One half of the hyper-productive quirk-pop outfit Fiery Furnaces takes her first solo steps on Last Summer.
Washed Out's debut album couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time. The water's just right for a little chillwave.
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?
It hasn’t been an amazing year for music, but surely an entertaining one. Lots of new acts jockeying for position amongst the wily veterans, and plenty of debate even as early as June over love ‘em-or hate ‘em titles such as King of Limbs and James Blake’s eponymous debut and where they belong in the year’s final canonization of greats. Honestly, I can’t remember a year in recent memory when I’ve found so many hyped records I’ve disliked or been entirely disinterested in. Cults? Pass. Tyler, The Creator? Garbage. The saviors from musical banality have consistently been experienced groups who know what they’re doing and get praised for their music and not being arrested in LA and starting riots.
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.
Album number six for these free-wheeling long-haired holdin' on to black metal giants of Southern Rock.
Can Bon Iver live up to expectation with his self-titled follow-up to the celebrated For Emma, Forever Ago?
There are some records that forever remain at the bottom of the review pile, and boy do Smith Westerns make us regret it.
Lyrically and musically, simply one of the best records you'll hear all year. Dan Bejar -- Genius. Kaputt -- Divine.
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.
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.
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.
The best band to come out of Canada, ever, celebrate their 20th anniversary with The Double Cross. It's a Roman numeral thing, y'dig?
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.
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".
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.
The only euphoric heartbreak here is all expectations of Glasvegas trumping their debut going out the window.
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.
Can goth new-wavers Cold Cave come close to the lo-fi synth-brilliance of their debut Love Comes Close? Now, that's the question.
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.
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.
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.
A surprising record or a record full of surprises from this indie-pop quartet? Note reviewer in "I loathed it now I like it" situation.
"I don't wanna work/but I don't wanna sit around/all day frowning". Kurt Vile, you speak to us in a way few artists ever do. You can stay.
Thumbs down for the skinny ties and tight jeans brigade on their fourth go-round. Surely it can't be worse than First Impressions Of Earth?
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.
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.
With appearances from Peaches and Patti Smith, R.E.M. show no signs of wear and tear in their fourth decade of making music.
Australia's first lady of rock and founder member of Magic Dirt, Adalita Srsen, adopts a stripped back stance for her debut solo effort.
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.
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.
A break-up album like no other, Sweden's pop princess Lykke Li hits an emotional core that has Webcuts in awe.
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.
Barely eighteen months since the release of one of 2009's dark delights, the epic Sun Gangs, Finn Andrews the New Zealand bred, England based leader of The Veils has released possibly one the highlights of 2011 with Troubles of the Brain. Over the course seven songs Finn and his band mates explore less grandiose and orchestral avenues than those on Sun Gangs favouring instead acoustic guitars, simpler arrangements and a lighter air in general. Chris Berkley tracked down Mr Andrews just before the release of Troubles of the Brain to talk about the differences in recording at home, going out on his own label and having a feverent fanbase to help that transition.
Over-indulgent Gothic melodrama from Brighton's Esben And The Witch. How do you like your nightmares? Black with 2 sugars, thanks.
Wire and Gang of Four wrote the book for post-punk, kind of. Are they still innovators or merely curators with Red Barked Tree and Content?
Putting on our Britpop goggles yet again, Sleeper's debut album Smart and its follow-up The It Girl get the reissue treatment.
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.
Dynamite Steps the new album from Greg Dulli's The Twilight Singers is an extraordinarily cohesive album in every aspect: from production to the vocals, the masterful songwriting to the clever sequencing. Grunge guitar workouts give way to piano balladry, shoegaze meets folk and punchy rock. These are all anchored by that remarkable voice which ranges from ragged roar to velvety tenor to strained falsetto singing of love, libido, mortality and the devil. A couple of weeks before the release we spoke with Greg, a man who has seen more than his share of highs and lows in his twenty odd year career, clearly relaxed and affable, about all things dynamite and twilight, from the gutter to the (guest) stars.
Uh-oh, here comes trouble. Pris are a four piece from London featuring Cat on vocals, Agatha on guitar, Mary on bass and Sam on drums. Imagine Blondie with an attitude problem, Manics before the middle life spread and Kenickie without the big bones.
In complete contrast to a month ago when it was "precipitation nation" Brisbane’s fourth St. Jerome’s Laneway festival could've been subtitled "Boiling Brisvegas". Unlike many festivals Laneway 2011 had a remarkably consistent quality throughout the entire day, so regardless of the weather it was always destined to be a scorcher. We braved the extreme ultra violet index to report on Australia's Rat Vs Possum, Cloud Control and Cut Copy. While sampling UK's Foals and America's best of the best with Beach House, The Antlers, Warpaint, Blonde Redhead, Ariel Pink, Holy Fuck. Oh and LES SAVY FAV!.
To say expectations were high for Foals' second album Total Life Forever would be stating the exceedingly obvious but from the grandeur and exquisite melancholy of “Spanish Sahara” to the frenetic indie-pop of “This Orient” to the dance funk of “Miami” it met and exceeded them with uncommon ease. Total Life Forever elevated Foals further from their peers and into the rare league of artists who maintain credibility with a more accessible sound and thus gaining a larger listening base whilst still remaining true to their experimental pop principles. We spoke to bassist Walter Gervers while the band was in Australia for the St. Jerome’s Laneway festivals and some recording on the sly.
Providence, Rhode Island indie-folksters The Low Anthem fail to im-press the smart flesh on their sophomore release.
The Decemberists discard the costumes and dispense with the theatre slipping into more familiar musical threads on album number 6.
Melbourne Modular boys gone global return for their third album with mixed results. Just what the hell is a Zonoscope anyway?
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).
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.
For the third Sunset Sounds festival it rained, it poured, it pelted down. Water came down in sheets, hell it came down in slabs. Even those who came with waterproof clothing were completely soaked not just to the bone but to the very marrow. Sunset Sounds became Sunless Sounds, Soggy Sounds and Mudset Sounds. It brought out the worst in some people and the best in others. Still the show went on and so we report on Sleigh Bells, Cold War Kids, Ladyhawke, Pubic Enemy, The National and Interpol on day one. While for the second day we braved the wet again to deliver reports on The Soft Pack, Peaches, Junip, The Morning Benders, Washington and Paul Kelly.
Hurrah for English music. Just when you think Webcuts panders almost exclusively to the Americans, British Sea Power save the day.
Debut album from Montreal's Braids. Like a Canadian Animal Collective with female vocals? Read on and find out...