Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Palma Violets- 180 (debut)

Palma Violets- 180- Rough Trade

London’s Palma Violets are another hotly tipped band who did actually enter into the album chart reaching no. 3 (well according to HMV) and are highly rated by the NME, winning Best New Band and Best Tracks of 2012 with ‘Best of Friends’.  And I can see why. They are have magnificently re-vamped Rock and Roll and Garage with sprinkles of Post-Punk.

Single ‘Best of Friends’ opens  the album with raw energy, its scratchy, sharp and fast with passionate uncontrolled vocals, chiming organ. The whole song shouts enthusiastically at you, begging you to join the party it’s sparked. ‘Step Up For The Cool Cats’ is an amazing track; simple organ, tambourine, crashing cymbals and fuzz guitar with this big chorus and catchy riff. It’s the outcast kids with shaggy hair in black suits and skinnies “dancing in the sun….” ‘All The Garden Birds’  and ‘Tom The Drum’ have a more stripped back 50’s rock and roll feel with calmer echoed vocals. The songs are fun and witty, full of time changes and sudden explosions of noise.

 ‘Chicken Dippers’ opens ominously with echoed banging and a grand church organ  which continues throughout the song as drumbeat like running feet joins while the chorus is fast and furious with squealing guitar. It’s another optimistic love and friendship fascinated album. ‘Last Of The Summer Wine’ is romantic and mature contrasting nicely with ‘Johnny Bagga’ Donuts’ which is another big, fast, angular track, very reminiscent of PIL and The Sonics. ‘Three Stars’ is a calmer reflective track that brews slowly, giving you goose-bumps, mostly consisting of deep mature echoed vocals and comforting guitar. The end track ‘14’ is a grand as expected, with big fuzz guitars, church organ shimmering and united howling voices, bringing together all their talents into a crescendo of noise.  

The entire album has this wonderful grainy under-produced quality to it, like it was recorded live in a bit empty room.  It’s a proud and confident album filled with talent and hope, truly enjoyable. - Last of The Summer Wine

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Birmingham Gay Pride 25/26th May 2013

Whistles, dance anthems, heat (a minor miracle considering the drab 
weather of late), blinding sun, huge crowds of people and oh so many rainbows. Welcome to the annual two day festival that is Birmingham's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride. 

Heading the Parade (Own Photo)
Queen? (Own Photo)
It all kicks off Saturday with a parade starting 12 sharp in Victoria Square. It was vibrating with pride and excited energy as the square filled with thousands of people tripping over each to gaze at the vibrant floats, intersected by charity, support and awareness groups, cruise by. Every year is a surprise, as the theme changes and newbies appear, despite the same faces also appearing each year; nice to see Nando's back and bigger. No prizes for guessing this years theme of marriage and weddings, but what did come as a surprise was seeing Barclays bank as a new supporter with a wedding themed float and another wedding float being religious, including a bloke dressed as a Bishop; I sincerely hope this was funded by an actual church and/or religious group. The fabulously sassy 'Granny Queens' singing away on mobility scooters was a nice shock too. After watching the parade go by, the rest of the crowd join on at the end. This year was an entirely new route into the Gay Village, sat in the heart of the city; it took us strolling heads held high, hips swaying, music, whistles and cheers blaring proud right down New Street, yes the high street, then onto Queens Way, past the Bull Ring, Moore Street train station then round the corner past the Hippodrome Theater and into the Village itself. It was truly heart warming to see the huge crowds lining the streets cheering us on and snapping numerous photos. I only spotted one group of hecklers, a small religious group waving Bibles and shouting at us to "repent before its too late!" The response? Mixtures of laughter and obscene gestures. 
Own photo

Despite having to pay a pretty hefty price to gain entrance to the Village, it was easily as busy, if not busier than last year, which was sited as the 'biggest yet'. Even Sunday was as alive and full. Far as I'm aware no reason was given for the sudden entrance fee, my guess is it is either to cover for funding cuts (lets be honest, who haven't had their budget tightened?) or to keep out the trouble makers. Either way the Village was packed with colour, dancing, club music, stalls, alcohol and some really rather uniquely dressed individuals; anything really does go. 

