Archive for July, 2006

Gig Review: T in the Park, Balado, Scotland, Sunday, July 9, 2006

Sunday morning was not much better than Saturday night, weatherwise. We hid in the tent for quite a while waiting for a break in the rain and then rushed around to cook breakfast, brush our teeth and pack everything into the car. The result was us missing The Spinto Band and My Latest Novel, both of whom I had wanted to see – the former because of all the blog buzz from last year and my being unconvinced by it, and the latter because they were an absolute delight when they opened for Low. On the upside it did give me the opportunity for a chuckle at all the festival virgins who didn’t have dry clothes for day 2. Always bring a change of clothes, even if you don’t need it. There is not much that feels worse than wet denim, especially on a chilly morning.

Animal Collective at T in the Park 2006After the trek into the festival site provided a downpour and loads of mud, I made my way first to the beer tent and then over to the Pet Sounds Arena to watch Animal Collective whose recent album I had heard once and found intriguing. They proved to be the oddest thing I saw all weekend and all the better for it, sounding like the mutant lovechild of Mogwai, The Beta Band and Primal Scream. The singer/guitarist played with an animal mask on his head, which he wore briefly while dancing about, while centre stage was the nob-twiddler, producing weird electronic sounds and beats while the drummer stood upright pounding on his kit and occasionally fiddling with a keyboard while the nob-twiddler banged the drums. It was completely captivating. Sadly, as we were already engaged that night, I didn’t manage to see a proper set the following week when they played Manchester. I missed the tail end of the set as well as I wanted to see Brakes and needed a stop along the way.

The Futures Stage was filled in comparison to the previous day when we’d watched the On/Offs. I somehow managed to go right up to the front though and get a great view of the perky and frenetic set delivered by Brakes. They were fresh from recording their new record in Nashville and treated us to a few new songs, which sound very promising, as well as running through old favourites such as “Comma Comma Comma Full Stop,” “NY Pie,” “Heard About Your Band,” “Cheney,” and “All Night Disco Party.” They sounded vibrant as ever with their weird country punk vibe and guitarist Tom White got so carried away at one point that he did a full-on rock and roll leap over the monitors and into the photo pit to shake hands with members of the audience while holding his guitar. It was a great performace and was well-received by everyone in the crowd except my rock-chick friend, who was less than impressed with all but two songs. Can’t win ’em all I suppose.

After Brakes finished I headed back to the Pet Sounds Arena and caught the last song and a half of Jose Gonzales’ rather heart-warming set. He was playing to a massively packed tent, yet I managed to squeeze down front and some very nice tall people let me in front of them, gushing about how T was the best festival in the world and how cool it was I’d come all the way from England to be there. Some other nice people on the other side of them held their spot even closer to the middle of the front row until I could slip in, since it was clear I was there for the next band, the utterly marvelous eels.

Eels at T in the Park 2006An hour later I was still waiting, with E and his merry band of weirdness being very very late for their start time. I was starting to doubt their turning up and starting to curse not having gone to watch Dirty Pretty Things with my friend as I could have seen it all and made it back in time. Hindsight eh? It was worth the wait though when they came out. First on the stage was an intimidating giant of a man dressed in a “Security” t-shirt. Then came the rest of the band, dressed in khaki, with E wearing a flight suit and goggles and looking, well, less odd than when he was dressing as the Unabomber c. Souljacker. He flew through a rock set, the polar opposite of his “With Strings” style offerings of the last year or so, and it sounded immense and maniacal. I particularly liked “Saturday Morning” and “I Like Birds” the latter being one of the highlights of the festival. The weird security man went through a weird series of routines involving push ups, karate kicks, playing the maracas and the keyboard, singing backing vocals and eating from a can of aerosol whipped cream before sharing with the crowd. It was odd and not unentertaining. Yay the eels. Few bands could get away with this level of oddity but when E does it, I find it charming.

