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Live Review: Snow Patrol and Rams’ Pocket Radio at London HMV Forum – 27th October 2011

 
By on Thursday, 17th November 2011 at 5:40 pm
 

The Q Awards take over HMV Forum for October, bringing a huge array of Q talent to London for shows of a strange size. For the likes of Ed Sheeran, the 2,000-capacity venue is about right, but bring arena acts like Kaiser Chiefs or Snow Patrol here and it becomes a borderline intimate evening for fans to enjoy their favourite acts from a more eyesight friendly perspective.

Supporting this evening is a Northern Irish group on the cusp of great things. With two EPs to their name, Rams’ Pocket Radio’s touring schedule shows them to be one of the most hardworking groups around today. The brainchild of Peter McCauley, the group are loyal to recordings and if anything, go above and beyond the point of call of a support group with the energy they bring. This is a big show for them and they step up to the mark with an almost Guillemots’ style dedication to their music. To be honest, they sound like the Killers meets Feeder, in a good way, and with a bit more of an epic orchestral feel. Keep a watch out for them.

Tonight, Snow Patrol are headlining, showcasing music from both old albums and their forthcoming ‘Fallen Empires’, the band bring with them a great light show and enthusiastic vibe that even lasts through the more famous melancholy Snow Patrol tracks such as ‘Run’ and ‘Chasing Cars’, both used mid setlist. It’s bold moves like that that demonstrate how versatile and strong a band Gary Lightbody and company really are.


above photo by and used by kind permission from katla01

Opening with the epic ‘Open Your Eyes’ which builds and breaks to create an instantly powerful atmosphere which keeps up all the way through to new songs ‘Called Out in the Dark’, ‘Weight of Love’ and ‘Garden Rules’ during which Lightbody is joined on vocals by Rams Pocket Radio bassist and vocalist Shauna Tohill who’s nervous yet beautiful vocals add something to an otherwise fairly boring track. That’s the issue with so much of Snow Patrol’s new material. Whilst the likes of main set closer Fallen Empires is clearly a new step for the band, when you put it alongside encore tracks ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Just Say Yes’, it struggles for purpose. All in all however, Snow Patrol can have still got it over a 90 minute period, but this latest effort might not be everything they have been in the past.

 

Album Review: Johnny Foreigner – Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything

 
By on Tuesday, 8th November 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

In their own words, ‘Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything’ is “exactly as perfect/imperfect as we are” and “if it fails IRL, then it does so as proof we just aren’t good enough”. Safe to say there’s a lot riding on this. For all intensive purposes, Johnny Foreigner have been a nearly band. Recognition surrounding their first album ‘Waited Up Til It was Light’ never gained them the recognition it deserved, and their weaker second album ‘Grace and the Bigger Picture’ would have threatened them with obscurity had it not been for the commitment of their fans to the cause. Now, 2 years and a series of EPs and releases later, the band have re-emerged with this, their third and possibly most honest album yet.

The track listing reads as a “last 12 months’ compilation” that includes a reworks of EP tracks and the final fruition of their ‘Certain Songs are Cursed’ project in which their fans monologue their worst heartbreaks and the track that reminds them of it most. These serve as the ghosts and time frozen interludes between each section of the album.

Side 1 / Life seems personal, opening with the Johnny Foreigner of old. Powerful yet intricate, half shouted yet still understandable. “Waking up entangled doesn’t mean you’re meant to stick together, waking up alone doesn’t mean you should get drunk, split up” in ‘With Who, Who and What I’ve Got (Standard Rock)’ goes to the intimacy of ‘200x’, possibly the band’s best slower song to date. The segment ends in ‘Johnny Foreigner vs You’ which would feel intrusive if not so charming. That’s the border that Johnny Foreigner tread in this album: the line between intrusive and kind of cringy to the endearing and relatable. In the form of the interludes (’Concret1’ and ‘Concret2’), it’s possibly on the wrong side, yet they’re still needed to break up the album into sections.

Side 2 / Significance is possibly the undoing of ‘…Vs Everything’ in that it’s possibly the least significant part of the record. Each song individually makes sense, but only ‘Supermorning’ really stands out as having real character. Some songs are lyrically strong (‘Jess, You Got Yr Song, So Leave’) whilst others are just good tunes (‘Electricity Vs the Dead’) and some only have one or two perks (the buildup at the end of ‘New Street…’) but only ‘Supermorning’ combines the two really well.

