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Random Aside #1

 
By on Monday, 9th April 2007 at 3:09 pm
 

A Matter of Editorial Design - frontI’ve been reading “It’s a Matter of Editorial Design” recently – a great coffee table book about the best of editorial design in publications. I’ve always been fascinated by things that look good, and make you want to buy them – a bit like how all Virgin products have a high quality yet achievable feel about them, or Innocent’s jokey yet informative approach. Their editorial design is all down to this, with great graphics and typography.

I briefly considered a graphic design course at uni, before realising just how much hard work it was going to be… so I plucked for a Business degree. Wussy, yes, but probably for the best in the long run – I had no talent.
A Matter of Editorial Design - Inside

 

Or, The Whale

 
By on Sunday, 8th April 2007 at 5:04 pm
 

Normally, when a band emails me to ask me to write something about them, I listen to a track or two, then say a polite “Thank you very much and send them on their way. However, for San Francisco seven piece “Or, the Whale, one listen on their MySpace had me intrigued. Then another listen, and another… and soon I realised that I actually quite liked them – they’re not just another wannabe, cookie-cutter indie band.

Digging for some terms to describe them, I found their last.fm page that perfectly describes them: “gritty, driving indie rock epics, sweet folk lullabies, and boot-stompin traditional country songs”. They manage to avoid the usual cliches, instead heading towards the more respectable path, having elements of New Pornographers, Trespassers William, a hint of Bright Eyes, and Invisible-Band era Travis about them.

“Rope Don’t Break” is a typical haunting country and western song, however this is no bad thing: Lindsay Garfield’s voice is strong and memorable, yet isn’t grating or irritating. Gently, plodding along, it sounds like it should be right at home on a montage of travelling out of the desert in a film.

“Saint Bernard” is immediately accesible, with memorable guitars that drive the song along, giving it a feel of a camp-fire singalong, perfect for long summer evenings. The introduction sounds more or less exactly the same as Travis’ “Pipe Dreams”, but sounds completely different after like 20 seconds – showing off their musica prowess pretty quickly and adeptly.

Jangly “Call and Response” features a-capella sing alongs, and barn-dance style melodies that are in sharp contrast to the more down-beat tunes earlier on the record.

Intelligent, memorable, and different to all the other “and me!” bands out there, give Or, The Whale a chance this summer.

Or, The Whale

 

The week ahead: Monday 9th – Sunday 15th April 2007

 
By on Sunday, 8th April 2007 at 10:44 am
 

The well known ones

Critics darlings Arctic Monkeys set out on a “back to roots” tour, doing the smaller theatres around the UK. They play

Southampton Guildhall (Monday 9th)
Exeter University Great Hall (Tuesday 10th)
London Astoria (Thursday 12th and Friday 13th)
Liverpool Academy (Saturday 14th)

Tickets are near on impossible to get hold of, having only been released to people on their mailing list. If you’re desperate and have a few hundred to spare, check out eBay.

Patrick Wolf does a one off show on Wednesday (11th) at London’s Astoria. Sure to be fab – always entertaining and eccentric. Again, tickets are hard to come by, however again check eBay and Scarlet Mist.

Incubus were meant to play Carling Academy Brixton on Wednesday (11th), and Friday (13th), however are no longer playing due as a result of an injury to Mike Einziger’s hand. The re-scheduled dates are:

Wednesday 11th April has been re-scheduled to Monday 1st October
Thursday 12th April has been re-scheduled to Sunday 30th September
Friday 13th April has been re-scheduled to Saturday 29th September

Refunds from point of purchase.

McFly‘s mammoth tour of smaller theatres continues with:

Ipswich Regent Theatre on Tuesday 10th April
Portsmouth Guildhall on Wednesday 11th April
Plymouth Pavilions on Friday 13th April
Oxford New Theatre on Saturday 14th April
Poole Lighthouse on Sunday 15th April.

As you might expect from a band used to playing arenas but now playing theatres, these dates are now sold out, but of course you can try eBay or Scarlet Mist.

