The Maccabees: Live @ Newcastle O2 Academy 24/06/17

The Maccabees Live Newcastle 2017

Whilst the vast majority of the musical press was focused on the proceedings over at Worthy Farm, a smaller yet no less special event was happening up in Newcastle Upon Tyne. After a prestigious career spanning four albums, indie/arena outfit The Maccabees were staging a series of warm up dates for their farewell arena tour which happens over the next few weeks.

All things must come to an end...but one really must ask the band, why now exactly?

It's definitely not for a lack of interest, because as soon as the band take one step on stage the room goes ballistic. It's quite the reception, and even takes the band by surprise, the ever humble lead singer Orlando Weeks visibly taken aback by the sheer volume of those in attendance.



It's also not for an apparent dip in musical aptitude. I mean...that's never the cause of a musical break up, but for the structure of this article bear with me, ok? From the opening bars of Wall of Arms it's apparent this is a band on top form, even when playing first album cuts including Latchmere and Lego there are no lapses in concentration and no straying from the song sheet. Each track is given it's full due, much to the audiences delight.



Whatever the reason, it better be a good one, because it's a real shame to see a band of this quality call it a day. As they prepare for their forthcoming Manchester run and Alexandra Palace dates, they're sure to have doubts creep into their heads, even now, after hearing the rapturous reception they received after the final notes of Pelican in Newcastle, a few members must be thinking...have we really thought this through?

This was their swan song to the people of Newcastle, now it's on to Manchester and London. Bigger venues, but they'll struggle to get a bigger send off than this one. Enjoy it boys, you've deserved it.

Setlist

1. Wall of Arms
2. Feel to Follow
3. Kamakura
4. Young Lions
5. WW1 Portraits
6. Love You Better
7. Spit it Out
8. Can You Give It
9. Precious Time
10. Silence
11. Latchmere
12. Lego
13. X-Ray
14. No Kind Words
15. Grew Up At Midnight
16. Something Like Happiness
17. Marks to Prove It
18. First Love
19. Toothpaste Kisses
20. Pelican

Introducing: Ulrika Spacek

Introducing Ulrika Spacek

In need of music to get lost in this week? Look no further than than the ethereal grunge of London based Ulrika Spacek. The band are on the brink of releasing their sophomore effort Modern English Decoration and have just released their latest video for single Full of Men.

It's a song with a deep meaning and a pretty interesting video concept which the guys explain below...

"This song is a swipe at masculinity and we were going to make a video quite literally full of men but we didn't want to make something too obvious so ended up flipping the idea to play on the traditional female/housewife gender role in the setting of a cookery show, cutting up quite phallic things whilst under the male gaze of a camera man."



The band were kind enough to answer the now infamous introducing questionnaire and gave us some insight into their musical heritage, listening habits and just a touch of philosophy. You can read the bands answers below.

1. What is your favourite album and why?

That forever changes. For now, it's Slint - Spiderland. The atmosphere of that record is amazing.

2. What is your least favourite album and why?

Hard to say least favourite. Some albums suddenly make sense when you listen to them at a different time in your life. Without doubt, there are many awful albums.


3. If you had to describe your music in three words, what would they be?

Modern English Decoration.

4. What made you start making music?

Few of us went to a comprehensive school that had extra arts funding. There was a music room with a drum kit and amps. We were lucky in that from the moment we really started getting into music, we were able to start making it.

5. Favourite swear word?

Arsehole.

6. If you could create a band from musicians (excluding yourselves) living or dead, who would you choose?

Jaki Lieberzeit, Johnny Greenwood, Stephen Malkmus, Carlos Dengler, Cat Power.


7. Obvious musical skills aside, do any of you have any secret talents?

Doesn't feel like that most of the time.

8. What is your favourite childhood TV show?

We mentioned Aquila the other day, we all loved the Simpsons.

9. If you weren't making music, what profession would you like to attempt and why?

Something that directly helps someone else. Sometimes I wonder whether making music is just an individualist form of escapism. Hiding from the world rather than confronting it. But when you put out a record you are contributing in some form. Making things is really important to us.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Hello!

Ulrika Spacek will release Modern English Decoration via Tough Love Records on June 2nd.



Slam Dunk Midlands 2017: Review

Slam Dunk Festival 2017

The festival season has officially begun. That means beer, bands and more beers, it's no wonder it's such a popular time of year. This year I decided to shun the major festival offerings and head off to something a little more niche, something a little more rawwk. Slam Dunk Festival.

