Thursday, 28 April 2011

Gigs to go to - Saturday 21st May Sound City

Django Django @ Mojo
Mojo is one of the venues that’s been putting itself about in the past year as a proper gigging venue. Before Christmas they were putting acts like Miles Kane and the Chapel Club on for a fiver. Django Django will be at the lustful bar on Saturday.
I guess you’d have predicted they would’ve played in dubstep-drenched Django’s but that’s what you would have been expecting so they’re here.
Anyway, despite having a name that suggests they’re going to be in genre of gypsie-jazz they’ve got much for a steady, independent whoosh. They have called themselves ‘pyschedlic art pop’ but then they are kinda ‘out-there’.
They’re not neccasrly electornic but they have a keyboard, not neccesarily indie, but they do seem very independent.
With all this confusion, I guess it’s a wonder why they’re not playing somewhere as scatterbrained as the Kazimier.
However, the tight spaces of Mojo should benefit the band’s homely charisma. Just try not to drink too much when you’re in Mojo, it has an accurate reputation as one of the most expensive places to go on a night out in town.

Fucked Up @ The Kazimier
We’ve already reviewed one manic band, fronted by an even more manic, stripping, balding frontman (turn to page 10 for the review of Les Savy fav) and Sound City will be ended at the Kazimier by Fucked Up. As the name suggests they’re not a Christian rock band but one of the best modern punk bands around. Expect lots of action, this is the perfect way to end the festival for this year.

Gigs to go to - Friday 20th May Sound City

Wave Machines @ The Static Gallery
The Static Gallery did put some stuff on in the first year of Sound City, but the bands were remniscent of the ones you might find at Polish wedding receptions (don’t ask me how I know what they’re like). A particular highlight of one of the nights in the 2008 was an obscure migratory band who no one had heard of but had a singer who looked like an Italian John Lennon. He even had the glasses and everything.
I’m still not sure how they’re going to serve drinks consistently but they’ve got some top acts this year including the mesmerising Wave Machines.
Imagine a spiritual wawakening in Fangorn Forest from Lord of the Rings, complete with music being made pieces of velvet and being performed by participants in a Venician Carnival of the Rennaiscance period.
Not only can they do all this but they are also from Liverpool (go super Liverpool acts) and 6 Music loves them; Marc Riley and George Lamb have both had them on their shows to perform. The combination of this band and the artwork around the Static gallery should make for a memorable evening.

Emmy the Great @ Studio 2
Despite slipping off the radar a bit in the past year, Emmy the Great is still a quality act and one well worth going to check out. Once again, congratualtions need to be sent to the guys at Sound City for picking the perfect venue for her and her band.

Set Your Goals @ O2 Academy
Despite looking like they might be some kind of teen-emo band, Set Your Goals can at nearly all moments of their set, pound out some good old-fashioned American hardcore punk. Couple this with apop sensibility to a lot of their songs, and you’ve got a gig filled with equal parts aggression and equal parts singalong joy.
They’ve also managed to break a couple of the billboard album charts in America and are planning a new album to come out soon, so this night could produce some new material to mosh along to.
In Casino Out will also be the supporting act which is an inspired choice quite frankly. They are one of the loudest and best bands to come out of Liverpool in years. It’ll be interesting to see how are local lads will stack up against these yanks. Normally we wouldn’t be too keen on going to the O2 at Sound City, but this promises to be brilliant.

Gigs to go to - Thursday 19th May Sound City

Dinosaur Pile-Up @ The Masque
Dinosaur Pile-Up might just about to be on the verge of something pretty big. They sound a bit like an early Foo Fighters record (that’s a good thing) but they’ve also managed to write catchy choruses that They Might be Giants would be proud of and bring their beloved Leeds into their style. The Masque should be sweaty enough for this band so get yourself down if you fancy starting off Sound City with just one band.

The Dutch Uncles + Veronica Falls @ The Zanzibar
The Dutch Uncles are a mighty fine band in their own right. They’ve got a whirlwind combination of popcorn synths, and wiry guitars that manage to compliment the kindly vocals.
They might be one of the bands who really kick on from Sound City as well, and its at the Zanzibar, which is usually a good venue plagued by substandard ‘anyone will do’ bands.
The support band Veronica Falls however, may steal the show. It’s been a while since shoegazing went away, but everyone seems to be citing My Bloody Valentine at the moment and this London-based band have more than enough about them to go places.

