Sunday, 31 May 2009

ALBUM REVIEW: Grizzly Bear, Veckatimest

Back in 2006 the then-little-known Brooklyn-based quartet Grizzly Bear released Yellow House. A singular mix of folk, chamber music and psychedelica, it appeared on many of that year's best of lists and has subsequently grown in stature.

Veckatimest (named after an island off the coast of Cape Cod) already one of the more anticipated albums of 2009, sees Grizzly Bear at their most mature, focused and dynamic, a joy to listen to even as it explores dark, disjointed places.

This is a band at the top of their game and their confidence shows on the first track, Southern Point with a nervy, urgent, epic feel that nods to Radiohead. It's followed by stand out single, Two Weeks, a cleverly constructed song with a sunny, rhythmic bounce more catchy and immediate than anything the band has done before.

After the first two poppy tracks the album slows down, starting with the ethereal, All We Ask, a perfect union of classic soul and folk. This is followed by Fine For Now, where Rossen’s vocals are strained and hushed and Bear’s drums predatorily tick around the vocals before the vast arrangements turn into full-on rock-outs.

The gorgeous Cheerleader is an almost 5-minute track that features a guest vocalist, the Brooklyn Boys’ Choir, strings and flutes, yet still manages to sound restrained, unforced and even intimate. Dory is a gracefully psychedelic, spine-tingling ballad.

Ready, Able is another of the band’s tightly-controlled experiments in noise and song construction. Followed by a pair of very quiet, slow tracks that make room for While You Wait for the Others, a triumphant and melodically cacophonous pop masterpiece an exploration of the band’s quirky take on gut-wrenching folk.

Starting with an idyllic valley of string lines, saxophone, and clear guitar chords, I Live With You, broadens the group out into a more anarchistic noise bringing the album to its proper climax just before the quiet piano-led track, Foreground.

Veckatimest has an unbelievable clarity of sound and vision, vocals are sharper and more complex, arrangements are tighter, and production is more venturous and lyrics more affecting.

Track listing:

1. Southern Point
2. Two Weeks
3. All We Ask
4. Fine For Now
5. Cheerleader
6. Dory
7. Ready, Able
8. About Face
9. Hold Still
10. While You Wait For The Others
11. I Live With You
12. Foreground

ALBUM REVIEW: Kasabian, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum

West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum is the much-anticipated 3rd studio album from indie rockers Kasabian. The album takes its name from a mental institution built in Wakefield, West Yorkshire in the 1800's.

Since their stunning self-titled debut album in 2004 the band have gone from strength to strength which resulted in their second album, Empire, peaking at number one in 2006.

For their latest offering, the band recruited American hip hop and electronica producer Dan ‘The Automator’ Nakamura, best known for his work on the first Gorillaz album. Two years in the making, the album is a crafted blend of rock and dance, glimmering with newfound electronic and funk influences.

Some of the tracks may sound familiar. Anthemic opener Underdog is used in the recent Sony Bravia ad featuring Brazilian football genius, Kak√°, and along with chaotic turbo-charged, Vlad The Impaler has already been released as digital downloads. The raucous, Fast Fuse may be familiar to millions of gamers as it’s featured on FIFA 09, whilst the western-tinged track, Fire is the album's lead single.

Thick As Thieves is a laid-back, slow tempo track. Where Did All The Love Go? is a string-laden epic with vocal harmonizing, electro keyboards, acoustic and electric guitars, demonstrating an almost fragile, sensitive side to the quintets playing.

Swarfiga, is a bass-heavy, snare drum-supported instrumental track, whilst the dark, electro undertones of single 'Fire' soon erupt into an edgy, dance chorus.

Kasabian’s break from producer Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Editors) proves a good move for the band. The West Ryder, producer Dan the Automator brings a welcome edge to Kasabian’s sound. Whilst never dismissing their indie guitar roots, Kasabian have successfully embraced new ground with their third album.

The hip-hop-influenced beats and an emphasis on cranked up keyboards and distorted guitar adding a confident, funky edge to make an impressive third album that sets itself apart from the band’s previous work.

