Archive for November, 2006

Gig Review: TV On The Radio, Club Academy, Manchester, 9th November 2006

When TV On The Radio played the Night and Day a couple of months ago I was very much undecided about them having only heard the first album, which didn’t make much of an impression, and “Dry Drunk Emperor”, the brilliant free mp3 they distributed in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. I didn’t go to that gig but bought their Return To Cookie Mountain album after it had garnered a number of dazzling reviews. It’s a great album, easily one of the best of 2006, so on the back of that I bought us tickets to the Club Academy gig. Unfortunately, JustHipper, who had managed to avoid listening to Cookie Mountain since I bought it, decided to put it in her car a couple of days before the gig. She hated it with a passion and told me in no uncertain terms what I could do with the ticket. Oh well, at least the gig had been sold out for weeks and I managed to sell the ticket on Scarlet Mist at a day’s notice (apologies to James at Yer Mam! who we met for the first time at last Tuesday’s Art Brut gig and found out that he would gladly have taken it).

Kicking off the evening were Belgian psychedelic stoner rockers White Circle Crime Club who were thoroughly entertaining and reminded me a lot of Oneida, which probably had as much to do with one of them wearing a rather fetching Oneida t-shirt as with their agreeably repetitive drone rock.

TV On The Radio began their excellent set with lead singer Tunde Adebimpe looping his own human beatbox before launching into Cookie Mountain highlight “Dirtywhirl”; a great opener, yes, but it was immediately obvious that the venue, with its steel pillars and low ceiling, could not handle the band’s expansive, multi-layered sound. Waves of guitar and drums poured forth over the crowd before crashing off harsh surfaces to deliver its dissonant wake into attendant ears. In normal circumstances this might have quelled my enjoyment of the gig but TV On The Radio put in such an electric performance that the sound problems barely seemed to matter. At the heart of it all was Adebimpe who was a whirlwind of motion, pacing back-and-forth across the small stage, mic in hand, his free hand in constant gesticulation. It was a shame his powerful voice was almost lost in the enveloping sonic soup. The guitar and vocal work of the striking Kyp Malone and the fearsome Dave Sitek frequently rose above the morass through pure force of will. There were many highlights in the set but “Wolf Like Me” stood out head and shoulders above the rest, the irresistible collective force generated by the band was overwhelming and deserves to be heard in bigger and better venues than Club Academy.

Posted by The Ledge on 24th November 2006 at 5:50 pm | comments (1)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

News: More Songs To Learn And Sing

Sweeping The Nation’s Songs To Learn And Sing feature has been required reading (and listening) for the month of November (I especially recommend the Fatima Mansions, Rhoda & The Special AKA, Molasses and Art Of Fighting tracks). Today is no exception as our very own JustHipper eulogises The Ocean Blue’s Ballerina Out Of Control. Go read, download, listen.

Posted by The Ledge on 22nd November 2006 at 6:39 pm | comments (0)
File under News.

Gig Review: Tapes ‘n Tapes, Manchester Academy 3, November 7, 2006

Tapes n Tapes at Manchester Academy 3Another day, another Tapes ‘n Tapes gig for us here at the Indie Credential. Unlike the previous post-festival outing at Korova in Liverpool, they were playing a respectable venue here in Manchester – finally. We were smart enough to miss the opening band who were the same appalling act that had opened for Broken Social Scene in Liverpool and who were a bad imitation of a terrible band – the terrible band being the Zutons. I have no idea what this band were called but I hope I never have reason to find out. We were shocked to discover that we could walk straight up to the front though as I was worried that I would not be able to see a thing in the sold out crowd.

Lo and behold though, it must have been the night of happy politeness because not only did a couple of people shift slightly to let me comfortably stand where I could see at the front, but a random stranger struck up a very pleasant conversation with The Ledge, talking about his favourite gig at the Academy 3 (Bloc Party, apparently) and his own band which actually sounded quite intriguing. I’m hoping The Ledge remembered their name because he claimed they were heavily influenced by Sigur Ros. Soon enough though, Tapes ‘n Tapes took the stage.

