Named after the town they're from, Memphis has "some great songs, some brilliant moments", but not quite all adding up to Magic, Kids.
Touring off the back of their third studio release The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night, the Quebec-based The Besnard Lakes returned to London to treat us with some more of their epic Beach Boys meets Spiritualized jams. Given the massive sound present on ...The Roaring Night, there was some anticipation in how the band were going to pull this off as a four piece. With the newer tracks being a lot denser and harder to recreate live without either a 10 piece line up or a maze of effects and loop pedals, assistance came via laptop, which helped embellish the sound and keep true to their recorded material.
Releasing their soundtrack to 13 of Andy Warhol's screen tests was an opportune moment for ex-Galaxie 500/Luna star Dean Wareham to fully express his love for Velvet Underground and the stars of Andy Warhol's Factory. The screen tests alone, wavering between the visually arresting and the arrestingly mundane, were elevated into a new realm with the musical accompaniment provided by Wareham and partner Britta Phillips. Bringing the 13 Most Beautiful show to London (having frustratingly been given its UK premiere in Dunfermline last year) was a long-anticipated occasion.
From a Funeral to a Neon Bible and now out to The Suburbs, the long-awaited third album from Arcade Fire has Webcuts feeling right at home.
It's Summer festival time in Europe, but over in Australia it's Winter and Webcuts was there to brave the chill and celebrate Splendour in the Grass' tenth birthday with 32,000 others at the new Woodford location in Queensland. Over the three day weekend our reviewers witnessed a phenomenal selection of old and new favourites including -- Ash, Band of Horses, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cloud Control, The Drums, Grizzly Bear, Jonsi, LCD Soundsystem, Paul Kelly, Pixies, School of Seven Bells, Scissor Sisters, The Strokes, Tame Impala, The Vines, Yeasayer, and believe it or not, a whole lot more!!
Originally they were The Muslims but now they have a less volatile name, The Soft Pack, and a more polished repertoire as heard on their self titled debut. Touring that album in Australia they spent some quality time with Static's Chris Berkley who got to the beginnings of how the band formed, that name change, the San Diego and LA rock scenes, surfing, the prestigious honour of being covered by Nada Surf and the possibility of covering some Australian indie classics.
Gemma Ray found the best way to deal with the Christmas period was to record a covers album. Not a bad idea really.
The cross overs. Every year has them; bands that get touched by the hand of hype and go from being blogged about to actually selling significant quantities of records/MP3s along with world wide tour schedules and high billed festival slots. This year one of those bands is Brooklyn’s The Drums who have certainly enjoyed a lot of column pixels and radio play on the strength of their back to basics c86 indie-pop as imagined by Phil Spector self titled debut album and its omnipresent lead single “Let’s Go Surfing”. Static’s Chris Berkley has a drink with three quarters of the band for a lesson in how to avoid being drowned by the waves of success.
“Give me a minute and I’ll blow your minds“. The crowd laughs, so does the man who just uttered those words. The mood, somewhat quiet, respectful, shiftless, is lightened, and Mark Kozelek begins another master-class in tinkling the nylon strings of his Spanish guitar like Liberace would the piano. “I’m old” he breaks the silence again, “I’m fat, I need water, I need lyrics to my songs”. From my pew to the right side of the stage I have to squint to see if it’s not Neil Young sitting there complaining about his arthritis. To Kozelek’s credit, he’s still as ageless as ever, and that gut you were grabbing at? I’m pretty sure you’ve been carrying that for a while now.
Out of nowhere comes a near perfect album by a near forgotten band that rewrites their own history in one superlative-inducing swoop.
It took eleven years, three albums and a European tour for Melbourne space rockers Black Cab to broach Brisbane but they did and yes, it was worth the wait. Even the prospect of a half empty venue, an OCD stricken punter and the one colour Hi-Fi lights were not enough to dissuade Black Cab in performing anything less than a mesmerising set of original material and two stunning encores that paid homage to the whole space/drone/shoegaze rock genre. Able support was provided by Brisbane alt.rock kings Grand Atlantic.
During their recent visit to Australia for Splendour in the Grass we caught up with LCD Soundsystem's main man James Murphy who gave us reason to put away the hankies for LCD's much reported demise - "It’s not necessarily the last record. I would make another record. It’s more the end of this part – three records that go together, an arc. We became a bigger band than I ever expected. Something needs to stop, for me, for us all to be happy." He also waxes lyrical about making the record in the LA of his imagination, growing up and wanting kids, his Greenburg soundtrack experience and his many and varied future projects.
