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Monthly Archives: August 2015

So just like the summer, August has come and gone. So what have we learnt?

 

 

Mr. David Viner’s welcome return shows that despite he’s aged, his ability to write thought provoking music hasn’t gone

Dave Cloud’s last album is an absolute masterpiece and a fitting way to end such an adhoc and inspiring career

The Zephyr Bones are another in a list of Spanish bands to release forward thinking indie

Rat Columns’ blend of droney rock isn’t just a joy to listen to, but a pleasure to get obsessed by

Trigga, Chimpo and Sam Binga, combined is possible one of the greatest combinations in Grime and UK Hip-Hop

Slim Twig’s slightly skewed eclectic pop music sets him apart from the rest of the pack

Fly Golden Eagle channel 1970’s glam with psych leanings to create one of the most interesting and playable albums of the year

Tom DeMac’s blend of future house is setting dance floors and headphones on fire

Slime’s brand of murky electronica Hip-Hop shows that the UK scene is alive and well

Wholewheat’s new EP pushes lo-fi in new directions

 

 

In live news Du Bellows, Two Hands and The Chairs continue to show that the West London music scene is just warming up and the best is yet to come, as all three start to plot their next slew of releases

 

 

 

 

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What better way to spend a Bank Holiday than listening to live music in a delightful pub

 

 

This weekend sees a four day music and entertainment festival hit the Plough in Ealing. The event, Ploughfest, was organised by TJ Shipton to raise money and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Friday night was retro video game night. A Mario Kart 64 tournament was organised, contestants paid to enter and all the money went to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Saturday and Sunday see local bands take to the stage for two days live music, and Monday is family day and movie night.

 

 

Saturday got under way thanks to TJ’s Dad Russ Shipton, with a set of dextrously finger picked and strummed classics. Neil Young’s Old Man rubbed shoulders with Simon and Garfunkel, Elvis, but the real stars of the set were when TJ joined his Dad and they covered Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here and B-52’s surreally infectious Rock Lobster. After his set, there was a brief interlude and Chris Sagan took to the stage. Sagan sit somewhere between Bruce Springsteen’s descriptions of ‘real life’ problems and more traditional English singer songwriters. The majority of the set was made up of his own acoustic compositions, but halfway through his set, Sagan was joined by the rest of the Chris Sagan Project. This is when the set went up a gear and a few covers entered the set. The most notable, was a Muse cover that closed the set. During this cover, Sagan showed us the power and clarity of his voice. The audience was notably impressed and gave the biggest applause of the day so far.

 

 

Next up was Two Hands. Everyone here at thisyearinmusic has had a privilege of witnessing Two Hand from their inception to where they are now. Their brand of heavy rhythmic rock gives you faith in the genres future. Instead of trying to pander to the get rich quick band of pop stars and flavour of the month genres, Two Hands have delivered one exceptional EP this year and there is a rumour of another. Their set was peppered with these songs. Waiting kicked things off, Barley Know You follow suit and by Breathe the crowd was in the palm of their collective hands. Stand out track Follow got the loudest reaction. However the most remarkable thing about their set was that drummer Chris Keeling performed with one hand strapped to his shoulder. The fact that you couldn’t tell he was impaired is testament not only to his talent, but the classic ‘show must go on’ attitude that the band possess. The night was rounded off by Du Bellows. This local quartet showed that Ealing’s tradition for blues influenced rock is still alive and well. Over the past few years they have won praise from the likes of Classic Rock to Jimmy Page. Their set was full of songs of love, rejection and redemption. Opening track Burn, is one that many fans thought they’d never hear live again. When it started looks of excitement and disbelief were passed among the crowd. Jack and His Queen followed, another fan favourite. The star of the show was Isa Du Bellows. During this track the band looked at ease and in control of not only their destiny, but the destiny of the massed audience. Three Steps started off ethereal and wispy, thanks to Jade Williams’ delicious vocals, but it was when the rhythm section combined that the song really took off. At the end of the set Du Bellows had nothing left to give and audience knew they had witnessed something special.

 

 

The first day of Ploughfest has been a relatively smooth affair, sadly day two didn’t run a smoothly. The weather wasn’t a pleasant, and dry, as the previous day, but that didn’t stop people having a good time. The main setback was penultimate band Jingo were unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances, but luckily their slot was filled by Francis Gahan. His gravelly vocalled set really resonated with the collected crowd. The day was closed by Hanwell heroes The Chairs. Frontman Martin Bonner had been present on the previous day, and was helping fun the stage all day. Although his vocals were slightly tired and frazzled, due to organising and orchestrating the day, it really worked with their brand of blues based rock and roll. Their set, which consisted of tracks culled from their aberrant debut EP. Bluesy Song, Hands and Knees, Pendulum, Black and White and Pure Sleeze all got a workout. As with all sets there was a technical hitch when guitars became untuned during Pure. But considering how intricate the guitar work was, it was always going to happen. As with all Chairs sets there were some covers. Francis Gahan joined Bonner and Co. for a rendition of Sam Cooke’s classic Bring it on Home to Me. The juxtaposition between Bonner’s throaty and Gahan’s raspy vocals gave the song a new light and meaning. Next up was Frankie Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, the crowed joined in with the rousing chorus. What’s the Sound ended the set and hour after it started. The outro was so powerful drummer Krys Szymanski fell off his stool to riotous laughter and universal acclaim. The second day had drawn to a close. Compared to day one it had been a slightly calamitous affair, but the day should be judged on the power of the music and the crowd’s enjoyment. Everyone left with a smile and one lucky lady left engaged to her partner.