Much like the previous time in Liverpool they were very energetic, raring to go and they ran through a blinding set of album tracks as well as a couple of tracks I had not heard before off an EP we do not own. I particularly liked “Manitoba” and “Cowbell.” While the band were all movement and energy the crowd seemed particularly laid-back, much to my surprise. There were even two girls stood behind me in their Topshop window display outfits looking at pictures on their phones. I think they were there to impress the two lads in front of them. In fact, singer Josh commented on the fact that there was one guy dancing in the whole crowd – the nice lad who had been speaking to The Ledge before the show. Finally when they played “Insistor” the crowd started moving. Too little too late unfortunately because they only had one track left in them, “Jakov’s Suite” which began as a long duelling instrumental with guitar and bass circling each other, dancing and playing back-to-back before launching into a manic, drawn out rendition of the song. It was fantastic.

Tapes ‘n Tapes put on yet another fine performance and it is clear that incessant touring is only helping to make them better and better. Sadly, this gig proved the old point that it’s not always the band’s performance that makes the gig – the behaviour of the crowd is just as important, and the disinterest and nonchalance really let the band down by sapping all the energy and chaos from the room. On the way out however, at least one other person liked the show as much as we did as The Ledge was stopped for the second time that night with a request for copies of his photos by a local DJ with a rather nice blog over at Best Foot Forward.

So, yeah, another Tapes ‘n Tapes gig, I’m hoping the next one will be a bit more active. But I don’t mean the band.

Posted by JustHipper on 21st November 2006 at 6:20 pm | comments (1)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Neko Case, Manchester Academy 3, November 6, 2006

It had been far too long between Neko Case tours when we finally got ourselves down to the Academy to see her perform last week. We’d seen her for the first time when she was touring her amazing Furnace Room Lullaby album, playing to a tiny crowd at the Night & Day and she’d won me over completely. I had not been quite as taken with Blacklisted but enjoyed the album live. I was very much looking forward to this gig though because her current long-player, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, is a strong contender for my album of 2006. When The Ledge informed me that Kelly Hogan who we’d seen with her on that first tour, was opening again, I made certain we got down to the university early so as to see her as well.

Jon Rauhouse at Manchester Academy 3The first hint of activity was the emergence of three men – two guitarists and a guy on double bass, saying that they were going to each play 3 songs and then Kelly Hogan would join them too. The first up was Paul something, Neko’s bassist, I did not catch his last name, he said he usually performs under the stage name Cousin Harley. He was on a battered acoustic guitar playing some very old-sounding traditional country tracks. He had a really worn-in voice, perfect for the country blues he was singing and I really enjoyed listening to him. Next up was Jon Rauhouse, Neko’s slide guitarist, and he played an amazing guitar instrumental before singing two other country tracks. His voice was not as good as his cohort but his guitar playing was faultless and I was transfixed watching his hands up and down the fretboard. Finally, Kelly Hogan, also on backing vocals for Neko, emerged for her three tracks. Now, I am familiar with her because we come from the same hometown of Atlanta, GA. When I was in high school, the only place to find new and unusual music was on the Georgia State University radio station. They were sometimes truly unlistenable, sometimes were devoted to the budding local music scene, heavily influenced by REM and the B-52’s from down the road in Athens, and sometimes much more universal. Back then, Kelly Hogan fronted a band called the Jody Grind who were constantly gigging in the area – I know this because I kept hearing them mentioned, and who were supposed to do great things. One night, however, while on their way to a gig in one of the Carolinas, they were in a horrible car accident and two members of the band were killed. So ended the Jody Grind and although I heard Kelly’s name mentioned on local music shows a few times I didn’t hear anything else. I cannot even remember what the Jody Grind sounded like, only that the name was so unusual it stuck. So, imagine my surprise when Kelly Hogan turned up with Neko a few years ago. She has a marvellous voice and bags of personality and it is a shame that she never managed to find another group with whom she clicked because she really should be headlining venues, not working as a backing singer. So yeah, she was very good. She did 2 older songs and one song that she wrote that has been included in the soundtrack to a movie about female wrestlers. Go figure.