When I emerged from inside the tent the sun had come out and The Strokes were on stage. As I have not heard their most recent album, mainly due to my appalling disappointment with their V performance in 2004, I thought I’d go watch a couple of songs, just to see if they’d upped their game a bit from the drunken, meandering nonsense of two years ago. They were playing “New York City Cops” and “Last Nite” both of which sounded okay. Meeting up with rock chick, however, we wandered back down to the Pet Sounds Arena to see Death Cab for Cutie. Now, as that stage had been running so late earlier I figured we had easily 15-20 minutes to get there for the start. When we walked in, however, 2 minutes before they were actually due on stage they were already performing “A Movie Script Ending.” A guy stood nearby informed me they’d been on when he arrived, 15 minutes earlier. Ben Gibbard explained that Zero 7 had not been able to play, according to him because they’d been arrested for embezzlement. I never found out the real reason. But it meant that Death Cab played a full 90 minutes, of which I missed the first 30. I did get to see lovely versions of “Sound of Settling” and “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” at the very least. They were lovely, as usual, even though I couldn’t see anything. And rock chick said she enjoyed them.

People climbing the rafters during Primal Scream at T in the Park 2006After DCFC finished, we headed for King Tut’s to see Primal Scream. I have mixed feelings about the Scream. I like some of their songs very much, mainly the rockier ones. I find some of their songs very annoying. I’m not sure about the new material, it’s a little too Rolling Stones for my liking but it’s preferable to a lot of what’s on the radio right now. In any case, we planned to watch half of the Primals and then go see a bit of The Who, mainly because they’re so legendary, even though neither of us like them much, we thought we should see them anyway. But first, Bobby Gillespie, Mani, et. al. They came on stage to a packed tent with a brilliant rendition of “Movin’ On Up.” I’m afraid the rest of what we heard is a blur as I was far too focused on the people climbing up the tent supports into the rafters so they could see the stage. At one point there were 2 or 3 people up each of about 6 or 8 giant poles. The band were finally forced by the police to stop playing until they all came down. It was at this point that we thought we’d seen the highlight of the performance and made for the main stage.

We did not actually get too far. We stopped way at the back, where we had a vague view of the screens but room for dancing and where talking would not bother anyone. The Who were playing “Teenage Wasteland” and that was about as good as they got. There is something very wrong about men in their sixties singing about how they hope they die before they get old. That really should come out of the setlist now. The crowd, as they were the night before, were the real entertainment. We made one chap’s night by providing him with the score from the World Cup Final as delivered by The Ledge to my phone. We surprised two young boys who thought they were older than us (they were 19) who then expressed their disbelief by picking me up and shaking me upside down. We danced a jig with a girl drunk on vodka and Irn Bru who was still singing “Monster” by The Automatic. She really must have been drunk. She seemed to think it was a good song. We had a laugh, we watched the closing fireworks and then we headed for the car for a long overnight drive home with the sunrise at our back.

Posted by JustHipper on 31st July 2006 at 7:40 pm | comments (1)
File under Festival Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: The Organ, Life Café, 17th July 2006

The Organ, Life Café, ManchesterLet’s make this quick; this was over a week ago and it’s too hot to be sitting at a PC (regular viewers may notice that updates on this blog are getting increasingly sporadic with the hot weather. Will we see JustHipper’s account of day two of T In The Park any day soon? I don’t know). The back room of The Life Café was bathed in daylight when openers Stop It You’re Killing Me took to the stage, mumbling their name so we didn’t actually know what they were called until the next day. I hate it when bands do that. How are we supposed to go out and buy your records if we don’t know what you’re called? They were a young three-piece and their grungey indie rock went down quite well except for when the singer transformed his voice into a weird guttoral moan which he did at some point during every song. Not sure why he did that but I’m sure the songs, some of which were rather tuneful, might have been better without his strange random vocal affectations.

