A month in a post..

My blog posts may be sporadic but It’s only cos im so busy  generally staying alive.. but hopefully this one will be worth the wait.. as the blog title says, its basically a month in a post!

Kicking off with The Walkmen, Now Wave pulled off another corker at St Phillips Church last month with them playing a storming set  which included new material from their stunning album Lisbon as well as classics such as The Rat.  I was late to catch onto this album, but I absolutely adore it and have rated it as one of my top 50 albums of 2010.. Sod The Rat.. this is probably my favourite track off the album..

On this occasion we were treated to one of the biggest buzz bands around as a support, nominated in the BBC Sound of 2011 poll The Vaccines have been everywhere.. with stories of energetic live shows and stage invasions doing the rounds..

I was intrigued to not only see them live but to see them in a venue like St Phillips Church where clearly a calm and professional ambience was the order of the day..infact they removed all the swear words from their songs and stated on stage that they weren’t sure if they were more scared of offending the church or offending the musos’.. too true.  I was joined by Freddy and Justin after the gig for an interview where they dispelled any of my thoughts that they could be flash in the pan.. there certainly is a depth of thought and maturity behind their music and I just hope the proof is in the pudding.  Debut single Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra) has been compared to the Ramones, but its the gentleness of its B-Side Blow it up that got me more..

One mammoth night out I recollect from the last month was a night where I saw four ace bands and missed one class act… (I made up for that in later days though).  I was really disappointed that at the last minute Goldheart Assembly (GHA) couldn’t make one of my sessions, these things are always difficult when there are tight schedules involved but I’m still a huge fan of the band and can’t wait to hear what they have in store for us on their second album. Their debut Wolves and Thieves is a 60’s fuelled treat with the sweetest vocals and made my top 50 albums of 2010 and this shows why…

This particular night in question they were supporting We Are Scientists (WAS – It’s all about abbreviations don’tcha know) in Manchester and so I got to see two fantastic bands for the price of one, and whilst I lost my GHA session, I gained a remarkable session in its place… and an interview with Christ (WAS) to boot.

Probably one of the only interviews I’ve physically shaken along to.. cool as a cucumber until you get into a room with a band member from a band you adore, and an interview you are totally unprepared for as it was arranged last minute!

With Love and Squalor was one of my favourite albums of recent years and Barbara although a little crazy in title, soundtracked mine and Carole’s drive to Glastonbury this year.  Its bouncy, upbeat, punchy and is that kind of sing-a-long record that mainstream indie fans love.  The thing I love more than a We Are Scientists album, Is a We Are Scientists live show.. they are hysterical and this gig was no different from their usual fayre.. Keith asking Chris to don a ‘Keith mask’ that was thrown on the stage as he really wanted to know what it would be like to play in a band with himself… which then ended up with Chris being made to wear everything that was thrown on stage, including tights, a skirt, bracelets and an array of other bits and pieces!  Truly hilarious!

Meanwhile on the other side of town.. The Warehouse Project is gearing up for another class night, with one of the future stars in the making.. James Blake taking to the stage.  His album has apparently leaked on the internet today as everyone seems to have heard it but me.. but heres a taster in the meantime..

I did make it in time to see two incredible acts though Four Tet and Caribou.

There was mass debate at the time over who was better on the night.  For me it was all about Caribou.. It had been a long wait for the best part of the year to finally see them playing tracks like Sun and Odessa live, and boy was it worth the wait.  I’d tried to avoid the Warehouse Project for the last couple of years due to the cold and draughty ambience of the venue when it was held at Boddies Brewery a few years ago, but I must say I was really impressed with the latest set up.  They could do with a few more loos but other than that it was a really decent set up, nowhere near as inhospitable as the venues of the past.  Well done WHP!

Little did I know when I received this free track at the beginning of 2010 that it would turn out to be my track of the year.. CARIBOU!

Theres nothing like discovering a new band that seem to evoke memories and styles of a band you have adored in your youth and I have been fortunate enough to discover that twice this year.. firstly through Exit Calm I have been able to re-embrace my early verve obsession and ignore the horrific United Nations debacle that Richard Ashcroft has embroiled himself in.

The My Bloody Valentine influence that re-appeared through last years ATP festival, was re-ignited through my discovery of Ringo Deathstarr.. listen to this and dare to tell me it doesn’t have a ‘Soon’ influence to it?! Lovely swoony stuff..

YOUNG BRITISH ARTISTS!

Ben Jovi?

Sometimes a band are just so important that the only thing you can do to demonstrate it properly is by PRINTING THEIR NAME IN CAPITALS.