Neko Case at Manchester Academy 3Finally though, the main event. Neko emerged onto the stage into the very unflattering lighting to belt out an unfortunately truncated set. She has a magnificent voice which is always the centrepiece of any performance, and despite getting over a cold, she sounded absolutely faultless. In particular, the double whammy of “Set Out Running” and “Star Witness,” my favourite track off the new album, pretty much made my night. She was accompanied by her opening band and they entertained the crowd with banter about the tourbus and jokes at the expense of Rancid, who were playing in the Academy 1 next door. While “Deep Red Bells,” despite being the highlight of Blacklisted, failed to impress, “Hold On, Hold On” and “That Teenage Feeling” pretty much took my breath away and she certainly managed the sultry tones necessary for “Look for Me (I’ll Be Around).” While the set revolved mostly around Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, she threw in enough highlights from the back catalogue not to disappoint, and per usual it was bizarre watching her exchange cheerful banter with the crowd, being so warm and friendly before disappearing back into another mournful ballad.

When the band disappeared from the stage we thought we would be hearing a good six more songs, including her masterpiece, “Twist the Knife,” as we could see the setlist from where we were standing. Owing to the set having started at 9:45pm, as suddenly seems to be the norm in the Academy, whereas for the last 8 or 9 years it’s been 9:15pm for the main act, she only had time for a couple more. She finished with a rousing version of “John Saw That Number” to the delight of the crowd who had been baying for it. While it had been the only track on the record I did not like initially, it has grown on me and I thought it was a brilliantly fitting end to a fantastic set, although it would have been nice to have heard “Twist the Knife” and the intended closer, “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.” Hopefully it won’t be another 3 years before she makes it back again.

Posted by JustHipper on 20th November 2006 at 7:34 pm | comments (1)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Jet, Manchester Academy 1, November 4, 2006

Jet at Manchester AcademyI can’t tell you how much I have been waiting for this gig. After falling in love with this band from Melbourne whilst travelling around Australia in 2004 and watching them steal the show at V2005, this gig really was a long time coming. Cementing my place front row central, however, had its downsides in the form of an emo wannabe band whose name, for the life of me I cannot remember. If you want a description, the lead singer looked like a cross between Jack Black and a young Meatloaf who decided to do an impromptu gig on his way home from a funeral. The rest of band had serious style issues too: with the guitarist dressed in a camp pink shirt they looked all over the place. Musically they were OK, but I felt they were lacking experience. I suspect they have the potential to be good.

Next up came the 747’s, who, keeping on the styling issue a little longer, had a bassist with the bravest pair of tight yellow jeans I have ever seen in my life. This is the first time I have come across this band, although I had heard of them before in a good capacity, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. They have an inoffensive mellow guitar sound, which I liked. They were very competent on stage, but when you need all your brain power to absorb every mouth-watering moment of Jet they failed to come close. I would, if you are about, recommend checking these guys out though.

Now when it comes to live gigs there are three main types: first we have the Killers who sound great on disc, and although Brandon Flowers puts on a great show, they don’t quite carry off the sound; next are the Guns and Roses of this world whose records match the brilliance of their concerts in every way possible; then we have the Jets who really surpass almost every band in the way they perform. They have that unique ability to really make their music come alive and they sound so superb that the original record sounds empty without. This is some feat considering the albums they have.

Jet at Manchester AcademyThe gig was a mixture of old and new with a huge bucket of sweat thrown in as Nic Cester with cig in mouth rocked up on stage with sirens blazing. Opening up with ‘Come On Come On’ from their new album Shine On, the front rows were alive with energy. The hits kept coming with ‘Rollover DJ’ and ‘Get What You Need’ before they retreated back to the new album with ‘Stand Up’ and ‘Kings Horses.’ Each and every song was perfect and sung with heart — and that was just the crowd. Jet’s performance was undoubtedly one of the best I have ever seen, even when they brought it down a little to play a song close to the band’s hearts — their current single ‘Bring It On Back.’ Next up was ‘Cold Hard Bitch’ when the brewing crowd behind could not contain themselves and an avalanche of crowd surfers came overhead faster than scallies on the first day of a Nike sale. On a 1 minute video clip of this song there are a total of 11. This trend continued throughout the rest of the gig.