Track listing:

1. Underdog
2. Where Did All The Love Go?
3. Swarfiga
4. Fast Fuse
5. Take Aim
6. Thick As Thieves
7. West Ryder Silver Bullet
8. Vlad The Impaler
9. Ladies & Gentlemen (Roll The Dice)
10. Secret Alphabets
11. Fire
12. Happiness

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Morrissey Cancels Another Gig Due to Illness

Flamboyant singer Morrissey has been forced to cancel yet another gig after doctors warned he must not sing.

Event organisers said the former lead singer of The Smiths, who recently turned 50, would not be appearing at London's O2 Academy Brixton tonight, Thursday 28th May due to a throat illness.

"Morrissey is on continued doctor's orders not to sing, to ensure a complete recuperation," concert organisers said in a statement.

The singer previously cancelled shows in London, Salisbury and Birmingham.

Event organisers apologised to fans for the latest cancellation and advised them to hang on to their tickets and await further details about rescheduling the dates.

For more information go to: www.morrissey.com

Depeche Mode Cancel London O2 Show

Depeche Mode have been forced to cancel their London show this weekend.

They band were due to play at London's O2 Arena on Saturday 30th May but due to frontman Dave Gahan's continuing illness they are unable to perform.

Depeche Mode's performance at the Pinkpop Festival in Landgraaf, Netherlands on Sunday 31st May has also been cancelled.

A number of shows on the bands ‘Tour of the Universe’ have been postponed since Gahan fell ill just before going onstage in Athens on May 12th.

In a statement the band said: "Dave Gahan sincerely thanks his fans for their support, understanding and patience.”

Adding: “Depeche Mode deeply regret any problems or inconveniences the cancellations and postponements may have caused."

In a further statement regarding the rescheduling of the other cancelled European dates they explained Gahan's condition further: "On May 12th, lead singer Dave Gahan suffered a severe bout of gastroenteritis, leading to his hospitalization and the cancellation of the Athens concert.While in hospital, further medical tests revealed a low­ grade malignant tumour in Dave's bladder, which has since been successfully removed.

At doctors' orders Dave Gahan must take a break until June 8th, to ensure that he makes a full recovery."

The London O2 show will be rescheduled for a later date, details are expected to be announced shortly.

For more information on rescheduled dates, go to: www.depechemode.com

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Morrissey Forced to Cancel Gigs

Morrissey has been forced to pull more gigs because of an ongoing illness, it has been revealed. Just days after returning to the stage to mark his 50th birthday with a homecoming set in Manchester.

The former Smiths frontman cancelled his appearance on Monday, 25th May, at Salisbury City Hall and tonight's show (Tuesday 26th May) at the Troxy Ballroom in Mile End, east London.

A spokeswoman for the music icon - this week labelled the "greatest lyricist of his generation" - revealed that he was told to pull out of the concerts on doctors' orders.

"Morrissey is on doctor's orders to postpone the show, to ensure a complete recuperation," she said.
"Event organisers would like to apologise to fans for the disappointment and are working to reschedule this show, so advise ticket holders to hang on to their tickets." She added.
The cancellations are not the first on the 50-year-old's world tour with shows at the Royal Albert Hall and Birmingham Academy called off whiles an appearance on Later… With Jools Holland was also scrapped.In addition, it was also revealed that gigs which were recently cancelled at Birmingham Academy and Royal Albert Hall will be rescheduled on October 23rd and October 26th respectively, as part of a small October tour.

Original tickets for the rescheduled dates remain valid.

The full October dates are:

Friday 23rd Birmingham Symphony Hall (rescheduled)
Saturday 24th Swindon Oasis
Monday 26th Bournemouth Opera House
Tuesday 27th London Royal Albert Hall (rescheduled)
Thursday 29th O2 Academy Leeds
Friday 30th Sheffield City Hall

Friday, 22 May 2009

Edwyn Collins Celebrates Comeback With Ivor Novello Award

Scottish singer-songwriter, Edwyn Collins celebrated his comeback by winning an Ivor Novello Award yesterday; telling the audience “It’s great to be back”.

The former Orange Juice singer and solo star won The Ivors Inspiration Award at the suave industry ceremony held at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.