Tips for Sound City

The main thing to remember for Sound City, is that although the weekend and day tickets can be quite expensive, they put on plenty of gigs for free. If you can pick yourself a route through the town then you can see a colossal amount of bands for absolutely zilch. The route we recommend is to start off somewhere just off of concert square, maybe Heebie Jeebies, and then work your way up towards Hardman Street. Don’t bother going to see a half-decent act either if they double the prices (I’m looking at you Alma De Cuba 2009). Don’t forget to ask around at the end of the night if there are any after-parties, Static’s usually a good place to meet some party-people.

Interview with Yam Yam Promotions' Andy Stocker

MB – How do you and Owen Day know each other?
AS – We at met at university. I was doing a music and economics course, and Owen was doing a maths, music and Italian course.
MB – When was that?
AS – That was about 4 and a half years ago, something like that. We just got on from then, really. We worked together in Bumper for a bit, lived together for a bit and then just decided to start doing this.
MB – Had you always planned on running a music night?
AS – No, not really. I’m one of the trainee managers in Heebie Jeebies and he’s the assistant manager in Bumper, so we’ve had experience in running nights before. Yam Yam is Owen’s baby really, it came about because he wanted to see this band play in Manchester but he hadn’t enough money so he just decided to see if he could book the band to play Liverpool. So we just booked it!
MB – Do you personally know all the bands you book? They all seem to be coming to contact you on your website?
AS – They are doing that now. Previously it was just sending stuff to agents and that. Owen’s got quite a lot of contacts though. If we want to book a band now, we’ll just send a message to a couple of nationally-known punk bands. It’s not too hard to get bands we like to play gigs, probably because they’re playing punk music. If you tried to do this with a more established indie band then you’re going to get a lot of no replies and stuff.
MB – Have you thought of putting gigs on anywhere else?
AS – We don’t want to be stepping on anyone’s toes really, there’s people already running stuff at the Pilgrim and that but at the moment we just want some regular spots. We’ve booked the Barcelona bar for the next gig. We will do different places as long as it’s promoted as a Yam Yam night.
MB – Have you had any trouble getting venues then?
AS – We have, yeah. We were originally going to use the basement of Heebie Jeebies, because it’s perfect for a night like ours, but one of the shareholders heard about the night on Facebook and he said that they didn’t want to have anyone charging on the door for the gig; company policy thing I think. So we moved it to Bumper. We tried the Static Gallery as well, but their booking fee was too much. We don’t make much money, a little bit of profit for the first night we did but not much.
MB – Do you think there is currently enough going on in Liverpool’s music scene?
AS – There wasn’t for punk music, none at all. Bands were playing in Manchester a lot, that’s why after 3 weeks I would say we are the biggest punk night in Liverpool. It’s because we’re the only ones who are doing this sort of thing.
MB – What other gig nights do you enjoy going to in Liverpool?
AS – There’s a folk night in Bumper which has just started up, I like that. There’s no other nights really I can think of. It just depends what bands are on.

