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Craig Smith

About Craig Smith

Continues his music photography and writing at sonicdocument.com

Truck Festival – Steventon – 22-24 July 2011

Quietly, unassumingly, Truck Festival has become an annual celebration of all that is so very right about music. When the Bennett brothers witnessed the exploitative attitude of industrial sized events they didn’t just get mad they got even. Truck Festival was their baby and now in its fourteenth year it has blossomed into a rather lovely adolescent. Webcuts birthday boy Don Blandford was at Truck all weekend to report on the action, featuring appearances by: Graham Coxon, Lanterns On The Lake, Cashier No.9, Sarah Cracknell, Johnny Flynn, Edwyn Collins, Caitlin Rose, Mechanical Bride and Sea Of Bees.

Who The Hell Are… KIDCITY?

Introducing KIDCITY. Two people, One word, uppercase for menacing effect. But really, aren't they just too cute for words? Which is apt, seeing as the music that these two Canadian 21-year-olds make is more like haunted voices leaking from an overloaded digital landscape. "Somewhere between Enya and Dr. Dre", someone said. Sure, why not. It might be simple enough to place them within the geographical radius of another glitchy electronic duo, Crystal Castles, but Kelly Ann's vocals soothe, rather than antagonise, as the cracked beats and blistered frequencies dial up the intensity. Significantly impressed, we had no choice but to ask 'Who the hell are... KIDCITY?"

By | 2018-06-18T04:14:06+00:00 July 27th, 2011|Categories: Features, Who the Hell Are|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Cold Cave – Of Dark Days and Light Years (2011)

Cold Cave's debut album of 2009 Love Comes Close was a unique display of synth-oriented mood disorder, venturing out from the bedroom to the dancefloor, filled with idealistic tales of romance and disillusionment. Band leader Wes Eisold’s spin on the world appeared to share a voice (in both dour baritone and content) with Magnetic Fields Stephin Merritt, if he'd spent his adolescence listening to The Cure and Depeche Mode instead of showtunes. On their second album, Eisold moved beyond the testing of the waters that was Love Comes Close and turned its successor, Cherish The Light Years into his dark dream made manifold.

By | 2018-08-12T02:54:18+00:00 July 20th, 2011|Categories: Interviews|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

Hop Farm Festival – Kent – 1-3 July 2011

In the history of modern music festivals, few line-ups could compare with the distinctly 70's flavoured action offered at the Hop Farm Festival last weekend. While The Eagles were wheeled out of retirement as headliners on the first night, the purportedly Morrissey-curated second day included such rock pantheon artists as Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and Patti Smith. All in all, it's a jaw-dropping stroke of genius, with Morrissey having the hardest of acts to follow the swathe these three so cleanly cut through the Kent countryside. Oh, and did we forget to mention Prince was there too?

Hop Farm Festival – Kent – 1-3 July 2011 – Photos

Prince - Main Stage - July 3, 2011 Hop Farm Festival 2011 -- We came, we saw, we took a shitload of pictures. Too many pictures... So instead of cluttering up our coverage with photo overload, we've decided to collect the cream of the crop and put together a nice selection from the entire festival,

Destroyer – London – 28 June 2011

How strange to be more than fifteen years into a career and to finally achieve growing, and now glowing, recognition for the music you make. Bands today, the inverse applies, they learn to walk before they can crawl, record a debut they'll never repeat and disappear as if they never existed. Real artists will maintain and nurture their craft regardless of an audience, which more or less, is the story of Dan Bejar. Better known as the wild-card songwriter in Canadian power-pop supergroup The New Pornographers, Bejar's work as Destroyer is like mainlining into Bejar's psyche, which prior to you only got the briefest taste of.

By | 2015-08-10T05:08:07+00:00 July 7th, 2011|Categories: Live Reviews|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Noah and the Whale – London – 16 May 2011

It’s a little known piece of Webcuts folklore that Noah And The Whale once played in my living room. Gladly, it was before my time, otherwise a compulsion to head downstairs and have words would‘ve been hard to resist. A sell-out show at the Camden Roundhouse is not to be sneered at, but if commercial success or the ability to fill a room is the barometer in which all great music is measured, we’re on (and have been for decades) very shaky ground, and when superlative-inducing American folk-rock act Okkervil River are playing across town, clearly in the wrong place.

