March 22, 2010

Check it! For anyone who needed proof of Clement Marfo‘s lyrical ability, see above. Expect big things from Marfo and his band the Frontline this year, whose marriage of styles blends Rock riffs and Indie-disco beats with Big Band brass, Pop hook choruses and Marfo‘s lyrical prowess.

Clement Marfo & the Frontline are the antidote to the over-polished, synth-tastic, lyrically abysmal Urban-Pop spewing out of the hit-factory that is the major labels, and 2010 is their’s for the taking! Check out their tracks, here.

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January 21, 2010

Dappy

 

So as we’ve all heard, Dappy from N-Dubz was off living up to his name and reputation the other day, displaying his obscene stupidity by sending abusive text messages to a young mother of one. You’ve all heard the story, I won’t  elaborate on the details.

What I will say is that this is a ridiculous abuse of Dappy‘s responsibility as a celebrity to behave reasonably in the public eye and not to promote abusive behaviour and bullying through Social Media platforms. The obvious irony here is that Dappy is a spokesperson and ambassador, as celebrated by Schools Minister Ed Balls, for BeatBullying – the countries leading anti-bullying charity. BeatBullying‘s predominant focus in the current climate is tackling ‘Cyber-bullying’: abusive behaviour across Social Media channels such as Bebo, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, SMS and so on. Dappy‘s behaviour therefore is all the more offensive, irresponsible, and perhaps most worryingly of all, stupid!

I guess in this era of barely literate, socially inept, Neanderthal-esque celebrities, who feel socio-politically activated, influential and justified whenever their management company wheels them out at a charity gala or benefit drive, we have to remember a few things.. Celebrities are not like us: they live in a bubble. When they need something done, their management assistant, tour assistant or PA will do it for them. When they fuck up, their PR team is on the phone to every physical format / online publication, TV show and newsroom to clear the air, or a spokesperson will utter some well-timed, immaculately worded and completely insincere apology.

So should we be mad at Dappy? Probably not. He is completely and blissfully oblivious to the real world. I can’t even imagine he has the rudimentary tools necessary to understand the irony of this whole situation. We should be mad at the system which allows celebs like Dappy to make these glaringly hilarious, yet dangerous faux pas: the management and labels that buffer from the outside world, the hordes of drone-like fans that nurse their fragile and massive egos, and most despicable of all: the necessity for every charity and community cause to waft a fat cheque in the faces of celebs in order to gain a shred of publicity and to reach the youngest demographics.

Rant over.

January 7, 2010

It’s not usually my style to post videos.. but I couldn’t resist this. Absolute genius. Stunning close harmonies, mind-blowing arrangment and impressive multi-instrumentalism – Pomplemoose are definitely onto something here, and, with just under 3 million views on YouTube, their cover of All The Single Ladies is proof if ever proof was needed that interesting covers are an excellent way of exciting public imagination and gaining much needed attention if you are a small act. If you like this – check out their other covers, including an amazing rendition of Beat It by the late Jacko.

January 6, 2010

Hey Zeus live at the Corner, Manchester

 

So here goes, a long-awaited first post of Twenty Ten, and to get us started who better than one of the hottest Indie bands to explode onto the Manchester scene for a long time.. And I mean literally explode – with just three shows under their belt, and barely a full complement, Hey Zeus smashed all competition to be crowned best unsigned band in Manchester in the back-end of 2009 – an accolade which saw the young four-piece supporting the likes of Snow Patrol, Happy Mondays and KiD BRiTiSH at the MEN in December.

If that didn’t get your attention, then their blend of time-sig bending experimentalism a la bands such as At The Drive-In; Jagged, clean Vampire Weekend-esque Indie guitars, and vocal melody Pop-sensibility – an homage to the likes of The Kooks… will.

Hey Zeus have only recorded two tracks with which to adorn their MySpace so far – the strongest, Sirens, a triumph in intelligent Indie, complete with ethereal verses, strong pop-hook guitar melodies, intricate bass lines, jagged powerchords and an epic chant-along pop outro. The lads glide seamlessly and effortlessly through time signature changes in what is undoubtedly an incredible first effort.

Dont be surprised to see these boys getting serious recognition and hot support slots in 2010!

December 4, 2009

Me My Head

On Thursday 3rd December an intimate and excitable rabble of Me My Head fanatics descended upon the Relentless Garage to celebrate the release of debut album Survival In No Man’s Land on MBM Records. As an expectant crowd enjoyed and endured respectively sets from energetic Italian four piece To Be Rhudes! and London based The Bridport Dagger, the electricity in the air was palpable and it was more than just the December chill sending shivers down the spine. This release has been long and eagerly anticipated by the band’s avid fans and the London boys lapped up the atmosphere and fed off the crowds’ energy.

