Sunday 28 March 2010

Copy Haho - Sneaky Pete's Edinburgh 5 March 2010

A version of this review is also published in The Journal.

It’s not very often that you go to a rock gig and have to cram closer to the stage to hear the band playing. But solo artist Debutant’s music is just that quiet. The picked guitar is bathed in effects: chorus, reverb, delay, slow attack, all designed to create a soft, glowing, otherworldly presence. The vocals are few and far between, and incomprehensible as they are also drenched in reverb. Despite the low volume, everyone is transfixed on the solo artist. You could hear a pin-drop.

Following a similar suite with quiet, slow, picked guitar and quiet vocals are follow-up act eagleowl; utilising less effects and a little more folkiness, and of course the biggest difference from Debutant, a second member of the band playing a thundering double bass. However, eagleowl failed to capture the audience’s ear in the same way and the bar is quickly filled with babbling chatter.

Tonight’s headliners, Copy Haho (pictured) are guitar-driven indie/rock/pop. The four piece are made up of a drummer with impressively speedy high-hat beats, a Stephen Malkmus sound-a-like singer/guitarist, a lead guitarists who’s riffs and licks like to go for casual strolls on the high strings, and a bassist, who likes to go for casual strolls in audience with his radio lead; although the wireless wonder learns that this is not always a practical party piece when his woolly hat is stolen by a member of the crowd. Keeping the use of overdrive to an impressive minimum, the melody of the lead guitar and the melody of the vocals dance flirtingly and unashamedly atop the rhythm instrument’s sturdy sonic platform.

Although many of their songs are unmemorable, some stand-out tunes near the end of the set get the crowd grooving, such as the penultimate number, rock-out tune 'Pulling Push Ups', where the bass breakdown and elevating outro part push the song a head above the rest.
Myke Hall

Monday 22 March 2010

Lostprophets - Edinburgh Corn Exchange 19 Feb 2010

A version of this review is also published in The Journal.

The phenomenal Ilan Rubin left Lostprophets last year to play drums for Trent Reznor on the apparent last ever Nine Inch Nails tour. Lostprophets (picture by Andrew Moore) are now on tour now with their new drummer, Luke Johnson, out to prove to the world that they don’t miss him.

The Welsh six piece play high energy emo-tinged nu-metal, coating each track with a sharp biting guitar overdrive and diet metal drums. Their set includes songs from throughout their decade long career, as well as a cover of The Prodigy’s ‘Omen’. Lead singer Ian Watkins’ voice seems perfectly crafted to sail through the noise without gruffness, without strain, never struggling to hit high notes. Balancing him is synth player Jamie Oliver, whose metal screams add the required aggression when the song requires it. But aggression isn’t this band’s primary motivation. Tunes ‘Rooftops’ and ‘Last Train Home’ not only get the vast Corn Exchange audience pogoing like 70s punks, but prove uplifting and inspiring. Lyrics like “But there's still tomorrow/ Forget the sorrow/ And I can be on the last train home” breath optimism into a genre too often overfilled with depression and negativity.

As the end of the set draws closer, the band are killing time. Throwing bottles of water to a dehydrated and grateful audience, and pouring on the praise as bands always do “You guys are pissing all over Glasgow”, but eventually they get to the point and close the set with the broken beats and staccato guitar riffs of their first major hit ‘Shinobi Vs. Dragon Ninja’. Extended cheering leads to their reappearance, but the encore tune, a song called ‘The Light That Shines Twice As Bright...’ from their January album The Betrayed, is slow, atmospheric and eerie, leaving the audience somewhat bemused by this stylistic sidestep. To come full circle, the song was rather reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails.
Myke Hall

Friday 19 March 2010

Spoon - King Tuts Wah Wah Hut Glasgow 14 Feb 2010

Article originally published on Is This Music?, and is therefore their copyrighted material:

American college indie rock is a well-explored genre in the States, but the barrage of t-shirt and jeans bands rarely seem to bleep on our radar. Two such examples are Spoon, who hit their stride in the mid-naughties, and White Rabbits, more recent scenesters.

White Rabbits’ light rock guitar songs are made especially eerie and dancey as their six-piece line-up includes a percussionist as well as a drummer, who thundered drums and cymbals alike in spite of a rather nasty-looking cast on his arm. The band’s broken-beat Dirty Projectors-style harmonies, subtle use of piano and gritted-teeth lead vocals can be used to create either strange little pop oddities or off-kilter post-rock epics. Add their warm booming basslines and you’ll be following White Rabbits into Wonderland.

Spoon (pictured) are much more rough around the edges, with some spiky guitar clashes, staccato piano and laid-back but agitated vocals. The Texan four-piece’s songs are often made up of minimalist riffs and uncluttered drum parts, allowing the instruments to stay well-separated, creating a sort of hollow space in the middle range for you to listen to the song from. Lyrically, they float between odd and sometimes unreadable metaphors, and sentiments that ultimately convey a general discomfort with the world they inhabit.