It's probably the closest thing the UK has to the Warped Tour (if you discount the UK version of the Warped Tour) and features a lot of new and exciting acts propped up with a fair share of rock n roll heavyweights.

This years tour had a special twist to it, it would be the setting for Enter Shikari's ten year celebration of their debut album Take to the Skies. These would be the only UK shows they'd play (excluding one warm up show in Belfast) in support of this tour and was a chance for fans to get seriously nostalgic about one of the defining albums for many an angsty teen.

Needless to say... I had to attend.

Of course, this wasn't the only draw, and upon arrival I had the pleasure of catching one of the highlights of the festival in the form of Sorority Noise



Their brand of emotive rock n roll was a pleasure to behold, tracks A Portrait Of and Using were stand outs and I wouldn't be surprised to see them climb festival bills rapidly over the next few years. They deserve it. Check this band out if you can!

Next up were UK three piece Black Foxxes, whose debut album in 2016 was a massive statement of intent from a band who have more than enough tools in their arsenal to make a success of this rock n roll thing.



They appeared on the Key Club stage, and unfortunately the sound in this particular venue left much to be desired. Despite this, the band managed to make it count, with their huge choruses cutting through the fuzz and tracks River and I'm Not Well proving just how great they are in a difficult environment.

The band commented on the unfortunate clashes they were up against, with We Are The Ocean and Milk Teeth appearing on different stages at the same time. "You made the right choice" they said. I'm inclined to agree.

Mad Caddies were next on the agenda.



The Santa Barbara Ska Punks demonstrated exactly what you would expect from a brass happy punk act. They instigated a lot of skanking, thrashed out break neck drumming rhythms and created one massive party atmosphere.

And with that it was time for an interval.

After some beers and the FA Cup final, it was back to the bands and first up was one of the most exciting rock acts on the UK circuit today. Don Broco.



I'll admit, that before this gig I was a novice when it came to the sounds of Don Broco. Oh what a fool I've been. This band commanded the main stage of the festival as if it was nothing. As soon as the first song kicked into gear, the entire crowd went along with everything this band asked.

With a hook laden set and an array of dance-able  numbers (Automatic) as well as tracks which created some of the biggest mosh pits of the festival (Thug Workout) these lads were truly the surprise package of the festival. You've made a new fan boys.

And so, it was time for the main event of the festival, with St Albans finest, Enter Shikari, ready to take to the stage.



As if you didn't already know, this bands live sets are special. Energy, aggression and euphoria all collide, and at Slam Dunk they added a hefty dose of nostalgia to that concoction. The songs on display tonight were (for the most part) written more than 10 years and this band have grown a lot since then, so it's a pleasant surprise that these songs are given the performance they deserve tonight.

It's not an over reaction to say the tracks sound better than they ever have done before. From the ever presents in sets today such as Mothership and Sorry You're Not a Winner, to the forgotten relics, No Ssssweat and Anything Can Happen in the Next Half Hour, even to the never before played Today Won't Go Down in History every song sounds fresh and every song is delivered to its full potential.

With a hefty dose of activism sprinkled throughout the set and a tribute to Manchester in the form of an acoustic rendition of Half the World Away before stand out track Adieu, the crowd are in buoyant spirits for the finale of Ok Time For Plan B followed by the crushing Appeal and the Mindsweep II.

A fittingly hardcore end to a hardcore festival experience. If you're looking for good music, good vibes and a good time, I'd seriously consider Slam Dunk for all your festival needs. Plus, if you're up to it you can head into Brum for a few drinks afterwards!

Because after all, isn't that what festival season is really all about? (No.)


At The Drive-In: Top Five Tracks

At The Drive-In Top Five

At The Drive-In are back with new album Inter Alia which has emerged 17 years after the seminal Relationship of Command. At this point comparing it to their back catalogue which I've lived with for so long would be unfair, so I've decided to not even attempt to review it because...it needs time to breathe.

What I can say however, is that the new release has rekindled my love for one of the most important bands I've had the pleasure of listening to. If you don't like this band, it's almost certain that our music tastes are going to clash violently, because the energy, artistic flare and aggression installed in every single piece of ATDI's music has been seminal to my musical upbringing.

Because I like a bit of a challenge, I decided to sit down and try and select my personal top five tracks ever created by this band. It was difficult. Especially because Relationship of Command IS one of the greatest albums of all time. No question.

Despite this fact, I managed to carve just five tracks from their marvellous back catalogue to present to you all. By no means definitive. Enjoy!