I’d only heard a couple of tracks by The Organ prior to this gig and so didn’t know what to expect but the band put on a fairly intense live show with much attempts to out-stare the audience and little interaction between songs. Guitarist Debora Cohen in particular remained impassive throughout, her faraway stare bordering on the plain bored as she fired out her post-punk guitar lines with a consumate ease. Singer Katy Sketch, she of the rather wonderful Debbie Harry-esque voice, prowled the stage, completely wrapped up in the music, her vocals barely audible thanks, I think, to our position directly beneath the PA system. Those couple of track I’d heard, “Brother” and “Memorize The City”, were excellent and virtually everything else they played stuck to a similar formula except for the set closer, a mellower affair for which Sketch played a tiny acoustic guitar and we could actually hear every word she sang. It was probably the highlight of the evening.

Posted by The Ledge on 26th July 2006 at 10:31 pm | comments (1)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Silver Jews, Club Academy, Manchester, 13th July 2006

Silver Jews at Club Academy, ManchesterThis is a gig I’d been waiting ten years for. For years David Berman vowed that Silver Jews would never tour, stage fright was cited, among other things, and I’d almost given up hope. The kicking of his long-standing drug habit and the advent of the brilliant Tanglewood Numbers album seem to have produced a change in attitude and, backed up by his wife Cassie on bass duties and the considerable talents of Tony Crow on keyboards and Will Tyler on guitar, members of Lambchop both, Berman is out on the road, on a mammoth tour, making up for lost time.

Support was from the very entertaining Marble Valley fronted by ex-Pavement drummer Steve West and comprising a bunch of middle aged men basically having a good time, mixing up different musical styles from hip hop through krautrock to indie pop all laced with a healthy dollop of pavement-esque slackerdom. I was reminded more than once of The B-52’s thanks to the upbeat nature of the songs and to West’s excellent impression of a laid back Fred Schneider.

Silver Jews were every bit as great as I’d expected them to be. With such a rich back catalogue and such an accomplished band it would have been difficult for them to fuck it up and starting off with probably my favourite Jews song, “Black And Brown Shoes”, wasn’t a bad way to begin, even if Berman did forget the words as early as the second verse. There were the choicest picks from all five Jews albums with Tanglewood Numbers understandably getting the most exposure. It was great to hear full on versions of early tracks such as “Trains Across The Sea” and “New Orleans” which easily bettered their lo-fi album versions. They really seem to have picked the best two songs off each of the old albums: “Random Rules” and “Smith And Jones Forever” off American Water were sublime; “Slow Education” and “Horseleg Swastikas” off Bright Flight could maybe have been bettered by “Tennessee” and “I Remember Me”, but “Dallas” from The Natural Bridge was the highlight of the night thanks to the glorious vocal interplay between the Bermans.

Super charged versions of “Sometimes A Pony Gets Depressed” and “Punks In The Beerlight” were the pick of the Tanglewood Numbers tunes with the band on full throttle all but drowning out David Berman’s vocals. Minus points for the soundman. The night ended with a poignant rendition of the harrowing “There Is A Place”, Berman, having exorcised the ghosts of his troubled past, now seemed to be revelling in his newly passion for performance. Hopefully the first tour won’t be the last.

Posted by The Ledge on 20th July 2006 at 11:07 pm | comments (0)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Gig-Goer of the Week: Special Mention, Other Blogs on Eels Gigs

I came across a review quite accidentally of Eels in Glasgow on a site called Bigmouth Strikes Again

He puts so many of my frustrations so succinctly into the first two paragraphs, I think he deserves a mention and some applause.

Posted by JustHipper on 20th July 2006 at 3:59 pm | comments (2)
File under Gig-goer of the Week.

Gig Review: Nephew at the Night & Day, 12th July 2006

We popped down to the Night & Day last Wednesday to catch Nephew, who were launching their debut single, the very wonderful Our Cold War EP. Unfortunately, few others did; members of Elbow were spotted milling around as we entered but by the time we’d reached the bar Guy Garvey and co. were out of the door, onto Oldham Street and into the night.