 

 

Today Ploughfest concludes, with live jazz, the raffle and a Back to the Future marathon. So if you are in the Ealing area, and fancy either a delicious Sunday lunch, listening to some enjoyable jazz and watching a classic trilogy, then get on down to the Plough, have fun and give some money to a worthwhile cause.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s that you say? Another EP by Bristol’s experimental bon vivant?

 

 

Matt Loveridge, AKA MXLX, has returned with another hunk of experimentalism for our enjoyment. How many times this year have I rewritten this sentence? I dread not to think because that would only be the tip of Loveridge’s incredible output. This time he has refined his prodigious touch into twenty five minutes of jarring discord that contradicts as much as it entertains.

 

 

I Aim to Understand Nothing kicks off in fine MXLX with This is No Place For Me. Ambient noises that sound like knives being sharpened, a classic MXLX motif, morphs into what sounds like the scratching of a record, while in the back ground humming instruments transform into glitchy bleeps and blips. So I Am Leaving transitions perfectly and the blips and beeps get more regimented and organised until it sounds like multiple games of Tetris being played at once. That is until its halfway mark signals a change in arrangement and Loveridge’s haunting vocals wash over us, adding another macabre element.

 

 

Everything Behind features slow premediated basslines, which stalk drone like chanting, while surface noise pops and glitches all around us. It’s as terrifying as it is alluring. This is the power of, not just Loveridge, but of his music. While he is showing us the darker side of our collective nature, he is also treating us to warm tender moments. And All Will Be Well is seven minutes of cacophonous maelstroms, eerie voices that sound like their speaking in tongues until it silently throbs and pulses out at the end.

 

 

I Aim to Understand Nothing is the musical version of MC Esher’s classic frieze Metamorphosis. Just when you think you have a handle on what’s going it, through dexterous and savvy production techniques, it starts to change and mutate into the next section of its life cycle. Together the tracks and title spell out “I Aim to Understand Nothing. This is No Place For Me So I am Leaving Everthing Behind And All Will Be Well.” While this is a slightly worrying insight into Loveridege’s headspace, in a way it’s everything we’ve come to expect from him. We always knew he was darkly comic right, and this is just another tongue in cheek reminder of it. This could be the most concise and cohesive release of Loveridge’s career to date. It bubbles with a musical paean seldom seen and heard in these semi disposable times of soundbites and jingles. While it’s not an easy listen it is rewarding after repeat listens, you just need to put in the effort and you’ll understand its labyrinthine patterns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LA quartet try and channel summer on new EP

 

 

You have to give it to Blonde Summer. They’ve tried to do something incredibly hard, capture the feeling of summer in music. That laidback feeling you get the sun is out and the whole day is yours. Anything you want to do, within reason of course, if possible. But like those rare days, Blonde Summer have squandered some of that precious time. Instead of spending longer than you should picking that choosing that perfect outfit and preening, they’ve over thought it and the results aren’t as good as they would have been.

 

 

Opening track to the Paradise EP Ca Kid is a four and a half minutes of driving bass, meandering keyboards and scant guitars. The main problem is with the lyrics. They don’t really say anything and by the end of Ca Kid, they start to rub you the wrong way. Maybe things will be better on the title track Paradise? Sadly not. Again the music is fine enough, but the higher vocal range comes across slight cloying and schmaltzy. The rest of the EP follows this pattern. Even when the music takes a slightly ‘harder’ turn on Blazed, the vocals still grate, and undoes all the good work of the composition. This being said, the Paradise EP has an easy going and unhurried feeling to it that screams “SUMMER”. It’s just the vocals and lyrics that stops this from being a great EP. If Blonde Summer can write some intriguing and provocative lyrics then the sky could be the, preverbal limit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Portland rapper releases his most cohesive and enjoy work to date. FACT!

 

 

If like everyone at thisyearinmusic, Hip-Hop seems to be too slick and over produced at the moment. Yes there are a number of artists who try and push the boundaries and go back to the original ethos of the art form, social commentary, but the majority of contemporary Hip-Hop released least us cold. Lucky the antidote is at hand. Myke Bogan is that antidote.

 

 

Since 2012 the Portland rapper has slowly been making name for himself, his appearance on King Chip’s Royal Tour is testament to this. He’s now released his fourth album Casino Carpet. In short its thirty minutes of lurid samples and laugh out loud lyrics. But don’t mistake for Bogan’s playful tongue in cheek lyrics to mean this is a joke. It isn’t, in fact, he’s deadly serious.