Review - Radiohead: The King Of Limbs by Gavin Shakespeare

Mystery is a beautiful device, a device that demands excitement and thought, yet the absence of clarity in society is rarely seen as the need for answers is so desperate. This is seen in many forms of media; the newspapers constantly speculate until the answers reveal themselves, television programmes rarely leave a mystery unsolved and music naturally holds no mystery; the majority of bands all have so much to say about their music, often the listener knows what to expect before the album is released.
Radiohead however, love a mystery. Throughout their long and ever changing career, there music/artwork combinations have often baffled fans and critics alike – from the bizarre computer voice samples on ‘Ok Computer’ to the booklet neatly hidden underneath the track listings on Kid A, revealing many future lyrics and cryptic lists. King of Limbs is no different in the way the album has been released and presented. Ed O Brien before the release of the record said the band were looking to move away from the standard CD/Vinyl/Download release – the band famously released ‘In Rainbows’ in 2007 as a Digital Download where the listener could pay what they could afford. What could the band do next? Surprisingly, they did something completely different again.
The King Of Limbs was released in February, 8 tracks at just under 38 minutes; the band leaving nothing but a picture on their website saying ‘Thank You For Waiting’ – No press, No interviews; Just a creepy looking beast with a link to buy the album as either a download or the full ‘Newspaper album’. Obviously, being a Radiohead Fanatic, I was intrigued by the newspaper album option and snapped it up immediately, downloading the album in turn.
Initially the album struck me as a slightly difficult listen – the beats in Bloom, which kicks off the album, left me rather unsettled. Good Morning Mr Magpie and Feral also sounding slightly weary attempts to be different again. Perhaps, after the very accessible ‘In Rainbows’ record, it was meant to catch people off guard, a lot of the talk before the ‘TKOL’ was that the band had gone back to their ‘The Bends’ sound. Thankfully, they didn’t as the record grows into something quite magnificent.
Having had time to digest the record, read the two newspapers and visit the website that accompanied the first newspaper ‘The Universal Sigh’, it is clear that once again Radiohead have released a project that is completely unique and interesting.
Starting with the record, the opener Bloom once settled into your life is a perfect way to begin the journey. It takes an ambient route with a bass groove that captures the soul. Yorke’s vocals swirl and haunt, gone are the ‘Kid A/Amnesiac’ days where he doubted his voice – this album celebrates how good a vocalist he is. Lotus flower, the first and to date only single off TKOL is again another example of this. A sensational build up with the bass leading the track, hand claps echo around the intense electronica and the drums enter with odd yet sensible rhythm.  Lotus flower also indicates a changing point in the record and sees the album ‘slowly unfurl’; the first five tracks are all lead by groove, a gradual build up and intense percussion yet with an underlying relaxation; many of previous Radiohead releases hold a menace, but this record is essentially the closest to a ‘chill out’ album they will probably ever release, the depth in the songs are just beyond. The last three tracks off the album see the band enter almost a dreamscape setting, the tempo slows down. Codex is a beautiful piano lead track – a really soothing and thoughtful track and it exhibits what Radiohead do best, the music separates the listener from reality for a while. The ability to join the world where ‘the water is clear and innocent’, the track is exactly why Radiohead are different from other bands – because there is a level of hope and emotion in the songs. ‘Give up the Ghost’ takes off where ‘Codex’ leaves off, with bird song and a folky guitar riff, it is just wonderfully crafted. The important thing to remember is that whilst a lot of Radiohead fans want to see more of Johnny Greenwood slamming out riffs on his guitar, his subtle work is absolutely astounding; every guitar riff/piano note that is included in this album has a purpose and adds a different layer. An example of this is in album closer ‘Separator’ where the guitar builds up and twinkles along with the track. ‘Seperator’ is a highlight for me, the way the song is crafted is perfect and as album closers go, it is one of the best since, well, Street Spirit (Fade out) on ‘The Bends’. The song ends with the lyrics ‘If you think this is over, then you’re wrong’ and there is some truth in this statement, but not another album as many websites had wrongly predicted.
The record – is just part one of the king of limbs, the newspapers that accompany the record are what makes this whole project feel special and different. The newspapers are full of literature from short stories to articles, artwork, lyrics and cryptic lists. The first paper ‘The universal sigh’ was released on newsstands across the world in April, with the recipients being asked to take a photo of themselves with the newspaper and to send the photos into the website. This interests me, as it seems Radiohead are exploring the avenues of making the king of limbs record not only a musical project but also an artistic/social venture, a worldwide project. The art work in the actual newspaper is like the tempo/feel of the album in that it starts off very bright and up-tempo and then slows down into darker colours and drifts off. The newspaper is like a portfolio in the way it is set out, a piece of art created by both Yorke and Stanley Donwood that is set to compliment the record yet also ask questions to how the listener interprets the record. There is a true sense of the record being linked with nature, that can’t be avoided with the album being named after a tree and many of the pieces of literature being linked with forestry/preservation. The lists remain elusive, babble maybe? Future lyrics? Poems? They make for interesting reading though and fans of random things like this will be pleasantly surprised. The King of limbs appears to have many branches and avenues, only recently 2 B sides have been sent out to people who have bought the record on the website – so who knows, the project could keep expanding and expanding, but who knows? The bands are a mystery and long may it stay that way.