The three support acts were all of a rootsy/bluesy disposition, not something you can accuse Nephew of. Jon Kenzie‘s acoustic singer/songwritery fare was largely ignored by the few of us there and Filthy Romance were a poor man’s Gomez with barely a decent tune to their name. In between these two were the only support of note in The Fray whose grungy blues recalled The White Stripes and Screaming Trees and who boasted an impressive singer who spent more time rolling aroung on the floor in front of the audience than he did on the stage. At one point he unbuckled his belt and threatened to whip out the little fireman, but modesty, or maybe lack of alcohol, got the better of him much to everyone’s relief. The Fray have got some good tunes, are excellent musicians and, despite sounding like they come from the Mississippi Delta, are actually from Darlington.

Despite the small crowd and a constant chatter from the bar area that almost drowned out the quiet bits in their songs, Nephew, once again, played a blinder. It was a short set of only six songs including the whole of the new EP but was well worth the entrance fee. The two other songs played were the musical dramas of the opening “A Little More” and the excellent “Devil’s Work” both of which we’d heard before and which on the night sounded better than ever. Of the songs on the EP “Secret Army” stood out with singer Chris Briden’s brooding resentment during the verses seemingly being channelled towards those talking away at the bar. As the song built to its powerful chorus I can only hope that some of those people sat up and took notice.

They’ve got no more gigs planned for the remainder of the summer but hopefully they’ll be back in the autumn. You can buy their Our Cold War EP from Piccadilly Records or Boomkat

Posted by The Ledge on 19th July 2006 at 8:31 pm | comments (16)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: T in the Park, Balado, Scotland, Saturday July 8, 2006

A week before T in the Park I was not even going, but a couple of almost face-value tickets later (yeah, I know, don’t buy from touts, but I don’t think this was a tout and it was still cheaper than either V or Leeds) and my rock chick friend and I were on our way to Scotland in the dark on a Friday night with a tent, lots of Pot Noodle and and a ridiculous amount of coffee. Six hours later we had a makeshift home in a field 4 miles from the actual festival and loads of plans about how to avoid bad band time clashes the next day.

The Guillemots at T in the Park 2006Saturday morning began with sunshine, a lift into Milnethorp, a 2 mile walk and the Guillemots playing in King Tut’s Tent. The Guillemots are currently one of my favourite live bands and they were the perfect start to the day with their gleeful, orchestral pop. They played a short but energetic set consisting primarily of the singles: “Trains to Brazil,” “Made Up Love Song #43,” and “Who Left the Lights Off Baby” as well as a manic “Go Away” before finishing with the intense, meandering “Sao Paulo.” Supplemented by 3 backing singers and some horns, they had the crowd in the palms of their hands, screaming madly for Fyfe, besuited all in red and with his usual smile.

What a way to start our festival then, as we wandered over to the Radio 1/NME Stage to watch The Cribs, a band I’d seen a few years ago opening for Death Cab for Cutie and who had not impressed me. But, more recently I liked the “Hey Scenesters!” single and I had picked up their album on the cheap and it’s surprisingly good. So we planted ourselves on the grass, not even able to see the screens in the crowd, and listened to them deliver a reasonable set of Strokes-inspired rock tunes with some good riffs and a lot of enthusiasm in the crowd. They sounded okay, nothing amazing, but it’s always a different vibe when you’re sat near the back than when you’re down in the trenches.

The On/Offs at T in the Park 2006From there we wandered over to catch the On/Offs at the Futures Stage. I’d been reasonably impressed with them when The Ledge and I saw them open for Battle a few months ago. Since then, they’ve progressed slightly, sounding less like The Jam and more like The Futureheads, or perhaps a combination of the two. They were enthusiastic, despite being in a tiny tent to a very sparse crowd, and delivered their spiky rock tunes with such gusto that my rock chick friend has been pestering me to inform her the next time they play in Manchester, so taken by them she was. If that’s not a result, I don’t know what is.

