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Video of the Moment #994: Maximo Park

 
By on Thursday, 4th October 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

Maximo Park‘s latest video is for album track ‘The Undercurrents’, from their current album ‘The National Health’ now out on V2/Cooperative. Shot in black and white in Berlin, the band commandeer their own streetcar, playing for bemused locals in the video. Watch it below.

The band recently played a series of dates in North America and Cheryl caught them when they stopped by in Washington; read her review here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLDzz6n1XlM[/youtube]

 

Live Review: Maximo Park with Stagnant Pools and the Neighbourhood at U Street Music Hall, Washington DC – 15th September 2012

 
By on Wednesday, 26th September 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

I found myself in one of Washington, DC’s more recent entries in the live music venue on a Saturday night, U Street Music Hall. Blessed with a superior sound system (they hold a lot of DJ shows here) and the intimate atmosphere a basement venue engenders, it’s quickly becoming a favourite place of mine to see gigs. The night opened with a band called Stagnant Pools, a rather unfortunate name. Just two guys, brothers, playing your standard three strummed chords and a drum. I was sorely unimpressed. The guitar and vocals were really quite muddy and since I know the sound system can’t be beat, I can only think they were going for the noise rock thing. I have always thought that three in a band was a hard sell, but two? Sorry, but I think these guys have a way to go.

The next band held more promise. The girl beside me had driven from the next state over just to see them. The lead singer of the Neighbourhood (yes, an America band who spells it properly), Jessie James Rutherford, is heavy on rhythm rather than melody, but with a combination of smooth R&B and clear hip-hop influences, he’s a voice to listen to. Barely a year together and with just an EP to their name, they’ve got a sound that will likely find traction. Their EP ‘I’m Sorry…’ is rather lo-fi and even slightly silky, but the live show is anything but. Full of energy, their songs translate well into the live setting. Closing the set with ‘Sweater Weather’, a track that has received moderate airplay both in their native California and Radio 1, punters midway in the crowd were clearly waiting for this tune as a group of them exploded into song at the chorus. Look for them in November when they hit London, Manchester, and Glasgow.

Which brings us to Maximo Park. The band haven’t been here in a while, 5 years in fact. Much to our editor’s lament, she missed them yet again, and the duty fell to me to enjoy their high energy, new wavish, jumpy, frenetic sounds. Wearing the familiar chapeau and fitted jacket, Paul Smith literally jumped out on to the stage as ‘Graffiti’ rang out behind him. He looked so very English to these American eyes with his hat misshapen into a nearly bowler shape. Smith was all posing and skinny and hip shaking, and while the jacket and tie slowly dribbled away as the set progressed, that hat stayed on all night! Ever the well seasoned frontman, he had the crowd wowed and undulating throughout the venue in minutes. So frenzied were some that my rather novice gig going companion was christened with her very own beer shower quite early on.

But no matter how damp those around me were, not much could dampen the enthusiasm for songs like ‘Going Missing’ and ‘Books From Boxes’, the latter of which received the biggest sing along of the night. Despite being stood right there in front of them, I still had Kasabian’s ‘Switchblade Smiles’ coursing through my head when ‘Limassol’ started. Of course ‘Limassol’ was first, so I guess I have to blame Kasabian for stealing this ultra-cool riff. The northerners kept the party going by providing song after song rather than inane chatter, aside from name-checking DC’s own Fugazi. A full 22-song set chronicled their entire catalog. I am always happy when a band can do that rather than playing, and pushing, mostly the new album. With such a good reception, I hope that we don’t have to go another half a decade before they grace our city again. And next time they better pick a date when our editor can go!

After the cut: Maximo Park’s set list.