The Smiths 10 Bands in 10 Minutes 24/04/2011

Liverpool band Married by the Sea managed to put on a 10 Bands in 10 Minutes where the songs were Pixies tunes about a month ago. Unfortunately though, we kind of missed it so in order to make up for that we thought we thought we’d pop along to this night. The format of these nights is as follows; 10 bands each have a 10 minute slot. During this 10 minute slot they have to play at least 1 Smiths’s song.
The bonus of a night like this is two-fold. First of all the rapid-fire change of bands means you never really got bored. It’s reminiscent of the early Stiff Records tours in the way that the bands play pretty much through the same equipment, so they can’t hide behind any fancy production values (although there was one band who decided that no small cheap Fender amp would get in their way of massive, random sound – more of that in a bit).
The second upside to a night like this is that you will know at least 10 of the songs played at this night. The covers don’t always have a special little twist to them either. A lot of the songs played tonight were straight note-by-note, dot-to-dot replicas; a risky business if you’re band isn’t any good. Anyway here are bands and the Smiths songs they played.

1st Band – The Readymades
The Readymades have been going for about 5/6 years now, and their experience really showed through. They have an airy, cool sound which makes them sound a bit like critic’s favourite The Rosebuds and the drop in quality is nowhere near as wide as you’d expect from a band that is 1st on the bill at this gig. The second song they played; All Is Well was particularly noteworthy as added a nice subtle punch to their set.
Smiths song – Girlfriend in a Coma
I’ve actually seen this song covered by Noah and the Whale at a small festival and it was possible the most boring 5 minutes of my entire life. Luckily however, The Readymades are not wilfully shallow and self-absorbed. Their version was very similar to the original but it was pretty faultless and did me the good service to remind me how much I liked the song before Noah and the Whale heard it. 8/10

2nd Band – Andy Gill
Unfortunately, Hot Club De Paris pulled out of their support slot tonight, maybe it was because everyone’s bored of them already or maybe it’s because something devastating happened. Luckily, however, this chap Andy Gill turned up to beef up the bill. He only brought his guitar and his laptop, so you could tell this was all a bit last minute. On a side note what is the more pretentious stage laptop – the Sony Vaio or the iMac? Anyways, Mr. Gill (not of Gang of Four fame) was in a bit of a no-win situation to be honest, but credit to someone who turns up in such a short space of time.
Smiths ong – London
Once again not the greatest performance given how much notice Andy had to step in, he seemed a bit tentative around the song. On the upside however, there were some parts to the song that he’d given a lightly Detroit-techno vibe to – good effort sir! 6/10

3rd Band – Town Bike
After Andy Gill’s brave but ultimately futile set, garage-punk band Town Bike were given the stage. Being a personal favourite of Mersey Beat, we were very excited readers, yes we were, and we got exactly what we hoped for. Town Bike immediately got into their side and started hammering out their charismatic punk pop. The night in hindsight, seemed to change up a gear from here on in.
Smiths song – Shoplifters of the World Unite
Best cover of the night. The pace was doubled-up on this song and didn’t seem out of place at all. This night should’ve have featured more covers like this where the original is custom-fitted to the bands style. The chorus also seemed to grow into a shout-along. 10/10

4th Band – Go Heeled
Go Heeled in 2009 and lack a bass player. This probably would’ve been fine if they had followed any other band but unluckily they were following quite a loud band. At times their set was lacking that little bit of burble which the audience may not have noticed if they’d have gone on at a different slot. Mind you, the singer looks great, can dance about, and their indie-rockabilly tunes certainly had some pedigree to them.
Smiths song – Bigmouth Strikes Again
Oh dear. Go Heeled despite doing a fairly good couple of songs to open their set decided to bring an electric ukulele player for their cover of Bigmouth Strikes Again. I’m not sure however, if any of them actually new the song (they certainly didn’t show any evidence of the fact) or what an earth that dreadful ukulele player was meant to bring to the song. Very, very disappointing. 4/10

5th Band – Hillary and the Democrats
Hillary and the Democrats were up next. If you haven’t heard them before they have a kind of American geek-rock sound which their name would suggest. However, the singer does sound very English. I guess this is what globalisation is all about. They opened up with their song (I Wish That I’d Taken More) Photographs. They’re a very polished band, impossible to dislike but that’s mainly because they seem to lack the ultimate factor which can help you ‘love’ a band. They brought the drummer’s girlfriend up for a song as well (what’s with all the cameos tonight) and that carried on the nice atmosphere of their set.
Smiths song – What Difference Does It Make?
They did this song in the middle of their 10 minutes, which I suppose is quite brave (points for bravery count by the way). It was a half-decent replica of the originally, that was aimed to be a note-for-note rendition of the song. The vocals caught that Morrisey tone spot on, however the guitarist is clearly no Johnny Marr. He seemed to be pushing himself a bit too much to keep up with the original song which stuck out in parts. 6.5/10

