Monthly Archives: July 2011

Wrong Side Of The River Have The Right Idea

It can’t be easy being a young music fan in York, what with council-imposed restrictions on ID at most of the city’s major venues. (Of course, some kids don’t make it easy for themselves by trying their hardest to drink while underage, but I digress…) Wrong Side Of The River is different – it aims to make music, art and culture accessible to everyone by putting on cheap, all-ages, alcohol free nights at Bar Lane Studios in York. To give you more of an understanding as to what they’re trying to achieve, here’s their manifesto:

  • Everything must be transparent to everyone
  • Everything must be accessible to as many people as possible
  • Everyone has an equal right to contribute
  • The easiest way is always the best way
  • Disregard all of the above

Tongue-in-cheek final comment aside, you get the idea – simple and accessible is the order of the day. Of course, fun is probably a good idea too, and if the first Wrong Side Of The River event is anything to go by, fun shall be had in spades. Said event will take place on Saturday 23rd July at Bar Lane Studios, with excellent new local psychadelic rock outfit Burning Fences headlining. Also on the bill is Manscream, who I must admit to being unfamiliar with, but is described by the organisers as “like being hit with a tidal wave of blood, sweat, tears and make up.” There’ll also be DJs and a record sale to keep you entertained in between bands, all for a mere £3 – check out the Facebook event for full details.

Wrong Side Of The River

If you can’t make this first show, then fear not, as further events are planned for the following dates:

  • Saturday 3rd September
  • Saturday 15th October
  • Saturday 26th November
  • Saturday 10th December

Keep an eye on the Wrong Side Of The River page on Facebook for more details on what exactly will be occurring on those dates. Personally, I wish the team behind this the best of luck with it – anything that makes it easier for people to get out there and enjoy music has got to be a good thing.

Find Wrong Side Of The River on Facebook here.

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Things I’ll Be Missing While I’m At Work #3: I’ll Be Your Mirror/Tramlines/etc

This year’s DV8 Festival takes place this weekend in York, and the fact that the other two night managers at The Duchess are involved in the festival in one way or another does leave me somewhat obligated to be at work the entire time. Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m a fan of most of the music – if I enjoy more than a couple of bands (The Chapman Family and O.Children specifically) it’ll be a pleasant surprise. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against goths – despite their often outlandish appearance, they’re mostly pretty nice people, at least if working during DV8 last year is anything to go by. If you’re in or near York (or fancy a weekend away) and like that sort of thing, knock yourself out – details and tickets can be found on their website. As for me, there are more than a few things I’d rather be attending over the weekend…

ATP Presents I’ll Be Your Mirror

The inaugural UK I’ll Be Your Mirror festival will take place on the 23rd & 24th July at Alexandria Palace in London. Curated in conjunction with Portishead (who play both nights), the festival also features PJ Harvey, Grinderman, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Caribou, Beach House, Factory Floor, Liars, S.C.U.M and many more playing across the weekend. For more details, head over here.

Tramlines Festival

Not only is Sheffield’s Tramlines Festival totally free, they’ve got some cracking bands playing over the weekend. Los Campesinos!, Johnny Foreigner, Dananananakroyd, The Futureheads, The Duke Spirit, Hot Club de Paris, Islet, Three Trapped Tigers and Tall Ships are highlights amongst a frankly ridiculous number of bands. The festival runs from the 22nd – 24th July in Sheffield – find all the details here.

Maxïmo Park

Ok, so their third album wasn’t as good as the first two, but Maxïmo Park are still a fantastic live band. They’re playing an intimate show at The Cluny in Newcastle tomorrow (Thursday 21st July), and tickets will only be available from the venue from 12pm on the day itself. I’d suggest turning up a bit earlier than that though…  check out The Cluny’s website for more details. All proceeds from the gig will go to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Local Gigs

If you’re looking for some non-goth musical entertainment in York this weekend, you can find those cheeky indie-popsters The Blueprints playing at The Basement on Friday 22nd July, with Jonny Dobbs, Ryan Lauder and Daisy B also appearing. The band also have a few copies of their ace (and free!) Neon Sketches EP left, so pick one up if you do head down to the gig. There’s also a brand spanking new all-ages night called Wrong Side Of The River happening at Bar Lane Studios on Saturday 23rd July. I’ll have a more in-depth post on that up tomorrow, but the most important detail regarding this first event is that the excellent Burning Fences are headlining, with support from Manscream.

So, that’s what I’m not doing this weekend. Why not tell me what you *are* up to?