Luckily, as far as solid album material goes, it’s made up for on Side 3/ Magic! as ‘(Don’t) Show Us Yr Fangs’ (video below) through to ‘The Swell/Like Neverwhere’, a track that could only work on an album with a concept such as this, prove that Johnny Foreigner are definitely not the kind of band that you can listen to once or twice and just throw into the pile.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQ0omgVU-z4[/youtube]

Lex, Kel and Jun needed to make this album, and both existing fans and new fans of Johnny Foreigner, should be glad they did.

8.5/10

‘Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything’, the latest album from Johnny Foreigner, is available now from Alcopop.

 

Live Review: Apparat at London Koko – 20th October 2011

 
By on Wednesday, 2nd November 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

With the launch of ‘The Devil’s Walk’, Apparat are reaching new realms of popularity. Sascha Ring and company’s breed of electronic music has gained increasing amounts of attention as musicians in their world are becoming popular as well. With Radiohead’s ‘The King of Limbs’ (review here) sounding like a mix of Four Tet and Apparat’s more recent work, it was kind of inevitable that this was going to happen and so tonight, we’re at Koko.

‘The Devil’s Walk’ is hardly a dance album, but Sascha Ring is hardly a dancing man. If you shut your eyes then yeah, you can hear some Thom Yorke, but comparisons as such are cheap, and Ring is so much more than that. He’s the mastermind behind a series of beautifully crafted records and collaborations including the fantastic Moderat, a project he worked on with Modeselektor. Tracks from Moderat feature in this 90m-inute set, as the suave gentleman and his live band give off a humble yet commanding role in the 1,400-capacity venue and slide seamlessly through tracks.
Tracks like ‘Arcadia’ bounce and swirl as crowd members oblige to engage in the full band’s unique blend of music. When artists such as Apparat bring a group of musicians together, it really adds a new feeling to the stage as instead of one man on stage playing from a booth, it’s a rich and adaptable sound. Apparat stick to sounding tight in a brilliant manner though, possibly even sounding better than on record.  ‘Ash/Black Veil’ takes on a new depth and the likes of ‘Rusty Nails’ (Moderat) gets everyone moving. It’s hardly a pit, more a sea of bodies washing around each other as they’re hit by a tidal wave of sublime music.

Time, however, does move on, and Ring pushes the boundaries of what he’s allowed to do, sadly forcing many who commute out before the end. This does have some effect on the vibe at Koko, but those who stuck behind for the whole show are lucky to have been able to experience what it’s like to be in a dream, surrounded by hundreds of similarly-minded people. (To get a feel for the Apparat live experience, watch the video below from the band’s appearance at Prague’s Electronic Beats Festival earlier this year.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7YQUWcLLvU[/youtube]

 

Live Review: Little Comets at London Garage – 19th October 2011

 
By on Wednesday, 26th October 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Little Comets are riding high at the moment. Having had a strong summer playing their crowd-friendly music to packed tents, this tour can only be described as the warm-down after a hectic year. Tonight brings the indie group to London and rock’s small to mid-sized stomping ground in the form of the Garage. The show’s sold out for ‘one night in October’, which is testament to the dedication of the fans. Little Comets are, as they say, “a long way from home” and to have such an audience after just one album and 300 miles south of home is some feat for the Geordie band.

That said, there’s a problem with tonight. Little Comets aren’t just far from home, they’re far from what you feel is their comfort zone; they are, for all intensive purposes, a festival band. The likes of Two Door Cinema Club, the Vaccines and Mumford and Sons all fall into this category to a certain extent, as they look and feel more in place on outdoor stages in the sunshine. Little Comets, like these groups, are a tight live act, but they can’t match the atmosphere of a warm field, anthemic sing-alongs and a wellie-based dance in a dark venue.

That’s not to say they don’t try. ‘Adultery’ gets everyone started and unlike in the fields of the summer, everyone seems to know the album tracks to heart as even the least popular tracks from their debut ‘In Search Of Elusive Little Comets’ (Mary’s review here) fill the room. Of course, the big cheers are reserved for the singles though. New single ‘Worry’ gets a bit of a bounce going, but back to back ‘Joanna’ and ‘Isles’ turn it into a party. Hearing a singalong of “my heart is calling out for something way, more, EPIC” before the latter’s chorus is nothing but pleasing to the ears and even the band stop to appreciate. A few more album tracks down the line and we’re almost at the end. ‘One Night in October’ sets up ‘Dancing Song’, which in itself proves that maybe, just maybe, with another album under their belts, Little Comets can break out of the fields and maybe to bigger venues.