Opening track Night Is On Fire was a raucus, thumpin’ New Wave masterpiece, delivered with pounding kick-driven drum patterns, rock-steady basslines, delay-doused pop hook guitar licks, synth riffs reminiscent of an 80’s Atari console, and spit-flecked vigour from frontman Charlie Moss whose well-deserved vocal pomposity and indie-swagger will draw comparisons to the likes of Harry McVeigh and Tom Smith. Further crowd pleasers Say It All and the epic White Lights displayed anthemic Pop choruses, infectious synth lines, and in particular with the latter, a guitar riff that will plant itself in your brain on constant ostinato loop – listen with caution. In short, these songs would be welcome echoing around the walls of far larger venues than the Garage.

A well-constructed and perfectly mixed medley of What Is Love? by early 90’s Dance act Haddaway and Poker Face by everyone’s favourite Pop diva Lady Gaga delighted the crowd, with Moss‘s cracked and vulnerable vocals haunting and hanging ethereal in the air of the small venue. In a jocular and welcoming environment it would be easy for the lads to use a  cover as comic relief, so it was all the more enjoyable to witness this take on two tracks from almost 20 years apart taken seriously. Who doesn’t love a cover done well eh?

Me My Head owned the small stage for the duration of the seamless set, which was interspersed with bouts of well-constructed yet genuine banter. A professional performance then from a fantastic act, characterised by rolling thunderclap floor-tom massiveness, chugging bass drive, pop-hook Edge-esque guitar licks, delicate New Wave synth lines and anthemic vocal melodies. Like White Lies without all the death.. or a poppier Editors with more electronics, either way, check out the MySpace and buy the album. You wont regret it.

November 17, 2009

Clement Marfo & The Frontline

Behold, the future of music is upon us – check out a few tips that I think could come good in 2010. Starting with the magnificent Clement Marfo & The Frontline. This 7 piece act  is the product of a collaboration between Hip-Hop artist Clement Marfo and the Indie / Electronic band The Frontline, and the resulting fusion of music and ideas is fucking ace. Champion for instance layers Electronic glitch & beep samples, Ska-infused prominent brass melodies, guttural driving basslines, subtle bluesy guitar licks and intricate kick / snare patterns to provide the platform over which Marfo spits his venemous rhymes, while Kojo Vihram provides catchy pop-hook choruses. Anthemic pop-sensibility meets grime vocal prowess and a whole host of other cultural and musical influences for good measure – amazing! Lights Out meanwhile takes the bass driven, indie dance-beat and euphoric electronic vibe of bands like The Killers and The Bravery, and throws in some grimey vocals a la Marfo, who puts some of the current Grime-Pop acts of today’s charts to shame with his impressive display of lyricism. These guys and girls are playing a few London shows on the run up to Christmas so be sure to check ’em out while it’s still hot off the press.

Jenners Field are a really young London-based band who take the bleak death-Pop stylings of White Lies, the vocal pomposity of Tom Smith, and the experimental Electronic Indie feel of Me My Head, and stir it all up in a lo-fi, endearingly under-produced and raw blender. These boys also happen to have written one of the most stirring, atmospheric and infectious tracks I’ve come across in a while in Brave: an experimental rock track which transcends cultural barriers, combining middle-eastern guitar melodies with western popular traditions, and not to mention one hell of a chorus. And they use a theremin.. ’nuff said.

Jeuce is a musical force as yet unrecognised by the masses. However they are steadily building a fanbase for themselves, and are gaining the respect of the electronic music community; up-and-coming labels and producers alike, and for me, 2010 could be their year. They are entrepreneurs unhindered by futile dreams of immediate pop success, and as such there are many strings to the Jeuce bow. Not only are they a phenomenal live dance act, they are also well-reputed DJs, producers, opinion leaders, and have even dabbled in running their own label. It’s their live performance that is most exciting though, and you should definitely check out their grimey brand of dub-infused, bleep & bass indie dance immediately. 2010 could well be the year that the Jeuce brand drops.

Sketches are an emotional, dual-vocal Indie band. Epic and powerful sweeping soundscapes characterise their more soul-wrenching tracks, Dear Heart and Bleed Victoria (due for release on Fandango next week). Simple, brilliantly produced with lush delay and reverb guitars reminiscent of The Edge, and effortlessly endearing, Sketches have a few big-name followers, so fingers crossed 2010 will be their year.

Also in 2010, listen out for these guys: electronic Pop sensations Nite Visions; emo /alt rockers This Familiar Smile whose debut album Ribbons, Regards & the More Machine drops 2010; Pop-Punks Monte Carlo; Rap / Electro group F*Street, who have definitely got what it takes to ride the JLS riptide.

Yeeeaah Rock on 2010!