 

 

Opening track Pink Cocaine name checks the Rugrats, Breaking Bad, Philip Seymour Hoffman, religion and the endemic problem of drugs in society. On 6 Beers Bogan opens by saying he finds it funny people “wish they could make songs like I do, but then they wouldn’t be themselves. And that’s not cool”. Imitation is rife in Hip-Hop, and in a world of copy cats and sound-a-likes it’s refreshing to find someone doing their own thing, because it’s what they like rather than it’s what the majority of fans like. Then Bogan talks about hanging out and slowly getting wasted at home, playing FIFA with his favourite teams. Who says American’s don’t like football?

 

 

Stand out track is Beloved. A low tempo track in which Bogan contemplates his life, position in Hip-Hop and how he’s still hungry for success, but not for the usual reasons, i.e. wealth, but so his Grandmother can see him make if before she dies. Bogan’s stye isn’t just refreshing it humanises his music, something not massively seen in Hip-Hop, and grounds his music in reality. How many of us haven’t wanted approval from our family?

 

 

If you like you’re Hip-Hip underground with its tongue in its preverbal smoke filled cheek, then this is for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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San Francisco’s Painted Palms channel 1980’s synth pop on new album

 

 

Painted Palms debut album Forever was a jaunt into ‘psychedelic’ pop. While it was a pleasant listen, overall it was patchy. Either the music let the songs down or the lyrics did. In all fairness it was a good debut as it showed Painted Palms (of The Palms as their fans fall them) were on to something and it showed room for improvement. They’re now gearing up for the release of their second Horizon. Sadly it’s more of the same, expect this time their influences are glaring and badly executed.

 

 

Generally reviews go into massive details about what the key songs either sound like, their emotive content. I’m going to do this out of obligation, but I’m going to keep it brief. Refractor opens with a vocal harmony, then the synth comes in that sounds a bit similar. This is slightly interesting. About thirty seconds in it stops being interesting and just sounds like Soft Cell/ Erasure. Contact is slightly upbeat, but vapid. Glaciers is just a synth pop reworking of Paint it Black, and no one really wants that. Lead single Disintegrate starts off with a broody synth and bassline. The 4/4 beat is repetitive and about half way through you forget it’s there. The Italian/Madchester piano line feels out of place. We get this is meant to be your big euphoric number, all glow sticks, white gloves and hands in the air, but instead we feel slightly cheated, like when you want a drink in a club and it’s nearly £10 for a bottle of beer and £5 for a water. Waterfall is more of the same, but the lyrics are more tedious and the music sounds like the demo setting on various keyboards.

 

 

Ultimately a feeling of Déjà Vu permeates the album. While you might have heard these songs before, you’ve definitely heard elements of them before. Erasure, the Human League and even Madchester scene are all represented here. The main problem is the Christopher Prudhomme isn’t saying anything with his lyrics. After playing the album four or five times I can’t remember a single banal lyric, expect for the multiple “Ooooooooooooooooooooh’s” he utters. At times it sounds like an unconvincing band in an unconvincing teen comedy set in the 1980’s. You know the scene, there’s a party or school dance and they needed some music, but instead of paying the license for a ‘classic’ song they’ve got a current band who sound a bit 1980’s to play on of their own songs, as the actors dance/fall in love. While there isn’t anything wrong with this kind of music, and if this is your thing, cool, but it comes off feeling try hard and pretentious, sadly as does Horizons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bristol indie pop supergroup Grubs gear up for debut album release

 

 

For a band about to release their debut album, Bristol’s Grubs are getting some serious attention. This isn’t really surprising considering that all three members ply their trades in King of Cats, Trust Fund and Joanna Gruesome, three of the best bands around today.

 

 

While Grubs shares elements of this trinity, they also have its own sound, as last year’s debut single Dec. 15/Gym Shame, released on Cool Your Jets, showed. It was three minutes of catchy pop melodies, luscious vocals and slightly surreal lyrics, and yes both song clocked in three minutes. Now they’re gearing up for the release of their debut album It Must Be Grubs in September, by those purveyors of everything lo-fi and DIY, Reeks of Effort/Tuff Enuff.

 

 

Lead track Windwaker follows the blueprint of Dec. 15/Gym Shame, but its levels of catchiness and melody have been ramped up, it’s psychotically catchy. The vocal harmonies start off sounding cacophonous and disorienting, but after several listens, you realise there is order to what appears to be chaotic noise. The star of the show however is the guitar work. From the intro to the outro, the jangling guitar grabs you by your collar, or shoulders if you aren’t wearing a collar today, and makes you dance and jig with it until it finally lets you go and saunters off to get a cold drink.

 

 

While this is said a lot, almost to the point of it being a cliché, this is an album to get excited about. What’s most exciting about Grubs isn’t that this album is going to be great, it is, but what are they’re going to do next? Hopefully more of the same, but for now with a pun based album title and a happy looking dog on the cover, what more do we want?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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