On paper, with just the release of a double A side single Lived In Skin/ Million Miles it looks to have been a quiet year for Young British Artists. The truth of the matter is the guys have been honing their craft, spreading the YBA word and quietly working towards world domination… Their live show and sound at the end of 2010 is now in a different league to that of a year ago and I am proud to have them as Decembers session band on the show.  They recorded three no mess storming tracks that fit nicely into the lo-fi genre that has been everywhere this year, the last track ‘A New Language’ sounds almost reminscent of Joy Division in places with Leo’s brooding vocals and Ben’s rhymical drumming. They are going to be huge in 2011, mark my words.. catch them on tour in support of Dutch Uncles in January.

This is a video I took of them playing Phil Frictions basement for his birthday.. and yes that is a boiler!

Probably my weirdest interview of the year: Salem – no not the cat, the band. With a name like Salem (no doubt taken from the Witch Trials) you come to expect that they know how to divide and alienate people..and they certainly do that with their music which is widely known as ‘witchhouse’.  Their recent gig at Islington Mill choked me (that damn smoke machine) and underwhelmed me all at the same time, quite a feat. But Frost is STILL an amazing tune.

I’ve fangirled twice in the last month, shocking stuff and probably a new personal best for me.  The first occasion was during my interview with shoegaze and dream popstars Engineers. I’ve been a fan since I bought their single Forgiveness back in 2005 and their last album Three Fact Fader was on constant rotation in my car at one point.  A radical line up change has taken place since that last album though and things could have gone either way for the band, but they have bounced back stronger than ever with what could be seen as a dream-pop supergroup.  They still have the steady basis built by Simon and Mark but are now complemented by the fantastic talents of Daniel Land on bass, Ulrich Schnauss on keys and Matthew Linley on drums.. these musicians are all exceptionally accomplished in their own right. Oh, and the fangirling? That was for Ulrich.. he is an electronica genius and also worked on Exit Calm‘s debut album.

Want to see what all the fuss is about?

I’ve waited the best part of two years to see Sleepy Sun play in Manchester or Salford.  After playing the other side of the pennines months ago The Californians finally decided to bring the sound of Psyche-Rock to the beautiful Band on The Wall, which was set to be a must see in my view..and they didn’t disappoint! They’ve produced two great albums in as many years and Open Eyes really shows what gets me every time..

I have often been accompanied on a long drive to Newcastle (to visit friends and family who reside up there) by one of the most classic sounds of New Newcastle, Maximo Park.  I saw them for the first time in Dry Bar back in 2004 and ever since I’ve been a huge fan of both the bands sound and Paul Smith‘s lyrics.  You must appreciate my excitement at hearing Paul was to release his own solo record.   Margins shows a softer more ‘marginal’ side that wouldn’t necessarily fit in with the mixed views/influences of Maximo Park but that traces the years since Maximo Park took off. He certainly knows how to work a crowd on his own and he even has a book coming out soon. What a guy!

Don’t you just love a double header? A gig where you adore both of the bands playing but in totally different ways.. oh and to top it off its in a legendary venue In the City where your radio show broadcasts? Yep! I went to Salford Lads Club to see Small Black and Frankie & The Heartstrings.

I could say so much about this night, but needless to say it was a messy one and muchos fun was had.. and the bands? they did not disappoint..here’s why:

Small Black – its certainly been the year of chillwave and their sound fits perfectly into that niche, trippy and wild with layers of loops.. their stage presence is on the minimal side, preferring to blend amongst the shapes of the lights thrown around the stage.. creating a near perfect ambient environment.. If you haven’t heard photojournalist yet, where have you been?!

Potentially the floppiest fringe since Morrissey? and I can certainly see some parallels with the stage presence from Frankie of  Frankie & The Heartstrings. If you haven’t seen these guys live yet you MUST. Completely infectious, true to their Sunderland roots and not only is the amazing independent Wichita Label releasing their debut album ‘Hunger’ in february, it was recorded at Edwyn Collins studio for good measure. WOW.

I’ve not plugged the radio show as of yet on this blog so just so you know you can see the update for the next weeks shows here and you can find my radio show archive of past shows here.

Enough for tonight though, but I shall be back with ATP, Everything Everything, Sandbox and fangirling part 2 in the coming days.. as well as an array of great new local music!

But in the meantime.. if you didn’t know already Flashguns released my favourite EP of 2009 with their ‘Matching Hearts Similar Parts’ release, so I’m excited to see them return with new single ‘Come and See The Lights’ and a debut album nearing release.. check it out for yourself..

Merry Christmas one and all from Zenner towers x

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