The Edinburgh born musician known for hits such as Rip It Up and A Girl Like You suffered a near fatal double brain haemorrhage in 2005. Doctors thought he would never return to live performances following several brain operations.

Although his recovery has been slow it has been remarkable and he returned to live performing following the release of his critically lauded album Home Again in 2007.

Collins, who plans to mark his recovery by appearing at this years T in The Park, said afterwards that he had never won a prestigious Ivor, "It's fantastic news" He added.

The Ivors are internationally respected for honouring excellence in British music writing. They are judged and presented by the writing community to outstanding songwriters and composers.

Elsewhere, Elbow won two awards for best contemporary song and best song musically and lyrically, which meant disappointment for warehouse worker Nick Hemming, his track, The Last of the Melting Snow, was nominated for best song.

Tribute was also paid to Vince Clark for his Outstanding Song Collection, while Massive Attack were recognised for their outstanding contribution to British music.

Legendary soul singer Smokey Robinson picked up the special international award, the only prize given to non-British musicians.

Winners of the 54th Ivor Novello Awards are:
Best Contemporary Song: Elbow, Grounds for Divorce
Album Award: The Ting Tings, We Started Nothing
Best Television Soundtrack: Wallace and Gromit (A Matter of Loaf and Death)
Outstanding Song Collection: Vince Clarke
The Ivors Classical Music Award: James MacMillan
Best Selling British song: Coldplay, Viva la Vida
Best Song Musically And Lyrically: Elbow, One Day Like ThisBest Original Film Score: Jonny Greenwood, There Will Be Blood
The Ivors inspiration award: Edwyn Collins
PRS for music most performed: Duffy, Mercy
Songwriter of the year: Eg White
The special international award: Smokey Robinson
The academy fellowship: Don Black

PRS For Music Outstanding Contribution To British Music: Robert Del Naja & Grant Marshall (Massive Attack)

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Depeche Mode Cancel 3 More Shows

Depeche Mode have been forced to cancel a further three more European dates on their "Tour of the Universe", to allow frontman Dave Gahan to recover from illness.
The frontman was recently hit by a bout of severe gastroenteritis, forcing the cancellation of a number of European shows earlier this month.The following additional shows have been cancelled:

23rd May Warsaw, Poland, Gwardia Stadium
25th May Riga, Latvia, Skonto Stadium
27th May Vilnius, Lithuania, Zalgiris Stadium

A message on the bands official website advised fans to retain their tickets and wait for further news with regard to either new rescheduled concert dates, or their final cancellation.

The statement added "Doctors have advised that more time is needed to allow singer, Dave Gahan, to fully recover from his recent illness and ensure that the tour can resume shortly."
"Depeche Mode apologises to all their fans for this inconvenience and wish Dave a speedy recovery."

To visit the official Depeche Mode website, go to: www.depechemode.com

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Pet Shop Boys, Little Boots Free Gig – Get Involved

Pet Shop Boys will be performing at Matter, the exclusive venue in the O2 Arena complex, on Friday 10th of July, as part of ‘U R The Night’, presented by Smirnoff.

Tickets cannot be bought for the event, they can only be earned by those who get involved by offering their creative input and help to "shape the night".

The events organisers, The Smirnoff Co. want people to be part of the night by submitting original ideas and voting on different aspects of the event - including the warm-up boat party, music on the night via the DJ’s playlist and original cocktails – in exchange for getting access to the event.

Pet Shop Boys and Little Boots will be performing and there will be DJ sets from Hot Chip and Tom Middleton.

Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant said: "We're looking forward to what should be a really great night with an amazing line-up of electronic music talent."

For more information, including terms and conditions, on how to get involved, become a fan of Smirnoff: U.R. The Night at www.facebook.com/URthenight and submit your ideas.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Study Claims, File Sharing Does Not Give New Acts Exposure

According to a new study, file-sharing doesn’t seem to give new artists exposure; it only makes big acts even bigger.

It is claimed that a study commissioned by industry body PRS shows the most-pirated tracks on the internet tend to be those already at the top of the charts. The organisation claims that this trend only serves to make popular stars even more popular.
The news strikes a blow to those who believed that file-sharing would democratise music and find a bigger audience for emerging new artists.