Fun fact: I've actually been blocked by this band on Twitter. I think for being an annoying fan boy around ten years ago. If you do happen to read this lads, how about unblocking me? kthxbi.

5. One Armed Scissor



It's THE song that everyone knows. There's a reason for that too. It's a bloody good song. Vicious, jagged riffs, punctuated with Cedric Bixler Zavala's vocal stabs of cryptic poetry before it crashes into a chorus punctuated with Jim Ward's screams of GET AWAY. Perfect.

4. Lopsided



Melody has to be taken with a pinch of salt when referring to At The Drive-In. Whilst there's no doubt this band no how to craft a hummable tune, they often bury it underneath layers of absurdity and angst. For Lopsided however, the melodic guitar lines of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez are allowed to breathe freely and fill this track with a carefree - almost danceable vibe - promoting swaying and groove as opposed to moshing and spite.

3. Cosmonaut



Moshing and spite here, as opposed to swaying and groove, Cosmonaut is one of the most brutal hardcore songs ever captured to tape. Yes, there are heavier tracks and yes there are faster tracks, but there has never been a song delivered with so much passion and intent than this. You can almost feel the emotion bleeding through the speakers when you stick this on.

  2. Rolodex Propaganda




Not so controlled chaos is the only way to describe one of the more abstract cuts off Relationship of Command. Like a mad scientist at a catastrophe convention, the El Paso five piece threw everything including the kitchen sink at this track, even recruiting Iggy Pop for guest vocals on the chorus. Abstract in lyricism and musicality, Rolodex Propaganda kicks into gear and dares you to hold on, and only the strongest will survive. Fortune favours the brave and to the victor go the spoils, make it through it's running time and you'll be itching to take another ride around.

1. Invalid Litter Dept.



In many ways Invalid Litter Dept. is At The Drive-In's piece la resistance, a masterpiece of showcasing every side of what this band is capable of. Unique lyrics? Check. Controversial subject matter? Check? Non-con-formative song structure? Check.

This track packs the entire arsenal and empties the bag of tricks into its six minute run time, finding time to transform from a meandering foggy riff into full on alt tock destruction. The build is paced beautifully and that breakdown...oh the breakdown. It will have you headbanging as if you had never heard of neck surgery, and jumping up and down as if you were raised in the deep bush of Australia.

And dancing as if on the corpses ashes...obviously.




Jamie Lenman: Live @ The Craufurd Arms 04/05/17

Jamie Lenman Live @ The Craufurd Arms

Jamie Lenman is one of rock's great characters. If his impressive back catalogue of tunes hadn't already made that abundantly clear, then his stage attire sealed the deal. The former Reuben frontman strode out in front of The Craufurd Arms faithful, sporting a World Cup 2002 Ronaldo haircut, whilst dressed head to toe in dazzling white. What a guy.

Of course when you create music as arresting as Lenman's, a t-shirt and jeans combo just isn't going to cut it. The attire is truly justified as soon as the music starts, with new single Waterloo Teeth kicking off the gig under a hail of percussive crashing and banging, an apt introduction with the track soon bursting into it's full alt-rock glory.



A new album is on the way, and as is commonplace with such things, touring cycles usually adjust. This time round Lenman has decided to strip things down personnel wise, and is accompanied only by a drummer. As a two-piece the sound loses none of it's fullness, which is always a worry when you take band members away from the equation. if anything, it has given Lenman a chance to truly command the full impact of these songs for the first time, and he seems to revel in the responsibility that it's all or nothing.

The setlist draws from all areas of his musical repetoire. Fizzy Blood re-visits the crushing thrash of his Muscle Memory double CD, Parties Break Hearts harks back to the Racecar...days of Reuben and there's even time for the acoustic guitar to get a run out for his folk inspired tracks such as Shotgun House and If You Have To Ask You'll Never Know.


The ability to entertain has always been one of Jamie Lenman's strong suits, and his between song banter is some of the best I've heard. He's a very funny man, and manages to referee the transitions between trudge death metal tracks and bluegrass ho downs effortlessly. He's more than aware that this isn't your straight forward live experience, and manages to coach the crowds mind set into embracing the shift in atmosphere as if it was nothing.

It helps of course, that the songs he leads into mainly consist of bangers. Highlights include new songs Mississippi and All of England is a City, the break neck Six Fingered Hand and the Reuben classics Some Mothers Do Ave' Em and finale Cities On Fire.

