiencing. And it made us happy…

Due to the extreme heat and lure of good, cold beer in the ‘Media Village’ during the daytime, it was up to the higher-up-the-bill bands to impress. This probably sounds like a waste of a festival to you hardened tent-dwellers; but consider this – over the course of 4 nights we saw Radiohead, Kings of Leon, Grinderman, Battles, The Streets, Neil Young, Slayer and Jay Z. Daytime performances by the incredible Band of Horses and not quite so incredible Kate Nash were also received, but it really was up to the big guns to provide our entertainment.

Clutch opened the proceedings on the Thursday and did so in style. Redneck charisma + blues riffs = good. That night I also saw Radiohead. You may not have heard of them. They’re from Oxford I think, keep an ear out for them. I predict good things.

I really can’t stress enough how damn hot it was throughout the course of the festival (apart from when Jay Z played bizarrely, when it proceeded to piss it down). Even though the evening was setting as Kings Of Leon hit the stage, it was still *hot*, and it suited their country-fried rock perfectly. They’re pretty much bona-fied super stars now and rightly so; tunes like ‘Four Kicks’ and ‘Charmer’ are examples of the most exciting straight-forward rock you’re likely to find in ‘commercially viable ™’ music today.

Grinderman aren’t exactly easy listening and their avant garde, punk approach to music certainly provokes extreme reactions, both positive and negative. In my eyes, Nick Cave is one of the baddest motherfuckers on the planet. He can do no wrong. Even people who were baffled by the music couldn’t deny the brilliance of ‘No Pussy Blues’ though. Grinderman are dirty, brilliant old men.

Battles are ace. A bunch of muso geeks making geeky music that you can dance to. And the drummer used to be in Helmet. Class.

The final act of Friday were probably the biggest shock to me. I remember when The Streets first came out with ‘Original Pirate material’ in 2002, Mike Skinner was a bedroom producer/rapper and little else. Reading how he was incredibly nervous at the prospect of performing live, the signs didn’t look great. Well, six years later and Mr. Skinner has obviously got over his nerves; the man owns the stage tonight and I haven’t had so much fun in a long time. Great tunes, good old crowd participation (he gets everyone to sit down then jump up and ‘go crazy’ when the beat kicks in no less than three times!) and a genuine sense of fun make The Streets live experience a great one and the fact that Mike Skinner is obviously having the show of his life is truly infectious.

Saturday, or as it should be called, the Neil Young day. Definitely one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend, Neil Young is equal parts frustrating and stunning. He plays classics such as ‘Old man’, ‘The Needle And The Damage Done’ and ‘Heart Of Gold’ which are stunning. He also plays a cover of ‘All along the Watchtower’, which he quietly dedicates to ‘my friend Bob’. Just Imagine Neil Young and Bob Dylan sat around, shooting the shit. That would be cool.

He also plays guitar solos all the time and every rock number finishes with the classic rock finish, the one where everyone thrashes their instruments to a crescendo. Only Neil Young’s band do that for about 3 minutes each time. That’s the length of most pop songs.

The band finish with an extremely lengthy, jammed out version of ‘Words’ I think, although it’s hard to tell as everything moulds into each other. Frustrating. But that’s when it hits you – This is Neil fucking Young, and he’s just played a set like they used to in the sixties; when a good hit of acid mixed with a 20 minute guitar solo would feel like a holy experience. I guess he’s stayed true to himself more than most people out there, for that he should be celebrated!

Those mainlanders certainly know how to keep up the party when it comes to festivals, but by day four of Roskilde the novelty starts to wear off and thoughts turn to freshly made beds and home-cooked meals. There are few things that can set the mind back on track when this happens, luckily the prospect of seeing Slayer and Jay Z on the same day are two such things…

Slayer are everything I hoped they’d be, including Kerry King looking like a total dick! They still utterly destroy and Tom Araya is clearly having fun. A perfect summers day metal performance. Slayer fans note, the last three songs of the set were 'Mandatory Suicide', 'Raining Blood' and 'Angel Of Death'. What!?