Continue reading Live Review: Maximo Park with Stagnant Pools and the Neighbourhood at U Street Music Hall, Washington DC – 15th September 2012

 

Evolution Weekender 2012: Day 1 Roundup

 
By on Friday, 15th June 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Author’s note: This festival is not meant for me. The admissions policy admits anyone of 14 years of age or over without a chaperone, making this event one of the most significant dates in the social calendar for pre-legal-drinking-age schoolchildren. The fact that there were several bands on the bill that appealed to me seems nothing more than a coincidence in hindsight. So I pray the reader will forgive what may come across as something of a grumpy outlook in the forthcoming prose. I would have loved to have heard the bands properly, but the sound of a thousand squeaky voices dominated. Here we go…

Not long into his first song, headliner Dizzee Rascal halts proceedings to allow several paramedics to safely extract a particularly distressed child from the crowd. Security had spent at least 15 minutes before he took the stage pulling crying children over the fence to safety, whilst commendably providing umpteen cups of water from a dustbin to those youngsters who had spent the interval awaiting his appearance, only to find themselves crushed hard against the barrier as stage time approached. The less mentally able members of the crowd took it upon themselves to throw the generously proffered drinks backwards over their heads, drenching those behind them, and wasting the potential succour that fresh water could have given those who were unprepared for the demands of such a populous event.

At all times the conduct of the security staff remained beyond reproach – they rescued all who were in need, and provided refreshment and comfort to those who decided they were prepared to remain and brave the onslaught. What remains questionable is the target demographic of the event itself. Live music events with large numbers of attendees are usually an adult affair. Allowing 14-year-olds to attend alone, guarantees that substantial numbers within the crowd are emotionally and physically unprepared for the climax of such a busy event. Imagine grown adults being hoisted desperately crying from the barrier of the pyramid stage at Glastonbury, just as the headline act is about to appear – it simply doesn’t happen.

The most drunken and incapable members of the crowd were the youngest. Who on Earth consents to their teenage daughter leaving the house in her underwear with only a bottle of vodka for company is beyond me. Whoever they are, they should read this and hang their heads in shame, for they have knowingly exposed their children to grave risk of injury and distress. In future, this event may consider requiring under-18s to be chaperoned into the main arena. Since the dance-orientated Ballast Hills venue was full from early afternoon, your correspondent cannot comment on conditions there. It may be that that venue was more appropriate for those of a more inexperienced and excitable temperament, being a wide, grassy space, rather than a long, narrow, fenced car park.

All that said, there were some fine musical performances. Miles Kane proved that if the promoters cannot afford the services of Paul Weller or Arctic Monkeys, he can act as a reasonably adequate substitute. His plum tailored suit was a particular highlight.

Maximo Park delivered a set greater than their tenuous grasp on relevance; Paul Smith remains an excellent frontman, despite his band lacking a killer dynamic. Newly-unveiled album title track ‘The National Health’ was a particular highlight. But it falls to Dog is Dead to be the unlikely winner from a very peculiar day of music. Their easygoing jangly guitar pop didn’t harm anyone, nor did it cause a crush, and perfectly served the clearing clouds. And damned with such faint praise is the first of the two days of Newcastle Evolution Festival 2012.



Martin’s musing of day 2 at Evolution will be posted early next week!

 

Album Review: Maximo Park – The National Health

 
By on Friday, 15th June 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Maxïmo Park burst onto the scene in 2005 with their Mercury-nominated Warp album A Certain Trigger, followed by an album every other year… until 2011, when this writer concluded that they were on indefinite hiatus, with Paul Smith himself declaring, “we needed to have a break.” Just enough time to record a modest solo album, eh, Paul? But only a year behind schedule, shiny long-player ‘The National Health’ is here. Ostensibly something to do with an “out of control nation”, this could be a very important throw of the dice for the ‘Park lads – with critical acclaim slowly diminishing since their debut, they really need to pull something out of the bag here.

They make a decent start: ‘When I Was Wild’ is a lovely minute-long amuse-oireilles, and then it’s into the punchy title track. ‘The National Health’ joins a growing band of recent songs reflecting disaffection within contemporary society, but in common with the rest of the album it falls short on details – the lyrics are vague enough as to avoid explaining why “England is ill and it is not alone”. Monetary crisis? Political weakness? Societal decay? Paul Smith declines to be more specific, which is a shame, as the song is a strong one, driving along at a fierce tempo, only the slightly odd middle eight (“I went down to the council today / they sent me away / my word holds no sway”) dropping hints that maybe it’s the inertia of local government that’s got him all hot under the collar.

That particular triplet also encapsulates a widespread lyrical difficulty – that of the rhyme for rhyme’s sake. They’re all over the place, and they stand out like the lazy agglomerations that they are, as they did on Smith’s solo album. They even infect a song title, “Hips and Lips”, which in this case is forgivable as it’s a decent pop song, with its mixture of electronica, hazily suggestive vocals, and powerful guitars. The video is a particular treat. ‘The Undercurrents’, a widescreen, end-of-the-pier, lighters-aloft piece, is just crying out to soundtrack a particularly poignant moment in Hollyoaks, and completes a successful first third of the album.