That was the last of my leisurely stroll through bands I thought I might find interesting and the point at which things started to clash. I found myself agreeing to watch ten minutes of the Kooks, mainly because my friend wanted to try to grasp the appeal of a singer who she reckons sounds like he’s plagued with a Tourette’s style vocal tick when he sings. There was no appeal and we very speedily fought our way through a massive crowd over to the main stage to see Placebo, always a festival favourite for me. Sadly they were not on their usual form. Maybe it was because they’re promoting a new album which I have yet to hear and maybe I just was not drunk enough, starting to fade a bit from lack of sleep and fretting about whether to watch Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and the tail end of Franz Ferdinand, or Clap and then all of iForward Russia!. Either way, it was not the most dynamic Placebo performance ever, they seem to plod on doing the same thing forever, per usual. I did enjoy hearing “Nancy Boy” though. And Brian Molko, from what I could see of him, looked snazzy in a suit.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah at T in the Park 2006After some food, I made the difficult decision to watch Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and then run over to the main stage and watch the end of Franz Ferdinand, foregoing iForward Russia! who I am sure delivered a blistering performance, but who I’ve seen recently. I haven’t seen Franz since they released their second album. In any case, it was down to the front of the Pet Sounds Arena for CYHSY in amidst a friendly crowd who were as intrigued as I when the roadies started putting up a curtain at the front of the stage, which I have since learned was actually for Sigur Ros. While the opening song was a bit nonchalant, they soon picked up the pace, with Alex Ounsworth delivering some bizarre happy dancing, and the band inspiring gleeful singalongs to “My Yellow Country Teeth” and “Clap Your Hands” the last verse of which was sung, rather than chanted. A new song sounded fabulous, despite slightly dodgy sound, and I was pleased to hear my personal favourites “Over and Over (Lost and Found)” and “Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood.” I could have spent another hour in that tent watching them quite happily so cheerful and inspiring were they, much like the previous two occasions when I’d seen them, only this time it was to a much bigger audience.

When I emerged from the darkness of the tent it was into steady rain, so, pulling on my rain gear as I ran, I made my way over to the main stage in time to hear Franz Ferdinand performing the end of “Fallen.” Realising I would never get close enough to see anything I found a spot where I could at least see the screens and proceeded to enjoy energetic versions of “Darts of Pleasure,” “Matinee,” “40′” and “This Fire,” the last of which ended the set and apparently featured a range of guest drummers, but I couldn’t tell from where I was standing, particularly as I was being besieged by a young lad who insisted he knew me from a pub somewhere in Glasgow. As I’ve only been to Glasgow to see gigs twice, and have only ever been in one pub there once and that about 8 years ago when this boy was probably only about 10 years old, I think he was probably mistaken. Wrapped up in a rain poncho with the hood pulled low, I doubt he could even really tell what I looked like. But it was entertaining. Pity it distrated me from Franz who sounded like they were onto a brilliant performance, and the crowd was certainly excited by it.

After they finished, I took myself off to find my friend and the beer tent. She’d had quite an adventure herself, down closer to the front of Franz than I, bumping into old acquaintances she had not seen in over ten years. Welcome to T in the Park. Beer acquired, we wandered back into the main stage crowd to watch the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band neither of us love, but also a band so legendary and so famed for their live shows that we both figured we should watch them at least once in our lives. We sort of managed. Walking through the crowd in our rain gear, people stopping to offer us cash for our ponchos, bum a light off my companion, offer us drugs, drinks, hugs, flags and idle chatter. It was the friendliest crowd at a gig I’ve ever experienced. Everyone wanted to know how far we’d driven, everyone wanted to tell us how much fun they were having and everyone wanted to share their fun with us. We got to wave a flag, we got to dance, we met people from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and eventually, for about 15 minutes near the end of the evening, we did, finally watch the Chilis perform their final few songs, dancing about like mad fools to “By the Way” and “Give It Away” merely because we could. It did inspire some silly dancing around us though.

All in all it was a fantastic day, despite getting soaked to the bone walking four miles home in the dark. We crawled into our tent by midnight, there was nothing else for it in the rain, and dropped off dreaming of the possibilities for day 2 of T in the Park.