Describing the music as “indie” by British definition is way off. There is little to nothing in common with Britpop or art-rock or the Madchester scene or any of the other things we class as indie in this country. This is music that will make most sense at 1AM to tired students going over their revision notes for the hundredth time. Interesting, then, that it cast a similar spell from the darkness of the King Tut’s stage. Highlights of the set included new single ‘Written In Reverse’ (below) and the sombre but dramatic ‘The Beast and Dragon, Adored’.

Myke Hall

Myke Hall

Monday 15 March 2010

News: Edinburgh in March 2010

Orange Slice Records presents Pensioner live at Sneaky Pete's on 17 March 2010 in support of their debut self-titled EP, out now. Their mathy rock sounds tracks the epic voyage of four musical journeyman individuals and their rock odyssey... or at least that's what their PR would have us believe. Support comes from the dazzling Bronto Skylift and completing the bill are the criss-crossing guitars of Edinburgh veterans Degrassi and Curators.

A week later, Sneaky Pete's will be host to Edinburgh's own Night Noise Team. The 'France pop meets 80s rock' band will perform on 27 March 2010, promoting their new single, 'Menolick' (pictured right), which has already been talked about by Lamacq on 6Music, Radio 1 and other stations and podcasters.
Myke Hall

Sunday 14 March 2010

YRock - Cabaret Voltaire Edinburgh 13 Feb 2010

Casino Queen (pictured) make a lot of noise for just two lads, be it Connor Doherty's growling grizzly bear voice, his biting blues guitar, or Stewart McLachlan's juggernaut drum thrashing. Playing dirty delta-blues-rock, the duo verge on what The White Stripes would sound like if Meg was a better drummer. Guitarist Conner plays complex Mississippi style riffs effortlessly, at one point even having an onstage conversation with drummer Stewart while executing a solo, all without missing a note. Stew's rise and fall from subtle accompaniment to crashing explosions add dynamics to his counterpart's strums.

Edinburgh trio Radiokills play rock tunes along the lines of young American bands, drawing on the emotionality of the emo scene to play alternative rock melodies. Where they get interesting, though, is their use of multi-effects boards on both the bass and guitar. The power trio are able to create synthetic but energetic sounds reminiscent of modern progressive indie rock bands like Muse and Radiohead.

The crowd really swelled, though, for the evening's headline act Genetic Radio. The blue-eyed pretty boys are an indie-rock/Britpop four-piece. While they clearly draw a lot of influence from Oasis, as noted by their cover of the Gallagher brothers' 'Falling Down', there's evidence of artists like David Byrne and Edwyn Collins in their remorseful pop rock. This was only magnified by their charming onstage personalities and smiling faces, which the crowd ate up like chocolate drops.
Myke Hall

Monday 8 March 2010

The Red Stripe Music Awards - Cabaret Voltaire Edinburgh 3 Feb 2010

A version of this review is also published in The Journal.

The winners of the Red Stripe Music Awards will get to play at The Great Escape festival and get a load of Fender equipment, so it’s not surprising some of Edinburgh’s finest bands signed up for the Edinburgh showcase. The evening starts with Carrie Mac, a singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitarist accompaniment. Carrie’s songs might start from folky roots, but grow into pop saplings with branches into funk and R&B. Her voice is unbelievably powerful and pitch perfect throughout. Let’s pray we can enjoy her raw performance for a while longer before the big record label bosses can turn her into an over-produced pop princess.

The Fire and I’s lead singer/bassist Gordon is joined only by drummer/ backing singer/ keyboard fiddler / drumstick twirler Hooligan. The duo create dirty, rough grunge/rock with angry Scots vocals. The fuzzy distorted bass sound never fails to make guitars seem obsolete, and Hooligan fills every space with drum fills or cyberpunk synth noises. With a never ending supply of energy, they are the Irn Bru 32 of bands.

Pose Victorious prove the least innovative band of the evening. With their traditional five piece line-up, their Brit-pop inspired songs of laddish antics, equal parts Oasis, Stone Roses and Kasabian, are paths that have already been re-tread by every indie band around since the early 90s. Donning scarves and skinny jeans, their show may be stylish but lacks spirit.

Rather unusually, power trio Come On Gang's lead vocal comes from the girl behind the drum kit. Sarah’s voice is folksy, which is something of a juxtaposition next to the dance-tempo rock music the lads play. Guitarist Mikey plays chiming trebley riffs while bassist Trev plays a thick, slightly distorted bassline.

Strangest yet are funky, hippy-pop ensemble The Banana Sessions. Their lineup is made up of female vocals, acoustic guitar, flute, tuba, and brushed drums. Their songs include an ode to the favoured drink of neds (‘Buckfast Gets You ****ed Fast’), but their party piece is a 10 minute Prodigy medley, turning songs like ‘Out of Space’ and ‘Smack My ***** Up’ into psychedelic summer meadow romps.

Myke Hall

Monday 1 March 2010

Johnny Foreigner Interview chats with Birmingham ADHD-punk band Johnny Foreigner in the green room before their gig at Cabaret Voltaire about bands from Birmingham, the controversial Christmas number one, their new album, and Craig Finn.

Myke Hall