own photo
As far as the Main Stage acts went, this was Prides biggest year yet with the weekends line up including Bananarama, JLS and Paloma Faith DJ sets, The Cheeky Girls, Stooshe, Rylan Clark (X-Factor) and The Voice winner Leanne Mitchel plus loads more. For the first time I was luckily enough to catch some of later acts on Sunday, including Leanne Mitchel, who's flexible power house voice blew us all away and Stooshe who are very good live, full of energy and fun, reminding us that it was a party. Even Booty Luv were entertaining and animated. For me though, it was all about Paloma Faith's gritty lusty DJ set which successfully turned a hot crowed blue tent on a street corner into a raving club; with the sweeping lights, smoke machines, on stage dancers and  old classics mixed in. 

Birmingham's LGBT Pride is fabulously exhausting and all I have left to say is hurry up Pride 2014! 

Monday, 20 May 2013

Peace- In Love (debut)

Peace- In Love- Sony Music

Peace are amongst the “B-Town” (though most the bands argue it’s not a representative nick-name) Hipsters, along with Swim Deep and Jaws who have been hotly tipped this year to ‘break through’, if only.  All these bands seem to have unwittingly picked up the same threads, but have sowed it differently. They are the lost youth of today but Peace choice the love tinted glasses to hide behind, and they stand out from the crowd with their effortless mix that oh so fashionable thick dissonant guitar and luscious melodies. ‘In Love’ is summery, romantic and hopeful. 

‘Higher Than The Sun’ is aptly named with its thick soaring guitar, swirling keyboard, bouncing bass and careless creamy vocals. It’s lying content on dry grass in the heat of the sun gazing at the endless blue sky. Single ‘Follow Baby’ has feedback heavy swirling guitar, fast almost hip-hop beat and sassy vocals with a dissonant and hazy chorus. It’s youthful, careless and fun, much like the rest of the album. The album time and time again boosts their natural skill for song writing and craftsmanship. ‘Float Forever’ is like floating on a cloud with its soft melodic guitar and lovable crooned vocals, it has a washed out quality to it. While ‘Wraith’ is exotic with its sugary hip swaying Caribbean beat. Go back to the ‘golden age’ of having Gorillaz, Franz Ferdinand and Artic Monkeys in the charts and this would have been in the top 5 no problem. ‘Waste of Paint’ follows the same vain; it’s a cocktail of funk, pop, and grunge.

‘Delicious’ twists things with echoed percussion, dissonant guitar and insane time changes from calm minimalism to crowed energy. ‘Toxic’ is grittier and desperate as Harry turns more to wailing while ‘Sugerstone is soft and romantic. ‘California Daze’ is practically a lullaby. It’s dripping with hope, love, innocence, “she tastes like sunlight”. Dreamy melodies, silkily crooned vocals and soaring guitar which build up into a grand finale only calm back down and reflect, ending peacefully.

I actually saw them live supporting Editors (review is on here) before the NME stepped up the hype on them and I instantly knew they were ones to watch... 

Peace stand out amongst this emerging crowd of “B-towners” because while the rest of good, Peace are great.

- Wraith

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Savages debut– Silence Yourself

Savages – Silence Yourself- Pop Noire Records

London’s all female quartet ‘Savages’ are really what it says on the tin: savage.  'Silence Yourself' is the bands debut, which has been nominated the Mercury Awards. I could throw out endless comparisons but the truth is they’ve taken a well- worn, well done sound and style and made it, not only their own, not fresh and relevant, a skill not many bands actually possess. It’s violent, honest and raw.

The album opens with the a fore mentioned poem spoken calmly over a simple ominous piano before exploding into the fierce post-punk perfection called ‘Shut Up’. Gemma Thompsons guitar wails and screams, Ayse Hassan deep bass bounces and Fay Milton drums pound like an enraged frantically beating heart while Jenny Beth’s passionate cry criticises you, “The worlds a dead sorry hole”. The entire album pretty much continues this sound but each time twisting it slightly. ‘I Am Here’ begins with growling feedback which continues to echo menacingly in the background as thunderous bass leads, with sharp piercing guitar and clear fearless vocals; the whole song shouts accusingly at you; while chorus the is pure chaos. While ‘Strife’ has slow purposeful almost military drums with growling bass but it’s this distorted commanding guitar and electrified vocals that dominate. ‘No Face’ and ‘Hit Me’ are simply insanely fast.