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The Mercury Prize 2011: Initial Thoughts

So, yesterday saw the announcement of the nominations for this year’s Mercury Prize. As I’ve done in previous years, I’ll do a more in depth article once I’ve had a listen to all the albums, but here are my initial thoughts on the matter. Before we go any further, here’s that list of 12 albums:

  • Adele – 21
  • Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi
  • Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys!
  • Everything Everything – Man Alive
  • Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam
  • Gwilym Simcock – Good Days At Schloss Elmau
  • James Blake – James Blake
  • Katy B – On A Mission
  • King Creosote And Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
  • Metronomy – The English Riviera
  • PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
  • Tinie Tempah – Disc-Overy

It’s fair to say that this year’s list had the potential to be pretty brilliant – but unfortunately, while there are some good albums on the shortlist, there are also some pretty glaring omissions. I thought it was pretty amazing that These New Puritans’ landmark record Hidden was left off the list last year, but this time round the panel managed to make an even more dumbfounding mistake by omitting Wild Beasts’ third album, Smother. The band ended up trending on Twitter despite not being nominated, so clearly I’m not the only one who thinks so. Really, why is it not there? Ok, they were nominated last year for Two Dancers, but bands have been nominated for successive albums before (in consecutive years, in the case of Arctic Monkeys). Is there some unseen quota for previously nominated artists? Whatever the case, it just doesn’t make any sense.

Almost as baffling is the lack of a nomination for The Horrors’ latest album Skying. Although I’ve seen various people saying that it was just barely eligible for this year’s shortlist, it may have been a victim of its release date lying too close to the announcement date. Perhaps, like Wild Beasts, it was deemed too soon after their last nomination (for Primary Colours in 2009) to shortlist them again – or maybe it just doesn’t make any sense at all. Other previous nominees who may feel hard done by include Friendly Fires, Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead.

As for other albums that missed the cut, there are probably enough to fill the shortlist up twice over – but Cat’s Eyes, Esben And The Witch, The Joy Formidable, Vessels, Talons and Three Trapped Tigers would all have been particularly worthy nominees in my eyes. But, as Wild Beasts once sang, “this is our lot” – suppose I’d better see if any of the albums I haven’t heard yet can top Let England Shake

The Mercury Prize ceremony will take place on the 6th September – check the official website for more details.

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Please Please You: Pleasing You Since 2005 (…Not Like That, You Filthy Animal)

Please Please You

When it comes to live music, York is a city that’s notorious for generally not giving a shit. Understandably, this makes being a promoter a difficult task, but some brave souls decide to do it anyway – and foremost among them is a certain Joe Coates, the man behind Please Please You. Now in its 6th year, Please Please You aims to bring interesting, left-field music to York through thick and thin – this year alone they’ve already put on gigs by the likes of Yuck, 2:54, Moon Duo, Stuart Warwick, Mazes, Nodzzz, Thank You and Darren Hayman, and they can count gigs by Johnny Foreigner, Ballboy, Les Cox (Sportifs), Screaming Females, Times New Viking, Frightened Rabbit and The Wave Pictures among their extensive list of previous shows.

Of course, they’ve got a lot of love for local bands too – so what better way to celebrate their 6th birthday than with one of the finest local bills you’ll see all year? Noisy guitar-popsters Azuma Vega make a rare appearance to headline the event, and are joined on the bill by Avenging Force, Honeytone Cody, Missing Kids, Where’s Hollywood?, Burning Fences and Sombre. The show is on Sunday 7th August at The Duchess, and tickets are a mere £4 in advance (or £6 on the door). Doors open at 5pm and the first band will be on at 5.30 – for more details, click on over here. (Shameless plug: I’ve covered some of these bands in out my Local Artist Of The Whenever series too.)

Of course, that’s not the only fun that’s being planned for the second half of the year, oh no. Next up in the calendar is a show by Glaswegian folk-rockers Washington Irving – they sound a bit like Arcade Fire might have if they were from the Scottish highlands, and it’s pretty sweet stuff. That gig’s on Thursday 28th July at The Basement, with support from John Stammers, James Laws and Plans – more details here.

Other stuff in the pipeline includes shows by Sic Alps, Darker Shades Of Gorgeous, Dan Mangan, Tellison, and Herman Dune – no doubt Joe’s got a couple of other things up his sleeve as well, so keep an eye on the Please Please You website or Facebook page for updates. Even if it’s something you’ve never heard of before, it’s generally worth checking out what he’s putting on – and here’s to many more years of trying to make the city of York give a damn.

For all the details on upcoming Please Please You gigs, check out their website.

