Sigur Rós – Westminster Methodist Central Hall Review.

Concerts coinciding with album releases are often filled with a special kind of buzzing atmosphere: for the band, there is a desire to please an obviously devoted crowd with some highlights from a stunning back-catalogue whilst also giving an airing to some new songs; for the audience, it’s always a thrill to see a band who have just spent most a year cooped up in a variety of studios, suddenly unleashing their magic once again, on the road. For Sigur Rós yesterday night, this special atmosphere was intensified by a beautifully intimate venue – Westminster Methodist Central Hall – where even those seated at the back of the balcony could be treated to a close encounter with one of the most emotionally raw and unadulterated bands touring today. With Radiohead performing on the other side of London in the detached environment of Victoria Park, it was clear that here in Westminster, we could be in for an evening’s entertainment that was alternately charming, exhilarating, deafening and heart-wrenching. Continue reading

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Sigur Rós – Westminster Methodist Central Hall.

I’m very excited about this concert.

I’m hoping it sounds a bit like this:

I hope it sounds a bit like this.

The only tinge of regret I’m feeling is for not having a ticket to see Radiohead the next day 😦

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless.

Pitchfork ranked it as the second greatest album of the 1990s (no prizes for guessing what came top!), and its influence can be heard in countless albums of the post-rock and shoegazing genres. And yet, though I have been able to appreciate so many of the bands that count My Bloody Valentine as their inspiration, I’ve never really been able to connect with MBV themselves.

Thus I have decided to open my mind to Loveless one more time, to see if I can finally come to understand its genius, which has thus far eluded me. I really do hope I can love it, if only so that I won’t feel so guilty enjoying other, even more noisy, reverb-drenched stuff.

When I do decide to give it another go, I’ve also decided to ‘liveblog’ my experiences of it, here on the blog, which should be fun. I dare say that it won’t quite achieve the fame or reputation of this particular liveblog series, but, still, what with MBV setting out on their reunion tour as we speak, it should be a timely occasion for me to approach such an influential work.

Beck – Chemtrails.

While I don’t think every album Beck has made is consistently great, I have always applauded him for the great songs he writes, and his love of working with innovative producers to give each album such a unique fit and finish. Odelay was probably his most consistently enjoyable album: though it encompassed a wide variety of styles and song structures, the delightful cut-n-paste samples from The Dust Brothers gave everything a slightly cronky, slightly wonky, very much alluring feel. 2005’s Guero was, in part, a return to that style – after all, Beck was working with the Dust Brothers once again – but, for me, most of the second half of the album melded into one homogenous lump, leaving the album sounding very front-loaded. While Earthquake Weather and Missing were two of my favourite, and most inventive, songs of that year, tracks like Scarecrow and Go It Alone were fairly anonymous.

Continue reading

Field Music – Tones of Town.

I’m not sure about the current whereabouts of Sunderland’s Field Music, but I am comprehensively certain that they don’t get nearly enough praise for their blend of Beach Boys-style harmony and diverse instrumentation; Wire-esque post-punk; and a dusting of Steely Dan studio perfectionism. They just about ambled onto the scene in 2005 with an eponymous debut but, for me, their creative peak was definitely to be found on last year’s follow-up LP, Tones of Town. Continue reading

Muxtape.

MuxtapeI’m in the process of uploading my first playlist onto Muxtape. If you haven’t used Muxtape, it’s all in the name: it’s a mixtape on the internet… and I’m not really sure about the ‘Mux’ bit.

Anyway, here it is, for your aural delectation:

“Love Is A Province Of The Brave.”

How to describe this initial foray into sequencing a mixtape? It’s quite a moody affair; very sonically dense and sludgy in places, and, by the end, it’ll probably have exhausted you somewhat.

(Thanks to Cocoa Grove for the cassette icon, released under the Creative Commons License.)

Hercules And Love Affair – You Belong.

[Updated to include the official video for the single and release date!]

One of my favourite albums so far this year is the eponymous debut from Hercules And Love Affair. It’s a wonderfully sprawling, decadent history lesson in dance music and, as certain critics have noted, charts the rise and fall of gay culture, which occasionally hints at the crises of AIDS and drugs. More prominently though, it’s the fantastic music that makes it so great. In certain songs, the DJ supremo who’s behind the band, Andrew Butler, weaves in more futuristic ideas, but, for the most part, it’s big time nostalgia of all things Giorgio Moroder, Arthur Russell, and a smattering of Chicago House.

Underpinning quite a few of the tracks are the delightfully spine-chilling vocals of Antony Hegarty, of Antony and the Johnsons fame, and it his fractured, kaleidoscopic backing vocals that turn You Belong into one of the album’s standout tracks. I believe it’s going to be released as a single on the 7th of July, and I hope it gains a wider audience, partly because listeners will be afforded the opportunity to hear the throbbing lead vocals of Nomi, an enchanting vocalist sure to gain in reputation this year.

I have a feeling the B-side is going to an interesting remix of the track from Riton, which you can hear in the box.net widget on the right-hand side of this page.