The encore was short-lived but the crowd did them proud as the place erupted for a second time for ‘Put your Money Where Your Mouth Is’ and finally ‘Are You Going To Be My Girl’ where the night took that strange twist to where all my nights seem to go. During the last verse, another crowd surfer, perhaps the 200th of the evening, fell on top of my friend, knocking her out. Luckily we were at the front and after waiting an hour the third ambulance turned up with the equipment they needed to carry her out. It was only at the hospital that we realised that the guy who fell on top of her was in the next room with a suspected broken leg, and by my book that made for the perfect ending to a perfect night — even the concussion I suffered the following day from his big size nines in the back of my head all seemed worth it.

Posted by Bricking Chick on 15th November 2006 at 10:48 pm | comments (5)
File under Gig Reviews,Metal Mayhem,Reviews.

Gig Review: Calexico, Liverpool Academy, 3rd November 2006

Last week was a bad one for the Indie Credential household. On Thursday afternoon our cat, Spook, died after being hit by a car outside our house and we were in no mood to go to the Sufjan Stevens gig at the Academy 2 later that evening. We buried her the next day wrapped in my old Galaxie 500 t-shirt (she was named after a Galaxie 500 song) and decided that we should make the trip over to Liverpool to see if Calexico could lift us out of the doldrums.

Opening were A Hawk And A Hacksaw, which is Jeremy Barnes, formerly of Neutral Milk Hotel, with violinist Heather Trost. They play mostly instrumental Bavarian folk music and were quite compelling. Barnes was kitted out like a one man band, playing an accordian and with cymbals between knees, a drumstick taped to one knee and another attached to his large woolly hat, which itself was encrusted in jingly bells so that he could throw his head to the right to hit another large cymbal. As drummer with Neutral Milk Hotel, Barnes was incredible to watch, a constant ball of energy, his tongue permanently hanging from the side of his mouth in his intense concentration. He’s much calmer these days but just as entertaining. The music managed to be both joyous and sad at the same time as if celebrating our current state of despondency. Towards the end the duo were joined by a few friends to put on a rousing finale to their set that went some way to cheering us up before the arrival of Calexico.

We’d already seen Calexico a couple of times this year and though they were good gigs they didn’t reach the heights of their pre-Garden ruin era shows mainly because of the band’s decision on Garden Ruin to move away from their Tex-Mex influences and invest in a more mainstream rock sound. Garden Ruin is an excellent album but I do miss the Mariachi element. They kicked off with “El Morro”, an instrumental from a film soundtrack I’d never heard before. It was a beautiful, understated opening with some delicious slide guitar playing from Joey Burns and it immediately suggested that the band were not going to give us a re-run of those previous gigs. Though much of the material played was from their last two albums they played with a verve and enthuisiasm that was a hallmark of those earlier gigs but that had been diminished somewhat in recent times. Feast Of Wire favourites “Sunken Waltz” and “Across The Wire” sparkled like diamonds in the desert while the Garden Ruin material, especially “Deep Down” and “Cruel”, was played with much more gusto than we’d previously experienced.

Best of all though were the instrumentals. “Minas De Cobre” was breathtaking with Paul Niehaus’s pedal steel taking the lead backed up by the vibrant trumpets of Calexico stalwarts Martin Wenk and Jacob Valenzuela while “El Picador” was equally thrilling and had much of the crowd dancing. The touring band that Calexico now have is just six strong, including the main duo of Burns and Convertino, but this now seems to be their definitive line-up and I can’t imagine the band without the likes of Niehaus, Valenzuela or Wenk. Along with bass player Volker Zander they are integral to the band’s sound and live show, especially Jacob Valenzuela whose trumpet playing was a delight throughout and who provided vocals on a wonderful version of “Roka” and generally spent the whole gig looking like he was having the time of his life. His enthusiasm was infectious and for most of the gig the audience were whooping, clapping and singing along, encouraged more often than not by an equally animated Joey Burns.

With live staples “Alone Again Or” and “The Crystal Frontier” sounding better than ever the gig came to an end with both audience and band on a collective high and the smiles, temporarily at least, back on our faces.