By | 2015-08-10T05:08:14+00:00 June 18th, 2011|Categories: Live Reviews|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Wendy James – London – 9 June 2011

Why hello, Wendy James. It’s been a while. Almost 20 years since I saw Transvision Vamp play at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney. A mostly unremarkable show except for the amount of intimidating drunks in attendance and the fact they played their current ‘hit‘ twice. Australia loved Transvision Vamp, almost in the same way it loved Blondie, decades before. Stick a blonde wig on a mop, put it in front of a bunch of guys in leather jackets and you're set. Transvision Vamp at that time were in their career descent with Little Magnets Versus The Bubble of Babble (my head still shudders at the idiocy of this title) and this was their last roll of the dice.

By | 2015-08-10T05:08:20+00:00 June 15th, 2011|Categories: Live Reviews|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Twin Shadow – London – 11 May 2011

Having to write a live review on the fly, almost two weeks after it happened, from notes hastily scribbled, while packing to go to a festival will show us this is not the way to be. There's no time to go into great detail, to labour the point, to draw comparisons between George Lewis Jr's physical appearance (a little bit Prince, a little bit Morrissey), or the sound (a little bit Prince, a little bit Morrissey, albeit on a synth-sprung landscape). Twin Shadow, at least from this writer's perspective, has adequately filled the gap that LCD Soundsystem left by their absence, in making music that moves and is moving, that is confident without being arrogant, and is just too perfect for words.

By | 2015-08-10T05:08:27+00:00 May 24th, 2011|Categories: Live Reviews|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

The Feelies – The Return of The Feelies (2011)

An act that many have been holding their breath for the return of for as long as they've been absent from the stage are Haledon, New Jersey's The Feelies. Arriving in the late 70's, and releasing one of the first great new wave/post-punk albums of the early 80's (truly. no hyperbole here) in Crazy Rhythms, The Feelies were the Velvet Underground and Television's geeky Jersey cousins. An enthralling percussive ride, full of jerky rhythms and wild, melodic guitar interplay, the sound of The Feelies would evolve over the years, drifitng away from the arty CBGB crowd toward a more refined pastoral 'college rock' sound that typified an era when bands like R.E.M. and Camper Van Beethoven loomed large.

By | 2018-08-12T03:01:04+00:00 May 12th, 2011|Categories: Interviews|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Who The Hell Are… Bleeding Knees Club?

There's not much point in asking where Bleeding Knees Club got their name. It's the kind of degenerate tag that you'd expect from a couple of Australian garage surf-punks, but for the innocent and curious alike the band spell it out below. If they happen to ask if you want to join their particular club, ladies just say 'no'. Hailing from Brisbane, where every home has its own swimming pool thanks to last year's insane floods, Alex and Jordan of Bleeding Knees Club have "won hearts and minds through a reckless live reputation and with a swag of super-catchy tunes on their debut EP Virginity".

By | 2018-06-18T04:14:14+00:00 May 4th, 2011|Categories: Features, Who the Hell Are|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Ramona – London – 17 April 2011

It's easy to love Ramona, even though everything about them is so flawless and en pointe, unheard for a scruffy bunch of Brighton by-way-of-New-York rockers. Picks in hand, they transform a handful of chords into polished punk perfection, fronted by the coquettish bleach-blonde tomboy Karen Anne, a second generation Edie and Debbie who knows how to hang from a mic stand like she was hanging from your shoulder. Absent from the stage this year so far, they cycle through their set in a brisk half hour, including encore, and you're crying out for a flubbed note, an unrehearsed run through a song they just wrote in the van, or general indifference to whether anybody is listening.

By | 2015-08-10T05:08:33+00:00 April 28th, 2011|Categories: Live Reviews|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Destroyer – Dan Bejar talking about Kaputt (2011)

It's been said by Webcuts in the past that Destroyer's Dan Bejar is the Woody Allen of pop music. His idiosyncratic, poetic touch is less that of a lyricist but a storyteller with a revolving cast of characters (mostly women), and picking up on the ripples and waves they create to make them a part of his own interior monologue. An essential eighth of the mighty New Pornographers, Bejar has been recording as Destroyer since the 90's. Kaputt, his ninth album is a sumptious, rhapsodic slice of 80's melodrama, immersing itself entirely in the era from the vintage instrumentation to Bejar's own penchance for seeking the sublime out of what some might find the ridiculous.

