Thursday, 28 May 2009

ATP vs. the Fans: The Fans Strike Back 2009

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
Kinda like hitting the demo button on a Casio keyboard, but not as good. Rather dull, think I may have preferred it if he didn't sing. Though I have to say the last few tracks when he was joined by the full band were pretty fun. I may have danced.

Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard
Some really cool music and some smile-inspiringly clever lyrics, were somewhat spoiled by Jeffrey’s whiny nasal voice. I liked his battered, stickered, overdriven acoustic guitar though.

A guy and girl looking at each other over an array of synths, sequencers and other gadgets. Mostly instrumental. Very stylish and dancey. I especially enjoyed when the brought in low-end guitar riffs.

At the time when Devo were first popular, prog-rock was something new and futuristic. The silly hats, costumes, and dance routines fit with the quirky originality of their music. Nowadays, especially at ATP, their music seems mainstream and dated. The lyrics are quirky and pointless, culturally irrelevant or lack real depth, and... Let’s call a spade a spade; they're a bunch of middle-aged guys dancing around in their boxers shouting "whip it good".
Still, full marks for effort, they were damn entertaining. And the tune 'Uncontrollable Urge' really stood out for me.

Pink Mountaintops
This is apparently the solo project of the guy from Black Mountains. Although why the chief-songwriter and co-lead singer needs a solo project too is beyond me. These guys were actually really good. Mixing some Western and southern rock (South Western?) with some experimentalism and some great guitar-play. One of my favourite acts of the weekend.

Cave Singers
Rootsy western of the style of Seasick Steve, but there were three denim-clad rednecks up there. Still pretty minimalist and usually acoustic, they had a sincerity that is achieved through the rawness of their tunes.

The Acorn
The Acorn are a soft, folksy group whose' understated music is likable but (evidently) forgettable.

Grizzly Bear
A bit catchier than The Acorn, the tunes are bouncy and the vocals are ethereal. Like psychedelica but a bit tougher and edgier but equally floaty and intelligently constructed.

Strong, classical vocals over trumpets and accordion. Definitely some eastern European folk-dance influences. The frontman is lovable and some of the songs are particularly romantic.

Definitely good to see Scottish bands on the bill. Their slightly tongue-in-cheek electronic post rock didn't have quite the kick I was hoping for, but certainly had an atmosphere.

Jesus Lizard
A little bit punk and a little bit grunge, the band clearly loved themselves to pieces. I did not share that love, they were OK.

Somewhat indie, moody, fantasy experimentalism. Nice way to start a Sunday. Kind of a male equivalent to Bat for Lashes.

Future of the Left
My discovery of the weekend. Hard rocking, microphone screaming, sweets tossing, instrument thrashing, crowd surfing, banterous, Welsh/Geordie power trio. Loved them. "There's a band on the other stage called 'chik chik chik' (!!!). I'm not making this up, that is actually their chosen moniker!"

Funky and groovy. Synthy in a kind of 80s underground kind of way. The front man was a bit too Har Mar Superstar for me, but the rest of the band were great to watch, and the entire room was dancing. The beat wasn't too intense but it was powerful enough that you feel stupid standing still.

Parts & Labor
Indie and electronic sounds, with a healthy dose of crazy too (see the rock-out that is New Buildings). The vocals do kinda let the side down on this, which is a recurring theme this year, but these guys were enjoyable to listen to.

Definitely chillout music, it’s hard to get excited about it, but the swells and treads of this many-instrumented post rock is unquestionably the soundtrack to lying in the grass. Or in the case of this particular festival, lying on the green felt carpet.

School Of Seven Bells
Fairly decent tunes, Interpol support veterans, hot identical twin girls. It sounds good but their live show left something to be desired. It’s called performance.

The Mae Shi
Take musical toys, synths and guitars and a sparkling sugar high and mix them all together. You get The Mae Shi. I would like to see more of these guys.

Top Five Recommendations:
5. Cave Singers
4. Beirut
3. !!!
2. Pink Mountaintops
1. Future of the Left
Myke Hall

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