London plays host to Pete Doherty at the Hackney Empire on Wednesday and Thursday. Will he turn up? Will he be on time? Will he do something outrageous? Do we care? Again, this is sold out.

Aqualung are back, with a short two stop tour this week. They play Manchester University on Tuesday and University of London Union on Thursday. Tickets available from See or the respective box offices at £11 and £14.85 respectively.

For the older school amongst you, Bob Dylan starts an arena tour in Glasgow on Wednesday, before playing Newcastle on Thursday and Sheffield on Wednesday.

Biffy Clyro and Bloc Party both start tours next Saturday as well.

My top 3 choice

My electro favourites, Oppenheimer, play Southampton’s Unit 22 next Saturday, tickets a measly £4.25 – if you get a chance check them out. Calming yet unique, they deserve to be big.

The Hoosiers play two dates this week, Birmingham on Tuesday and Liverpool on Saturday. I don’t know much about them, but going by their website they are quite fab, a bit like a cross between The Killers, Kaiser Chiefs and The Darkness.

Switches play Liverpool on Thursday and Manchester on Sunday on the start of their huge UK tour. I was hoping to see them at the 100 Club in London, but tickets have sold out, so I won’t be doing that.

Book now

Not many bands went on sale this week and still have tickets available, however everyones favourite Conor Oberst’s Bright Eyes hit the UK in Early July, including two dates at Shepherds Bush Empire. Tickets available here.

 

2007 Malaysian Grand Prix

 
By on Sunday, 8th April 2007 at 10:21 am
 

2007 Malaysian Grand Prix

I used to be a huge fan of Formula One Motorsport a few years ago. Followed it religiously, got up early for the races that were in the night, and things like that.

However, recently I’ve gone off it. I’ve yet to see a race this year, instead deciding to stay in bed through both the Australian and Malaysian Grand Prix of recent weeks.

Why’s this? Well, plain and simply, it’s boring now. I was hoping this year with the abscence of Michael Schumacher that things would be spiced up. How wrong I was. In both the last two races its been a straightforward McLaren / Ferrari battle, with Alonso and Raikkonen both battling it out, just for different teams. Whilst its been nice to see newbie Lewis Hamilton doing so well, nothing so far has made me go “ohh! Race tomorrow. Need to make sure I’m free” or such like. We know that someone from McLaren or Ferrari is going to win the race, and there are going to be about 12 also-rans and about 4 people retire for mechanical reasons we don’t understand. Its just a bit predictable.

The corporate giants have taken over as well. Just take a look at Formula1.com and you’ll see what I mean. The clothing range, the premium travel range, the gift range – its all about money money money and not about personal experience. It’s not about the sport, its about the business.

I remember the good ol’ days of 1998 and such like when there actually was a fight for the title, and the accidents were relatively safe yet spectacular. Remember Belgium ’98 when Damon Hill won for Jordan in pouring rain when there was a massive first corner pile up? Michael Schumacher had a go at David Coulthard? Those were the days when F1 was great in recent history. No more.

 

Live: Barenaked Ladies – Hammersmith Apollo – March 30th

 
By on Sunday, 1st April 2007 at 8:20 pm
 

BNL during "Angry PeopleGoing with a support artist who’s not only a comedian, but whose main song is called “Baseball playing spider” is always going to be a risk for the headliner. However, Barenaked Ladies pulled it off, with Boothby Graffoe’s sense of humour being more or less the same as the Ladies’, and provided much amusement to pass the time before the headliners arrived.

Time soon flew, with the help of Boothby’s tales of the name change at Leeds (“The people at Leeds Uni got their name wrong, and put Barenaked People. The board read: “BNP” – we sold out faster than any other venue ever played by the Barenaked Ladies!”), and many memorable tunes. Witty, Boothby coped with hecklers by putting them down: when one guy commented that he was wearing the same T-shirt as the night before in Leeds, Boothby looked at him and said, “Well I’m not following you around…!”