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Honour Before Glory Stream Debut Album

Honour Before Glory - This Is Broken Lines

Ex-¡Forward, Russia! guitarist Whiskas has been pretty busy since band went on hiatus in 2008 – not least with his solo project, Honour Before Glory. Today, he announced that he finished recording his debut album last week – and rather than wait for months until the CDs will be ready, he’s decided to share it with us right now. The record is entitled This Is Broken Lines, and you can stream it now on the Honour Before Glory website, or using the player below:

This Is Broken Lines is quite a different proposition to Whiskas’ work with ¡Forward, Russia!, but it’s no less engaging. He’s recruited a wide variety of Leeds-based musicians, including members of bands bands past and present such as Duels, I Like Trains and Shut Your Eyes And You’ll Burst Into Flames, as well as solo artists including Fran Rogers and Sam Airey. Together, they’ve created a wide variety of post-rock leaning tracks – wall-of-sound guitars are a prominent feature, but they’re complimented in varied ways, from the stomping drumbeats of ‘Breaker’ to the wonderful harmonies on ‘This Is Shattered Lights’. ‘Maison’, on the other hand, is a synth-based track that combines buzzing bass with a mellow chiming lead, and album-closer ‘Forever’ is a 7-minute expanse that is, well, simply glorious.

You can download the album now, as well as having the option to pre-order the CD version, which will be released in October. For full details, check out the band’s page on Bandcamp.

This Is Broken Lines is available now from Honour Before Glory’s Bandcamp page.

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2010 Retrospective: Talons – Hollow Realm

Talons - Hollow Realm

Recently I released that there a few records I really liked last year that I didn’t really get round to talking about properly – Hollow Realm, the debut album from Hereford six-piece Talons, was one of them. I also realised that they were still streaming the entire thing on their website, so go have a listen there – or alternatively, you can check out the stream below:

Hollow Realm is a visceral mix of post-rock, math-rock and post-hardcore tendencies that combine to make a thrilling ride from start to finish. Guitar lines squall, thrash and fly across the fretboard in all the right places and the drumming is constantly propulsive, but the icing on the cake comes in the form of a pair of violins – at times they soar above the rest of the music, and at others they provide dramatic sweeps and stabs that are complimentary and contrasting in equal measure.

‘Peter Pan’ is a good starting point if you’re looking for a concise indication of what the band are capable of, but they really come into their own in their lengthier tracks – ‘St. Mary Will Be The Death Of Us All’ and ‘In The Shadows Of Our Stilted Homes’ are ever-changing, constantly coming up with new ideas. Particularly noteworthy is the way that ‘Great Railroads’ acts as a perfect prelude to epic 10-minute album-closer ‘Hollow Depth’ – the former track starts out understated and methodically-paced, before gradually picking up speed like an unstoppable steam train. ‘Hollow Depth’ itself feels like a culmination of the ideas that have come before it, effortlessly switching between stately bombast and frantic chaos throughout. In short, anyone who enjoys expansive, exciting instrumental rock music would do well to check Talons out.

Hollow Realm is out now on Big Scary Monsters records.

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Sky(ing)’s The Limit, pt II: The Horrors Stream New Album

The Horrors - Skying

It’s been a little over a month since The Horrors unveiled their third album, Skying, and now they’re streaming it in all its glory a week before its release. Continuing from where 2009’s Primary Colours left off, it’s an expansive, shoegaze-influenced affair – head on right over to their website to check it out for yourself.

After a few listens, Skying feels like a more consistent record than Primary Colours. There’s no ‘I Only Think Of You’-style clunkers here – indeed, the album feels like an incredibly coherent whole, effortlessly flowing from track to track to form a singular, glorious expanse. As for highlights, there are many – ‘I Can See Through You’ drives itself forward with purposeful beats and a soaring chorus, while ‘Endless Blue’ pulls a fast one, starting out as a hazy wash of synths with trumpets floating over the top, before suddenly breaking out the spiky guitars. Elsewhere, ‘Dive In’ builds on its infectious drums and simple guitar line before launching into a mind-blowingly colossal chorus, ‘Still Life’ captures a dream-like state of mind, and ‘Moving Further Away’ feels like an older, wiser brother to ‘Sea Within A Sea’.

Skying sees The Horrors consolidating their stylistic about-face with considerable skill – it’s a beautifully-realised record of the kind you could lose yourself in for hours. The competition for ‘album of the year’ just got a little bit more heated, but with a record this good The Horrors could see themselves soaring above their peers.

Skying is released on XL Recordings on 11th July.

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