When you get down to the nuts and bolts of rock and roll, it's not about how tight your jeans are or how good your stylist is, it's about the music. It's about the song. For some bands in particular, it's about the pop song. Two and half minutes of spun gold that held your attention long after the needle left the record. Few bands embodied the spirit of the sublime '60s pop song than The Primitives. Sitting backstage at The Scala in London, Webcuts catches up with Tracy and Paul to rewind the clock and to talk about the events that brought The Primitives into the 21st Century and what lies ahead for the band.
Is there anything more cliched than the rock and roll break-up? Secret meetings in dark alleys. The guitarist that suddenly pops up on other people's records. The singer who doesn't return their calls. You either see it coming a mile away, or it creeps up on you like old age. It happens to the best and it happens to the worst, and eventually it will happen to them all. Piss and moan about it all you like, but what's done is done. The latest induction to the rock and roll hall of "fuck this shit for a laugh" are Webcuts' favourite punk sons, The Scare.
From "Exile In Guyville" to exiled in general. It hasn't been smooth sailing for Liz Phair. In fact you could say things have been downright un-Phair.
When does standing in the front row give you a direct line to god? Just because your idol, or current object of interest, is able to look you in the eye while they’re singing doesn’t mean that this is your opportunity for some face-to-face "let's get to know each other" time. Really, it doesn’t. And it’s rare that a concert is marred by one asshole that doesn't get the hint and won’t shut up, but shit does happen, and it happened to Kaki King and to the respectful crowd who had to endure this one "fan" and his relentless pursuit in establishing a "connection".
For The Morning Benders, a big echo doesn't necessarily mean a big noise, but the latter is certainly what these Californian boys encountered following the release of their sophomore album Big Echo earlier this year, easily giving Webcuts one of our favourite albums of 2010. Perfectly formed and lavishly constructed, Big Echo stretched its influences across the decades, from the lush '60s doo-wop harmonies of "Excuses", the '70s Californian pop-rock of "All Day Day Light" to the peer rivaling, stark echoes (which the album lives up to its name) of "Hand Me Downs".
The (Bloc) Party is over. Now, it's a dance party and there's nobody here, except Kele and a few diehard Bloc Party fans looking bored.
Impressive third album from these exemplary Scots. It sounds like the Winter Webcuts had... except more productive.
The new Stars album The Five Ghosts is a focused and streamlined record that in some ways harks back to their synth-pop roots of their first album, albeit being much darker in tone and theme. While Stars' diminutive front-man Torquil Campbell, and its glamorous front-woman Amy Millan, may get the most of the star light we recently had words with the quiet achiever of the band, Evan Cranley. Evan reveals to us details about the process and direction that the new album took, the decision behind the Séance EP, his jack of all trades role in the band, the novel approach to touring the new songs and how to create a fantastic remix.
One of these albums is pure genius. The other went straight to #1. Bow down to The Boo Radleys, Britpop's forgotten heroes.
Critic proof Canadian indie-poppers release their fifth disc of tunes but like its subject matter we find it lacks substance.
There are people who write for this website who weren't even born when Devo last made a record. This is not for them.
We're now entering a phase of the year where great albums are in abundance and Villagers' debut is no exception.
As anticipation mounts for the release of their upcoming third album The Suburbs, Arcade Fire commence on a brief hit-and-run tour of intimate and out-of-the-way places in Europe, somehow finding themselves performing on a moat in the middle of a limestone quarry in Sweden. For a band like Arcade Fire, such inventive and idyllic surrounds seem apt, but it only poses the question -- How hard can a quarry rock?
More emotional missives from angry, intense, young American men. What steady diet do they feed you on?
Oh, summery shimmery albums. Why must you hook us so? Berkeley, CA's, The Morning Benders serve up a treat.
It's summertime twee pop hour and who better to soundtrack but ex-Heavenly and Talullah Gosh popsters back with their third album.
A Tale of Two Cities? Not bloody likely. While both appear on the forthcoming Laneway bill Cloud Control and Rat vs Possum are worlds apart and aren't harbingers of any Sydney or Melbourne scene. Although there are groups of like-minded musical acts in all Australian cities and towns they're is no discernible Sydney sound or Melbourne sound. Cloud Control's indie-folk rubs shoulders with Parades' and Jonathan Boulet's dense polyglot pop while Rat vs Possum's tribal skewed pop sounds share the same general geography as Love Connection's murky shoegaze and Super Wild Horses girl fronted garage. It's not where you come from, it's where you're at.
