Friday, 23 September 2011

The War on Drugs, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Following the demise of the The Duchess - an iconic live music venue in the heart of Leeds - the city struggled to attract the kind of bands just setting out on their journey to world domination (or at least the Manchester MEN).  Now the site of a Hugo Boss clothing emporium, The Duchess played host to a number of bands who went on to fill stadiums and become legends in the pantheon of popular music. Blur, Nirvana, The Manics, Radiohead, Pulp, Coldplay and Oasis all graced the tiny stage of The Duchess before it closed its doors for the last time in 2000. Even though the University, The Cockpit and the T&C (now the O2 Academy) continued to attract the bigger names, the gig-going masses of Leeds and the city's surrounding areas had to travel further afield to catch the current NME darlings or a band being championed by Lamacq or Peel.  And so for several years, Leeds dropped off the map for those bands setting out on the road in a cramped transit van powered only by the belief that they were 'The next big thing', and the live music scene in Leeds became a little stale.

However, the emergence of The Brudenell Social Club - based in the heart of the city's student land - as a reputable venue has changed the face of live music in Leeds. The caliber of bands the Brudenell is regularly attracting now puts Leeds on a par with London and Manchester as a 'non-negotiable' on any proposed tour itinerary. This year alone, the venue has played host to Joan as Policewoman, Noah and the Whale, Deerhunter, Wild Beasts, Tune-Yards, Wooden Shjips and tonight's headliners The War on Drugs, a band whose current album The Slave Ambient may well find itself in the higher echelons of 'Best of 2011' lists come the end of the year.  The booking policy, however, does not only concentrate on the new and the hip. This year The Primitives and The Charlatans have rocked up and played to a full house, while 60's underground legends The Birds and The Pretty Things have shown that the old guard can still kick out a decent tune.

When the main room is full, the intimate surroundings of the Brudenell makes for a cracking atmosphere and one not too dissimilar to The Duchess during its pomp. Tonight was the Velvet Owl's third visit in 12 months (see gig reviews on the blog), and considering that as a collective we're only attending one gig a month, this is testament to the intuitive and innovative music policy at the Brudenell that has music lovers from in and out of the city regularly worshipping at its alter. 

Check out what's coming up at the Brudenell here

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Velvet Owl Turn Ons - September 2011

Following our summer break the Velvet Owl Gig Collective return with ten songs that are currently on heavy rotation on the VO record player.

Sophia - Laura Marling A welcome return from Laura Marling whose special guest slot at this year's Green Man Festival was one of the weekend's highlights.

Islands in the Stream - My Morning Jacket/Neko Case We love a good cover version here at VO towers, and this one ticks every box. It is a live recording, so the camera and sound are a little wobbly, but the version does justice to Kenny and Dolly's original.

Steady as She Goes - James Yorkston We're new recruits to the James Yorkston fan club, and therefore have a lot of catching up to do. An early member of the Fence Collective, Yorkston has released five studio albums to date, with this particular track coming off 2006's The Year of the Leopard.

Come to the City - War on Drugs Next up for the VO Gig Collective are War on Drugs who will be visiting the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds in September to promote their new album The Slave Ambient.

Sutphin Boulevard - Blood Orange Dev Hynes (he of Test Icicles and Lightspeed Champion) reinvents himself once again with this futuristic slab of funk.

We Ask You to Ride - Wooden Shjips The experimental drone rockers return with a new album this autumn.  No better reason, therefore, to dig out this corker from their eponymously titled debut album.

Vomit - Girls The band's debut album releasd in 2009 still gets a regular airing at VO towers, and this lead track from their soon to be released follow-up leads us to believe Girls will be dominating the record player through until Christmas. 

Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo) - Black Roc We forgot how freakin' good this is. Velvet Owl faves The Black Keys going all urban on our asses. Expect a follow up before the end of the year.

We Own the Sky - M83 Another band with new material waiting in the wings and another example of how the French do electronica better than anyone else. 

Tell Me A Tale - Michael Kiwanuka The bastard son of Roy Ayers and Tracy Chapman. Contender for song of the year.