‘Waiting for a sign’ is slower and threatening in an entirely different way. It’s dark, suggestive and melodic. A stand out track. It cries and howls with patient hammering drums whilst feedback and echoed screams circle the background.  Single’s ‘She Will’ and ‘Husbands’ are prime examples of Savages raw power, skill and witty lyrics. ‘She Will’ is fast, with spikey guitar, deep prominent bass and a chorus that erupts into chaos with Beth’s demanding cry ever being the focus. ‘Husbands’ likes to suddenly switches from threatening bass to guitar lead chaos and back almost at the blink of an eye. It’s frantic and powerful, frightening even as Beth becomes increasingly wild and agitated.

The album is very aggressive and emotional with this amazing energy and these stark honest lyrics. This is punk; it’s raw, commanding and intelligent. It questions and shouts at society instead of pretending everything’s fine. Every instrument has its own clear voice while also being able to unite into a wall of sound.
Concluding song ‘Marshal Dear’ is calmer with beautiful piano and Beth’s blunt lyrics passionately yet sarcastic croon contrasting perfectly with Joy Division-ish bass and soaring razor sharp guitar. Very surprisingly the song and album ends with mournful saxophone but it works.

Over all scary, intelligent and pure Post-Punk brilliance. The best bit though? There is truly no other band doing this, this well right now, it’s exciting. - Shut Up - Husbands

You can also read this review at

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless 1991

 My Bloody Valentine – Loveless 1991- Creation Records

Hailing from Dublin, formed in 1983, My Bloody Valentine pretty much invented Shoegaze, though their second album did pretty much bankrupt Creation Records and took two years to perfect across 19 different recording studios. Slight case of OCD here on Kevin Shields part, who pretty much ran the show, dominating the recording process while also being lead vocalist and guitarist. These guys did everything, pitch blending, digital reverb, guitars strummed with a tremolo bar to create that confusing trademark blend and distortion.

I know it probably makes more sense to review the brand new album ‘m.b.v’ which came out this year but I just couldn’t resist an album that not only defined a band but a genre, it the benchmark.; its iconic.

Single and album opener ‘Only Shallow’ is controlled by thick oppressive guitar that sways and soars but gives way occasionally to heavenly soft vocals and peaceful melodic guitar. That’s Shoegaze for you, or at least how MBV do it. It’s a gorgeously disorientating song. ‘Touched’ is rather scary, the distortion is so high I have no idea what blend of instruments I am listening to, it’s like an orchestra in a blender, backwards, it’s very innocent sounding but with that pounding drum and wailing it only adds to the general fear and confusion. This album really does make you feel high. I think we’ve move onto the next track…everything feels slowed down, stretched out, very dream like….
Single ‘When You Sleep’ shimmers and soars, with that trademark blend of grungy hazy guitar, simple chirpy melody and muffled charming vocals that seem to not have a worry in the world. It appears so effortless. In my opinion the best track on the album.

‘Come In Alone’ opens rather bluntly, it’s thick as cigarette smoke, heavily distorted and highly dissonant (thought that could just be my decrepit tape). The quiet dreamy melancholic vocals and subtle repetitive twinkling background melody contracts wonderfully with the dominating soaring backwards guitar. ‘Sometimes’ is much softer as the constant overpowering fuzz is balanced by a soft melodic acoustic guitar and heavenly organ. ‘Blown A Wish’ is romantic and sleepy with its lofty wistful female vocalist and sunny blend of distortion. ‘What You Want’ seems to contrast the previous with a violent vibrant opening but seems to calm down into the usual blur of keyboard, guitar, feedback, pedals with vocals that seem to be whispered from the end of a long tunnel; the song drifts out with a smiling reversed keyboard sample, bizarre but cheerful. ‘Soon’ ends the album superbly; a funky hip hop drum sample with a matching looped simplistic keyboard that seems to sashay to and fro. But naturally the fuzzed to the max guitar and high dreamy vocals takes prescience.