Study authors PRS chief economist Will Page and head of media tracking firm Big Champagne Eric Garland looked at patterns of music usage among file-sharers, to see if it can affect the way music is marketed and sold or to find out if the so-called 'Long Tail' theory held any water.As they described it, 'Long Tail' claims that "if you offer people more choice, and help them make that choice, they will take that choice."However, their results found this not to be the case. They wrote: "Much of the volume (sales or swaps) is concentrated amongst a small proportion of available tracks."They believe this has happened because the internet actually offers too much choice, and concluded: "After taking into account some geographic differences, the top of the many music charts, from licensed and unlicensed venues, are markedly similar."

The authors concluded that "file-sharing sites are reinforcing divisions in the music world and only making the popular more popular." However, because the music is free, people did occasionally listen to bands they wouldn't normally try out. Not too many people are willing to pay for the right to listen to a band they may or may not like. "If the sellers sell it, it might never be bought; but if the swappers offer it, at least one person will likely take it," the study claims.
Also included in the report is the fact that legal action against file sharing sites such as The Pirate Bay has not stopped piracy in the least.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Depeche Mode Cancel Shows Due to Singer’s Illness

Depeche Mode have been forced to cancel five European tour dates due to singer Dave Gahan's ongoing health problems.

The group were only three dates into their European tour when Gahan fell ill shortly before going on stage in Athens on Tuesday.

The 47-year-old is still undergoing tests after being struck down with gastroenteritis, According to the band’s spokesman.

As a result of Gahan's illness, the following five Depeche Mode gigs have been cancelled.

14th May Istanbul Santral
16th May Bucharest Izvor Park
18th May Sofia Vasil Levski Stadium
20th May Belgrade USCE Park
21st May Zagreb Arena

A statement released on behalf of the band stated that Gahan is currently undergoing further tests. It advises fans to hold on to their tickets for the cancelled shows."Ticket holders for the above shows are advised to hold on to their tickets as an announcement will be made shortly in regard to rescheduled dates or final cancellation," the statement read.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Stars To Host Free Sheffield Festival

Arctic Monkeys' drummer, Matt Helders, Reverend And The Makers’ Jon McClure and Toddla T will be hosting the first Sheffield Tramlines Festival.

The Tramlines festival will take place from the 24th to the 27th of July at various venues across the city.

The local artists will choose a line up for each day, ending with a 4,000 capacity gig on Devonshire Green. All gigs that comprise the festival will be free to enter.
The festival, which is the first in the city, will feature local and national acts, and will include over 30 venues.Little Boots, Pixie Lott and The Panics have already signed up to perform at the event, with community workshops, a metal circuit and organisers Adventures In The Beetroot Field and Ibiza Rocks also taking part.It has not been announced whether the curators and their bands will be performing.

For more information about Tramlines, go to: www.tramlines.org

Friday, 8 May 2009

Dundee Music Venue to Re-Open

A popular live music venue in Dundee credited with helping bands including The View achieve stardom has been saved from permanent closure. The 350 capacity venue is set to officially reopen tonight, Friday 8th May.

Mounting debts resulted in The Doghouse in the city's Brown Street being shut down in March.

However, a successful fundraising gig at Dundee’s Fat Sam’s last Saturday headlined by The View has helped raise money to cover the club's unpaid council rates.

Sarah Hill, who has run the club since 2004, paid tribute to all those who lent their support to the campaign.

She said: "I can't believe we have actually done it, it just shows you with a lot of hard work and determination you can achieve anything.

"The support from everyone including bands, local businesses, our customers, The Doghouse lovers and general public has truly been overwhelming and will not be forgotten."

The View, who performed at The Doghouse in the days before they secured a record deal, joined an array of other local bands for a fundraising gig last weekend.

Bassist Kieren Webster said: "We were just glad we could do something, Sarah helped us when we needed it and we were pleased to be able to give something back."

“We’re looking forward to the doors reopening tonight.”

PRS for Music Host Seminar in Brighton

PRS for Music will be hosting an interactive seminar at The Great Escape next week.