Fifth album from these Floridian punkers. File under "anarchy, unfulfillment and frustration".
"This is dance music that’s worth thinking about – or, more accurately, thoughtful music that’s worth dancing to". Agreed.
An hour in the company of The Big Pink is a sensory distorting experiment, and one that also questions your sexuality. It’s not a glam/gay thing, but there is a certain amount of homoeroticism about The Big Pink. The obvious sexual nature of the band name notwithstanding, and their record sleeves are all chicks and tits, but I think that’s to throw off the thinly veiled man-love shared between guitarist/vocalist Robbie Furze and bassist Milo Cordell.
Villagers is the nom de plume of one Conor O'Brien, the young Irish gent with the piercing blue eyes positioned above these words. Having released his debut album Becoming A Jackal on Domino Records last month to widespread acclaim (surely topping the album charts in Ireland is nothing to be sneered at), O'Brien has been steadfast in moving his Villagers around the country like a pack of wayward Irish gypsies.
A thematic collection of stripped down tracks from Suzanne Vega's songbook, beginning with the love song.
An album that makes us love them more, but not enough to wear their t-shirts. The New Pornographers get it Together.
Sounding more like a theme park ride than a band, Ariel Pink pulls off both with a little 70's funk and 80's new wave self-exploration.
20th Anniversary? Seriously? You're twisting my melon, man! Wait, wrong band...
Heaven is here, and if the album is half as great as this review, then The Hold Steady should be counting their lucky stars.
A band of such warmth and light, the only way you'd see a 'shadow' here is if you held this Teenage Fanclub CD up in front of you.
With their fourth album My Maudlin Career Glasgow's Camera Obscura shifted further away from their indie pop origins to create their own take on Bacharachian orchestral pop and '60s soul contrasted against sparse country melancholy. Keyboardist and backing vocalist Carey Lander talks about joining the band, meeting Lloyd Cole, the orchestral and country elements in their sound and how they came to cover the Boss.
I’m a band purist at heart. You can cut off all your fingers, but you’ve still got a hand. If you cut off all your band members and keep cutting and cutting and cutting, you can't expect your audience to comply with your decision or to even recognise the music you make. What was it John Peel said about The Fall? "always different, always the same". Well, yes, but... no. Mark E. Smith is The Fall, but The Fall isn't just Mark E. Smith.
For a band who call their music "post-classic rock", Canada's Plants and Rags have at least one thing going for them.
Riding high on the charts, The National have found a resounding voice where "High Violet’s loneliest, weightiest moments feel like shared sorrow."
More depressing pop dressed up espionage style on the fifth album from this diminutive guitar goddess. "Junior", indeed.
Former Everything But The Girl frontwoman aptly wrestles with life after 40. "...not all fun and games, but a pleasure regardless".
Spoon's latest album, Transference, seemed to show the band finding new ways to tie their own shoelaces, searching out their own "Mystery Zone" or what Britt Daniel will later say in the interview "we gotta try to please ourselves first". Notable for being our first interview where the band asks us the questions, Spoon have perhaps realised there's more to making music than pleasing yourself. You've still got to please your Mom too...
What a wonderful world we live in where The Primitives are able to tread the boards once more. A delightful, decorous blend of '60s op-shop pop fronted by the delectable Tracy Tracy. One certified chart smash with “Crash” and some near misses along the way, The Primitives were one of those bands that were championed and loved (the old chestnut about Morrissey being a big fan is worth repeating) but never fully met with pop's good graces.
New York has definitely handed over its crown as being home to earthshaking epicentre of what's hot, hip, and happening. These days all eyes are firmly focused on the eclectic sounds of the West Coast -- as it seems that every single band we talk right now calls the place home. With Katy Perry (of all people) singing the praises of California Girls, just like the Beach Boys did in the 60's, so are we with Los Angeles' Dum Dum Girls.
Ragged fist-pumping fury from outta New Jersey. Named after one of Shakespeare's earliest tragedies. Fact.
Of Harlem, this brief explanation should suffice -- "those who don’t sicken quickly of energetic, repetitive three-chord rock will have a lot to love".