‘Loveless’ is an album of contradictions; it’s so crowded it can get oppressive but its cheerful and optimistic, it’s complex but made from simplistic loops. It makes you feel high, off balance at times but it’s a wonderful piece of craftsmanship that has lived on, inspired countless artists, and defined Shoegaze. Well worth two years hard work and £250, 000, don’t you think?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Gorillaz – Demon Days (2005)

Gorillaz – Demon Days 2005 EMI Records LTD

Damon Albarn hailing from Blur and Jamie Hewlett, a comic book artist and designer, gave birth to the bizarre world of Gorillaz way back in 1998. The ‘band’ consists of  the blue haired wide eyed 2D as lead vocalist and keyboardist, the forever moody and grubby Murdoc Niccals  on bass and drum machine,  the token female with more fringe than face Noodle on guitar, keyboard, and occasional vocals and last but certainly not least Russell Hobbs the box shaped giant on drums and percussion.

Their second studio album, ‘Demon Days’ was sprung upon us back in 2005, went five times platinum in the UK, double platinum in the U.S and earned a load of awards. Not surprisingly it's pretty much universally considered (and rightly so) their best album; as a newbie fan, how could I resist?

The album ‘Intro’ sets the tone nicely as it’s a collection of smashing glass, police sirens, distorted chipmunk vocals and various other ominous sounds. ‘Last Living Souls’ carries on this rather pessimistic tone with it’s simple pitter-pattering hip-hop beat, distortion and bored blank questioning vocals, “are we the last living souls?” It even has a lovely  acoustic and piano mid-section, just to remind us of the bands diverse styles, a reinforced throughout ‘Demon Days’ with song such as ‘El Manana’ which is  a cocktail of fast hip hop beat, hopeful acoustic guitar,  violin, melancholic keyboard and depressed creamy vocals. While ‘Every Planet We Reach Is Dead’ has a backstreet jazz feel with squelching and twinkling keyboards, deep bass, piano, low vocals, simple beat. Its steadily becomes more dissonant with itself, like a chaotic crowd of people as more contrasting sounds compete to be heard. ‘November Has Come’ reminds us of the Gorillaz love of rap as it features MF DOOM who’s evenly paced ‘fuck off’ tone contrasts well with “2D’s” airy distorted vocals. ‘White Light’ on the other hand, is more post-punk, with its thunderous beat and thick distorted guitar, whereas ‘O Green World’ is sinister, glitched, busier, full of sonic noise and misleadingly soft ‘aahh’s. Then we have ‘Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey’s Head’ which sedately tells us a strange tale over spaced out funk. Getting a little pretentious here? Ah well, their talented diverse cartoon characters, they can get away with it.

Then we have the “OMG, I know this song! I had no idea it was them… I love this tune!” with singles ‘Dirty Harry’, which is the funky pop anthem with that trade mark bass, fuzzed keyboard and kids choir; ‘Feel Good Inc’ which is plain filth, witty and wondrous fun with those dreamy vocals.  And finally ‘Dare’ which is simply the prefect dance track; flirtatious simple beat and twinkling keyboard. They are all highly additive tracks, along with ‘Kids With Guns’ minimalism and brisling understated sass; heavy on the bass with thin angular post-punk guitar and shimmery keyboard: funky.

They then decided to pretty much reject all the previous styles and end with the dreamy psych trip that is ‘Don’t Get Lost In Heaven’. Nice backwards guitar and violin, lovely and disorientating particularly as it drifts into the concluding song, ‘Demon Days’ which adds a chilled funk beat and a choir of gospel voices to the soaring keyboard, giving it an ocean fell, like the gentle wash of the tide. It’s a surprisingly optimistic ending as the song drifts out, like falling asleep… - Kids with Guns -    Feel Good Inc