6th Band – Cavalier Song
Time for a change methinks and Cavalier Song is certainly that. After knocking over a microphone stand (fuck you Axl Rose) the guitarist/singer brought on what can only be described as the biggest pedal board I have ever seen. Their sinister second song was enhanced by him physically operating the board with two hands. They’re a proggy band and this was a proggy performance only really bloody good. The crowd seemed mystified but credit to this night for putting on a band which was so different to everyone else who played.
Smiths song – Reel Around the Fountain
A song about underlying paedophilia! If this song was going to be played it had to be this band which played it. Although saying that, it was fairly hard to distinguish what they were playing, but once again this was a brave performance, it does seem that they are better at playing their own stuff, but the main guy (pedalboard dude) is clearly talented; he has a good, breathy voice and his playing matches the dyanamic sound that the band creates. 7/10

7th Band – Sparkwood & 21
This band took to the stage next complete with quiff and glasses (lead singer), Buddha beads (bassist), American sit-com clothing (drummer) and mandolin (mandolin player, duh!). Go Heeled should probably take some tips on how to use a small stringed instrument properly as this performance was one of the best of the night.
Smiths song #1 – Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want
I don’t know whether this is a sign of me getting old, but the folk inspired sheen that they gave to this song was unequivocally moving. The singer managed to hit every note spot on, and many a mouth in the audience mimed the words along. 9/10
Smiths song #2 – This Charming Man
The iconic intro was nailed to perfection, but this song seemed to run out of momentum a bit too quickly. By the first chorus, the band seemed to lack the punch that it is needed with this song, despite some stellar bass playing from the Buddhist. Everything else about the song was ok, but after what they’d just given us with Please, Please, Please, it felt like a bit of an anti-climax. 7/10

8th Band – House That Jack Built
House That Jack Built claim to be the best band in the North West. They’re not bad by any means but they certainly ambitious in their ambitions. They’re set constituted some songs of inoffensive, well executed indie rock. It wasn’t bad but it didn’t really add anything to the evening. The guitarist by the way, looks a lot like the PE teacher from the TV show Teachers.
Smiths song – How Soon Is Now?
I guess it was inevitable that at least one band would attempt this. How Soon Is Now is a song which The Smiths themselves couldn’t get right live right have the time so it’s admirable of the guys to attempt it. Instead of playing it straight however, they doubled it up and turned into a more punk-ish version so at least they made it doable. Didn’t sound too bad but once again it wasn’t that memorable. Although the singer should be reminded that it’s not acceptable to slap a bass anymore unless you’re Bootsy Collins. 7/10

9th Band – Puzzle
Puzzles are one of the most charming bands I’ve seen in a while. They look like a nervous bunch of people on stage, but are gifted enough to manage to be breezy and lovely whilst at the same time be punchy enough to maintain good momentum in their songs. This seems in no small part to their drummer ‘Spoons’ who had numerous shout-outs from the crowd and is a bit of a powerhouse on the ‘ol pots and pans.
Smiths song – The Boy With the Thorn in His Side
A very good song which was re-created tidily by Puzzle. Spoons moved onto bass for this song, and he’s just as loud on that. The band did seem to miss his considerable clout for this song though; the stand-in drummer didn’t quite have the authority to pull it off. The guitarist however, nailed Marr’s guitar parts; Hillary and the Democrats take note. 8/10

10th Band – Married by the Sea
So it was left to the hosts to end the evening. They’re a popular bunch of guys and did a pretty good job of closing the show. My favourite member is the synth player, who sounds a bit like a robot wasp (seriously). Couple this with a subtly powerfly line-up of people and you have all the hallmarks of a very steady band.
Smiths song #1 – Panic
However, the first Smiths cover Panic, is a bit like trying to eat pasta with 2 forks, a golf club and 3 spoons; a bit clunky, clinky and confused. I can see the reason behind bringing a guitarist on stage but why does any band feel the need to play each other’s instruments half way through a song? This was an ill-executed decision. 5/10
Smiths song #2 – There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
I’m always dubious of this song, mainly because it’s one of those tunes that comes on at the end of your average indie club night and everyone hugs each other because they’re all so bloody together and crap. However, the band gets back on the instruments they’re supposed to be playing and instantly everything gets sorted out. Near enough the same as the original, but professionally re-created and a good way to end an enjoyable evening of rainy Manchester songs. 8/10