The skys opened up for Jay Z. Maybe God was one of those middle-class hippies who claimed there was no place for Hip Hop at Glastonbury, using his omnipitency to try and ruin his time at Roskilde? Probably. Anyway, it didn’t work because the Jiggaman put in the performance of a Hip-Hop superstar and Roskilde loved it! His full live band give a fresh slant to classic tunes such as ‘Big Pimpin’’, ‘Hard Knock Life’ and ‘99 Problems’ (which from half way through is mixed with the riff from AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’) and the man himself proves to be the consummate performer who, although not the best rapper in the world as he’s bizarrely labelled, is certainly a man who continues to ‘push things forward’. I wonder if he’s heard The Streets...

All live pics: Daniel Jones

Opinions are like arseholes...

Cancer Bats – Hail Destroyer (Hassle)
Maybe I’m a little too down with Voorhees or Coliseum to really get this. Like, the guy screams and stuff and the guitar guys plod along with their expensive sounding Mesa Boogies and the whole thing is drenched in money and compression. I’m not saying expensive sounding hardcore records are all bad (Poison the Well’s 'You Come Before You' anyone?) but this record is so far from displaying any real emotion it's almost embarrassing. Cancer Bats are kind of like a not-fun version of Paint It Black meets every 80s hardcore band that is good, but without taking any of their good points onboard and missing the point entirely.
Harry Johns

Kong – Blood Of A Dove/A Hint Of Rennit Innit 7” (Brew/White Drugs)
Kong are a band who, despite garnering a bit of buzz around them of late, have managed to somehow pass me by. These two tracks make me wish I’d taken note sooner. ‘Blood Of A Dove’ revolves around a menacing, Steve Albini-esque riff, contorting and twisting itself to its natural conclusion - a man screaming. And while this is all very satisfactory, it’s ‘A Hint Of Rennit Innit’ that serves up a far more interesting side to the band. Keeping with that Shellac discordance but a little more upbeat, the track delves off in odd tangents that bring a doomy King Crimson to mind before a relentless staccato barrage of pure rock hammers the point home. Admittedly, they’re a band who wear their influences on their sleeve but when it’s as delivered as well as this, who cares?
Charles J. Pritchard

Michael Rossiter – My Dearest Dear (Folk Theatre)
Michael Rossiter is part of a really vibrant and exciting folk scene in Leeds right now. I should know, I live there. But where some try to re-invent the genre, Michael treats us to a collection of traditional folk tunes (aside from 2 original compositions) older than you or I. It’s a suitably lo-fi affair, with easiest reference points being John Fahey and Martin Carthy but with Rossiter’s soft, vunerable vocals adding a certain delicacy to the whole record. I mean, you should just go check out everyone on his MySpace really, there is so much talent surrounding this record that just needs to be paid attention to.

Lukestar – Lake Toba (Phone Me Records)
Hailing from Norway, Lukestar serve up exactly the kind of post-My Bloody Valentine dreamy indie you come to expect from that part of the world. But in this case that’s not a bad thing at all, managing to inject a bit more urgency into their sound than most with the drive of tracks like ‘Clockworks of Tomorrow’ and ‘Shape of Light’. What you end up with is an exquisite blend of twinkling ethereal atmospherics and no bullshit guitar pop reminiscent of Pretty Girls Make Graves. I was convinced a woman was singing on this, with the vocals coming across like a female Jeremy Enigk. However, I checked out their photos and saw only pictures of men. Weird. Still, if it works for Sigur Ros…
This is an odd but great little record that demands your attention every time it’s on.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bossk to split. Final 2 shows announced.

Post-Metal tour machines Bossk have sadly announced there final 2 shows ever. Following the recent announcement of the split by the band, they have now confirmed their last 2 shows in Leeds and London. Bossk have continually stunned audiences over the last 3 years with their intricate, epic tunes and intense work ethic, oh, and hippy incense aromas. RIP Bossk.

"We are now able to announce our final shows!

October 2008

10th - Leeds, The Brudenell.

11th - London, The Underworld.

These will be our last ever shows as a band. Please come down and share this with us. The supports for both shows are our favourite bands that we have played with over the years. We will be selling advance tickets via our webstore starting on 30/08/08 and all advance tickets will come with a free Eyes Of Sound Records sampler to be collected at the show.

Leeds w/ Manatees, The Mirimar Disaster, Dragged Into Sunlight

London w/ Humanfly, Lattitudes, meandgoliath

We will be getting some more merch printed for these last dates, possibly some new hoodies and some awesome hand made screen printed posters.