Posted by JustHipper on 13th July 2006 at 9:59 pm | comments (2)
File under Festival Reviews,Reviews.

CD Single Review: “Speed”, McAlmont & Butler (Rough Trade)

“Faster than the bullet trains in the east….” belts out David McAlmont on the chorus of the brand spanking new McAlmont & Butler song, which may just be the best thing they’ve done, if not it’s a close second to the masterful “Yes.” Full of soaring highs, and moments of “how does he do that with his voice?!” it’s a classic pop song with Bernard Butler’s Phil Spector-esque lavish production, orchestral moments and overwhelming grandeur, something which works so well against David McAlmont’s impassioned vocals and the broad range of highs and lows he produces, somehow, defying all the laws of physics in the process.

The single is out in 7″ format only on Rough Trade on August 7, backed with the instrumental version. The best explanation about this release has been given by Bernard himself on his MySpace blog which is worth a read if only as a stark contrast to his sometime songwriting partner who will hopefully redeem his own recent transgressions on his own solo album next year.

Posted by JustHipper on 13th July 2006 at 6:46 pm | comments (1)
File under Reviews,Single Reviews.

Gig Review: High Voltage feat. Snowfight in the City Centre, The Music Box, June 30 2006

We finally began to live up to our promise to get to more local gigs by taking ourselves to see Snowfight in the City Centre launch their new single, No Light Left. Again it was proof positive that we should be going to more of these sorts of gigs.

First up were The Answering Machine. They were two blokes, a girl and a drum machine and they play Strokes-inspired indie pop full of sincerity and great guitar hooks. They even let the girl sing occasionally. While they seemed slightly chaotic, mildly thrown by some problems with the drum machine and a little inexperienced, the potential really shone through their performance and it was impressive to note that at what is clearly a very early stage in their career they are already enjoyable to watch on stage. Given time, more gigs under their belt, practice songwriting and a decent producer they could really produce some gems.

Next up was The Maple State (no, not Mates of State) who reminded me at first of The Futureheads, but I think that’s mainly down to their use of harmonies. They delivered a set of spiky pop-rock tunes to the glee of the crowd and some dancing. It’s been a couple of weeks and I should have written down my thoughts sooner, but it’s been a busy few weeks. I can say I enjoyed watching them and I’ll be looking out for future gig listings.

Finally came Snowfight in the City Centre, who were somewhat the opposite of the angular, upbeat punch of the first two bands, leaning instead towards sweeping epics and touching, quiet anthems. The stage was a mess of musicians all pounding their instruments earnestly and all I could think is that this band were quite possibly the missing link between Elbow and Snow Patrol – not quite as accomplished as Elbow and occasionally veering into M.O.R. territory, but also edgier and more interesting, less polished than Snow Patrol.

All in all it was a successful evening and was proof once again that the Manchester music scene is more than thriving and I await the next round of gigs from all three of these up and coming bands.

Posted by JustHipper on 11th July 2006 at 10:02 pm | comments (0)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Some random single reviews to keep things ticking over during the gig drought

Nephew – Our Cold War EP (Baked Goods)
Indie Credential faves Nephew‘s debut EP is finally upon us and it was well worth the wait. Lead track “High Rise Buildings” is a live favourite of mine and sounds almost as dynamic on record as it is in concert. It deals with swapping mundane small town life with life in the big city. Similar themes were explored by Doves on their Some Cities album but where that album was duller than a Ukraine performance at the World Cup, “High Rise Buildings” ebbs and flows with its yawning violin loops and epic chorus. “Sorry” recalls Elbow and is short and sweet while “Who The Fuck” and “Secret Army” are vitriolic episodes that sit somewhere between Radiohead and The Unbelievable Truth, Thom York’s brother’s band, who released the seriously underrated Almost Here way back in 1998. Needless to say, all four songs on this EP are excellent and I really can’t recommend it enough.