November 13, 2009

30stm

30 Seconds To Mars

Oh my.. It’s been a long time since posting! So! To start off a kinda informal trend on this blog for the following few months, I’m gonna keep it to an end of the decade vibe for a while, starting with this, perhaps topsy-turvily and clumsily titled post – Stuff I’m looking forward to for 2010… yeh!

1. 30 Seconds to Mars building on the epic success of Beautiful Lie. New album This is War is out early December, with single Kings & Queens, due to be released January, already making a big stir. Keep an eye out for these boys, they’re only getting bigger.

2. Similarly Biffy Clyro are finally really hitting the mainstream. Yes, Puzzle had some buzz, some airplay, some tv coverage, and Mountains, originally intended as a non-album track, was huge, but Only Revolutions looks set to be the album that really propels these Celtic rockmonsters into the open arms of the mainstream. Singles Captain and That Golden Rule have been chart successes, and the album is really strong. ‘Mon the Biff.

3. The as yet untitled Kings Of Leon remix album, with covers from the likes of Linkin Park, Mark Ronson and Lykke Li. Also, however the hell they follow up on the ridiculous success of Only By The Night.. I can’t wait for it.

4. A year for Rock. 2009 has gradually become a year for Rock, and 2010 looks set to be the same. Obviously, the very definition of the charts and the mainstream require anything alternative to be watered down, but the meteoric rise of bands like White LiesThe Big Pink, The Temper Trap, Mumford & Sons, and the ongoing success of The Foo Fighters, Muse, the Biff and Kings of Leon among others suggests that 2010 is going to a big year for mainstream Rock.

5. A year for Grime. Similarly, the charts have become slowly more and more dominated by Grime this year. Tinchy, N-Dubz, Chipmunk and to a lesser extent artists like Wiley, Tinie Tempah, Bashy and so on, have been in the charts or receiving air play. The end of the 2009 has been particularly exciting for Chipmunk, who will no doubt continue to climb the Pop ladder, and with a new album imminent from N-Dubz, and Master Shortie being my one to watch, 2010 is gon’ be all about the Grime.

6. The fall of the quirky girl Pop-star? Pixie Lott, Florence & The Machine, La Roux, Little Boots… Surely the dominance of the quirky chicks in the Pop charts can’t continue into 2010. The female race will be pinning their hopes on Mini Viva who have exploded into the Pop charts in the latter part of this year, and to a lesser extent the eccentric and sexy Marina & The Diamonds and another hot tip for you – Daisy Dares You, to carry the baton. However when it comes to squelchy electro-pop, 2010 could be a year for the boys – Mr. Hudson, one of the most exciting acts for me this year, will continue to thrill, and to go out on a limb Frankmusik will be back, bigger and better in 2010 with Follow The Leader. To further stick my neck out, Metronomy are another act to watch out for, and Nite Visions will almost certainly be in the charts in the latter part of 2010.

7. X Factor taking over the world – no detail needed as everyone knows this.

8. Brand New‘s return to the UK. January baby! Daisy, released a few months back, is frankly epic, and they’ll be touring off the back of it early 2010. Scroll down a few for more info on this. These boys put on one hell of a live show, and I can’t wait for the London leg of their UK tour.

So there it is folks, just a few things I’m looking forward to. What are y’all looking forward to?

October 21, 2009

Biffy Clyro

Biffy Clyro

 

Ok so I was lucky enough to get down to the first two nights of the Q Awards gigs running up to the Q Awards themselves, and therefore had the pleasure of seeing White Lies, supported by Bombay Bicycle Club and The Drums on Monday, and Biffy Clyro, supported by The Boxer Rebellion and Frightened Rabbit on Tuesday.

Both were incredible shows, with both headliners absolutely owning the stage and mesmerizing the crowd. White Lies thumped out booming bass-driven, sombre Indie-Pop anthems against a backdrop of pulsing bright white lights, to an entranced rabbit in a headlight crowd. Note perfection, pristine and polished production, and colossal renditions of singles Farewell To The Fairground, Death and To Lose My Life made this a memorable show.

Biffy Clyro meanwhile exploded onto stage in a flurry of Celtic ferocity and facial hair with the apocalyptic That Golden Rule. Monster riffs, ethereal melodies, tight as fuck arrangements and an epic light show worthy of a sci-fi battle scene made this performance unmissable! Biffy absolutely dominated, as expected: their presence more than filling the stage; and crowd pleasers such as Whose Got A Match? and Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies deafening the ears. The Scottish Alt Rock / Power Pop trio finished with Mountains, originally a non-album single but now included on Only Revolutions (due for release 9th November), to the delight of a grateful and exhausted crowd. Epic. ‘Mon the Biff!