 

Album Review: Surfer Blood – Tarot Classics EP

 
By on Wednesday, 26th October 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Surfer Blood are a busy band. The Florida-based group have been on the road virtually non-stop and bagging support slots for the likes of Pixies and Vaccines is an all right way of continuing. Of course, it can get boring touring the same album for an extended period of time, especially if crowds are most likely to only respond to singles. In light of this, Surfer Blood have penned and recorded a new EP to come as a stopgap between what we must assume will be a second record.

‘Tarot Classics’ starts almost where ‘Astro Coast’ left off, in a kind of halfway house between being interesting, like Vampire Weekend mixed with the Smiths and being incredibly dull, like the piles of landfill that flood indie hallways. Sadly, after the first two tracks, Surfer Blood fall off the first wagon, into the second. ‘I’m Not Ready’ has the kind of bounce that new British tour buddies the Vaccines are enjoying at the moment and ‘Miranda’ has the potential to fit in on the Drums‘ first material, but after that it’s like stepping into a puddle. You can get a bit of enjoyment from the splash at first, but then you realize that you’ve just stepped in dirty water and you’re now a bit wet. Your shoes are wet and you really wish you hadn’t bothered. Sadly, Surfer Blood have fallen into the trap that Bloc Party have and spent so much time on the road that their music and direction has self imploded. I’d much prefer to listen to the Drums’ ‘Summertime’ EP or part of the Smiths back catalogue than listen to anything more than ‘Miranda’ (which is free anyway; stream it below). ‘Tarot Classics’ is kind of like tarot cards themselves – a bit misleading. No classics here.

4.5/10

‘Tarot Classics’ from Surfer Blood is available this week from Kanine Records.

 

Album Review: M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

 
By on Tuesday, 18th October 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Every now and then, an artist comes along that warrants every piece of their success and who consistently improves between albums. Anthony Gonzalez is one such artist and with albums such as ‘Saturday’s Youth’ (2nd in TGTF’s 2008 albums of the year) and a back catalogue of glorious dreampop under his belt, Gonzales decided that there was only one real way for the sixth M83 release to go. Double album time.

Right from the off, it’s something magic. “We didn’t need a story, we didn’t need a real world… We were you before you even existed” whispers the track before it erupts into a new electronic anthem in the form of ‘‘Midnight City’ (video below). What strikes me after these two tracks is how everything seems so blissful, yet maintains an air of something lost. Like how when you wake up from a dream and realise it wasn’t real. Everything on this album is so crafted and enchanting that you feel like you’re taken into a part of Gonzalez’ mind that only exists in an alternate universe. In reality of course, you could be in the office or on commute, in which case the from ‘Trains to Pluton’ through to ‘This Bright Flash’ you’ll be transported from your mundane task into an epic journey. Like a dream however, this will end after a few minutes, but that’s just disc one finishing, don’t panic. The conversational ‘When Will You Come Home?’ and the responding ‘Soon, my Friend’ close the opening half in a mellow manner and give slight respite to that sandwich you were eating with newfound zealousness.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX3k_QDnzHE[/youtube]

As the second disc starts, it’s a slightly different feel. More melancholy, until ‘New Map’ that is. As if you’ve gone back to sleep and are discovering a whole new world of dreams. Everything now sounds familiar and welcoming all the way through. The interludes are breathing points to what at times can be a breathtaking record. After the radio-friendly yet still fitting ‘Steve McQueen’ comes the buildup and epic climax of ‘Echoes of Mine’ before you’re transported to the inevitable yet long put off end of the second disc. ‘Outro’ is one last enticing fling to your imagination before you’re rather abruptly awoken once more. Check the office; no one noticed your lapse. Go on Facebook and Twitter, tell everyone, listen to the new M83 album, it’ll drastically improve 72 minutes of your life every day. A disc for each leg of your commute? You might just forget the world.

Author’s disclaimer: any lapse in concentration to the road may lead to a collision, be safe.

9.5/10

M83’s new album ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ is out now on Mute. Gig info for 2012 is here.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

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