By | 2018-08-12T03:04:16+00:00 April 23rd, 2011|Categories: Interviews|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Cold Cave – London – April 4 & 5 2011

In a long black leather jacket and hoodie and stacked heels, Cold Cave's Wes Eisold looks like any other kid you see in Camden on a Friday night, except that he's not and it isn't and before he even opens his mouth, you're thinking "wow, that leather jacket really is the shit" and it is. It's also a special day for 80's synth-obsessives Cold Cave, as Eisold curtly informs the assembled at Rough Trade Records - "Welcome to our album birthing day". Their second album, the strangely positive sounding Cherish The Light Years showing a marked change from the same Cold Cave that played London back in May 2010.

By | 2015-08-10T05:08:42+00:00 April 19th, 2011|Categories: Live Reviews|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Who The Hell Are… Villa Cola?

Having lived through the 80's, witnessed the birth of Wham!, the ascension of Kylie from Neighbours mechanic to pop princess and the rise and fall of the Stock, Aitken and Waterman (s)hit factory, intelligent, well-crafted synth-pop has had a tough (but not impossible) road to climb to redeem itself. It's easier done now for those with little memory of the 80's, who can mine the decade of its untapped wealth and pull influences from The Human League or Gary Numan or even further back without being mocked, all the while creating something new and exciting. Having a rough guess at their ages, London's Villa Cola could surely fill these shoes.

By | 2018-06-18T04:14:20+00:00 April 13th, 2011|Categories: Features, Who the Hell Are|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Deerhunter – London – 31 March 2011

With each successive show played in London growing in size from venue to venue, it’s a clear indication of the steady rise of this beloved Atlanta four-piece, and with Shepherd’s Bush Empire being sold out, it's their largest capacity UK headline show to date. For the ardent, precious fan, Deerhunter aren't your band anymore. The era of slipping into town for a small club tour is over, but from the staid, somewhat bemused crowd, Deerhunter's roaming psychedelic-shoegaze and mutant folk-pop are still an acquired taste, one that’s seemingly unlikely to assail the upper reaches of the charts like label-mates, The National.

By | 2015-08-10T05:08:48+00:00 April 8th, 2011|Categories: Live Reviews|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

Who The Hell Are… Sisterland?

The best way to make a record company uncomfortable? -- choose a highly litiguous band name and then sit back and watch them sweat. Once upon a time there was a Leicester-based three-piece called Dysneyland who existed for a few months and released one independent single "Walking Wounded" before seeing the error of their short-sighted ways, or perhaps the pointed finger of 'The Man' who said "no change-y, no release-y" and thus Sisterland was born. With their debut single "Tomorrow" released this week as part of the Too Pure Singles Club, we play the getting-to-know-you game with Sisterland.

By | 2018-06-18T04:14:26+00:00 March 22nd, 2011|Categories: Features, Who the Hell Are|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

The Besnard Lakes – On the Sydney Shores (2011)

The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horses. A fitting album title for these Montreal, Quebec, Canadians, as much as it was a challenge for a band who've skirted success but in turn garnered acclaim for their lush and psychedelic sound. Their most recent album The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night appeared in early 2010, and once again it was that intimate and expansive sound, coupled with vocalist/guitarist Jace Lacek's Beach Boys-like falsetto that saw the band release their most definitive collection of songs yet. Touring Australia for the very first time, Chris Berkley of Static caught up with Lacek and drummer Kevin Laing of The Besnard Lakes to talk about the slow rise of the band and their move into film scores.

By | 2018-08-12T03:08:43+00:00 March 17th, 2011|Categories: Interviews|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Beach House – Australian Interview about Teen Dream (2011)

Baltimore's Beach House first appeared in 2006 with their self-titled debut, a gorgeous collection of dizzying songs built around Victoria Legrand's awash-with-reverb harmonies, church-style organ and Alex Scally's languidly strummed guitar. It was their style and approach, reminiscent of Mazzy Star, Yo La Tengo and This Mortal Coil, that found favour with a like-minded audience. Recently touring Australia and appearing as part of the travelling Laneway Festival, Chris Berkley caught up with Victoria and Alex of Beach House to talk about their gradual rise and amongst other things, how to keep cheese out of the live set.