White Lies

White Lies

October 1, 2009

Brand New

Brand New

 

Anyone who had any doubt that Jesse Lacey is a songwriting genius; an unparalelled lyrical Behemoth; a throwback from bardic traditions who in times gone by may have graced the ears of kings with his deep, dark, gleefully sadistic and painfully witty tales.. I point you in the direction of Brand New‘s latest, simply titled album Daisy. Ok, so it’s hard to be objective when you love a band this much.. bias will always creep in. That said, Daisy, released around 2 weeks ago, has rocketed to #6 in the US album charts, which speaks for itself, and suggests that there is no stopping this juggernaut of a band.

The stylistic shift that Brand New have made over the last 9 years is a much documented one, and to echo the musings of many journos before me I pose the question: who would have thought that the same young Pop-Punk band from Long Island, New York, who enjoyed a degree of success with Your Favourite Weapon: a fun and thoughtless teeny-Punk effort in 2001, could become the authority on Progressive and Experimental Emo / Alternative, crafting as they do emotive, intense and lyrically poignant songs full of depth and meaning. Equally, who would have thought that these boys could follow up The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me with an equally perfect album, maintaining stylistic consistency whilst still injecting new sounds and ideas into their music. I was sceptical.. evidently unnecessarily.

The album opens with Vices, which starts with a crackly megaphone sample of On Life’s Highway, a gospel hymn written by Bertrand Brown, before exploding into a distorted, discordant powerchord frenzy. Vices opens the album like a punch in the gut, ending as abruptly as it begun and leaving you feeling flustered, disoriented and bewildered. Tracks such as Bed, title track Daisy, and the first single from the album, At The Bottom, by comparison are time-sig-bending, slow-building, emo-infused soft-rock tracks. Powerful, thoughtful, perfectly arranged, expertly and interestingly produced and heart-wrenchingly introspective, these are 3 highlights of the album, and indeed Jesse Lacey‘s songwriting career, displaying prominent, guttural  basslines, delicate and ornate guitar lines, complex kit patterns and, of course, Lacey‘s signature strained, raw and emotive vocals that tug at the heartstrings and stir the soul.

At this point I must humbly concede that I simply haven’t the linguistic prowess to do Daisy justice… You just have to buy it. It is a phenomenal effort that flows seamlessly from each tortured track to the next; a genre hopping masterpiece. Get on down to the MySpace page and prepare to be amazed.

September 14, 2009

Tom Allalone & The 78s

Tom Allalone & The 78s

 
I was watching From Dusk Till Dawn  the other day, and as the Guadalajaran Mariachi meets Texan Rockabilly ‘Titty Twister’ house-band unceremoniously smashed out sleazy Rock ‘n’ Roll tracks, the Gecko brothers sunk shot after shot of fire water, and half-naked strippers slithered serpentine around greased poles (no innuendo intended) I couldn’t help but be reminded of this furious freight-train of a Rock ‘n’ Roll band, Tom Allalone & The 78s. Cooler than The Fonz, as impeccably styled as Costello, as rifftastic as a double-dose of  Mando Diao, and reeking of Zakk Wylde fresh from a JD and Tequila bender, Tom Allalone and his troupe’s debut album, released earlier this year, Major Sins pt.1, is full of good-times tracks guaranteed to have you throwing shapes like it’s 1978.
 
Tracks like Get Down & Dirty and Hell Hath No Fury evoke images of Wild West train robbers on horse-back gallopping towards an unsuspecting steam train, with whirlwind, delay-doused Rock riffs, jagged guitar stabs heavy on the whammy bar, lightning fast drum-patterns with chugging snare hits, walking basslines, and (in the case of the latter track) backing vocals ‘choo-chooing’. Dogshit Street, Wounded and, one of my personal favourites, Ten Little Cuts meanwhile would be at home in a late license smokey Jazz bar, or a prohibition-era speakeasy. Ten Little Cuts in particular is rife with delicate muted soprano sax lines, waltzing double-bass riffs, subtle brass and key licks, and melancholic and lonely lyrics dealing with the introspection and self-loathing that follows a breakup. Take once nightly with a JD on the rocks and a fat Havana. Displaying an impressive versatility, Allalone and the boys, make for the border of Mexico (a long way from their native Gravesend!), conjuring up images of a perhaps mythical (though Tom assures us that it is a real club in Talbot Place) Casillero Del Diablo. Mariachi brass, spanish rhythms and melodies and expressive vocals paint a vivid picture of the debauchery, lunacy and depravity that might take place in the ‘Devil’s Cellar’. Sign me up!
 
This is a sleazy, fast-paced, and raucus album, that’ll whisk you away on a riptide of Mississippi Delta meets Catalan Bullrunning imagery. JD meets Tequila; the Stomp meets the Samba; and carnage and mayhem will ensue!