After such a strong start, what follows is somewhat baggy in comparison – competently executed, and on occasion downright catchy, but it’s all a little lacking in spice, consisting as it does mostly of wistful romanticisms. ‘Write This Down’ is a complaint about a girl with a diary, and I forget what comes next until ‘Banlieue’, which is found face down in a puddle, complaining “here come the animals”, evoking the burning cars and peripheral urban vice after which it is named. There’s a lovely, by which I mean screamingly dissonant, interplayed guitar/synth solo – why isn’t there more of this stuff elsewhere? Then it’s business as usual, back to the pseudo-easy-listening pop-rock of ‘This Is What Becomes Of The Broken-Hearted’ et al. It’s not until the very last track ‘Waves Of Fear’ that the band pick up their skirts and dare to get angular and dangerous again. And by then it’s a bit too late, really.

Just to put things into context: there’s a bandwagon emblazoned with “State of the Nation Address” at the minute, and these guys have jumped straight on it with the “The National Health” concept. To which I say: where were you five or even ten years ago when things were starting to go pear-shaped in this country but it wasn’t too late to do something about it? I’ll stick my neck out and say these sentiments are sticking their necks out right now because the the rug has suddenly been pulled from under certain sections of client society’s cosy oblivion, and there’s currency to be made in pandering to their fears, 1984-style. Pretty cynical if you think about it, but I’m sure the band would argue that they have their audience’s best interests at heart.

In the end, for all Smith’s pronouncements of contemporary relevance, the record sounds like it could have been made at any time in the last ten, or possibly even twenty, years. Which is not necessarily a bad thing: there’s elements of early Britpop which bring back fond memories for those of a certain age, even if they serve only as impetus to break out a few old Menswear or Gene CD singles. There’s very little here that’s scary, or challenging, or specific, and there are melodies, hooks, and decent playing throughout, which means it could do very well in the CD racks of Tesco North Shields, or the Metro Centre Asda, and in the end that’s the whole point of pop music. On the same lines, a lot of these tracks could be pretty successful singles, appealing to Radio 2’s edgier side. It does have one, honest.

However, anyone hoping for a musical thesis of what’s wrong with the world, from the peculiarly slanted perspective that living on Tyneside gives, will be sorely disappointed. Either the band aren’t capable of it, or they’ve avoided the matter for another day, either of which makes the title a bit of a misnomer. In one way a missed opportunity then, but overall there’s no doubt this is a decent album, that people can take to their hearts. If the country is in as such a mess as Maxïmo Park say it is, every comfort helps.

7/10

Maximo Park’s ‘The National Health’ is out now on V2 / Co-Op in the UK and in America as a joint venture between the band’s own Daylighting Records label and brand new North American label Straight to the Sun, a part of the Musebox Label Group.

 

MP3 of the Day #556: Maximo Park

 
By on Friday, 8th June 2012 at 10:00 am
 

Forthcoming Maximo Park single ‘Hips and Lips’ will be released next Monday (11 June) on V2, the same day as their new album ‘The National Health’. The single has been remixed by Errors, and the Geordie band are offering up the remix as a free download below.

Maximo Park go on tour in the UK in November, the first time in 3 years. Tour information is here; tickets are on sale now.

 

Maximo Park / November 2012 UK Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 30th May 2012 at 5:30 pm
 

Maximo Park are back in the record shops in June with their new album ‘The National Health’, out on the 11th of June. Now they’ve announced details of a UK tour for November, their first in 3 years. Tickets go on sale this Friday (1 June) at 9 AM.

Thursday 1st November 2012 – Liverpool O2 Academy
Friday 2nd November 2012 – Glasgow O2 ABC
Saturday 3rd November 2012 – Newcastle O2 Academy
Monday 5th November 2012 – Sheffield Plug
Tuesday 6th November 2012 – Manchester HMV Ritz
Wednesday 7th November 2012 – London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
Friday 9th November 2012 – Birmingham HMV Institute
Saturday 10th November 2012 – Portsmouth Pyramids Centre

 
 
 

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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.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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