It's a great night of music, shout outs to the two support bands HCBP and Frauds who were also excellent, and I suggest you check them out immediately.

Jamie Lenman has promised to release more new music as 2017 progresses, and if this Craufurd crowd was anything to go by, it will be more than well received. One of rocks great characters is back, and he sounds better than ever.

Setlist

1. Waterloo Teeth
2. Fizzy Blood
3. Parties Break Hearts
4. No News Is Good News
5. Mississippi
6. Mexican Wave (Kerbdog cover)
7. I Ain't Your Boy
8. Blitzkrieg
9. Shotgun House
10. If You Have to Ask You'll Never Know
11. It's Hard to Be a Gentleman
12. Best Enemies
13. All the Things You Hate About Me, I Hate Them Too
14. All of England Is a City (New Song)
15. Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em
16. Gary, Indiana
17. The Six Fingered Hand
18. Cities on Fire



New Music: Fall Out Boy - Young And Menace

Fall Out Boy Mania

There has been a recent spate of former "emo" bands coming back and releasing bonafide pop bangers. Panic! At The Disco did it last year, last week we had Paramore come back with quite possible the best song they've ever written in Hard Times...


...and now Fall Out Boy are back with a slice of EDM spiked madness.

Young And Menace is the sound of Fall Out Boy on LSD. With production values straight out the OWSLA school of DJing, it's a track which doesn't pull any punches and is a completely new take on the bands sound.

I've written before about changes in a bands direction and how this can be problematic at times, but for Fall Out Boy it doesn't seem forced, if anything it feels like natural progression. After all, they've always been a pop band at heart.

The message behind the track itself is nice as well. Here's Pete Wentz's explanation of it all...

“There’s a lyric in the song, ‘trying to send the world a message, I was young and a menace,’ that reminded me of growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. I didn't look like anyone there or feel like anyone – I felt like an outsider in my own town. It wasn't until I discovered punk rock and that community that I realised I did fit in somewhere in this word – with the other people who didn't fit in.”

Young and Menace is the first taste of new music off the band’s forthcoming seventh studio album M A N I A, out September 15th on Virgin EMI UK/DCD2 Records.

You can listen to the track below. Electro nonsense, or EDM inspired brilliance. You decide!






Record Store Day 2017: Top Picks To Look Out For

Record Store Day 2017

It's Record Store Day on April 22nd! If you don't know what that is...well it's a day celebrating record stores. Pretty self explanatory, and in the age of the digital download, it's a nice nod to the sanctuaries of the physical format which rely upon music fans dedicated custom.

Artists always put out limited edition releases to celebrate the date, and 2017 is no exception. In fact 100s of artists have committed to putting out some new merchandise this year, and I've decided to support the cause and tell you all to GET DOWN TO A BLOODY RECORD STORE AND BUY THESE, YEAH?

The Cure's Greatest Hits & Acoustic Hits




Goth pop rock icons The Cure are releasing both their greatest hits and acoustic hits (which I can only assume is the greatest hits...but played acoustically) on vinyl. You should own the greatest hits already, but picking it up in alternate formats is always recommended.

Gerard Way - Into The Cave We Wander




Laid back, sleepy vibes from the former My Chemical Romance pairing of Gerard and Ray Tovo. This is brand new music from the guys, and is being released alongside another new track Pogi's Cavern, both of which were created to accompany the comic book series ‘CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE’.

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression Live at the Royal Albert Hall



How good does that sound? Well the rest of the concert sounds just as good, so go buy this. It features classic tracks such as the above, as well as cuts from Post Pop Depression, which was pretty great. And yes that's Josh Homme and Matt Helders up there with him, amongst other notable names.

The Lumineers - Seeds 1: Long Way Home and Angela



One of the more creative releases this year, this exclusive 10" inch vinyl shows the progression of two of the bands most popular tracks from their No.1 sophomore album Cleopatra (Angela and Long Way From Home) from initial demo, through recording to the live entity.

Placebo Feat. David Bowie - Without You I'm Nothing




This will be the first ever pressing of Without You I'm Nothing, the Placebo single featuring the vocals of David Bowie. Originally released in 1999 on CD only, it will be released for the first time on vinyl exclusively for Record Store Day 2017. A track which has only become more poignant with time.

Toto - Africa/Rosanna


Two massive 80's hits and it's being released on AFRICA SHAPED VINYL. So...well there's nothing else to say really. Interesting fact, a friend got married to a panpipe version of Africa. It was good.