Saturday, 23 March 2013

Something for the Weekend #16 Transept

Monday sees the arrival of album number two for Norwich electro drone trio Transept and I managed to pick up an early copy to see me through the weekend. Their first album was a highlight of 2011 and they seem to have developed from their impressive support slot for Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the UEA. Aside from winning unlikely album title of the year (I've seen them) Buff As Fuck balances delicate folky twiddles with droning synths, whilst first single Muscle Beach (below) builds like Fuck Buttons backed by a marching band. An interview with the band and a stream of the new album can be found HERE.

[VO fact: the unique vinyl artwork was printed by Norwich Owl Jo Stafford.]

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Something for the Weekend #15 Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats

I don't know much about Cambridge based Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats but if the rest of their forthcoming album Mind Control also sounds like the stoned ghost of John Lennon fronting Queens of the Stone Age, it could very well be quite special...

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

NME Awards Tour, Norwich UEA

In the run-up to this annual shindig, much is often made of the frequency with which the opening act goes on to grace the world's largest stages, with names such as Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys and, erm, Kaiser Chiefs regularly cited among those who stepped up to the big leagues on the back of the 7pm slot on the tour, a timeslot which, predictably, we managed to miss. Arriving ten minutes into Peace's set, however, it appeared to these ears at least, that a different band had turned up to the Peace we saw at the city's Arts Centre before christmas, as that Peace were a slightly ramshackle but genuinely exciting affair, the kind of band that could inspire stage invasions through a set that rattled along at a melodic lick.  This set sounded a little too cleaned up to me, and maybe the constant touring cycle has left Peace a little too polished for their own good.  There are still tunes, and some of them are bloody big ones, but a little more chaos wouldn't go amiss.

All of which made Palma Violets' job that little bit easier but, to be honest, they could have gone on stage after the Strokes circa 2001 and still given every act who ever appeared under this banner a run for their money.  Here was another band who have put the hard miles in in recent months, but their set maintained an edge that had been lacking earlier in the evening.  180 is shaping up to be the album that soundtracks 2013, and if songs such as Best Of Friends end up dulled through over-exposure, that shouldn't detract from what a blistering collection of tunes they are.  For thirty minutes or so, I more than anything wanted to be the bass player, singer, chief roadie, tee-shirt seller, anything in this band, and that surely is what all bands should inspire in their audience, right?

I don't want to be in Miles Kane's band though.  From the off, I always had Kane pegged as an odd choice for this tour, and nothing that happened during his set changed that opinion.  If I'd heard that he was on the bill with the Courteeners, the Strypes and Jake Bugg I would have understood (though not bought a ticket) , but I've always found his music a bit too Noel, a bit too Kasabian, a bit too bloke, and for me that wasn't what this evening was about.  And the leather trousers looked ridiculous.  Who in God's name holds up Bobby G as a style icon these days?  Inhaler is an IKEA classic, music put together from other bits of stuff that might look alright at first, but is likely to fall apart two or three listens in.  Like Macdonalds food, it starts out kind of alright, but soon leaves you a little bit angry with yourself for partaking.  A fellow Owl spent Kane's set listening to mbv through headphones, which should be the last word on the matter.

And the final word on the evening goes to Django Django, who brought Friday night, hands in the air good times to the youth of Norwich, thoroughly justifying their slot at the top of the bill and inspiring stupidly drunken grins from most of those present through a set of songs that took us up and then down in all the right places.  Spilling out into the cold air and predictably fruitless search for a taxi, it was, for the most part, heartening to realise that British music continues to be in safe hands.  Just next time NME, ditch the leather pants.


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Day I Gave Up On Primal Scream..

The new 'political' single from Primal Scream, titled 2013, is a miserable experience which even the guitar wizardry of Kevin Shield can't save. The chorus goes "Twenty-thirteen, twenty-thirteen, twenty-thirteen, all right". Honestly... 
So I'm through with them! Primal Scream have made three great albums with the last being thirteen years ago. They have also made some utter crap and I suspect that this years LP More Light will be, well, more shite than light. Three good albums is not a bad return but I'm sick of the PS quality being so yo-yo in its output. Imagine if between every Radiohead LP you slotted a crap Stones cover album? Wouldn't happen. Imagine if between every Kraftwerk album you slotted a Status Quo inspired pub rock LP? Wouldn't happen. Put simply XTRMNTR, Screamadelica and Vanishing Point are great, actually in many parts incredible and ground-breaking, but I would rather get a Shed 7 tattoo on my face than listen to 'Rocks', 'Jailbird' or 'Country Girl'... And as for the likes of 'Funky Jam'...


With 10 being a literally amazing album and 1 being the lowest dregs of recorded music (note how three LPs drop below this) here is my final visual word on PS.

 (Just realised Evil Heat does not deserve an 8 but can't be arsed to change it... 4 maybe)

Monday, 18 February 2013

Velvet Owl Single of the Week

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - So Good at Being in Trouble 

Taken from UMO's staggeringly good second album, this track will not leave your head all day once you hear it.

Don't say you haven't been warned. 

Friday, 15 February 2013

I Am Kloot, Leeds Irish Centre

I Am Kloot - Let It All In

The Irish Centre has long been an established live music venue in Leeds, and does ok in attracting some big names, especially when you consider the city also boasts two universities an O2 Academy and the marvellous Brudenell Social Club. Down the years, I have seen a number of bands there and have great memories of dancing like a funky chicken to the 'baggy' sound of Northside and looking on aghast as my drunk and lairy brother cadged a light from Richard Ashcroft during an Oasis gig and asked him what he was going to do now the Gallagher's had stolen his thunder. Indeed, in an interview with Q magazine a number of years later, Ashcroft claimed that this little exchange inspired him to go away and write Urban Hymns. I have never forgiven my brother for this.

However, while the Irish Centre holds a lot of great memories for me, I have never really warmed to it as a live music venue. The split-level room (standing area/dancefloor in front of the stage and seats and tables at the back) is set up more for a 'chicken-in-a-basket' bingo night than it is for live music, and while the sizeable stage and decent PA system tick the right boxes, the wide room and tall ceilings don't help to create an 'atmosphere' that audience and bands thrive on. This is a point picked up by Kloot frontman, John Bramwell, who teases those in attendance tonight for being a tad polite. Indeed, it is not until the back end of the band's set where the crowd start to get a little animated and provide hearty backing vocals on set closers Proof and Radiation.

The venue and the sedate crowd, however, don't appear to bother the band in the slightest. With a new album under their belt, the band look as if they're ready to shake off the shackles of the studio and have some fun. Of the new songs, a graceful Shoeless and a majestic Hold Back the Night are standouts, while Twist and the aforementioned Proof help to shake up the lifeless Leeds crowd. While a touching embrace between Bramwell and guitarist, Tom Knott, following the latter's spellbinding solo on Bullets helps to warm the heart on a cold and bitter evening. The Revolver-esque These Days Are Mine brings proceedings to a close, the band bid us farewell, and we make our way through the Irish Centre's corridors adorned with posters promoting karaoke and quiz nights and out into the night, and for this reviewer at least,  wishing we'd bought tickets for Manchester instead.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Velvet Owl Single of the Week

Foxygen - Oh Yeah

We've already highlighted our disliking towards the band's name, but we can't help but love Foxygen's quirky  
electro sound. This single is taken from their brilliant new album 'We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic (album title of the year, anyone?) and is accompanied by this great video, that has the band titting about in what appears to be their nan's front room.