Posted by The Ledge on 13th November 2006 at 2:24 pm | comments (3)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Fratellis, Manchester Academy 1, October 28, 2006

I’ll apologise now for the rant that lays before you, but why, oh why, do venues/production teams/bands choose to play that incessant dossh dossh dossh that some describe as dance music before a gig with which it has no musical connection. It wasn’t that I was at the gig overly early, the music just seemed to go on forever. That is, however, until the support band Louie rocked up on stage with their two lead front men and their attitude.

With a distinct heavy London sound – and I mean that in a classic 70’s punk-era way – but so much harder, front men Jordon Smith and Gaz Tomlinson ROCKED the Academy back to its heyday and reminded us what venues were made for – screaming songs oozing with Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll, they presented a new twist to the world of punk. This six piece band, primarily from Yorkshire, had the crowd moving and kept the atmosphere warm for The Fratellis.

I must explain before I go any further, this gig ticket was purchased solely on the rebound due to lack of Killers tickets. I had bought the album in the lull before the release of both Jet’s Shine On and Killers’ Sam’s Town on the back of ‘Dolly Dagger’ which I still hold is a great track. These Glaswegians have almost created a new style in music with their interesting mix of old and new. Whilst some tracks sound very funky, others do have a serious splash of rock, yet there is a polished roughness that sets them aside. Despite my synopsis on their style, it is undisputed that the majority of their tracks inspire you to move. Tonight was no different when they mainly showcased the album Costello Music. Standing at the back it was clear to see they have a large following which became apparent as for the track ‘Henrietta’ the crowd did most of the vocal work. Astonishingly, the sound on the evening was superb for Louie yet the vocals for the Fratellis were slightly muffled whilst the music remained sharp and loud. Other tracks which followed included ‘Cuntry Boys and City Girls,’ but the poor sound quality which wasn’t damping the atmosphere at the front was sadly draining at the back. With the gig coming to an end, it was time for the make or break single of the evening as ‘Chelsea Dagger’ got the crowd alive again and the Academy jumped with a sea of 2000 heads bobbing up and down singing so hard that only the great guitar riff of this song could be heard over the crowd. After that song, at least a good few hundred decided enough was enough as they decided to leave.

All in all it wasn’t a bad gig, but it just didn’t live up to my expectations, although saying that I was expecting Killers tickets.

Posted by Bricking Chick on 9th November 2006 at 9:42 pm | comments (2)
File under Gig Reviews,Metal Mayhem.

News: The Ledge reviews his favourite song at Sweeping the Nation

Because he’s far too shy to tell you himself, The Ledge is featured today (Nov. 7) on Sweeping the Nation’s Songs To Learn and Sing as a guest blogger. The feature sees a different blogger (or music fan) write about what they consider an essential song to hear before you die. The Ledge has, quite appropriately, written his piece about “Pink Frost” by the Chills. It’s been a good read so far with earlier contributors writing about the New Pornographers, My Life Story and more. So go have a look.

Posted by JustHipper on 7th November 2006 at 7:26 pm | comments (7)
File under News.

Gig Review: Midlake at Manchester Academy 3, November 1, 2006

I was encouraged by a friend to listen to Midlake’s most recent offering, The Trials of Van Occupanther, which it turns out, is a lovely album, despite sounding an awful lot like the folkier side of Neil Young. It is, however, a very quiet, laid back affair, all full of folky harmonies and gentleness. I was expecting their live performance to be a bit more dynamic, a bit rockier, much in the way that going to see My Morning Jacket is always much noisier and outgoing than you’d expect, at least from the pre-Z-era material. I was, sadly, wrong in my expectations.

Now, it’s been a bit of a bad week over at Indie Cred HQ, bad enough that we didn’t make it down to Sufjan Stevens on the 2nd, and I’m really having trouble even recalling much more than a few impressions of the set. One thing I can tell you was I preferred opener Robert Gomez to the main event. He was a bit too much Jose Gonzales in sound – quiet, sincere singer songwriter with sparse arrangements. But he was clearly an accomplished guitarist, and it was nice.

Midlake, however, very much failed to impress. It’s not that they didn’t sound good – they played well, although I was plagued throughout the set by some very low-level feedback. That may be the result of my new earplugs – The Ledge didn’t notice it. But they were, to put it bluntly, a bit boring. The songs sounded exactly, and I do mean exactly, as they do on the album. They were quiet, laid back, sincere, and altogether lacking in that chaotic spontenaity that good live bands bring to their shows. They also did not, as it were, “rock out.” At all. I guess I was hoping for a bit more dynamism from the tracks, to see a bit of emotional investment beyond the soft, withdrawn atmosphere of the record. It’s not to say the gig was bad, it wasn’t really. It just was not remotely memorable.