By | 2018-08-13T04:11:04+00:00 March 10th, 2011|Categories: Interviews|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Exlovers – London – 28 February 2011

There really is something enthralling about watching a band not just perform music but energetically project themselves into it. It's akin to standing against a gale who's presence is to overpower you and anything in its way. That would in part, sum up the appeal of Exlovers -- they cut a forceful, harmony-fuelled rug. The other part is they're the most attractive bunch of tattooed scruffs that you'll ever encounter. Put all this in the context of their latest single "Blowing Kisses", a song that transcends simple indie guitar music and that gale hits like a perfumed fist that still makes you want to stand up and take more.

By | 2015-08-10T05:08:55+00:00 March 7th, 2011|Categories: Live Reviews|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

Who The Hell Are… Silk Flowers?

Dial back to the summer of 2010 having spent the afternoon hanging out with electro-be-spectacle Amanda Warner aka MNDR, we get a tweet from her inviting us to come down to Camp Basement in Old Street to watch synth experimentalists Silk Flowers, a Brooklyn three-piece that she’d recently produced an album for. Standing facing each other in a semi-circle surrounded by banks of synths, the band were undoubtedly not of this planet, but one Krautrock based in nature, appearing wholly entranced in their own music which veered from instrumental collages to deadpan delivered pop.

By | 2018-06-18T04:14:31+00:00 March 4th, 2011|Categories: Features, Who the Hell Are|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

The Cult – London – 21 January 2011

When you add up the years, you realise Ian Astbury and Billy Dully have been making music as The Cult for a long-ass time. Sitting in the rafters of the Hammersmith Apollo ("Hammersmith Odeon", Astbury demurs, referring to the venue's previous appellation), the debt paid to the excesses of rock n’ roll have more-or-less treated both kindly. Astbury, the once flower-child/wolf-child looks a little rough round the edges, but when you style yourself on Jim Morrisson and then suddenly become him, what can you expect. Duffy on the other hand, is ageless, looking more like David Beckham‘s older brother than a well-tooled guitar god.

By | 2018-07-09T11:15:02+00:00 February 18th, 2011|Categories: Live Reviews|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

Who The Hell Are… We//Are//Animal?

The arrival of their four digit debut single "1268" caused seismic speaker-blowing waves in the Webcuts offices in 2010. It truly was, and still is, a "What the fuck was that?" moment. It was in essence, Gang of Four meets LCD Soundsystem in an abandoned factory in North Wales. An electro pulse and surging beat, sheet metal guitars, inimitable Welsh vocals, it had 'post-punk dancefloor smash' writ large all over it, and had We//Are//Animal been from London instead of Wales, everybody would've been knocking down their door, kneeling to kiss their cossetted behinds (cough The Vaccines).

By | 2018-06-18T04:14:49+00:00 February 4th, 2011|Categories: Features, Who the Hell Are|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Luke Haines – London – 19 January 2011

This was to be the debut and sole performance of Outsider Music, Luke Haines' most successful solo album to date. An album of some notoriety in that it was individually recorded 50 times and released last September for £75 a throw. An artistic experiment and a gamble of sorts, it was an undeniable success for Haines, the old adage about fools and their money standing true -- all 50 volumes of Outsider Music disappearing quicker than anticipated. With each volume a unique item on its own, buyers have been reticent on sharing and as of yet, no copies have surfaced. So Haines - 1, Rich Fans - 1, Poor Fans - go eat a shit sandwich.

By | 2015-08-10T05:10:19+00:00 February 2nd, 2011|Categories: Live Reviews|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Austra – London – 18 January 2011

There’s been a noticeable shift slash longing backward glance in music trends towards all things 80’s. It seems that the product of that era now want to know everything about where they came from and the music that was made. For synth pop acts like Summer Camp and Twin Shadow, the 80’s are a nostalgia/inspirational goldmine, but with the rise of Zola Jesus, Salem, oOoOO, etc, it was inevitable that Goth music and its mutated electro/dark wave offspring would get discovered by the black clad suburban misfits of today. Enter, Austra from Toronto, Canada.

By | 2015-08-10T05:11:00+00:00 January 21st, 2011|Categories: Live Reviews|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

Webcuts Favourite Tracks of 2010 – Part 2

So that was 2010. What does Webcuts remember most about it? It's hard to say, really. The landscapes shift, the memories flickr and 365 days blur into one long unending soundtrack. One thing our favourite tracks of 2010 all had in common was that they appeared like one night stands that lingered a little longer than usual, almost all of them attached to a singular memory of the song being performed, either from a distance or elbows resting on the stage in mute admiration, or maybe just there emanating from a speaker aimed direct into our inner consciousness, refusing to budge.

