Archive | June, 2011

Live Review: David Ford

23 Jun

Komedia: Wednesday, June 22 2011

If this is what happens when the music industry sucks you in, chews you up and spits you back out, then maybe it does have something going for it after all.

David Ford was repeatedly told he’d be ‘the next big thing’ and, as the blurb to his book ‘I Choose This – How To Nearly Make It In The Music Industry’ states, he’s spent the past decade proving those people wrong.

In a show featuring readings from his book (“It’s not an autobiography, they’re for successful people”, he insists), casual chit-chat and selected pickings from his rich back catalogue, Ford spends two hours looking back on his career with a dry sense of humour, wit and theatrical panache.

He takes some well-aimed pot-shots at the music business for its vile extravagances and obsession with market forces, but he’s also happy to poke fun at himself.

Aside from admitting his naivety in believing his first band Easyworld would follow in the footsteps of label-mate Britney Spears to international superstardom, he also reveals he once had a celebrity phone-stalker. However, in keeping with a career that never quite went to plan, this wasn’t an A-list superstar, just a sloshed Bonehead from Oasis.

On the music front, Ford shows he’s come a long way from the sparkly “pop-punk-soul-funk” songs of the first Easyworld album. Nowadays he’s more of a rasping balladeer, either wearing his heart on his sleeve over issues of love, life and friendship or waxing lyrical about the madness of modern society and political absurdities.

Tonight, both ‘State of the Union’ and ‘Panic’ are given Ford’s trademark treatment where he records all of the instruments live on a loop until the layers and sounds build up to a crescendo.

On the flip side, ‘To Hell With The World’ and the final Easyworld single ‘How Did It Come To This’ are successfully re-worked with only an acoustic guitar and booming vocals, while Candi Staton’s ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ is stripped of its pomp, leaving a sparse, piano-based anthem in its place.

Minutes after the yearning lovesong ‘Song For The Road’ ends the set, Ford is on the merch stand, selling his wares and chatting to fans.

This might not have been the lifestyle he dreamed of a decade ago, but if you gave him the choice of once again subjecting himself to the machinations of the mainstream music industry, or continuing to have the freedom to do what he wants from the sidelines, he’d definitely choose this.


Live Review: The Wave Pictures

21 Jun

Prince Albert, Saturday, June 18 2011

Some bands have the luck of being in the right place at the right time and bag a pretty easy ride to success on the back of the musical zeitgeist of the day.

Then there’s the likes of The Wave Pictures, where it seems the odds are stacked firmly against them.

After all, they’re from the backwaters of rural Leicestershire, musically they belong in the whimsical yet tuneful indie archives of the mid 80s and they had to toil away for ten years self-releasing albums before a label took a punt on them.

Conversely and somewhat perversely, it’s this dedication to their cause and strength of spirit that the 150 people packed inside The Albert not only love, but respect.

Their attitude is perfectly embodied by drummer Johnny Helm who has to be ordered to stop selling t-shirts and chatting to fans to join his bandmates on stage so the gig could start.

Once underway they pick and mixed their way through their back catalogue. There are no musical surprises, just a fine collection of songs featuring singer David Tattersall’s wry and sardonic vocals on top of jaunty guitar which skits above a tight rhythm section.

Despite releasing their ninth album only last month, they’re already showcasing new material with ‘Seagull’ signalling a more polished, sing-a-long pop sound.

As prolific and consistent as they’ve been, their best could still be to come.

Listen to This: Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou – Spin Me a Rhyme

16 Jun

Husband and wife duo Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou have been quietly capturing hearts across the nation with tours of village halls and canal-side boozers. 

Their second album, ‘Quality First, Last and Forever’,  is verging on being a modern pop-folk masterpiece and is out on Heavenly on Monday.

‘Spin Me a Rhyme’, with its lush harmonies and infectious melody, has been steadily gathering momentum. Have a listen, it’s not hard to see why.

Live Review: Milk Maid

16 Jun


Jam: Wednesday, June 15 2011  

Last week Milk Maid were interviewed on a national radio station. It was painful listening. Clearly uncomfortable, frontman Martin Cohen was unable to articulate the point or purpose of his new band.

Stick him on a stage with his three bandmates, though, and it all makes perfect sense. This is where he belongs.

Despite playing to a half-empty room, Milk Maid put on a stellar show, quickly rattling through the majority of their debut album ‘Yucca’.

Unsurprisingly, there’s no nattering between songs or acknowledgement of the crowd apart from the odd “cheers”. Instead they prefer to bombard you with sound as they unleash their three-minute, heavily distorted yet ridiculously tuneful numbers.

There are traces of their Mancunian heritage, not least with some Stone Roses-esque basslines, but the care-free vocals and catchy hooks are more reminiscent of West Coast America than their native North West.

The undoubted highlight is current single, ‘Not Me’. With its dense, sweeping melody, giddy vocals and choppy drums, it has been skillfully crafted to the extent that it sounds like it was created with effortless ease.

Harsh critics may question if a headline set really ought to last more than half an hour, but Milk Maid clearly operate on an all-killer no-filler basis.
It’s a wise policy…just don’t expect them to want to talk about it.