The DVD will be ready by then, and everyone that pre ordered it from us will be sent out their copies before these shows. We have just added an extra part to the DVD, which will remain a secret until you buy it!

You can still pre order the DVD here


See you in Leeds and London.



Friday, September 5, 2008

Exterminate. Exterminate.

Human nature tends to dictate the need to constantly label and pigeon-hole, well, everything. Is it some sub-conscious desire for complete order? Fear of anarchy? Maybe we just want total control? (I think the last one is pretty accurate actually). Music suffers from this compulsion more than most, more often than not to give the listeners some kind of identity. “Breaking music apart into genres makes sense if you're in high school, but I'm a grown ass man” says MC Dälek (pronounced ‘dy-a-lek’), “I listen to what I like and I don't care what people call it.”

 Ten years ago, Dälek (comprising of MC Dälek and DJ Oktopus) released their debut album 'Negro Necro Nekros' and have been pushing the boundaries of Hip Hop ever since. By embracing many musical genres and incorporating them into their sound, the New Jersey two-piece have become as well known for playing with experimental metal acts, such as Isis and The Melvins, as much as they have touring with Hip Hop legends Prince Paul and De La Soul. “I definitely like playing to people that wouldn't necessarily come to our shows” says Dälek on a phone line from NJ, “there's definitely an appeal to walking into enemy territory and converting some people.” Surely such involvement with the 'Rock' crowd has sparked criticism from those who consider themselves Hip Hop purists? “It's funny man, a lot of old school heads that I grew up admiring, that I've been lucky enough to play shows with or to tour with, have completely supported what we do. Some have said to me in conversation that they're proud of the fact that we're pushing the envelope and doing this 'out there' stuff.” So you get no criticism then? “Nah” he laughs, “We get criticised by everyone.”

 One fact that will usually come up in a conversation regarding Dälek is their label; Mike Patton's Ipecac records. Never one to shy away from inter-genre incest, it seems the two are a perfect match. “Regardless of what genre of music they release they are an artist-friendly label; we were just concerned about finding a place where we wouldn't be stifled artistically. We've been there for six years now and it's our home, we have no plans on going anywhere.”

It does seem strange to me that a Hip Hop act so reknowned for a truly individual spirit and willingness to create “out-there stuff”, whether embraced by the Hip Hop community or not, are celebrated more for their actions outside of Hip Hop circles, than for their actions within. It seems Dälek himself is equally baffled by the skewed focus on the 'band' -

“Honestly, I think that although our sounds may be different to what people are used to, the ideology behind it all is very Hip Hop. If you look at when Hip Hop started, it started with that DJ mentality of digging through crates and listening to all types of music, picking bits of pieces from everything and making it your own. I think because of that our music has influences from all different types of genres. I mean if you listen to Hip Hop in its early stages it was the same thing. If you listen to Afrika Bambaata, he has Kraftwerk samples; If you listen to KRS-One he used a 'Smoke On The Water' sample. Rock and Hip Hop isn't a new thing, you know what I mean?”

Photo: Herve Baudat

'Rock' fans aren't always the most open-minded of people either, in fact, there are many people who use the music they’re into to define themselves as people, and are totally unaccepting of other genres. Admittedly it seems people's music taste in general is becoming more eclectic; Watching Dizzee Rascal make a field full of young 'Rock' kids very happy at this year’s Reading Festival, I couldn’t help but think that ten years ago he would have been bottled off stage. Dälek seems to relish the destruction when these barriers between genres fall down – “There’s always the people that swear they hate Hip Hop and then after we play they're into what we do. I always tell them “I'm sorry but now you actually like a Hip Hop group. I don't know how to break it to you – I know we sound different but don't get it twisted, it’s still Hip Hop” 

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hey yo! As you may have noticed from reading the content posted so far, some of it has a distinct 'On the road' theme to it. Over the next few days there'll be a couple of Israeli/UK crossover tour-type articles (bet you never thought you'd read that sentence in a music blog), in the form of London's Trencher and Tel Aviv's Monotonix, being uploaded to carry on with that theme.
In the meanwhile, check out this clip from Lightning Bolt's Power of Salad DVD, which, in my most humble of opinions, is the greatest documentation of a tour you can get your mitts on. You can find the whole thing on Youtube, but I'd feel bad putting that up. Go buy it!