Webcuts Favourite Tracks of 2010 – Part 1

So that was 2010. What does Webcuts remember most about it? It's hard to say, really. The landscapes shift, the memories flickr and 365 days blur into one long unending soundtrack. One thing our favourite tracks of 2010 all had in common was that they appeared like one night stands that lingered a little longer than usual, almost all of them attached to a singular memory of the song being performed, either from a distance or elbows resting on the stage in mute admiration, or maybe just there emanating from a speaker aimed direct into our inner consciousness, refusing to budge.

The Primitives – London – 13 December 2010

These are confusing times we live in. The past and the present have merged into one. Bands come back from the dead, sounding better than ever (The Primitives), artists who are clearly dead keep on making dreadful albums from beyond the grave (do we need name names?), and bands will play their best album in full and it becomes ‘an event’ (The Wedding Present). There are few albums in the history of music that deserve to be played in full (though tell that to Echo & The Bunnymen...), there's always at least one track (or more) of filler, or one completely misjudged stinker, but nostalgia has a price and it pays handsomely, so hey, on with the show!

By | 2015-08-10T05:11:12+00:00 December 20th, 2010|Categories: Live Reviews|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

Dean Wareham – London – 8 December 2010

Long before he cleared the air/dished the dirt (whichever way you look at it), on his band mates in his autobiography Black Postcards, it was widely known there would never be a proper Galaxie 500 reunion. In the intervening years since their disbandment in 1991, both Dean Wareham and the unit known as Damon and Naomi have gone their separate musical ways to moderate degrees of success. With Wareham’s post G500 outfit Luna winding up in 2005, he’d now put to pasture two bands presumably allowing him time to reflect on past glories with a renewed desire to not let that youth go to waste.

By | 2015-08-10T05:13:52+00:00 December 15th, 2010|Categories: Live Reviews|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Who The Hell Are… The Rifle Volunteer?

It's an audacious pronouncement to commit to releasing 12 singles in 12 months. The Wedding Present set the benchmark in the 90's. Ash tried the same thing recently, in a mixture of desperation and overkill in numbers too large to comprehend and tarnishing the very idea of a single. It's not just two songs on a slab of vinyl (or cd, or one of those less satisfying digital w/artwork jobs). It's a living, breathing statement. A trojan horse in disguise. A rallying cry to fall behind. A rallying cry... See, The Rifle Volunteer comprehend this. "I'll Sleep When That Damned Sun Is Dead", the first single in their year long campaign, is what we're talking about. Here is a band that means business.

By | 2018-06-18T04:15:15+00:00 December 9th, 2010|Categories: Features, Who the Hell Are|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Twin Sister – London – 25 November 2010

Latching hold of our ears earlier in the year with their double EP release Colour Your Life/Vampires With Dreaming Kids, Long Island’s Twin Sister had secured a place on our date card long before their they announced their first UK tour. Sneaking across the pond in October, we’d caught the band supporting rising stars, The Morning Benders at the Music Box in Los Angeles (apologies boys, I owe you one live review) and were suitably impressed. Jaded beyond jaded as the years drag on and the revolving floorshow of new bands yawn in our faces with old ideas, it was refreshing to witness a band breathe colour and life into their music.

By | 2015-08-10T05:13:58+00:00 December 8th, 2010|Categories: Live Reviews|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments

MNDR – Electro Pop Freakout (2010)

Even with the worldwide chart-smash of "Bang Bang Bang" under her belt as part of Mark Ronson's Business International, Amanda Warner aka MNDR is still something of an underground unknown to the general populace. Having spent the last 10 years making music with psychedelic oddities Triangle, or more recently as MNDR, it's been a non-stop battle that's about to pay off for this Fargo, North Dakota farm girl. With the media baggage ascribed Ronson in the UK from to his work with Amy Winehouse and his own Versions album, MNDR's French-slinging co-write on "Bang Bang Bang" arrived at the right time for everybody to sit up and take notice.

By | 2018-08-19T01:48:19+00:00 December 2nd, 2010|Categories: Interviews|Tags: , , , , |1 Comment