8:50 rolled round surprisingly quickly, and BNL plunged straight into “One Week”, before moving straight into “The old apartment”, both of which sent the crowd into a frenzy, deciding to forfeit the “take it slow to get into the swing of things” route.

Steven PageMuch of the evening focussed around their hits rather than their new double CD collection, Are Me / Are Men, pleasing much of the audience. However, one of the highlights of the evening was “Angry People”, which featured a great theatrical dance routine, not at all cheesy, and is featured after the jump.

Steven Page took the opportunity to show off his voice during “Maybe You’re Right”, showing just how good musically great BNL are: they’re not just about the entertainment.

Then they finished off their set with a set of classics, mixed in with “Easy”, the biggest single from “Are Me” / “Are Men”, and easily one of the most radio friendly. Encore was the obligatory “If i had a million dollars”, complete with ready meals on stage, and audience perfectly singing along. Suprising knowing how little they’re known in the UK.

So, what does all this mean? BNL are one of the best live bands to see: absolutely amazing both musically and entertainment-wise. Go see them.

Were you there? Buy the CD here, or check out my videos and pictures after the jump.

Continue reading Live: Barenaked Ladies – Hammersmith Apollo – March 30th

 

Live: Travis at Koko in London – 20th March 2007

 
By on Saturday, 24th March 2007 at 9:16 pm
 

Fran HealyFran Healy was in high spirits when Travis rolled into London for the second night of their brief four night tour of the UK. “Travis – Swingers! Keys in the jar… there’s a world exclusive for you all right there!” he joked, in his lilting Glaswegian accent after struggling to find the right key on his guitar, another appalling joke. This was the last of several bits of amusing banter with the crowd – covering topics as diverse as “firing blanks” and the Sweedish. Underneath it all though, Travis are just glad to be back after 18 months off with a new record that is going to be one of their best – and they know it.

Support more than ably came from Londoners Brinkman. Unknown to much of the audience at the start of their set, by the end they’d won the hearts and minds of everyone with their memorable, radio-friendly songs. Unassuming, uncomplicated they quietly took to the stage, and quickly worked their way through their singles and demos. Highlight was their single ‘I Wish’, a story of regrets and wanting to turn the clocks back, which has the opportunity to really grow over their tours with Travis (Brinkman are also supporting Travis on their May tour).

Finally the moment the crowd had been waiting for arrived: the lights dimmed and for the first time in 18 months Travis bounded on stage. Since their last memorable appearance at Live8 in London’s Hyde Park, they’ve fathered children (Dougie and Fran) and rejuvenated their sound, going back to their roots and making memorable singles. Their last album 12 memories wasn’t the expected hit commercially, or with the fans: only one song made the cut in the set (‘Love Will Come Through’).

Fran Andy and NeilPreviewing their new album we hear a return to the summery approach liked so much on ‘The Invisible Band’. This is particularly clear in ‘My Eyes’, a song Fran wrote the day after he found out he was going to become a Dad, and has echoes of ‘Flowers in the Window’. New single ‘Closer’ was treated with the same respect as old favourites such as ‘Writing To Reach You’ and ‘Pipe Dreams’, and sung along with almost everyone knowing the words even though it’s not available yet to (legally) download.

After having their time off all the band members seemed to gel even better than before: Dougie calmly commanding his bass, pleasing his legions of female fans in front of him with silly faces and fancy poses. Andy went for an excursion on the speaker stack above us, whilst Neil calmly carried on holding the whole thing together. Fran seemed to have verbal diarrhea, which provided a source of amusement for the evening with his off-piste comments.

Closing off the evening with “their song about the weather”, ‘Why Does It Always Rain on Me?’ the whole audience were visibly bouncing, relieved that Travis have made another quality album and are back to being on top form.

After the Jump: Four videos, and a selection of the (quality) pictures.

Continue reading Live: Travis at Koko in London – 20th March 2007

 
 
 

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