Posted by JustHipper on 7th November 2006 at 2:34 pm | comments (3)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review:Lambchop at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, 24th October 2006

With JustHipper still on her sickbed I ventured alone to Liverpool to see Lambchop in the relaxed setting of the Royal Philharmonic Hall. I managed to score a quite excellent parking spot just over the road from the venue (I’m developing an increasingly George Costanza-esque obsession with parking spots) though the guy in the car in front of me didn’t share my enthusiasm and called me an “anti-social fucker” as I got out of my car, even though he had made no indication that he had wanted to park there. Nice. I took my seat just in time to catch the support band, Hands Off Cuba, a three-piece ambient post-rock combo, one of whom, Will Tyler, is a fully paid up member of the ‘Chop while the other two are part of the current touring band. They took a while to get going and an even longer while to finish off but it was an interesting 25 minutes during which Tyler’s ambient washes of guitar noise were a constant while Scott Martin and Ryan Thomas provided bleeps and gurgles and assorted electronica as well as bursts of percussion and twanging guitar that reminded of the likes of Labradford and Tortoise. Whether they played a number of tracks or just one long one I have no idea. Not bad, though.

I’ve never seen Lambchop in a standing venue, they always play theatres and opera halls which is exactly how it should be. There were only eight members in the band for this gig, a record low for me, but they still filled out the large stage, with Tony Crow’s grand piano the centrepiece. After shuffling on to little fanfare they gently drifted into the amazing “Paperback Bible”, the highlight of their recent Damaged long player. It’s strange that a song that is effectively a list of mundane items on a Swap Shop style radio show should be so moving, but this is down entirely to Kurt Wagner’s wonderful honey ‘n cigarettes drawl, a voice that rarely raises above a whisper on recent recordings but which tonight is given to the occasional outburst of venomous volume. On the opener he spits out the line “there are others that are strapless, but this one’s cut above the knee” as if someone had just nicked his parking spot.

It wasn’t until the end of the third song that the audience got a chance to applaud the brilliance of the band thanks to the Hands Off Cuba guys and their between-song rumblings and to the politeness of the audience themselves. The sound quality was immaculate; you could hear every bleep, murmur, whisper, shimmer from the band, all expertly mixed by their own sound man who rightfully got a huge round of applause himself at the behest of Mr Wagner. Most of Damaged was played as expected and it sounded every bit as good live as it does on record. Surprisingly there was only a single track from their last album, the Aw C’mon/No You C’Mon double set and only one from Nixon, which was a shame although the swooning “Nashville Parent” was probably the highlight of the evening. There was the usual banter between Wagner and Tony Crow, as well as Crow’s occasional, awful jokes to keep us amused while the band tuned up between songs. The only downside of the evening was with the Is A Woman material. The last three times I’ve seen them they’ve played the first three tracks off that album. They are long, slow tracks and all three are quite similar, great when taken individually but a little tiresome when played next to each other. The readings “The New Cobweb Summer” and “My Blue Wave” may well have been fragile and intense but there was really no need for a meandering “The Daily Growl” having taken in those two lengthy gems. “Caterpillar” from the same album was concise in comparison and featured more impassioned and animated vocalising from the beseated frontman.

The inclusion in the set of three tracks from the band’s high watermark How I Quit Smoking album was a real bonus. “The Man Who Loved Beer” was radically reworked, so much so that it took a while for most people to realise what it was. “The Militant” was brooding and electric while the sole encore of “Theone” was a tender beauty in stark contrast to the bruising version of “The Decline Of Country And Western Civilization” that ended the main set. Despite my gripes about the Is A Woman material this was as good a Lambchop performance as I’ve seen, the addition of the Damaged material to the set has really freshened them up and the presence of the Hands Off Cuba guys has added an extra layer to their sound.

Posted by The Ledge on 6th November 2006 at 11:36 pm | comments (28)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.