The Make It Happen event will focus on practical advice for songwriters, artists, managers and labels and will feature a variety of seasoned music industry experts from different fields including A&R, management, songwriting and publishing.

On the Make it Happen panel will be PRS for Music membership development director Myles Keller, Futureheads guitarist Ross Millard, 14th Floor A&R manager Steve Proud and Kobalt Publishing’s Nick Robinson.

The seminar takes place on Friday 15th of May at 2pm in the Artist Village and is available to anyone with a delegate or Artist Village Pass.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Maximo Park Play Free Gig in Hometown

Maximo Park are to mark the launch of their new album, with a free gig in their hometown of Newcastle.

The band release their third LP 'Quicken The Heart' on the 11th of May, and will play the Newcastle show on the same day.
The day will kick off with a signing session and Q&A at the Newcastle HMV on Northumberland Street at 6pm (BST), free wristbands for which can be collected from the store at 8:30 am onwards.

They will also play at the Star And Shadow cinema from 8pm (BST) to 120 wristband holders. Fans can buy wrists bands for £3 from the City’s RPM Records from the 9th of May, two days before the show and album release. The band's film 'Monument' will also be screened.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Calvin Harris – Oran Mor, Glasgow – 28th April 2009

The Oran Mor was packed for the sold out gig and it was a very young crowd, or at least they all looked very young and the incredibly tall (I couldn’t believe how tall) Calvin Harris was looking and sounding on top form.

The 25-year-old dance-pop star opened his set with Disco Heat, which got the young excitable crowd bouncing from the offset. The energetic audience was more than happy and didn’t stop jumping the whole set as the tempo was kept upbeat with Merrymaking at My Place and Vegas.

As the Dumfries-born star played a few tracks from his forthcoming second album the crowd showed their appreciation by enthusiastically pogo-ing and I think it is safe to assume that he may still have a few more hits to come.

Harris even got lost in the excitement himself by doing a bit of crowd surfing during Flashback. Just when I thought I had never seen or heard a more elated crowd the roof was nearly blown off when he played hits Acceptable In The 80s and The Girls.

Everyone was still singing along to every word and dancing in frenzy when he brought the amazing set to an end with his recent No.1 hit, I'm Not Alone.

Although it felt as though it was all over so quickly the show had obviously delighted the sweaty, red-faced crowd. Calvin Harris certainly left the crowd wanting more.

ALBUM REVIEW: The Maccabees, Wall of Arms

The Maccabees return with ‘Wall of Arms’ the follow-up to their 2007 debut ‘Colour It In’. An expansive, epic-sounding album that’s a thrilling fusion of indie anthems, gentle lullabies and dark, stormy swirls, their not afraid to sound vulnerable, forceful and adorable at times.
Some had already written these guys off as lightweight however ‘Wall of Arms’ definitely shows some maturity in their music.

From the energetic guitar sounds that open the album to the heart-warming, closing the five-piece have managed to produce something really quite special, proving to fans, critics, and partly to themselves, that the band hadn’t yet reached the peak of their creative potential.

Opener and new single, Love You Better and Seventeen Hands finds frontman Weeks channelling emotions from depths previously unexplored, his performance resonating perfect sincerity. As the brass band stand to ceremony at the end of the track it becomes clear that ‘Wall of Arms’ is the sound of a band taking huge strides forward.

Title-track Wall of Arms and Dinosaurs feature horns; piano sounds grace the urgent, One Hand Holding, while the rhythm section shines throughout the album. Young Lions and Bag Of Bones tap into the innate beauty of Weeks song writing and expose a fragile and tender heart.

Throughout you can’t help but feel a real sense of honesty from a band who have made a deeply personal record, a piece of work for themselves. Wall Of Arms is the moment The Maccabees reach self-realisation.

Track listing:

1. Love You Better
2. One Hand Holding
3. Can You Give It
4. Young Lions
5. Wall Of Arms
6. No Kind Words / Bag Of Bones Part A
7. Dinosaurs
8. Kiss And Resolve
9. William Powers
10. Seventeen Hands
11. Bag Of Bones