Listen to This: Zun Zun Eugi – Fandango Fresh

12 Jun

With mind-fucking swirlyness, zany rythyms, absurd lyrics and a tune catchier than the clap in the Giggs’ household, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Zun Zun Eugi came about after members met at an improv session in Bristol.

They somehow manage to fuse together more random ideas in a single tune than many bands deploy across an entire album.

This offering, ‘Fandango Fresh’ is a 12-inch only release in August with a debut LP ‘Katang’ set for an October release on Bella Union.

Comedy Review: Bo Burnham

10 Jun

Komedia, Thursday, June 9, 2011

It’d be easy to write-off Bo Burnham as a floppy-haired, gangly young Yank who got lucky in his teens when he become an overnight YouTube sensation and bagged a movie deal  just because of a couple of witty and sarcastic songs.

And it shouldn’t be difficult to take petty umbrage at his boyish charm, raging enthusiasm and phenomenal grasp of language. But it’s impossible to dislike him. He’s just too good.

Still only 20, he is destined to become a generation-defining comedian. Supremely confident and already a master of killer timing, his 90-minute set of songs and stand-up repeatedly flits between polite chit-chat and almost psychotic anger and veers from absurd and occasionally infantile humour to masterful wordplay bordering on comic genius.

“I’ll tell you about irony”, he says. “My Gran’s star sign was Cancer and she was killed by…a giant crab”, he deadpans before launching into ‘Irony’, a withering musical riposte to Alanis Morissette’s Nineties dirge ‘Ironic’.

“A little kid died of suffocation, when he choked on a game-piece from Operation,” he bellows. It sure as hell beats “A free ride when you’ve already paid”.

More often than not, Burnham toys with the audience, making light-hearted banter about the likes of Michael McIntyre before bashing out a bitter piano-based tirade against such lame observational comics and taking an almighty swipe at the nether regions of those who find such acts amusing.

Throughout the routine there’s a constant bubbling undercurrent of bile, anger and contempt, but Burnham is too smart to let his show derail into a Frankie Boyle-esque rage fest.

He frequently deploys pauses and silence to impressive effect but his greatest achievement is being able to retain an air of child-like fun and wonder, regardless of the subject matter. Having an arsenal of  catchy tunes certainly helps in this respect, but  he also manages to convey a sense of frivolity when he’s peppering his act with barbed socio-political lines and sideswipes at the very point and purpose of comedy and art, including his own.

“I hated being called a teenage sensation”, he says at one point. “I much preferred prodigy”. Really, we’re in no position to argue.

Live Review: Herman Dune

6 Jun

Coalition, Sunday, June 5 2011
It’s easy to see why John Peel loved Herman Dune.

There’s a fierce independence to the Paris-based folk-pop duo that the late-great DJ would have revelled in.

Without a care for fleeting fads and trends, they’ve spent the best part of the last decade relentlessly recording and playing live.

And on tonight’s showing it’s given them a slick sound and a dedicated fanbase which was prepared to brave the Sunday night showers to see the show.

The hour-and-a-half long set spans their entire back catalogue and reveals they’re one of very few bands capable of mixing and matching markedly differing emotions without ever sounding contrived.

One minute you’re grinning at the tender lines in the cheery and breezy summer-pop tune Lay Your Head on My Chest, the next you are revelling in the darker, more brooding new track Strange Moosic.

It’s all woven together with frontman David Ivar’s laidback patter and warm conversations with the crowd. “Next time we’ll bring the sunshine”, he promises, seemingly far too modest to realise that no-one cares about the weather when they’ve just had their pre-Monday morning blues banished by his band’s style and charm.

Live Review: The Computers

5 Jun

Audio, Brighton, Friday, June 3 2011

A silk-tie wearing, shiny-suited and booted ‘branding guru’ would spew out his spritzer if he stumbled across The Computers.

The name conjures up images of earnest math-rock bores who spend most of their time locked in dark bedrooms either fiddling with themselves or with a 4-track.

It’s a world away from what The Computers are like.

There’s no eight-minute long death-inducing prog dirges here. Instead, the assembled crowd is subjected to a slick, sharp and intense four-piece which unleashes a frenzied assault on the senses.

Dressed entirely in white and sporting quiffs that would do Rocket From The Crypt proud, they hurtle through a blistering set that takes the demented lunacy of  Mclusky, the more restrained vitriol of Future of the Left and churns them up alongside a hearty dollop of old-fashioned garage rock and roll.

Singer Alex screeches through most of the songs without a second thought for what must be lacerated vocal cords, while the heroic drummer somehow manages to keep the mayhem in front of him in check.

Each song demands your undivided attention and the frontman makes doubly sure there’s no nattering at the back by frequently venturing into the crowd to perform, leaving a trail of sweat and a few nervous glances in his wake.

The Computers don’t do anything by half. They’re here to play fast, play loud and to put on a show.

“We are here to save you”,  hollers Alex at one point. It’s quite a pledge, but after a performance as entertaining as this, you suspect he might have found a few more believers.

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