Nephew launch the Our Cold War EP with a gig at the Night & Day on Wednesday 12th July, tickets are £5 on the door. The EP will be in the shops on Monday 17th, I’m not sure which shops exactly but I’m pretty sure Piccadilly Records will have it.

Snowfight In The City Centre – No Light Left (High Voltage Sounds)
We went to see Snowfight In The City Centre at their single launch at the Music Box last week and they were pretty good, though not as impressive as either of the support bands, The Answering Machine and The Maple State. “No Light Left” made much less of an impression on us than much of the rest of their set but it’s definitely a grower, an urgent slice of anthemic Manc pop that should hopefully gain them wider exposure. The b-side, “My Saving Grace”, sounded rather excellent live but further investigation reveals it to owe far too much of a debt to Elbow, right down to the title. A promising debut, nonetheless.

Mogwai – Travel Is Dangerous EP (PIAS)
The new Mogwai EP is a worthwhile purchase if only for the fact that it contains a fearsome live version of “Like Herod” recorded in Tokyo earlier this year which makes the “Mogwai Young Team” version sound positively serene by comparison. A similarly bowel-loosening live version of Mr Beast’s “We’re No Here” is also a winner and elsewhere there are remixes of “Auto Rock” and “Friend Of The Night” that strip away the driving piano motifs of the album versions and play around with the rhythms beneath. I’m not a great fan of remixes but, though both tracks lose some of the melodrama of their album counterparts, they make for an intriguing listen. The title track features Barry Burns on rather undistinguished vocal duties but it boasts great arpeggios and a whopping chorus in which the vocals catch a ride on the back of a wave of shoegazey distortion.

Smog – Rock Bottom Riser (Domino)
The new Smog EP arrives just in time to remind me of the melancholic brilliance of last year’s A River Ain’t Too Much To Love featuring as it does, two tracks, “Rock Bottom Riser” and “I Feel Like The Mother Of The World”, from that album, alongside two newies in “Bowery” and “Fool’s Lament”, both of which wouldn’t be out of place on River. Which is high praise indeed and makes this EP a must for all Smog fans out there. Also included are videos for the first two tracks which feature Chloë Sevigny as a chambermaid with an eye patch in “Mother Of The World” and some beautiful animation in “Rock Bottom Riser”. Bill Callaghan is a genius and has the most beautiful voice known to man. Buy this now.

The Sleepy Jackson – God Lead Your Soul (EMI)
The Sleepy Jackson never really piqued my interest when they were around a couple of years ago but their new single ain’t bad at all, starting off as a dusty, atmospheric shuffle before bursting to life about halfway through when the traditional sophomore album orchestra comes in and briefly threatens to undo all the previous good work. Fortunately the orchestra is reined in for the final verse. There are hints of gospel and the song is clearly inspired by Luke Steele’s apparently new-found Christianity. I won’t hold that against them, though, as this is a strong lead track for their forthcoming Personality long player.

The Sleepy Jackson play the Manchester Academy 3 on 13th July. Unfortunately Silver Jews are playing Club Academy on the same date so I’m going to that instead.

The Hedrons – Be My Friend (Measured Records)
The Hedrons are an all-girl rock band from Glasgow with a terrible name and a completely uninspiring debut single. People should know by now that surnames don’t work as band names (The Smiths being the exception that proves the rule). Just because your lead singer’s called Tippi doesn’t mean you have to call your band that. It’s like Hepburn never happened. Anyway, the song is tuneless faux-punk rock pap inspired by MySpace from a band who sound like they spend their Sundays ironing their Ramones t-shirts they got from Top Shop.

Posted by The Ledge on 9th July 2006 at 10:17 pm | comments (2)
File under Reviews,Single Reviews.

Site News: Power Outages

Our hosting company has been having server issues since late last week, so apologies for the power outages. They’re working to fix the problem but in the meantime, the site may go down intermittently or parts may not be accessible or working. Hopefully it won’t be much longer cause we have some updates to do and we’d kind of like our email functional again.

Posted by JustHipper on 4th July 2006 at 10:06 am | comments (7)
File under News.