I first saw Hudson Mohawke at a Warp party in the chasmic underbelly of the World Financial Centre, New York. It was odd, partly owing to the fact that while Mr Hawke was attracting buzz in blighty for the glittering hip-hop production aesthetics on display for Butter, the yanks had yet to hear of the unassuming Glaswegian. The audience was less than attentive, gazing towards what they assumed was an interval DJ, inanimate for the duration of his set.
Tonight at the Factory a similar episode is unfolding. The venue is housing a sound that’s muddy, décor that’s more Matthew Kelly than Ben Kelly, a lighting technician more concerned with strobe over any other lighting, and an uninterested audience; tentative, and bamboozled by the poorly lit pair on stage, waiting for the student club night to begin.
Tonight, and throughout his Pegasus Rising tour, Olivier Daysoul accompanies Hud Mo. He’s an engaging MC who this evening adds flecks of NYC nuance, occasionally stirring the audience to shift beyond reserved bopping and the odd, “woop!” however his talents go largely unused, and he’s rendered fruitless for the majority of the evening.
The pair occasionally rallies a response. You’d be hard pressed to not find yourself grooving to Mohawke’s irresistible and dark bass lines that sit atop the aggressive and smooth rapping style that Daysoul brings to the table. Bright, deconstructed synth lines and erratic compositions are exactly what make his Warp signing apparent, and they’re in abundance. Tonight, tracks such as ‘ZooO00oO0m’ and ‘Fuse’ find the audience swaying, but you can’t help but feel as though the crowd are waiting for a main act, or a massive drop, or increased tempo. It’s not quite accessible, hardly facilitates dancing, but the flashes of luminosity in Mohawke’s songs work to add light where stage lighting fails. ‘Joy Fantastic’ and ‘I Just Decided’ find Olivier Daysoul at his most arresting, this being his moment to shine, obviously having gotten bored of pacing in the shadows. The wonky and hyperactive styling of ‘Gluetooth’, with its beats too massive for the confines of the Factory demonstrate moments of brilliance.
However tonight it’s simply not working. The lackadaisical Tuesday crowd is impatient, too sober, lacking in numbers, dare I say bored?
(Originally posted on High Voltage)
With their S/T début focusing primarily on connections with nature, High Places vs Mankind treads the ‘band exploring the relationships human beings forge with each other during a lifetime’ theme. So it’s apt that the opening three tracks successfully convey a gamut of adolescent optimism, trepidation, excitement and innocence via a stunning combination of organic yet mechanical musical methods.
Albums are frequently things of palatable serenity. We sit ignorant in undulating waves of fluffy swirling sound, while subtle aural flavours drift unregistered, become bland and painlessly benumbing. If you’re predisposed to this practice of passive listening then you’ll hate Hidden, the second offering from Southend-on-Sea foursome, These New Puritans.
Owl City came about as a remedy for Adam Young’s insomnia while he whiled away his days working at a Cola factory. One can only ruminate at the astounding levels of sugar Young may have inadvertently digested while composing Ocean Eyes.
Ocean Eyes is above all, candy floss pop schmaltz. It’s music that could soundtrack the American reworking of a hyper Japanese cartoon about a pint-sized superhero called Minxie. It veers from fairytale cupcake pop, to placid European techno for early tweenage girls, all programmed drums and sweeping synths.
Yes, it’s saccharine sweet and auto-tune drenched, which occasionally leaves one dizzy, reeling drunk like the birthday boy hepped up on cola and candyfloss. Despite this, it’s difficult to ignore the array of often well-crafted and catchy pop songs on offer. It’s a plastic and shallow mock façade that’ll no doubt stir the need for some good old-fashioned abrasive and furious rock. Alas, if you feel to overdose on levels of sugar way above your RDA, then you’ll not go far wrong with Ocean Eyes.
We’re ushered upstairs to Gold Panda, already on stage, wearing a rather fetching pink hooded jacket that resembles an oversized baby-gro. He’s adopting the common posture of the knob twiddling laptop gazer, hunched.
There’s a lot of hype currently encircling The XX, and quite justifiably so. In May they released their debut single, ‘Crystalised’. It was dark, mysterious and various other adjectives that connote atmospheric. It was an ultimately brilliant track that wetted the appetites of moody young trendoids everywhere.
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The scene recently when – having waited for two-long-weeks – Any Other City by Life Without Buildings popped through my letterbox, was akin to how I’d imagine Jonas Brother fans react when the virile young things release a new album. Sadly LWB have long since disbanded.
A fair amount of the album is indie-fodder. That is, reasonably forgettable, were it not for the totally original and enthralling vocals by Sue Tompkins. Stuttering, repeating and “do-do-dodo-do-days like television”, it’s excellent. This isn’t to say that the band are stock. Far from it, it’s just Tompkins has your complete attention for the duration. It’s punky and emotive. If you can find one, get a copy of this album.
Regina Spektor once happily existed in that ilk of musicians filed under the, ‘My Little Secret’ category. A choice and highly personal grouping that will find many an acquaintance reeling from odd lyrics, awkward vocal delivery and generally obscure and inaccessible musical style. With her previous album, Begin to Hope, any chance of maintaining a place within this bracket was gone, and suddenly all and sunder are asking whether you’ve heard of a kooky Russian-come-Brooklynite named Regina. Oh dear.
Feels like summer apparently. According to Johnny Foreigner at least. They think it feels so much like summer they’ve named their debut single after how summery it feels. It’s called, ‘Feels like Summer’, and it’s about how the summer feels.In fact, in order to express how much like summer it feels they deem it necessary to repeat the lyric “Some summers” 28 times. That’s quite a lot of times to say summer in a song that lasts only 1:45.
So yeah; Yeah, So is the highly anticipated début from Sheffield based duo, Slow Club. Having wetted our appetites with a couple of upbeat singles and an EP, those of you who’ve experienced snippets of this band will be pleased to finally have an accomplished album from the pair.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart judge live success on the number of people that mosh during their set. One can only imagine that this surely leads to continual disappointment for the twee poppers, and proves to be (when it does sporadically occur) down right aggravating to those who are quite happy to simply nod their heads enthusiastically or gaze listlessly at the ground.
For a short while it was looking as though Röyksopp may fall into that “band from that car/phone advert” category. One minute you’re revelling in the success of having 30 seconds of your kooky tune played everywhere, the next, you’re playing the daytime slot at a festival, watching the audience grow weary of your set, until you play that song…from that advert…with the balloons. Alas, Röyksopp have staved off post-ad obscurity with a glut of good tunage.
Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste once called LA-based Foreign Born his favourite new band. That’s good right? If Grizzly Bearare good, the music they consume must also be pretty good? Alas, it’s been two long years since Foreign Born’s last album, so the ‘new’ tag surely no longer applies. Plus, band recommendations are always quite an unpredictable element with which to base musical assumptions. So read this instead.
Having been compared to the likes of The Postal Service and Belle & Sebastian (the latter justifiable in that this lots début single, ‘Foxtrot Vandals’ was produced by Stuart Murdoch), Zoey Van Goey have created an altogether intriguing noise for themselves. The Cage Was Unlocked All Along, is their début album, and sees the trio proficient in creating an album spanning realms of both catchy folk-pop, and sombre yet buoyant melodies.